Selling Intelligence™ Scores at Work: A Case Study

Really, there’s only one thing you must know about your reps – it’s their level of Selling Intelligence™ score. Think “Emotional Intelligence” for selling. This personal story will give you a glimpse into what I’m talking about.

I walked into a Crate and Barrel store in Manhattan yesterday.  Every salesperson I encountered was polite, offered a smile, and even fun in one case. Great!  These salespeople are well trained, I thought. Well, not so fast. A lovely young woman approached me and asked if she could help. 



Initially I said “no” because in my quest to find a replacement Reidell wine glass, I hadn’t found anything in the store that matched.  It was a longshot anyway since I bought mine from William Sonoma. But then I thought, maybe she’ll shed some light on product in an area of the store I was not aware of. So I explained what I needed – a large red wine glass.  She took me to a couple places.  I mentioned I was looking for a Reidell brand.  And she said “oh, we don’t carry Reidell.” I thanked her and walked towards the door – wondering whether she would engage me in sales dialogue.  

She did not have a line of people in front of her waiting to spend money. I was ready to spend some shekels.  

But she never engaged me. She could have asked me so many questions…

Had she asked why I was looking for a specific brand, I would have explained that I once had 8 (then 7, 6,) of these wine glasses, and now as the result of attrition, I only have five and was looking for 3 replacements.  She could have asked me when I bought these glasses – and would have learned that was two years ago. 

She then could have told me the truth – and gently brought me out of denial.  Those exact wine glasses are likely not going to be found anywhere. She then could have suggested  I would have told her that I had tried them and had no luck.  And then she could have come in for the kill! All she had to say is “Five is an ODD number of glasses – right?”  Right! I would have been ready to buy at $30/glass.  But instead, I walked out the door.

This happens every day in the world of sales. Why? Low level Selling Intelligence™ scores. 

What is a Selling Intelligence™ score? It is made up of three distinct areas:

  • Cognitive Skills
  • Selling Behavior
  • Sales Skills

She seemed smart and had a reasonable level of problem solving ability. So her Cognitive Skills were not suspect.  Her product knowledge was good. Her knowledge of the store, its layout and offerings was good. I zeroed in on her Selling Behavior. I’m not sure which attribute(s) was the culprit, but let’s discuss.

Was she lazy?  That would be Work Ethic in Selling Behavior speak.  She was willing to take me to a couple locations in the store – so, I’d say no.  She seemed confident enough to approach me – so I’d take Confidence off the table.

I would look at a few other Sales Behavior attributes though: 

  • Assertiveness – Willingness to speak up
  • Achievement Drive – Her goal orientation
  • Initiative – Care enough to take on the problem

And honestly, it would take far more analysis for me to know any more about her. 

Your prospects and customers, while not conducting the analysis we did above, are asking themselves the same questions in many cases.  And the stakes are high for all partied.  And while it may not be the three attributes identified above, it may be one or more of several others we did not discuss. 

Assessments are generally used in pre-hire situations.  I encourage you to buck the trend.  Take inventory of your salespeople and get begin tuning your team to deliver better-than-expected results.  It’s not a cakewalk, but it’s not that difficult.  Invest the time and money.  The ROI is enormous.