Building Relationship Builders: This is the Secret to Sales Management

What traits make a good salesperson? 

It’s a question every sales manager has to ask themselves when interviewing candidates, and knowing what to look for allows managers to find the true gems and polish them into something exceptional.

In 2017, Hubspot reported on the common characteristics of long-term sales employees, using Ideal Candidate’s Selling IQ Sales Personality Assessment. The assessment divided salespeople into seven personality categories: the relationship builder, the problem solver, the achiever, the team player, the competitor, the charmer and the straight shooter. The result?  Seasoned salespeople were largely condensed into two types: achievers and relationship builders.

While there could be a number of causes for this, speaking to successful sales managers offers a convincing theory: A good manager recognizes work ethic and people skills as important traits of successful salespeople, and cultivates those traits in their team. Even if a salesperson isn’t emphasizing those skills at the start of their career, their mentors will help them grow into achievers and relationship builders to ensure their success.

At least, that’s the impression given by Keeper Security Senior Director of Channel Sales Marcia Dempster and BigTime VP of Sales Pete Smith in their conversation with Built In Chicago. These two exceptional sales managers highlight what traits make a salesperson successful and how their leadership fosters such success in the process.

 

Marcia Dempster

Senior Director of Channel Sales

 

What are the traits, experience, skills or mindsets that define a successful salesperson?

Some of the best salespeople I’ve ever had the privilege of working with are, first and foremost, organized. Whether you’re working multiple deals or one massive deal, you have to have your facts all lined up and ready to go — meeting notes, schedules, deadlines, follow ups and so on. A lot goes into the success of a seller, but one of the most important skills is organization. 

In my world, relationships are everything, so I lean heavily on my people skills and practice a lot of relational selling. Make friends! Yes, we’re working on closing business, but why not try to make a connection and have some fun along the way? People do business with people they like, so be likeable. Drive and determination will always take you far, but make sure your personality shines through whenever possible.

 

How do you help your reps develop their own sales acumen?

Any sales person knows what they have to do — the number hangs over all of our heads. The best thing I can do as a leader is make myself available to my team. Servant leadership isn’t just a term of the moment — it’s a philosophy that I believe in fiercely. A salesperson is beholden to the number, and a sales leader is beholden to her people. 

An incredibly wise female CEO of a Fortune 200 company once told me: “If you empower your people to do their jobs, the numbers take care of themselves. Take care of your people.” My job is to make my people feel confident in their sales abilities. These people are professionals; I am here to help them close business. Joining calls, occasionally being the bad cop and helping to navigate tricky negotiations all falls to me — and I embrace that. I want my team to feel like they are protected and in good hands.

Sales is a high-pressure, high-stakes job — helping to carry some of that burden with my team leads to people being happier.”

 

As a manager of salespeople, what’s a lesson you’ve learned that helps you bring out the best in your direct reports?

I’ve learned that, despite having received opposite advice, having friendships with your team members makes for a better sales organization. I work a lot harder for a leader who sees me as a person — who knows the names of my friends and family members and asks about my long term goals. Nothing good comes from micro-management. 

My team members have lives, families, problems, joys and a million other things outside of their jobs. I want to help them achieve their professional goals — whether that’s to make a lot of money or to move into leadership — but I also want to see them achieve what they want out of life. Sales is a high-pressure, high-stakes job — I’ve learned that helping to carry some of that burden with my team leads to people being happier. When you’re happy in your role, you’re naturally going to work harder and strive to be your best. I want to be a part of that!

 

 

Pete Smith

VP of Sales

 

What are the traits, experience, skills or mindsets that define a successful salesperson?

A successful salesperson must be a very good listener. Connecting with a prospect and truly understanding their business and the challenges they face to accomplish their short and long-term goals is extremely important. Too many times, we as salespeople want to prove how well we know our own product and feature sell instead — we talk over the prospect and push our own agenda. When we listen, we are able to take a step back and be more of a consultant and provide solutions instead of features.

 

How do you help your reps develop their own sales acumen?

The hardest part of being a manager — especially a new manager — is trying to do everything for the account executive. We as managers need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of everyone on our team. Then, we need to develop a training plan for each individual and develop a training plan for the team to push the sales methodology. 

If a particular representative is good at filling the top of the funnel but deals tend to stall in the middle, do they need help with their qualification, their demo or demo wrap up? 

For the team, are we as versed in selling to the CFO as we should be? If a manager does this well, the chances for overall success increase 10-fold.

All sales representatives will be more successful by working alongside their manager — don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get involved.”

 

As a manager of salespeople, what’s a lesson you’ve learned that helps you bring out the best in your direct reports?

Credibility. An effective manager isn’t someone who sits on top of their perch. All sales representatives will be more successful by working alongside their manager — don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get involved. We as managers need to be able to deliver feedback in real time, which we can only do if we are working alongside our team members.

 


https://www.builtinchicago.org/2021/12/02/secret-sales-management