A Winter Sales Career
For 40 years, The Gallup Organization has conducted millions of interviews and compiled thousands of statistics and facts that reveal what makes people successful in the field of sales and selling. The authors of Discover Your Sales Strengths, two effectiveness experts from The Gallup Organization, use the latest statistics and analysis to debunk the most pervasive myths about sales, and help salespeople understand themselves and their top sales talents while showing them which talents they should focus on. Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano also show salespeople how they can use their personal strengths to impact other people and find the right field, company and boss for their talents. In addition, the authors discuss the benefits of a variety of approaches to selling and explain that there is no one right way to sell.
While studying thousands of salespeople and the factors that hinder them from reaching their full potential, the authors discovered many prevalent myths that were debunked by Gallup's extensive research. For example, while exploring the myth that a better-educated sales force is a better sales force, they point out a study that indicates the best performers had not achieved high grade-point averages in college. Dispelling the myth that experience matters a great deal, they write that their research indicates that sales is not the experience-sensitive profession that it has been made out to be. Instead, they write that they rarely find a strong correlation between experience and results.
Assessing Personal Strengths
While discussing the importance of assessing personal strengths, the authors delve into redefining many terms that help them describe world-class performers. When they write about talent, they explain, "It is a pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied." To describe the talents of salespeople, the authors have compiled a list of 34 theme names that describe different traits salespeople can embody, and discuss the benefits of each as a dominant theme in various sales disciplines. These themes include Achiever, Command, Empathy, Fairness, Self-Assurance, and Strategic. By defining a clear vocabulary of sales strengths, leaders, managers and salespeople can talk knowingly about their strengths.
The authors call a salesperson's top five dominant themes his or her Signature Themes, and they write that knowing one's Signature Themes is a key to understanding the areas in which one's talents will allow him or her to outperform others. When a salesperson understands his or her Signature Themes, he or she can focus time and energy on those areas in which he or she naturally excels. To help readers find their own Signature Themes, Gallup researchers have developed a computer-based StrengthsFinder assessment tool that can be accessed on the Internet with an identification number from the book.
The authors also address ways salespeople can find a job that fits with his or her talents. By aligning a person's daily activities with his or her Signature Themes, a salesperson has a greater chance of finding a good fit. They write that the five critical dimensions of fit for a sales role stem from the patterns of thought, feeling and behavior that explain:
- our motivation
- the way we build relationships
- the way we gain commitments
- the structure we need to get work done
- our ability to understand customer needs
The authors write that the most important dimension is motivation, and research indicates that the best salespeople are much more motivated than most of the population. When key motivation requirements are fed, motivation and fit are maintained.
Discover Your Sales Strengths discusses the importance of good managers, self-reliance, expectations, building customer engagement, and even becoming a sales manager. To help salespeople and managers better understand their roles, the authors have created 12 questions that make up a hierarchy of employee engagement that addresses their needs.
Why We Like This Book
Discover Your Sales Strengths offers sound advice about selling, improving sales performance and managing salespeople that is based on research and statistics but does not get bogged down in mind-numbing numbers and graphs. Instead, the authors turn Gallup's studies into enlightening tales of salespeople who overcame adversity and created strong careers by persevering and focusing on their strengths. Their case studies and examples provide useful insights about salespeople who have used their talents to overcome personal and structural challenges to succeed.