World-class sales organizations focus on maintaining a healthy and thriving team of successful salespeople. The more successful the people, the more successful the team. But what, exactly, makes a successful salesperson?
Unfortunately, high performing salespeople don’t simply grow on trees, and the phrase “successful salesperson” on a resume doesn’t always mean what it ought to mean. In order for your sales team to perform well, you need your salespeople to meet your definition of success within your unique sales environment.
The good news is that you can build a team of highly successful salespeople that consistently meet your goals, but it will take more than finding a few unicorns and putting them to work. You need to learn to recruit, train, and reinforce effectively within a strong sales culture.
Here’s everything you need to know to help the front line folks on your team become the successful salespeople you need them to be.
Hire Successful Salespeople Who Exhibit These 7 Traits
Success in sales comes from a combination of inherent traits and trained behaviors and skills. Healthy sales teams start with people who already exhibit the inherent traits they need in order to benefit from the training, reinforcement, and culture you provide them.
The most successful salespeople tend to demonstrate these 7 traits:
- Goal-oriented. Salespeople who are strongly motivated by goals are more likely to meet them and, therefore, succeed in the goal-driven environment of sales.
- Conscientious. A person who is inclined to be conscientious is more likely to follow up, maintain a consistent prospecting routine, and complete all the tasks necessary to nurture a prospect to a sale.
- Confident. Confidence generates trust, enhances rapport, and helps a salesperson continue to perform even under pressure.
- Supportive beliefs. Limiting beliefs such as “I don’t deserve to make money” or “Salespeople are always sleazy” can hinder performance, while supportive beliefs such as “People like me” and “I’m a great presenter” enhance it.
- Self-motivated. A salesperson who comes to work every morning prepared to do everything they need to do and to continually improve their skills and performance will always outperform someone who needs sticks and carrots.
- Teachable/coachable. A salesperson who refuses to learn and be coached will never improve as quickly as someone who is willing to listen and learn and apply new sales skills.
- Cultural fit. Your sales culture is one of your most valuable assets. A salesperson whose values are in conflict with your team’s will be a toxic influence, no matter how good they are at their job. Hire people whose values and beliefs line up with your company’s unique culture, and reinforce behaviors and attitudes that support it.
Train Your Salespeople in These 9 Sales Skills
What makes successful salespeople isn’t just inherent abilities. It’s also their skill sets. Your sales training should be focused on making sure that your team is equipped with the right sales skills, which should include:
- Process. Your sales process and methodology represents how you best approach your market, and everyone on your team should be lined up to follow and support the process.
- Prospecting. Successful salespeople know how to prospect, how to qualify and disqualify, and how to move qualified prospects into the pipeline.
- Rapport building. While some salespeople seem naturally “likable,” the process of building rapport and maintaining trust is a skill you can–and should–train.
- Communication styles. Salespeople who understand different communication styles can be more effective in working with buyers of all types.
- Pre-call planning. Salespeople who plan their calls effectively will be more successful.
- Consultative selling. Successful salespeople possess business acumen and consultative skills that enable them to help prospects identify and solve problems.
- Probing questions. Successful salespeople know how to ask deep, probing questions that help prospects understand their problems and reveal the information that will help your salespeople to help them solve those problems.
- Clear positioning. Your salespeople should clearly understand your positioning, and how to communicate it to prospects effectively.
- Value differentiation. Successful salespeople communicate value differentiation to prospects in order to create pricing advantages.
Training should be customized for your particular sales environment and the needs of your salespeople. Partner with a sales training organization that demonstrates a proven track record of delivering substantial returns on training investments, and that combines the latest in learning and development, with sales best practices, and with your unique approach to selling.
Reinforce Correct Behaviors to Support Successful Salespeople
Training without reinforcement leads to behavioral “rubber-banding,” which represents wasted sales training investment. In order for each member of your front line team to become a successful salesperson, you need to invest in reinforcing the correct supportive behaviors, skills, and activities.
Regular reinforcement helps new skills to become habits that can be built on with additional skills over time.
A Supportive Sales Culture Helps to Make a Successful Salesperson
The right person, with the right skills, training, and reinforcement, is destined to be a great salesperson. But there’s one more piece that differentiates the truly outstanding sales organizations from the merely successful: Sales culture.
A supportive sales culture is one in which salespeople are treated with respect as both revenue producers and as human beings. Collaboration takes the place of competition, and mutual respect and knowledge-sharing take the place of lone wolf culture.
Your sales culture should also line up with your customer service and overall company culture so that customers expect and receive a consistent experience throughout their interactions with your company.
By hiring, training, reinforcing, and supporting salespeople with a positive sales culture, you help them become the best they can be. And that’s what makes a successful salesperson.