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2nd September 2016
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6th February 2018

Should you recruit optimistic or pessimistic salespeople?

Silhouette of man and sunshine

So, which did you choose? The optimist?

Everybody loves an optimist. That unwavering enthusiasm and energy and the ability to draw the positive from even the darkest of situations. In sales, it might be implied that having a team of optimists would be the trait of winners. Positivity breeds positivity.

Surely optimistic salespeople win more sales?

The drawback to this trait is when the optimistic salesperson qualifies their opportunities. They naturally are looking for the ‘good’ in every deal and, in my experience, put greater focus and weight on these criteria as to why they will win. When running through an opportunity with them you might hear; “I have a great rapport with the Purchasing Manager” or “They said they really like our solution.”

These are important factors, but may mask potential problems. How many times is an opportunity discussed where a win is on the cards and then further down the road an unforeseen obstacle occurred that lost you the sale? “I had no idea that we were just being used as benchmark pricing” or “I thought we could work out the timescales despite not having a solution that would be ready when requested.” It turns out that one or two deal killers were seemingly insignificant and overlooked by the optimist as there was so much that was ‘good’ in the deal.

Frustrating is an understatement. And what a waste of time for all involved.

Now consider one of the team that you could class as a pessimistic salesperson. You may find there is less bravado and they talk down their current pipeline of opportunities. So what are they doing differently? The pessimist is looking for all that is against them or could go wrong with a sale. By seeking out the bad, they have crucial information to work with. They can determine further actions needed or if they should walk away from this opportunity as they won’t win it. ‘Pessimist’ might seem a negative term but in this situation, I take it to mean a ‘Realist.’ “I will not win this sale as it stands because of X, Y, and Z.”

When it comes to reporting up the hierarchy, which of the two types of salesperson’s forecasts do you trust more? Do you want an optimistic sales team that fails to deliver, or the pessimistic one whose numbers are more accurate?

Being an optimist or pessimist is one part. The second part relates to the criteria used.

Let’s say you support the coaching of the sales team to be more pessimistic in their outlook for each new opportunity that comes their way. They still need to have a check list to know what they should be looking for.

Give them something easy to use and memorable and this simplifies the whole process. SCOTSMAN® qualification does just that with each letter standing for a crucial element in qualification.

As a Sales Manager, before I knew about SCOTSMAN®, I found it a challenge to coach others on what to intuitively ask for when qualifying an opportunity. With a mnemonic, there is no more forgetting to ask about a key area during a call or meeting. It standardises how the team qualifies, you know what is needed to progress a sale and you all speak the same language. How simple and how refreshing to find such a solution!

So, all in all, I find that the pessimistic or realistic sales person that has a checklist for qualifying sales opportunities is going to make the Sales Managers and Directors’ lives easier. And when leaders and shareholders are looking to the sales department to make the difference on company performance, who wouldn’t want an easier life?

If you’d like to learn more about SCOTSMAN®, have a look at our eBook or get in touch and I’d be happy to discuss this further on 0758 257 0347 or james@advancetm.com

James Eves is the Channel Manager at Advanced Selling Skills Academy Ltd

James Eves
James Eves
Business Development Manager Advanced Selling Skills Academy

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