09 Oct Why are salespeople fascinating?
The Sales Confidence Skills Series is a range of articles based on insights from our inaugural Sales Confidence live event, staged back in September. One of our speakers was Chris Tottman, Partner at the VC firm, Notion Capital. We’ve already shared his insights into taking a pay cut to join a startup, you can read it here.
The VC’s view
While Chris has an extremely strong background in sales, from his time at MessageLabs, he took us through his views on salespeople, from a VC’s point of view.
‘I’m really passionate about sales and salespeople. I’m fascinated about the fact that salespeople take a whole set of intangible actions, from a whole set of people, and they drive a defined outcome in a defined time period. It’s just like, wow. How do they do that?’
What did Chris mean by that? I believe he meant that when a sales team functions well and gets good results, it’s because they have managed to navigate their way through a set of indefinable factors on all sides. There are unpredictabilities in the market, in the individual situations of their customers, and also in the individual members of the team themselves. All of these need to be harnessed to hit your target.
As a VC, Chris is interested in a sales team’s end product more than most. As a sales professional, I’m as interested in the process as I am in the outcome. Here are some reasons I find salespeople fascinating.
1 – They’re essential
If you don’t make sales you don’t have a business. In the startup world, VCs will have faith in your Founder and your product up to a point, but eventually, you have to make sales. As Chris pointed out later in his talk, a sales leader will provide the realism in a startup, in contrast to the Founder who may have their head in the clouds.
‘We like people that are normal. Founders don’t operate with the same mental processing. It’s very difficult to nail down what we’d classify as a ‘delusional forcefield’.
2 – They’re highly-skilled
As Chris alluded to in the main quote, it can border on miraculous what a good sales team can achieve. A good salesperson can keep selling when conventional wisdom says no one is buying. A good salesperson will know their theory, but also know how to rely on their instincts to close a deal. What’s more, the best salespeople are always looking for ways to improve. They know that if you stand still, you end up getting left behind.
In the outside world, salespeople don’t always get the credit they deserve. Salespeople can have a reputation as dishonest, selfish and slick. In most cases, that reputation is totally undeserved, which leads me on to point 3.
3 – They don’t sell
The type of salesperson that fascinates me doesn’t sell. People buy from them, but they don’t sell. The best salespeople have their customers’ needs at heart. They find what’s causing them a problem, and they offer a solution that solves it. They listen to their customers, they genuinely care and take pride in helping them. That’s the difference between Sales Pro and Sales Jerk.
4 – They’re positive
On the whole, salespeople are interesting people with interesting personalities. They’re confident, blessed with unshakeable belief and resilience. They never give up and will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. However, they’re humble enough to know that nobody’s perfect.
The best salespeople are positive people, upbeat and happy. They have a broad range of interests and find it easy to make a connection with people. They listen more than they speak, and they seize every opportunity to find out something new.
Who wouldn’t be fascinated by someone like that?
Credit where it’s due
It’s great to hear someone as respected in the VC world as Chris Tottman give credit to salespeople in that way. As sales leaders, if we can all aim high, we can elevate the reputation of the sales industry to where it deserves to be.
Your turn now, what fascinates you about salespeople? What skills do you think we don’t get enough credit for? Leave us a comment down below.
Become a sales leader at www.salesconfidence.co/blog
About the Author
James Ski works for Linkedin and advises companies on recruitment, employer branding and how to achieve scalable, predictable sales growth.
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