Curiosity: The Key to Great Sales Talent

 

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Is it really possible to hire great sales talent?  What makes one sales person succeed and another fail?  How does one sales person out-produce another, or an entire team?  Is there a secret trait, or characteristic, you should know about?  Average turnover in Sales ranges from 35 – 60% annually.  I’m aware of some companies where turnover is even higher, hovering in excess of 70%.  Imagine a sales force where 7 in 10 will be gone within the first 12 months.  Not a pretty picture.

If you’re building a sales team there are two traits that I have found to serve as a good barometer of future sales success; curiosity and the desire to learn.

Sales people must be curious. They should enjoy tinkering with things.  Changing things up.  Trying new things.  Asking tons of questions.  They should show a spark when presented with a problem, not shy away and become quiet.  Being curious allows a successful sales person to better understand their customers needs, the marketplace, trends, and possibilities.

The second trait that is a reliable predictor of sales success is the desire to learn.  Notice I didn’t say ability to learn.  We all have abilities…some natural, some taught.  However, what we really need is desire.  Desire speaks to what an individual will do regardless of what’s required.  If the desire is strong enough she will move mountains to accomplish what’s in her sites.

So how can you probe for curiosity and desire?  Here are some questions to ask during the interview process that will provide you insight on whether your candidate has these traits:

  1.  What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail at it?
  2. What was the last book you read? What did you learn?
  3. What LinkedIn groups do you belong to, and tell me about a discussion within that group that you found to be interesting and why?
  4. What types of books do you like to read and why?
  5. Who is your favorite author? Why?
  6. If you could start your own business what would it be and why?
  7. Who would you pick as your favorite leader and why?
  8. What is your preferred method of learning?
  9. What 3 adjectives would a client, or former colleague use to describe you?
  10. Tell me your 3 favorite questions to ask prospects
  11. What would you do if you won the lottery?

Selling requires strong critical thinking skills.  Critical thinking skills are developed  by expanding your insights and perspectives which happen primarily through learning.  The more curious someone is, the greater their propensity will be to be a continuous learner.

Let me know what you think.  Happy recruiting!

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4 Keys To a Better S.A.L.E.

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No matter if you’re new to sales or a seasoned sales executive, brushing up on your selling skills is as important as changing the oil in your car regularly.  Leave the oil too long without changing it and your engine gunks up, gas mileage deteriorates, and in time your engine will fail.  Knowledge is to the sales person what oil is to an engine.  When you stop feeding your mind new knowledge your performance deteriorates and failure is around the corner.  But with so many things to think about, so many calls to make, numbers to hit, you don’t know what to focus on first.  So here’s a tip that will keep it simple…just remember SALE.

The “S” in Sale stands for structure.  Every sales person needs structure.  Some people are naturally disciplined and have strong internal structure while others require help to remain focused and disciplined.  Only you can be honest enough with yourself to know where you fall on the structure spectrum.  Structure includes when you make your calls, how your desk is set up, and whether your car is cleaned.  Structure speaks to your ability to organize.  Stronger organization equals higher efficiency which yields better results.

The “A” in Sale stands for attitude.  John Maxwell, the famous inspirational author, wrote “your attitude determines your altitude.”  Having a positive attitude is essential to success in life and critical to your success in Sales.  Have you ever met a sales person who seemed like they were on their last leg?  No more gas in their tank?  How did that make you feel?  Excited to buy?  Confident in purchasing their product…from them?  No.  No one wants to work with someone with a poor attitude.  No one buys from someone who lacks confidence in themselves, their product, or their company.  If you’re honest enough to recognize you have a confidence gap – read.  Thousands of books and books-on-tape are out their that can help.  Take action.  Don’t let another day go by with a bad attitude.

The “L” in Sale stands for learning.  If you’re not a continuous learning become one…and fast.  Albert Einstein said, “You have to learn the rules of the game.  And then you have to play better than everyone else.”  The rules of the game are always changing in Sales.  Your customer is evolving.  The internet and its ability to provide mountains of information will continue to change the game for years to come.  Better educated customers and prospects force a sales person to constantly up their game.  If you think the sales skills that won you awards 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even last year will work in 2016 you’re wrong.  News flash!  If your buyer hasn’t already changed, they are in the process of changing.  Read.  As much as you can from as many sources as you can.  Commit to bringing one or two points from what you read that day into your sales conversations, then watch how your customer engagements change before your eyes.

The “E” in Sale stands for energy.  And lots of it.  Sales is physically and mentally demanding.  Some days are more draining that others.  Break up your day.  No matter how good you are you simply can’t sit and make 50 sales calls in a row without stopping.  While that may be physically possible, your energy levels will diminish and your customer will sense it.  Stay hydrated.  Drink 4 – 5 glasses of water throughout the day, or bottles if more convenient.  Stop for lunch.  If you don’t have the time for lunch keep an energy and protein bar handy.  You don’t want low energy levels to come across as poor attitude.  And make sure you get a work-out in daily.  Whether you start, or end, your day running, spinning, swimming or CrossFit, simply make sure to get some exercise in.  It will help keep your mind fresh, your energy up, and your endurance strong.

Happy Selling!