The Role of Preparation in Developing Top Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 28, 2010 @ 05:05 AM

accelerationThe Internet has made it easier than ever for prospects to find your company, a benefit of Sales 2.0.  The upside is that your leads are coming from unexpected places and you are getting audiences with prospects you may not have found ten years ago.  The downside is that this has changed the sales process, accelerated the sales cycle and in some cases, made it more difficult than ever for companies to close these new found opportunities.

We discussed this on this week's episode of Meet the Sales Experts.  My guest was Sales Development Expert Rick Roberge, The Rainmaker Maker.  Ultimately, the conversation came down to three things:

  1. The importance of listening and questioning skills
  2. Why it is so difficult for salespeople to learn effective listening and questioning skills
  3. The importance of backing up and slowing the sales process down when in these situations

I've written about listening and questioning skills before:


I've written even more about the sales process:

Developing elite (top 5%) listening and questioning skills requires a tremendous amount of preparation.  Athletes work behind the scenes every day.  You may only see them on the field during games, but for every three hours they spend on the field, they invest six hours in the weight room, with trainers, developing their skills, participating in drills, studying video and practicing.  Those activities contributed to how they became elite and today they influence how these athletes remain elite.  Those practices aren't limited to athletes. 

Take any high-paid, high-profile profession and you'll witness the same practices.  Talk-show host.  Variety Show host.  Actor. News Anchor. National Politician. Speaker. Musician.  Band.  Dancer.  Comedian. Sales Development Expert! The stuff doesn't just happen! It requires preparation and Practice.

Most of the salespeople I've met at most of the companies I've helped didn't practice at all!  No studying, no training, no practice.  They didn't work on their presentations, listening and questioning or tonality.  They didn't watch themselves in the mirror, record conversations, video tape their presentations or role play with others.  Yet day after day, they would go on calls and expect different results without preparing differently.

It's a choice.  It's always a choice.  You can wait for salespeople to figure it out (it's a long wait), you can figure it out for them (beats the alternative) or you can hire these people at the outset (you must know how to find, attract, identify, hire, on board and retain them). A note of warning though...if your culture isn't ready to support elite salespeople (you must have elite sales management and products) they won't stick around even if you can convince them to work for you.

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales process, top salespeople, top sales force, questioning and listening

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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 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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