We would all like to be able to hire ready-made superstars; the proven superstar who we know could add serious value to our business or team as soon as they arrive. We see it all the time in Football, teams signing superstars who excite the fans and make the team better instantly. If you are able to be the Manchester City of the business world then maybe you don’t need to worry about spotting potential. What is more realistic and sometimes more rewarding is to spot potential and turn them into a superstar, it also can be much more challenging and not always guaranteed, but we need to get better at spotting potential.
So what makes some people superstars, while most of their peers hover near the mediocre middle? As a Sales Manager, it's not too hard to pinpoint the difference between average performers and poor ones. Easy to spot skills like work ethic, product knowledge, communication skills and use of sales tools are all indicators of general competence. The challenge for most sales managers is not determining the difference between good and bad; its understanding the difference between good and great.
Sales Managers truly want to create superstar sales people, what company wouldn’t want a team of superstars? But first, you have to get inside people's heads and train them to think differently before you can expect them to act differently.
So what qualities should we look for in our potential superstars?
According to the dictionary, integrity is "uprightness of character, probity and honesty."
I believe that this "uprightness and honesty" ought to be the first quality we look for in salespeople. From time immemorial, people have appreciated and wanted to deal with honest people. That holds true today.
Put yourself in the place of your potential customer. Or, look at your behaviour when you are the buyer, not the seller. Don't you appreciate an honest sales person? Hard closers will get some business and create some ill will, experts in product knowledge will help us understand, but the thing that draws us to do business with a person, more than anything else, is that person's integrity. We know that we will be dealt with fairly and honestly.
So, if it's integrity to which we are attracted when we are purchasing something, doesn't it make sense that our customers and prospects will also be drawn to a person of integrity? That's the first, and most important reason for looking for integrity in our future salespeople.
Whether we like it or not, it is still true, and probably always will be, that sales is, to a large degree, a numbers game. Every sales person must see a certain number of people in order to sell one. Or, he must call on an account a certain number of times before he begins to do business with it.
So, the element of quantity is very important to a successful sales person. Given two salespeople of equal skills, experience, intelligence, product knowledge, etc., the one who works the hardest will be more successful.
Ability and desire to learn
I'm not talking strictly about acquiring knowledge in the sense that one learns in school. For the successful salesperson, the ability to learn means the ability to evaluate a situation, and then to modify or make adjustments in his/her behaviour as a result.
In today's environment, there are a number of areas in which a good salesperson must continually be inquiring, learning, and changing his/her behaviour.
Ability to build Rapport
Sales is, more than anything else, the activity of developing relationships with quantities of people which result in those people trusting the salesperson, feeling positive feelings about him/her, and believing the things he/she says.
So, the successful salesperson is the individual who can quickly build trusting relationships with all sorts of people. That requires empathy, the ability to listen, perceptiveness, and the ability to mould themselves into the kind of person the prospect needs.
Psychologists have long known that people tend to live up to their image of themselves. We all understand that.
What we need is someone who believes in themselves, and not just the typical “arrogant sales” mood – Sometimes it better to look for something outside of work to identify this, are you hiring someone who respects and values themselves, someone who doesn’t constantly look for negatives. They need a positive outlook on life, a strong will and determination.
The best salespeople all have within them a drive to excel.
All of us are motivated at one time or another by different things. And as sales managers and business owners we're aware of the need to motivate our employees, especially our salespeople. So we provide money, trips, bonuses, recognition of all types as exterior means of motivation. By "exterior" I mean motivation that comes from outside the person that is directed or provided by someone or something else. And, depending on the person and the circumstances, all of these work to some degree or another.
But that's not the kind of motivation I'm talking about. The star salespeople are relatively unaffected by the presence or absence of any of these exterior factors. Their motivation, their reasons for getting up at 5 AM instead of 6:30, for making that extra call at 4:30 on Friday afternoon, for taking that sales training class on Tuesday evenings, for thinking about that little account that nobody else wants, etc., is an interior, personal drive to succeed, to be the best, to excel.
Are superstars created or born? If somebody has the qualities we have talked about, and you can give them the training and knowledge to perform their job then your chances of creating a superstar are massively increased.
It's not just about what the superstars do differently, it's about the way they think.