What does it take to be a top salesperson?
Recruitment of sales staff
One of the biggest mistakes in recruiting sales staff is to just look at experience. It is easy to base a hire on as it is tangible: five years of experience must be better than three years of experience.
I remember a client who was adamant that the candidate needed a solid five to 10 years experience selling a similar product (or at least in the same industry). He got what he wanted but not a top salesperson.
Skills are taught whereas behaviour rarely changes. Therefore, when recruiting, focus on behaviour first, and skills or experience second.
What are the three key behavioural traits of a top salesperson?
- 1They are persistent yet respectful
Focus on results: it is all about winning, losing is not an option.
About 50% of sales representatives will abandon a prospect after one follow-up. However, 80% of sales require five follow-ups.
That is why successful sales reps are usually persistent. As they give up less easily than their peers, they win many more deals.
Unfortunately, some people take persistence to mean using the same communication channel for all client contact: ring – ring – ring – ring – ring or email – email – email – email – email. If a sales rep uses the same channel every time, just hearing their name gives their clients angry hives.
High performing sales staff handle multiple communication channels and adjust their pitch to suit the situation, the same way a top mountain climber can approach a mountain from multiple angles.
No one wants to work with a stalker.
Top sales reps know how to follow up without their prospects feeling hunted. For instance, calling or emailing “just to check in” is pushy as there is nothing in it for the client, and it is an absolute “no go” in sales.
However, asking the client if they are still interested in achieving a specific goal and then providing a relevant suggestion is persistent.
Offering a product demo while the client is still in the education stage? Too much, too soon. Delving into their problems and helping them identify a possible solution will earn the client’s trust, so later down the line they will actually say “Yes”.
- 2They keep a level head
Top performing sales reps think before they act. They rarely lose control and stay composed. They don’t blurt out only to have to retract their comments later.
Suppose a potential client asks for a discount. Rather than immediately answering, they pause, which makes them more likely to say: “Let me walk you through the different options available so you can choose one that suit your budget best…” rather than “Let me see what I can do for you”.
They keep their cool during negotiations as getting flustered makes it hard to think strategically. Also, buyers may become more aggressive if they notice a sales representative’s composure is slipping away.
- 3They are task focused and do not get self-conscious
Top sales reps are less self-conscious, that is they are not afraid to take risks and persistently pursue deals. They are less emotional and focused on the task of closing deals.
It also means they are more likely to bounce back from rejection or failure.
Top sales reps see these experiences as opportunities to learn and improve, rather than signs they are not cut out for selling. This resiliency helps them overcome the inevitable hard times as they do not quit.
Self-assurance comes into play when using the Challenger Sales Methodology.
Top sales reps push back on the prospect and focus on the end goal rather than being liked. This takes a lot of confidence.
By focusing on behaviour rather than experience, it is possible to hire more superstars than average or poor sales reps.