Only 1 in 3 Ever Master Sales

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Only 1 in 3 Ever Master Sales

The Idea: Research published by  Harvard Business Review  has identified something most of us experience each day: the majority in the sales profession are ineffective and are not creating value in the eyes of their customers. The study uncovered that salespeople can be sorted into 8 distinct groups: 3 of the groups, or 37 percent, are effective and only 9.1 percent ever truly master this art form. Almost two-thirds (or 63 percent) of sales people rely on behaviors that don’t create consistent results and that hinders performance.  

The research assessed 23 unique sales behaviors that were pivotal in creating strong customer engagement and loyalty. These themes included: 

  1. Meeting Preparation 
  2. Customer Interaction 
  3. Company Presentation 
  4. Presentation Rapport 
  5. The Sales Pitch 
  6. Storytelling 
  7. Rising to the Challenge 

Each of these seven behaviors are part of a tapestry, weaved together to create an experiential sales expert. The study details the eight types of reps – including their strengths and weaknesses. Where do you fall?

The Most Effective Sales Leaders 

1Experts– 9 Percent of Sales People 

“Experts” have mastered all seven behaviors and are adept at maintaining very intimate “results oriented” relationships with their customers. They unlock value, understand customer needs and elevate engagement better than any other group. They are a rare breed. 

2. Closers– 13 Percent of Sales People 

“Closers” love results, achievement and outcomes. They are gifted at discussing why a product is right for a customer and are keen at moving the sales process along to completion. They can be abrupt and can seem too pushy for more thoughtful buyers. They are invaluable for any organization but need to diversify their sales approach.

3. Consultants– 15 Percent of Sales People 

“Consultants” are skilled listeners, problem solvers and collaborators but often fail when dealing with ambiguity. They must broaden their context to solve larger customer problems. If coached well, consultants can grow to become experts.

The Least Effective Sales Leaders 

4. Storytellers– 7 Percent of Sales People 

“Storytellers” love to fill the room up with words. They often lack structure and story clarity, preferring to share every idea and slide beyond what is necessary. Storytellers need to be coached on simplicity, logic and curation of ideas. They are wonderful people but often waste the time of their customers on needless information.   

5. Aggressors– 7 Percent of Sales People 

“Aggressors” are transactional and hold the line on price negotiations. Though adept at closing deals, they have not developed the broader skills required to be a more valuable partner. Aggressors are often criticized for being too internally-focused, abrasive and in need of “softer skill” development. 

6. Focusers– 19 Percent of Sales People 

“Focusers” are rooted in product facts and are afraid of failure. This lack of confidence can make them come across as “fact” machines, where they miss both the customers “unstated” needs and the nuance in their voices. 

7. Socializers– 15 Percent of Sales People 

“Socializers” are engaging, fun and the life of the party. Most people love them, yet they don’t create enough meaningful value for their customers, often being outsold by more focused competitors. This group needs coaching in setting short-term goals to move the sales process forward. Their “need to be liked” hinders their performance.  

8. Narrators– 15 Percent of Sales People 

“Narrators” are thoughtful planners but are too formulated in their approach. They rely on scripts and PowerPoint slides, while having a tough time in a creative, ambiguous environment. They are excellent internally with sales planning but struggle externally without their script. 

Are you courageous enough to objectively think through your team’s talent and skills gaps? 

Have you assessed yourself accurately and are you working with a performance coach?   

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