The research of American industrial psychologist, Robert N. McMurry, showed that a 'true' salesman should not sell anything to anybody. McMurry first published the notion of different types of sales tasks in 1961. "Each type of sales work requires its own unique configuration of traits, attributes and qualities in its practitioner." To build a productive sales force, the manager first needs to assess the category of sales. McMurry classified selling positions into six categories based on the required level of a seller's negotiating ability.
1. MAINLY DELIVERY
This type of salesperson requires few sales-related negotiation skills. Continued sales are more likely to come from a pleasant attitude and good service.
2. INSIDE ORDER TAKER
The salesperson's task is primarily administrative and provides little opportunity for selling. Customers have usually made up their minds by this stage so the sales process consists of completing the order and offering advice only when asked.
3. OUTSIDE ORDER TAKER
Similar to the inside order taker, but here the salesperson visits regular customers on a regular basis. Most negotiation is conducted at higher hierarchical levels so the salesperson must simply service the account. This type of sales occasionally includes merchandising activity or introducing and demonstrating new products.
4. MISSIONARY SELLING
The salesperson is expected to build goodwill, educate and ultimately influence the actual or potential user rather than only solicit orders. Sales personnel also carry out occasional service work as well as promotional activities.
5. TECHNICAL SELLING
The salesperson's task of explaining the function of a product to a prospect and adapting it to individual customer needs is basic to this type of selling. 'Sales engineers' use their expert knowledge of product capabilities and design during commercial negotiations. Their counterparts on the buying side are also often technically savvy in order to provide counterweight.
6. CREATIVE SELLING
Creative selling tends to require the greatest sales 'skills'. Customers often do not realise that they have a 'need' for certain product or service. The creative salesperson needs to demonstrate and convince the buyer of this need through effective communications as illustrated by a new type of production line that will reduce a company's operating cost level.
This model aids the managers in designing an adequate sales force structure.
McMurry's typology is based on one variable, the level of seller's negotiating ability. Other authors have created more complex categorisations. For example, Alfred Zeyl based his 2003 categorisation of sales types on the buyer's risk sensitivity, the customer's experience, the seller's marketing strategy and the strength of the relationship between the buyer and seller. Zeyl identified five selling modes: transactional, seductive, relational, consultative, and partnership selling.