The Problem Solver and the Counselor

I recently wrote a blog titled, Five Types of Salespeople

Many of the comments talked about the Problem Solver and the Counseler so I promised a follow-up piece with more details on the two. What I found interesting is that in reducing the text for a single blog, the “types” took on different meanings in the shorter context. 

Here are the Problem Solver and the Counselor in their original forms.

Problem Solver

These are salespeople who enjoy getting in front of people, ferreting out problems, needs and wants, and discussing workable solutions. They have empathy for the customer, can see the customer’s needs from the customer’s point of view, and enjoy helping the customer solve their problems.

The problem‑solving person is good at establishing rapport with the prospect or customer, identifying what their needs, wants and desires are, developing creative proposals, and making effective presentations.

But when it comes time to ask for the order, or to close the sale, they tense up, lose their confidence, or otherwise fail to close the sale. Their customers or prospects, now having their needs identified and solutions presented, go elsewhere looking for a “better buy.”

This salesperson has done all the work, and an Order Taker for another company gets the sale – and the commission. After the Peddler, this is the next most common type of salesperson.


In the business world, it’s not uncommon for companies and corporations to have a staff of lawyers, or “legal counsel,” on retainer to give advice in matters pertaining to the law, taxes, investments, mergers, or other difficult or legal situations.

The Counselor knows that when it comes to important buying decisions, his or her customers – be they companies, corporations, or individuals – should be no different.

To them, buying any type of product or service is a serious matter, not to be taken lightly, and can be an important tool for satisfying a need, solving a problem, or adding to their profits, convenience or lifestyle.

They know that their customers need professional and qualified representation and advice, and the Counselor will do whatever it takes to provide it for them.

Like corporate legal counsel, this salesperson postures him or herself as being “on retainer,” always available to give advice on matters pertaining to the products or services they sell. They make it clear in the customer’s mind that there is absolutely no need for them to go anywhere else for answers to the problems their products or services can solve.

The Counselor knows how to establish rapport, build professional trust and credibility, identify their customer’s current prob­lems, develop effective proposals, offer credible and workable solu­tions, and make the presentation in such a way that their customers have no question in their minds that they must buy the concepts the Counselor presents, and hence, the product or service.

In addition, they have the ability to point out other potential problems that the customer might encounter, and help them solve those needs as well.

Salespeople who function at this skill level also carefully review the customer’s needs, both stated and unstated, and skillfully set in motion a plan to address those needs either now, or at a later, more convenient date.

Objections rarely come up because the Counselor has taken the time to anticipate what objections may arise, and then build the answers to the potential objections into his or her presentation.

This salesperson will get every drop of business the customer has, not because of price, but because the customer knows the salesperson really cares about them, understands their needs, and is willing to take the time to identify those needs and offer workable and credible solutions.


Are you someone they might classify as a “typical salesperson” – someone who is out to sell them another product or service, or who is interested more in the sale or commission they’ll earn?

Or do your customers and prospects view you more as a counselor – someone they like and can relate to and who is genuinely interested in them, and is making sure they have the right product for their individual and specific needs, at the best possible price? And in the event that what they’ve purchased does not or will not work for them, or if they’re not satisfied for any reason, will you make things right?


About Tom Branch

Tom Branch has written 597 posts in this blog.

Have you ever just met someone, but felt you like you'd known him for years? That's what most people experience with Tom. He has a knack for making folks feel right at home. After 21 years in the Air Force, loyalty and honesty are the foundation of everything Tom does. In addition to being a Texas Real Estate Broker, Tom is a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) and a Short Sales & Foreclosure Resource (SFR).