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Business Journal
What Top Salespeople Do Differently
Business Journal

What Top Salespeople Do Differently

Superstars adopt a selling style that takes full advantage of their greatest talents

by Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano

Read the following statement and ask yourself how strongly you agree with it: "At work, I get to do what I do best every day." To what extent are you able to answer with an emphatic yes?

Gallup researchers have asked hundreds of thousands of questions over the years in an effort to understand what drives exceptional performance. We have found that a person's response to the previous statement is one of the single most important questions we have ever posed. In just the past few years we have asked for responses from more than two million people. What did we find?

People's responses to that question link directly to their productivity, profitability, and customer loyalty measures. The more people agree with the statement, the better their performance. The implications of this finding are both simple and complex.

Just doing more of what you do best can dramatically improve your performance. That's the simple part. The more complex part is finding out how to do that in your present role, or finding another role that allows you to do that. . . .

All of us have to be in the right role in order for our talents to shine. That's what we mean by fit, a close match between our job and our greatest talents.

Years ago, long before we began asking the previous question, we were struck by the observation that in every organization we studied, the best salespeople appeared to be in exactly the right jobs for them, and they usually knew it. When we interviewed top salespeople, they often mentioned this to us within the first few minutes of our conversations.

John told us his story. "After college I didn't know what I wanted to do. No job seemed really interesting to me. Then almost on a lark I tried door-to-door sales. To my surprise, I liked it. I got a kick out of persuading people to buy. But I didn't like the company much. After a while I was able to get a 'real' sales job with a legitimate company. I did okay, but the job required me to call on the same customers over and over again. You had to be careful not to push people too much or they would stop doing business with your company. I actually missed the closing pressure of my old job. Finally, after several different sales jobs I found one that was perfect for me. It's fast-paced, you go all out to get the order, and I love it." John has fit . . . and he knows it. . . .

For salespeople . . . [fit] means adopting a sales style that takes advantage of your greatest talents, or if you are changing jobs, finding one that is as close a match as possible to your talents.

Bear in mind that even modest improvements in fit yield big improvements in performance. This is especially true for individuals who are good performers already. Improving fit is the fastest, surest, and most dramatic way to improve your success and your job satisfaction.

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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