Where do great salespeople come from?

Where do great salespeople come from?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

Where do great salespeople come from?

Which came first, the salesperson or the egg? This is the enigma (or should I say the eneggma) of the evolution of the right salesperson.

The mystery of finding, interviewing, hiring, growing, and retaining great sales people is critical to your success. Where do they come from? How do you hire the best one? How do get them to grow to be great?

At a recent seminar on the subject, I began by asking five questions, so I could understand the audience’s needs better. To my surprise, the questions actually provided the solutions they were looking for. It gave the group an introspective look at their own sales people and sales process — and at the same time gave them solutions.

I’m going to repeat that seminar introduction for you right now. If you want to find out the secret behind attracting and growing great salespeople in your organization, go get a flip chart or a blank computer screen and take this self-analysis.

Ask yourself these five questions. These five will lead to more questions and actions. The answers to these action items and questions (o) will define the sales person and the sales process at your company. Those answers will lead you to the beginning of your search for the perfect salesperson, and will identify the strengths and weaknesses of your existing team. All secrets will be revealed if you just take a hard look at yourself. WOW. Here goes:
1. What constitutes a great salesperson?
Someone with characteristics like: Has a positive attitude. Is hungry. Can communicate well. Is self motivated. Takes criticism well. Has a good track record. Is solution oriented. Looks professional. Is persistent. Can take rejection.

    Here are the action items and questions:

  • List every characteristic you need in a great salesperson.
  • Do your salespeople possess these characteristics?
  • What are you doing to help them acquire them?
  • Will you hire someone without them?

2. Where did you (do you) find your great salespeople?
Salespeople don’t just appear — and they usually don’t respond to newspaper ads.

    Here are the action items and questions:

  • List the places you’re most likely to find a good person (competitor’s parking lots are not a place).
  • Where are you looking for yours?
  • Where did you find your present team?
  • Did advertising work?
  • Where should you network to find good people?
  • What is your gameplan to find the right person?

3. Why did your present team join you?
What made your present staff say yes to the offer you made them? What are the biggest benefits of working for you?

    Here are the action items and questions:

  • List the benefits and the lures of working for your company.
  • Did you have to do a sales-job to get salespeople to join you?
  • Are you attractive enough to get salespeople to call you?
  • What do you need to add or change to attract the right salesperson?

4. Why did you fire them?
It was all their fault — or was it? You’re the one who hired them. At one time you thought they were great.

    What happened? Here are the action items and questions:

  • List the reasons they were fired.
  • What was the happened between the interview and the job performance?
  • What could you have done differently?
  • What do you need to add or change so that more don’t get the axe?

5. Why did they leave (fire) you?
This is the toughest reality — and the biggest area of denial. They left for a reason — and it’s critical you find the truth and deal with it. You create the legacy for the destiny of your sales force, not them.

    Here are the action items and questions:

  • List the reasons you were fired (they left).
  • What could you have done to prevent it?
  • Will they continue to leave?
  • Are you investing in your salespeople (to make them better)?
  • What do you need to add or change so that more don’t leave?

5.5 Take positive action.
Salespeople are your most valuable resource. Invest time in writing the definitions; creating and cultivating the environment necessary to attract them; identifying who’s right for your company’s culture; and making a proactive, positive plan to keep them. (Keep in mind the reality that unless someone sells something, there’s no reason for anyone else to come to work.)

    If you make your own chart of:

  • what characteristics you want,
  • where to search,
  • why they’ll join,
  • how you’ll interview them,
  • why you will fire them and how to prevent it,
  • why they fire you and how to prevent it —

Your answers will be apparent — and the puzzle of getting great salespeople will be solved. Almost.

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Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com