Are You an Inc. 500 Salesperson?

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Posted: September 19, 2012

Inc. magazine just published their list of America’s fastest growing private companies. The edition is full of inspirational stories of entrepreneurs betting on themselves and

their products. As I was reading their stories, it is clear that IQ was definitely a part of their success. Equally important was their emotional intelligence skills in achieving their record sales growth. Here are a couple of skills I noted from reading these American success stories

Interpersonal Skills:

Inc. magazine asked several CEO’s this question: “What’s your company’s most effective strategy for landing new customers?” I was expecting most of the answers to be around the use of social media. And while many CEO’s are using social media, none of their answers reflected that strategy. The answers varied from:

We build relationships the old-fashioned way: face-to face.” Terrell Martin, Streamline Defense.”

Referrals and word of mouth. A good reputation for quality work and products goes a long way.” Kevin Szpula, Driven Local.

“We have a one ring policy for our customer service department. We always pick up the phone on the first ring. People love that we answer the phone.” Ari Zolden, Quantem Networks.”

“Cold calls. Unfortunately.” Keith Simmons, Prizelogic.

These smart CEO’s recognize the power of relationships and people actually speaking to one another. In the emotional intelligence world, this is called interpersonal skills.

Salespeople that are strong in interpersonal skills have the ability AND desire to build and maintain relationships. They are not hiding behind email—they actually talk to their prospects and customers.

High EQ salespeople also excel at developing power partners, referral partners. They recognize that qualified introductions dramatically increase close ratios and shorten sales cycles. In an instant gratification world, these salespeople realize that processes are efficient, but people are not. In other words, you can’t expect to have one conversation, or one cup of coffee with a person in order to establish a solid relationship.

Optimism and self confidence:

Inc. magazine called many of these winners ‘the cockeyed-optimist contingent.’ They saw the risks in starting a new venture and still decided to take the gamble. They were confident in their ability to build and grow something great. Seventy seven put their money where their mouth was and invested their own personal savings to start their companies. (Yes, they did build it.)

Great salespeople possess this same entrepreneurial thinking. When developing a pursuit strategy, they don’t give a lot of thought to losing. Their self talk and focus is more on winning. As a result, they pursue deals that everyone else thinks are out of their reach. 

Many sales organizations believe their sales team isn’t winning the big deals due to lack of strategic and tactical selling skills. This might be the case, but the reality is your sales team may not even be showing up to the opportunity table. More than once, I’ve had a salesperson share that they don’t want to call on a “big prospect” because they are intimidated (self confidence), and worried that they won’t win. Their worry becomes a self fulfilling prophecy because they talk themselves out of ever making an initial contact!

Similar to successful entrepreneurs, the outstanding salesperson invests their own money in their personal and professional development. They are willing to bet on themselves. They don’t wait for someone else to make them good. The most successful sales professionals regard themselves as ‘mini-CEO’s’ within the sales organization.

Study the mindset of the Inc. 500 winners and apply it to your sales position. Their EQ and IQ skills are building great companies and revenues. You can do the same.