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Key Ingredient for Salespeople? Attitude.

1 Nov, 2012 By: David M. Fellman, David Fellman & Associates imageSource

Boxing BimboI have long believed that the 3 most important things to look for in a salesperson are intelligence, a competitive nature, and an appreciation of the finer things in life which, I believe, is a great motivator. I want intelligence because smart people typically learn faster than not-so-smart people. Today, sales reps in the print industry face two significant learning challenges, regardless of shifts and change. The first is to master the product knowledge to competently be informed; the second is to master the selling skills that are adaptive to clients’ needs.

Yes, I want a competitive nature because new business development is all about changing people’s minds. Think about it. Just about everyone you’d like to have as a new customer is someone else’s customer right now. The decision to start buying from you has to be accompanied by the decision to stop buying from someone else.

Even with current customers, the decision to continue to buy from you has to be defended. So we need someone who’s driven to win, yet who knows what to do when about to lose, or do—which is to think about why you lost in order to work on the skills required to win the next time.

As for an appreciation of the finer things in life, it’s a common misconception that the best sales reps are motivated by money only. The truth is it’s about achieving a set goal; and yes, then what they can do with the profits. Having said that, beware of people with impossible goals to reach. You want credible benchmarks and goals to rev up the sales team when they do achieve them; which then promotes the feeling of satisfaction while heightening motivation and even healthy competition, the building blocks to having a positive attitude.

Another Way

A person is not likely to have good convincing skills without a strong convincing attitude. I use a testing tool called the Caliper Profile, and one of the things it measures is ego drive (the degree of satisfaction gained from convincing others). This is comparable to the “top half” of a competitive nature, being driven to win. The system also measures ego strength (the capacity to handle rejection and criticism), which is comparable to the “bottom half” of a competitive nature: thinking about why you lost, working on the skills required to win the next time, and looking for another opportunity to compete.

The point here is that you can actually test to make sure that an individual has
these attributes.

Here are some more of the things that a system like Caliper measures: aggressiveness (the inclination to push forcefully); assertiveness (the potential to communicate information and ideas in a direct manner); energy (the potential to sustain a high level of activity); empathy (the ability to identify with another person’s feelings); accommodation (the inclination to do what other people want you to do); gregariousness (comfort with meeting new people and initiating conversations); sociability (enjoyment of being around people and working with others); abstract reasoning ability (the potential to solve problems and understand the
logical relationships between concepts); and idea orientation (to think creatively to
solve problems).

I’m sure you’ll agree that these are all important attributes, but are some more important than others? I think the best way to answer that would be to share my own recipe for the ideal salesperson:

6 parts Ego Drive

6 parts Assertiveness

4 parts Empathy

4 parts Idea Orientation

4 parts Abstract Reasoning Ability

3 parts Ego Strength

2 parts Energy

2 parts Aggressiveness

2 parts Accommodation

1 part Sociability

1 part Gregariousness

That means two things: (1) having one isn’t any guarantee of success, and (2) not having one won’t prevent you from being an effective salesperson. I’m also a far bigger believer in assertiveness than aggressiveness — to me, that’s the difference between intelligently and creatively presenting your side of the story and blindly pushing your agenda. I love the combination of assertiveness and ego drive. Those two attributes, along with empathy, idea orientation and abstract reasoning ability—the intelligence factors—are by far the most important part of this recipe. Remember, to become a great salesperson, you must become an effective salesperson first.

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