Out of touch or out of their minds — or maybe both?

In a survey conducted by a big benefits management company (a management and human resource consulting firm), they asked 365 CEOs and sales management executives: “What are the three key factors that separate high-performing sales professionals from moderate- to low-performing sales professionals?”

Both CEOs and C-level sales executives — all people who don’t sell but who rely on their salespeople to produce sales so they can get paid — ranked “self discipline/motivation” as the most important.

Next in line were: “customer knowledge,” “innate talent/personality” and “product knowledge.” Further down the list were “experience” and “teamwork skills.”

Totally bogus.

These are qualities of corporate greed. Value, service and help are the REAL three things customers require to give their business and maintain their loyalty.

Major duh: When “survey” companies ask questions of people, why don’t they ask the people actually doing the work?

I’m a writer, but I’m also a salesman. I make sales calls and sales every day. If you’re interested in the most important factors of a high-performing salesperson, let me give you a realistic list of success characteristics.

1. Perpetual, consistent, positive attitude and enthusiasm. This is the first rule of facing the customer, facing the obstacles, facing the competition, facing the economy and facing yourself. Especially the people who answer the phone.

2. Quadruple self-belief. Unwavering belief in your company, unwavering belief in your product and unwavering belief in yourself are the first three rules. But fourth is the most critical of the self-beliefs. You MUST believe the customer is better off having purchased from you.

3. Use of creativity. Creativity to present ideas in favor of the customer, and creativity to differentiate you from the competition.

4. Ability to give and prove value. To prove the value of your product or service and your ability to give value beyond the sale to the prospect so you can earn the order, the reorder and the loyalty.

5. Ability to promote and position. Personal use of the Internet to blog, demonstrate credibility on the web, offer a weekly ezine, utilize social media and achieve google top ranking so your customers and prospects will perceive you as a value provider and a leader in your field.

6. Exciting, compelling presentation skills. Not just solid communication skills, but superior questioning skills, listening skills and a sense of humor. The innate ability to engage and capture the imagination (and the wallet) of customers and prospects.

7. The ability to “click” face-to-face. Finding common ground in order to relax the conversation and use rapport to get to truth.

8. Ability to prove your value and claims through the testimony of others. Testimonials sell where salespeople can’t. The best salespeople use video testimonials on YouTube to support, affirm and prove their claims. But the reality is, you don’t get testimonials, you earn them. (Same with referrals.)

Note well: If you’re looking for proof that you are “top-performing,” testimonials and referrals are a report card.

9. Ability to create an atmosphere where people want to buy (because they hate being sold). This is done by engaging and asking, not presenting and telling.

10. Ability to build a relationship, not hunt or farm. I wonder if the “executives” talking about the factors of great salespeople are the same morons dividing their salespeople into “hunters” and “farmers.”

Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win. These are the same head-in-the-sand executives who can’t open their laptops and forbid Facebook at work, individual websites and blogs from their people.

Advice: If this is your situation, find your way to the competition.

11. A personal social media platform that promotes your social selling and builds your reputation. The minimums are: 1,000 business Facebook likes, 501 LinkedIn connections, 500 Twitter followers, 25 YouTube videos, and a blog where you post weekly.

12. Unyielding personal values and ethics. Great people have great values and great ethics. Interesting that 365 CEOs and executives don’t deem them in the top 10.

12.5 The personal desire to excel and be the best. This is a desired quality of every salesperson, but the best salespeople have mastered the other 10 elements. They must be mastered in order for this quality to manifest itself.

And as for the next poll taken, here’s a great idea for CEOs and sales executives. There’s an easy way to find out the most important factors and qualities of great salespeople: Make some sales calls yourself.

If you want to build great salespeople, go to jeffreygitomer.com/gold and subscribe to Gitomer Gold – The Year of the Sale. Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of 12 best-selling books. For public event dates and information about training and seminars, visit gitomer.com or email Jeffrey at salesman@gitomer.com.

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