This blog takes my inputs on sales stars a notch higher…this is in the realm of the “soft” elements , or attributes that make up a star sales performer.
Just as good natural athletes can be developed to be great athletes, salespeople can be developed to be outstanding producers. But just as not all people can be turned into superstar athletes, some salespeople will be limited by their nature. They can be trained to overcome blind-spots, but not all can be developed to be sales superstars. Their nature ultimately comes into play.
The 5 key ‘soft” attributes that are the 5 points of a star that impact the future of a potential sales star , are
- 1. Driver — a self-starter. The best salespeople are those who need no outside motivation. They possess an inner drive that pushes them to limits beyond the common individual. Its not easily taught. Superstars are naturals here.
- 2. Technician — technically self-sufficient. The ideal rep is knowledgeable about their products and the customers environment and problems. They are not simply sellers. They are like good customer-facing mechanics that understand how the engine works.
- 3. Facilitator — manages one-to-one and one-to-many communications. An excellent rep can command a boardroom full of people and facilitate discussion appropriately. Its a developed skill that comes with experience, confidence and sensitivity.
- 4. Empathizer — can express identification with others. They genuinely can respond naturally to the stated situation of prospects, customers and their own internal team. This characteristic stems from a sensitive heart and the ability to effectively listen with compassion and empathy.
- 5. Servant — a humble and healthy sense of self. Ultimately a server of others, like a servant with a heart, caring for the other person before themselves. This characteristic really stems from their own security and strong sense of self. They are so comfortable with themselves that they don?t have to defend or fight, they actually can care and desire to serve the other side.
Please let me have your views on this blog and provide me with your feedback…
My sales reps were often confounded when I delayed their entry into the sales team after training programs. Impatience would finally kick in and they would meet me as vent out their frustration at not being able to perform in the field.
AND I would tell them this-
Selling is all about preparation. However, you can know your customer’s business (and your own business) up, down and sideways, but if you don’t know the points of leverage — the places where you can influence the customer to buy — you’re not really ready sell.
Ask yourself 6 key questions before you go out in the field, these are basic questions, and if you have their answer then you are perhaps ready to go our there and get business.
These questions provide some touch points to know whether you’ve got the leverage to develop the prospect and close the deal. Remember CLOSING IS EVERYTHING!!
- How can I help this customer? If you truly believe that you can help the prospect, the prospect will feel obligated to say “yes.” Example: if you’re only calling on truly qualified prospects, and you’ve got an offering that you’re sure can do the job, you know that you can help them.
- What will it cost the customer to not buy? A prospect is more likely to say “yes” if there’s pain and loss connected with saying “no.” If the prospect stands to lose business or opportunity or career points by not buying, you’ve got leverage to make the sale.
- What are the sources of my authority? A prospect is more likely to say “yes” if he or she believes you are knowledgeable and credible. So be certain that you’ve done everything you can to establish yourself as a credible source that can add value to the conversation.
- What similar commitments have already been made? A prospect is more likely to say “yes” if they’ve already made public commitments consistent with purchasing. Example: a prospect that’s made a public commitment to increase revenue will buy offerings that help achieve that.
- Who among the prospect’s peers is already your customer? Prospects believe that saying “yes” entails much less risk if the prospect knows of similar people who have already said “yes.” Make sure that you have reference accounts and sell through referrals whenever possible.
- What is it about this customer that I can truly like and respect? A prospect is more likely to say “yes” to somebody who is likeable, and likeability is a reflection of your own attitude towards the prospect. So find out what’s special about the prospect, and decide to like and respect it.
The Afrikaner right leaning government of South Africa during the apartheid era was disallowed from participating at global fora, was slapped for human rights discrimination for violating civil rights of people in the country, discrimination that was based on their racial and ethnic segregation.
Amnesty International, Human rights watch, US government, countries in the EU, across South America, and even India had slapped sanctions against the apartheid government and maintained that till Mandela was freed, his freedom marking the dawn of a new nation, the new South Africa that we now call the rainbow nation.
I cannot but help make comparisons between what has transpired in South Africa and what is seen in my motherland today.
Lets compare and analyse
Apartheid vs the caste system in India
Apartheid is segregation of people of different races from one another based on their racial features, color of their skin AND using religious text as a pretext to implement this abomination.
The caste system in India derives its sanctity from the religious texts and teachings, segregates people based on the kind of trade they ply or the work they do ( which is often passed on from generation to generation, with no hope to move up, since they do not have the required skills or the education to move up!!) and creates a pecking order where the “higher” castes , take it upon themselves to exploit the ” lower castes”.
The AFRIKANER versus the INDIAN POLITICAL CLASS and their political legitimacy
The white racist Afrikaner believed that without his “superior” intelligence ( because he was white skinned!!) the country would fall into disarray, which gave him the GOD GIVEN right to strictly segregate the country on racial lines, without which there would be chaos!!
The political class in India believe that without them, the voting, illiterate, un educated masses would fall by the way side, and they are therefore GOD’s GIFT to poor, illiterates, who are the vast majority, who vote for them, based on caste lines ( poor wretches, cannot understand that giving in to the appeal of caste based voting , is endorsing their poor plight, and endless continuity of the caste system which exploits them….they will never have the necessary intelligence to comprehend what they ultimately give in to, based purely on HOPE of better governance).
The Indian political class thus segregates the people based on caste lines ( as opposed to racial lines…its just the same really)
Human right violations in Apartheid South Africa and in the reality of India
The Apartheid government of South Africa was ostracized for their brutal repression of the civil rights, for economic segregation based on racial lines, for not giving access to basic amenities to people of color.
- Education- The apartheid government of South Africa deliberately ensured that education was not made available to people of color, especially the blacks , so that they could justify their apartheid policy, and tell the world that EVEN if governance was to be given to blacks, the blacks were unfit to rule since they were not educated- therefore implying, that their subjugation was the only way forward. The policies ( or lack of it ) of the Indian political class over the last 65 years have mirrored the apathy of the apartheid government and can only be analysed as a deliberate attempt to keep large masses of voting population uneducated, illiterate, and therefore globally unaware…and therefore unable to think logically, think for themselves and take decisions ( vote) based on self realization and self determination. Hence its been very easy for the political class to exploit the illiteracy of the voting class and to remain in power despite no performance over the last 65 years.
- Economic segregation- The apartheid government in South Africa ensured economic segregation of the nation by implementing education segregation, and creating a poorly skilled pool of labor class that subsided on below average minimum wage. By ensuring failure in educating its masses over the last 65 years, the Indian government has ensured that large swathes of the population are unfit for skilled jobs, and therefore for moving up the economic ladder. The disparity in wages between educated , highly skilled professionals and unskilled ( uneducated, illiterate) labor force in India is so glaring that it stumps you, not to mention that there exists a huge gap between the wage of a woman and man in the country!
- Civil rights- During the apartheid regime , the South African government let lose a reign of terror in Soweto where students were protesting their lack of access to decent education- the government would have none of that, and let lose their dogs, gun slinging white police officers and mowed down the protesters- how different is the recent spate of protests across India that have galvanized a sleeping nation? How different is the recent crackdown on the protesters?
Pathetic and non existent implementation of education across India, leading to huge economic disparity in the country, leading to the masses asking for their civil rights as citizens ( to be educated, to be emancipated) is a vicious cycle- where the Government, lead by the RULING ( NOT LEADING) political class, shows total disdain for accountability, passes the buck at the drop of a hat ( my bureaucrats dont work , my clerks dont work, I did my job by signing off on the document prepared by some one etc etc) and passes off non performance as achievements against global benchmarks, ONLY a total revamp of the political class will ensure sustenance of a truly democratic nation.
EDUCATION is just one element that I have taken to construct a case to make the required comparisons between the apartheid regime in South Africa and what has been happening , right under our noses for the past 65 years, in the garb of “democracy”.
If South Africa could be slapped with punitive sanctions by the league of nations for over 40 years, till they came to their senses and truly became a democracy, then what stops the nations of the world to impose sanctions against India, which is de facto, RULED ( and not LED) by a corrupt, malicious, self serving political class ( much like the white , supremacist, racist Afrikaner)!
Food for though for my friends in civil society in the US, EU and elsewhere!!
Since independence, there has been a clever strategy implemented by the political class to create this aura of invincibility in the voting masses that is is ONLY the political classes that can deliver growth, sustainable livelihood, food security, water access and all things that are deemed to be a must have for civil society, including education.
But those of us , in the largely, urban, middle class, know that over the last 65 years, the political class owes its great success in keeping the largely semi urban and rural voting masses tethered to their HOPES and DREAMS is by keeping them bereft of REAL changes, not educating them, and playing caste based politics.
Because, large swathes of our voting population continues to be illiterate, un educated and definitely globally unaware, these people, living in India’s semi urban and rural hinterland, are politically weak, have little and no understanding of their rights and rule of law in the land, and remain subservient to HOW THE RULES ARE INTERPRETED and FED TO THEM by the politicians, the bureaucrats and those in the police.
( please note- when I say bureaucrats and police, I DO NOT MEAN a blanket sweeping reference to ALL in this fraternity, but a majority of them- AND , I certainly consider even the “GOOD” guys to be partners in crime to their political masters, if they do not demonstrate, courage of conviction to say NO or to take a stand against their political masters!!)
Thus the rules in India are at 2 levels
- Rules that apply to the political class, the bureaucrats and those in the police forces
- Rules that apply to the common man- other than politicians, bureaucrats and those in the police forces
Case in point- Bitti Mohanty, son of a Director General of Police of the state of Orissa was convicted of rape in 2006, and while on parole, vanished from the face of the earth in 2007- probably living a life of luxury in the US or UK with the resources provided by his politically connected father!! the case is still under investigation……
Case in point- Akbaruddin Owais, politician with connections to the ruling party in India, spouting anti India anti Hindu rhetoric in open forums to a cheering illiterate audience, made up of (illiterate, fundamentalist) muslims- only after the intervention by a national TV channel was some action taken against him!! NO ONE from the public domain came forward to speak of this breach of the law…
These 2 cases simply tell you the real truth of the reality (frailty) of Indian democracy and democratic institutions, which are weak at best, and absolutely hollow and rotten at worst.
One look at the spate of issues that have been highlighted by the national media on how brazenly the political class has usurped the rule of law in the country ( this in the aftermath of the recent rape and murder of a young doctor in the national capital) and as an educated individual, you will clearly comprehend the level of systematic decay that has been fostered by the political class over the last 65 years of their rule ( please note- I say rule and not leadership , because after the exit of the white rule from the UK, this neo brown political class has seamlessly moved into the same seats that were vacated and turned politics into a devious art form in India, all in the name of democracy!!)
Those in the business of human rights, sitting in the US and in the EU need to be reading this space….and comment on how they perceive the state of affairs in this democracy!!
My sales reps often asked me- what are the character traits of a top sales pro?
This set me thinking and I could only think of 8 such key personal traits that I believe make a great sales professional.
However at this juncture I must emphasize that apart from these very basic MUST HAVE traits, the top sales professionals HAVE to be constantly in a state of self development, which may mean developing judgement maturity, evolving your soft skills, client insights etc, topics about which I have spoken off in my earlier blogs.
So for the basic 8 traits, here goes
- Goal clarity. Top sales pros have clear, specific, written-down statements of what they want to achieve.
- Follow-through. Top sales pros do whatever is necessary to make the deal happen and keep the customer happy.
- Self Awareness. Top sales pros have the ability to understand and control their own emotions, regardless of what happens.
- Social Ability. Top sales pros can achieve rapport and develop long term relationships with wide variety of people.
- Optimism. Top sales pros tend to look at the world in terms of possibilities and opportunities, not dangers and risks.
- Problem-solving. Top sales pros love the challenge of discovering new problems and solving them.
- Competitiveness. Top sales pros get excited and motivated when they’re confronted with a worthy competitor.
- Perspective. Top sales pros know that success in life isn’t the money you make, but the relationships you build.
AND also dont forget to read the other blogs that I posted in wordpress!!