As of late, I have seen many blog posts and articles asking this question: What makes a great salesperson? Those of us in the sales management and sales leadership realm seem to be on an eternal quest to find the secret to identifying and hiring not only the best and most qualified sales people, but also those that possess inherent qualities that set them apart from the rest of the bunch. As a sales director for a structural engineering firm, I am also intrigued by the idea of a few key indicators that can be used to filter out the most qualified sales employee during the hiring process.
My LinkedIn page is full of great thought and opinion pieces on similar subject matter. I’ve read about emotional intelligence, passion, hunter vs. gatherer mentality and how these traits are found in only the best sales people. I want to share with you a recent experience that helped me to define what makes a great salesperson. Consequently, it is the same characteristics that also make a great employee, a great boss and a great coworker.
LEAP DAY 2016
Last week started out like any other. It was leap day and as I left for work, I told my 21 month old about the significance of this day and how it only happens once every four years. I had no idea how unique leap day 2016 would be for me at the moment I kissed him goodbye and walked next door to my office. Yes, my office is right next my house and on this day that proximity proved to be beneficial.
It was shortly after lunch that I received a phone call from an out of town phone number. The man on the other line was out of breath and I heard chaos and screaming in the background. He told me he was coming off the Harvey Taylor bridge (which is right next to my house and office) and upon exiting the ramp, he saw an older woman lying unconscious on the sidewalk and a toddler crying next to her. My heart sank. I knew this had to be my mother and son.
My mother watches my boy every day and on nice days they take a walk in the afternoon. This man told me where they were and that he had my son in his Jeep. Apparently, my son had accidentally tripped my mom. My mom, who has a bad hip, got tangled up and they both had fallen on the sidewalk that borders a busy bridge off ramp.
As my mom resumed consciousness, this man was able to get her phone and my phone number. At this point I had run out of my office. My coworkers stepped in without missing a beat. Two of our design engineers were stuck manning the phones and taking sales calls. To my surprise, they handled their new job duties like they had been trained, seasoned sales managers. Nitin Bajracharya and Ryan English, both Engineers in Training, with zero sales experience, ended up closing new business that day and booking new appointments for forensic engineering inspections.
One of our project managers, Holly Pezzuti, joined me at the scene of the accident and helped get my mom back home to safety. My boss and partner in business and life, Bruce Ensor, dropped everything he was doing to take my mom to the hospital. He left behind un-finished reports, projects that needed his attention and 4 employees who depend on his daily presence to sign off on work. My son was not injured and I went home to care for him.
The man who stopped his Jeep to help my mother and son was a Russell Stover salesman. He was returning from a call in Carlisle and took the time to pull over, get my son to safety, get my mom’s head injury under control and also the crowd of by standers that had congregated nearby. One bystander was so upset that he had a panic attack at the sight of the blood from my mom’s fall. This Russell Stover salesman had no emergency medical training. What he did have was the courage and leadership abilities to step out of his comfort zone to help solve an emergent problem. My co-workers also exhibited those same qualities that day by having the courage to leap outside of their “box”, the “can do” attitude and willingness to help the team even if it meant taking on responsibility that was above and beyond what they were expected to do.
When I left the office that day, I really didn’t expect our engineers to close new business in my absence. Just as I didn’t expect a Russell Stover salesman to stop his vehicle to help my mom and baby. This man’s name is Bruce
Hayward and on that day he prevented what could have been a tragic calamity. He followed up with me later that day to check on my mother and son and expressed gratitude for being able to help.
So on leap day 2016, I got to see first-hand what truly makes a great salesperson. It is also what makes a great employee, a great co-worker and a great boss. Not once did any of these people, say “That’s not my job”. All businesses but especially small businesses depend on people with these incredibly important traits. They need not only the courage to leap out of one’s comfort zone but the ability to do without a complaint along the way. It is the willingness to switch “hats” gracefully and perform duties that one is not expected or trained to do that separates the good employee from the GREAT employee.
Thank you to my co-workers, Ryan English, Nitin Bajracharya, Holly Pezzuti and Bruce Ensor. Thank you to Bruce Hayward, the Russell Stover salesman who helped us.
Written by: Dana R. Pezzuti
BE Structural, PC