Strategies for Winning

April 29th, 2011 by Michael Page

Who would have predicted that Vilfredo Pareto’s famous 80-20 rule, formulated more than 100 years ago, would still apply to sales organizations today?

Research consistently demonstrates that more than half of those in professional sales 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 have the potential for success in some form of sales, but are currently selling the wrong product or service. That leaves about 25 percent to sell about 80 percent of the world’s products and services.

Enlightening, isn’t it?

That’s why it’s important for you to have a keen understanding of the attributes of world-class salespeople. If you can recognize them, you can hire more of them! You can also tell when salespeople on your team need training and support, and you’ll have a good idea of what they need.

Measure your salespeople by this list of the ten attributes shared by world-class salespeople:

  1. 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 the tenth. 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?
  2. Understand That Sales is a Numbers Game
    They don’ 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 often they’ll have to take No! on the chin to get to one Yes!
    Do your salespeople know the value of their calls?
  3. Live to Prospect
    The world-class salespeople are prospecting all of the time – especially when things are going well. They know that sales success is directly dependent upon continually filling their pipelines with well-qualified prospects. Prospecting is their obsession. They never stop.
    Is prospecting 24/7/365 in your organization?
  4. 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 act, nothing slows or stops them until they have succeeded.
    Are your salespeople in top gear?
  5. Competitive
    They don’t like second, and they are not good losers. Sure, they know 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 in second place for long.
    Is your team too good at losing?
  6. Obsessed with the “Next Step”
    Everything they do is about getting to the “next steps” about getting the next level of commitment to bring the customer ever closer to the level of trust and confidence needed for a “Yes! A World-class salespeople think solely in terms of specifics like where, when, how, and how much. Concepts like sometime, in the future, later, whenever, are simply not in their vocabularies. The most successful salespeople at MRP Consulting, LLC know that their success is inevitable, but on they still drive to “accelerate the inevitable.
    Are your salespeople driving their case forward at least one step with every customer or prospect contact?
  7. Know That They and Their Products are World-Class
    Quiet confidence oozes out of top salespeople, and unbridled enthusiasm for the company, their products and services gushes from them at every meeting. No one is left untouched by the passion they pull upon when they talk about themselves, their companies, or their products and services. They evangelize.
    Have your people been to the top of the mountain?
  8. Qualify Hard Before Investing Time and Energy
    Time is too precious to waste on people who don’t need what they provide. They understand their products and services inside out, understand the needs they address, understand why their offerings are so much better than those of their competitors, and know enough about their prospective customers to find themselves rarely in front of someone who is not a genuine prospective customer.
    Do your salespeople look before they leap?
  9. Expect to Hear
    Once they know they are in front of the right people, these champions are confident that they considered every possible “No!” situation that might arise, and they understand how to address these objections in a way to build the confidence and trust of their prospective customers.
    Are your front people always ready to handle key objections?
  10. Sell Through Customer Knowledge
    Ask customers of world-class salespeople what sets them apart and they’ll tell you,  “They understand us”. These people never stop trying to find out more information about their customer and his needs. They know that the only way they can deliver sales is through partnership and problem-solving.
    How much do your salespeople know about their customers and prospects?

When you hire salespeople, you must look for these attributes. While this sounds simple, how do you objectively measure these attributes?

Effectively Spot the 20 Percent

That’s a challenge we faced in building our 800-strong worldwide sales force at MRP Consulting, LLC and we met it head on with the development of the Profiles Sales Indicator (PSI). The PSI analyzes your existing salespeople to produce a profile of what it takes to be a successful salesperson in your organization. Using your prospective salesperson’s responses to a 15-20 minute online survey, the PSI objectively analyzes the person for these attributes:

  • Competitiveness
  • Self-reliance
  • Persistence
  • Energy
  • Sales Drive

By comparing these results with the profile of your most successful salespeople, the PSI can predict on-the-job performance in these critical sales disciplines:

  • Prospecting
  • Closing Sales
  • Call Reluctance
  • Self-starting
  • Teamwork
  • Building and Maintaining Relationships
  • Compensation Preference

All seven disciplines are essential to the success of the top-performing 20 percent of salespeople responsible for 80 percent of all sales.

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