Sponsored By

What Makes a Sales Superstar? 4 Qualities All Great Salespeople Possess

When it comes to the channel, every partner lives or dies on the quality of their sales team. Sales superstars have a lot of skills, from the ability to cold call to research skills. But what characteristics are truly at the core of a superior sales experience? What is it that all sales superstars have in common?

Kris Blackmon

September 20, 2016

5 Min Read
What Makes a Sales Superstar? 4 Qualities All Great Salespeople Possess

When it comes to the channel, every partner lives or dies on the quality of their sales team. Sales superstars have a lot of skills, from the ability to cold call to research skills. But what characteristics are truly at the core of a superior sales experience? What is it that all sales superstars have in common?

The VAR Guy asked members of the channel to weigh in on what they thought made for a great salesperson. Across partners, vendors and distributors, a few key characteristics stand out. So if you’re looking to take your sales team to the next level, read on for expert advice from seasoned channel sales veterans.

Have Values to Create Value

Paul Cronin, SVP of Strategic Alliances and Vendor Relationships for service provider Atrion, says that when it comes to evaluating great salespeople, he looks for the qualities they possess as a person before their sales skills. He wants to make sure the candidates have values that align with Atrion’s.

“Values are the social compass that guides our actions,” Cronin says. He cites qualities like integrity, work ethic, teamwork, courage, being forward-thinking, communicating openly and demonstrating commitment and accountability as some of the character traits he’s seen in great salespeople. “However, the real thing about values is if the salesperson’s align with the company’s values.”

Nick Heddy, VP of Sales at value-added cloud distributor Pax8, agrees that the skills integral to a great salesperson start with character. “When going through this exercise, I tried to think about the top skills and values many leading sales executives possess, including intelligence, drive, accountability, persistence and a positive attitude. And we can’t forget about charming,” says Heddy. To provide value to the customer, a salesperson has to have enough integrity to put the customer’s needs first. It can’t just be about the commission or the sales goal.

Deals that last cannot be one sided, or the customer will always be looking for ways to cut you out. A good salesperson creates and demonstrates value for both sides,” Heddy advises. “Think about where else a customer can buy this product or similar products and be sure to address how you stand out without disparaging the competition.”

Be Prepared

Boy Scouts will have a leg up in the sales process, where preparation is key. Heddy says it’s great if a salesperson is quick on their feet, but there’s no such thing as an unprepared sales superstar. That means research, research, research.

“Finding that one connection to the person or an ice breaker can be key in the conversation with a prospect.” Before even getting around to the facts of the product, he recommends finding out where the prospect is from, their favorite sports team and hobbies they’re passionate about. Then apply those same research skills to their business motivations.

“Research before going into important meetings the potential dominant buying motives of the decision maker and the key drivers for the organization. This allows you to be prepared when you uncover one during a presentation.” All of this is key to helping the decision-maker understand that you are on their side and there to help them solve their business problem. It’s the first step to becoming a trusted advisor.

Melanie Sommer, Director of Marketing for Spanning by Dell EMC, says this is the number one thing salespeople need to do to be successful. “Don’t be afraid to take content from your marketing teams and share that content with your potential buyers to help them learn about matters that go beyond your product,” she says. “By becoming a trusted advisor on the technology issues surrounding your solution or market space, you gain the access and credibility that you might otherwise lack if you only come to the table with a sales pitch for your potential buyers.”

Partner With Your Prospect

But Lester Keizer, CEO of service provider Business Continuity Technologies, says that sales superstars go one step further than the trusted advisor role. They see themselves as their buyers’ partner.  He says there are three sales techniques that will go a long way toward establishing this relationship:

  • Insight Selling: sharing new ideas and perspectives with the buyer

  • Collaborative Selling: sharing the process of working together to achieve something successful with the buyer

  • Results-oriented Selling: persuading the buyer that together they will achieve results and maximum return

“The problem with many salespeople is that they listen to sales coaches and the so-called ‘sales experts’ that mouth off and regurgitate popular and current advice that can actually damage sales results,” Keizer says. The key is acting almost as the buyer’s partner throughout the process. “Partner is a better word then trusted advisor.”

Eric Stein, Managing Director of Global Sales at Dell EMC, is in full agreement. “Know your buyer and focus on them,” he says. “Find the right advocates by understanding who has the pain and could benefit most from your solution – you don’t want to spend time trying to sell to the wrong person who won’t give you or your solution the time of day.”

Don’t Just Hear–Listen

Perhaps the most important skill that super salespeople possess is the ability to truly listen to a prospect without agenda. Don’t be formulating responses to objections in your head; really listen to your buyer. It’s called active listening, and Heddy says it’s critical to superior sales skills.

“Point your body and eyes at the person who is speaking, while displaying engagement and interest vocally,” he says. The sales superstar fully concentrates on what the prospect is saying. They listen rather than just hear.

Heddy classifies it as empathy and says there are behaviors that can help salespeople develop this skill. “Ask a minimum of one or maybe even two great question each time you interact, and restate key points that others make to confirm your understanding.” He advises salespeople to respond to buyers’ problems with ‘empathy statements’ such as “I’m sorry” or “That’s a tough spot” and then give thoughtful advice. “Take a second to step into their shoes and understand what is going on in their life,” he says.

For Cronin, too, active listening is key. Great salespeople, he says, have two ears that work. They possess the ability to listen intently and facilitate dialogue by asking questions. They can qualify and quantify what’s actually being said, not just what they want to hear. “Take it slow—and sell more.”

 

 

Read more about:

AgentsMSPsVARs/SIs

About the Author(s)

Kris Blackmon

Head of Channel Communities, Zift Solutions

Kris Blackmon is head of channel communities at Zift Solutions. She previously worked as chief channel officer at JS Group, and as senior content director at Informa Tech and project director of the MSP 501er Community. Blackmon is chair of CompTIA's Channel Development Advisory Council and operates KB Consulting. You may follow her on LinkedIn and @zift on X.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like