When Vilfredo Pareto formulated his famous 80-20 rule in 1900, I wonder could he have guessed that 100 years later his rule would apply to sales in organisations like yours – with about 20% of all salespeople making 80% of all sales.
Research consistently demonstrates that over half of those in professional lack the basic attributes required for success in this difficult profession – attributes that World-Class salespeople possess as natural gifts or develop through training or single-minded focus. Of the remaining half, half of these again have the potential for success in some form of sales, but are currently selling the wrong product or service – leaving just about 25% who sell about 80% of the world’s products and services. Scary.
That’s why it is so key that all those of us with responsibility for driving our businesses forward have a keen understanding of the attributes that make for World-Class Salespeople – so that we can hire more of them. It’s also key if we are to recognise where any struggling salespeople on our team might need training or support.
Run all of your salespeople against this list of the ten attributes that World-Class Salespeople share in common:
- Irrepressibly positive attitude. All of their glasses are half full and every cloud they encounter has a silver lining. Knock them down nine times and they stand up ten. Without this iron optimism a life in sales is a stressful and daunting existence. Do your sales heroes live in a partly cloudy or partly sunny world?
- They understand that sales is a numbers game. They don’t lose their cool when a call goes badly, a deal goes south, or a first contact ends in refusal – they simply focus more carefully on the next call. They know their hit rate from past experience – they know how many “No!s” they’ll have to take on the chin to get to one “Yes”. Do your salespeople know the value of their calls?
- They live to prospect. The world-class are prospecting all of the time – especially when things are going so well that everyone else has stopped. They know that sales success is directly dependant upon continually filling their pipelines with well-qualified prospects. Prospecting is their obsession – they never stop. Is prospecting 24 / 7 / 365 in your organisation?
- Totally sales driven. These people live for the chase that results in a closed deal; they are internally motivated to go to whatever lengths they must to win the business. They seem to have unceasing energy; once they decide to do something, once they get the bit between their teeth, nothing slows or stops them until they have succeeded. Are your sales team in top gear?
- They are competitive. The need to win informs everything else that they do. They don’t like second, and there are not good losers. Sure, they know that they must affect a “good loser” performance from time to time – for social reasons. But deep down they need to win, and losses just stiffen their resolve. They can’t be kept to second place for long. Is your team too good at losing?
- Obsessed with “the next step”. Everything they do is about getting to the “next step”, about getting the next level of commitment that brings the client ever closer to the level of trust and confidence needed for the client to say “Yes!”. World-class sales people think solely in terms of specifics like “where”, “when”, “how”, “how much”. Woolly concepts like “sometime”, “in the future”, “later”, “whenever” are simply not in their vocabularies. Are your salespeople driving their case forward at least one step with every client or prospect contact?
- They KNOW that they and their products are world class. Quiet confidence oozes out of top salespeople, and unbridled enthusiasm for their company and products/services gushes from them at everyone they meet. No one is left untouched by the passion they pull upon when they talk about themselves, their companies, or their products and services. They evangelise. Have your people been to the top of the mountain?
- They qualify hard before they invest time and energy. Time is too precious to waste on people who don’t have the need for what they can provide. They understand their products and services inside out, understand the needs they address, understand why their offerings are so much better than their competitors, and know enough about their prospective clients that they rarely find themselves in front of someone who is not a genuine prospective client. Do your sales team look before they leap?
- They expect to hear No! more often than Yes! Once they know that they are in front of the right people these champions are confident that they have considered every possible No! situation that might arise, and they understand how to address these objections in a manner that builds the confidence and trust of their prospective clients. Are your front people ever ready to handle key objections?
- They sell through client knowledge. Ask clients of a World-Class Salespeople what sets them apart and they’ll tell you “they understand us”. These people never stop trying to ferret out more information about the client and their needs – they know that the only way they can deliver sales that become valuable relationships is through partnership and problem solving. How much do your salespeople know about their clients and prospects?
When you hire new salespeople look for these key attributes; and when you look at your current salespeople, especially those who are struggling, look for which of these attributes are missing – and invest time and money in whatever coaching, training and support they need to develop. This has never been easier – thanks to modern assessment techniques.
Did you know that you can accurately and objectively measure all of these attributes BEFORE you hire someone? Did you know that you can also profile your star salespeople, your top 20%, so that you can hire more of them – and raise the game of your 80% up to top performer level? Drop me a line and I’ll arrange for Profiles International to give you a free test-drive with your sales team.
Focus upon moving all of your sales team into the 20% zone and watch your sales soar.