Friday, July 28, 2023

106 Selling Days Left in 2023


A CEO recently asked me to list the most important characteristics of a successful sales person. First, I referred him to Dave Kurlan at Objective Management Group, which pioneered the Sales Assessment Industry many years ago.

Then based on my experience in selling, coaching sales teams, leading a sales organization and implementing sales effectiveness and enablement practices, I came up with the following short list:

  • strong work ethic
  • excellent organizational skills
  • high EQ
  • strategic perspective
  • curiosity

Of the five, I believe only the last can be developed. The others are either innate or they're absent.

Why is curiosity so important? Because curiosity drives success in value selling. If a sales person is curious, they will continue to gather information and develop hypotheses so that they can be more effective in engaging with customers on their terms.

They will not just scan the corporate website and maybe a LinkedIn profile or two. They won't just listen to the latest earnings call.

They will find the key stakeholder's personal blog and read it thoroughly. They will go back many quarters to see how the earnings calls change topics and tone over time, what issues the analysts continue to focus on, what initiatives are evergreen (but never actually get addressed.)

They will develop powerful hypotheses and share them from a place of curiosity and openness.

Many years ago, we landed a significant consulting contract at IDC because my curious coworker identified a personal interest of a key stakeholder at a large tech company, "bumped" into him at the punchbowl at a charitable fundraiser and exchanged business cards. That "chance" exchange helped launch our Sales Productivity consulting practice.

While facilitating an account planning session at Oracle, one of my more curious reps pointed out that we were missing a key stakeholder on the influence map. She had researched similar deals at the account and understood the internal process. She indicated that there was probably a "Jane Doe" in the loop, and if we failed to identify and include her in the process, we had little chance of closing the deal.

The task of identifying that "Jane Doe" was added to the action plan. Months later the team celebrated a substantial win. is sales rep curiosity developed? I do it through a facilitated process focusing on the behaviors that both support and drive curiosity. That repetitive behavior changes attitude, builds and reinforces curiosity.

Success breeds success...and finding interesting and useful details drives the rep to continue to dig. Then I solidify the learning with my favorite line by Michael Douglas in The Kominsky Method: "How did that feel?"

By the way, if your opportunity development and account planning processes aren't filling your pipeline and you would like assistance in implementing/facilitating/improving them, let me know!





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