a lot riding on the effectiveness of your sales team. Every
employee in your organization, and indeed the organization itself, is
dependent on how well the sales team performs. You can be sure you have
a top performing team if each of your salespeople has these eight attributes.
The best salespeople love good competition and thrive on besting themselves
and others. They are never complacent or satisfied with the status quo.
They celebrate every win, but only briefly; then the desire to experience
another win kicks in and they are off on the next quest. When interviewing
for sales positions, have applicants provide plenty of examples of setting
goals, formulating action plans, overcoming obstacles, executing their
plans, and getting what they want. People with great sales potential can
readily do that. They are go-getters and generally have plenty of past
achievements to point to. If you need someone who can hit the ground running,
look for take-charge people who have an abundance of achievement drive
and plenty of successful selling experience under their belt. These people
don't come cheaply, but if you can afford them, they are worth every dime,
provided they have the other attributes listed below as well.
can't afford the top guns, you can create your own by finding rookies
with the right attributes and molding them into superstars. Real-world
experience is a strong predictor of sales success, but that experience
need not be direct selling experience. Research consistently shows that
anyone with the right attributes can be successful at selling provided
they receive good sales training. To ensure that you have the right people,
know what attributes you need and have a sure-fire way to determine whether
sales candidates possess them.
Great salespeople are not just driven to achieve, they also genuinely
care about people and insist on treating them well. They are good listeners
and great problem-solvers who go out of their way to provide knock-your-socks-off
service to every customer every time. Customers expect salespeople to
be a knowledgeable expert and a caring consultant and salespeople that
possess achievement drive well balanced by empathy deliver both. Empathy
cannot be faked - most people can spot insincerity in an instant. Sales
figures will most definitely reflect the degree to which salespeople possess
enough empathy to be consistently considerate of the needs of the company
on the one hand and their customers on the other. One caveat here; empathy
without a balance of achievement drive can result in poor sales outcomes.
A salesperson with too much empathy and not enough achievement drive will
back down in the face of objections and frequently fail to close.
Self-confidence is essential to sales success. It is the factor that allows
an individual to keep going in the face of adversity and is the best source
of rejection protection. Great salespeople don't take rejection or the
loss of a sale personally. They stay confident in their ability to present
their product or service effectively and recognize that circumstances
beyond their control sometimes influence outcomes.
Self-esteem is the "I'm worth the effort" factor that keeps
great salespeople learning, perfecting and improving upon their skills.
The best salespeople settle for nothing less than complete mastery of
their profession. They spend a great deal of their free time doing things
to improve themselves. They know that, in the world of sales, competence
and expertise require constant updating of knowledge and skills and they
do the work because they know they are worth the effort it takes to be
In selling, enthusiasm comes from believing whole-heartedly in the company
and what it offers. Not just a little, but completely. Salespeople with
integrity will not sell something they don't believe in and without integrity,
both you and your customers are in trouble. Your salespeople have got
to believe that what you offer is exceptional in some way. If they don't,
don't count on having a sales staff with much passion or enthusiasm for
what they are selling. Before they will effectively sell for you, you
have got to sell them on the value of your products and services, on your
mission and vision for the company and on the rewards that will follow
their actions. If your mission, vision and unique selling position (USP)
is not readily understood, you will need to convey them. Help your salespeople
see the connection between what your company provides and why providing
it is important. Also convey how your offering is superior and uniquely
useful to the customer. It's a mistake to have salespeople on staff who
cannot generate and express passion around your offering. Without enthusiasm
they are dead in the water and will likely drain the energy and enthusiasm
from other people on the sales team.
The most effective salespeople are very good at reading people and gathering
important clues from the environment and they are masters at hearing what
is not said. They are observant listeners as well as keen observers of
non-verbal communications. They are proficient at using non-verbal feedback
to know when to change the direction of a conversation, ask a question
or attempt a close. They are also able to use the power of non-verbal
communications to convey interest and concern, build rapport, test a customer's
resistance or readiness to buy, and to connect with prospects and customers
on the deepest levels.
People do business with people they like. It's human nature and there
is no getting around it. Of course, not all people like the typically
high energy, powerful types that gravitate to selling and the most successful
salespeople are aware of this fact. To compensate for it, they have learned
to be chameleon-like and to adjust to their customer's style. Likeability,
by this definition can be learned and, with the right training, is generally
relatively easy to master for those who gravitate toward selling as a
profession. Never underestimate the importance of the likeability factor.
If you have salespeople on staff that are not willing or able to flex
their style to make themselves likeable, either get them the training
they need or move them out of the sales arena.
Top sales performers are very disciplined. They don't need external controls
to keep them doing the right things at the right time. In fact, one of
the worst things a sales manager can do to high performing salespeople
is to manage them too closely. Great, or potentially great, salespeople
want and need very little supervision. They are race horses, not plow
horses, and managers will get a lot more out of them by giving them clear
goals and then giving them their head and letting them run. Those who
have the self-discipline to drive their own actions will generally bring
in far more revenue when they are given plenty of freedom and flexibility
to perform so long as it is well balanced by clear expectations, goals
and objectives. If giving your sales staff plenty of freedom and flexibility
has not resulted in increased revenue, you either don't have the right
people in place or you have not clearly defined expectations, goals and
objectives. Make sure you have the right people and that they know what
you expect of them. The right people will make your job easy and keep
your company profitable.
is both a science and an art. The science comes from technical training.
The art requires both natural talents and skills and, where natural talents
are concerned, your people either have them or they don't, and few companies
can afford to discover which it is the hard way.
Copyright © 2006 by Sherry Buffington, Ph.D.
Sherry Buffington is Chairman and CEO of NaviCore International, Inc.,
a firm dedicated to building high performance people. She is the originator
and co-developer of the highly acclaimed CORE Multidimensional Awareness
Profile (CORE MAP) and a leading expert on discovering and developing
top talent. She has been helping organizations improve outcomes and increase
profits since 1984. To learn more, visit our website at www.NaviCoreInternational.com
to Books and Articles