The ongoing debate about whether elite salespeople are made or born always seems to result in a “yes” conclusion. Experts agree there’s a natural aptitude for sales that some people have in their DNA – that’s the “born” side of the equation and one of the five critical factors.
The “made” side of the equation is the combination of the other four factors: 1) product knowledge, 2) selling skills, 3) a good sales process and the right tools, and 4) motivated
people. This article describes the four “made” factors to being an elite salesperson – a top 20% performer.
There’s no substitute for knowing your product, but it goes way beyond the features and benefits. Recent studies from the Gallup organization that were the basis for the Challenger Sales concept, reinforce the importance of selling solutions and understanding how your products fit within the larger infrastructure of your target market.
On the marketing side of WebStrategies we provide a lot of search engine marketing services like SEO and paid search. We know these areas quite well but how do they fit into the overall marketing strategy of a company and how can they complement a firm’s other marketing initiatives? That’s what is important about going beyond the features and benefits of your services, and that’s what will differentiate you from your competition.
Before I founded WebStrategies I had little experience in sales. I had
the natural aptitude for sales but no real skills, and I had some success in
spite of that. When I began investing in sales training to improve my skills, I saw a remarkable improvement in my average sale and my closing rate.
Giving people knowledge of the top selling skills, reinforcing this learning through ongoing skill practice and ensuring they are integrated into the selling process, can definitely take
an average performer to elite salesperson status. Additionally, continuously reading the latest and best sales books will help ensure skills remain contemporary.
Having a Good Sales Process and the Right Sales Tools
A good sales process is comprised of having the right marketing messages and presenting them at the right time. What’s your firm’s reputation in the marketplace? Do you understand and can you articulate your unique selling proposition and competitive
differences? Do you know your competition – what they are and aren’t good at?
Does your firm have a reputation for creating raving fans? Do you have examples of success stories you can tell to prospects? These are all critical marketing assets that comprise the components of an effective sales process.
The sales process itself is simply a series of steps in which you incorporate your marketing messages at the right time using the right tools to deliver them. We encourage the development of a semi-structured sales process – that is, a series of steps that lead the
customer through the typical sales process (attention – interest – desire – action), and using some technology tools along the way.
The technology tools that complement the sales process are comprised of:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system – Salesforce, OnContact and Sage-ACT are among the top CRM software systems on the market. These systems help organize and communicate with prospects. A good CRM system will enable salespeople to nurture their prospects effectively and efficiently.
- Smartphone – Top salespeople spend their time in the field calling on customers and smartphones enable them to be productive regardless of where they are.
Smartphones integrated with a good CRM are even better.
- Tablet – The ability to show examples, reference materials, and show videos of your products and services on a tablet device can be a tremendous differentiator. Studies show the effective use of tablets in the sales process results in higher closing rates.
- LinkedIn – The ability to research prospects, identify “coaches” to help move the sales process along, and communicate with contacts and prospects via LinkedIn are important elements to achieving strong sales performance.
Many would argue that motivation is internal and that’s true to some degree.
However, can your policies, practices, and work environment increase individual motivation? Most of us would say “yes”. Here are some factors to consider about whether your work environment motivates selling:
- Personal development – do your people feel they are growing professionally or feeling trapped and stagnated?
- Recognition of achievements – are you recognizing the right behaviors…the behaviors that lead to sales success, good customer service and employee growth and development?
- Compensation – do your compensation plans recognize the right behaviors and are they effective reward systems?
- Work environment – does your work environment enable individuals to express and apply their personal styles, skills, and abilities?
If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you probably have a relatively well motivated group of people.
In summary, there are five factors to being an elite salesperson and one of them is simply a natural aptitude for sales. The remaining four consist of strong product knowledge, knowledge of selling skills, a good sales process that effectively incorporates the right sales tools, and a motivating work environment.