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Leslie Groene Website Homepage December 2016, Vol. 138

Takeaways from the 20 Years I've Been Coaching Sales People!

I was recently asked to offer some absolutes about what make for successful sales people and enduring selling careers that I have gleaned from my coaching practice - here they are:
1) Sales people fail if they don't prospect enough- you can't get complacent when you have built up a good book of business because you will encounter attrition- FOR SURE!!
2) REALLY take care of your current clients so that competition can't sneak in there and steal your market share.
3) Continue to hone your skills and learn about your industry so you are a trusted advisor.
4) Balance is important but you have to put in enough time to grow and build your business.

Interesting Traits of Sales Leaders!

1. Modesty. Contrary to conventional stereotypes that successful salespeople are pushy and egotistical, 91 percent of top salespeople had medium to high scores of modesty and humility. Furthermore, the results suggest that ostentatious salespeople who are full of bravado alienate far more customers than they win over.
As opposed to establishing themselves as the focal point of the purchase decision, top salespeople position the team that will help them win the account as the centerpiece.

2. Conscientiousness. Eighty-five percent of top salespeople had high levels of conscientiousness, whereby they could be described as having a strong sense of duty and being responsible and reliable. These salespeople take their jobs very seriously and feel deeply responsible for the results.
The worst position for salespeople to be in is to have relinquished account control and to be operating at the direction of the customer, or worse yet, a competitor. Conversely, top salespeople take command of the sales cycle process in order to control their own destiny.

3. Achievement Orientation. Eighty-four percent of the top performers tested scored very high in achievement orientation. They are fixated on achieving goals and continuously measure their performance in comparison to their goals.
During sales cycles, top sales, performers seek to understand the politics of customer decision-making. Their goal orientation instinctively drives them to meet with key decision-makers. Therefore, they strategize about the people they are selling to and how the products they're selling fit into the organization instead of focusing on the functionality of the products themselves.

4. Curiosity. Curiosity can be described as a person's hunger for knowledge and information. Eighty-two percent of top salespeople scored extremely high curiosity levels. Top salespeople are naturally more curious than their lesser performing counterparts.
A high level of inquisitiveness correlates to an active presence during sales calls. An active presence drives the salesperson to ask customers difficult and uncomfortable questions in order to close gaps in information. Top salespeople want to know if they can win the business, and they want to know the truth as soon as possible.

5. Lack of Gregariousness. One of the most surprising differences between top salespeople and those ranking in the bottom one-third of performance is their level of gregariousness. Overall, top performers averaged 30 percent lower gregariousness than below average performers.
Dominance is the ability to gain the willing obedience of customers such that the salesperson's recommendations and advice are followed. The results indicate that overly friendly salespeople are too close to their customers and have difficulty establishing dominance.

6. Lack of Discouragement. Less than 10 percent of top salespeople were classified as having high levels of discouragement and being frequently overwhelmed with sadness. Conversely, 90 percent were categorized as experiencing infrequent or only occasional sadness.
In casual surveys I have conducted throughout the years, I have found that a very high percentage of top performers played organized sports in high school. There seems to be a correlation between sports and sales success as top performers are able to handle emotional disappointments, bounce back from losses, and mentally prepare themselves for the next opportunity to compete.

7. Lack of Self-Consciousness. Self-consciousness is the measurement of how easily someone is embarrassed. The byproduct of a high level of self-consciousness is bashfulness and inhibition. Less than five percent of top performers had high levels of self-consciousness.
Top salespeople are comfortable fighting for their cause and are not afraid of rankling customers in the process. They are action-oriented and unafraid to call high in their accounts or courageously cold call new prospects.

Not all salespeople are successful. Given the same sales tools, level of education, and propensity to work, why do some salespeople succeed where others fail? Is one better suited to sell the product because of his or her background? Is one more charming or just luckier? The evidence suggests that the personalities of these truly great salespeople play a critical role in determining their success. Sources: Harvard Business Review

Focus Point

67. Be responsive to your client's requests for help and information.

In today's competitive world, we need to respond promptly and efficiently when clients need help and information. Some clients seem to need constant attention - but if we're using a systematic approach to our work and tracking our respective rates of profitability for each client, we'll already know who is providing us or our firm with the greatest return on our investment of time.

In other words, when our "Number One" client calls, we need to be on our toes. If we're not, one of our competitors will be glad to do the job! Also, look on the bright side when a newer client calls. It's one more chance to build a strong relationship with that client.