Imagine you were told to build the next group of superheroes to save the world. What kind of people would you choose?
Each superhero would have distinct capabilities that make them suited for the job.
Super strength. Sharp intellect. Defying laws of nature.
In addition to special skills, it’s important that these heroes collectively share the same core values. They need to be brave and selfless, compassionate and caring, all while standing up for what’s right.
Without these core values, your group could fall apart.
Yes, their superpowers are amazing, but if they lack the underlying motivation to use them, it’s much harder to succeed.
The same goes for building a sales team. You want a variety of skills and personalities, but ideally, these individuals will share certain core attributes in order to be successful.
Choosing the right people will help you achieve goals and reach your full potential as a team.
Here are four essential traits to look for when building your sales team.
Salespeople are often juggling a lot—appointments, relationships, referrals—and they can easily become bogged down in the day-to-day grind.
When building a sales team, hire intrinsically motivated people but also provide them with external motivation.
Intrinsic: Intrinsically motivated people innately understand how things work and are driven by an internal desire to do their job well and on time. They don’t rely solely on external incentives to perform—they have a natural passion that guides them and allows them to tackle any challenge head-on.
Extrinsic: In addition to looking for intrinsically motivated reps, it’s important to create an environment that continuously encourages them to do their best. Extrinsic motivation is created through external rewards, perks, and positive feedback.
Why is motivation important?
Motivated salespeople sell more.
They’re the ones who are always hustling, always on the phone, always trying to close that next deal. And that motivation rubs off on the rest of the team.
For example, when I was on a sales team, I was motivated by my coworkers. There was one girl in particular, who repeatedly hit her quotas and went above and beyond. I wanted to be like her. So, every time she made a sale, I did too. Every time she made 100 calls, I did too. This cycle then expanded to our whole department, and everyone was motivated to not only hit their quotas but go above them.
When one person is driven to succeed, it raises the energy and excitement levels of everyone around them.
The recipe for motivation in sales
A motivated sales team is like a well-oiled machine. Everyone’s working toward a common goal and knows their role in the process.
Here are a few things that can keep team members motivated in the workplace:
- Recognition. Take time to recognize employee achievements.
- Engagement. Actively listen to employees’ input and ideas. Build genuine connections.
- Incentives. Offer bonuses, promotions, or other incentives for stellar job performance.
- Urgency. Sales teams are motivated by deadlines and targets. Set specific goals: Close X deals in [period of time].
- Competition. Create healthy competition among team members. Tracking sales to see who can close the most deals or bring in the most revenue can spur on hard work.
- A positive attitude. Positivity is contagious. Learning to shake off rejections or setbacks creates momentum and helps the team move forward.
- A feeling of helping others. Building customer relationships and meeting a real need with the product or service is rewarding.
Motivated sales teams don’t happen by accident—it takes hard work to create an environment where motivation thrives. But when you have a team that’s firing on all cylinders, you’ll get results.
Working in sales is all about influencing potential customers to buy your product or use your service. And sometimes, it takes some extra convincing and persuasive skills to get customers interested in your offer.
Which is why it pays to be persistent.
Sales teams need to find new ways to approach potential customers and keep the relationship alive, even when met with rejection.
Why is persistence important?
Having the tenacity to follow up and stay in contact with a potential client can make all the difference when it comes to closing an opportunity in the future.
Contrary to popular sales’ stereotypes, persistence does not have to be pushy.
It’s about establishing and maintaining long-term relationships with multiple clients, even if you don’t close a deal the first time. It’s essential, not just for finding new customers but also staying connected with existing ones.
At the end of the day, persistence helps keep you top of mind, which can result in a loyal customer base and a successful business.
In any sales team, there will always be some amount of rejection. It’s just a part of the job. But how a person handles that rejection is what matters.
When building your sales team, knowing how someone works through rejection will help you decide if they’ll be an asset to the team as a whole.
Let’s take a closer look at some personality types in sales, and how they handle rejection:
Knowing when to accept rejection
Selling can be high stakes, and it can be hard to accept rejection when you believe passionately in the product or service you’re selling.
However, by embracing rejection, you can learn more about why people may not buy from you.
For example, say a potential customer turns down your offer. Instead of being discouraged, take the time to ask them questions and understand why they didn’t make the purchase.
You could even create surveys or talk to several customers who have rejected your offers to gain valuable feedback on how you can do better next time. This type of insight into consumer behavior can help you refine your sales tactics and improve future outcomes.
For example, if you can sense that a person isn’t interested in hearing more about your product or service, don’t force the conversation; even though it can be hard to let go, reading the person and situation can save you from wasting valuable time and energy.
A salesperson with healthy rejection-handling learns from their mistakes without dwelling on them. They should be able to share their failures and successes, so that the whole team can learn and improve.
Without persistence, a sales team can become discouraged and give up. But in the world of sales, the only way to succeed is to keep going.
Professionalism is more than what you wear.
It’s having the right attitude, sharing your expertise on your product or service, and always improving.
Why is professionalism important?
Professionalism is an essential trait for making contacts, building relationships and trust with clients, and ultimately closing a sale.
When you project an image of competence and reliability, potential clients or buyers will see you as trustworthy—someone whom they can confidently invest their money with.
This creates a positive experience for both sides and allows for better communication, lasting relationships, and loyalty from repeat customers.
Let’s look at a few key professional traits.
When it comes to sales, preparation is having a gameplan.
You never know what might happen during a sales call, so you need to be able to think on your feet and adapt to whatever comes up. The best salespeople are always prepared for anything. Here are a few tips to be ready for anything:
- Know your product inside and out. Understand all of the features, pricing points, and any customer concerns. Have an idea of what add-ons may be necessary during the course of a sale, or what additional services could be pitched once the initial agreement has been made.
- Understand your customer’s needs. This is more than listening and rattling off product information. Recognize what motivates them, understand their challenges, and determine the right solution for their unique situation. Truly knowing your customers allows you to differentiate your service, build trust, and maybe even make a sale.
- Have a strategy for closing the deal. Closing strategies can be anything from a simple question like, “Would you like to purchase this product today?” to a more dedicated gambit such as offering multiple product combinations or trying to increase the value of the purchase with add-ons.
A professional and positive attitude is crucial to building strong relationships in sales. Attitude is not only reflected in someone’s work ethic but also how they treat colleagues, bosses, and clients. It shows that you care about your job, aim to do your best, and genuinely want to serve others.
This mindset is eager to learn and grow and is excited by new challenges, which leads to the next trait…
Professionals, especially on sales teams, recognize the importance of continual improvement.
Whether it’s getting new leads or coming up with creative solutions to problems, a good sales rep will seek out learning opportunities—both personally and professionally.
A sales team should be focused on improving sales numbers and quotas. Look for sales reps who, once they reach one goal, seek to challenge themselves and strive for more.
People who are growth-focused typically:
- Look to learn new skills while strengthening current ones (think communication, persuasion, networking, building rapport, etc.)
- Seek out learning opportunities like conferences, webinars, and workshops
- Keep up to date on industry trends and news
- Expand their network to learn from peers within and outside the industry
- Read books or listen to podcasts that inspire, motivate, or teach (or just for fun!)
- Engage in healthy habits (exercising, mindfulness, self-care, hobbies)
Of course, professionalism entails more than these three areas, but they’re a good start. In order to build your ideal sales team, you’ll need to find people that fit your criteria of professionalism.
4. People skills
Good people skills in sales might look like the ability to talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere—but that’s just the surface.
Here are a few important people skills to look for when building your sales team:
Ability to read people: Become keenly aware of body language, eye contact, facial expressions, and vocal intonation—all of which offer hints on how someone truly feels or thinks about any given situation.
Active listening: Practice patience and pay close attention to the speaker. Fight the urge to give advice or offer your opinion, and instead focus on understanding what’s being said. Allow the other person space to express their feelings and experiences without judgment or interruption.
Ability to build rapport: Find commonalities with each customer. It’s forming a connection in order to create a climate of trust and collaboration. Additionally, it’s knowing how to maintain these connections long-term.
Clear communication: Articulate your value proposition so that customers understand what they’ll be receiving. When buyers don’t understand what you’re selling or why they should buy it, they won’t make the purchase. In contrast, good communication showcases a company’s attention to detail and expertise, thus setting it apart from competitors.
Empathy: Understand your customer’s needs and motivations on a deeper level. Listen intently to their concerns, taking the time to dig into their preferences and decisions. Be inquisitive. When you look beyond the economic bottom line and put yourself in someone else’s shoes, you can create a more satisfying experience for everyone.
In sales, all of these things come together to create trusting relationships, and that’s what allows you to close deals and exceed targets.
Why are people skills important in sales?
Almost anyone can sell anything once.
The real challenge is selling again and again to the same people. That’s why it’s crucial to choose team members with strong people skills.
Good people skills lay the foundation for relationships that last. And they’re essential to:
- Build trust
- Understand your customer’s needs
- Close the sale
Choose your sales superheroes wisely
Ideally, they will be motivated and professional individuals with top tier people skills and the ability to power through when faced with setbacks. These are the traits that will take your team to the next level.
Remember, in addition to these core traits, your sales team should also be a mixture of talents, skills, and personalities that set each individual apart yet complement each other to serve the common goal.