I have had a flood of people approach me lately bemoaning the difficulty of finding top sales personnel. Selling is difficult to master and people who have no sales experience often do not fully appreciate how valuable an asset a top salesperson is. Chances of making a good hire improve dramatically if one takes the time to reflect on what they are looking for. What follows are the attributes I look for in a sale person. The weight or importance of these attributes can vary and depends on the type of product or service being sold.
Ability to set and achieve goals – If a candidate has sales experience; it’s always good to understand how they have performed against a quota. Quotas are often set by the employer. I prefer an example where the candidate came up with the goal without outside influence. When a candidate joins a new company; the speed with which the candidate becomes productive will depend on their ability to independently set challenging, meaningful goals.
Capture attention – The late Bill Brooks taught that the first minute of contact with a prospect has the most impact on sales success. There is a misconception that this ability is tied to a gregarious personality and charm. Good eye contact and an opening statement that connects with a prospects needs and wants gets the job done.
A Balance of Caring and Motivation – The difference between sales and manipulation is that sales people care and are committed to the success of their customers. If all a sales person does is attend to existing accounts, there are not going to be many new customers. Sales success requires the motivation to do the hard work of prospecting.
Able to Discern Customer Signs – Talented sales people can read body language to determine if a customer is interested, when the customer is ready to understand product and service details, and when the customer is ready to buy. Failure to read and respond the signs results in lots of meetings and no sales.
Ask the Right Questions – A successful sales person will spend no more than 30% of the time talking during a conversation with a prospect. It’s vital that the questions asked both reflect an understanding of the customer’s business and capture the key wants and needs.
Handle Critical Conversations – Companies sometimes make mistakes. It’s vital to a company that their sales people can handle a customer’s frustration and anger and find a remedy that will start to restore trust.
Handle Objections and Clarify Value – The key objective for every professional buyer is to turn your product into a commodity. Sales people must understand the company’s unique value and be confident in the organization’s ability to deliver. Success depends on the sales team resisting price pressure and bringing the prospect back to the economic value of your products.
Please comment if I have missed an attribute!!