by Bruce R. Wares
Every sales manager’s dream: The Perfect Salesperson.
High personal sales production. Eager to fill out call reports and expense reports. Excited about company sales quotas. Tactful, polite, and well- behaved at office parties. Seldom drinks; never embarrasses anyone. Never cheats on spouse. Rarely questions sales manager. Always the most cooperative person at company meetings. Excellent rapport with existing clients. Eager to cold call for new business. Dresses and grooms professionally at all times. Always brings in new, profitable accounts. Rarely asks for company-generated leads. A dream, or a potential reality.
How many “‘Perfect Salespeople” work at your company today?
For as long as there have been salespeople. there have been “good” ones and “bad” ones. For just as long, sales managers and directors of sales have been looking for the perfect salesperson – the person who not only meets sales goals, but who cooperates without being a prima donna. Companies seek the salesperson who loyally stays with the company for many years, all of those years being highly productive in sales performance.
What are the ideal characteristics most eagerly sought-after in top salespeople? How can you go about finding such superstars to add to your sales team? How can you keep them? What makes them so hard to find?
This article will shed light on what makes a highly productive salesperson.
Many surveys have been taken to determine just what it is that makes a good salesperson. Based on our experience and observations. we’ll clarify and list characteristics to look for in top-performing salespeople. (You may have found other characteristics to add to our list. Your comments and suggestions are welcome. Please mail them to us.)
The H.R. Chally Group of Dayton, Ohio describes four different sales “types:”
CLOSER – Unafraid of rejection, they quickly push for the order, collect a check, and move on. They’re enthusiastic, dynamic. fast-paced, and rarely stay around prospects long enough to develop lasting relationships. Books titled “1001 Ways to Close The Sale” appeal to this killer sales personality.
CONSULTANT – Able to develop long-term relationships, they focus on serving client needs. Emphasis is on creative problem solving. They are good at blending patience and aggressiveness, as well as asking questions and listening. Clients are loyal to this salesperson because of their human relations skills and problem-solving abilities.
RELATIONSHIP – Friendly and supportive, these salespeople develop long-term relationships with customers. They are good customer service people. High creativity and professional problem-solving are not as pronounced as with the Consultant type. Route sales, general advertising, and established account selling are typical areas for the Relationship-type salesperson.
DISPLAY SALES – The Retail-type person responds to customer needs In a friendly, low key manner. Brief personal involvement and little personal rejection is encountered. This type of salesperson most often performs retail sales and catalog order sales. They don’t have to use as much creativity or extensive problem-solving skills. They’re rarely paid on a commission basis. Accommodating customers is their main theme.
As you can see. there are big differences among the four types of salespeople. It is usually difficult for them to cross channels and move to another type of selling. It is best to find a person who fits the job, and much more difficult to make the job fit the personality style.
When you select salespeople. determine which type of salesperson would do best in the selling position you want to fill. Then look for that type.
The best Closers are tops at: generating and qualifying leads, making presentations, dealing with objections, closing, and collecting initial deposits.
The best Consultants are tops at: qualifying, determining client needs, making targeted sales presentations (based on client needs), and responding to objections; while maintaining solid customer relations and providing outstanding service.
The best Relationship salespeople are tops at: answering questions and objections, as well as closing; while maintaining relationships which lead to repeat business. They put the emphasis on customer service and follow-through.
The best Display salespeople are tops at: customer service and repeat business. As order takers. they are not expected to generate and qualify leads, do in-depth needs analysis. handle objections, or make professional sales presentations.
Focus On The Consultative Type For most types of business, the consultative salesperson is the best bet. Why? We strongly believe that it takes a true consultative salesperson to build long-term, mutually- profitable client relationships.
Based on our observations of top-flight consultative salespeople, they possess the following characteristics:
A strong drive to be successful They dislike periods of inactivity. They have persistence and tenacity that helps them succeed over the long run.
High levels of energy The real pros take care of their health. They exercise regularly, watch their weight, eat properly, and maintain themselves in excellent physical condition. They know that their high energy level contributes to their success.
Anticipation of success They have positive expectations of results. They realize that their attitude and mental outlook have a great deal to do with the results they create.
Sensitivity, combined with assertiveness Consultative salespeople have a keen awareness of where the prospect is relative to buying, as well as the assertiveness to guide the prospect towards doing business. They know when to back off as well as when to move forward. They possess the delicate balance of empathy and ego drive.
Ability to think and act quickly They’re spontaneous in their thoughts and actions. They know their market, products, and the basic needs of the businesses they call on; so they’re more relaxed and comfortable than the salesperson who can only perform well when using a memorized, canned presentation. Their spontaneity and openness build credibility and trust with prospects.
High self-esteem and independence Top performers don’t need to look to others for emotional support. They can function well if left alone to plan and work their territory, make their calls, and do follow-up work with their clients. They’re self-starters. Others admire their high self-esteem.
Skills in the art of persuasion They quite naturally want to persuade prospects and clients to move forward and make buying decisions. They capture attention quickly, arouse interest, listen well to client needs, and make presentations based on both the logical needs and emotional wants of their prospects. Their human relations skills enable them to develop positive relationships with everyone.
A need to succeed Top-performing consultative salespeople thrive on challenge. Their driving ambition is to “win” or “conquer” circumstances. Because they recognize that establishing Win/Win relationships is the key to creating more long-term profitability, they constantly seek ways to solve problems for clients so both parties to the sale actually win.
Focus on goals Top performers set goals which challenge them to stretch and grow professionally, and they’re persistent in their drive to achieve and surpass their goals. They don’t quit easily. They dress and groom to create a professional image so they can reach their goals faster.
Honesty with themselves They constantly strive to know themselves totally, and they admit and accept their limitations. Self-evaluation enables them to maximize use of their inherent and learned talents, while not being unrealistic in their expectations of success.
Optimism They anticipate achievement of their goals. They avoid negative thoughts, destructive pessimism and cynicism. Positive expectation of success enables them to overcome obstacles along the way toward their goals.
Comfort with the title “Salesperson.” The best salespeople see themselves as true professional salespeople. They don’t hide behind titles like: financial consultant, applications engineer, market specialist. etc. The real pros have a strong belief in sales as an honorable profession.
Belief in their products and services Because persuasive communication requires congruent expression of words, tone of voice, and non-verbal messages; total belief in the benefits of their products enables these special salespeople to produce at high levels. If there is any doubt or hesitancy in the sales message or any lack of belief in the value being offered, the sales opportunity may be lost.
Limited sales call reluctance Even the most skilled salespeople will never reach their real sales potential if they suffer from the career-debilitating effects of call reluctance. The best salespeople identify the areas of discomfort they experience in their selling, make the necessary corrections, and move on. They face their fears and initiate sufficient contacts with new prospects to continue to build their client base.
We hope you’ll find this information useful in your never-ending search for the Perfect Salesperson. Your comments and questions are always welcomed. Good Selling!
- © Copyright 1996 Bruce R. Wares. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Bruce R. Wares has more than 30 years of successful sales experience and has presented sales training since 1976 for industry-leading companies (and those that plan to become leaders in their industry) from the Fortune 100 to small entrepreneurial firms. He personally trains groups of 12 to 50 or more, specializing in his PARTNER$SELL approach to achieving Measurable Results.
You can reach Bruce Wares at:
Sales Productivity Institute
3730 North 26th Street
Boulder, CO 80304-1324