The Profile of a Great Salesperson with Bob Kreisberg

About This Episode

What are the traits of a great salesperson? And are those traits the same today as they were 20 years ago? As a leading authority on helping companies make more effective hiring decisions, it’s Bob Kreisberg’s job to know the answers.

Bob is the President of OPUS Productivity Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in improving the people productivity of their clients. He joined us on Decision Point to discuss how the role – and the personality – of great salespeople has changed over the years and how companies can find the right people to fill the right role.

Bob also shares some insights on how the information age has created a more knowledgeable and thorough buyer, which has changed the sales landscape and required individual salespeople and sales teams to evolve.

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Decision Point: The Profile of a Great Salesperson with Bob Kreisberg

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Bob: [00:00:00] You, you know, if you think about it, salespeople, the biggest thing that salespeople are fighting yesterday and today is inertia. And so you need to have the ability to inspire people to change, it just can’t in any way feel manipulative.

[00:00:19] Brad: [00:00:19] Welcome to Decision Point a podcast about mental toughness and overcoming adversity of sales. I’m Brad Seaman.

[00:00:26] Hey, this is Brad Seaman with MonsterConnect. Also the  co-host of Decision Point, excited to get into the second leg of our series. We are going to shift the podcast just a little bit off of the mental toughness, the mental piece of mental toughness. And we’re going to shift more to the adversity side of overcoming the challenges of existence.

[00:00:51] And we’re going to start that out. Um, we’re going to transfer to a weekly episode versus a biweekly episode, and we are going [00:01:00] to start focusing on, on things that help you sell. More effectively. So this week we’ve got Bob Kreisberg on and if you’re sales manager or sales leader, you’re going to be excited to hear Bob, because Bob is going to talk about how the sales cycle has changed over the last 20 years.

[00:01:16] And now that’s affected the type of salespeople and type of sales person that’s needed in the sale. And he’s going to dive deep and he’s going to talk about the things that you need to be looking for and what the makeup is and the psychology. So I’m excited to have Bob on, so let’s get it started.

[00:01:36] I’m here with Bob Kreisberg and he’s the president of Opus Productivity Solutions. And he works specifically with sales teams to help them choose the right people that need to be on the bus and then help them identify and figure out what the ideal sales person looks like for them. So, Bob, is that a good, a good introduction?

[00:01:57] Bob: [00:01:57] Absolutely. You know, those are definitely the [00:02:00] key things that our clients look for, um, out of, uh, the services that we are providing to them.

[00:02:07] Brad: [00:02:07] So over your time doing this. How have you seen sales change? I mean, maybe in the last 10, 20 years.

[00:02:14] Bob: [00:02:14] Yeah. You know, the key difference that we see today, uh, and it’s a huge difference.

[00:02:21] And if you don’t pay attention to it, you’re making a huge mistake. Is how much more data is available to the buyer. Um, you know, if I go all the way back to when we were selling, you know, when we’re selling online services and taking businesses that were primarily. Going from, you know, either manual or disparate technology, you know, they might’ve had a bookkeeping machine and a billing machine and using ADP for payroll and automating that business.

[00:02:56] They did not have outside [00:03:00] resources. There wasn’t any place they could go and read about different systems. Do comparisons. You know, there was no internet. And so, um, the buyer’s information was really coming from the seller. Um, and that meant sellers could really embellish and represented the product to be whatever it was that they thought it needed.

[00:03:25] I needed to be to get the business. And I would say people could get away with it. Right didn’t mean that they ended up with successful implementations or happy customers, but the buying process was completely different because you, as a seller knew that they didn’t have any other source of information other than what you were providing them.

[00:03:50] Well, over time. You know, that changed slowly and then it changed more and more dramatically. So that [00:04:00] literally anything that you want to buy today, your sources of information are dramatically different than hearing what the sales person has to say. You know, whether it’s a very simple product, you know, as simple as looking for, um, you know, an attachment microphone for an iPhone or an iPad.

[00:04:23] Yeah, we’re not, we’re not reaching out to a sales person to be told, you know, what’s right. Or what’s wrong. We’re doing the research even with more expensive things, be it, uh, you know, being, you know, a, a digital camera or a car or. Software products and software solution. So whatever the case may be having the, the, the buyer having, um, re the sources to provide them with that information and that data dramatically change the nature of what the buyer was looking for to get.

[00:04:58] From the [00:05:00] sales person. And as that changed, really the nature of the seller needed to be able to make a move in that direction as well.

[00:05:11] Brad: [00:05:11] So, 20 years ago, what did the profile look like of a successful salesperson versus what the profile might look like today?

[00:05:21] Bob: [00:05:21] So I think you could go back 120 years when John Patterson was building out his sales team at NCR way back when and extroversion would have been a high trait.

[00:05:37] So, so, you know, when you look at the, or cornerstone behavioral traits that get measured in a personality, Um, you know, the, the, the, the dominance straight, which is the ability to kind of control the selling situation. Um, that definitely, yeah, it was a high [00:06:00] trait. If you go back to when the buyer did not have a lot of other information, because the high dominance salesperson, they’re very, very hard to say no to.

[00:06:12] So absent the buyer, having a whole lot of other information that high dominant sales person really had a competitive edge because they got a lot of business done when the buyer has no idea what they were buying. So the extroversion trade has very much stayed the same, but you don’t see nearly that level of.

[00:06:34] Dominance in today sales person, because when the, when the buyer already knows what they need to know that hired dominance person, where you do run the risk of them. Perhaps embellishing beyond what is reality. You run the risk with that personality that they may be in a situation where the buyer doesn’t feel [00:07:00] that they can trust the information as much.

[00:07:03] So the, the older sales model. Just like today’s model would certainly feature higher extroversion because let’s face it in a selling situation. You still need to have the ability to inspire people to change you. You know, if you think about it, Salespeople. The biggest thing that people are fighting yesterday and today is a nurture.

[00:07:32] And so you need to have the ability to inspire people to change. It just can’t in any way, feel manipulative. It’s much more important that today sales person is facilitating a buying process. The old adage. People love to buy, but hate to be sold. And so with that, the extroversion trait is probably going to be you’re a higher [00:08:00] trait than the dominance trait was.

[00:08:03] And. Patience plays into that as well, because when you’re not the sole source of information from your, you know, from, to the buyer, you need to respect the fact that they are going to look for other resources to get the information. And so, um, you know, if you’re, um, overly. Inpatient with a, with a buyer in that situation, you’re really showing a lack of respect.

[00:08:35] So, so those are the traits that are moving more than, you know, more than others. And by the way, just to round out the behavioral traits, you know, the last trait that you certainly see. Is a, is, is the process oriented trader what’s called the conformity trait? Uh, interestingly enough, I don’t think the conformity trade has trained dramatically from a [00:09:00] sales standpoint, but it has changed dramatically in how a salesperson can fit within a sales department and a sales organization.

[00:09:12] I mean, for instance, the, the call that I was on just before we’re, you know, we’re recording this podcast is with the sales person that works for a software company and she happens to be out of Toronto and she made the comment. That if you did everything that the company, but he was looking for you to do in terms of providing input into Salesforce, you know, which is the sales automation tool I use, she said she could spend 50% of her week providing information into Salesforce.

[00:09:44] Now, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but we do know that sales automation has changed the job of the salesperson and salespeople need to be okay. Able to adapt to that world [00:10:00] because it is so common that whatever ever position you’re going to have in sales. You need to be prepared to deal with the, you know, the process orientation to maintain your data into some, some sort of a Salesforce automation type of a tool, whether it’s Salesforce or anything else that’s going to be out there.

[00:10:22] Brad: [00:10:22] Yeah. That’s an interesting concept or thought. Technology has changed, not just the fact that the buyer has more information. The seller has more information and more and more to do. And that is obviously going to change the type of person that you might be able to put in that role, you know, needing to have that high, uh, you know, needing to be able to fill out information.

[00:10:46] Bob: [00:10:46] Right. I think that’s very important. I also think, I think that, um, and again, certainly it depends on the selling environment, but I think that the, that the sales person, [00:11:00] if they’re genuinely going to be successful, they need to fill in the gap of not necessarily what the product does, but. But what the value of what the product does and what that means, you know, to the, to the buyer, um, the, the buyer can figure out what their businesses, the buyer can figure out better than that ever could before what the product is, but how do you marry those two pieces?

[00:11:31] And what level of confidence do you have on any kind of an implementation and who are you going to look for to be able to provide that confidence? Because that sales person, at least during the selling process, they are the link between. You know, the vendor and the, and, and the customer and, um, and the vendor that the customer wants to have the confidence that they [00:12:00] know where they’re going to be able to go, to be able to get things resolved and having that, you know, having a sales person that can represent that, um, is very important, but also that’s dependent on how the organization is structured on the, after the sale.

[00:12:19] Standpoint, uh, you know, different organizations now have customer success teams. And so if you’re working in an organization where there is a customer success team, you know, then you can have a sales person that doesn’t need to kind of be representing, you know, I’m going to be your link to the future.

[00:12:42] And that, that changes the nature of what the sales person’s going to look like. And yeah. And what the buyer should be expecting from their relationship on the sales side.

[00:12:55] Brad: [00:12:55] Now  that’s changed in itself, right? I mean, 20 years ago, you didn’t have client [00:13:00] support teams like you have today.

[00:13:02] Bob: [00:13:02] No. I think that organizations have figured out over time and it’s taken it’s taken time.

[00:13:08] Um, you know, if, if you look at all of the different roles that you ask yourself, a sales person to where, you know, how many different hats do you want them to wear? You know, if you start them, you know, from cradle to grave, you know, the cradle being. Picking up the phone and saying, hello, my name name is, or literally going out there and knocking on doors to, um, needs analysis and understanding what needs to be done to then presentation and getting, you know, C level executives to buy it on.

[00:13:43] And then. Implementation customer support. What they, what they have found is it’s really, really the rare bird who can be good at everything. And so depending on how an organization is utilizing their sales team, [00:14:00] then they can look at like, what’s the most important person. You know, what’s the most important piece that the sales person is bringing to the table and aligned the personality.

[00:14:11] With what that most important pieces. So let me, let me give you a try to give you a clear example for that. With an organization that really has, um, uh, a position where the sales person is not responsible for that lead generation, that lead generation is happening in some other way. Um, that allows for that sales person to have a greater level level of, um, uh, of dominance because, because that lead generation side to a high dominance versus really difficult for them to deal with, but if you take that away, then the higher dominance person can be more comfortable in that type of a [00:15:00] selling environment.

[00:15:01] Right. And if you take away. The customer service piece, then you don’t need, you know, you don’t need quite as much either patients or process orientation. So if you take away the lead gen part and you take away some of that aftercare, then you can have a more dynamic. And I would suggest a more aggressive sales, such style, which everybody has found around is more effective and ultimately getting new name business done.

[00:15:41] And we haven’t talked about this yet on this call, but clearly there’s a dramatic difference in the nature of your Hunter. Sales person versus your farmer salesperson, um, and, and hunting for most companies is the hardest [00:16:00] part of. The sales role to fill almost every sales manager that I’ve ever talked to, you know, will say, Oh man, I got all the farmers I ever need.

[00:16:11] I need some more hunters.

[00:16:14] Brad: [00:16:14] Why, why is it so hard to find hunting oriented salespeople?

[00:16:20] Bob: [00:16:20] Well, first of all, the, the, the number of people in the population that bring the Hunter nature is so much smaller than the, than the number of people in the population that bring the farmer nature. When you, when you look at the statistical and now assess, uh, you’ve got less than half of the people bring that.

[00:16:46] Assertive behavioral style to the table than people that are more comfortable as farmers. So there are just fewer candidates that are going to be able to fill that [00:17:00] role. Um, and then with that, you, you, it just can’t be, uh, you know, it can’t be the more aggressive style, but doesn’t have any. Control over who they are.

[00:17:13] You need the pardon, the expression. You kind of need the Wolf in sheep’s clothing. So you need that again, aggressive personality with the knowledge that they know how to. How to modify that, to be able to get things done, but not, you know, not irritate the hell out of not only the people that are selling, but the people on the inside of the company.

[00:17:39] So it’s, it’s more that you’re looking for the thoroughbreds and getting them to fit within your organization and creating an environment. In your organization that really allows those people to flourish and that has to do with compensation and all other [00:18:00] aspects of, you know, how you build the environment around that Hunter to be successful.

[00:18:07] Brad: [00:18:07] Do you find that there’s a lot of hunters in non-sales roles and that’s a deterrent to a sales organization finding a good sales person because they’re naturally looking for somebody who’s sold something?

[00:18:20] Bob: [00:18:20] Well, you know, it’s interesting that the very first application of the profiling tool. Which we did in Chicago was when we were trying to sell accounting software.

[00:18:32] So we’re selling classic accounting systems and somebody had to bring in an idea. Well, if you want to tell accounting systems and accounting software, you want people with credibility, right? And so who’s going to have credibility to sell accounting software. Ah, I count. And so the initial play was let’s go see if we can find some accountants and having sell accounting softwares.

[00:18:58] Well, as you might imagine, [00:19:00] that was not terribly successful until we added the next piece, which was, we need to find the accountants that are on the happy being account. Why are they unhappy being accountants? Because it doesn’t really suit their personalities. We, we were then built pipeline for candidates looking for accountants, but we were doing personality assessments to look for those few that, you know, they were few and far between, but we were looking for those Hunter profiles.

[00:19:35] We’re making their unhappy living, being accountant. And converting them over to sell accounting software. And let me tell you that absolutely worked. We found some killer salespeople and they were so much happier. You know, they were saying, man, this is exactly what I want to be doing. And I love to talk about accounting.

[00:19:57] I love to solve problems. I [00:20:00] love to win. And. You know, this job allows me to do all of those things. So, yeah, I think that when you, when you’re really looking to be able to fill that position, the behavioral nature, which you can’t change and let’s face it. People people are who they are. And that happens at a really, really early age.

[00:20:23] I mean, I’m not saying that we can’t adapt our personality in certain situations to accommodate the short term needs, but we pretty much, we are the person that we are. So finding that right. Dynamic and the personality and then creating a work environment that allows that person to flourish is the right way to go.

[00:20:47] Brad: [00:20:47] So give me an example, something a sales or an organization would, would, or could potentially do to make it hard on a sales rep.

[00:20:58] Bob: [00:20:58] Well, there are a [00:21:00] million things companies can do to make it hard on a sales reps. Um, probably the most important one is that they don’t provide good service to their client base because in today’s world, if your customers are not happy, you can’t keep that a secret.

[00:21:17] I mean, you just. Can’t keep that a secret and bread. You go back way, way, way back when, when I was selling the online service, um, um, and you know, in all of Manhattan, all I really needed was three happy clients. If I had three happy clients, If I could take a prospect, jump in a cab, you know, go to, you know, go to West 34th street, take them into it, client and a client does.

[00:21:44] Oh, Hey Bob. Oh yeah, no, we love these guys. And then take them up to Madison Avenue and take them to another client. Yeah, I but great. Joanna. We love that. If I had three happy clients. I could sell anything. Um, it didn’t matter that I had [00:22:00] 38 clients that hated us. The prospect wouldn’t know that, that at the time, people know now you just can’t keep that.

[00:22:09] So companies that don’t understand how important it is to have really happy customers. You don’t have happy customers. You’re really making it difficult on your sales person. So that’s number one. Number two is that you’ve got. Equitable pricing. Um, it looks, I think it’s a hell of a lot easier to sell high end product at a premium price than it is to sell a crappy product at a low cost price.

[00:22:35] I’d always rather justify, you know, I’d rather sell the $80 cotton shirt than the $30 cotton shirt. Because there’s even a perceived value buying something more expensive than, than somebody else’s product. But yeah, that needs to be with the new realm of reality. So if pricing isn’t. Reality. That’s a big problem.

[00:23:00] [00:23:00] And then lastly is the work environment that they’re, that they’re operating and, you know, is it realistic from an expectation standpoint? I mean, are quota expectations realistic? Are they based on. What a person can actually do or their quota, you know, are there quotas built on what revenue goals the company has?

[00:23:24] You know? Okay. Well, we’re gonna, you know, we’re gonna, we’re gonna double our revenue in this next year. Okay. So what are we going to do with sales quotas? Oh, well let’s double the quotas. Well, You know, you you’ll wonder why you, fewer salespeople in today’s world are hitting their numbers versus what they were at some point it’s because a lot of times those quotas are being set based on meeting the needs of the private equity organization or the hedge fund.

[00:23:56] Or the public because it’s a publicly held company. And so [00:24:00] quotas are not set based on reality. Quotas are set on financial goals without really looking at what do we need to do as a company. To allow the salesperson to do that,

[00:24:13] Brad: [00:24:13] Which has to be super expensive. If you just start kind of puntificating and thinking about the process here is that you see these sales guys move around from job to job to get pay bumps.

[00:24:24] Cause the company will pay you more coming in and they’ll pay you if you’ve been there at a lot of cases than if you’ve been there at the organization. Because there’s this perceived need that they have, and you see all this movement where people will be in a job for one or two years, then they moved to, they moved to another job, which is either one of two things, either a, they can’t cut it and they’re getting, let go, or B they’re trying to move their

[00:24:44] Bob: [00:24:44] base up by hopping job to job.

[00:24:48] Um, yeah, that’s, that’s absolutely true. And, uh, and, and understand for the great majority of salespeople, if they are not hitting their numbers. Um, [00:25:00] whether or not that number is realistic or not the nature of most salespeople. I mean, after understand, when you look at the personality nature of salespeople going all the way back 120 years ago to John Patterson, they’re high extroverts for the most part and high extroverts.

[00:25:19] Don’t. Want to disappoint people. And so, you know, if you’ve, you know, you know, that, you know, last year you did 800,000, you know, on a $750,000 quota. So, you know, you were 108% of quota and everybody was happy. You know, now your quota is 1,000,007. Um, and you’re going to do 900,000. Th th there’s no sense of satisfaction.

[00:25:45] You know, you feel like a failure. And so setting people up and sales to not be able to hit their numbers is a huge morale problem. And a huge reason why people will leave a job [00:26:00] because they don’t want to feel like a failure.

[00:26:03] Brad: [00:26:03] You know, we’ve been covering the last six episodes, mental toughness, what it takes to be mentally tough.

[00:26:09] Um, from a personality perspective, my question to you is, are there certain personalities in your opinion that are more inapt or more adapted to be, um, mentally tough than others? So when you go and you look at the profiles and you, and you sort of define, you know, mentally tough as the ability to move on one thing to another and be resilient, do you think there’s certain personalities that are more have a been towards that than others?

[00:26:39] Bob: [00:26:39] Yes, absolutely. And so, um, again, we talk, we talk about so much of sales personalities are wrapped around, you know, extroversion as being a high traits and the extroversion, um, um, certainly gets people to be looking inwardly. [00:27:00] Um, you know, what do people think of me? Do they think I’m good that they think I’m bad?

[00:27:04] Um, And, and the high extrovert left to its own device becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, meaning, Hey, when things are going great. Okay. Everything’s great. And then when things are not, you know, then they get down on themselves. So it really is a complimentary. Behavioral style, which gets you to that mental toughness.

[00:27:26] It’s not just the actual, and in fact, extroversion can work against that because people are so self reflective. And so you will see it come out in different ways. If dominance is paired with extroversion and it. Often is in top performing salespeople. Yeah. The, you know, they’re still going to write a little bit of an emotional roller coaster, but that dominance gives them that competitive edge edge that says I’m going to win.

[00:28:00] [00:27:59] I am going to. I’m going to do what I need to do. I am going to win, and that will provide them that level of mental toughness, but that’s not the only way to get there. You can get them somebody that’s process oriented. So the, you know, the higher extrovert and the higher conformity personality, they don’t necessarily have that same.

[00:28:23] You know, intense, competitive, but they have a confidence that if they do the right things are well, I can hear my first, the sales manager saying to me, you know, focus on the funnel, focus on the funnel, do the right things. Things will come out the other end that will also give you that toughness. You’re going to say, yeah, I know I’m not there yet, but I am doing the right things.

[00:28:49] The key thing for the manager to understand is where that sales person’s coming from. So they can harness that. Cause [00:29:00] it may be coming from the competitive spirit. It may be coming from, from the process orientation. You want to be able to harness that because that, wow, is that person to be tougher? And you want to be taken away from that extroversion rollercoaster.

[00:29:18] You want to be continuing to give that the person that emotional support. Hey, you’re a good person. You’re you’re you’re good at what you’re doing. Stay strong. Stay confident. I believe in you. Um, you know, very, very rarely I call it the Billy Martin syndrome and I know I’m dating myself, but, but the sales manager that takes that approach that says, you suck, show me that wrong really is running a huge risk versus saying, I believe you’re terrific.

[00:29:54] You know? You know, let’s, we’re going to, we’re going to show the world how terrific you [00:30:00] are. That’s a much greater opportunity for success, even though that natural tendency might be, you know, I think that you’re a miserable salesperson, but yeah, you go show me that I’m wrong. Show me that I’m wrong about you.

[00:30:15] I mean, does that work? Yeah, sometimes.

[00:30:22] Brad: [00:30:22] All right. Well, I can’t, you know, I’ll, I’ll probably plug this again in the outro, but obviously I’m a big fan of you. You’ve saved me. You’ve helped me hire a couple of really key people, uh, to the company. Also saved me on some, on some bad hires and I refer you obviously, you know, anytime I get a chance to talk, uh, to plug you, I do.

[00:30:42] Cause I’ve got you hooked up with all my, all my friends. Bob’s a great guy. He does great work and he’s obviously very, very knowledgeable. So, um, I appreciate you being on here today, Bob. And, uh, it was a real pleasure.

[00:30:56] Bob: [00:30:56] My pleasure. Thanks, Brad.

[00:31:00] [00:31:00] Brad: [00:31:00] I want to give a shout out to Bob Kreisberg for being on the show with Opus productivity. Thanks again, Bob. Great show had some great takeaways. I think the one thing that I took away that was the most impactful is. That some salespeople aren’t in sales roles. And so some of the best guys that are out there that are selling are in roles that aren’t currently sales roles, and then you need to be out there looking at some of those kind of niche markets that you can find someone in.

[00:31:29] Excited to have you guys on next week. In the meantime, if you want to go to, you can download all the other episodes and we look forward to seeing you guys next week.

[00:00:00] Bob: [00:00:00] You, you know, if you think about it, salespeople, the biggest thing that salespeople are fighting yesterday and today is inertia. And so you need to have the ability to inspire people to change, it just can’t in any way feel manipulative.

[00:00:19] Brad: [00:00:19] Welcome to Decision Point a podcast about mental toughness and overcoming adversity of sales. I’m Brad Seaman.

[00:00:26] Hey, this is Brad Seaman with MonsterConnect. Also the  co-host of Decision Point, excited to get into the second leg of our series. We are going to shift the podcast just a little bit off of the mental toughness, the mental piece of mental toughness. And we’re going to shift more to the adversity side of overcoming the challenges of existence.

[00:00:51] And we’re going to start that out. Um, we’re going to transfer to a weekly episode versus a biweekly episode, and we are going [00:01:00] to start focusing on, on things that help you sell. More effectively. So this week we’ve got Bob Kreisberg on and if you’re sales manager or sales leader, you’re going to be excited to hear Bob, because Bob is going to talk about how the sales cycle has changed over the last 20 years.

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