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4 Skill Areas of Highly Successful Salespeople

By Susan Hall

With over 30 years of experience helping sales organizations improve performance, SEG's seen a lot of selling trends. But through all of these trends there remain a few constants that hold true for ALL highly successful salespeople whose continued success depends upon long term business to business relationships with customers. In this video blog, we share lessons learned regarding 4 key skill areas, as well as a framework for balancing these skills to bring greater value to the client, and good business to your sales team.

00:00  Hi, my name is Susan Hall and I'm Vice President of Performance Improvement with Strategic Enhancement Group. In my 20 plus years of experience as a Performance Improvement Consultant, I've seen a lot of trends in selling. Everything from needs satisfaction, to solution selling, to challenger, to trusted adviser. But through all of that, there remain two constants that all successful sales people need to demonstrate and it doesn't really seem to even matter what industry they're in. The number one critical success factor is positive intent and that is your ability to demonstrate through all of your behaviors and all of your communications that you are there to serve your customer, and it's their agenda. This is all about communicating how you can help but listening to understand what's most critical for them. Secondly, all successful salespeople demonstrate proficiency in four different skill areas and this is what I'd like to talk about today.

01:03  If you take a look at this graphic, this depicts the four areas where salespeople need to be proficient. Personal effectiveness, technical effectiveness, and also as a consultant and a strategist. So if you think about your interpersonal skills, this is personal effectiveness, your ability to understand how your customer buys and your communication and your presentation skills. Technical effectiveness is probably what the salesperson went to school for, it could be their business knowledge, their product knowledge, industry knowledge. At the same time, they need to be a good consultant, as well as a strategist and a consultant serves as a source of competitive advantage to the customers. So in this case, you are doing great discovery, offering insight, contributing ideas, thoughts that really expand the customer's thinking to what would make their business situation better.

02:00  The challenge with strong consultants, however, is that if you're focusing 100 percent on your consultant role and not your strategist, you may be taking too much time with the customer and you may be not using your resources wisely. So this is where the strategists comes in. As a good strategist, you need to understand, is this the right opportunity that I should be working on? Is this profitable for my organization? So where as the consultant serves as a source of competitive advantage to the customer, the strategist serves as a source of competitive advantage to the selling organization. The key is balance. Let me give you a quick example. I worked with an engineering organization that sold multimillion-dollar systems to the energy industry and they had a phenomenal consultant who was able to do some terrific discovery and find out that there were some interesting things about their customer's seasonality and they were able to position their offering which was actually not their normal product.

03:09  They were able to position it in such a way that they could deploy and implement during the client's offseasons and take advantage of their downtime, therefore, saving the customer literally millions of dollars, it was a multimillion-dollar contract. However, unfortunately, they were not the best strategist and what they found is it was so expensive for them to deploy on the project and they hadn't paid attention to the client's terms and conditions, that they saw their profit margins erode from 22 percent to 7 percent. In fact, the Vice President of Sales actually told me, the day that he walked up to accept the President's Award with the top sales person he was thinking the whole time, "Man, I wish I would have walked away from this one."

03:55  So again, the key is balance. But when you think about what it's going to take to be successful in any type of sales role, lead with a positive intent and shore up your proficiency in these four skill areas.

Best of luck and let me know how I can help you achieve more effective training!

Published: August 21, 2015


Susan Hall

Vice President - Business Development & Performance Improvement

Susan brings over 20 years of experience working with global markets and organizations, helping them navigate through tough economic challenges while maintaining their margins. Since joining SEG in 1995, she has had the privilege of working with organizations that truly value the development of their employees and recognize the impact their people have on their bottom line results. Susan graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a double major in business management and speech communication. She has also completed course work toward her master's degree at Johns Hopkins University.

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