Cowboy Selling!

Publicerad 2016

Gone are the days of a simple handshake...

The blog this week is about the “shooting from the hip” (skjuta från höften) sales approach.

I’m not exactly sure how we how our office started calling it “Cowboy Selling” but it is a term used in North America and somewhere along the way between Swedish and English the term has stuck. Either way, I am rather content using this term because it every time I hear it I get a mental image of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne trying to do modern sale call.


It should be clarified that when use the term “sales” in this context we are not talking about high-level revenue, or transactional selling. We are referring to process of Consultative Selling: a more complex, long-term process involving collaboration with buyers, which includes understanding The customer’s business, industry, and pain points, then craft a solution to help the customer. 


For better or worse the business landscape has changed. Modern day sales are complex, the products that companies sell are technical, and professional buyers typically have ridged purchasing processes. To complicate matters even more a typical sales process can easily involve 5-15 steps and often including contact with multiple different individuals and decision makers. Trying to navigate your way through the minefield of the sales process is challenging to say the least.


It is well documented that adding structure to the selling process increases sales and decreases the on-boarding time of new sales employees. 


Ever so often we come across sales people that are so tremendously good that they tend to succeed despite having little-to-no structure. These Cowboys can go out for dinner with their family and come home with 2 - 3 new business cards. In order to do this the individual must have a combination of personality and knowledge that is extremely rare, from our experience. If this person is also the Founder or CEO then they know their business so well that they can talk about it with ease. 


The problem does not lie in the Cowboy’s ability to sell, the problem surfaces when the organisation starts to grow and hire additional sales personnel. 


The growth journey traditionally consists of increasing the salesforce and on-boarding new employees (some digital platforms being the exception). If the end goal is growth, how is a newly hired sales person suppose to produce at the same level as the unstructured Cowboy? 


Neil Rackham ( (Author of SPIN

SELLING) promotes the notion that sales individuals should go into every contact looking for an Advance: “A specific action taken by either party that moves the sale forward”. An Advance is not simply another meeting, an Advance is a specific, predetermined outcome specific to that customer and contact. Can all of these nuances be managed from the hip? Without a plan?


Structuring the approach on the back end will not only help the sales individual, it will also help the organisation. Structure will help with scalability, and continuity. Continuity in this case might be even more important as it gives organisations of all sizes the ability to distribute and allocate the work flow evenly, rather than “reinventing the wheel” every time a new sales person is hired. 


Some people say it takes 15-18 years of hard-work to properly train a Cowboy, does your organisation have that much time to onboard? We are not trying to be overly hard on these shoot first - ask questions later, cold calling work horses, we have simply noticed that sometimes you need to be more than a Cowboy for the sake of the organisation.


Image Source: Screenshot

Klingsgrin, G. (2016). The Librarian vs. the Cowboy: A Sales Persona Comparison {Infographic}.


SalesLoft. Available at: [Accessed: 18 -12-2016]



Barkach, C. (2016). Sales Process - Stop Shooting from the Hip. Available at: https://

[Accessed: 10-12-2016]


Boe, J. (2016). Sales Skills: Don't Shoot From The Hip, Use A Script. Sales Gravy. Available at: [Accessed: 10-12-2016]


Klingsgrin, G. (2016). The Librarian vs. the Cowboy: A Sales Persona Comparison {Infographic}.


SalesLoft. Available at: [Accessed: 18 -12-2016]


Rackham, N. (1988). SPIN SELLING. McGraw-Hill. ISBN: 9780070511132