How To Build the Greatest Sales Team: Lessons from Mr. Wonderful

As we relentlessly focus on building high-growth organizations, one critical ingredient is the ability of our people to be great storytellers who know how to close. Kevin O’Leary (aka Mr. Wonderful) from Shark Tank shared with me some pearls of wisdom on what distinguishes a rock-star sales closer from a mediocre seller.

The characteristics of a great salesperson should be the criteria by which we evaluate all our people. The greatest organizations ensure that everyone, irrespective of function, is an effective ambassador for the brand and a seller. Marc Benioffharnessed the power of the messenger by not only arming his first Salesforce employees with must-know talking points, he perfected the art of of turning your customers into your most effective sales machine. This of course relies on having a killer product that customers are obsessed with - Salesforce loyalists are ardent fans not just repeat users.

We know customers will believe other customers more than they would ever believe a salesperson.    It is simple - you believe people who share the same goal and face the same challenges as you do.  Alignment is everything. The more our salespeople think and act like their customers with the common goal of growing their business, the more deals they will close. 

So here are Mr. Wonderful’s tips on what greatest closers look like:

Occupy the ground they walk on: They exude an aura of confidence and a strong presence the minute they walk in the room

Sticky not gummy: They manage their time effectively and know when to move on from a target that will never close. They understand sales is a numbers game and plan their call volume and strategy accordingly.

Great sales people are not nice, but they are kind: They don’t say yes to everything and are honest and upfront with clients even it is bad news. Great sales people recognize that trust is the most valuable currency there is. The minute you break your client’s trust you can never earn it back. Mr. Wonderful compared a client relationship to marriage and the paramount importance of trust.

Like themselves but LOVE what they sell: They are passionate about the product they sell and they are experts in what they offer and why it is better than competition

Consistently hits targets: They are reliable and consistently hit targets month after month, quarter after quarter – no excuses. They anticipate market issues and plan ahead to capture any “whitespace” opportunities to ensure they hit budget.

I had an opportunity to ask Mr. Wonderful some more questions about what drives great salespeople and keeps them fired up – his answer: unlimited opportunity to achieve. The best sales organizations put no cap to what a sales person can earn -- the more they sell, the more they earn – no cap, ever. Some of these organizations have had their top salesperson earn more than the CEO and a smart CEO would embrace that.

A Shark at the door: He also shared that when doing his due diligence on a recently acquired business, he does not meet the CEO or CFO. He instead spends 3-4 days on the road with the Head of Sales and their best reps. He takes them to the best restaurant in town for dinner and discusses what’s really going on over a couple of bottles of wine. He then meets with the CEO and if the CEO does not know what is really going on in the sales organization, he fires them immediately. Mr. Wonderful is a shark after all and as we would expect, is shrewdly decisive in removing weak leadership.

There you have it -- a plan on what you need to do when Mr. Wonderful makes you that royalty offer too good to refuse. Hire the best, reward them generously and know your business inside out or you just might have the most dreaded words in business, “You’re Dead to Me”, perpetually ringing in your ears.

Raquelle M. Zuzarte: Award-winning Founder & CEO | Global Citizen across 4 continents| Global Speaker | Fortune 500 Global Marketing Leader driven by purpose+profit

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