From SDR to CEO: 5 Traits All Great Salespeople Share
Moving up the corporate ladder requires long hours, patience, consistency, people skills, and did I mention long hours? I was the second Sales Development Rep hired at G2 Crowd right out of college. The role had very little established processes, metrics, or best practices. I thrived because it gave me the motivation and flexibility to figure out how to make it work. Eighteen months later, I’ve been promoted twice and we’re now a team of fourteen.
Throughout this process, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a lot of wildly successful people. I have noticed there are 5 common traits they all share and I believe this is the framework of a high sales performer. Master them and your sales career will prosper:
1. A Natural Curiosity
High sales performers are consistently trying to learn new things to improve their lives AND the lives of others. Books, articles, classes, podcasts, you name it. Great leaders are constantly challenging and educating themselves. I would argue this isn’t a teachable trait, it’s simply an innate thirst for knowledge and self-development. In the age of the open internet, you can educate yourself on almost any subject by consuming free content.
If you are genuinely curious about the problems that your prospects, customers, employees, or peers face, you will go the extra mile to find innovative and creative ways to solve those problems, setting you apart from the average salesperson. Along the way, you will learn that it’s the small details and subtleties that make all the difference because you took the initiative to figure it out.
2. Great Storytelling
Make no mistake, you don’t need to be an Account Executive, Sales Development Rep, or Account Manager to sell something.
A good salesperson knows how to pitch their product to anyone and convince them it’s the right solution based on features, pain points, and a built-out ROI plan.
A great salesperson can simultaneously assess the unique needs of a prospect, tell relevant and attention-grabbing stories, and masterfully weave in high-impact questions to subtly shift the prospects thoughts to make them think, “wow, I need this.”
The ability to sell yourself, your vision, and your solution will be paramount to your success.
A purpose shouldn’t be a promotion, a certain dollar amount in your bank account, or retirement. Your purpose should be the thought of how you want to be remembered by your friends, family, and peers for the mark you leave on the world. Some common advice that gets thrown around is not to care about what other people think about you. It’s wrong to an extent. It’s true that you need to be able to tune out the negative feedback from people trying to hold you back. That said, you should care about what your manager, customers, prospects, and high-respected peers think about you because their opinion is what will help shape your future and success.
Every high-performing salesperson has tangible goals that they want to accomplish. They will also have instilled values that they believe in. Accomplishing your goals while staying true to your values should be your motivation, but your purpose should be creating a positive ripple effect by virtue of the actions you take to accomplish your goals.
You are a VP of Sales managing 20 reps, and your goal is to increase net new revenue by 70% this year.
High Sales Performer: Meet with all of your reps and learn about them. What are their motivations, desires, weaknesses, and values? Prepare a plan that gives each rep a unique purpose parallel with their ambitions. Each plan should incentivize the rep based on what they care about (time off, student loans, sports games). Establish trust with each rep and make sure they understand what is expected of them.
Average Sales Performer: Very clearly state the expectations of each rep and motivate them through monetary benefits and fear of losing their job if they don’t perform.
Remember the long hours part from the beginning? Out-performing others isn’t easy and it isn’t simple. The only thing you can control is how hard you work. Make sure you find comfort in that because it’s a sobering truth. There will always be someone else with more talent, connections, or experience but you will always be able to out-hustle them. Learn to love the grind.
“To craft a vision, you imagine the future, and define it in detail.” – Gregory Kyle Klug
Every successful entrepreneur has this skill and they have the four qualities above to execute on it. This not only counts for the vision of your company, but for the vision you have for your life.
There’s been some buzz around the law of attraction or speaking things into existence and I’m a big fan of this belief. If you have one goal in life, every conscious or subconscious action you take will get you one step closer to that goal…or one step further away. That’s why it’s important to define your long-term goals and focus on the short-term actions that get you closer to achieving them.
Danny Read is the Sr. Enterprise BDR, Team Lead at G2 Crowd. Danny grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, went to college at Eastern Illinois University, and majored in Sport Management and Business Administration. Danny enjoys following the development of the eSports industry, evenings that involve wine tastings, and chances to travel to places he’s never been. Connect with Danny on LinkedIn.