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CEOs and business owners are always asking me “Who makes the best salespeople?” I get questions like; “Should I look for someone with industry knowledge, or sales experience, or both?” Should I look for introverts or extroverts? Someone new and inexperienced, or a veteran of the game? Leaders looking for sales growth agonize over whom they should hire and are usually vague about what they are looking for in a Sales Professional.
Having benefited from working with 100’s of salespeople from dozens of industries in both B2B and B2C sales, these are four specific attributes that the top Sales Professionals continuously demonstrate.
The first attribute and the most important is PASSION. Top performers always have a passion for what they do. I don’t mean being over the top resembling a fanatical zealot, but a passion for the product or service, for their company, and for the industry and customers to whom they sell. Their passion leads to confidence, comfortability, and credibility. When top producers are passionate, they have flow and are in the zone.
A word of caution for leaders, and owners. Passion can be fluid for a top producer meaning as the leader you can potentially disrupt a sales professional’s passion by tweaking a product, changing policy, or compromising the culture of your organization.
The second attribute is AWARENESS. High performers also have high levels of awareness. They are excellent listeners. They listen with their ears and their eyes. Their level of awareness starts before the sales process through their level of preparation and research. They pay attention to everything before, during, and after a sales call. Said another way their radar is always on “High receive.” They pick up on the subtle clues their prospects, customers, and clients send. What they say, what they don’t say, the questions the customer asks, and their body language. In face-to-face meetings, they are aware of what their customers measure, what they are proud of, the culture of the company they sell to, and more. They hear, see and notice things ordinary salespeople often miss.
This high level of awareness fuels the third attribute, CURIOSITY. Sales Professionals want to know things other salespeople take for granted. The best of the best ask great questions. They ask well-thought-out, well-prepared, and purposeful questions. Their questions steer the conversation and lead to discovery and uncovering what the prospect is trying to get done and why it is important to them. Incidentally, high levels of curiosity make high levels of awareness easier to achieve. Listening is to awareness as questions are to curiosity.
ENERGY is the glue binding everything together to produce results. Like elite-level players in every game, top-performing Sales Professionals bring energy to everything they do. They have the energy required to find leads and guide prospects through a professional sales process. Energy manifested in the sense of urgency to move their customers to a completed sale. They protect their energy levels by not pursuing unqualified buyers or spending their time engaged in activities taking them from their goals. You’ll never see a top performer with poor time management skills.
If you’re in sales and looking to “Up” your game you may want to take a personal inventory of your level of passion for what you sell, who you sell, and your most likely prospects and best customers. If you’re less than “All in” on any of the three at best you have a job, but not a flourishing career. You can increase your awareness and curiosity by creating a Sales Playbook. As far as energy–well that’s a more personal journey, but the best place to start is through pre-call preparation and rigorous time management.
For a leader finding top performers is no easy task and by no means am I suggesting Passion, Awareness, Curiosity, and Energy are the only things needed to be a top producer. In addition to all of the other attributes, like experience and education, you’re looking for you’ll want to see indications they have P.A.C.E.
To learn more about assessing talented Sales Professionals for these and other skills critical for sales success email me here with P.A.C.E. in the subject line.