Selling is a State of Mind

By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine

Ever wonder what makes one person a sales machine, while others can’t seem to close a deal to save their lives? It’s all basic psychology, says How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer: The Five Qualities that Make Salespeople Great, by Herb Greenberg, Harold Weinstein, and Patrick Sweeney ($24.95. McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing.2000.) Brokers or real estate practitioners who want to hire a winner can benefit from the book’s explanations of the key traits that comprise a great sales personality and the techniques you can use to find these potential top performers.

The authors conducted interviews with thousands of companies and assessments of over 1 million individuals in order to isolate the qualities that great salespeople possess:

  • Empathy—the ability to sense and understand other people’s reactions. This might include the ability to view a situation from you customers’ perspective, the sensitivity to pick up on subtle body language and verbal cues, and other skills associated with reading and understanding others.
  • Ego-drive—the internal drive that motivates the salesperson to succeed. It’s a unique drive that causes a salesperson to gain positive self-enhancement through persuading another person to buy. They need to make a sale.
  • Service motivation—the quality that supplies a sense of gratification from helping others. The service motivation generates a personal desire to come through for clients, as well as a particular receptiveness to praise.
  • Conscientiousness—the sense of self-disciple required to do a job correctly. This might involve such factors as attention to detail and willingness to follow through for the customer. This skill is also an important on for practitioners in the process of hiring a personal assistant.
  • Ego-strength—the mental toughness to bounce back from rejection. A strong salesperson doesn’t take rejection personally but realizes that it is part of the job.

Managing brokers might want to concentrate on Chapter 29, “Locking the Real Estate Revolving Door.” The real estate industry suffers from an incredibly high turnover rate, the authors say. “Each year, fifty-five percent of real estate salespeople continue to leave their companies, either to go with other real estate companies or to leave the industry entirely.” High turnover can interfere with creating long-term relationships with customers and sending the wrong salesperson out in the field can hurt your company’s image.

The authors attribute this trend to the “warm-body approach” to hiring. Too often brokerage companies simply try to make sure that every desk is filled, rather than trying to fill every desk with the right person. If a salesperson leaves, these brokers believe, they can be replaced with another “warm body.”

Throughout the book the authors offer advice on how to screen for the right candidate to fill a position. Resume reviews, telephone interviews, initial interviews, and reference checks, while important, aren’t enough to tell whether a person is right for a job. These elements fail to give you an objective evaluation of the candidate, contend the authors. They encourage brokers to use personality testing to help find individuals who possess the right combination of traits and basic motivations to succeed at sales.

Sales might be an art, not a science, but it is grounded in basic personality traits that can be identified through careful screening of your applicants. By following some of the advice in this helpful book, you may well on your way to hiring your market’s next top performer.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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