Many people believe that great sales-people are born, not made. It's a popular chestnut for discussions on sales blogs as well, but this point of view does not stand-up under scrutiny.
Having met thousands of sales people from all walks of life in all stages of their sales careers, there are a few common factors for sales success that reliably indicate the potential of individual salespeople to achieve success. The secret to B2B selling success is that there is no secret and you are not born a rainmaker....it's skill development, deliberate practice, process, attitude and behavior.
When hiring sales talent we look for the following traits as they are the traits of top sales performers;
- Self confidence,
- Cognitive ability,
- Communications skill
- A genuine desire to succeed (fire-in-the-belly).
With the arguable exception of cognitive ability, everything else can be learned and changed for the better, provided the sales-person genuinely desires success. You "can teach old-dogs new tricks", provided the old-dog is able to percieve the rewards that new skills mastery and behaviour will bring.
I have learned from the experience in training and coaching sales people that the majority of unsuccessful sales-people are poorly trained, have no written goals to strive for, are poorly managed, lack formal sales process, and have few company-supplied tools to enable them to engage buyers in meaningful conversations around how their products could be used to solve problems, create value.
Underperforming sales-people are often fired after several quarters of low productivity at significant cost to the organization. What can you do with low achievers in your business?
In an engagement with Rainmaker, a top-10 US Telesales company, we raised the performance level of the sales team...across the board. The formula for success for raising individual performance and thus the company was as follows:
- Develop and share messaging and scripts that enabled all sales people to leverage best-practices dialogue around how the products/services create value for buyers
- Train individuals and practice advanced communication and language skills and rapport development skills through regular role-playing and coaching until mastery is achieived
- Re-engage sales people in their lives and careers through belief, behaviour, and attitude change.
- Learn powerful diagnosis and qualification techniques to enable sales people to qualify out early from deals they cannot win.
- Create lightweight sales process for buyer-seller alignment to create pipeline transparency throughout the sales cycle.
- Monitor individual performance, tune messaging and give feedback on progress and where improvements are needed regularly to enable closed-loop performance improvement.