Think of the skills and attributes that make you great in sales:
- You need to be a language expert - being able to convey great messaging
- You need to be a listening expert - hearing what is said and not said with potential buyers
- You need to be an organizational expert - working your own plan and the plan your boss expects you to work
- You need to be an inter-generational expert - understanding how to reach and connect with all ages of buyers
- You need to be a sales expert - in basic sales competencies
- You need to be a negotiation expert - understanding when to know what to say to your customers
- You need to be a psychologist - since this is such a people business
It's as if you need ten or twelve books of knowledge to help you win.
I sat in a session at ASTD's International Conference yesterday that my friend and colleague Mike Kunkle of GE presented which really got me thinking about so many skills that the top sales performers need to have to be the most successful.
Selling is not just about "wearing nice clothes and focusing on making money" as one HR colleague blurted out this week to me.
Mike talked about research he's been involved with over 20 years with the "top 20%" of the "top 20%" - in other words, the very top 4% in selling. These are the men and women sellers who, consciously or unconsciously, have mastered the following skill areas:
- Value Creation
I know Mike understands B2B selling and has seen it from all sides - as a customer, as part of a corporate training solutions provider, and as an outside consultant. He seems to bring an objective view - partially because he is not selling anything but rather sharing his experienced viewpoint and observations.
I'll be writing more about this presentation but for now it simply caused me to think about sales teams, sales leaders, and individual contributors.
If you are on a sales team, do you have group goals about how the team is to improve?
If you are a sales leader, do you have individual improvement plans for each of your team members?
If you are an individual contributor, do you have your own personal plan of attack to be better at communication, negotiation, psychology, and what the 4% are mastering?
Read Mike's post about the topic of the skills of the top 4% in sales.
What checklist do you have to help you grow and learn?
Do you have a professional development plan for yourself? If not, why?
Don't wait for your boss to give you one - create one and share it with your boss. Think about what you want to learn this quarter, and this year. Make it happen.
When I was new in sales in my early 20's, I considered myself a "student of communication and psychology". The most senior sales reps today still don't have every skill they need to succeed tomorrow.
If you are a sales leader, it's on you to know what each team member is strong at and what they need help developing. Urge them to create their professional development plan, or better yet - do it with them.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the "Sales Ideas In A Minute" newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.