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

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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 over one million 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

How to Get Top Performance From Your Salespeople in December

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 05, 2011 @ 09:12 AM

top sales performerHeading into the last week of the month, quarter or year, would you prefer to be ahead of goal or behind?  And what about your salespeople - would you prefer for them to be ahead of goal or behind?  

Are you sure?  I didn't ask how you wanted them to finish...

As an example, let's look at yesterday's Patriots-Colts Football game where the Patriots had around a 28 point lead in the fourth quarter.  Two things happened.  The Patriots thought they had the game won and they relaxed - they took their foot off the gas - while the Colts, with nothing to lose and no resistance, mounted a huge comeback.  The Colts didn't quite make it all the way back but they turned a game that really was a blow out into what appeared to be (based on the score) a close, well-fought game.

Over the years, I have observed the following to be consistently true:

  • Salespeople who have hit their numbers with time to spare go into cruise control, take their foot off the gas, and prepare for the next period.  You love their numbers but I hate the let down.
  • Salespeople who have been behind, but close for most of the period, pull out the stops and usually manage to hit their numbers.
  • Salespeople who have been far behind give in to the inevitable, stop trying, and allow the period to die on the vine.
  • Sales Management is usually far too reactive - too late - to change any of this.
  • Contests and Incentives, when well conceived, can have a short-term  impact.  

So back to my question.  Would you rather have your salespeople ahead of their number or behind the number as the end draws near?
A case can be made for both answers so why don't you weigh in and explain why?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, top sales thought leader, sales incentives, sales contests, top sales assessment tool, under achieving, over achieving, top performers

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About Dave

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

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