There are tomes and tomes of books written on the requirements for the ‘perfect’ salesperson. There are movies that people point to (Glengarry Glen Ross and most recently the Wolf of Wall Street).
Yet despite all the advice out there, what should we, as sales leaders, really be looking for?
Tenacity: Face it, sales is a game of persevering through the last rejection until you can win the next deal. Yes it may be slightly different for account managers versus hunters versus an inside sales team however the base trait of tenacity and perseverance against the odds is a requirement for success in a sales role. In the pursuit for success the sales person has to be prepared to continue towards their goal – ignoring the ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘the customer will never buy’ or why would you think they would buy from you’. Tenacity, perseverance and holding to a longer term vision are all critical.
Focus: In any organization there inevitably arises the opportunity for a sales person to get sidelined by finance issues, delivery issues, service issues, and billing issues. However most compensation plans do not account for this ‘unproductive’ sales time. As hard as it is, you need to pass these off to the right member of your support team and continue selling. Selling is your raison d’etre – not servicing.
Communication: There are many sales people out there that are good people yet they could be better sales people by improving their communication – both internally and externally. Internally the salesperson has to be open, honest and willing to accept guidance. Telling their manager that deals are coming in week after week not only undermines their personal credibility but makes it less likely that the manager will want to invest time with the salesperson. In addition, if commitments have been made to a customer, they must be passed back through the organization so that the customer continues to build rapport with the company’s representative – the sales person. Externally the sales person has to have the confidence to realize that the customer isn’t always right. That at times they will have to say no to a customer’s request (granted, they should be able to explain why) in order to ensure that they are fulfilling the mandate that their company has set out for them.
Vision: Every sales person – unless they are purely selling commodities – must be prepared to participate in building a vision with their customers. In order to truly become part of the customer’s ‘team’ and secure their position and relationship they need to bring more than just products and services to the customer – they need to bring solution and vision. The sales person needs to be able to understand what the real issues are that the customer is facing and provide advice to them. Hopefully that advice will coincide with a service or product that they can represent to the customer.
Although there are many, many personality traits and skills, habits managers will want to see in their sales team members – these first four will provide a firm foundation to build upon.
By John Benson