The Two Sides of Likable Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

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If you have watched the TV series House of Cards, and if you're at all like me, you may have found yourself rooting for the lead characters, whose lack of character and integrity could make you question why you are rooting for them in the first place.  Recently, we have been watching Homeland, which I find to be a more disturbing series than House of Cards.  The biggest difference for me is that I found the characters in House of Cards to be likable - despite their manipulation, lack of integrity and evil doing.  After just 4 episodes, I haven't seen nearly as much manipulation, evil and lack of integrity in Homeland, but I haven't yet identified a likable character either.

Is it possible that we have the same problem in sales?  Do sales leaders find certain salespeople to be more likable?  Do prospects and customers find certain salespeople to be more likable?  Are likable and integrity intertwined?  Can you have likable salespeople who lack integrity?

Some more questions...

Are likable salespeople always effective salespeople? Can you have high integrity salespeople who aren't likable?  None of us want salespeople who lack integrity working for us or selling to us, and we like to think we are good judges of character.  In this article we will focus on the complication of likable salespeople and we'll answer the integrity question in another article.

There are some very skilled salespeople who are lacking in the likable department and therefore, not as effective as they could be.  There are even more very likable salespeople, that lack selling skills and/or Sales DNA, and aren't able to leverage their likability and as a result, struggle to perform.

The likability factor can also blind their sales managers - causing them to hang on to likable salespeople that don't produce, and replace less likable salespeople that do happen to produce.

Fortunately, there are two groups of salespeople that have very clear attributes and actions.  Those who are likable and have strong selling skills and Sales DNA are in the top 26% of all salespeople.  And those who are not likable, with weak selling skills and/or Sales DNA are at the very bottom.  While it should be obvious that the second group of salespeople shouldn't last very long in any sales organization, we find them everywhere!  The question is why?  It's not like that last group is fooling anybody...

The salespeople that consistently fool people are those who are likable but lacking the necessary skills and/or Sales DNA to be effective.  Their sales managers believe that they are coachable and will come around, improve, figure it out and excel.  Only it doesn't happen as often as it should and sales managers aren't very good at predicting when or to whom it will happen.  And as for the group of salespeople who have the skills and/or Sales DNA but aren't likable, their sales leaders think they're simply lucky and that their success is not sustainable.  They may be correct on that one. 

Either way, it's clear that if you have more likable, skilled salespeople with strong Sales DNA, your company will perform better.  You can identify those salespeople by using the right sales selection tool.

Speaking of likable, Jonathan Farrington is a very likable host and he just posted a very likable audio interview with me here.  Jonathan posed the question, with all of the sales training and sales enablement initiatives, shouldn't companies be doing audits at the front end?  You'll like what you hear!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales selection tool, jonathan farrington, house of cards, homeland

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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