- What's in the CliftonStrengths for Sales report, and for whom is it designed?
- How does the Sales report fit into the universe of CliftonStrengths reports?
- How can individuals and managers apply the insights in the Sales report to move toward greater success in their roles?
Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.
The recently introduced CliftonStrengths for Sales report is a tool that will help salespeople and sales managers be more effective and more efficient in their roles. What's in the Sales report? For whom is it designed? How can the report's insights on their own Top 10 CliftonStrengths -- including its 40 action items -- give salespeople and customer service people a performance edge? Join Austin Suellentrop, CliftonStrengths Portfolio Manager at Gallup, to find out.
This tool is designed to help people understand that their best way of selling is not emulating somebody else's sales success; it's figuring out how their strengths make them unique in how they sell.Austin Suellentrop, 3:21
Salespeople who receive strengths-based coaching [have] 11% higher volume in sales and a 6% higher closing percentage. So not only do they get higher volume of sales, they close a higher percentage of their business as well.Austin Suellentrop, 5:54
Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and welcome to the CliftonStrengths Podcast. On this podcast, we'll be covering topics such as wellbeing, teamwork, professional development and more. Now enjoy this episode. This episode was previously recorded on LinkedIn live.
Meet Our Guest on This Episode
Jim Collison 0:18
I am Jim Collison. I'm here with Austin Suellentrop. We're here to help officially launch -- today is launch day for the CliftonStrengths for Sales report. Austin, welcome and congratulations!
Austin Suellentrop 0:28
Hey, thank you very much, Jim. Really, proud, excited, can't wait to get it out there in the universe and let people experience it and share their feedback with us.
Introducing the CliftonStrengths for Sales Report
Jim Collison 0:35
Austin give us a, just a basics -- before we kind of dig in on selling strategy, give us the basics about this report: Why we did it and what's available in it for us.
Austin Suellentrop 0:45
Absolutely. So this is the second in a series of what we are calling "role-based reports." Last year, this time, we launched the CliftonStrengths for Managers report. This is the next in that series of -- this CliftonStrengths for Sales report, which is designed to take the topic and the content of strengths and get really tactical about how it helps, hinders and things that salespeople can do to use their strengths every day. Right. So it's designed to be that in-the-moment, super direct, tactical sort of tool to help apply strengths day in, day out. It is aimed -- the sort of target here -- are people who are engaged in in B2B sales, I would say, is the, is the sweet spot here. But I don't want to, I don't want to limit salespeople to think of this as only a B2B sales tool. We will see language like "clients" and "customers" and "prospects" throughout. So we're thinking about whatever that looks like to you, this absolutely has application in direct sales, right? This absolutely has application in those of us who are in indirect sales, who, like you, Jim, like you mentioned, sort of top of the funnel, helping with lead generation and so forth.
Austin Suellentrop 1:54
This is really, when we think about what's happening, why do we do this? The sales landscape has changed dramatically. And all the change of the workplace over the last couple of years that the pandemic sort of, I think, accelerated, as we're coming out of that phase of the workplace evolution, what's, what we've seen is that some organizations have been able to gain new customers quicker, more effectively, more efficiently than others. And a big part of that is how quickly their salespeople themselves were able to adapt to new ways of selling. Right? I talk about -- my background, before I joined Gallup, I was a banker, right? I was in the relationship sales business. So I was in sort of building long-term relationships. But it's absolutely a different game in the banking industry now than it was 5, 7 years ago.
Austin Suellentrop 2:48
And how much I relied upon the face-to-face conversation with clients or prospects to gain and build that relationship, well, there's a lot of, there's a lot of industries where, you know, salespeople will thrived on the -- I call it the "grip-and-grin experience," right? Walk up, shake hands, get to know them, take them to lunch, you know, bring -- my wife's a nurse, been a nurse for 15 years. How many sales reps come by with, with meals and, you know, coffee and doughnuts. Those days are gone for a lot of industries. The face-to-face is a tough thing to get; got to sell differently. And so this tool is designed to help people understand that their best way of selling is not emulating somebody else's sales success; it's figuring out how their strengths make them unique in how they sell. And that's what this report is designed to do.
Can the Sales Report Be Used for Other Roles?
Jim Collison 3:36
Austin, we've said, and that's even titled, it's got the word "sales" in it, we get some questions from individuals, though, that, Could this be used for other kinds of roles? And so, as we think about sales or Influencing, how could this fit other roles as well?
Austin Suellentrop 3:51
I think, I think what you're gonna see with this report is less of a focus on the aspirational, developmental aspect of strengths, right -- thinking about the universal application and the who you are at your core and what the potential of that looks like in any situation. Like the 34 report is still the premier personal developmental tool we have. What this is going to do is going to get much more tactical. It's going to be, it's going to feel very, very much like a personalized view of somebody's day. So if you're in customer service and part of your, your job in customer service is resolving client issues, expanding sort of and upselling customers and helping them find the right solutions and retaining them, if that's part of the goals that their customer service has, then absolutely, there's app, there's application here. But understanding culture to culture, the role of customer service may look different, company to company. So the best way to understand whether or not you, this would apply to your team or your organization or maybe some prospects of yours is to take a look at the content and to dig into it and see, and see how you think it fits with the culture of what you're looking for.
Benefits When Salespeople Receive Strengths-Based Coaching
Jim Collison 5:02
Since we are Gallup, and we collect a lot of data, let's, let's talk about it from a sales perspective. When we think about focusing, for salespeople, focusing on their strengths, right, what kind of numbers just, what kind of numbers do we see in in performance and increased performance?
Austin Suellentrop 5:18
Well, you know, we've always talked, we cite the, our big meta-analysis a lot, right? And like you said, we do research at Gallup all the time. And we've always said, Well, we know that organizations who focus on strengths perform better than those that don't. And what's great about sales organizations is they measure so much themselves, and they have so many core metrics that it becomes really easy for us to be able to identify that, what that performance looks like. So when we look at salespeople individually, just the people themselves -- not the, not the team, not the organization; the individuals -- we see that salespeople who receive strengths-based coaching, 11% higher volume in sales and a 6% higher closing percentage. So not only do they get higher volume of sales, they're, they close a higher percentage of their business as well. So they're both more effective and more efficient, right, which I think is a fantastic sort of a way to state the case for why an investment in something like this makes sense. But that's at the individual level, right? So that's, that's me, you, anybody who does this, who understands how their strengths help them in their role.
Austin Suellentrop 6:30
But then if we look at the organizational level -- if we, if we then take this and say, OK, we can apply this across our company, across our department, whatever it may look like, and we work organizationally at it, we see anywhere between 10% to 20%, or 10% to 19%, higher organizational sales increase. So that's the cumulative aspect of our, of our improvement. So there's an ability here to see both an individual local impact as well as sort of the macro, higher-level impact.
Who Is the Target Audience for the Sales Report?
Jim Collison 6:58
Austin, when we, when we look at this report, you mentioned, you gave a little indicator of who we wrote it for. But when we think about specific roles, what did we have in mind as, as we had, as we were looking at this and writing these statements? Like, who were we thinking of, even though we, we think it's for everybody, who were we thinking of?
Austin Suellentrop 7:21
I was thinking of anybody in an organization who's responsible for growing, retaining or attracting customers. Right? That, that's, that's the key. We know that customers today are more important and more difficult to get than ever. Customers are more informed. They pay more attention to what your organization is saying publicly and doing. And so there's a lot more data points that a customer can take in than they've ever had before. And so we know that the competition for customers is only increasing. So who in your organization is responsible for going and getting new customers?
Austin Suellentrop 8:04
Now, most organizations, that's going to be a salesperson of some sort: business development, account leaders -- whatever, whatever terminology makes sense to your culture. But the people who are out there reaching out to prospects or engaging in relationships with existing clients and trying to retain and grow them, or maybe, you know, a role I used to play in the sales organization was when we had troubled relationships -- so relationships that weren't going well -- I was oftentimes the person who would step in and sort of be the new face to try to, try to give them a new perspective and retain the client and sort of smooth things over. So whatever that role looks like in your culture, it's really about who is going out and connecting with and gaining customers for you. That's who we're aiming at.
The Sales Report and the Universe of CliftonStrengths Reports
Jim Collison 8:49
While we're doing this LinkedIn live, we will take your questions live. You can put them in chat; we'll be monitoring for that if you got some specific questions you want to ask us. If you're listening on the CliftonStrengths Podcast, and you have questions, you can always email us: email@example.com -- not just for coaches; anyone can send us those emails. And, and we'd love to get back to you on that. Austin, let's talk a little bit: How does this fit, for individuals who maybe have just their Top 5, maybe -- or maybe they don't -- How does this fit into our infrastructure of reports that we have available to them?
Austin Suellentrop 9:23
Absolutely. Great question. So, you know, we have traditionally offered two different kinds of reports. We have had, what I would sort of say is our introduction report, which is the Top 5. The Top 5 is the most commonly used, right, we see this, it introduces you to your Top 5 themes. And it gives you two different tools. One is sort of a standard definition of these Top 5 themes. And the second report is what we call our Insight report. And it gives you personalized sort of insights around your Top 5. So this sort of gives you information about these themes relative to all of your talents, sort of how they all mix together, if you will, right. And then we have our second set of reports, which is our CliftonStrengths 34. That's our premier report. That's going to be the latest, greatest version of our, of our tools, which is bright, and it's colorful, and it gives you insight to your Top 10. It gives you insight to your Bottom 5 and sort of your domain balance, how to manage blind spots and potential around weaknesses -- the whole nine is included in there.
Austin Suellentrop 10:24
These role-based reports -- the Manager report last year, and then now this Sales report -- it's designed to be sort of, sort of in the middle of those two, in that it's more depth than the Top 5, because it's a Top 10 report. So it gives you the Top 10 themes. And there's 2 pages of content for each theme. So this report's got 20 pages of theme-specific content, OK? That's a lot of content. But it's not going to go into your full profile. It's not designed to replace the full 34 by any means; that's still the premier tool. But what this does is because it is written a, sort of through the lens of a specific role, and this is, written through the lens of a salesperson, we're able to write standard content. So everybody that has Achiever, your 2 pages of this report are going to be the same, right? If you have Significance, your 2 pages will be the same. But because it's written through the lens of your role as a salesperson, it oftentimes feels personalized, right.
Austin Suellentrop 11:20
And so what this allows us is it allows us to scale this report up and go global with it. So we've prioritized globalization of this report over the individualization. So it's launched today in English. We're already actively working on the translations to go live in 10 languages with this. And by the end of the summer, we'll have all 10 of those languages up, up and available for purchase around the world. So we're really excited that this is designed to be sort of the next step in learning. If you've, if you've only got your Top 5, great. This is gonna be a way to expose you to the tactical approach to your Top 10. If you've got your full 34, great. We're gonna focus on your, on your dominant themes here, your Top 10, and how they show up in your role. But if this is your introduction to strengths, what I love about using this kind of a tool to introduce somebody to strengths is immediately, it positions strengths as a useful tool in the workplace. It's not just a feel-good thing. It's not just a, "Oh, that was neat. I kind of, I liked that. I talked good about myself." No, it helps, it's a tool that can help you perform better. That's what it is. And we can aim that performance at whatever your desired outcomes are.
How Individuals Can Use the Sales Report
Jim Collison 12:27
So for brand-new individuals, they have never taken CliftonStrengths before, they can, they'll get their Top 5 and this Sales report with the purchase of the report, and they'll get 2 for 1 on that. Let's talk about the individual, Austin. As we think about an individual downloading this report, you've, you've been inside and out on this report. What are some recommendations you'd give an individual on how to use this report?
Austin Suellentrop 12:50
Yeah, love it! So I think the first thing, and what we've, the feedback we've gotten for people who have been using this now for a while as we've been testing it and sort of getting it out there, is strengths should always be affirming of who you are. So the first thing I would encourage anybody to do is to read through it, and find those things that really resonate with you, whether it be a Helps statement of, "Oh, this is how that theme could help me. I never thought about it that way." Or it could be a Hinders statement of, "Wow, yeah, OK. I know I need to be mindful of this." First identify what really resonates with you first, that can maybe affirm or support thinking you already had. But secondly, you're going to get 4 action items for each of the, of your Top 10 themes. So you're going to get a list of potentially 40 actions. I do not encourage you to put all 40 on a list and try to accomplish them all next week, right. But which of those actions may make the most sense for you to start trying, given what you're, what you're working on right now?
Austin Suellentrop 13:54
The last page of the report is a really helpful tool, right. We've taken one of our favorite application tools, which is a simple strengths wheel. So your last page of your report will include your Top 10 themes in color, sort of populated in a wheel form. And we'll encourage you to put a goal in the middle. What are you trying to work on? What's, what's something you're ahead of that you're working on right now? Maybe it's you've got to close this big deal that you've been working on. Maybe you're trying to refill your pipeline of prospects. Maybe you got a big, a big sales goal for the second half of the year. It's June 1, we got, we got the last 6 months of the year ahead of us. How are you going to hit that goal? Come up with that goal in first; put that in the middle of the circle. And then look at the wheel around it and think, "What strengths do I have that I can lean on to help me accomplish that goal?" And then how will you know you've been successful? And by writing those things down, it gives you a starting point for what your plan looks like.
Austin Suellentrop 14:54
And that, as you go into work, either whether it be the rest of the day today, whether it's tomorrow on a fresh, clean start (we're coming off of a holiday weekend here in the U.S.; a lot of people are sort of in that reset mode trying to get reenergized for the second half of the year), what better way to do that than with your strengths at the core, with your strengths in mind, thinking about how you're going to be the best to do that?
How Managers Can Use the Sales Report
Jim Collison 15:15
I love that. I love that if, whether we think about the finishing out the year strong or thinking about, Hey, how do I want to start the second -- the third and the fourth quarter strong? There's some real practical applications there for you. And I love your advice maybe not to try and accomplish it all in one day, as you do that; there's a lot of information for you there. As we think about sales teams or teams in general. Austin, how can this be used in a way, how could a manager use this with their teams? Like maybe say they could use Top 5 report? How would they use this, the Sales report with the team?
Austin Suellentrop 15:51
Absolutely. What this does, again, from a, from a, if I'm a sales manager, and I've got a team of salespeople, this gives me sort of a shorthand version of what to be looking for in my sales team. What, when I see my team succeed, what of those behaviors can I directly correlate to their strengths? And when I see my team struggle, what of that may be the evidence of strengths maybe getting in their way? And understanding that oftentimes, especially salespeople, they're always looking for the next trick, the next shortcut, the next way to be better. It's amazing how much time and money salespeople will invest to try and improve their performance. That's why a lot of sales organizations around the world have big sales conferences, they're willing to send their people to training, they're willing to, to invest in tools, because they know that if that investment turns out, it results in new customers, it results in performance, betterment for the organization.
Austin Suellentrop 16:29
But what we find is so often, the one thing that all those best practices and all of those tools and tricks have in common is that they are focused on emulating somebody else's success. It's a, you know, 7, 7 traits of a great salesperson, or it's the top 10 habits of a fantastic salesperson. And they're oftentimes an individual salesperson, sort of regurgitating how they did it, which is great. They're made, there are things to learn from successful people. But if we as salespeople approach it, and try to do it that exact same way, it may not be aligned with who we are. And so as a sales manager, this can help under, help you understand, Am I encouraging my people to do it the way I did it? Am I encouraging my people to do it the way others do it? Or am I encouraging my people to find their way of doing it? And how can I best support them in identifying their path to excellence? That's the big, the big opportunity here. And being able to sit down with, with a salesperson on your team and have this kind of a tool that breaks down the tactics of how strengths show up every day is a great tool to help that.
Pairing the Sales and Manager Reports to Help Sales Managers
Jim Collison 18:02
Austin, we want to take some questions from those that are listening live. So if they're out there, we'd love to, go ahead and throw those in chat, and we'll take them. I'll ask you one more question before we head out there to grab audience questions. As we think about a management team, oftentimes, we think of teams of a sales team. But, but often, you know, in a lot of organizations, we have teams of managers. How might, at the manager level, and maybe even talk about, How could you pair this with last year's Manager report -- the two together -- how could that help a management team?
Austin Suellentrop 18:36
Yeah, so very rarely nowadays do you see sales management teams, especially, that are only management teams. Oftentimes, sales management teams are really playing a dual role of leading a team of salespeople and having to sell themselves, right. And so every great sales manager I ever had was a really great salesperson as well. And that they were able to help, help me close deals, help me get through the door to a prospect or help me sort of craft a pitch that works. And so there's going to be aspects of sales managers' lives and their roles that sort of straddle the fence between the management and sort of the development of their people, the thinking of the team first, the thinking of that orientation, with their own responsibility to sell.
Austin Suellentrop 19:23
And so again, in the spirit of sort of helping translate CliftonStrengths into sort of what it looks like day in, day out, one thing that I've seen sales managers do effectively is to have both in front of them, spend some time maybe theme by theme, and identify what of the statements or the actions that they're seeing do they see showing up more often? Is it more of the management stuff, or is it more of the sales stuff? Is there maybe, are they spending more of their time leaning into the sales manifestation of certain talents versus the manager manifestation? It may help them explore where they need to be spending their time. Are they more comfortable in one versus the other? And so as, as managers, we're always sort of thinking about what's good for our team, how we develop our team. We got to the same for ourselves too. We don't stop developing once, once we hit a sales manager goal, right. So I think that's one of the ways I've seen it really sort of pan out is helping break down how much time, effort or energy am I spending in each aspect of the role?
The Sales Report and Influencing, Thinking, Executing Themes
Jim Collison 20:26
I love that. It's some great advice. And I think sometimes, and we know our managers right now are struggling in organizations. Been high turnover, been a lot of new employees coming in -- by the way, this would be, from a sales perspective, how great would this be as an onboarding tool to use with your sales staff coming in or support staff that are coming in? Andy made a good comment earlier. He said, also, we, I asked the question, "How are you influencing?" And Andy said, I also influence mindsets as well. I work as an agile coach and scrum master. Think about, Austin, for a second, think about that role. Because a lot of organizations are full of project managers, scrum managers, coaches. How might, in those teams -- those, those production teams -- how might they use a report like this to help support those team interactions or those team goals? Because they have projects, right? This is influence. Talk a little bit about that, as we kind of come close to the end here.
Austin Suellentrop 21:20
Yeah, it's, it's, a way I've seen it structured is the idea that, as a project manager or a scrum master, whatever it may be, you're delivering a product or a project to a set of stakeholders, right? And those stakeholders, if you, if you view them as your customers, have the same needs and barriers that any customer would have. So how do you get your perspective, your opinion, your expertise through to somebody who may not see the value the way you see it? That's Influencing people. And that's, and many times it depends upon, it relies upon us using things like our Thinking and Executing themes to convince people of a different way of thinking about something.
Austin Suellentrop 22:06
Those of us who like -- I've said this before on conversations -- like I'm a big ol' ball of influence, right? Like my Top 10 are full of Influencing themes. And so I have to oftentimes sort of step back out of those and lean on things like my Thinking themes to gather data to back up, because I'm, I can go into a conversation and be so passionate and so influential that I can come across almost preachy, and not have the data to back me up. And so being able to understand, where is that balance? What theme do I need to really make sure I lean on this, going into this conversation, so I can make sure that my point is not just passionate, but it's validated, and it's supported. And so being able to help influence decision-makers in those ways, if you view your decision-makers as your customers, then all of this makes a perfect, makes sort of a perfect translation.
Jim Collison 22:57
Yeah, love that. Eva asks a great question. We hear this a lot. She says, Are there specific strengths or themes that make great salespeople? Or is it a person's ability to position their strengths to close sales? And not just close; the whole sales cycle in general, because you got to have beginners and in the middle and closers as well. Can you answer that question?
Austin Suellentrop 23:20
There are absolutely not any specific set of strengths that, that lead to success in a sales role. Let me be really clear. If there was, then I guarantee you that people will be lining up to use this to hire salespeople, right. And that's not what we do. This is not a selection tool. It's absolutely about knowing how and when to use strengths, and knowing how and when to push up on certain and pull back on others. Right. So the phrase I've often used is, It's about strengths fluency, more than it is a certain set of strengths. So being able to know how to use your strengths, how to leverage them, is really what's critical.
The Sales Report and a Job Interview
Jim Collison 23:57
I'm a terrible closer. I've admitted that in my Influencing cycles before. I had, my strategy has been to lean on others to close; that just has worked well. But it is one of those areas -- I'm going to take this report, I've already taken a sneak peek at it. We've had it internally for a couple of days, and I've taken a sneak peek at it. But it's one of those areas I'm going to say, Are there things in my Top 10 that I could do differently, to be a better closer at times? So I think there's some great opportunities even for me in this. Eduardo says, Could anyone use a Sales report to sell themselves -- I love this idea -- into a new job and interview? Lots of folks, there's lots of changing going on in the marketplace. You wanna talk a little bit about that?
Austin Suellentrop 24:38
That's a great application. It's a great application of this. I've done a lot of work over the years helping people with resume, like strengths-based resume writing and sort of translating their natural talents into sort of the written word on their, on resumes. And absolutely -- if you're able to think about how your talents help you in sales, and understanding that Communication is my No. 1 theme, right? Communication gives me certain advantages as a member of a sales team. And if I can articulate that, that whatever the role is I'm applying for, that I'm interviewing for, and being able to articulate how my unique makeup makes me the perfect person for that role, that absolutely, it's going to help you in, in interviewing, because it's going to, not only are you going to be able to communicate self-awareness, you're gonna be able to communicate value and articulate benefit to the organization.
Austin Suellentrop 25:33
And so being able to think about the, the end goal you're trying to create, it's a great way to apply at the very end, right? What's my goal? My goal is to, is to get this job. Is to -- or maybe my goal is to get a second interview. Right? How do I get that second interview? Well, here's my strengths; here's how I'm going to use them; here's how I'll know I have been successful. It's why we, it's why we include that last page of whatever you're trying to aim this at, it can help you in the sales experience.
Jim Collison 25:58
I love it. I love it. I think it's a good positive note to kind of wrap this on. We'll remind individuals, if they'd like to purchase this report: gallup.com/cliftonstrengths. And, and there's lots of information that we have out there available to you. If you're, if you haven't subscribed to the CliftonStrengths Podcasts, we have a lot of great information just like this available out there. You can subscribe on your favorite podcast app; just search "CliftonStrengths," and you'll find us out there. Appreciate that. Austin, thanks for taking the time today to be a part -- congratulations! I, you've put a ton of work into this. And it's no small feat to get a new report out. So congratulations and thanks.
Austin Suellentrop 26:35
My absolute pleasure! It's exciting times, and I can't wait to hear feedback from everybody as they use it.
Jim Collison 26:39
You bet. And we want to thank you for joining us today. Again, if you have questions after the fact, send us an email: coaching -- you don't have to be a coach to use the email address -- firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can get, we can answer those questions for you. Thanks for coming out today. Enjoy the rest of your day. Have a great weekend. Goodbye, everybody.
Austin Suellentrop 26:54
Well, take care.
Jim Collison 26:55
Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of the CliftonStrengths Podcast. Make sure you like and subscribe wherever you listen, so you never miss an episode. And if you're really enjoying this podcast, please leave a review. This helps us promote strengths globally.
Austin Suellentrop's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Communication, Activator, Futuristic, Belief and Positivity.