It’s the big question that every recruiter of salespeople in financial services asks over and over again: what are the key features that make up a successful salesperson. Many people know (or think they know) the answer to this. However, I think recruiters are asking the wrong question…
The question that we should ask first is “Why do so many salespeople fail?” Why do some recruits become hugely successful and others – who appear to have the qualities many expect to see in a good salesperson – fail terribly?
Let me cut to the chase here and tell you now that the biggest “killer” for salespeople is time management – or rather their inability to manage time effectively. Yes, time management is the key to sales success… It beats product knowledge, technical skills, sales skills, motivation, determination, closing skills, the ability to prospect, and so on.
Put another way, in the financial services industry, salespeople do not fail because of a lack of potential customers – there are potential customers everywhere. Nor do they fail because they cannot explain how a product works or why a product may be of use to a client. They do not fail because they cannot master the sales skills required – the sales process is just a series of simple tasks that must be done in a pre-arranged sequence (refer to previous articles written by me on this subject in this section).
To be successful a salesperson needs to have high activity levels. But activity alone is not sufficient. Without excellent time management capabilities even the highly active (the busy fool?) will fail.
The tragedy is that too many salespeople (and their managers) discover too late that they face a huge time management challenge. The vast majority (90%+) of failures in sales come as a direct result of poor time management.
Why are salespeople so poor at time management? And is this problem unique to salespeople? The answer to the second question is that it is not unique to salespeople. However, I believe that it is only when someone enters the sales arena that they discover that perhaps time management does not come naturally to them; that, in fact, it is a skill that has to be learned. We cannot assume that given the freedom to do so that we can manage our time effectively. We simply cannot take time management skills for granted…
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