Insight Blog

Redefining the Seller-Doer

Redefining the Seller-Doer The term “seller-doer” became popular more than a decade ago as organizations faced challenging post-recession market conditions. Corporations, architecture and engineering firms, and construction companies evaluated aspects of their operations and began to streamline their processes. This forced some technical professionals to assume dual roles.

Typically, the seller half of the term is associated with developing new business for the organization. There are pros and cons to the business model of seller-doer.


+ Can leverage existing relationships with current customers and prospects who already trust the individual due to project success.
+ Often learn of pending sales opportunities before plans are publicized or formalized.
+ Possess a solid understanding of all phases of a project and can often foresee challenges, which helps in estimating.
+ Aid in maintaining a single-service approach for clients who prefer streamlined communication.
+ Gain exposure to another side of the business and a variety of work activities.


- May not have client relations experience if previously focused on technical work or internal operations.
- May lack training in the areas of brand awareness, lead generation and management, and converting leads to sales.
- Could hesitate to disrupt clients during a current project or assignment.
- Challenging to prioritize efforts; possible to become fixated on new business and lose sight of current work or vice versa.
- Can become overwhelmed with the double expectations, especially if sales goals are assigned.

What are some characteristics of the best seller-doers?

  • Entrepreneurial mindset.
  • Strong business and sales acumen.
  • Client or customer service experience.
  • Excellent communication skills to interact effectively with a variety of team members, executives, and clients.
  • Ability to advocate for an idea or initiative.
  • Desire to be a change-agent.

What is an alternative to the seller-doer business model, and how can it work?

By interviewing current team members about their work preferences and backgrounds, executive management can divide them into two functional groups. The number of people in each group should be proportionate to the current workload. For example, if 70% of team members are currently occupied with projects, 70/30 is a good starting doer/seller ratio.

With this approach, the majority of an individual’s time can be spent on the side of the business where they have the most interest, skills, training, and experience. There are of course exceptions when project needs arise unexpectedly, and new “sellers” need to step in to address the workload.

Foster an environment of open communication and collaboration by:
Scheduling regular meetings for “doers” to report possible lead data to “sellers.”
Discussing timing of current project milestones so that both “doers” and “sellers” can determine the appropriate time for new business communication.

Consulting “doers” on the possible obstacles of a new project or assignment before “sellers” complete a proposal.

Asking “doers” to send business development messages and to submit proposals to utilize their name recognition with clients; however, ensure that the majority of work is completed by “sellers” and messaging is prepared so that the request is not daunting nor distracting.

Scheduling shadow days so team members of the opposite function can gain a better understanding of unfamiliar technical terms and jargon. 

Many talented professionals with diverse skill sets are capable of understanding both sides of the role and adding value to their current organization in a new and efficient way.

If your organization has a hiring need for a seller, doer, or seller-doer, please contact us to connect with a Helbling search consultant.