The first challenge in building a sales organization or career is to find a sales person. If you assume that anyone can be trained to succeed in sales you might be sorely disappointed. Many are suited to sales and many are not. Training a poorly suited candidate very well will not produce a high performing sales rep. Conversely, hiring a well suited candidate may require less training to get them to success level.
Last year I developed an instrument called the Sales IQ Plus online assessment. I did this in concert with Dr. Tony Alessandra and Jeffrey Gitomer. It is published by Assessments24x7.com and it is our attempt to answer three questions regarding each candidate. Whether you use our instrument or a method of your own, these three questions are truly at the heart of anyone’s sales success.
The three questions to answer when looking at a candidate for a sales position?
- Can he or she sell?
- Will he or she sell?
- How does he or she sell?
That’s a great formula for any kind of recruiting or even self-evaluation when it comes to a role you are considering. Can I do it? Will I do it? How will I do it?
Question number one “Can you?” is a question of capacity. Do you have the intellect, the physical ability and the potential that will be required in order to excel in this new role? Is success at this new role in your nature if you decide to go for it? Are you suited to the task?
Number two is a question of motivation and velocity. Do you have the desire and the energy and drive that will be required? If you could do the job but don’t want to or don’t know how to get yourself to do it with enthusiasm then you should probably pass up this offer.
Question three is a matter of style. What is your personality type, your method of approach or your skill level at present? Skills can be acquired or developed but personality style must match or after awhile having to constantly adapt will overwhelm you.
Can you sell?
One great thing about success is that patterns repeat. If you’ve ever succeeded in selling in the past then you can surely become successful at it again. So the first thing to look for is a history of sales success. This could also be seen in non-sales roles such as starting a new business or organization. As long as it calls for contacting people who know nothing about you, opening a robust conversation with them about their needs or wants and how you can help them achieve the results they desire, and then getting them to commit to a decision…that is selling. You could have been selling Girl Scout cookies, tickets to a concert, arts & crafts you made at home, or signing people up to join a movement. The skills required are compatible with sales success.
Will you sell?
Now the rubber meets the road. Even if you could be the greatest seller who ever lived it won’t count for much if you don’t do it. Personal Velocity™, a term I use to identify energy, drive and self-motivation, is absolutely required for sales success. You’ve probably met many great talkers who don’t make sales because they never go out to talk with real buyers. Likewise you could be the champion of your high school debate team but still struggling in sales if you don’t have the discipline to get in touch with those who can say Yes.
Only a small portion of one’s motivation can come from others. Most of it has to come from you. That’s why I say we must “get ourselves to do what needs to be done, even when we don’t feel like it.”
How do you sell?
It’s popular to say “natural” sales people are those with a gift of gab, excellent verbal skills and winning personalities. But the truth does not bear this out. After working with more than 3,000 different client groups over my 40+ years in sales training I’ve found that the most successful sellers in all fields are those with a heart that cares about their customers and a spirit that drives them to continually make new calls in a disciplined manner. So “how” you sell isn’t nearly as important as “whether” you will do so.
Still, style matters. If you are not able to adapt to the differences in others then you’ll miss many of the sales you could have made. We must know our own behavioral style, our natural patterns of personality, and we must recognize, understand and adapt to the styles of others to whom we sell.
My story: In 1970 I was newly married and took a job selling mutual funds and life insurance. After a month of study to pass the licensing exams I was taught “the sales presentation” and set loose on society. Note: I was told exactly what to say regardless of to whom or where I was saying it. The focus was on selling my products and not on really helping my clients.
After a year and a half of sales calls I left in defeat. I had only sold enough to survive from month to month and this convinced me that I was not suited for a sales career. I took another job selling cars just so that I could sell my own car and have a free demo car to drive. That failed too. With only a few weeks in the new role I was fired for lack of sales.
Discouraged and saddened I worked in a grocery store and job searched for a non-sales position. The position I found was a clerical job in a local government agency, the housing authority. It wasn’t fun but it paid the bills. Still, I was bored and wanted an optimistic challenge. I felt there was much more I could do.
A few months later I joined the Junior Chamber of Commerce, “The Jaycees”. This civic club was designed for young adults seeking to learn leadership skills by working in the community. I took to it like a duck to water. I led teams who canvassed the communities seeking new members. We organized projects to raise funds, solve problems and serve the community. I took charge of their training programs and led discussions and training programs. In just two years as a new Jaycees member I attended 400 meetings after work and on weekends. And I led about 300 of those meetings!
One day a man named Harold Gash attended one of our meetings and heard me speak to the group. Afterwards he said, “Jim, you have more potential than any young man I’ve ever known. You should be in sales!” What???? Sales? No, I don’t think so! I thought. I’ve tried that before.
He said that I had been trying it wrong. He knew that I could sell and he could tell that I would do the work necessary. What had been wrong previously was the way that I was approaching it. He said, “Jim you have become an excellent student of the motivational training from Earl Nightingale. If you will simply call on business leaders and show them how this training can help them do what you do, then you will make sales. You don’t have to become a powerful closer. You simply need to find people who want to do as you’ve done and then show them how to do it with our product.” So I went to work with Harold and that changed the direction of my life.
Within one year I was hired as the national program manager in charge of leadership training for a 356,000-person organization and after 2 successful years with them I launched my own career as a professional speaker and trainer. And I’ve never looked back!
Today, 40 years later, I have sold products and services around the world, delivered over 3,000 paid speeches to millions of people and published 17 books, mostly on the subject of sales success! Wow, I guess I was wrong about my sales potential. How about you?
What have you been thinking about your own sales potential? Can you sell? Will you sell? How can you sell more successfully? Top Sales World is an exceptional resource to help you answer all of those questions.