Over lunch during a recent sales training seminar we were asked a question that normally arises in discussions with sales executives or HR managers: “From both of your experiences in managing sales teams and consulting on sales productivity, what are the attributes that embody the Ideal Sales Representative?” Here is how we responded.
The best sales representatives combine a variety of skills and competencies that position them to deliver results on several levels: quota-achievement, margin protection, economy of effort and consistency. These are some of the qualities that come to mind.
Focus on Results: First and foremost sales representatives are paid to sell. They don’t have to like their sales quota but they do have to make or exceed it. The ideal sales representative not only makes his/her number each year, he/she does it consistently each quarter, year after year. They are not one-year wonders.
Drive Value to Protect Margin: They begin by discovering the value their product or service provides to each customer and then they structure the selling process around their value. Anyone can make their sales quota by discounting every product they sell. The Ideal sales representative sells at or near list price or the industry standard (since in some industries these vary). When they discount, sales leadership knows that they are getting something back in return i.e. Guaranteed volume, long-term contract, mutually agreed upon price escalations per year etc.
Sell a Strong Product Mix: In most organizations a sales representative sells multiple products or services. It’s usually important that the entire product line be sold. The ideal sales representative sells the entire portfolio and hits their sales quota in each product category.
Convey a Positive Attitude: We like to be around people with a positive attitude every day and all day and so do customers. It’s hard to be a great and ideal sales representative if you don’t train yourself to convey a passion for your job, your company and your solution.
Research, Prepare and Adapt: Show us great sales representatives and we will show you pros that thoroughly research and prepare for each sales call, meeting and presentation. They use research and preparation as strategic weapons to elevate their game and increase their win rate. They leave nothing to chance.
Think & Plan Strategically: Ideal sales representatives are strategists focused on winning. They meticulously plan their territory, account, opportunity and sales calls. They review their sales funnel frequently to adapt their strategy. They routinely collaborate with their manager and others in order to win opportunities and retain business. They use company resources in lieu of being a lone ranger.
Execute Tactically: The ideal sales representative knows that it’s not the number of sales calls that they make each day; it’s the number of effective sales calls that they make. Because they use strategy and preparation as weapons they visualize success and then routinely practice their execution. In sales they leave nothing to chance.
Perfect Their Craft: They continuously hone their sales skills. They are relentless in their pursuit to improve their product knowledge, industry knowledge and selling skills through on-going sales training, by reading sales books, newsletters, magazines and sales and industry blogs.
Prioritize Their Time: The ideal sales representative has a defined ideal customer profile. They use it to determine which opportunities to pursue and which opportunities need work today versus at a later date. They are methodical and plodding in their discovery process. They use a detailed discovery process as a strategic weapon, that allows them to lose early by discarding the opportunity if there isn’t a good fit, or to craft a value proposition that clearly differentiates them from the competition and that resonates with each buying influence.
This was our list. It was drawn quickly from our thoughts surrounding the high performers that were memorable to each of us. What’s on your list? What have we missed?
Ideal sales representatives exist in every sales organization and they are a joy to manage. Are you the ideal sales representative? If not, what attributes do you need to embody?