21,000 People Agree That These are the Top 5 Traits of the Best Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 @ 20:02 PM

Image Copyright BeeBright

Readers are always referring me to articles that list top sales traits, that discuss what makes salespeople great, that name the most important selling skills, or that otherwise contradict the science-based findings and statistics that I share in my articles.

In that regard, today was very much the same when a reader referred me to this LinkedIn article that revealed the Top 5 Traits of the Best Salespeople.  As a matter of fact, I actually found the article refreshing.  First, the 5 traits were admittedly based on observation.  Second, the author asked readers to submit their own top 5.  And third, his five weren't that far off the track from what the science says.  Nice job Bill Golder!

I will list Bill's top 5 below, along with the actual scientific findings they are best aligned with, and provide some context for those findings.  The test as to whether Bill's five are legitimate Top Traits of the Best Salespeople is not whether or not they line up with any of our scientific findings on top Salespeople (we have evaluated salespeople); it's whether or not they actually differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople.  Let's take a look:

Bill's #1 is Naturally Curious. While there isn't a scientific corollary to that, there are some findings and competencies that we can hook it up with.  Natural Curiosity is a nice way of connecting some of the attributes that reside in OMG's Sales Core Competency Consultative Seller.  Asks lots of questions, Asks Great Questions, And Makes No Assumptions are three of the ten attributes of the Consultative Seller competency. On average, salespeople have 54% of the attributes of the Consultative Seller competency but the top 10% of all salespeople average 70%.  It's an extremely important competency and when you consider just how crucial it is, and then consider that the bottom half of all salespeople average only 44% of that competency, you'll immediately understand why so many salespeople suck!  

Top 10% of all salespeople - 70%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 44%
Meets the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #2 is Student and Teacher.  Again, there isn't a specific corollary to that but if you read the paragraph that accompanies #2, you'll see it's the ability to connect the dots and present an appropriate solution to pain points or, what I call compelling reasons to buy.  OMG calls this competency Presentation Approach.  Taking the same route as we did on #1, on average, salespeople have 65% of the attributes of the Presentation Approach competency but the top 10% of all salespeople average 78%.  It's an important competency because it determines whether salespeople are presenting the correct information to the correct people at the correct time in the process. The bottom half of all salespeople average only 58% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 78%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 58%
Meets the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #3 is Loses Fast.  This time there is a direct correlation to the Rejection Proof Competency.  Unlike Fear of Rejection, Rejection Proof measures a salesperson's ability to recover quickly.  Unlike the first two examples which are tactical, the Rejection Proof Competency is part of Sales DNA.  On average, salespeople have 82% of the attributes of the Rejection Proof competency but the top 10% of all salespeople average 94% and the bottom half of all salespeople average 73% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 94%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 73%
Fails to Meet the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #4 is Passionate which directly correlates to OMG's Desire for Sales Success.  This Sales Core Competency is in the Will to Sell (or Grit) category.  On average, salespeople score 82% on Desire, the top 10% of all salespeople score 88% and the bottom half of all salespeople average 77% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 88%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 77%
Fails to Meet the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #5 is Likeable.  OMG has a likeable finding - it's an attribute within the Relationship Builder Competency.  On average, salespeople score 52% on Relationship Building, the top 10% of all salespeople score 53% and the bottom half of all salespeople average 51% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 53%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 51%
Fails to Meet the Criteria to differentiate.

As you can see, the bottom half of the sales population scores well and or within close proximity to the top 10% in three of the traits so those three fail to differentiate tops from bottoms.  But let's not discount how well Bill did at identifying 5 traits that still matter in professional sales!

So which findings best differentiate top salespeople from everyone else?  I wrote about them in an epic article - a Rebuttal (to a junk science article) on What Elite Salespeople Do Differently. 

Finally, many readers missed this article with two great sales lessons.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Great salespeople, sales expertise, personality traits of successful salespeople, top performers, OMG Assessment

Top 3 Reasons Why Salespeople Fail at Consultative Selling?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 08, 2013 @ 11:07 AM

egoI have been teaching and writing for years that buyer-focused selling (a consultative approach to sales) is the best approach for differentiating, adding and being the value, maintaining and increasing margins and winning a larger percentage of opportunities.  These days, I am just one of many who are spreading this message.  And even if we get through to only one leader at a time, we will eventually get most companies selling in a way that brings consistent results.

One of the challenges with a consultative approach is that while it is easier to close the sale, it is far more difficult to implement than the traditional, transactional approach that today makes it so much harder to get the sale closed.  The question is why?

There are three reasons:

  1. In the previous paragraph, I wrote that the consultative approach is difficult for some salespeople to implement.  I didn't write that it is difficult to learn.  The primary reason that salespeople are able to learn it, yet be unable to implement it, is because of their ego.  Consultative selling requires that salespeople ask a lot of questions - good, tough, timely questions.  They might even know the answers to some of the questions they need to ask.  Some salespeople worry that by asking all of these questions, they will appear dumb.  The reality is that the better they listen, the more questions they ask, and the better the questions are, the smarter they will appear.  In essence, it is dumb of them to worry that they will appear stupid!
  2. In #1 above, I mentioned listening skills.  When salespeople can't wait to talk, present and demo, they don't listen very well.  And when they aren't listening, the next question often won't be so obvious and therefore, isn't ever asked.  If you want your salespeople to ask good, tough, timely questions, they must develop their listening skills even more than their questioning skills!
  3. Unfortunately, more than half (54%) of all salespeople have the hidden weakness of Need for Approval.  They need people to like them and in some cases, love them.  One of the symptoms of Need for Approval is that people with this weakness are unable to ask good, tough, timely questions because they are afraid that if they do, it will upset their prospect and jeopardize their chances of getting the business.  Need for Approval takes quite some time to overcome and, that's only when sales managers know how to recognize it and help their salespeople overcome it.  The only thing more detrimental to sales success than Need for Approval is #1, their ego.
So, now we've come full circle and returned to the ego.  Salespeople will always be able to learn sales processes, sales methodologies, sales strategies and sales tactics.  Getting them to agree, embrace, implement, and master them are a completely different story.  In the end, it requires more than most sales managers are capable of providing.  Getting salespeople to set aside their egos, develop their listening skills, and overcome their Need for Approval, all in the context of an effective sales process and methodology, requires expert guidance.  As they say in the commercials that show extreme sports and sometimes extreme stupidity, "Don't try this at home."
I just completed three very time-consuming projects that have prevented me from accepting personal clients for quite some time.  If you believe your sales force could or should be performing significantly better than they are, and want to chat about that, send me an email.  The first three (who appear to be good fits) will get my attention.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, buyer focused selling, sales assessments, sales expertise, why salespeople fail, top 3 reasons

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine 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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