Strengths Based Selling – Access Code
from the book Strengths Based Selling
Based on Decades of Gallup’s Research into High-Performing Salespeople
by Tony Rutigliano and Brian Brim
What’s included with the Strengths Based Selling access code:
- Clifton StrengthsFinder™ Access Code – code allows you to take the assessment at http://selling.strengthsfinder.com (NOTE: this is the same assessment as the one in the book Now Discover Your Strengths, only the initial web webpage address is different.)
- StrengthsFinder™ Profile – once you’ve completed the online assessment (lasting about 30 minutes), you will have a Profile and the following online reports:
- Clifton StrengthsFinder™ Certificate – lists your five Signature Themes. Theme descriptions are not included (in HTML)
- Signature Themes Report – presents your five Signature Themes with their full descriptions (in HTML or Adobe Acrobat PDF)
- All 34 Theme Descriptions – brief description of each of the 34 themes of talent measured by the Clifton StrengthsFinder™ (in HTML)
Discounted / You Pay: $20.49
Access code only, book not included
About the book – From the publisher (Gallup Press):
Over the past decade, Gallup has helped millions discover and apply their strengths through the bestselling books Now, Discover Your Strengths; StrengthsFinder 2.0; and most recently, Strengths Based Leadership. Gallup continues the strengths dialogue with Strengths Based Selling (Gallup Press; March 1, 2011), applying its time-tested individual performance solution to sales professionals.
Based on a landmark 30-year research project, Gallup’s revolutionary conclusion maintains that we perform best when we focus on building our strengths, bucking the conventional wisdom that encourages us to focus on fixing our weaknesses. In Strengths Based Selling, Gallup combines its research with the sales expertise of Tony Rutigliano (Senior Practice Expert at Gallup and former publisher and editor-in-chief of Sales & Marketing Management) and Brian Brim (Senior Practice Expert at Gallup who has worked as a consultant, speaker, and advisor for more than 21 years), resulting in a step-by-step guide for using individual strengths to increase sales performance.
The book hinges on one simple yet powerful belief: there is no one right way to sell. Despite what salespeople are constantly told, there is no plan, program, or technique that’s guaranteed to boost sales. Through decades of research and interviews with some of the country’s top sales professionals, Gallup has found that the most successful salespeople all have different approaches — they understand their unique talents and strengths and use them in different ways at each step of the process.
To this end, Strengths Based Selling includes access to the Clifton StrengthsFinder® assessment, which reveals each individual’s top five talent themes. Readers learn how to apply their unique talents throughout the sales process. For instance, sales reps who have Command or Woo in their top five themes probably enjoy the thrill of a hard sell — they like to confront challenges and win people over.
But this approach doesn’t suit everyone; sales reps can use other, “softer” talents to reach the same goal. Take Marcy, whose top themes include Context (historical perspective) and Harmony (preference for agreement) — talents not typically associated with success in sales. But Marcy has learned to use her themes to analyze background information about her customers and link it to a viable solution — one that feels more like a natural suggestion than a hard sell. The key is for sales reps to understand and nurture their innate talents so they can develop their own personal approach and win business their way.
After discovering their talents through the StrengthsFinder assessment, readers will learn to use their strengths in every step of the sales process, including how to:
- measure cold calling success, and improve contact and conversation rates
- determine when to walk away from the wrong customer
- become a partner to customers, not just a vendor
- improve negotiating and closing strategies
- make the most of the honeymoon period with a new customer
- turn satisfied customers into engaged customers
|StrengthsFinder Online Report Page:
available after completing assessment at http://selling.strengthsfinder.com or http://sf1.strengthsfinder.com
The book includes action items for all 34 StrengthsFinder talent themes and real-life examples that illustrate how using individual strengths produces high-impact sales results. For example, readers will meet John Wells from Interface, who uses his Maximizer and Individualization talents to cultivate advocates by understanding what makes each person tick and using that to grow his business. Top salespeople from Microsoft, Pfizer, and U.S. Bank, among others, also share their insights in this book.
Along with helping readers develop their own personal approach to sales, Strengths Based Selling shows them how to make team selling work in their organization. By identifying, cultivating, and applying the strengths of each individual, then arranging partners who have complementary strengths, organizations can produce teams that better meet the needs of customers by offering a mix of talents and styles.
And the book goes beyond sales to address two aspects that are critical to any professional’s success, regardless of field: personal engagement and work/life balance. Readers will learn how to manage their own engagement on the job by aligning their strengths with the objectives of their role. They will also learn how to achieve work/life integration by using their talents to incorporate work with the rest of their life, rather than trying to inhabit “work” and “life” boxes separately.
Strengths Based Selling offers a holistic and individualized approach to achieving success in sales. Full of time-tested research, strategies, action items, and success stories, this is the essential handbook for every kind of salesperson in every industry.
About the Authors
Tony Rutigliano is the coauthor of Discover Your Sales Strengths. Rutigliano consults on ways that organisations can improve their effectiveness in assessing, developing, and retaining talented contributors. A founder and leader of Gallup’s sales force effectiveness practice, he has expertise in measuring the capacity for success within individuals and teams and helping organizations deploy effective systems to recruit and manage their human capital.
Brian J. Brim has worked as a consultant and advisor to some of the world’s leading organisations. His insights have supported many organisations to increase performance by maximising their talent and human capital systems.
Strengths Based Selling
Based on Decades of Gallup’s Research Into High-Performing Salespeople
Authors: Tony Rutigliano and Brian Brim
Gallup Press; March 1, 2011
Hardcover; $24.95; 220 pages
Additional reading from Gallup Press Release:
Seven Ways to Sharpen Strengths and Manage Weaknesses
Learning how to maximize your strengths and minimize the time you spend managing weaknesses takes practice, effort, and creativity. Here are seven ways to apply your efforts effectively and overcome challenges.
1. Create open communication and transparency
In most organizations, people hide their weaknesses. But we think it’s better to admit them and recognize how they may be holding you back or hindering others. Talk with your manager about where you’re having trouble and why. More importantly, don’t ever be embarrassed about what makes you great.
2. Intentionally use your strengths
The sales vice president at a large financial services firm, whose top theme is Command, asked his team how he could use his top five themes to make the team better. He keeps the list of their suggestions — including talking less and listening more during meetings — by his phone. Now before meetings, he thinks about asking questions before getting to his own agenda. And, he’s reminded of what happens when he uses his strengths intentionally.
3. Find support systems
Support systems help you with what you don’t do well or give you reinforcement when you need it. They can be technological, such as programming a spreadsheet that does the math on sales reports or reminder e-mails that you send to yourself. You can also establish a support system by developing new habits to help you in areas where you might be weak. Support systems can also be people — establish a network of colleagues you can call on when you need to vent or get talked off the ledge.
4. Build complementary partnerships
You build a complementary partnership by teaming up with someone who is strong in an area where you are weak. One of the best ways to create such a partnership is by offering your talents in exchange for someone else’s. This works like a support system, but the difference is that you offer something up as well.
5. Get the right education
Sales reps need training — the right kind of training. And that training doesn’t rely on a rigid formula, program, or plan. The right training or development program is issue-based and specific. If you need better product knowledge, then this is a training issue. The right training accommodates individual strengths and learning styles. Those with Input might not mind reading a 400-page product manual, whereas strong Activators can be impatient to see the product in the field.
6. Manage unpleasant tasks by focusing on the outcomes
In sales, there are some things you just have to do: sales reports, expense sheets, meeting logs. And if you’re like most reps, you hate doing them. So agree with your manager on the activities that are not negotiable — the stuff you must do to keep your job. Negotiate a standard, a bare minimum, and get it done. More importantly, focus on the outcomes of those activities, not the steps.
7. Adjust or change roles
Look at your top five talent themes, and figure out what you do best. Then adjust your role so you do more of that. This could be shifting from churn-and-burn selling to creating and maintaining long-term relationships. Or, if you discover that you’re using only two of your top five talent themes at work, you might do better in another role. In the meantime, use your other strengths any way you can — in recreation, volunteering, or at home.
Adapted from Strengths Based Selling by Tony Rutigliano and Brian Brim
(Gallup Press; March 2011; Hardcover)
An Interview With Tony Rutigliano and Brian Brim
Authors of Strengths Based Selling
Q: The premise of Strengths Based Selling is that there is no single right way to sell — that what worked for the “expert” up on stage probably won’t work for you. This may come as a surprise to many sales professionals who are accustomed to picking up new techniques and strategies from conferences, seminars, and experts. What’s your message to them?
A: Our message is that there is no one right way to sell. There is your way to sell. If you were to study the top 10 sales representatives at any company, you would not find people who go about their jobs identically. Rather, you’d see people who had found a way that suits their particular talents and tendencies. Now, this doesn’t mean that anyone can sell anywhere. The first step is to ensure that you are building a career — or part of your career — in a job that fits you — your talents, your beliefs, your principles, your tendencies.
Q: In the book, you make a distinction between talents and strengths. What’s the difference between the two, and how do you turn a talent into a strength?
A: Talents are our inherent proclivities and preferences — the natural ways that we react to situations and process information. Talents are our potential, and strengths are built on a foundation of talent. You can turn talents into strengths by adding experience, skill, knowledge, and practice.
Q: Your advice is directed primarily to individual salespeople, but sales managers could also learn from the book. How can they use these strengths-based principles to better their sales teams?
A: The strengths-based approach has implications that span the entire employee life cycle. To lead successful teams, managers must understand that:
Talent, which cannot be taught, should be a key consideration in whom organizations choose to hire. While it is not advisable — or even possible — to hire “clones,” managers should think about some of the traits that the best in a role seem to exhibit consistently and take that into consideration when hiring.
How a person is wired should influence how he or she is onboarded, developed, and managed. When managers expect all employees to do a job the same way, they limit employees’ creativity and stifle their potential. Treat employees differently, through the lens of their natural talents, and you will unleash talent and make remarkable results possible.
Paying attention to talents and strengths can give managers and leaders clues to the assignments that are right for people. Understanding employees’ talents and strengths can also give managers insight into the promotions and development paths that make the most sense for employees individually.
Q: Gallup has done quite a bit of research into customer engagement, measuring both the dynamics of engagement and the value it delivers to the organization. Can you describe what you found and how sales reps can use that information to turn their satisfied customers into engaged ones?
A: When it comes to value, Gallup’s customer engagement measure found that fully engaged customers — those with a strong emotional connection — deliver a 23% premium over average customers in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth. On the other hand, customers who are actively disengaged represent a 13% discount. And customers who are merely satisfied are no more loyal than the dissatisfied ones. The upshot is: Whether or not you’re successfully engaging your customers directly affects the bottom line.
How can you cultivate this level of engagement? Gallup did a study of the brain activity of highly engaged customers (compared to less engaged ones) using an fMRI machine. We found that when customers thought about their favorite brands, the emotional centers of their brains lit up, especially in the part that recognizes faces. These customers were thinking about the people they interacted with at that brand, which suggests that the human connection is an incredibly powerful avenue to engagement.
How each rep establishes this human connection is heavily dependent on his or her individual talents. The most successful reps have figured out how to use their strengths to ensure that their customers trust them and are more likely to see them as insiders rather than outsiders — partners rather than vendors.
Oversimplifying a bit, we might see relationship-oriented salespeople become friends with clients and prospects and influence through relationship. Salespeople rich in thinking capabilities will establish themselves as “trusted advisors.” Highly organized sellers will ingratiate themselves with customers who value dependability and/or attention to detail. What’s important is that salespeople become aware of how they will initiate, build, and sustain a relationship — establish that human connection with the customer — and then hone those abilities. We’d never advise salespeople to do the “karaoke” version of any ability in hopes of building customer engagement.
Q: You maintain that the team sales model can be incredibly effective when it’s based on the strengths principle. And the sales department of Pfizer Oncology is a prime example of strengths-based team selling at work. What can we learn from their efforts?
A: One of the most exciting things about how Pfizer Oncology has executed the team concept is that it is built on the recognition that no representative, no matter how great, can be all things to all buying influences. This can be liberating when people are partnered in a complementary fashion. It means they can “cover” for one another.
But successfully implementing a team model will require some flexibility. Goals and sales compensation plans may have to be adjusted because most are typically weighted toward individual effort. Sales managers also must consider ways to be flexible in assigning accounts and account responsibilities. If the organization can set up a structure that rewards a strengths-savvy team approach, reps and customers will benefit.
Q: Readers may walk away from your book wanting to introduce strengths-based selling principles to their organization. How can they get started?
A: It all starts with several commitments:
Hire and promote only those who have the right talent for the role.
Define expectations clearly and quantitatively.
Tune in to the different approaches people have to accomplish their goals. Guide and support them along these unique paths to success.
Build a culture in which employees are expected to be open about their abilities and their limitations. This can result in more opportunities for growth and development and help organizations set people up for success more consistently.