An excellent sales executive for the education market is easy to find. What’s the big deal? All you need is someone who walks on water, whose heart-rending speech can bring grown men and children to tears, and who motivates field-hardened salespeople to accomplish what they never thought possible, year after year. Easy!  Well, just in case you haven’t yet found the perfect sales executive, here are a few other ways to identify this extraordinarily important member of your company’s management team. Why Is It So Hard to Find the Right Sales Executive? More than any other leader on the executive team, the sales executive must exercise multiple skills to be effective.

In addition to meeting or exceeding sales objectives, he or she also needs to demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills, superb management ability, and exceptional strategic talents.  Each of these skill sets is intensely demanding. What makes the matter even more difficult is the diversity of the skills required—they are not logical extensions of one another. It’s unusual for any one person to have had the constellation of career experiences necessary to be fully equipped to perform the range of responsibilities required of a sales executive.
It isn’t that many individuals don’t have some of these skills. The scarcity of individuals in whom these three difficult skill sets coalesce is what makes top sales  executives few and far between.  Adding to the difficulty and diversity of the skills required, the sales manager must be able to work  effectively with three distinct groups of stakeholders or constituents: customers, company managers and sales representatives, and the company’s executives and board/investors. Even as the necessary skills are different from each other, each constituent audience requires the sales manager to perform a very different role as well. For example, customers need to feel genuineness,
Trust worthiness, and to some extent, even friendship with the sales executive. Company managers need a sense that the sales  executive can deliver the assigned quota. The sales organization needs to feel that quotas are achievable  and fair, and that sales representatives can count on the support of “their boss.”
The third constituency is the company’s executives and its board or investor group. To succeed here, the sales executive must frequently perform tasks that require  abilities quite different from interpersonal and management skills. For example, the board or investors typically think in highly quantitative terms using an array of analytical tools. The sales executive must portray field experiences and management wisdom in language that is cogent and useful to these critical decision makers. As illustrated by the following chart, the three critical skill sets are valued very differently by the three  constituencies with whom the sales executive interacts
So, What Are the Criteria that Determine an Excellent Sales Executive?
While walking on water may not be a formal  requirement, there are eight essential criteria that docompany’s immediate and long-term needs, these criteria will be weighted differently. But strength, if not excellence,
is required in each.
The criteria may be grouped into three categories:
1. Industry expertise
2. Management expertise
3. Strategic capabilities
Industry Expertise
1. Passion for education To be successful in this industry, a sales executive must feel and demonstrate passion about education and children. The education “market” or “industry” is different from other markets because the key players are essentially mission-driven. Teachers, administrators, and even many support staff are motivated principally by a sense of  purpose and the desire to make a difference in the lives of children. A sales executive who is anything less than passionate about making a difference with children will be perceived by prospects as “just a vendor.” Without sensing such passion from the sales executive, the prospect is likely to remain a prospect rather than becoming a devoted customer.
2. Knowledge of the education market Leading a successful sales effort in the education market demands an accurate understanding of the many cycles and timing milestones that influence educators’ buying decisions. In addition to these decision-making cycles, the sales executive must also understand how trends in public policy and changes in funding sources affect purchasing decisions. Educators face many over- lapping challenges such as standardized objectives, high stakes testing, etc. The sales executive must appreciate these sufficiently so that the sales organization can respond appropriately to customer needs and recognize opportunities for sales.
3. Building relationships through listening Listen! Listening is the cornerstone ability of successful communication. This is true whether meeting with
customers, sales representatives, management team members, or investors.
The common presumption is that a successful  salesperson, and even more, a sales executive, is a  “silver-tongued orator” who can motivate through
define the successful sales executive. Depending on a powerful speeches and make the sale with clever  “closes.” Not so. Educators make purchases. They do not like to be“sold to.”It is the case in most industries, but especially so in education, that sales are built on relationships. Trust,along with all the other ingredients of a relationship, is the basis of an education buyer’s decision in favor of aproduct and a company.
There are many dimensions to establishing and growing a relationship with a customer. Listening is the essential underpinning that allows the relationship to develop. The importance of this criterion—building relationships through listening—is emphasized here because so many education customers state how infrequently representatives of companies really do listen. Whether it’s the regional sales rep or the national sales manager, building a  relationship is hindered when salespeople start “selling products” rather than listening. As a relationship develops and the salesperson begins to understand customer issues from the perspective of the educator, solutions can be presented that the buyer will welcome.  Modeling listening skills is the most effective way to train sales reps to listen and ultimately achieve sales.
Thus, the behavior of the sales executive sets the tone for the entire organization.  As with all relationships, whether romantic, parent-child, or business, creative listening establishes understanding, trust, and friendship. And purchasers  like to buy from friends.
Management Expertise
4. Compensation plan expertise Sales executives face two challenges in developing and implementing compensation plans. First, the plan must provide incentives for representatives to sell and to exceed quotas. The key here is not only to give financial rewards, but also to creatively shape compensation to engage the different motivational “hot buttons” of individual reps. Second, compensation plans can be used as strategic tools to achieve goals other than simply producing revenue. Depending on the company’s objectives, particular 
The Experts’ Guide to K-12 School Publishing 187 products may merit some difference in sales incentives. Incentive payments can also be used to accomplish other strategic business objectives. The sales executive needs to be an expert in the wide variety of compensation approaches that can be designed to meet a broad range of company objectives.
5. Recruiting exceptional talent Sales executives tend to recruit sales representatives who have an established sales track record and a
“rolodex” of long-term relationships in a territory. This approach can result in a reasonably satisfactory sales force, but not always a great one.
The most outstanding sales executives target not just “the usual suspects.” In addition to hiring people with proven sales track records, the objective should be to build a sales force comprised of individuals who have consistently excelled in their chosen endeavors across the board. The dimension to capture is not necessarily competitiveness, but excellence at whatever the individ-ual has been passionate about, whether in academics,
arts, human services, politics, or sports. Being a successful sales rep should be only the price of admission to an interview. The outstanding sales  executive seeks to recruit sales representatives who con-sistently outperform their peers throughout their lives.
6. Team and infrastructure building Excellent sales executives build teams of people, and they also work to create the essential infrastructure needed to support those teams in multiple ways. Moreover, they recognize that the sales organization is one of many company teams that together are responsible for customer enthusiasm, company profitability, and individual sales quota performance.  Building an effective infrastructure means creating and/or refining the operational resources throughout the company
that are necessary to support the sales organization.
Essential components of the sales infrastructure include:
• Recruiting;
• Sales training;
• Shared objectives between related functional units, such as customer support, technology services, and marketing;
• Reporting systems that are accurate and timely;
• Accurate accounting for and prompt payment of incentives and expenses. trategic Capabilities
7. Forecasting accuracy The essential quantitative skill sales executives need is forecasting accuracy. Sales executives must be able to translate an ocean of individual field experiences and anecdotal encounters with customers and reps into a highly reliable forecast. Other company managers base crucial decisions on the sales forecast, including what products and services are
to be available to customers and when. Pricing and pro- curement are contingent on accurate forecasts. Financial decisions made by chief financial officers are inextricably linked to the sales forecast. The chief executive office  decides about strategic alliances or acquisitions based in part on forecasting. And board members and investors sift through forecasts very carefully as they decide whether or not to make substantial financial investments. Sales executives are expected to make quota. However, the professional sales leader becomes most valuable to the management and investment process when he or she not only makes quota but also accurately forecasts when and how much revenue will be booked.
If the sales executive anticipates a shortfall, it is critical that he or she present an accurate revised forecast to company management as soon as possible. Although making quota is the number one responsibility of a sales executive, the ability to foresee when expected numbers cannot be achieved—and to understand and explain the reasons why—can be invaluable to company decision makers.
8. Vision In designing company strategy with other managers, executives, and investors, the sales executive plays an efficacious role by sharing his or her vision of the point on the horizon that the company should aim for. In this role the sales executive is a team member working in concert with others who also are staring at the horizon trying to determine the most appropriate long-term targets. Being competent to discuss the state and direction of the entire education industry is also essential because the sales executive may have the opportunity to represent the company with high-level education leaders. For example, the sales executive may meet with state education depart- ment leaders, political executives such as governors or even, given our current political climate, the president. Chief executives and other senior management people from major companies or investment banks may also merit a “sales call.”
How to Hire an Excellent Sales Executive
When recruiting a sales executive, the company’s current needs together with its long-term strategic goals should shape the search. In addition, there are two dimensions to consider in evaluating any candidate.
First, candidates’ backgrounds and prior experiences should be measured against the criteria described above. Meeker & Associates, a professional executive search firm, typically performs a quantitative analysis to compare
candidates on various criteria important to the client company. As illustrated below, no single candidate is likely to fulfill every criterion at the highest level.
This comparison can be instructive in highlighting can- didate strengths that may be of particular value to the client company in making a hiring decision. But the quantitative analysis is only half the equation. For any company hiring a sales executive, it is also absolutely essential to engage intuition or gut instincts. Selecting the best candidate requires a dual process. Quantitative analysis alone is sterile. Hiring based solely on personal feelings also risks missing the mark.  Hire the best candidate based on how his or her track record stacks up against your company’s criteria plus your gut instincts informed by years of professional experience. Target those who excel in all their achievements and those who are persons of the highest integrity. Working with an excellent search firm is a good idea, too. There are several of us!

Sales is widely recognized as a particularly lucrative career field, and sales manager jobs are no exception. Companies often tap their best-performing sales representatives for this prestigious and high-paying role. A proven ability to close sales is essential to landing a sales manager position; however, strong leadership skills are just as important. To that end, management and sales training can be an ideal way to prepare for a sales manager or sales executive career. It takes some time and effort to work your way up, which is why the true determinant of your success is the strength of your commitment to reach the top.
Sales Manager Job Responsibilities
Before you pursue a sales manager career, you need to know what this position entails, as the job duties are quite different from those of a sales representative. Sales managers are responsible for coordinating the efforts of an entire sales organization, and are held accountable for a team’s ability to meet their sales goals. They need to have an intimate knowledge of the dynamics of making a sale and closing the deal. They also need to know how to analyze market trends and financial statements to put together an effective and comprehensive sales plan.
In order to be successful, a sales manager must be willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done – whether it’s following up to help a sales representative close a deal or arranging sales training for the entire team. Also, because the sales manager’s efforts have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line, the person in this role often faces intense pressure and scrutiny from the highest corporate levels. Sales management training can prepare you to meet the demands of this career, and can help you develop the interpersonal, leadership and communication skills needed to excel as a sales manager.
Job Projections and Earnings Potential
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that the overall employment of sales managers will grow about 15% from 2008 to 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations.1 While this means there will be an increase in sales manager jobs, there will also be heavy competition for these coveted and highly compensated positions. The best opportunities will go to those with previous sales experience and a proven ability to close sales, as well as advanced education and/or formal sales training.
According to BLS reports, sales managers earned a median annual salary of about $96,790 in May 2009. Those in the middle 50% bracket earned between $65,210 and $141,430 a year, while the top 10% of all sales managers had an annual income in excess of $166,400.2 To achieve the top sales manager salaries, you need to deliver the results to earn them. An investment in advanced sales management training will usually pay dividends in terms of salary and bonus potential.
Sales Management Training and Education
A common theme in the path to a sales manager career is the importance of sales training. Most employers prefer sales manager candidates with a combination of experience and education. It’s desirable to have at least five years of previous sales experience, although a sales representative with fewer years in the field but a history proven results will certainly be considered. In terms of education, many companies favor sales manager applicants with a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, advertising or other similar fields. A sales manager working in a specialized industry – such as IT or pharmaceuticals – may be expected to have a degree in a relevant major.
That said, a sales representative with great numbers and a high rate of closes can often bypass the formal degree requirement. Results tend to speak for themselves, which is why a degree is not necessarily a prerequisite for a sales manager position. However, employers do expect to see a commitment to professional development – which is why formal sales training is a huge asset to anyone aspiring to a role in sales management. Pursuing continuing education demonstrates your dedication to your chosen career and shows that you are committed to achieving excellence in your field.
Prepare for a Sales Manager Career With 100% Online Sales Training
One of the best ways to enhance your résumé and advance your career is to earn a Certificate in Sales and Sales Management from University of San Francisco (USF). Regionally accredited USF is a recognized leader in online professional education, and is nationally ranked as one of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report. Its sales training program is the only expert-led, university-backed, 100% online certificate program of its kind.
The certificate program consists of three eight-week certificate courses that help you hone the skills and knowledge needed to succeed as a sales manager:
Through an innovative, video-based e-learning platform, you’ll learn from accomplished instructors with vast experience and expertise in sales and sales management. You can view lectures 24/7 via streaming video, MP4 downloads or CD-ROM, and communicate with online instructors and fellow students via email, instant messaging, online discussion boards and two-way voice over IP (VOIP).
You’ll receive a framed certificate of achievement upon completion of each course, and another when you finish the entire certificate program. These respected university credentials will add prestige to your résumé, and prove that you have the skills, knowledge and sales training to become a top-performing sales manager.

8 Must-Have Qualities for Achieving Sales Success

Performance Based Results interviewed 400 highly seasoned business-to-business sales professionals. With their help, we’ve identified eight qualities you want to look for when hiring the right candidate, or when coaching a current sales performer to achieve maximum results:
1) Being Creatively Persistent.
There’s a fine line between persistence and pushiness, and a smart sales professional knows how to toe that line. When good salespeople hit a wall — unreturned phone calls, no response to e-mails — they don’t give up easily, but they don’t make pests of themselves, either. Such a person will find ways to reconnect before an opportunity withers away. It’s not just a matter of leaving call after call in his contact’s voice mail. In order to connect, he’ll talk with the gatekeeper, the executive assistant, and others in the organization. He may call or even show up in person at odd hours, like 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., or even make phone calls on a Saturday morning.
When great sales people reach a sales stall, they approach the situation from a new angle. For example, one sales person was trying to reach an organization’s VP of Sales for months, with no response. So he bought notepads made to look just like a $100 bill and wrote a note to the VP reading, “Let’s turn this into real money for you and your sales team!” He crumpled it up, threw it into an oversized envelope, and mailed it to him. The client got a laugh, called him back and got his business after a great meeting that really got a good dialogue going.
2) Being Passionate.
Persistence and passion typically go hand in hand. A good salesperson is passionate — that is, he truly believes in his solution. He’s hungry, motivated and competitive. This sales rep is a doer, not just a talker. He doesn’t blame the economy, or competitors’ lower pricing, or waste time whining about possible weaknesses in his product compared to the competition. He’s got great ideas, and they’re measurable by the number and quality of his activities. Passionate salespeople create their own opportunities instead of waiting around for them!
3) Prospecting for New Business.
The key is for salespeople to actively seek out new business relationships rather than limiting their sales efforts to a dwindling customer base. Leveraging and strengthening an existing customer base is important, to be sure, but it’s all too easy to become complacent and keep calling on the same customers. Sometimes the relationship has run its course. In an economic climate like the one we’ve been in recently, a once promising customer may now be in dire straits, possibly due to mergers and downsizing, so the salesperson’s timing is off. He’s better off investing his time and efforts on fresh new opportunities. Good salespeople are always looking to develop new business relationships, not waiting until their current well runs dry.
4) Planning Before the Call.
Great sales people always bring value on every call. They plan and strategize their key accounts. A lot of sales reps like to “show up and throw up.” Depending on the complexity of the account, up to 50% of the outcome of a major sales call is determined before even one word is exchanged. Good salespeople are thinking about multiple plans. In fact, they’ve already figured out Plans A, B and C before they even walk in the door.
Checking the customer’s Web site is a good start, but great salespeople go further. They’ve done their homework, having read trade publications, talked to insiders about industry trends, researched industry blogs such as Technorati for more insider information, news of competitive threats, and political and internal issues. They keep up with issues and obstacles that can negate or catapult an opportunity. That’s why it’s vital for salespeople to become business advisors to their customers — someone who can provide value-added information to drive opportunities forward.
5) Developing New Relationships in Established Accounts.
When a salesperson wins an account and develops good rapport with a buyer, he tends to gravitate towards that relationship, becoming protective of it. But when he does, he might fall into the trap of being too cautious. He may fear that if he digs too deep in trying to build new relationships, he’ll step on his contact’s toes or offend him some other way. The sales rep may think, “If I’m going to reach out for other business relationships when I already have this relationship in place, this person will help open doors for me.” But when his contact says, “Oh, you don’t need to contact anyone here but me,” that’s a red flag signaling that he really should be reaching out to others in the organization. Relationships can turn on a dime. Even if a sales rep thinks he’s got it made with a particular account, if he suddenly loses this business relationship, he’ll find himself starting from scratch. Therefore, it’s so important to leverage existing relationships and insist on gaining access to other decision makers and influencers. As a result you and your customers will continue to grow.
6) Asking Great Questions to Uncover Buying Needs.
Most salespeople have the best intentions, but without realizing it, they’re often doing more talking than listening. Asking the right questions allows you to qualify if there is an opportunity to pursue, and if so, how pressing is the prospect’s need? Who is involved? How are decisions made? What’s the unique criteria your prospect looks for in a vendor relationship? What are the underlying motivations? What kind of budget do they have to invest with you? A great sales rep shows genuine interest and listens, but asking and listening go hand-in-hand.
7) Selling Value.
What if a good salesperson takes pride in his premium product or service, only to be told his price is too high? Not necessarily a problem if he’s already asked great questions of all the right people in the organization and done his homework. By then, the sales rep understands his customer’s needs and issues, and where the customer wants to go. Because the sales rep understands, he’s easily able to justify why the customer needs to make that initial investment in the rep’s solution over competitive choices.
Sure, the customer can pick other options, but there’s always the implication that if he were to do so, the risk would be too great. Let’s say the customer went with a lower-priced computer system of lower quality. A glitch in the customer’s computer system causes it to crash, bringing everything in the company to a standstill for the rest of the day. That could cost the customer thousands of dollars, easily wiping out what he saved when he bought that cheap system. Or let’s say a delivery to the customer’s customer was a day late. That’ll not only cost the customer big bucks, it could cost the salesperson a client! Good sales reps thrive on selling value because the additional investment in choosing a premium service fully outweighs the potential cost of doing business with a cheaper but inferior alternative.
A sales person in our study shared the following example. A doctor was looking to invest in an expensive piece of radiographic equipment for surgery on patients with spine issues. Treatment with this device costs $2,000 per patient. The doctor ended up spending a good $37,000 on the device, about 25% more than what the competition was offering. However, if he’d bought equipment of lesser quality, and that inferior machine went down for even one day, it would mean the difference between the doctor helping 12 patients (his typical per-day average) vs. being unable to help any patients! Do the math: 12 patients times $2,000 = $24,000! So you see, equipment that performs well saves money (and in this case, patients) in the long run.
8) Getting Customers to Commit.
Salespeople must make customers commit to achieving some form of closure, some kind of outcome to each sales call. Even if the salesperson doesn’t get an agreement on an order right away because multiple steps are required, that’s okay. This salesperson knows he won’t be satisfied with just leaving some literature and promising a follow-up call. He always has a purpose, a call to action. It could be as simple as the sales rep scheduling a follow-up meeting with other parties, or an appointment to return to demonstrate a product or service to the customer, or bringing the customer and his boss to visit and evaluate the salesperson’s facility — whatever it takes for the sales rep to encourage customers to continue the sales process by getting them to invest time and or resources, demonstrating a willingness to keep the sale moving forward.
Three most essential qualities of a sales executive are (a) Self-confidence (b) Observation and Memory (c) Loyalty.
(a) Self-Confidence:
Self-confidence is another very important quality, which every sales executive should possess. It springs from knowledge. The sales executive should keep self-confidence both on himself and the goods he sells to the customers. A sales executive lacking self confidence can not convince his customer properly or overcome his objections. In fact, man lacking self-confidence should not be sales executive . Self-confidence comes to a sales executive through himself, of the goods he sells and of the customers and their buying motives.
(b) Observation and Memory:
Power of observation is another important quality of a sales executive. A good sales executive must be a keen observer. He should observe the changes in style, fashion of people, activities of rivals, Government policies, general attitude of customers and other things. This would help him a lot in understanding the need of the customers quickly and persuade them for purchase of the products in which he is dealing.
Sharp memory is another important attribute of a sales executive. Sharp memory refers to capacity to recognize his customers, recall his past interviews with them, recalling their requirements and suggestions. As a matter of fact, lack of memory is responsible for committing many errors. For this purpose, it is better for a sales executive to keep a notebook and write important points for future reference.
(c) Loyalty:
Loyalty means willingness to obey. Loyalty of a sales executive can be classified into groups:
1. Loyalty to the organization
A sales executive should remain loyal to his organization. He should obey the instructions given by his senior officers. He should avoid unnecessary heavy discounts and credit facility to unworthy customers.
2. Loyalty to customers
A sales executive can be loyal to customers by becoming honest in his dealings and statements and by selling them quality goods at reasonable price.
3. Loyalty to fellow-workers
A good sales executive should be loyal to his fellow-workers. The success of organizations depends on team work and team spirit. Therefore sales executive must have court-operative attitude towards each other.
Improving the above qualities:
Some sales executive are born with certain qualities i.e., they are gifted with certain talents. But it is impossible to find all the qualities discussed above within a sales executive. Therefore there are many qualities that can be developed. For example, a sales executive possessing good health may not talk intelligently or may not have good manners. These qualities can be learnt. Similarly certain physical qualities can be improved like curing bad breath, improving ill health by exercising, etc. Qualities like tolerance and patience can be developed by habit while sales talks and good manners can be learnt from seniors. A good sales executive always tries to acquire at least some if not all of the personal development qualities. Proper attempt and sincere practice helps him to develop such qualities. These qualities can also be developed by proper training. It is responsibility of the organization to impart such training to their sales force. This will help them to mould themselves into various changing circumstances.
However, it is not possible on the part of every sales executive to acquire all the personal development qualities. There may remain deficiencies somewhere or the other. Even if they acquire it, it may not be at a safe degree. In such cases the sales executive should try to compensate the drawback of one quality by excelling another. For example if he is not good in talking with customers he can please the customers by excellent manners and behavior. Thus this it can be concluded that a sales executive generally has some born qualities by learning or training. Therefore, a sales executive is born and made.

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