Professional baseball players often ride a specific super-skill to stardom – homerun hitting, base stealing, exceptional play in the field, etc. We see this in sales as well, where consultants propel to top rep status by having some extraordinary ability they lean on to drive results. Many are expert communicators who win through powers of persuasion. Others just simply out-hustle everyone around them on their way to the top.
And then there is the rare breed scouts everywhere are always on the hunt for. The well-rounded player who has all the key skills rolled into one unique professional. Baseball scouts call this a 5 tool player. In sales, it is the 5 tool sales consultant. The rep who embodies all the strengths which each by itself can drive solid performance, but when coexisting in one person leads to sales super-stardom.
The Anatomy of A 5-Tool Sales Consultant
- Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence is at the core of everything the 5 tool sales consultant says and does. Best described as a person’s ability to understand and manage emotions effectively in themselves and others. To empathize, communicate and problem solve effectively, emotional intelligence rests on 4 core skills: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social management.
According to an article by the NIH, emotional intelligence is 4x more important than IQ in determining professional success. This is the ultra-valuable mindset of the 5 tool sales consultant. The remarkable ability that most under-performing reps look at in awe wondering how their top performing colleague is able to always stay under control, navigate complex deals effectively, handle objections gracefully and most importantly, deliver strong numbers month after month, quarter after quarter, year after year.
- Sales Process
The 5 tool sales consultant knows where she is in every conversation. She understands what has already been done and what has yet to be done to make progress. Whether she uses a physical document to stay organized or has a checklist in her mind, she follows the steps of a well-defined sales process and she does not deviate from the path that has shown to maximize results.
Sales process is the product of the scientific corner of the 5 tool sales consultant’s brain. The secret engineer living inside what an inexperienced eyes can see as a ‘’sales artist.’’ Sales process is something that can be explained, learned, taught and iterated upon for constant improvement. The efficiency of the
5-tool sales consultant come from her knowing exactly what step to follow at what time to maximize wins. It’s what allows her to know when to ask for more info, when to present. It is what tells her when to invest more time in a deal and when to walk away. A clear sales process is the blueprint of every deal and every day for the 5 tool sales consult.
- Fanatical Prospecting
Deals can be made anywhere and everywhere. The 5 tool sales consultant understands this and uses it to fuel the breadth of her activity. She works both harder and smarter than the average sales reps around her, constantly opening up new opportunities from all possible channels. Jeb Blount elaborates on this key, essential skill in his book of the same name, Fanatical Prospecting. Not just pipeline generating actions, fanatical prospecting is more about the sales rep’s mindset, sales philosophy and approach to how she runs her business. She is a universal soldier sales professional.
There is never downtime for the fanatical prospector. When there is an inbound lead request she jumps on it. No hot inbound leads at the moment, she’ll work targeted outbound prospects, selectively targeting ideal, perfect-fit customers with well-prepared phone calls and e-mails. And then there are referrals.
The 5 tool sales consultant ceases every opportunity for building a referral pipeline. A new customers signs the contract, she asks for referrals. A customer receives the product or completes onboarding, she asks for referrals. The services and support team runs a QBR, she jumps in to follow up, asking for referrals. A customer gives a high rating on an NPS, she follows up to say thank you for the positive feedback and asks for referrals. A customer has an issue with service delivery which get solved quickly and thoroughly, she follows up to smooth over the relationship and asks for referrals. A customer renews their contract or upgrades their existing account, she calls for referrals. Breaking news about the company, the product, the client’s work anniversary or just ‘’happy New Year.’’ Referrals, referrals, referrals, referrals.
- Insatiable Curiosity
People make purchasing decisions for their own reasons and motivations, not the reasons and motivations of a sales rep. Top performers understand this deeply and almost always question more than present, listen more than talk and diagnose more than prescribe. The 5 tool sales consultant is by nature insatiably curious. She genuinely wants to know more about the people she is talking to and really cares about understanding what’s happening. She takes natural enjoyment in the process of solving the puzzle. She wants to understand the problem and find the solution. Each new stakeholder in a sales is a new opportunity to explore more, understand deeper and prescribe with full context. She doesn’t simply tell or even teach but rather involves the client in the problem-solving, solution-building process, maximizing their understanding, belief and buy-in for the right path forward.
For a 5-tool sales consultant, being insatiably curious does not start and end with sales calls. She is curious about her own work, constantly critiquing and asking for evaluations from others. On a never-ending quest of self-improvement. She is hungry to know more about latest trends, techniques and technologies. The insatiably curious sales person is often the early adopter of new tools available to help her work more efficiently. She is an avid reader and seeks out mentors to help expand and enrich her knowledge, never satisfied that she has the game completely figured out.
If you have not yet seen Angela Duckworth’s Ted talk on Grit, I recommend you watch immediately. Already seen it? Watch it again. Grit is perserverence and stamina over an extended period of time for achieving long term goals. It’s the mindset that keep people coming back again and again with focus rather than frustration.
The 5 tool sales consultant is gritty. She rebounds from losses quickly and keeps charging forward. She celebrates wins quickly and gets right back to work. She doesn’t continue going back to foolish consistencies but rather looks for new angles to attack problems until she finds a crack in the wall. She’s the When she losses, she switches from southpaw to fighting right-handed and comes right back after the title.
Finding the 5 Tool Sales Consultant
Top performers in any profession do a lot of things at a high level, over and extended period of time. Some of you are looking to put these 5 skills together for maximum output as an individual contributor. Others, looking to find that next great addition for your sales team. Over the next 5 weeks I will publish a series of 5 posts, diving deeper into each of these key elements individually to explore more deeply the traits of the 5 tool sales consultant.