From the top down

If the sales manager doesn’t know what it takes to sell, an A-plus sales crew will never materialize

Oliver Connolly
C-level Strategic

Ask fifty different sales managers about what makes a top salesperson, and you’ll get at least fifty different answers. You’ll hear things like this: gregarious, great personality, hard worker, dedicated, intelligent, honest, has integrity, organized and so on. They’ll tell you that he knows the industry, has excellent product knowledge and provides awesome customer service.

In short, most sales managers don’t really know. They haven’t given the question enough thought to have more than a vague notion about what makes great salespeople. That’s a real problem because when they use the wrong criteria, they continue to hire salespeople who won’t sell. They’ll make the hiring decision on gut instinct and on what they think they need instead of whether the person will sell. They’ll hire salespeople with lots of industry knowledge and experience – people who talk the talk but won’t necessarily walk it.  A year later they’re wondering where they went wrong.

Objective Management, a sales force development company that has evaluated and screened thousands of salespeople, came up with the following list of prospecting behaviors that are common to all successful sales professionals regardless of industry:|
• Prospects consistently.
• Reaches decision makers.
• Gets plenty of introductions and referrals.
• Uses effective listening and questioning skills.
• Gets commitments and decisions.
• Follows their written goals with a plan.
• Takes responsibility for their own success or failure. No excuses.
• Has a strong commitment to success.
• Learns why prospects would buy.
• Learns how prospects would buy.
• Doesn’t make assumptions.
• Doesn’t accept put-offs.
• Asks for the business.
• Doesn’t waste time making unqualified proposals or presentations.
• Closes a lot of new business.

You’ll notice that the above list focuses on execution more than on resume.  A salesperson that never gets in front of new prospects will never sell anything regardless of how awesome his resume looks. Knowledge alone doesn’t cut it in the sales business.

By the way, did you know that half of all salespeople can’t close and 75 percent won’t make cold calls? How many of those individuals work for you? Isn’t it time to stop hoping for miracles and do something about it?

Oliver Connolly works with CEOs and owners of small to mid-sized companies who are not satisfied with their sales and profits. He can be reached at 360-835-7555 or oliver@clevelstrategic.com. His Web site is www.clevelstrategic.com.

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