What is it that makes successful sales people successful. What do they have that others don’t and how can you spot it when assessing or recruiting sellers.

In many Telesales operations, B2B teams, and Direct Sales organisations, around the world there have been projects to discover what makes the top sellers the top sellers. The idea is to find these traits and look for them when recruiting new staff or placing existing staff in key roles.

It sounds simple, and in many other roles it would be. Take engineering for example, you can copy the actions of the experienced people in each situation and get good results. But in sales each buyer, situation, and seller, have so many variables that just copying what someone else does will not get the same results even when selling the same products or services. Selling is more like a performance where we adapt our presentation, and its content and the way it is communicated, to match the audience, the situation, the level of formality, and many other variables. We can all tell the same jokes as the best comedians but we won’t all get the same results.

3 Indicators of Potential Success in a Sales Person

The way the seller communicates with the buyer also has to be consistent with the seller’s unique personality and the image they project. So in my opinion we have to chunk-up a level and look at attitudes and attributes on a more general level to find what makes the best sales people successful. Here I offer the 3 things I look for when selecting sales people. These are only my opinion and I’m sure you have your own thoughts and strategies on the subject which I would really like to see. Feel free to add and share your opinions in the comments box below.

1. Evidence Of Energy & Activity

Knowledge of products or sales cycles are secondary to personal energy levels.

When you sell for a living you can’t just turn up. Unlike many other jobs there is nowhere to hide and your activity will either be monitored by KPIs or show up in your sales results. If a sales person hasn’t got the energy, or will not apply it, to take the actions required to build a pipeline and move prospects through the sales process then they will fail.

I look for evidence of energy and activity. If a seller can prove that they take actions then it is up to me, as a manager, to direct those actions at the right areas of the selling role. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge they have of either the product or the sales cycle, if they don’t have the energy to put it into practice they will not get results.

2. Flexibility For Development Of Sales

Continue fighting for ways to improve, even when things are going well.

Successful sales people know that if what they are doing isn’t working then they need to assess, make changes, take action, monitor results, and move forward. Even when things are going well, a top seller will continue to look for ways to improve.

Compare this to the sellers that keep on doing what they have always done and getting the results that they have always got. They may be successful for a while but all markets and industries change and develop and I look for people that will apply their energy and develop to maintain and improve their sales results.

3. Experience, Repeatability & Plan Of Action

Experience in sales is about a plan of action, not just about track records

Now when I say experience I don’t just mean that they have a track record of high sales results in a similar market. I want to see experience of having a process, a way of working, that has been successful and can be adapted and repeated to achieve success again. Just because someone was successful in their last role doesn’t mean they will be successful in their next. If they can show me why they were successful, and how they can use their energy and flexibility to develop a process in their new role, then I have every reason to believe their success can be repeated.

The above are the 3 indicators of future success that I look for in interview candidates and in my own teams when I’m assessing or placing people in new roles. What do you look for, what’s your opinion of what makes successful sales people successful?

FAQ Questions On Spotting Successful Sales People

Here are the most common answers to questions we get on this article.

What are KPIs?

An acronym for Key Performance Indicators, which is a type of performance measurement.
It can be used to measure the performances of an organisation, an activity, or in this case, an individual.

What is B2B?

An acronym for Business-To-Business. In short, this is the exchange of services, information or even products between business instead of clients or consumers.

Stephen Craine is a working sales manager who looks for ways to make sales success easy for his teams.