What is Sales Competency Anyway

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					What is Sales Competency Anyway?
The Components of Salesperson Competency
For anyone in any profession, they usually seek to become better. To do
this, they must first start with an objective understanding of where they
currently are and where they want to go. They must objectively analyze
their performance against existing benchmarks from their organization or
from their professional trade association. They must understand what
their current performance "situation" is and where they need to be. They
need to understand who their performance is impacting.
For professional salespeople, they must know:
What results are currently being achieved?
What results are desired of me?
ow large is the gap between my current situation and the expectations?
What is that impact of that gap? To myself, to my employer, to others?
The goal for you, then (as an individual sales professional) is to
understand what you can control and improve upon in order to close the
performance gap.
If there is a gap in performance, the goal then is to clearly understand
why that gap exists. Perhaps you don't have the right information or
support. Perhaps you don't have the time or ability to perform all the
work that needs to be done. Maybe the rewards in place are not giving you
the proper incentives. These are "external" causes of the performance gap
that you may not be able to control (and are usually the purview of your
management team).
Usually, a gap in performance that you can control stems from the absence
of the right activities, beliefs, or competencies that will lead to the
desired level of performance.
Activities are visible outputs that you create as a salesperson. These
outputs can take the form of something communicated, something thought,
or something created.
Beliefs are internal thought patterns that lead you to accept something
as "true", especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by
a group of persons (i.e. that all salespeople are bad people, etc)
Competencies are comprised of your knowledge, yo ur ability, and your
Knowledge is acquisition of the right information necessary to perform.
Abilities are defined as the quality of being able to do something,
either physically or mentally (like drive a car).
A skill is the proficiency, facility, or dexterity acquired or developed
through training or experience (like driving a car very well).
Once you have defined why a skills gap exists and defined specifically,
what you can control within that gap, you must understand what you can do
about it. You should objectively and appropriately define specific ways
to close your performance gap by addressing the root cause (activity,
belief, or competency). To accomplish this, you may choose to read,
attend training, interview others, listed to something, etc, etc. You may
choose to accomplish this on your own or with others.
The key is to identify what you need to improve and learn it in the most
appropriate manner for you. What this doesn't mean is reading a book on
sales methodology and "swallowing it whole." Most salespeople do not do
this anyway. If a salesperson gets one or two "nuggets" of information
from out-of-the-box sales training it's considered good. To become an
expert salesperson, you have to develop expertise in selling. You must be
able to think effectively about problems that come up within professional
selling. Understanding expertise is important because it provides
insights into the nature of thinking and problem solving. Research shows
that it is not simply general abilities, such as memory or intelligence,
nor the use of general strategies that differentiate experts from
novices. Instead, experts have acquired extensive knowledge that affects
what they notice and how they organize, represent, and interpret
information in their environment. This, in turn, affects their abilities
to remember, reason, and solve problems.
With this accomplished, it's time to implement the new activity, belief,
or competency. This is easier said than done. Because the choice you have
made is most likely accomplished in a "vacuum", you probably haven't
discussed why you chose to change a certain aspect, or you haven't been
able to ground your thought process to anything solid. By that I mean, if
you don't have something to serve as a checklist, framework, or
scorecard, it's hard to stay focused on implementing your new behavior.
This is different than just "staying motivated'. I am specifically
talking about the need to implement a lasting change. To do that, you
need to make changes in a planned and managed fashion. The aim of this
process should be to more effectively implement new activities, beliefs,
and competencies. The changes to be managed lie within and are controlled
by YOU. You must have a plan, work the plan, and measure your progress.
This process is not unlike the change or "version control" aspect of
information system development projects. This process starts with
understanding the end result, assessing where you currently are and
incrementally making the appropriate change until the desired result is
Unfortunately, this is a "new way of thinking" for most salespeople. Why?
Because to do this effectively, you have to understand "WHAT"
professional selling is - this is very different than "doing professional
selling." If you try to engineer a change on the latter, you quickly end
up in the area of subjective "here's what I think we should do" thinking.
This is often counter-productive and not uniquely tailored to your
specific needs. The best way to get where you need to go is - do this
Brian Lambert is the Director of Sales Development and Performance at the
American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). In this role, he is
responsible for meeting the unique challenges of performance
professionals focused on the sales profession. He is responsible for
conducting primary research and creating resources, articles, and other
custom content that helps individuals design and deliver sales training,
manage and develop high performing sales talent, and improve salesperson
performance. Brian has fifteen years of experience in sales, sales
management, sales training, and sales consulting and is an
internationally recognized expert on the state of the sales profession as
well as current trends in transforming sales team systems, processes, and
Brian is a highly sought after world-wide speaker, author, and trainer on
sales competency, sales performance, sales process, sales
professionalism, sales ethics, and sales process.
Find out about Brian at http://www.brianlambert.biz
Visit the sales competency project at

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