To identify, hire and develop competent leadership is a key aspect of the succession planning process across industries. Perhaps no facet of the business carries more direct importance to that process than that of sales. Much has been written about the innate qualities of a good salesperson, those ‘born with it’ characteristics that allow a person to talk the money out of someone’s pocket. These skills remain important, but when looking to the future, or indeed surveying the present, there are other sides of a complete sales effort that play an equally vital role. The person who possesses the following four characteristics will be an important asset to any company.
1. They Understand Sales Funnels
It’s a jungle out there! Selling (and reselling!) online requires navigating an ultra-competitive landscape that is constantly morphing before our eyes. Attracting attention is just one part of the puzzle, the real goal is to convert attention into leads and leads into sales. The playing field where much of these sales are won or lost is referred to as the sales funnel.
Ring DNA defines the sales funnel as “The buying process that companies lead customers through when purchasing products. The definition also refers to the process through which a company finds, qualifies, and sells its products to buyers.”1
While the concept is not limited strictly to digital efforts, great effort is placed upon winning the battle for the online dollar. Ring DNA lists the funnel stages as ‘awareness, interest, evaluation, decision, purchase, re-evaluation and repurchase.’1
Leading people through these stages is a sophisticated science involving blogs, videos, remarketing ads, landing pages and opt-in exchanges where something of value is given in exchange for an email address. Those who excel in this realm combine a mastery of digital tools and best practices with good old-fashioned sales intuition and consumer insight.
“Much of this is steeped in buyer psychology,” writes R.L. Adams for Entrepreneur. “The best marketers in the world know that there is a psychological process that must occur for prospects to whip out those credit cards and turn into buyers or even hyper-active buyers.”2
When acquiring talent for immediate impact or long-term leadership, it’s imperative to select candidates that not only understand the definition of the sales funnel, but who are capable of utilizing it effectively and intuitively.
2. They are a Master of Technology
One of the key ingredients of a successful sales funnel is an access to, and strong understanding of, relevant data. With all due respect to shrewd strategists and the analytically-minded, any serious effort at making statistically informed decisions must include strong data and artificial intelligence.
“The major advantage of having AI is its ability to access data, crunch the numbers quickly and help with predicting future trends,” writes Saptarshi Das for Salesmate. “AI will simplify the way you look at your sales results.”3
Indeed, the modern sales force understands that technology is useful throughout the process. Software streamlines communications and customer relations management (CRM) efforts, while chatbots answer questions and convert leads.
Techincon co-founder Rashan Dixon believes that choosing your path forward, technologically speaking, involves sifting through the noise and selecting a system that works for your particular situation.
“Why do sales technology companies insist on packing their products to the brim with features only a handful of businesses need?” he asks. “Most businesses don’t need enterprise-ready solutions with endless functionality and customization deeper than the Mariana Trench. Owners of growing companies should think less about what potential sales tools can do and more about how to use technology to simplify the customer journey.”4
3. They Possess an Ability to Calculate Long-Term Marketing Strategy
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said that he was taught to skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been. Being a great sales strategist works the same way.
Valued is the individual who not only understands the technical aspect of data collection and analysis, but who is capable of turning these findings into actionable strategies for future capitalization. Doing so means knowing your market and connecting the dots.
“Thinking three moves ahead is vital in any game, and is essential to sales growth,” writes Maria Valdivieso De Uster for Sales Force, “but this skill does not come automatically. The best sales leaders make trend analysis a formal part of the sales-planning process, and make forward planning part of someone’s job description. This means they are perfectly poised to capture the opportunities created by sudden changes in the environment.”5
4. They Get Generation Z
Volumes have been written about the tendencies of Generation Z, who, according to WordStream, covers ‘anyone who was born between 1995 and the mid 2000s.’6
Digital natives, many in the generation don’t recall a time when they weren’t constantly plugged in. Savvy to overt marketing pitches, they are said to prefer experiences to products and respond well to engagement and video. Gen Z expects seamless integration and can be effectively marketed to using an omnichannel approach.
Best practices in sales will evolve constantly, but teams that add members with an innate understanding of technology and psychology will reap the rewards. An understanding of today’s sales landscape and a desire to stay current with tomorrow’s trends is a combination that will remain sought after.