The age-old nature vs nurture question is back: Are great salespeople born or developed? The implications loom large if recruiters and sales managers need to test and assess the troops and then fire and rehire to new specs. Relax, the answer is good.
As we’ve discussed in previous articles, today’s modern sales superstar is predominantly a Challenger sales rep; that is, one who challenges the customer with new ideas, business insight and even provocation that teaches and guides new thinking about the customer’s problems known or unknown. It’s a definite acquired skill. While some possess more natural proclivities, there is a little bit of a challenger inside all of us. Indeed this skill can be honed and developed.
Many high-performing sales superstars have long been those who engaged with customers naturally or were taught to 1) respectively teach, 2) tailor appropriately, and 3) control the conversation. Recent research conducted by The Corporate Executive Board reveals that up to 40% of all top sales performers (superstars) sell this way. We now have a good label for it.
But now the onus is on companies and their sales organizational leaders to drive their teams in the new day. Note that this comprehensive research on global salespeople highlights those who were top producers in the post-2008 marketplace. Anyone who successfully achieved top-of-the-charts ranking in 2009 and 2010 are clearly those equipped to sell well in the new selling era.
Whether a manager or a rep, are you developing the Challenger inside?