The Science Behind Successful Sales

Lance Tyson

In the hypercompetitive field of sales, escalating goals have become standard. In over two decades that I’ve worked in this industry, I’ve never encountered an organization that said to me, “You know what? This year we’d be fine with flat or declining sales.” Everyone wants to see that hockey stick curve of escalating sales performance that will take their organization to unprecedented levels of success.

But achieving those sales goals is sometimes easier said than done. In many cases, the biggest struggle in driving increased sales is getting the salesperson to execute. The salesperson is the single largest factor (39%) in a customer’s purchasing decision, with more impact than any other aspect, including product quality or pricing. It’s no surprise, then, that the question often arises of whether the right people have been placed in the most critical sales roles.

In my experience, most salespeople come to the table with a range of skills and characteristics that enable them to be successful in their jobs. But in this era of 24/7 connectivity, the ready availability of information right at the buyer’s fingertips is fundamentally changing how customers buy, across the board. The biggest challenge for salespeople today is having to make constant decisions on the fly as they adapt to the needs of the buyer.

That’s why, from an organizational standpoint, it’s critical to match the right skill set to the task at hand.

The Value of Predictive Analytics

When it comes to hiring, training, managing and coaching salespeople, there is actually a formula for success with some science behind it.

The first step in the formula is to find out what people are naturally good at. Predictive analytics, captured through an onboarding assessment, have been proven to increase productivity, reduce turnover, and ensure ROI on the cost of the hire.

Through predictive analysis, we’ve identified a set of six core skills and characteristics where high-performing salespeople score well:

Qualifying prospects with a swift level of interest – People who score well on this capability are able to capitalize on the moment in a closing market by quickly and accurately gauging someone’s readiness to buy. They recognize that time is too precious to spend with indifferent prospects and instead invest their time with people who clearly want or need the product.

Analyzing the prospect’s needs – High scorers in this category expect to sell to the majority of prospects, so they develop the ability to assess whether there is a fit through a series of questions. They then react quickly and objectively to the answers to either disqualify or proceed through the sales process.
Presenting a compelling solution – People who are competent in this skill know how to excite a potential customer with an enthusiastic presentation style. They also know how to demonstrate value and hold the customer’s attention by keeping the presentation content relevant, and are able to vary their style in order to build toward a buying decision.

Removing objections – Those who excel in this skill know how to probe and resolve concerns that might prevent a purchase decision. This requires the ability to patiently listen, probe, clarify, and resolve customer concerns rather than ignoring or discounting potential issues.
Negotiating – This skill necessitates finding points of agreement with the buyer by coming to consensus about what they are looking to do, assuring them that their solution addresses their need, and finding a navigational path toward closing the deal.

Closing using incremental steps – This requires the ability to reinforce the purchase decision with a series of logical reasons that support the sale. In a complex sale with multiple phases, the salesperson needs to set objectives for each encounter and gain agreement at a number of milestones in the process. People who score well in this area know how to provide ammunition for the buyer to justify the cost and defend the purchase and encourage a buying decision by demonstrating future savings and ease of transition.

Let’s face it, telling a duck that it has to fly like an eagle ultimately just ends up frustrating the duck. Predictive analysis can help sales managers make better decisions on how to hire, train, develop, coach, and lead their sales teams. That’s why assessments are a critical step to any sales strategy, in order to determine the strengths, weaknesses, and competencies of the team members. Once you’ve attained a clear view of what you are working with, you can equip your salespeople with the training they need in order to develop.

Lance Tyson, president and CEO of Tyson Group, is a seasoned entrepreneur known for training sales talent for some of the biggest names in professional sports and entertainment, including Topgolf, The Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and the National Basketball Association. He is the author of “Selling Is an Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World.”