We recommend all companies profile their entire existing sales teams, leveraging the profiles to learn about their current team’s potential, training needs, and to identify key traits for new hires.
As a sales manager, is there anything more frustrating than sales people who cannot close deals or who have unnecessarily long sales cycles? To avoid these common problems in your sales team, it’s important to select sales professionals who are naturals at closing deals.
For more than 37 years, The Self Management Group has accumulated a normative database of well over 20 million profiles completed by people all over the world. Of these profiles, over three million of them are for sales people, and we’ve benchmarked this data to top producers with hundreds of companies.
Through this research, we found three distinct traits that predict great closers in sales:
1. They Are ‘Achievement Oriented’
Top closers are very motivated by results and challenges, which they balance well with the people side of the business. They have a high need to achieve, but they know how to build the relationship with the client. And, while they are good at building the relationship, they are not averse to asking for the business. In fact, they see asking for the business as a way to help the client as quickly as possible, thus also fulfilling their motivation for the challenge and achievement of attaining the sale.
2. They Have a ‘High Sense of Urgency’
Complementing their need to achieve, great closers are also impatient personalities who like to see deals carry out quickly. They don’t waste any time before following up with clients; they tend to ask for and book their next meeting with clients during the initial meeting.
While some might see impatient personalities as demanding in the work environment, it is actually an ideal trait for being a great closer in sales. Having a high sense of urgency is a key attribute, as ‘time is money’ in the sales process. Those with a high sense of urgency push the sale along as quickly as possible.
3. They ‘Keep Score’
Like all great sales people, great closers always keep score. Keeping score isn’t just about how much money you made or the number of clients you have, it’s also about keeping track of your goals, deals, who is in your pipeline, and who you can cross-sell to.
Great closers are always looking for the next sale and they track everything in the sales process. They know their closing ratios, they track their performance – in fact, they track everything they do in the sales process to better understand where their successes are at any given moment to ensure they can close a deal.
In selecting a great closer, sales managers ideally want to choose someone with all three traits. How, then, can we assess these traits when bringing on a new sales person?
Who Has the Sales Potential?
Our research suggests that it is important to assess potential in the selection process, which is the first step in vetting sales candidates for the critical traits.
Related: Two Principles for Closing the Sale
Let me give you an example from some of the sales organisations I’ve worked with: they tend to hire sales professionals without actually knowing their potential in sales. It’s like taking a stab in the dark when bringing these people on, which can lead to frustration in their inability to close. Sure, most organisations think, ‘We’ll just train them in our sales process on how to close’.
Companies make the assumption that if they train them then they will all be able to do it, but this is a mistake! And when a sales person fails, it becomes the classic blame game where training blames recruiting and recruiting blames training.
Our research found that those who have the potential will have a higher propensity to excel in training, and of those who excel in training they will have a higher probability of success. In other words, those with the right potential (or ‘DNA’) are most likely to become top sales performers. Although profiling isn’t an exact science, the ability to assess a candidate’s potential is a crucial area to help your business increase its odds of becoming more profitable.
Using a sales profile in the selection process allows you to not only predict those who will succeed through the training phase, but also produce for your organisation.
While we only touch on closing in this article, there are many attributes that lead to success in sales, such as prospecting, coachability, confidence, ability to manage call reluctance, etc.
Even if you don’t know the ‘closing potential’ of your existing team, they can act as a benchmark for future selection. We recommend all companies profile their entire existing sales teams, leveraging the profiles to learn about their current team’s potential, training needs, and to identify key traits for new hires.