Is it insight? Is it relationships? What is that salespeople really need to succeed? [I am using rapport to mean relationship skills here]
Low Insight, Low Rapport (Time Waster): Having low insight and low rapport and relationships skills makes you a time waster. Most people in this category find selling to be exceedingly difficult. This doesn’t make them bad people; it just makes them bad salespeople. They’re just in the wrong role. The problem with unleashing them on your prospective clients it that they create no value.
Low Insight, High Rapport (Order Taker): There are some people who are simply magnificent at developing rapport and relationships. In the old days, you might be able to do okay without having any real business chops, but today having only rapport makes you an order taker. Salespeople in this category do okay when their prospects come to them and already know what they need. And many will gain the business acumen and situational knowledge over time, moving to the above quadrant.
High Insight, Low Rapport (Obnoxious Know-It-All): The smartest person in the room isn’t the smartest person in the room. If they were really smart, no one would know that they are the smartest person in the room. Insight is useless if people resist you because you don’t leave them any room. If you don’t care, if sharing what you know is all about you, your insights won’t allow you to create value. It’s tougher to get better at relationships than it is to gain insights.
High Insight, High Rapport (Trusted Advisor, Consultative Salesperson): This is where the real action is. If you want to put your insights, your business acumen, and your situational knowledge to work, the people skills are what will allow you to do so. If you want to create an opportunity for change, you need to know what needs to be changed, but you also need to be trusted to make that change. If you want to build consensus, you damn well better have the people skills. This is where the highest level of value is created. But it isn’t easy to get here.
It isn’t enough to be armed with ideas–even ideas that can make a difference. You also can’t get by with killer relationships skills and zero chops. You need to work your way to the upper right quadrant to be a trusted advisor, Level 4 Value Creating™, consultative salesperson.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.