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What skills distinguish an entry-level salesperson from the top 10%?

Sales is an extremely important job and arguably the most important skill in any profession. As a startup founder, I feel as though I am also a sales person many times throughout the day. But I wonder what differentiates someone like me, who has not spent years honing my sales ability, from someone who IS an expert in the trade?


18 Replies

Ramki Sundararaman
1
0
Ramki Sundararaman Entrepreneur
Commercial /Integration Lead - Video Engineering - Communications & Technology at Cognizant Technology Solutions
Ability to align the business meeds with the need of the customer is the most important skill of a salesperson. Most times the entry level sales Person would go for the trees but lose the forest in the sales cycle. Ramki sundararaman
Michael Markarian
0
0
Michael Markarian Entrepreneur
Founder at Mount Dream
Consistency.
Jesse D. Landry
0
0
Jesse D. Landry Entrepreneur
Business Development
Where to start......?

- Preparation
- Network
- Understanding where and when your product / service fits and more importantly where it doesn't
- Are you ok with saying "I don't know, let me find out" as opposed to saying "YES, WE CAN DO THAT!!" only to find out you can't?
- Thick skinned?

That is just off of the top of my head and in no particular order....
Demelza Campbell
3
0
Tech Workforce Program Manager/Recruiter at DOJ
I think the ability to form an authentic relationship vs. one based simply on the transaction is what separates the wheat from the chaff (sp?).

A person focused more on the bigger picture and how a more long term approach could benefit your business vs. the sales and what discounts may have been given (to the detriment of the brand/value) to make a quick win.

Finally, an expert in any area (sales, HR, etc.) is still willing to learn from people that may seem less experienced, just as much as they are willing to learn from those that seem more experienced. They are not so much of an expert that they are unwilling to see things from a different perspective.

Richard Harris
0
0
Richard Harris Entrepreneur • Advisor
Top 25 Inside Sales Leader, Public Speaker, 40 Most Inspiring Leader, Sales Trainer, Start-Up Advisor, SalesHacker
A great salesperson will be naturally curious. Willing to explore and push boundaries in a professional manner.
Mary VanLeer
1
0
Mary VanLeer Entrepreneur
Helping Companies Translate Business Goals and Ideas to Operational Excellence
Honesty and transparency. Being an advocate for the customer/user. Traditionally, when a sales person walked into my office, I hid under the desk. They only came in because a customer either had a problem or wanted to drive us to enhance the product. The best sales people were willing to take a bullet for the company no matter how bad the situation. However, they were honest to the customer and to the organization. They were a strong advocate for the needs of the customer and typically it ended up being the needs of the business. They were able to influence consensus and create an agreed to balance.
Rob Weedn
5
0
Rob Weedn Advisor
Entrepreneur; Accomplished Enterprise Sales & Marketing Executive with $60M revenue generated
All of these answers are valuable and provide insight.

Above all, it is the experience, talent, homework, empathy and adaptability to (1) gain immediate credibility by adding value to the customer in some insightful/helpful way, (2) very quickly assess the customer's situation, needs, pains and potential for using the product/service being sold, (3) dynamically position the product/service/solution into the customer's mind, operational and organization model, while responding to alternative solutions including status quo / do nothing, (4) uncover objections and hidden barriers across stakeholders, especially including unknown stakeholders, (5) assess the value to the customer and position the pricing within the value proposition / ROI model, and (6) identify and lock-in the business drivers and compelling event so that the sales happens fast, but for customer's reasons/benefit.... and in more complex and big deal circumstances (7) identify the client's organizational gaps to achieving the value / ROI, and map in services or 3rd party resources and solutions that complete the puzzle.

It will take an entry-level sales person at least 2-5 years and 10-15 large deals to experience all of these aspects, see them happen with different stakeholders in different accounts, and build the human algorithms to deal with this complexity in a fluid, rapid and dynamic manner. And this makes the top 10% in a given company.

Then, you will need to assess if the Top Sales Rep can actually take those skills across companies, products and industries to apply them to your problem.
Jesse D. Landry
0
0
Jesse D. Landry Entrepreneur
Business Development
Another point (perhaps a hitchhike) - A great rep will be a client advocate and side with the client, when necessary, in internal discussions. They won't be afraid to stand up to internal challenges in an effort to ensure superior service.

Also, they will treat all clients with the same respect, whether the account be a $1.00 account or a million dollar account...

They'll also know when to walk or forward to a partner better suited to handle specific needs.
Michael Hawley
1
0
Michael Hawley Entrepreneur
Owner Founder at Appends Consulting Limited
In my experience I look for 3 things in great sales people:
1. Evidence of great relationships and networks facilitated by exceptional interpersonal skills
2. Mastery - unrivalled knowledge of their subject area and market
3. Commercial acumen - view the business as their own and are motivated by honourable competition

The best sales people are focussed on their outcomes and needs and will be quite selfish in their behaviours - as such as a CEO you will struggle to be a great sales person as you need to maintain a wider perspective at the expense of constructive tension.

I would focus on migration of relationships from your sales people to you selectively and ensuring you keep close to your market and voice of customer to attach meaningful context to the endless demands of great sales people.

That's my penny for my thoughts...







3. Commercial
Alistair Davidson
0
0
Eclicktick Consulting
It strikes me that customer selection is the number one skill of a great sales person. Being authentic and honest is certainly important, but the mix of good vs. bad customers is the fundamental determinant of sales success. This means that rapid qualification is a critical task, obtaining an early quick win from good customers, then leads to more sales.
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