The Role of Preparation in Developing Top Salespeople


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The 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.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Seth Brickner | Trainer & Developer, Impact Learning Systems International
    [email protected]

    You’re absolutely right Dave! Having been a sales manager myself I was always surprised when someone on my team did not properly prepare for their opportunity with a client, or to develop an approach for a new vertical market.

    You are also spot on about the importance of listening and questions skills. These are key both in establish the needs of the prospect and if done correctly, in building rapport.

    Some excellent phone skills training ( is available that can help salespeople focus on these critical skills. It’s worth the small investment in time and effort to become strong in the most important characteristics of a successful salesperson.


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