If you’re with a firm that completely understands your sales team and the best way to motivate them for results, then skip this post.

Since most of you are still reading, you know that it’s hard to sustain a strong sales force; many of us feel ho-hum, even let down by them. When we grumble about sales, we need to ask ourselves whether we have realistic expectations of them. Do we really know what makes a good salesperson? Here are two preconceived notions about salespeople that we need to reexamine.

rolodexPerception: All you need is a salesperson with a big rolodex; ideally, someone who came from a big competitor.

Reality: When I meet a salesperson who’s come from a large company and claims to have lots of contacts, I question whether their ‘contacts’ were buying from them because they were effective in selling or because of the large company which they represented. True sales practitioners don’t need to have big rolodexes in your vertical; you and your service team are the ones who need those relationships. The salesperson’s value is in having meaningful interactions with prospects, so they can relate to your product and eventually relate to (and buy from) you. There’s a cause-and-effect behind a big rolodex: Not everyone who who has a big rolodex can do that, but those who can have meaningful interactions usually end up having a big rolodex.

Perception: The best salespeople are extroverts who win sales through personal charm and their ability to wing it.

Reality: In a tense sales discussion, where one wrong word can ruin the momentum, winging it is the last thing a good salesperson should do. Also, some of the best sales performers I’ve met are actually reserved, soft-spoken people. I think their placid personality helps them concentrate on what the prospect is saying, instead of being distracted by inner thoughts that are often emotional and unhelpful to their present objective: helping the buyer sell themselves.

Your Sales Rolodex

Here are some sales resources you can have in your rolodex to help form and cultivate great salespeople:

Training/Assessment:

Trevor Wilkins, Holis & Associates

Susan Enns, B2B Sales Connections

Brian Jeffrey, Salesforce Assessments

Recruiting:

Eliot Burdett, Peak Sales Recruiting

Diane Johnson, Johnson Executive Search

Podcasts:

The Advanced Selling Podcast (Caskey & Associates)

Sales Guy Quick & Dirty Tips (Jeb Blount)

image credit: flickr Rain Rabbit