The business world is constantly adapting alongside technology. Many jobs are adapting as well, and few are getting replaced by automation. As Alyssa Behrens, Square business development rep eloquently puts it, “robots will just never be able to close multibillion dollar deals. That just won’t happen.”
Soft skills for salespeople are very important; Harvard Business Review said “hire sales people for personality and train them for skills”. In fact, this is a mindset that is becoming increasingly popular for hiring practices in entry level positions.
Most things, including sales, are not one size fits all. Everyone, independent of their race or gender, have their own strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and outlooks. A leader in any field will learn to leverage what makes them unique instead of trying to fit the mold to do what everyone else is.
However, the unfortunate reality as you climb the corporate ladder is inequality becoming more apparent. According to Fortune magazine, as of 2018, only 5% of Fortune 500 companies were led by women. There were only 2 women of color in that 5%. Not 2%, literally just 2 women; neither of them were African American.
Sales departments can be largely impacted by such inequality. Empathy and listening skills are some of the most important traits of a good sales rep; characteristics that women are widely recognized for demonstrating. Alongside personality, diversity plays tremendously into the success of all aspects of business. We came up with this list that may give you a better idea of how effective your sales team actually is.
20 Components of a High-Performing Sales Team
1. Good listeners
A salesperson should be able to listen to their contact. They should have the ability to understand their needs and drivers and frame what they are selling in terms of those drivers.
A good salesperson should be able to feel what the person feels and see things from their point of view. Like listening, empathy helps understand a person and sell to them effectively.
Drive is key when it comes to sales. You are competing against not only competitor companies, but with the other sales reps in your own company. A good salesperson should have a healthy level of competitiveness, but still be able to be supportive and gracious to others in the company.
Again, you want to see healthy competition to where it motivates the rest of the team members. Salespeople should undoubtedly be team players, and so should everyone in your company for that matter!
In sales, you hear a lot of no’s. You fail to get a client very often. A good salesperson is ok with failing. Not only are they ok with it, but they bounce back even stronger because of it. Failure should ignite a good sales rep, not shut them down.
While charisma definitely is not necessary to be effective in sales, it can really help. We all know that person who can say almost anything and you will believe it.
Building relationships within a buying committee is a key part of sales engagement. As a result, being mindful of who you’re reaching out to and what you’re saying will help gain more of an understanding of the buyers’ situation.
This should be pretty self-explanatory; salespeople must have tunnel-vision in pursuing their goals. This shouldn’t be hitting a quota but rather a goal that their manager or coach has helped personalized to the rep contingent on their skill set.
Elite athletes rise to the top partially from natural talent, but mostly from hard work. Similarly in sales, the best salespeople in an organization are going to be the ones who are constantly on the phone. They are the ones who clearly go above and beyond in all circumstances.
This one is similar to grit. “No” is the most common answer a rep will hear throughout the work day. It’s kind of like baseball: even the good hitters are likely to fail more than 50% of the time. Salespeople have to have no shame when a deal hits the fan or a contact blows up over the phone: it’s just part of the game.
There’s a reason why the best reps in an organization are crushing it. They’ve found a unique way to differentiate themselves to be ahead of the curve. Salespeople who stay up to date with trends and the latest technology will naturally have an advantage over others because they will be able to compete in their niche more effectively.
Especially in regards to ABS, this is a huge one. Reps who are equipped with background knowledge about their client are going to be able to deliver a more personalized message about why they can help them.
Similar to charisma, this is a trait that isn’t necessary for salespeople but can really help. Having passion for the product / service is an easy way to help resonate that feeling with the buyer and get them excited.
Mark Stevens, CEO of MSCO Marketing, says “Great sales people look like they are never selling anything. They are educating, instilling faith and confidence. They are quietly and invisibly demonstrating why customers should believe in them and, in turn, buy from them.”
Relationships are like bridges in sales. They provide easier accessibility to clients as long as they are properly maintained. Cultivating an honest and consistent message is the best way to maintain these bridges.
16. Understanding and addressing issues
Nothing can be changed if it is not understood and addressed. There needs to be a collective buy-in to addressing the issue, and a collective lean-in to the discomfort the conversation might evoke.
17. Hiring practices
It is important to promote diversity and inclusion in hiring practices to ensure you are attracting, recruiting, and hiring diverse talent. When writing job descriptions, use gender neutral language. Include a blurb at the bottom expressing the value your company places on diversity. Be very data driven in your decision to hire. Hold yourself accountable to your own bias and remember that salespeople do not always have to match the alpha-male stereotype.
18. Training practices
In 2018, D2L found that 64% of males had access to online learning platforms while only 48% of women did. Additionally, their data revealed that men's and women's experiences differed when it came to being offered access to certain types of skills training. Women need to receive the same access to information, resources, mentorship, and training as their male counterparts. A discrepancy in training can lead to a discrepancy in performance, which can contribute to the inequality gap, especially in a commission-based profession.
19. Team auditing
Look at your salespeople, their performance, their past experience, their qualifications. Put their gender, race, etc out of your mind and make sure everyone is being paid fairly. This is crucial and will only work if you recognize your own biases and put them aside.
One of the easiest ways to promote diversity in the workplace is to educate. Understanding the differences of your colleagues can go as far as helping you close deals. Part of sales is just having a really good understanding of the society we live in.
Whether you are an HR person looking for these traits in applicants or a sales team leader trying to boost morale within your organization, such traits can be helpful to reflect on. There is no such thing as the perfect sales rep, but often times, the most successful ones are going to outwardly exhibit one or more of these characteristics.
While personality pertains to the success of an individual rep, a more company-wide initiative that impact all parts of an organization is diversity.
As a leader of a corporation or department, this individualism is something that you should be championing because it will lead to improved results. Diversity is what brings in that diverse individualism and it is proven to lead to quicker growth and more efficient revenue.
Inequality is a huge issue in the corporate world, but if we continue to implement change at lower levels, we will see changes all over the world.