21 Feb The DNA of a Sales Champion
I’ve interviewed hundreds of sales people for clients over the past 10 years. All and all, there is a reoccurring certain genetic make up that comes with those that really succeed as the top producers year in and year out.
Simply put, it’s broken down into a few specific traits:
Some people are driven and some people say they are driven. There is a wide disparity between the truth and the tale. Every sales person in an interview says that they have drive, but how do they display this? What is their personal goal system like, and how do they make certain that they will succeed? Do they take responsibility for reaching success, or do they point to other factors as to why they fell short of their goal? Having the right drive requires ownership of a large mirror that the person is willing to look at on a regular basis. Drive comes from within and cannot be derailed by any external factor.
Sales requires being in the deal for the long run. There is too much rejection at each sales stage to go at it half heartedly. If the rep doesn’t have the pursuit skills to stay in the hunt, they will never become a top producer. I always suggest that a touch point process requires a number of touches over a long period of time. Whether they area sales or marketing touches, the pursuit must be such that the awareness of your organization is front and center, at just the right time.
Having confidence is just as important as having the skill. Top baseball batting average holders fail nearly 7 out of 10 times. Sales professionals must understand that there will be times of up and down, with fail rates being high. For instance, cold calling carries a high fail rate. Getting knocked down and kicked around is part of the game. Picking yourself up and knowing that you will eventually succeed is a self confident act that top producers portray.
Again, rejection is a commonplace of the profession. Are your sales people sensitive individuals that care what people think? Well, they should care to some degree, but if their skin is thin, they will never be a top producer. This trait also coincides with drive. Top producers need the mental strength to maintain a level of drive that keeps them at the top, being able to ignore noise that may be considered hurtful or that will bring down the moral of the individual.
Take a look at the self-made processes that your sales people follow. Every sales person comes with their own personal system in how they work and sell. Are they furiously taking notes and never putting then into a Salesforce Automation Tool for retrieval? Are your sales people sloppy and lacking detail? Their work processes, attention to detail and organizational skills are a direct reflect of how they will work with new prospects and clients. It’s likely that your best sales people have a well organized calendar and schedule events for selling and achieving. The sales rep that struts into the office at 9am and then determines what they will be doing for the day is not a top producer.
This trait can’t be undersold. How smart are your sales people? I have seen a direct correlation between the amount of grey matter and sales ability. It requires smart, bright and intelligent people to be successful. Sure, some people get lucky, but very few. Being smart about how you work, the conversations that transpire with prospects and clients, and how they come up with options to maximize selling power requires intelligence. Selling on just an ability to build relationships is not the complete answer. Collective skills of relationship building and intelligence can achieve better than one on its own.
Selling is extremely difficult. Hiring top sales people is equally as difficult. It’s important to realize whether you are hiring someone that “fell” into sales as a career, or is driven to be the best at it because they sought it out and are highly motivated to earn. There are huge differences in results from one to the other. Many people say that they want to be in sales because they want to earn a lot of money but aren’t willing to do what it takes to really achieve high levels of income. These people end up as mediocre producers and maximize their income with the least amount of effort. They are “comfortable”. It’s ok for a large sales teams to have a few of these people, but a small to mid sized company will not grow exponentially unless there are sales leaders (not the owners or partners) that are highly motivated, hungry, driven, intelligent players on the sales staff.
Of all the people I’ve met and interviewed over the years, only a select handful have all of these traits listed above, and all of them are top producers.
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Kevin O’Brien is a Co-Founder and Partner at echogravity. Kevin’s credentials include being a top recruiter for a international Big 8 consulting firm, top business development rep for a global consulting and staffing firm, and consulting with over 100 companies across North America.