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Why courage may be the most critical sales quality we need today

October 26, 2020

By: Keather Snyder

Certain traits elevate a salesperson’s success. Through years of conducting personality assessments, The Omnia Group’s data points to 17 distinct types of salespeople made up of various personality traits. Given today’s environment, though, one characteristic stands out above all others, and that’s courage.

Sales has never been an easy job, and I think it is fair to say it’s even more challenging today. Let’s face it; many of us relied on face-to-face, in-person meetings to build rapport with key decision-makers. The conversations that occurred before and after the formal meeting, over drinks and dinner, and the people you could connect with just walking down a hallway of your client’s headquarters helped form a deeper understanding of the client’s culture, their daily norms. You were able to use that to forge deeper relationships that ultimately helped larger deals and client longevity.  

In today’s environment, with no in-person meetings and limited networking opportunities, it’s feeling almost impossible to form these deeper connections. After all – how deep and wide can you go on a 60-minute call when we’re limited by bandwidth, attention spans, and home distractions. Based on the latest research, though, our clients don’t want this from us anyway. According to a recent McKinsey report, more than three-quarters of buyers and sellers say they now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions — a sentiment that has steadily intensified even after lockdowns have ended. Safety is one reason, of course. But self-serve and remote interactions have made it easier for buyers to get information, place orders, and arrange service. Customers have enjoyed that speed and convenience. Only about 20 percent of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales, even in sectors where field-sales models have traditionally dominated, such as pharma and medical products.

So why courage? Because committing to a career in sales has never been for the faint-hearted. And being a success in today’s environment is even harder. Let’s look at some of the realities:

  • A salesperson takes responsibility for bringing in an annual revenue target that the company is counting on to operate profitably and make future growth investments. The company’s leadership, employees, investors, and shareholders count on the salesperson, making that target. Talk about pressure!
  • A salesperson typically gambles 50%+ of their income on the belief that they’re going to make that number. We set our household budgets and make our family plans for vacations, school, and home investments on hitting that target.
  • The challenges to hit those targets and keep our company's commitment, our company, and our families are more challenging than ever.
  • A buyer isn’t usually just sitting there waiting for our call. Like we don’t know that, right? We know qualified prospects are hard to get to, and when we do, they have high expectations of what we’ll deliver in the short time they’ll give us. 

Consider these stats:

  • At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell
  • 42% of sales reps feel they don’t have enough information before making a call.
  • But your clients do - your buyers are savvy. 74% of B2B buyers do half their research (or more!) online before they buy. (Forrester Research)
  • Only 24% of sales emails are opened.  

So, our company and our families rely on us, we’ve placed a good share of our income at risk, and our buyers are more difficult to reach and connect with than ever before. Clients expect us to show up steeped in knowledge about their business and industry. They need us to be well versed in how our product will help them reach their goals. That’s always been what’s hard about sales—couple with today’s changing sales environment to find ways to do all of this differently and creatively. We’re using new technologies every day – because after all, we need to meet our customers where they are. If they want to use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, email, text, online chat, or any other modality, we must be prepared to navigate it instantly. 

A career in sales can be lucrative and very rewarding – that’s probably why 1 in 10 of us across the world have committed to this career. Succeeding in sales in today’s business environment takes a new level of persistence, innovation, and endurance. It’s daunting and more difficult to do day in and day out when the odds feel stacked against us, as proven by the statistics above. To get up every day, try new things, and push through the obstacles – to put our necks on the line for our companies, our families, and ourselves takes courage. 

Admittedly, it is often easier to draw on our courage when proven sales traits are also present. That’s where an assessment can help. Courageous salespeople understand how to tap into their competitive drive, natural resilience, and bold tenacity to navigate the new sales landscape before us. defines courage as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear, bravery

I’m inspired by and like to combine that definition with what Franklin D. Roosevelt said about courage many years ago -  “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”   For me, helping a customer make better hiring decisions and increase their engagement and retention is worth pushing through the obstacles facing us today. That’s more important than the fear of rejection or having to struggle with new technologies.  

I hope you’ll join me in courageously pressing through.   

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Have an article specific question or want to continue the conversation? Now you can! Contact the author directly through the short form below and Keather Snyder will respond to your query. If you have a more general question please use our chat function, call 800.525.7117, or visit our contact us page and we'll have a subject matter expert answer your questions.

Keather Snyder

Keather Snyder is President & Chief Operating Officer of The Omnia Group, a leader in helping organizations optimize their talent selection, development and company culture. She is dedicated to helping organizations drive results through the power of their people. Keather is also hugely passionate about developing our future generation of leaders and dedicates personal time to mentoring college age and early career professionals.

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