Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are influential: people respect their point of view."

Month: July 2018

What Type of Bait Are You Using to Find Your Prospects?

What Type of Bait Are You Using to Find Your Prospects?

To be an effective salesperson (in other words, a Trapper), you must learn to create and use Bait.

Bait is information prepared to encourage the prospect to react in a certain way. Bait allows you to create a Trap that influences and controls a prospect.

Creating Bait may be very easy for you because your employer has adopted Trapper techniques. Others may struggle because your company has not realized how to perform many of the background steps of Bait development. Regardless of the tools provided by your company, the development and deployment of Bait is ultimately the salesperson’s responsibility.

If you do not understand the true driving reasons behind the prospect’s actions, you increase your chance of failure. Without this knowledge, you will only be delivering a pre-canned message to your prospect and will win only a small percentage of your sales campaigns.

Once you understand the exact reasons for the prospect’s interest, you can decide which unique benefits to explain. To do this, you must evaluate the competition and deduce which benefits you offer have an advantage over the competition and are of interest to the prospect.

Upon understanding the prospect’s reasons and identifying your unique benefits, you must deliver this information to the prospect in a way that is memorable, convincing, and persuasive. This will set up the prospect for a Trap that should help eliminate the competition.

It is very important to understand that if you have no difference between you and your competition, you have nothing to sell. Identify those differences and focus your time on explaining the value of the differences.

I spend a lot of time helping you create Bait in my book “Eliminate Your Competition” which helps salespeople become more effective. You may purchase my book “Eliminate Your Competition” from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Success Should be Your Primary Business Goal

Success Should be Your Primary Business Goal

Every massively successful salesperson that I have ever met has one over-arching trait that is common among all of them. A successful person is goal oriented.

I recently had lunch with a salesperson that I respect a great deal. It was a lunch with several salespeople planning their joint marketing events for the balance of the year. A junior salesperson was asking one of the more senior salespeople for some advice on a deal. During the conversation, I overheard a piece of advice that all salespeople should adhere to:

“Always begin the year with the goal of making quota for that year. In fact, always begin the year assuming you are going to do significantly over your quota for the year.”

Being goal-oriented starts by assuming that you will be successful. Your company and its managers will surely give you challenging quota. It may even shock you that they want you to achieve that quota based on your account base and the company’s position in the marketplace. You may be able to negotiate this quota, but eventually, it will be written down, and it will be your final number.

Once your quota for the year is set, stop complaining about it. That part of the process is over. Now you must succeed.

The first part of any successful process is to set your goal that you will blow away your quota. You must convince yourself that YOU WILL BE SUCCESSFUL! You must set your sights on a number that is higher than your goal. You must plan your activities to achieve that goal.

Once you have established that goal, you need to write it down. Just like all goals, if you don’t write your goals, then you run the risk of not being successful.

As a salesperson, this particular goal is probably your most important professional goal. Revenue fixes all problems so if you make this goal then you will likely come very close to achieving all of your other goals. With this importance in mind, write it in big letters and put it in a prominent place. If you have a desk in an office, I suggest you place it on the wall directly above your monitor or laptop. This way whenever you are creating a proposal, it is right there reminding you. If your office is virtual or in your home, place it on your bathroom mirror or put it on the door to your closet.

Wherever you choose to place your goal reminder, make the goal direct and straightforward. Make sure it is where you will see it every single business day.

While you may arrive at your goal by multiplying your quota by an additional percentage, don’t write down the percentage. Write down the revenue amount that you need to achieve that goal. Don’t write down 125% on that paper above your monitor, write down $5,200,000.

By looking at what I just wrote in the above paragraph, it should be obvious another rule – write the revenue number out. Don’t write $5.2M – write $5,200,000.

Revenue fixes all problems with salespeople. Assume that you will be massively successful. Assume you will make quota. Never believe at the beginning of the year that you will lose.

Photo by sasint (Pixabay)

The Four Types of Salespeople

The Four Types of Salespeople

There are four types of salespeople in the corporate sales world. Every salesperson exhibits traits of all four types, but invariably they gravitate to one or two. The goal of my book “Eliminate Your Competition” is to help salespeople develop Trapper-like tendencies.

You may purchase my book “Eliminate Your Competition” from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

I explain these types of salespeople in much more detail in my book “Eliminate Your Competition” but the four types are:

  • A. Gatherer
  • B. Farmer
  • C. Hunter
  • D. Trapper

It is possible for a Gatherer, Farmer, Hunter, or Trapper to close an order. We have all heard the old adage: “Even the blind pig occasionally finds an acorn.” Farmers, Gatherers, and Hunters close orders and can have a successful career. Trappers, however, close more orders that are larger, and they do it more consistently. In fact, the most successful salespeople may self-identify with one of the other three traits, but invariably they end up looking very similar to a Trapper.

Gatherer

In some cases, a Gatherer is naturally another salesperson trait, but at the particular account in question, they act like a Gatherer. They act like they own the account and primarily try to be a trusted adviser to the company. They are the incumbent and therefore are susceptible to trying to protect the status quo. A Gatherer can also be a senior salesperson who has sold to the prospect earlier in her career while working for another company.

Because all traits are morphed to a Gatherer, their actual tendencies can be varied. In some cases, they can even be a Trapper who has gotten lazy. Typically, a Gatherer can only work for a great company and sell a great product deployed in many different use cases. They have generally established themselves with a lot of experience. Often the company that employs a Gatherer puts this person in roles that allow them to generate repeat business rather than new business because of their tenure and familiarity with the customer.

Gatherers are incredibly difficult to beat. Multiple studies have shown that selling more to an existing client takes a fraction of the costs of acquiring a new client. This reduced cost directly correlates to making it easier to win more business with the customer. A Gatherer has a significant advantage in any sales contest and even smaller or niche competitors can be difficult to beat once they have the benefit of an existing purchase relationship.

Farmer

Farmers can be quite successful in a territory. This is especially true if the salesperson is selling a well-known product and they are familiar with the majority of the companies and individual buyers in their territory. Farmers tend to grow relationships and use those relationships to introduce new technology.

The failure of a farmer is consistency, especially with new products and unfamiliar decision makers. A farmer will take quite a long time in growing a new patch simply because there is very little targeted prospecting or targeted selling. A farmer’s revenue performance is typically shaped like a roller coaster because they do not control the success of their prospecting and leave it up to the customer to decide the outcome of the sales campaign. Therefore they cannot regulate their successes and failures.

The Farmer is most susceptible to losing deals to “No Decision.” If you squander 30% or more of your deals to “No Decision,” then you must begin to think of yourself as a Farmer.

Hunter

Most hiring VPs instruct sales recruiters to find only Hunters. Hunters have developed the skill of ‘stealing’ to great advantage. A true Hunter doesn’t have the patience to spend time on future customer projects but rather focuses on prospects who have already identified a need for the product. Hunters will often have extremely short sales cycles because they like to find prospects who have been cultivated by other salespeople. The Hunter steals the forecasted deal from another unsuspecting salesperson.

The revenue stream for even the best Hunters can most easily be described as a rollercoaster because they work really hard to steal, leaving them little time to work on their pipeline of customers. If there are no existing salespeople who have created a new opportunity and convinced the prospect to solve a problem, the Hunter will starve. The Hunter needs prospects to come to the conclusion that a particular type of product is needed. Once the prospect has identified a goal to satisfy, the Hunter will aggressively pursue the opportunity.

The Hunter rarely loses to “No Decision.” She rarely spends time worrying about opportunities that are not in an active buying cycle. Because of this late entry, No Decision is simply not a reasonable conclusion.

Trapper

The Trapper is a thinker, a planner, and a worrier. The Trapper is constantly worried about competitors that he knows and those that he doesn’t know. Those competitors also include “No Decision,” which is a perennial competitor in most early buying cycles. Because of this worrying, the Trapper plans for a battle with each and every competitor and lays Traps to be sprung on the most likely competitors.

The Trapper is constantly trying to understand the prospect’s business. This is second nature to a Trapper because just like a “wilderness” trapper, the business Trapper understands his quarry and understands the environment. The Trapper studies the habits and peculiarities of his prospect as well as his competitor.

The Trapper isn’t just versed in the obvious parts of the business, but also in how the prospect really makes money and, more importantly, how the prospect loses money. The Trapper knows that if he helps the prospect avoid financial losses, the funding for his project will be ensured. Also, by focusing on financial rewards and losses, the Trapper is often in a completely different relationship with the prospect than the competition.

All of this worrying and thinking requires planning. The Trapper anticipates what is going to happen and makes plans to capitalize on it. He doesn’t wait until the last minute to understand the prospect and cultivate relationships. Rather, the Trapper makes an effort to completely understand the politics and driving forces of the prospect so that he is extremely prepared when an opportunity comes up to sell more products.

Effective Salespeople Know How to Write

Effective Salespeople Know How to Write

Probably the most critical skill of a salesperson is to be able to communicate effectively. Some sales managers will even have a job candidate do a presentation as part of the interview process. Also, many sales managers will review resumes and cover letters for signs of poor writing.

If you want to be a top producer in sales, you need to be able to write effectively. You will be writing emails and letters to prospects and customers. You will be writing proposals. You will be modifying presentations. You should also be writing LinkedIn posts and blogs. Effective writing is a required sales skill.

In my book “Eliminate Your Competition” I gave you several examples of newsletters and prospecting letters. You may purchase my book “Eliminate Your Competition” from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Your ability to communicate your ideas and your thoughts will improve the more you do it. In this post, I am not overly concerned with how you structure your communication. In this post, I want to make sure you are not writing with 4th-grade grammar and 2nd-grade spelling skills. If you are using the Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools, you can have that tool give you suggestions on spelling and on grammar. Unfortunately, it is not the best tool available, and I suggest that you look at Grammarly.

Grammarly is a great tool. It can be embedded into your browser or in Microsoft Office, or you can just use the web tool.

Once you create a Grammarly account for free, take a tour of the Grammarly editor. It shows you how to get feedback on your writing quickly, make your writing clear and adjust feedback to your preferred writing style.

Then open a new document and set a goal for your writing. You can set writing goals based on your:

  • The intent, e.g., inform, tell a story or describe
  • The audience, e.g., general or expert
  • The Style, e.g., formal or informal
  • Desired Emotion, e.g., mild or strong
  • Targeted Domain, e.g., academic, business or technical

When you’re ready, merely paste extracts of your writing for proofreading, grammar checking and catching spelling mistakes. Or you can write directly in Grammarly and then paste your work into your writing app of choice. After a few seconds, this proofreading tool underlines grammar mistakes similar to what you see in Word.

Grammarly Premium also provides a more detailed explanation than the free version (or Word) about why you made a writing mistake. This is particularly useful if you want to improve your knowledge of English grammar.

The free version contains most of the features of Grammarly Premium apart from an advanced grammar checker, a plagiarism detector, and some vocabulary enhancement suggestions. In other words, the free version of Grammarly is ideal for salespeople with a minimal budget for writing tools.

Grammarly Premium provides detailed information about each of your grammar mistakes. It also provides additional writing insights and an ability to set writing goals. It also finds and fixes more errors than the free version.

You can pay for premium on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. I currently pay for a monthly premium subscription as this strikes me as a nice balance between affordability and managing my expenses.

Yes, this blog post (in fact nearly all of my writing) was double-checked with Grammarly.

Is Your Prospect a Decision Maker OR a Decision Accepter

Is Your Prospect a Decision Maker OR a Decision Accepter

Many salespeople make the mistake of confusing Decision Makers with Decision Accepters. In the worst case, this leads to a lost sale. In the best case, this leads to lost selling cycles. You can recover from the lost selling cycles, but a lost deal is extremely detrimental to your compensation.

What is a Decision Accepter?

Frequently, salespeople confuse the organizational chart with the decision-making apparatus of a prospect. This most often happens with Hunters that do not have a history with the prospect. It also can occur with Farmers that trust that everything is going to go perfectly and therefore rarely plan for the inevitable curveball in the sales campaign. It rarely happens with Gatherers that have made a living out of extracting money from the prospect. Of course, it rarely happens with Trappers who plan ahead on their sales campaigns. If you are confused by these terms, I suggest you check out my book “Eliminate Your Competition” where I go into great detail on these subjects. You can also reach out to me through social media or direct contact on my blog http://www.thetrapper.com.

A Decision Accepter is a person of authority that “rubber stamps” the decision of others in his/her circle of influence. Most of the hard work of gathering data about a product and comparing that information with the needs of the organization is done by others. These influencers collate all of that positive and negative information and then make a decision on what to present to the final decision authority. I explain in my book “Eliminate Your Competition” that this process actually goes through several iterations as it goes through a Decision Making Triangle.

The reason that a Gatherer is so dominant in an account is because a Gatherer will frequently be in the circle of influence of a Decision Acceptor. A Gatherer that is appropriately motivated to close the deal can frequently bypass all of the organization’s decision-making apparatus and convince the Decision Accepter of a decision that the organization actually didn’t consciously make. To eliminate a Gatherer, you must force the decision back down to the decision-making apparatus, and the only practical way to do that is to start your sales campaign very early in the decision process.

The biggest thing to remember is that no one individual person makes a big decision in corporate sales. Instead, there are multiple decision makers, and there may be numerous Decision Acceptors. Understanding how the individuals in the organization work together is incredibly important to be successful at controlling the decision process.

While it is important to call to higher levels of an organization, it is equally important to call wide in an organization and to call low. In my book “Eliminate Your Competition” I explain the Power Matrix. The Power Matrix will help you develop a sales campaign that covers all of the Decision Makers and the Decision Accepter. You may purchase my book “Eliminate Your Competition” from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

The organization chart of your prospect will tell you who the Decision Accepter is within the organization. You will only know who the true Decision Makers are by doing the hard work of understanding your prospect’s goals and aspirations.