By Ryan Warren, Vice President of Marketing
Your sales team is the backbone of your organization. In some cases, sales productivity can improve with training programs, but people who are innately good at selling often have specific traits. As a manager, you need to maximize your team's capabilities to improve sales productivity.
Characteristics of highly successful salespeople
Even though many people choose to make a career in sales, some have the personality characteristics that make them great at what they do and some don't. According to an Inc. magazine article by Geoffrey James, the best salespeople are assertive, self-aware, empathetic and excellent problem-solvers. As sales becomes more customer-centric, emotionally intelligent sales reps will become more valued.
Passive salespeople won't be able to close deals and aggressive reps could scare away potential clients by being too pushy. Being assertive is the happy medium, and reps with this quality may be able to take better advantage of sales opportunities. Empathy is also critical for a top performer because your employees need to be able to understand what your clients are experiencing, such as their unique needs and pain points. And problem solving capabilities can't be taught. Your sales team can't rush in and try to solve a problem for a customer before they really know what it is. Great salespeople can help their customers see how things will be in the future once they have solved their current issues.
Hiring for your company's sales culture
Just because a candidate has an impressive resume with previous selling experience doesn't necessarily mean he or she is a good fit for your organization. Depending on your industry and customers, the sales cycle may be different and the average deal could vary. Beyond these characteristics, the candidate may be used to a different corporate culture or target audience, according to an article in Forbes by Ken Sundheim. Especially for more complex B2B sales cycles, getting the right person in the position is important. Being good at selling is more than just knowing how to find business opportunities. Reps need to be able to understand their customers to sell effectively.
In some cases, you may be able to determine whether a potential new hire has the right stuff by asking certain questions in the initial interview. You can ask him or her to give a sample pitch, about the relationships they maintained with loyal customers and creative ways they have pursued leads to determine if the candidate would be a good fit at your company.
Giving your salespeople the right tools helps them succeed in various circumstances
Although some reps are bound to be better at selling than others—whether they are more competitive, better problem-solvers, more understanding or what have you—your sales team needs to have the right tools to succeed. In an infographic for Salesforce, Kevin Micalizzi reported that 95 percent of sales reps don't even understand their employers' strategies. If you expect your team to maintain personal relationships with your clients and they have no idea about their business, are your reps coming through? It can take a while for an employee to become fully productive, so sales managers need to start training early.
As companies become more customer-centric, it will be more important to hire and develop sales reps that know your customers and can maximize productivity. Organizations that boast a large number of engaged employees can grow profits faster than those that don't. With the right tools, your team can take advantage of every sales opportunity.