Spiders, Sheepdogs, and Tigers Article Featured Image

Sales Success Tips: Are You a Spider, Sheepdog, or Tiger?

While managing additive manufacturing sales professionals, I have experienced three predominant sales types. I should note that there are many examples of successful salespeople within all of these descriptors. My purpose here is to prepare you for increased success in 3D printer sales. With that disclaimer in place, the three categories follow.


A sales spider refers to someone who expects sales success by patiently waiting for 3D printer sales prospects to appear in their anchored web. They eagerly anticipate their next lead or random call and are regularly checking for new emails—hoping that someone or something will enter their domain. When a spider has a weak sales quarter, they often blame it on the absence of quality inbound leads. Sometimes they will point the finger at their product competitiveness or their organization’s weak marketing efforts. Spiders succeed best in an environment where they are paid to patiently wait—such as a car dealership, furniture showroom, mobile device store, or other brick-and-mortar salesrooms. Spiders will not achieve lasting success in additive manufacturing sales unless they decide to cease being a spider.


A sales sheepdog refers to someone who prefers to spend the majority of their time managing and growing existing accounts. Each of their customer’s files and folders is well maintained, and their sales pipeline remains meticulous. They are talented at accurately forecasting each customer’s next 3D printer purchase. They are keen relationship builders—capable of citing birthdays, anniversary dates, and names of family members for many of their customers. Sheepdogs make great account managers and play an essential role within a sales organization—but just managing accounts is not enough to reach sales goals in this industry.

Most 3D printer sales professionals are required to manage their assigned accounts, as well as maintain a balanced regimen of relentless prospecting. In my experience, the single-focused work habits of a sheepdog often lead to inadequate prospecting efforts, which is why this type of additive salesperson can struggle to win net-new business. Sheepdogs that evolve into active hunters will achieve significant success!


A sales tiger refers to someone who is a top performer in the additive manufacturing sales domain. This impressive teammate lives by the motto: “If I don’t hunt, my family doesn’t eat!” A tiger remains focused on what has to be done—and gets it done daily! It is estimated that when tigers hunt in the wild, they are only successful about one in every 10 to 20 attempts. They are tenacious and relentless hunters that refuse to be deterred by rejection or failure. Tigers are keystone predators, meaning they have a significant impact on their natural environment. When they thrive, their entire ecosystem thrives. Sales organizations need tigers!

Power Quote

“Sales tigers live by the motto: If I don’t hunt, my family doesn’t eat!”

—Chris Harris

Harris, Chris. “Spiders, Sheepdogs & Tigers.” “Phase Selling for Additive Manufacturing.” 2020, pp. 130-132.

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