20 Characteristics of a Superior Inside Salesperson

by Geoff Alexander

What makes a superior salesperson? I don’t mean merelysuccessful. I mean superior. This question was posed by Ian and Jennifer, two very astute Inside Sales Managers with whom I communicate on a frequent basis. After training and coaching hundreds and hundreds of telesales reps, I do have some answers, because I’ve worked with many of the best. The list of the key elements that made these reps superior isn’t long, but it raises the bar over which a rep must jump in order to constantly over-achieve and outperform others. And the list isn’t just about superior sales characteristics either. It’s also about superior habits in the workplace. I’ve broken it down into Superior Sales Characteristics and Superior Work Habits. Take a look:

Superior Sales Performance Characteristics

1. Achieves the sales goal of being over quota every month.

2. Has a sales-oriented call objective for every call. Every call must result in a sale, an agreement to action, or disqualification.

3. Turns cold calls into warm calls by doing pre-call research, both on the CRM system to determine previous same-company contacts, and on the prospect’s website, to look for conversation points that could dovetail with his or her solution offering.

4. Habitually begins the sales process by calling the highest level executive responsible for his or her solution set.

5. Fully qualifies the prospect on the first call.

6. Is able to determine the quantifiable business need (return on investment) of the prospect for his or her solution on the first call.

7. Is able to make a concise value statement about his or her offering.

8. Has memorized answers for every question and objection that could occur in the call.

9. Is a territory expert: has had discussions with at least one high level executive in every Major account or Target account in his or her territory, and knows the sales status in each company.

10. Keeps stellar notes in the CRM detailing critical conversations and account status.

11. Has documented the decision process in each account from lower-level contacts directly to the CXO level.

12. Is customer-focused: strives to ensure that his or her offering betters the lives of his or her customers.

13. Sells consultatively: is considered an expert resource for those to whom he or she sells, as well for in-company colleagues.

Superior Work Habits

1. Works a full complement of territorial hours: for example, a rep working in the Pacific Time Zone with an Eastern Time Zone territory works 6 am to 3 pm.

2. Doesn’t complain, but rather offers well-thought-out solutions to internal company problems, taking into consideration the financial realities, culture, and politics of his or her company.

3. Stays away from non-work-related computer and social activities during working hours.

4. Enthusiastically supports internal initiatives from his or her Sales Management team.

5. Focuses on the positive, staying away from gossip regarding other individuals or his or her company.

6. Is constantly in self-improvement mode through coaching and learning experiences.

7. Takes the “high road,” acting ethically, honestly, and with consideration to others, to prospects and customers, as well as in-company colleagues. And always keeps his or her word.

You might know of additional superior characteristics. If you do, please post them to the blog and share them with others. In the mean time, adopt these practices if you’re an inside sales rep, and share them with your team if you’re an inside sales manager. Add them to your Best Practices playbook.