This is an excerpt from my second book, Managing the Sales Process, available on Amazon.com. You can find a series of these excerpts in a dedicated blog category to get a broad overview, post-by-post, of the book (they are listed in reverse order in the category, so start with the oldest).

From Chapter 1 – The Core Attributes of Sales Success

Will do what it takes to succeed in sales
Sales is full of obstacles. A desire to win is important, but how far will your salespeople go to fulfill that desire? Will they do what it takes to succeed? Will they push through hard times to get to the goal or will they draw limits when things get uncomfortable?

Sports analogies abound in sales because they fit many situations well. You might think of an athlete coming back from a tough injury or a team that is losing the game digging deep to come back and fight for a win. In either case, although it isn’t guaranteed, success is much more likely to come if the pain and frustration are managed as the goal is pursued tenaciously. On the contrary, those who stop pushing through a reasonable amount of pain or who stop fighting when things look a bit dark are almost certain not to win. They are not even competing.

When I talk about this concept, people often jump to the subject of ethics. Am I saying that a salesperson should do whatever it takes to win no matter what? Of course not, but there is a wide range between giving up at the first sign of resistance and crossing the line of ethical behavior. Your best salespeople will be the ones with the desire to win and the commitment to do what it takes ─ within ethical boundaries ─ to win.

So how can this trait be discovered? From salespeople, look at real opportunities, talk about the obstacles that needed to be overcome to win, and uncover how the salesperson faced those obstacles. When hiring a new salesperson, ask subjective questions in the interview with this trait in mind and look for the right kind of answers. For the candidate, ask:

  • Tell me about a sale that you almost lost and what you did to save it.
  • Tell me about a customer that you almost lost and what you did to save them.
  • Did you ever think about quitting sales? What happened and why are you still here?
  • What is the toughest obstacle you have had to overcome in your sales career?

Again, the goal here is not to find a specific answer. Instead, the ideal candidate is someone who was willing to push, and keep pushing past the point of a little discomfort, to reach an important goal. This demonstrates commitment, which is a highly desirable, if not critical trait for successful salespeople!

One of the saddest things to see in a selling situation is a person with the willingness to do whatever it takes to win but no desire to do so.

Going back to our sports analogies, this is like the kid whose father really wants him to be a great ski racer but the kid doesn’t love the sport. The kid pushes to succeed for his father’s sake, but his heart is not in it. It is heartbreaking when you think of the passionless energy that goes into this kind of a pursuit.

In sales, this could be someone who falls into a sales job and really needs to make money for his family. After a while, job options become limited. For people with a moderate amount of education, or with non-specialized education, sales can be one of the most lucrative jobs available. However, if the job is done with great distaste, and only for the money, you have commitment without desire. Very sad. The person might do well but will burn out at some point and also may be hard to manage. Keep reading for more.

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Authors note (AKA shameless plugs)

So, this 7-step sales process and associated topics…. Yup, I write about that a lot. I’ve been working with it since I developed it about 25 years ago – in my own diverse work experiences, with my teams when I had them, and with clients ever since.

If you would like to develop you own personalized and customized, highly effective and efficient B2B selling system, here are some further steps you can take:

The Salesman’s Guide to Dating is a free or very cheap (depending on Amazon) Kindle book that walks you through the sales process using the familiar analogy of dating. It’s a good, fun and quick way to get your mind around the whole process and how the pieces fit together.

Building Your Sales Process (BYSP) is a free and very thorough exploration of the same 7-step process that will walk you through the development of your own customized, personal B2B selling system. When you are done, you will know exactly what to do to get new business.

The Momentum Selling System® is an inexpensive but very robust online sales training course that is similar to BYSP, but goes deeper into the concepts behind each of the steps, and also helps you develop a plan not only for the 7-step process but also addresses mindset, repeat business and client base management.

If none of that sounds right, I do personal coaching and offer a free 30-minute intake session so that we can both learn if it makes sense to work together 1-on-1. If this sounds interesting, click over to the coaching page on this site and sign up for the free session.

Here’s to your success!

-David