A salute to the uppercase Order Taker


Don’t underestimate the order taker. It took me a while to accept this valuable idea because, early in my career, I kept feeling guilty after clients handed me orders. I kept hearing the term “order taker” being hurled as an insult and concluded that orders were supposed to be harder earned, yet I was getting a lot of them. Today I still take a lot of orders from clients, but no longer feel guilty about it.

So the logical question is: If someone gives you an order and you take it, why do we embrace the term “order taker” as an insult? It is because there are two kinds. One is an “Order Taker” with a capital OT; the other is a lowercase order taker.

Lowercase order takers are sales reps who work in situations where unearned orders are given. Some managers and business leaders call this type the “last person standing” because they are the sales rep who inherits accounts, passes the buck of administrative responsibility, and lacks the net- working (i.e. prospecting) skills necessary to originate orders from newly developed relationships.

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Uppercase Order Takers are sales professionals who prospect assertively, sweat the details, and demonstrate the staying power that causes people to seek them out and give orders at fair margins willingly. The irony is that we value Order Takers as “Order Makers” and still completely misunderstand what it really takes to create lasting sales success.

An Order Taker is a relationship builder, not a transaction maker. The transactions are the outcome of long-term relationship development and earned trust. If you want to become (or build) an Order Taker, try these ideas:

1. Start the long-term dialogue. Young salespeople lack the wisdom of years and veterans sometimes lack the insight to determine why they have become so successful. Instead of starting a dialogue to generate a transaction, instigate a conversation that could last years or even decades. The order taker is trying to close a deal while the Order Taker is opening a relationship.

2. Focus on the client’s favorite subject. The process of discovery should focus on your buyers’ larger challenges, not merely the process of “qualifying” them to make a sale. Stop pressuring buyers to fill out credit apps, describe their “pain” with suppliers and find hot buttons. Instead try to understand their larger vision. The order taker determines ways to supply products better while the Order Taker seeks to become a better consultative provider of services.

3. Take the order when the timing is right. The biggest difference between order takers and Order Takers is timing. A desperate salesperson strives to get immediate gratification by obtaining instant orders; in other words, the order taker is focused on his or her personal timing needs. A successful salesperson realizes that the buyer changes suppliers when something goes wrong with the previous one. The order taker is always pushing for an order while the Order Taker recognizes that the most profitable relationships come when the timing is right.

Build the relationship by tapping into the dreams and desires of your prospects and customers. The Order Taker   is not interested in a single transaction and, perhaps more importantly, has the courage to recognize that the time for buyers to provide an order is when the timing is right for them. It’s not about taking an order; it’s about getting the first one of many. If someone gives you an order, take it! Aspire to be an Order Taker, not an order taker, and you’ll have achieved a level of career security of which most people can only dream.

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