Contributing author: Steve Deighton
Do you think your salespeople were born to sell? Most sales managers are aware that 50% of the people in sales are not cut out for sales. Furthermore, half of the people who are actually cut out for sales are selling the wrong product or service. This leaves us with about 20-25% of the people in sales accounting for 80% of sales.
Selling requires a unique and very specific set of skills. Unfortunately, many hiring managers do not know what those specific skills are, so they blindly hire salespeople based on less important criteria and hope for the best.
But there is a better way. Optimizing the performance of your sales team starts with knowing what makes great salespeople. Research conducted over the past two decades identifies seven universal and critical sales behaviors which are tied to sales success.
1. Entrepreneurial approach: Salespeople essentially run their own businesses. Yes, they do sell for their organizations, but they often go at it alone and most of the time their success or failure is directly related to their actions. Those who are behaviorally wired to influence others, comfortably present ideas, and guide a prospective customer to a mutually agreed upon solution will tend to have a more successful sales career.
2. Understands the prospect: Only 2 percent of sales occur at a first meeting. The other 98 percent of people will buy only once they trust their sales representatives. One of the first things a sales person needs to learn is, you cannot “make” anyone buy from you, you must understand their needs and look to match a viable solution to influence their decision to buy from you. This is accomplished by asking great questions and listening.
3. Develops appropriate solutions: We have all heard the axiom “selling is not telling.” Only when a salesperson has truly heard what is important to the buyer, can they begin to process a solution which would most effectively meet the buyer’s needs.
4. Prospects proactively: Entrepreneurs are always looking for their next customer. Salespeople should be doing the same. Word of mouth continues to be the best form of marketing for driving new business. Hollywood knows this, hence the “hype” they build around their new releases. For salespeople, building a solid reputation with integrity, character and fairness is a cornerstone for success. Helping potential buyers become aware of who you are stems from taking a proactive approach.
5. Manages the selling process: Selling is a process and good salespeople know it inside and out. Salespeople must know how and when to move from part to part of the selling process. This is a crucial behavior. It’s not about reading people, it’s about understanding the process for each customer.
6. Closes the sale: This is where the money is made and a new relationship may be solidified. Salespeople can be excellent prospectors and relationship builders, but if they never close the sale, they have failed to do their job. A salesperson cannot be a salesperson unless they are able to close. Up to this point, they’ve been a company or customer advocate.
7. Manages sales relationships: Salespeople must have the innate ability to maintain a relationship with their customers. This includes checking in on customers after the sale to make sure the product is working well and coordinating any service they may need. These actions make it more likely that the customer will purchase from your company again.
The bottom line for sales managers is that if your salespeople are not succeeding in each of these seven functions, the responsibility falls on you. But it is impossible for you to give each prospect a personalized sales approach and your sales effectiveness will suffer. This is why it is critical to hire salespeople who are competent in each of these functions! Want to discover how suitable your people are to their jobs and lay out a rock solid sales strategy?