What do the best of the best salespeople have the others don’t?

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by Andrew Milbourn, CEO of Kiss The Fish

I must have been involved in recruiting over 1000 salespeople over the years and seen a whole load more CVs than that, I’ve directly managed a team of 150 salespeople and worked in, or for, over 50 business’s all with sales teams.

Despite the high numbers, I would only put 10% of those in a category that is right at the top of the tree. So what is it that this small group of talented top performers have that others (the average salespeople) lack?

Well, there are two things, one untrainable and the other totally trainable…

Firstly – a very high EQ or emotional quotient. EQ is one of the nine key intelligence measures (labeled as Interpersonal in the studies) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences.  EQ is something you are born with – when we talk about building rapport easily and making others feel comfortable it is EQ that we are referring to. Of course, there are elements that can be coached but by and large, it is what it is, In sales, someone with a high EQ will always outperform someone who hasn’t.

Secondly – The ability to tell a story, rather than just talk. Now this is a skill and not just another element to better selling, but the key to the door of better selling.

Storytelling is what differentiates good from great in sales success…when I think of those whom I have the highest regard for in the sales profession, they all have this in common, they are what we call “room changers” – when they walk in a room you know they are there, even if you don’t see them come in.

When you ask a stranger to describe themselves you will usually be bored after 30 seconds but a room changer will have you transfixed because they will create a mind image in your brain (through storytelling) that keeps your brain 100% focused on what they are saying.

If your team aren’t good storytellers then quite simply they will be average at best when it comes to sales performance and they will struggle to get emotional engagement and to be memorable.

So how do you develop the skill? I hear you ask…Well, start with the story of your business, as the CEO you’ll be close to the beating heart of the business and you will either be the founder or you’ll know the founder intimately. How do you tell the story of your business? Is it dull or is it engaging?  From a client’s point of view, it must be engaging and worth hearing…

There are various ‘must haves’ in any good story and they look like this.

  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Conflict 
  • Resolution

It’s a good exercise to get your team to tell the company story so that they are ready to when asked by prospects – having structure helps but there is more required…you need someone who is a good orator, someone who can talk and be listened to but a good story with great content will still make up for poor communication.

If you want your salespeople to be better and be amongst the best then you’ll need to help them develop their storytelling capability – people focus on things like ‘presentation’ or ‘closing skills’ but actually what they need is someone who is memorable and who can light up a room.

If you want to discuss this further I’m happy to offer any CEO a free consultation on the phone or on Zoom to discuss how we can help a sales team with their client engagement.

My email is andrew@kissthefish.net and my personal mobile number is 07880 558000. I’ll be delighted to hear from you.

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