Key Characteristics

By Cindy Waxer

According to Joe Calloway, business consultant, speaker and author of the upcoming book, Becoming a Category of One (Wiley & Sons, 2003), consistently successful sales managers and representatives all have certain characteristics in common. Here, Calloway highlights these distinct traits.

Instill total team commitment.
Most companies assume that everyone is on board when preparing to tackle a new sales project. The first step is to find out who is committed and who isn’t. Your strategic and tactical decisions mean nothing if your team isn’t totally committed. Warns Calloway: “Sales managers need to have a heart-to-heart with their sales team to establish goals and to ask them how they feel about those goals, and not just how they’re going to execute an action plan.”

Fight to maintain consistency.
Ensure a consistent level of performance among all of your sales representatives. The single biggest threat to a great company is a lack of consistency. If customers’ satisfaction with your company depends on which sales rep they get, your entire sales team will suffer.

Employ leadership to foster loyalty.
As a manager you make the organization function as designed. As a leader, you do one thing – you remind everyone who they are. “Before you can focus on what you sell, you have to focus on who you are and what you’re about,” advises Calloway. Determine your sales team’s strengths and what the team should be most proud of to build confidence and foster loyalty.

Avoid the complacency trap of success.
Don’t count on yesterday’s selling approach to work in today’s market. Calloway believes that “customers constantly change and they change for a number of reasons – technology, economic shifts, the marketplace.” As a result, salespeople must constantly develop new strategies and implement them before the old strategies lose their effectiveness.

Master the strategy of constant change.
Great companies are not only willing to take risks; they are willing to fail. Only when you let go of the fear of failure will you be willing to try the things that might lead to the next opportunity. Success is about moving from one right choice to the next right choice quickly enough.