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Sales Potential: B2B Sales Competencies in a Meritocratic Environment

Pursue your true sales potential by harnessing the unique gifts and competencies that drive B2B success.

When you are in sales, you are part of a meritocracy. This means that you will succeed or fail based on your abilities, attributes, work ethic, and, most importantly, your sales effectiveness. In any profession, there are haves and have-nots. You will encounter salespeople who lack some of the abilities and attributes they need to succeed in B2B sales. You will also find salespeople who have such strong abilities that they are overpowered, like a boss in a video game.

Leveraging Your Natural Gifts in Sales

Each of us has gifts from nature. Some are gifted with an attractive personality, and others, like Brad Pitt or Sandra Bullock, have the gift of good looks. Still, others have intelligence and intellect. Some have fast rapport-building skills, making it easy to connect with people. Others have athletic prowess. For many of us, a combination of these includes the gift of being able to talk.

I don’t know what nature gifted you, but none of us have every positive ability, attribute, or trait.

Starting with Your Unique Strengths in B2B Sales

In B2B sales, start with your gifts. If you are smart, you have an important gift, which may be your superpower. However, the everyman or everywoman has the gift of being someone who is easy to buy from. This person is likely funny and quickly makes others comfortable. Even though it is often rare, some salespeople have the gift of a strong work ethic and can outwork the rest of their sales team. One variation is a grinder, the rep who can make 100 cold calls without stopping.

I don’t know what your gifts are, but start with them. You want to start here with your positive attributes and traits. It is likely you have been relying on them since you were a child. But you might have found something in this list of gifts that may help you to improve your sales results.

B2B Sales Competency Model for Success

In The Only Sales Guide You'll Ever Need, I started a competency model. This list of competencies can help you identify the ones you believe will help you improve your ability to live and thrive in the meritocracy of B2B sales.

  1. Self-discipline: Many salespeople fail in sales because they can’t discipline themselves in a role that gives them autonomy.
  2. Optimism: When salespeople ask me about being rejected, it is difficult for them to do the work and be desensitized to the word no. It helps to be an optimist.
  3. Caring: In the new world of AI, caring is and always will be a superpower, especially when many sales organizations are regressing to transactional approaches.
  4. Resourcefulness: Much of what we do in sales is figuring out what we need to do, even though we are dealing with an issue for the first time.
  5. Initiative: If you wait, you lose. No one should ever have to ask you to do your work, be it your sales leader or client.
  6. Communication: Most think communication is about talking, but it is mostly about listening. You are likely more comfortable talking than listening.
  7. Accountability: No one should ever have to produce the results you need. You own your outcomes.
  8. Authenticity: You will sell better by being yourself. Avoid being a poseur, like the guys who used to dress up like rock stars even though they never played.
  9. Confidence: You need to believe in yourself.
  10. Courage: It is helpful to be comfortable with conflict because you will face it from time to time.
  11. Curiosity: A desire to learn and discover. This attribute is super powerful, even if it is rare.
  12. Diplomacy: You may need to resolve or prevent conflict. This is also a useful trait in building consensus.
  13. Hunger: This is one of the first competencies I look for in a salesperson.
  14. Closing: The ability to gain commitments is an essential part of your job.
  15. Consultative: Being able to provide counsel and advice sets you above your competitors.
  16. Differentiating: The ability to stand out is necessary in getting your contacts’ attention.
  17. Negotiating: Asking for something instead of granting a concession is a key skill in sales.
  18. Business acumen: To be a consultative salesperson, you must understand business.
  19. Change management: Clients need help to change and succeed, so they will rely on you to guide the process.
  20. Leadership: Leading your clients will help them better understand the problem they are trying to solve.

If you want to climb up the meritocracy, spend a few minutes identifying the competencies you believe will improve your results. Getting professional B2B sales training will help you grow. If you have a sales manager willing to coach you on one or more of these skills and traits, ask for their help.

Don’t try to work on more than one competency at a time. Once you master the first one, you can start on a second, then a third. If you want to really dial this in, teach one of your peers. You will have to know the competency extremely well to teach it.

If you are a sales leader or sales manager, you might use a competency model to identify the strengths and areas that will improve your reps’ sales effectiveness and their results. If you notice an area of improvement, offer to help them grow and develop.

Do good work. I’ll see you tomorrow.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 21, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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