Do I Have the Necessary Traits to be a Great Salesperson?

If people do not develop right thinking in the process of their education or social development, they will need to develop it on their own. There is no such thing as a successful sales team without right thinking in each member. It is right thinking that keeps a sales team focused and functioning as a team. Right thinking keeps the mental weeds out of the heads of each member of the sales team. It is a right mindset that keeps people working together and out of the dungeons of envy, jealousy, strife, and other sale-killers.

Zig Ziglar is known as the modern "father of sales," and much of his work focuses on keeping the weeds out of your mind and focusing on the right things. This is the essence of right thinking. To keep your motives pure, your hopes high, and your assumptions simple helps to keep your mind set in the direction of success. Much of the right thinking for your sales team will have to do with keeping its members motivated to produce more and more and more, and on a consistent basis.

Below is a list of some of the "weeds" to watch out for in your sales team:

  • focusing on personal problems or shortcomings while on the job;
  • focusing on the problems and shortcomings of other members of the sales team;
  • excessive, loud, or boisterous pride;
  • an absence of the MMFI (Make Me Feel Important) factor while interacting with one another or the client;
  • strife among the team members;
  • envy among the team members;
  • jealousy among the team members;
  • sales cheating among the team members, and personal financial loss to one or more of the team;
  • sudden decline in a member's individual sense of self-worth;
  • sudden poor self-image;
  • loss of a sense of competency;
  • loss of a consistent motivation to out-perform the last set of numbers;
  • sudden spouse problems at home;
  • an absence of happiness;
  • a lack in a sense of progress;
  • not setting personal performance goals;
  • not setting personal and professional goals that are established and well-known by the team;
  • fear;
  • emotional instability;
  • drama with a team member's spouse, either at home or at work;
  • lack of balance in personal and professional life (Do not let someone work 80 hours a week!);
  • a defeated mentality or other signs of burnout.
One of the most important tools a business owner can use to keep sales staff members motivated and on the right track is regular sales meetings.
  To the uninitiated, these meetings can seem like a waste of time. As a business owner, however, soon after you hire your first salesperson, you will find the true importance of sales meetings. Unless you hire very seasoned sales professionals that already have 10 years of experience in your particular industry, you are not likely to get out of conducting sales meetings in your company. Even with such a star on board, you will want to have sales meetings at least once a week to touch base and make sure your sales team members have all of their questions answered so they can be productive.

However, by far, the most important aspect of the sales meeting is that it is the one thing that helps to keep people's minds in the right set of grooves for regular and increased productivity and sale-making. Regardless of how long they have been in sales or how polished as professionals they are, people are just people. Each of your sales team members has everyday stuff to deal with in the process of living and working. Each one has challenges and disappointments, and each one has moments of victory and moments of tragedy.

When the sales team is your sales team, you will quickly see the correlation between right thinking, motivation, and sales production. One last tip on this subject: If your prospective team member tells you in the interview that he or she regularly reads works by a known motivational speaker, or if you hear the person recite something from Anthony Robbins or another well-known motivator, be sure to hire that person. Why? You will have a built-in helper with your team's right-thinking status week after week, month after month, and year after year. The salesperson that reads motivational material on her or his own is someone who already understands the natural tendency of the human mind to let itself go right down the drain if it does not get a regular dose of encouragement and instruction in right thinking.

Phrases to listen for from your sales team members; i.e., "music" to your ears:

  • The early bird gets the worm.
  • To whom much is given, much is required.
  • If you can't say something good, don't say anything at all.
  • If you snooze, you lose.
  • He who speaks first, loses. He who speaks last, pays.
  • Those who can, do. Those who can't, talk about it.
  • You can't learn about gaining wealth from a poor man; if he knew how to become wealthy, he wouldn't be poor.
  • The devil is in the details.
  • If you take no pride in your work, you will soon look for work.
  • "Can't" never could do anything.
  • Whatever it takes.
  • If you have no vision [goals], then you will surely fail.

Yes, most of these are easily recognized by the reader. Perhaps you even think of them as clichés, and to some degree they are clichés. Remember, though, most of the right-thinking things you will do to help your sales team the most will consist of clichés because clichés are an easy way for people to mentally put a label on their situation. A cliché helps us to quickly resolve our problems and positively feed our thought patterns.

This is perhaps the only place you will ever see this writer acquiesce that clichés have an important purpose in our society and in our language. They are perhaps one of the few language tools that serve a sales team so well. Slogans work well in the crevasse of the mind; use them to keep the team going.

Performance Personality

When looking for your sales team members, you will want to keep in the front of your mind the type of personality that makes a successful sales team. One of the most important criteria for sales success is a performance personality. While much of our societal focus in the last 40 years has been on toning down the performance requirement expected of people in all walks of life, you cannot ignore its value when building a sales team for your company.

If there are no performance expectations, then the company does not produce and do well because the sales team does not perform. Removing the performance requirement from a society and the social expectations of its members is a formula for business failure. It also places the members of society with a performance personality at odds with the "norm" of the society, instead making them "freaks" of sorts rather than an example of what everyone should aspire to.

Some of this trend has been a backlash to overwork and exhaustion. However, we need not go overboard in correcting that so that we lose sight of what makes our capitalist society work so well. Indeed, a strong society needs a performance expectation of every member of the society. Those expectations do not need to be the same for each person. But it does no moral, mental, physical, or emotional damage to require people to meet certain standards. That is the definition of performance: meeting certain standards.

Birth Order and Personality Development

The "performance personality" is the personality that is most prevalent among people who are most often 1) an only child; 2) an oldest child; or 3) a middle child in the constitution of their family of origin. The only child and the oldest child in any family, regardless of gender, typically is one who is always and forever motivated to perform. As the first or only child in a family, this person is inherently motivated to please the parents by performing to the level at which they approve and offer up love in a generous portion.

The middle child is also motivated to perform but for reasons different from the first child. The middle child is the best negotiator in the family because she or he inherently works to coax everyone to get along and not fight. Merely by his or her position, this child is forced to negotiate and become good at it in order to thrive in the family. Thus, both the first and middle child are predispositioned to develop a personality focused on performance.

In creating an effective sales team, you will notice in time that the lowest performers in your team are the ones who were the last or "baby" of the family. The last child in the family has others who fight for his or her fair treatment. This child has older others who help the parents spoil him or her and provide everything ever desired. The youngest has siblings who are positioned as surrogate parents to protect her or him on the playground when others want to fight. Therefore, most times the last child in a family has no internal motivator to propel her or him toward performance; and so this person does not perform at all. Instead, she or he is socially pleasing and personable but not competitive.

Personality Development and Sales Teams
If you hire a baby of the family that has little or no training in the disciplines of right thinking and goal-setting to complement his or her social butterfly personality, then what you have is a liability to your team. The spoiled child will not necessarily seem spoiled as an adult with a developed personality.

In the context of the team, however, the person will revert to the personal position in the family of origin and communicate nonverbal expectations about what everyone else in the "family" of salespeople should do to cater to his or her needs. This is a formula for trouble because the first and middle child salespeople will quickly see this person as a troublemaker or someone who is lazy and expecting others to carry the load. Remember, when working with your team and creating your team, teams function like large families. You will re-create the family of origin for every person on the team just by the creation of the team. Each person in your team will revert to behavior that was normal in her or his original family. While spoiling a child and having siblings protect the youngest work in a family, when that dynamic is translated into the workplace, it creates strife, accusations, and reams of problems.

The performance personality is one attributed to a natural born leader, often because that person is the "first"; he or she is competitive, responsible, and not inclined to whining. This person will lose patience with others who do not take work seriously or who slack because they can for a while before being found out. The performance personality will socially "beat up" the team member who does not operate with a similar understanding and set of values. This personality will run off team members perceived as lazy or opportunists.

Performers Perform

The neat thing about the performance personality is that its owner does not mind competing. This makes good numbers for your company. He or she may not admit it, but your comparisons among team members do not ruffle this person. If they do, then it is in a motivating way that prompts her or him to work harder to beat out the competition. Because this personality is developed as a natural part of the family of origin and has very primal needs from birth, it is normal to expect to have to give this person regular and significant kudos. This is probably the biggest reason that salespeople are the overall highest-paid profession.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that the performance personality has a personality weakness called "need for approval." While the personality dynamic that works to your benefit when building a sales team originates in the person's first family, that does not, by definition, create a psychological weakness. That is not to say that some salespeople are not still functioning at that level. However, if you make the mistake of assuming a personality weakness with a well-developed performance personality, then you can expect him or her to be offended at some level in relating to you. In the end, you could lose a valuable player on your team because salespeople who are highly developed as performers do not sit and play the "let's figure out what's wrong with that one" games that some employers play. They see it for what it is: personal boredom on your part. Then they quietly go job hunting.