Order-taker is a derogatory term used to describe a person who has a sales title and job description but does no actual selling.

There are millions of reasons that salespeople fail, and there are even more ideas about how to help them improve and succeed. But the primary reason that salespeople fail is something that is irreparable; it is something for which there is no available remedy that can be administered. Training won’t help. Neither will mentoring or coaching.

Here are five telltale signs that indicate that a person is really an order-taker and not a salesperson.

1. You Don’t Do Any Prospecting

The first sign that you are an order-taker is a serious lack of prospecting activity. Order-takers don’t embrace the fact that the value that they create for their organization and their clients begins with opening the relationships that open opportunities.

Order-takers talk a good game. They know someone at such-and-such company. They met someone at a party; it’s sure to work out as a deal. Someone’s brother works as a supplier to the big dream client. It sounds too good to be true—because it isn’t true.


Order-takers avoid prospecting like the plague. They buy the hype that there are easier ways to build a pipeline because they desperately need to believe it. It means they can keep the lie that they are really a salesperson and that they can succeed without prospecting.

2. You Love and Embrace the RFP Process

Real salespeople struggle with the RFP process. In an attempt to create a level playing field (something that salespeople know isn’t likely to benefit either them or their clients), the RFP process eliminates the salesperson’s ability to create the value that they create for their dream clients.

Order-takers love the RFP process. They feel like a real opportunities, and they provides a lot of work that makes the order-taker look and feel busy. But instead of prospecting and creating real opportunities, these so-called opportunities find their way to the order-takers desk, allowing them to avoid prospecting.

3. You Try Desperately To Take Credit for Other People’s Work

Because they have too few real prospects in their own pipeline, order-takers try to insert themselves into other deals. They work on clients who are already being pursued by inside sales or by their operations team members.

These opportunities don’t need their attention, and in some cases their involvement only makes things worse. But their involvement gives them something to talk about and something to put on their sales reports.

Order-takers want to make a contribution. They just don’t want to do the real and difficult work that is sales.

Order Taker Body

4. You Are Great In Front of Clients and Can’t Wait to Present

Order-takers believe that they are great in front of prospective clients. They believe that because they are personally likable, that this translates to effectiveness in and of itself. It doesn’t.

Order-takers aren’t tremendous value-creators because they don’t have enough appointments to get better at making sales calls. They don’t have the business acumen to really diagnose their dream client’s needs, and they don’t follow an effective sales process.

When an order-taker is fortunate enough to find themselves face-to-face with prospective clients, they present. They believe that by telling their prospective client what their company does, they can make an effective and compelling case. They can’t. It doesn’t work.

5. You Work On Renewing Existing Client Accounts

Existing clients will need to have their contracts renewed. And there is no reason to win an account if you aren’t going to do everything in your power to work on increasing and improving your wallet share and retaining the client.

But sales is about the acquisition of new clients, not just the maintenance and renewal of existing clients.

Order-takers make way too much of renewals, pretending to themselves and to everyone else that renewals are time-consuming and complicated affairs that need their direct attention.

These are all telltale signs that the person in question is an order-taker—not a salesperson. Salespeople don’t wait for deals to walk themselves in; they go out and make it rain.


The primary reason that salespeople fail is because they aren’t really salespeople. These people have job titles that suggest that they are in sales, and they work in the sales department of an organisation. They even report to a sales manager. But even though all of these things are true, they are salespeople in name only.

The reasons this group of people who we call salespeople fail in their role as salespeople is that they have never embraced selling. They don’t embrace selling, and they don’t see themselves as professional salespeople.

They are uncomfortable prospecting because they don’t believe in what they are doing. They suffer call reluctance because they don’t feel strongly enough about what they are doing; they don’t feel right asking for an appointment.

They are uncomfortable asking for and obtaining commitments, and they reject using any commitment-obtaining language.

Occasionally, they make some deals because they are good, hard working people. But because they never embrace sales, they never really succeed. Instead they move from one sales job to another sales job, usually because they want the high rewards that come with success in sales, rewards they never obtain.

Order Taker End