Ever met a salesperson who could “sell ice to Eskimos” or “sell sand to a Bedouin?”. Someone who just appears to be a born salesman? Who seemingly and effortlessly closes lots of business?
In this article I wrote about if the perennial debate of nature versus nurture would apply to sales. Could there be such a thing as a “born salesperson” or can anyone be taught to sell effectively?
The short answer is a qualified yes to both.
Yes, people are born or hardwired with certain talents. And yes, people can be trained to improve their performance. But the salesperson with an underlying innate talent will generally do better than someone who has to constantly work hard at it.
Which is why choosing the right type of salesperson for your particular selling situation is a major factor in determining your success. A fact that is ignored by the vast majority of sales managers worldwide. Sales managers who then get frustrated that their teams aren’t performing and bringing home the bacon.
To recap Hardwired Innate Abilities or Talents which each sales person must have in the right combination are:
- Work Ethic: Quality vs. Quantity.
Do you make lots of quick sales vs. long term deals which could take months or even years to complete.
- Tolerance: High vs. Low.
Will you do whatever tasks necessary to get the job done – including stuff you dislike such as cold calling?
- Persuasion: Advisor vs. Pleaser.
Are you a born closer who naturally closes the sale or do you love “consulting” and never get the business?
- Executive Rapport: High vs. Low.
Can you naturally relate to people at the top or prefer dealing with the “common man”?
- Need: Create vs. Established.
Do your customers know they have a problem or do you need to create awareness first?
- Explanation: Obvious vs. Concept
Selling cars or houses is obvious. Selling performance improvement services is not.
Today we’ll be focusing on the first set of criteria – Work Ethic: Quality Versus Quantity. I’ll explain with a couple of examples.
We are all preprogramed when it comes to what we consider to be “working hard”.
Are you wired for “quantity” – needing to be busy and productive? Do you need your day filled with lots of activity, phone calls and many sales? Do you prefer a repetitive and structured job?
Or are you wired for “quality” where there are fewer client interactions, but you need to perform flawlessly every time because a tremendous amount is riding on every meeting? These are usually higher level, executive type sales.
Maybe you’re somewhere in-between?
I’ve worked with a number of pharmaceutical companies whose reps call on individual pharmacies. Some do it exclusively over the phone, others in person.
In either case it’s a repetitive, structured selling environment. Lots of calls and activity in a defined geographical territory. Reps are expected to make sales at every contact. Generally low priced individual items, it’s very much a “quantity” based selling environment.
The same could be said for selling cars. While not a low priced item, selling cars generally don’t involve a long drawn out sales cycle. A prospective buyer comes in, sees a car, bargains and if the price, finance and delivery line up, buys.
In both cases the sales people are measured on short term results and thrive on activity.
However take one of these people and put them into a long term “quality” based sales role and they may well fail.
During a 20 year corporate career I sold high end software and services. Deals could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and take months to over a year to complete.
Complex sales involving lots of meetings, evaluations, proofs of concepts. Meeting with people in all levels of the organisation from very senior executives to highly technical users.
I remember Robert who joined our team at a large multi-national selling software. He’d been a superb new car salesman who’d outsold the rest of the team 12 to 1. Lots of cars per month. And lots of recognition and constant sales victories.
But within 6 months it was obvious he wasn’t going to make it with us. While the level of activity required was similar, it was quite different in nature. Our sales involved lots of paperwork and reporting. Navigating complex formal and informal organisational structures, a deep understanding office politics (both ours and the client’s) and long intervals between closing deals.
So even though the pay and conditions and advancement prospects were better here, he left and went back to selling cars. He needed the adrenaline rush of constant victories.
While both quantity and quality salespeople need excellent people skills, the latter also need a lot of patience and the ability to play the long game. Akin to a sprinter or a marathon runner. You can’t be great at both. Therefore understanding what sorts of people you really need in your sales roles is critical.
Which is the first area we can help you with.
If your salespeople aren’t performing at their best it could be that they’re not playing to their strengths. They could be in roles that don’t suit their selling style or talents.
For example long term relationship builders are often lousy prospectors. Understanding innate skills and preferences and moving people into the right roles where possible will dramatically improve productivity and you’ll end up with a happier team.
We can analyse your sales process, evaluate your people to ensure the right people are in the right areas.
Realise also that pre-engagement (what happens before the sale) is as important as the selling process. Salespeople are most effective when actually selling to qualified prospects.
Effective marketing will deliver a steady stream of good quality, educated prospects so your sales team spend less time and effort converting them into long term clients.
Our direct marketing strategies and implementation services do exactly that. Through highly targeted multi-channel marketing, we reduce the “selling” time because we eliminate the tedious and ineffective prospecting phase most sales people hate.
So if you want to dramatically improve your results engage us to look at your sales team’s structure, your sales process and the marketing that gets prospects to your door.
Call us on 0414-913-334 to get started.