Everyone has a stereotype of what they believe a salesperson is, and unfortunately, most of them are not what I would call “positive” perceptions. Most of them sound a lot like this: "That blabbermouth guy in the cheap suit talking a mile a minute about his product or service, never allowing you time to think or get a word in, the one you can’t trust because you know he’s just saying whatever he can to close that sale."
Well, hopefully you realize that the best salespeople aren’t anything like that annoying guy you’re imagining. The following are six things about salespeople you need to know:
- Extroverts aren’t the best salespeople.
Author Dan Pink will tell you that the best salespeople are “ambiverts”: those people in the middle. Extroverts have a need to be liked by other people, which often results in them focusing on the relationship rather than the objective of closing a sale. They also tend to talk more and listen less, which are not excellent qualities for a salesperson!
- The golden rule (“Treat others the way you want to be treated”) doesn’t apply in motivating all of your salespeople.
Instead, apply the platinum rule: “Treat others the way they want to be treated.” We all have our own unique motivational needs. Your job is to determine which motivators each of your sales people have so you can be sure you are motivating the “right” things for each person. The good news is that there are many assessment tools available to help you streamline and pinpoint this process.
- Managing to the sales goal doesn’t work.
Instead, identify and manage the activity that leads to the sale. This typically includes the number of prospects contacted each week, the number of meetings conducted, the number of proposals submitted, etc. What gets tracked and measured gets done and what does not, you can’t manage. The key is to proactively manage these metrics and make the necessary course in a timely manner. This can range from daily to at least once every week in order to be truly effective depending on your unique situation.
- The best salespeople are avid learners.
In selecting salespeople, figure out what they’re doing on their own to improve their sales knowledge and skills, e.g., participating in webinars, reading books, blogs, and articles, tappking into LinkedIn groups, etc. Also ensure that they are open to coaching. Anyone who thinks they have it all figured is a hindrance to themselves and your organization!
- The best salespeople typically make bad sales managers.
The knowledge, skills and traits of a top producing salesperson are vastly different from the knowledge, skills and traits of a top-producing sales leader. The skills that distinguish outstanding salespeople are:
On the other hand, the top four skills required for a top producing sales leader are:
- Hiring and Selecting Top Salespeople
- Training and Developing Salespeople
- Managing and Holding Salespeople Accountable
- Leading and Motivating Salespeople
- Salespeople care about more than money.
As I stated earlier in #2 about The Platinum Rule; every person has their own unique motivations for doing something. Sometimes it’s about money. Sometimes it’s about the thrill of the kill. Sometimes it’s something entirely different! That’s why utilizing various assessment tools are so critical to understanding what motivates your salespeople, and thereby more effectively managing to their particular needs and desires.