What are the 6 key behaviours of top performing sellers?

25 March 2014 by Charles Howden

When we are recruiting top performing sellers for our clients we follow the reliable maxim, “recruit the attitude, teach the skills”…

Taking short–cuts, hiring sellers because they (claim to) have a long list of contacts is really an expensive way of buying a prospect list. Our standard advice, unless a business situation clearly dictates otherwise, is to avoid the temptation to recruit a “quick fix”. To go back to basics and find a seller with the most suitable behavioural fit for the task of selling, and then to develop their skill set in their sales role (with the precise skill set that your sales process requires).

So what are the behaviours (attitudes) of a top performing sales person? These are our top six behaviours:

1) Proactivity – Top sellers are highly proactive, they are busy “out there” talking to prospects, meeting them, doing deals, setting up demonstrations. If you have a moment’s hesitation about this one, hire a reactive person for a selling role and you’ll change your mind within the first day, and within a week, you will be on the phone to us. Sitting about, waiting for the phone to ring (classic reactive behaviour) will clearly not achieve your sales target.

2) Empathy – The ability to accurately sense the reactions of other people, and to recognize the clues and cues they provide.

3) Ego drive – The inner need to gain personal gratification from persuading others.

4) Ego Strength – We call this the “puppy dog factor” Sellers need to be able to bounce back from rejection and be immediately motivated for the next sale, in the same way that a puppy keeps running back with a stick no matter how often it gets a kick it in the slats.

5) Service motivation –The drive to deliver for others, and to be appreciated by others for delivering something for them.

6) Process recognition – An ability to follow a process, though not be hamstrung by it. Selling is a process. Guiding a sales lead through the process is the role of the seller, (and their level of sales competency enables them to achieve this).

How to recognise these behaviours? There are many profiling tools that claim to measure human behaviour though we are fairly cynical about the validity of most of them. We have found the Language and Behaviour profiling tool developed by Shelle Rose Charvet to be the most robust. We use the tool within a conversational setting, usually to select candidates for final interview.

A point of warning. Be careful about letting your sellers recruit other sellers for you, at least until you have shared this warning with them. Top sellers who are highly empathic and who have a service motivation, tend to see the best in everyone and have a need to please. In this situation, they really do not need to sell the role to the candidate; they should let the candidate do the work!

To end on the other old maxim “if there’s something you don’t quite like when you’re hiring someone, just wait until you’ve hired them…” If you have doubts about a candidate, trust your intuition and don’t hire them.

Getting the recruitment process right is well worth the investment of time. Having a team of talented sellers is a tremendous resource for a business, having a group of poor performers is a very expensive liability.

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