3 Behaviors That Drive Successful Sales People


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Recently, I read a HBR Post by Ryan Fuller, 3 Behaviors That Drive Successful People.  My knee jerk reaction was, “Well duhhhh thanks for stating the obvious.”  In a kinder, gentler moment (I do have them every once in a while), I thought maybe it isn’t so obvious.

The findings in the research, “sales success is highly correlated with three things:

  1. Spending enough time with customers and prospects.
  2. Having a large and healthy network in your own organization.
  3. Spending time and getting attention from your own manager and other senior people in your own organization.”

Let me add my take to these issues, most aligns with Mr. Fuller’s, but with some twists.

Spending enough time with customers and prospects.  We can never overemphasize the importance of this  — high performers get this, they know they have to be working with the customer.  By contrast, lower performers often have real problems with call reluctance.  They hide in the office behind email or other things, finding excuse not to meet with customers.  Some of you might react that this seems a little odd.  It does, but I think a lot of experience bears this out.  Think of how many organizations have activity metrics in place, “You have to make so many outbound calls a day, you have to have so many customer meetings a week, you have to make so many prospecting calls each day.”  If spending time with customers wasn’t a problem, then we probably wouldn’t find the need to set goals and measure activity levels.

It’s important, however, to understand the quality of the time we spend with customers.  If we are constantly with customers, but wasting their time, then we will not be successful, in fact we are likely to have the opposite effect, we will lose customers and opportunities.  We have to spend time with customers and prospects, but we have to create value in each interaction we have.

Having a large healthy network in your own organization.  The days of the lone wolf sales person are, thankfully, long gone.  our businesses, our products and solutions, our customers’ businesses, their challenges are myriad and complex.  No one person can do it all.  High performance sales professionals are actually becoming more like Orchestrators or Resource Managers.  The focus on getting the right resources working with the right customers at the right time.  They build rich networks and alliances within their own organizations leveraging people to help with the customer.  Whether it’s a sales specialist, a product manager, a customer service specialist, a designer, an executive with the company, highly effective sales people are resource managers.

Doing this effectively, requires new skills and capabilities from the sales person:  Collaboration, Problem Solving, Project Managements, Change Management, Knowledge Transfer, and Business Acumen.  These are all overlaid on the highest levels of selling skills.

Spending enough time and getting attention from your manager and other senior managers in the organization.  Part of this also involves the Orchestration and Resource Management capabilities I discussed above.  But even beyond this, high performing sales people know they have to Sell Within The Organization.  They have to get management to invest people and resources to support their efforts with their customers.  They are often the voice of the customer, looking out for their customer’s interests, arguing on their behalf, making sure the company is creating the greatest value possible.

Top sales people work differently.  They spend their time differently.  They leverage resources and capabilities differently.  They actively seek support and investment, both from their customer and from their own organizations.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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