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Business Journal

No Magic Talent

by Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano
Excerpted from Discover Your Sales Strengths

There is no single talent that great managers have and others do not. So there is no "magic bullet" we can show you. People accomplish their day-to-day tasks through a configuration of talents. We can say that the most frequent areas of differentiation we see between great salespeople and great managers are in the areas of impacting and relating. Again, the best way to illustrate the difference is through a few examples.

Troy has Command as one of his Signature Themes. As we have learned, this theme is ideal for structured sales presentations and is indicative of people who want to control the conversation. Troy is a very strong closer. When Troy presents things to his customers, he makes it impossible for them to say no.

Yet when Troy took on the role of manager, his people were uncomfortable with his "command" approach. Instead of discussing objectives, Troy would simply "sell" his sales reps on their new quotas and "close" them into accepting. His sales reps felt manipulated. These strong closing techniques were very effective for Troy as a sales representative, but they hampered his results as a manager.

On the other hand, Ted impacts people through his Developer theme. As a sales rep, Ted's interest in the personal success of his customers won him many large accounts. As a manager, he naturally became interested in bringing people along, and his strong Individualization component helped him see the uniqueness in his sales reps. Ted's salespeople felt he understood them and was interested in their growth. This has had a positive effect on Ted's sales team members and their productivity.

Both of these individuals were successful salespeople, but Ted's impacting strengths lend themselves more to a coaching role than do Troy's.

Let's look at another example in the area of relating talents. Robert was a number one sales rep for many years. One of his Signature Themes is Harmony. He is likable and worked well with his customers. But as a manager, he was reluctant to "get tough" with poor performers. He was unable to let them know when their performance was substandard. He also did not like the challenging attitude of one of his best performers. He felt he was always haggling with him, and so he avoided contact as much as possible. Eventually, this great performer left the company. Robert's Harmony worked well for him as a sales rep, but not as a manager.

Do we mean that someone with Harmony cannot be a good manager? Not at all. But in this case, there was nothing else in Robert's Signature Themes that enabled him to deal with confrontation easily.

Jim, on the other hand, is a strong Relator. He does not meet and greet new people easily, but over time he gets to know people extremely well, especially if those people are important to him. He also has a natural tendency to invest his time in the people most valuable to him (Maximizer). These talent themes are enormously helpful to Jim and enable him to get very close to his best performers, in much the same way that he developed close relationships with his biggest customers.

Remember that no single theme makes the difference. It is the configuration of your Signature Themes that tells the story. Competition, Harmony, or Command, in combination with other themes, can result in very talented managers. Simply having Individualization or Developer or Relator as one of your Signature Themes does not guarantee success.


Tony Rutigliano is coauthor of Strengths Based Selling and Discover Your Sales Strengths.
Benson Smith is coauthor of Discover Your Sales Strengths.

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