Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Pitfalls Of The Successful Salesman

This CEO Blogger believes that successful sales people are born, not made.  While training can be provided to enhance sales ability,  some one either has the sales gene, or not.  That is probably the reason why 80% of the business is usually sold by 20% of sales people.   And, it is also the reason why there is usually high turn over in Sales.  Those that don't have the gene are usually terminated and move on to another company, until they are terminated again, or leave because they know termination is coming, for lack of performance. 

By definition, a sales person should be signing several accounts, or new clients a year to be deemed successful.   Of course, this is dependent on the particular industry, since sale cycles can vary dramatically.   Usually, however, within a year or two of hire, we know if we have a successful sales person, or not.   This is a totally quantitative analysis because cards talk and numbers don't lie.   No matter how much we may like a sales person, if we don't see a healthy pipeline and signed new business, within a year or two, it probably will not happen in year three or beyond.  It is what it is. 

Successful sales people must be careful that they don't fall into two traps.   The first relates to EGO.   Some times the successful sales person becomes impossible to deal with and therefore others within the company are often offended by the EGO based behaviors they see.   When that happens, other staff members will not be supportive of the sales person, even if he or she is signing business.   And, when the day comes that the sales person has a dry year, they will push for termination to get rid of someone they see as obnoxious and disruptive.   Instead, the most successful sales people should be humble and collaborative, recognizing that new business is signed as a result of team, not individual effort.   Thanking those involved in the sale is essential to good relationships. 

The second trap many successful sales people fall into is living way beyond their means as a result of variable commission.   When that happens, the sales person is on a thread mill and path to self destruction.   It would be best to save and or invest at least 50% of those commission dollars because there will be years when commissions are lower causing financial stress, which is avoidable with proper planning.  

Successful sales people make a lot of money.   The key is where they will be at 50 years old.   With proper planning and investments, the successful sales person will be set for life.   Or, at 50 years old, he or she will look back at all the money they have made and ask where did it all go. 

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