Author: Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano
Publisher: Business Plus
Year Published: 2003
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If you’ve read Now, Discover Your Strengths and you are in sales, check out The Gallup Organization’s book on how to Discover Your Sales Strengths. Unlike most sales books that are written from a salesman’s perspective, this book is based on Gallup research of sales people who were consistently in the top 25% of their company’s sales forces and sold 4-10 times more than average performers. The research is based on interviews with 250,000 salespeople, over 1 million customers and 80,000 managers.
If you are familiar with Now, Discover Your Strengths (which I highly recommend), you know that The Gallup Organization has put together an online assessment that tells you your top 5 talents. I, personally, thought it was pretty accurate in analyzing myself and a few of my colleagues who took the quiz. What do these talents have to do with sales? Well, interestingly – and despite what you’ve probably read – the authors conclude:
“The idea that anyone can sell is nonsense. Sales simply is not for everyone because consistent success in a sales career requires the presence of certain talents. In the course of our work we have studied sales forces for some of the best companies, companies that have carefully recruited and selected their representatives. Even in the best companies, we found that 35 percent of the sales force did not have the talents necessary to achieve acceptable results predictably. This rather considerable group – one of every three salespeople out there – is consistently in the bottom half of the performance curve.”
Discover Your Sales Strengths is written for the people that do have the potential to be great sales performers to utilize their talents and become great. What sets the best performers apart from those who are merely average? According to the authors
their use of recurring patterns to:
- Build relationships
- Have an impact on others (and get them to say yes),
- Discover and solve customer needs,
- Drive their individual performance by focusing on meaningful goals and rewards, and
- Find the right structure in which to perform at their best
When you purchase the book, you get a code to take the online StrengthsFinder assessment for free. However, knowing your top talents is on the first step. You must also find the right role that matches those strengths. And great performers usually have gifted coaches that stand by and encourage them.
In chapter 2, the authors start debunking myths of sales. Here are some findings:
- You don’t need an advanced degree
- “We only rarely find a strong correlation between experience and results.”
- Few salespeople can sell anything to everyone. Most sell well in specific environments
- There is no one right method of selling.
- Training helps those with inherent talents rather than the poor performers
Much of the first half of this book duplicates the content in Now, Discover Your Strengths, such as the explanation of strengths and talents, what the StrengthsFinder is, and how to understand your talents (“Signature Themes”). By chapter 6, however, the authors get into the meat of the book and delve into how your strengths and talents fit with your ability to sell.
There’s no one “right” combination of strengths that make up the perfect salesperson. Instead, the authors have found that top salespeople have their Signature Themes in the following 5 key areas:
- The way they build relationships
- The way they gain commitments
- The structure they need to get our work done, and
- Their ability to understand and solve customer needs
For each area, the authors provide examples of strengths and talents that match up with those key areas and examples of how people with specific talents utilize them. They also discuss how managers and building relationships with customers play into how well you do. It also describes the talents necessary for becoming a sales manager – and how to know if you that’s a good role for you.
If you are new to a career in sales or are unhappy with your current sales position, read this book – specifically chapters 6-8 which are extremely insightful.