Have you ever heard about Katie Francis, who shattered the 30-year-old world record by selling 21,477 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in 2014? On weekdays, Katie put in about seven hours every day selling cookies. So she rested on weekends, right? Nope. She put in 12 hours a day on the weekends! Since then, she's sold a record of 100,100 boxes of girl scout cookies in her seven years as a girl scout. She’s certainly got stamina and focus.
"I actually decided last year I wanted to beat the world record, and at the beginning of my sale my goal was 18,100. When I got to that goal, I raised it to 20,000. And then when I got to that, I went on to 21,000," she explained to a national TV audience in 2014. So Katie’s a goal-setter—and reaching a goal just motivates her to set a higher goal.
To be successful in sales, Katie quickly learned you can't take "no" personally. So this young lady has a solid ego that rejects rejection along with an agile mind that readily learns and adapts.
If you think she was taught all that—all that stamina, focus, goal-setting, inner motivation, healthy ego, rapidly learning, not to mention that ability to persuade and close—it’s time to reset your coordinates. These are talents, and talents are innate. Katie was born that way, and fortunately, her talents were fostered not quashed. Katie is exceptional, as are all talented people.
No parent, no teacher, no coach can train someone to behave in those ways. Talent cannot be taught or learned, but it can be identified, measured, and fostered. That’s what the best managers do.
Because so many of you are in sales or sales management, you recognized quickly that Katie is loaded with many of the specific talents that create a successful salesperson. At The Center for Sales Strategy, we have identified eight specific sales talents—the telltale signs that a sales candidate has the raw material required to succeed.
The 8 Talents Every B2B Salesperson Needs
1. Strong Work Ethic and High Productivity
This means that they love working and they naturally take on more responsibilities than most other people. They have a hard time “turning off” work, and likely check their work email after hours, on weekends, and even while on vacation.
2. Structure and Organization
You want a salesperson who can naturally implement structure and prioritize their tasks, and who has a strong eye for detail and accuracy. People like this make fewer mistakes; you can always count on them and their work to be buttoned up, accurate, and well prepared.
3. Excellent Persuasion Skills
A strong salesperson will not back down until they are heard. They enjoy changing other people’s minds and naturally take the leadership role in a group situation. You can count on them to take charge, drive the sale in the direction they want, overcome objections, and ask for the sale with no hesitations.
4. Strategic Thinker
Performing an effective needs analysis to identify a customer’s true need, and then formulating a solution that addresses that need, is a necessary ability for a successful sales person. Information and knowledge fuel great salespeople, they attack problems head on, and even seek problems out!
5. Positive Outlook
When things get tough, you want a salesperson that can bounce back, maintain an optimistic attitude, and share that energy with others. You also want someone who easily engages with others and who is a pleasure to be around.
6. Ability to Build and Foster Relationships
Being charming and engaging is just the beginning. You also want a person who forms deeper bonds with others and who has true empathy and caring for people. Clients will trust this kind of person and know that they are truly invested in growing their businesses.
7. Growth-Oriented Entrepreneur
The first of two main motivators for a successful salesperson is that inner drive to do more, to sell more, to make more money. This person is independent, willing to take risks, money-motivated, and runs their book of business like they are the CEO.
8. Competitive Drive
The other motivator is the drive to be the best, to always win, and to always be in the number-one spot. Their love of winning—and hatred of losing—is an immense driver of their success.
When you hire people with those eight talents, you’ll find that skill and experience are much less important—because those people build their skill and their experience so fast.
Oh, and if you’re thinking of hiring Katie for your sales organization, back off. She’s only 15!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on May 13, 2014, and has been updated.