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Inside Job

Secrets to unleashing your inner salesperson

This story appears in the March 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The fourth in the Gallup Organization'sgroundbreaking series of management books takes on the criticaltopic of selling in Discover Your Sales Strengths (Warner,$26.95), by Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano. As with the others,it's based on deep research. Gallup questioned 250,000 salesrepresentatives and 25,000 sales managers and a million customersover decades to find how the best salespeople sell, and how therest can sell better. How much better? The authors say it's notunusual for the best salespeople in any organization to outsellaverage reps by a factor of 10. Even mentioning the possibility ofthat kind of improvement makes a big promise. Fortunately, theydeliver in a big way.

A few key findings stand out: The best salespeople are activelyengaged in their jobs, know where their strengths lie, find theright fit and work for the right manager. While passing on newideas, the authors also undermine traditional sales truisms, suchas "A good salesperson can sell anything." In place ofthese hoary shibboleths, they provide counterintuitive butgenerally well-explained and -illustrated methods for putting theright salespeople and managers in place, finding out whatthey're good at and getting them engaged. Self-assessment toolsbased on Gallup's StrengthFinders approach to identifyingindividual talents round out a book remarkable for its insight andutility.

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