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How Can Salespeople Be More Effective In-Market and Have Better Reputations?

Become Compelling and Likable: A matrix to consider

A sad reality of business is that we often don’t trust salespeople, but every company needs effective sales to, well, grow and continue doing business.

There’s also the tangential problem of having a sales team where only 1-2 people consistently over-perform, thus increasing the pressure and stress on them in order to keep the company rolling. (We taped some of these episodes before the #coronavirus outbreak, and we know the situation with sales and marketing teams is different right now. Consider this as speaking generally, or “when the world is back to normal.”)

So how can salespeople come off better and sell more and thus ease the burden on the top performers, while doing better for themselves and their company?

You need to think of it like a 2 x 2 matrix. The two sides are:

  • Likeability
  • Compelling


Let’s break down what the resulting quadrants would be:

Not likable or compelling:

You probably want to find a different career than sales. If someone is in this box consistently, they, unfortunately, need to be phased out. We don’t endorse layoffs but a salesperson who can’t compel a purchase or develop a rapport should not be selling.


Likable, but not compelling:

This is an interesting quadrant. It can mean two things. The first scenario is: the salesperson is likable, but not compelling. That can potentially be fixed with coaching and observing more successful salespeople and their approach. It means the salesperson can build rapport (likable) but can’t close/drive the sale (not compelling). If you have the relationship-building, though, you can get the compelling part — usually, at least. Second scenario: The salesperson is likable, but the product is not compelling.

This can also be overcome because broadly, people buy from those they like. If the product is not super sexy or hot in the market, a likable salesperson has an uphill battle, but they can still get some wins.


Compelling, but not likable:

This is a tough spot because it implies someone who is pushy or more close-oriented. That’s a good thing for your revenue, but if the guy/gal is not ultimately likeable, their long-term selling prospects are subpar.

If we’re saying that your product is very compelling but your sales team is not likable, well, either train your sales team to “put some sugar on it” with prospects — or eventually get a new sales team. If you have a best-in-class product, you should have the best-in-class people selling it.


Compelling and likable: $$$.


Some other things to consider

Oftentimes, salespeople talk themselves out of deals:

Just listen to what your customers are saying and what they want. Talk to them within those parameters and guide them towards the right solution. There is a moment for upselling, but it’s not every single moment. There is a moment for talking a lot, but usually, you should be listening 80 percent of the time.


The ONE thing:

This is a book by a founder of Keller Williams. We all get busy and focus on dozens of different things, from leads to prospects to customers to grocery lists to children to whatever else. You need to focus on ONE core thing per day — or one professionally and one personally. It will make your work and efforts more focused.



It doesn’t always feel this way, but expertise still matters. The biggest boys on the block in #HRTech, like SAP and Oracle, have legitimate subject matter experts on core platform topics. If a prospect is having trouble with onboarding, they can direct them to a global authority on onboarding.

That’s powerful, and not every small or mid-sized company can afford that model. But think about putting your expertise front and center in the sales process.

Give prospects time with an SME. Internally you may feel that’s a waste of the SME’s time if the deal isn’t closed yet, but it’s not. People respond to expertise. It’s a good way to drive business.

The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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