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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

A Theory about Dogs, Cats, and Salespeople


We’ve seen many pictures posted that show that some people actually resemble their pets. That prompted a thought that I have noticed many salespeople with traits of either dogs or cats. And everyone knows how different dogs and cats are!

Cataloging repeatable behaviors that are part of the DNA of our pets can reveal how we view each other. Noticing behaviors that fire instinctively in humans and animals are guidelines to better understand their nature and each other. Here’s what I found that made interesting intersections between people and dogs and cats:

The Differences Between Dogs & Cats

Dogs can be trained quickly as household pets or as service dogs. K-9 forces are part of law enforcement and the military—but cats are nearly impossible to train to respond to directives. Ever try walking a cat on a leash?

Dogs are social beings and want to be part of a pack, think household or teams, and they seek approval—cats are solitary by comparison.

Dogs value members of their pack and can perceive another member of their team as the leader, yes the leader of the pack! Cats, being far more independent than dogs, don’t look for a human leader to follow.

Dogs are loyal and, even if mistreated, will “stick around” because they are connected to their human leader—cats that are treated badly will rarely remain in that situation and will find a way to escape it.

(Source: doctordog.com)

Food for Thought for Sales Leaders

What connections can you make with people on your teams? Which members have dog-like tendencies or cat-like tendencies? How does that translate into human behavior? What individuals have some crossover behaviors? What are your tendencies as a leader?

Team members with dog-like tendencies are happy and thrive when they are part of a pack (sales team). They look to and want to respect their leaders. They are loyal and seek recognition and approval. They are happy to help their colleagues, are on time for meetings and are usually prompt with paperwork. They will ask for help, and will own up to their mistakes.

Cats are renowned for their independence. The pack isn’t important to them but they can function as part of the team. They are more solitary and tend to want to do “their own thing”. They may like to surprise you with a large order that you knew nothing about. They are hunters by nature and take pleasure in dropping a captured mouse on your desk. They tend to not seek recognition or approval and will most likely ask for your help when they have exhausted every other solution. Keeping up to date notes in their CRM is painful for them. Having said that, these team members can be awesome contributors. One sales type is not better than the other. Understanding the differences can make ALL of the difference.

No need to run out and buy dog treats or catnip. Rather, take a moment to think about your interactions with your “pack”. Who needs recognition and lots of “attaboys-girls”? Who can you turn to help train new hires? That’s not to say that the more independent team members are absolved from accountability and are held to the same team standards regarding sales meeting attendance, being prepared for 1:1’s and timely paperwork. If more freedom and autonomy produces results in more productive sales behavior, give it to them. Salespeople don’t prosper under a one-size fits all leader. Remember to meet them where they are and not where you are.

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Topics: Sales