On June 2, 2016, the TTI Success Insights family (my behavioral assessment company) lost their leader and founder, Bill Bonnstetter.
I didn’t know Bill well at all. In fact I only met him one time. That was at the annual value added associate conference in Scottsdale many years ago.
What struck me about Bill was his enthusiasm for the work he was doing. He dedicated the majority of his life to studying human behavior and developing assessment tools for professionals like me.
Bill, thank you for sharing your brilliance with the world.
The Secrets To Successful Selling Overseas by Bill Bonnstetter
Research Reveals Changes In Secrets To Successful Selling In Germany
What does it take to be a successful salesperson in Germany today?
This was a question brought to me first in 2009 and then in 2014 by our Master Distributor in Germany, Frank Sheelen.
Since we have partnerships with Master Distributors in 90 countries who are capable in conducting collaborative research, this sort of question does not have to go unanswered.
My curiosity was piqued. I wondered if the research we’ve conducted on the behaviors and motivators of U.S. salespeople would be the same as those in Germany. And I wondered what has changed in sales styles since 2009.
We began researching this question in 2014 and collected 158 responses from highly performing salespeople in Germany. Research was completed earlier this year.
Today, we’re intrigued by our findings and are happy to share them.
First, our research confirms top sales performers are distinctive and have unique behaviors, motivators and skill sets. Secondly, we observed some significant shifts in approach since 2009.
Today, being successful in a sales role in Germany requires strong relationships as opposed to our 2009 findings, which revealed more of a focus on addressing the high utilitarian perspective, including clearly responding to the driving question, “What’s in this for me?”
While prior research uncovered the high utilitarian bend of German buyers, thus revealing the need for a focus on that in sales, this latest research shows an increased emphasis on relationship building.
Today, German salespeople are conductors, persuaders and relaters. Whereas in 2009, the most successful salespeople were promoters, relaters and supporters.
Third, while most successful German salespeople are still motivated by a utilitarian drive (56 percent had utilitarian as their top motivator), there has been a marked increase in the number of salespeople with a social motivator from 1 percent in 2009 to 12 percent in 2015.
Those who have a social motivator enjoy the rewards of doing things that serve other people and the common good.
This study illustrates a shift from a persuasive and promotion approach, where salespeople would be more persistent and push for sales, to more collaborative, facilitative and relationship-based sales focused on providing win-wins for clients.
These findings are similar to those of successful U.S. salespeople, affirming this is a sales trend that’s not going away anytime soon.
Yet, there are still important differences between the U.S. and Germany.
Even more so than in the U.S., German salespeople need to know their product extremely well. Therefore, in Germany building product expertise is critical to training and on-boarding for organizations and for anyone who is selling.
As an organization, we are committed to ongoing research on what it takes to be a superior performer in any job and love the opportunity to let the data about job-related success speak to us.
Bill J Bonnstetter
Chairman and Founder
Bill J. Bonnstetter was chairman of TTI Success Insights and founder and chairman of Target Training International. He was considered one of the pioneers in the assessment industry because of his significant contributions to the research and study of human behavior.