In this article, we’ll look at what key traits you should seek when hiring sales personnel. In Part 2, we’ll examine the tools and best practices for training in order to optimize their success and provide you with the greatest return on your sales department investment.
Many senior living leaders today are searching for sales personnel who have what it takes to engage prospects and turn them into sales and move-ins – and do it on a consistent basis, month after month, year after year. It seems that finding and hiring the right sales people is “easier said than done,” but by knowing what key traits to focus on you can simplify your search process and use your recruiting time much more productively.
The Characteristics of Successful Sales People
In her article, “10 Characteristics of Successful Salespeople,” Kelley Robertson discusses the unique characteristics that separate successful sales people from everyone else. As she says, “The most successful sales people, in virtually any industry, possess the same set of characteristics.” For example:
- They are persistent – Selling or running a business for a living requires a tremendous amount of persistence. Obstacles loom in front of us on a regular basis. However, it’s what you do when faced with these barriers that will determine your level of success. I believe it was Brian Tracy who once said that a person will face the most challenging obstacle just before they achieve their goal. The most successful people in any industry have learned to face the obstacles that get in their way. They look for new solutions. They are tenacious. They refuse to give up.
- Successful sales people are avid goal setters – They know what they want to accomplish and they plan their approach. They make sure their goals are specific, motivational, achievable yet challenging, relevant to their personal situation, and time-framed. They visualize their target, determine how they will achieve their goal, and take action on a daily basis.
- Great sales people ask quality questions – The best sales people ask their clients and prospects plenty of quality questions to fully determine their situation and buying needs. They know that the most effective way to present their product or service is to uncover their customer’s goals, objectives, concerns and hesitations. This allows them to effectively discuss the features and benefits of their product and service that most relate to each customer.
- Successful sales people listen – Most sales people will ask a question then give their customer the answer, or continue to talk afterwards instead of waiting for their response. Great sales people know that customers will tell them everything they need to know if given the right opportunity. They ask questions and listen carefully to the responses, often taking notes and summarizing their understanding of the customers’ comments. Essentially, they have learned that silence is golden.
- Successful sales people are passionate – They love their company and they exude this pride when talking about their products and services. The more passionate you are about your career, the greater the chance you will succeed. The reason for this is simple — when you love what you do, you are going to put more effort into your work. When you are passionate about the products or services you sell, your enthusiasm will shine brightly in every conversation. If you aren’t genuinely excited about selling your particular product or service, give serious consideration to making a change. You are not doing yourself, your company or your customers any favors by continuing to represent something you can’t get excited about.
- Successful sales people are enthusiastic – They are always in a positive mood – even during difficult times – and their enthusiasm is contagious. They seldom talk poorly of their company or the business. When faced with unpleasant or negative situations, they choose to focus on the positive elements instead of allowing themselves to be dragged down.
- Successful sales people take responsibility for their results – They do not blame internal problems, the economy, tough competitors, or anything else if they fail to meet their sales quotas. They know that their actions alone will determine their results and they do what is necessary.
- Successful sales people work hard – Most people want to be successful but they aren’t prepared to work hard to achieve it. Sales superstars don’t wait for business to come to them; they go after it. They usually start work earlier than their coworkers and stay later than everyone else. They make more calls, prospect more consistently, talk to more people, and give more sales presentations than their coworkers.
- Successful sales people keep in touch with their clients – They know that constant contact helps keep clients, so they use a variety of approaches to accomplish this. They send thank you, birthday and anniversary cards. They make phone calls and schedule regular ‘keep in touch’ breakfast and lunch meetings. They send articles of value to their customers and send email newsletters. They are constantly on the lookout for new and creative ways to keep their name in their customers’ minds.
- Successful sales people show value – Today’s business world is more competitive than ever before and most sales people think that price is the only motivating buying factor. Successful sales people recognize that price is a factor in every sale, but it is seldom the primary reason someone chooses a particular product or supplier. They know that a well-informed buyer will usually base much of their decision on the value proposition presented by the sales person. They know how to create this value with each customer, prospect, or buyer they encounter.
If you use the behavioral model of interviewing, you can ask candidates to provide you with specific examples of each of these important traits.
The Markers for Sales Success are Often Innate
Melinda Schmitz, Senior Consultant with SageAge Strategies, says, “Possessing these essential traits is more important than having a background in senior housing. It takes a mix of both relevant personality traits and savvy selling to ensure successful census growth. Also, the product and business can be caught whereas those key behavioral characteristics are usually innate, so we seek those first in the ideal candidate.”
“In searching for quality candidates, I’ve found that using digital tools such as LinkedIn can be very powerful and cost-effective. They must be skilled and credible enough to effectively market your community, yet empathetic and trust worthy enough to support the families in what is an emotional decision and journey for them.”
We Would Love to Hear from You!
If you have comments or questions on the value of trait-based recruiting practices and best-practice sales training, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any experiences you’ve had in these areas, whether they have been successful or not. Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Expert Sales Team Recruitment and Training Assistance is Available
Selecting people who have the right “markers” for sales success and providing them with proven, best practice sales training is an essential foundation for your community’s growth strategy. If you are a senior living community considering the need for assistance in increasing sales through best-practice sales recruitment, training and growth strategies, we encourage you to contact us for more information.
SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry and was recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. For more information, please call or e-mail Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext. 202 / firstname.lastname@example.org.