Defining the perfect salesperson is no mean feat. Everyone has their own idea as to what constitutes greatness, and one person’s Richard Branson is another person’s David Brent. Every year the National Sales Awards takes on this considerable task, scrutinising the research and evidence behind good sales practice to formulate guidelines as to what qualities, skills and behaviours are necessary to excel in sales. Defining perfect behaviour can be a very tricky business indeed.
The Sales Awards recognises that being a successful salesperson requires flexibility and continued development. In 2012, salespeople have to utilise cutting-edge technology, respond to increasingly detailed market research, and absorb ever-more sophisticated training. Salespeople need to be constantly evolving to keep up with the industry landscape.
However, whilst the definition of perfection is constantly being modified, objective evidence is central to creating the criteria for perfect salesmanship. Anyone can come up with a list of attributes that they think are important to good selling. The problem is that where one person might emphasise a competitive spirit, another might look for a collaborative mentality; some managers might want their salespeople to be methodological, others may appreciate those who challenge the norm. The natural discrepancies caused by our individual opinions can lead to a lack of clarity for salespeople who want to excel. What if, god forbid, your sales manager is a bit of a Brent? Without an objective best practice competency framework in place their salespeople might have to compromise their behaviour to fit in with his opinion of good practice.
In the workplace, this reliance on subjective measures can be problematic for businesses. Indeed, the smallest difference between two managers’ opinions can be disastrous for both organisational consistency and employee morale. Without a uniform code of best practice, different departments could be working to different priorities. Salespeople who are told they need to develop may resent the assessment because it’s only based on the manager’s opinion. Furthermore, without an accurate understanding of the team’s abilities, employers could struggle to justify decisions about talent management, including who ought to be promoted or let go.
Each salesperson is different, with different strengths and capabilities; so to force a salesperson to conform to an individual manger’s opinion of good performance is a waste of good talent. That’s why best practice is absolutely central to good salesmanship, so that salespeople have objective guidelines as to what constitutes good performance.
The National Sales Awards recognises the significance of impartial and objective evaluation in the assessment process. They also acknowledge the vital importance of recognising individual capability and personal achievement. Salespeople are so much more than simply cogs in a machine. They are the very lifeblood of the industry, and in the coming weeks, fingers up and down the country will be crossed in anticipation of the judge’s final decisions. So how can you ensure your salespeople make the cut? Well, perfection is founded upon objectivity, which means that you may have to abandon some of your assumptions as to what makes a good salesperson. But at the end of it you’ll know that your salespeople are reaching their full potential, and you won’t ever be mistaken for that short chubby bloke from Slough.
Silent Edge support the National Sales Awards