Wednesday, 6 November 2013

10 personality characteristics of Key Sales Talent

There is much discussion among sales managers about what makes a successful salesperson.  

What is it that they have or possess that separates them from their adequate or under-achieving colleagues?

When hiring salespeople management tends to concentrate on two key criteria:

·         Outward appearance and mannerisms and,

·         Experience in the field, industry, market or in sales generally.

With the competitiveness of the market today (and this is not expected to become any easier, as talent is once again on the move according to the Halgoen /CIPD report last week  ) recruiting and keeping the best is a tough task for management. 

Management needs however to hire the best and not just anybody to fill the space, and thus time should be invested in obtaining the best from the marketplace.

So what are the traits of successful salespeople?  The analysis based on experience and research suggests the following:

·         Self worth:  Successful salespeople have a strong sense of their own self worth.  This is not arrogance but high self-esteem and confidence.  They thrive on success and are able to bounce back from failure/rejection.

·         Assertiveness:  Not to be confused with aggressiveness, this involves an ability to control and lead the sales process, to be confident in one-on-one discussions, presentations and negotiations.

·         Personable: The time tested adage of ‘People buy from people,’ is still relevant today.  Relationship building, the ‘Ambassador’ role is key for successful salespeople who are usually friendly, curious, talkative and interested in their clients.

·         Empathy:  The ability to be in the other (customer’s) person’s shoes.  If you are trying to sell to somebody you must be able to see from their perspective, not just to understand their needs but the reasons behind those needs.

·         Thinking outside the box:  The successful salesperson is always looking for ways to differentiate themselves.  They are looking for the new angle, the new approach, method, product or service to set themselves apart from their competitors.

·         Risk taking:  Closely allied to thinking outside the box is their attitude to risk.  The successful salesperson will try something different; will take risks if they believe the risks will help them to succeed.  As the selling environment rapidly changes so the successful salesperson responds by trying the new, doing something different and risking being wrong.

·         Conceptual selling:  This is all about the ability to sell ideas, thoughts and abstracts.  As selling becomes more complex it is important for success that salespeople can sell both the tangibles, (e.g. products) and the intangibles, (e.g. the services behind the product.)

·         Sense of urgency: It is about making things happen and happen now!  The successful salesperson reasons that if they don’t get it (the sales process) done then the competition will gain.

·         Sense of realism:  Successful salespeople have a realistic streak in them.  They don’t always trust the customer or others.  They question to be sure and are thorough in their approach.  They tend not to promise too much and deliver too little.

·         Competitiveness:  The best are competitive even if they are only competing against themselves.  They want to win and get that sale, order, new customer or key account.  They want success and work for it.

Not every salesperson will have all these characteristics but sales managers should use them to assess new recruits.  Additionally they should help you to find new salespeople from within other areas of your company.  People in other departments and positions demonstrating these characteristics are thus potential for your team.

Sales managers should also look at what industry specific characteristics they need and add them to their list.  The chances of recruiting successful salespeople for your company must improve if you seek to break the old formula of hiring using the two criteria mentioned at the start. 

The role of sales managers ‘increase profitable sales through other people’, and thus you are responsible for recruiting and retaining the right people to achieve success.

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