Top 10 Characteristics Of A Successful MSP’s Salesperson

Robin Robins MSP Business Development Leave a Comment

The WORST game you can play in business is blind archery, trying to hit a target you cannot see.

Put another way, you cannot hit a goal you haven’t clearly defined or achieve an outcome you haven’t clarified. “What does success look like?” is a question I start off all coaching calls with. More often than not, nobody has clearly defined objectives, yet they’re putting forth the effort, investing money, and making all kinds of decisions about what to DO (tactics).

Let’s consider hiring for a second. It stands to reason that before you hire someone, you ought to at least clarify the results, activities, and performance expectations BEFORE you create your job ad or start looking. Makes sense, but common sense in this area is as rare as hen’s teeth.

One of our new Toolkit members, Marquita Baca, Abba Technologies, asked, “How do you attract and hire great salespeople?” Well, Marquita, it’s a matrix of things that you must do – but the first step is defining what characteristics and attributes a good salesperson would have for you in your specific situation and with your specific needs.

If you asked most business owners what they look for in a good salesperson, they’ll say something like “hardworking.” But what does that mean specifically?

So, if you had a salesperson on the payroll who got in early and stayed late, “working hard” but closing no sales, you’d be happy? Of course not. And when recruiting, you need to know what characteristics are necessary for you to filter candidates through, and what attributes give them a higher chance of success in your organization.

Here is a list of what TMT considers when looking to hire good salespeople:

  1. A deep love of SELLING. Sounds silly, but there are a lot of people out there who think they’re in sales but are only in sales because that’s all they know or all they’ve ever done. They don’t really LOVE the thrill of closing a deal or the challenge of hitting a quota. They aren’t serious students of sales – they don’t practice their craft, read books or attend classes on how to improve. If you want to weed these folks out early, tell them in the interview process you have a position available in the marketing department and ask if they’d have any interest in that. If they say “yes,” they’re not the person to hire for sales.

  2. Competitive, goal- and money-oriented. I think this is a universal truth about great salespeople: they are driven by money and hitting goals and will, as 50 Cent said, “Get rich or die trying.” You can spot these people because they are always top performers in sales and refuse to allow themselves to be at the bottom of the totem pole. It PAINS them to not hit a goal or to be last.

  3. High self-esteem and confidence. Not wildly arrogant, but they ought to have a little bit of an ego. This is why productive sales departments often have a bit of drama. To be clear, NOT backstabbing, excuse making and low integrity, but when you get a group of goal-oriented high achievers, you’re going to deal with some ego.

  4. Professional and mature. I need someone who dresses, talks and acts like a pro. They should also be mature enough to be able to handle stress, conflict, difficult people, slumps and problems, not letting these challenges rattle their cage and say and do things they’ll regret, or frustrate them to the point of giving up.

  5. SMART and technically savvy. People who cannot learn quickly or handle complexity will struggle in my organization. They have to be technically savvy as well, given our heavy dependence on tech and automation, the requirement of understanding backwards math, numbers, planning, and strategy. Our sales process is complex because it’s honed to be a sniper shot vs. a spray and pray.

  6. Team player, yet independent. I need someone who can work without someone babysitting them, but also someone who can (and will) collaborate with their teammates to ensure the organization wins, the team wins, not just them.

  7. High level of emotional intelligence. They must be able to “listen” for what the prospect is not saying and quickly understand the emotional motives and drivers of the person they’re speaking to. ALL sales are made on emotion – how a prospect FEELS about you and what you’re selling. Someone with a high level of emotional intelligence knows what buttons to push and which ones to avoid. They can correctly perceive, control and direct the emotions of the person they’re talking to.

  8. Ability to conduct a consultative sale. This requires deep knowledge of the industry, our clients’ business model, our services, and marketing and sales strategy in general. A few months back I hired a TOP salesperson from an organization that sold warranties for tech. What I quickly discovered was that if he was selling a “widget” where the requirement was to know the features, he was fine, but he could NOT get his head around the consultative sale where you use discovery, calibrated questions, emotional intelligence and a strategic call plan to ultimately make it obvious the client needs our services.

  9. Disciplined. A lot of selling is about doing the things you might not like to do. Prospecting. Follow-up. Taking detailed notes in the CRM. Sending the handwritten thank-you note. Asking for the referral. Practicing scripts for improvement. Working on your emotional state of mind. All of this requires the discipline to stay sharp.

  10. Excellent communicator. It goes without saying, but great salespeople know how to communicate. They can talk to someone, speak onstage and write an e-mail in a way that is clear, concise and effective.

You might have different requirements, but I suggest you have a list like the one above that details what a “GOOD” salesperson looks like for your organization.

You’ll notice that I don’t have “industry knowledge” as a requirement because a smart, disciplined professional can learn the industry. But an undisciplined, immature, unprofessional individual who lacks intelligence or emotional intelligence simply cannot be brought up to speed. There’s nothing to be done with them.

Next, you need to engineer interview questions that reveal the characteristics you are looking for. Do not ask them in an obvious manner, “Are you goal-oriented?” because everyone will say they are. Instead, ask them about their quota and how often they hit it or exceeded it. Were they #1? Why not? Did they ever TRY to be #1? What did they do to get there? Why do they think they weren’t #1? What goals do they have for themselves personally that they’re working on? What professional goals do they have in the works right now? Are they on track or off track? What goals did they set for themselves LAST year? Did they hit them? Why or why not? These questions will reveal if someone is truly competitive and goal-oriented…or not.

When you do start the hiring process, read here to find out WHO on the sales team you should hire first.

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