September 2014 Newsletter

It was clear. My client had a sales problem.

Although this client had greatly improved its account retention rate; new sales were another matter. Indeed, new-sales goals went unmet for months stagnating company revenues.

But where, exactly was the problem? Lead generation? Closings? Account development? What could their sales force do differently to improve new sales?

It was time to find out, and so they called in Richardson*, a company that helps organizations improve their salesforce effectiveness.

I have to tell you, the Richardson folks were good. They spent a lot of time up front getting to know my client. They customized their training to fit my client’s situation, and they used real world experiences unique to my client’s industry in their training. Besides that, their post training support has been superb.

But I digress. Here’s what happened:

With Richardson’s help, my client evaluated its sales operation. 

The problem, they soon discovered, was that my client was using the wrong method to sell their services. They used a transactional approach when they should have been using a consultative approach.

If you aren’t familiar with the two sales methods, a transactional sale is a simple, short-term sale in which the customer already knows what he needs. Quite often, he makes his buying decision based on price or on how easily he can get his item. Typically, there’s no follow-up, no — or very little — customer support. Often, sales people are strictly order takers.

Consultative selling, on the other hand, is more complex. The selling process is longer, beginning with getting an understanding of the customer’s business, industry and needs. It requires building rapport with the customer and then crafting a solution to help customers achieve their objectives.

With this type of selling, the salesperson is the most visible person in the company. He or she carries a heavy load, upholding the company’s image, interfacing with delivery or repair departments and, of course, understanding the customer, building rapport and getting the sale.

For my client, there was no question. Because of their services, they needed to switch to a consultative sales method. The decision, however, brought up several questions: Were their sales people fully prepared to successfully carry out this approach? Did they have the needed good listening and questioning skills? Would they relate well to others? 

Assessments revealed a huge gap between what skills they possessed and what was needed. Therefore, my client decided to shore up their peoples’ selling skills and, in particular, improve their dialogue skills. Richardson’s training zeroed in on these.

And then something interesting happened.

As training progressed, my client realized “we need to assess our sales force for consultative traits, too.”  After all, a person’s sales success is based on something over and above skills or knowledge. A person’s traits or attributes — natural talents such as likability, enthusiasm, drive and self-confidence — play a critical part as well.

And there was more. “We also need to recruit people with attributes that are consultative,” they determined.

Using the ProfileXT™, my client examined and adjusted their patterns for their sales force positions, so they could identify people with high potential based on their alignment to the new sales method. (More about the ProfileXT™ tool later.)

The adjusted patterns helped my client place the right people in the right role in their sales organization. They also helped recruit the right people. The information helped with coaching, as well.

So what can you learn from this? That you can take these three steps to shore up sales in your organization:

  1. Decide on the sales method best for your organization
  2. Identify people whose traits align to your sales method
  3. Develop their abilities to make sales and advance your strategy

And the bottom line? No matter how your sales organization approaches selling, you must hire to attributes (those innate characteristics that determine job fit) and develop (train and coach) to competencies (abilities and skills).

Your Bonus: Richardson’s “Six Critical Skills for Sales”
So there you have the case study I promised. Now here, as a bonus, are the six critical skills for sales from Richardson.

These six skills serve as the foundation of client-focused sales, that consultative sales method my client now employs.

I want to share these skills with you, because if sales productivity has fallen off for your sales people, you may find some answers among them.

Solution Toolbox: How to Find Out if Your Employees Have Strong Sales Attributes

Sales people who ask questions in a way that encourages a customer or client to talk about their needs in-depth have a competitive edge. Likewise, sales people who relate well to their customer or client also have an edge.

But these aren’t skills that can be taught. The ability to get a customer to open up or to relate to a customer are attributes that a person either possesses or doesn’t.

And when it comes to skills, it’s much easier to train and coach a person with strong sales attributes than it is to try to teach a person without sales attributes to sell successfully.

So how do you know if your people have the right skills for success with your selling method?

The best way to find out is to assess them.

Profiles Sales Assessment™ (PSA) is a superior tool for measuring how well individuals fit specific sales positions in your organization.

You can use it for selecting your sales people. You can also use it for motivating.

The PSA uses data based on your top-performing sales people to help you evaluate whether an individual has the qualities required to perform successfully in a given position.

Its sales assessment feature helps you predict on-the-job performance in seven critical sales behaviors: prospecting, call reluctance, closing the sale, self-starting, working with a team, building and maintaining relationships, and compensation preference.

It also has a unique “job modeling feature,” which you can customize by company, sales position, department, manager, geography or any combination of these factors.
The bottom line? The PSA will accurately match people with the work you want them to do helping you maximize sales performance in your organization.

If you are interested in learning more about Profiles Sales Assessment™ for measuring job fit in your sales organization , call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to

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