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There is no such thing as a born salesperson. Successful salespeople are men and women who have prepared themselves with the knowledge and professional skills needed to succeed and who have the inner drive to be the best they can be.


Is your salesperson a “10”?

In an ideal world, we’d all have all 10’s, but the odds are miniscule. The fact is that in most sales organizations, 20% of salespeople are top performers, 20% perform poorly and 60% are average. It is one thing to deal with those percentages when you run an operation with dozens, hundreds or thousands of salespeople. It is quite another when you have one salesperson or two, as many small businesses do.

Unlike a mammoth insurance or manufacturing company, you cannot hire a thousand salespeople, knowing that half of them will wash out in a few months and you will end up with 80 or so top performers from the remainder. You must be more selective in hiring, more thorough in training and quicker to cut your losses when you find you’ve hired a “2” instead of a “10.”

What makes the difference? Two specific traits differentiate super-achievers from the under-achievers.

First, in most cases, the top salespeople have been selling in the same market, if not for their current employer, for a number of years. We call this “time in service.”

Second, the top people have a higher level of selling skills than the others. They do more because they know more.

If you have done formal study in sales management, somewhere along the line you have come across the Triangle of Sales Success. I learned it somewhere and hereby give credit to its originator.

One of the triangle’s equal sides is knowledge. Top sales reps are thoroughly familiar with their product/service, their market, their customers and their competitors. As the owner/sales manager, you are responsible for providing them with resources to become knowledgeable in these areas. Of course, the salesperson must want to learn; you can’t make him. A salesperson who can’t or won’t learn your business will not help you or himself. Top salespeople will look for opportunities to increase their knowledge to remain successful.

The second side of the triangle is professional skills. These are the skills of prospecting, qualifying, setting appointments, making presentations, closing and follow-up. No one was born knowing how to do these things; they must learn them. If your salesperson is weak in one or more of these areas, it is up to you to point them toward the training they need to acquire these skills. Books, CD and DVD programs, online videos, classes, seminars—all teach those skills. If your salesperson will not apply himself/herself to improving his skills, he will remain an average performer, at best.

The third equal side of the triangle is motivation, the will to win, the ability to bounce back after rejection/disappointment and the daily commitment to a positive attitude regarding the future. Motivation comes from within. A sales manager can cajole, drive, threaten or inspire, but cannot motivate a salesperson. If he doesn’t have “it” you can’t inject “it.” You need to demonstrate your own drive, energy, will to win, bounce-back-ability and positive attitude because salespeople take their cues from the manager.

Do you have a 10? Then celebrate that by taking good care of your salesperson! But realize that by building his/her knowledge, professional skills and motivation, a 4 can become a 6, maybe a 7 in time, and build a solid book of profitable business for you.

There is no such thing as a born salesperson. Successful salespeople are men and women who have prepared themselves with the knowledge and professional skills needed to succeed and who have the inner drive to be the best they can be.

Your challenge is to recruit, hire, train and develop successful salespeople.

About the author

Mark Johns

Mark Johns

Mark Johns writes and speaks on two of the most critical skills in business:…

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