The Importance of a Great Salesperson
It’s probably occurred to you that being a good salesperson isn’t an accident. True, some skills are inborn, but great salespeople focus on developing certain skills and downplay others. The result: more productivity, more closed deals, and more profits.
In the hands of a great salesperson, your business has potential to have a phenomenal 2022 and beyond. We at Renaissance Executive Forums are a global community of business leaders evolving together through collective intelligence, so we therefore present these 16 characteristics you should be looking for in both your current and future sales staff.
Make the most profitable investment you’ll encounter this month. See for yourself what makes a great salesperson.
Being a critical thinker
Truly great salespeople consistently meet their sales quotas; approach their work confidently, positively, and proactively; and understand how to use technology to be as efficient as possible.
These are critical thinkers, capable of planning ahead, turning on a dime, and thinking on their feet. They have a strong imagination, with a large capacity for anticipating questions; prioritizing schedules, tasks, and challenges; overcoming sales objections; and presenting possible solutions in real time, rather than always needing to check back with the office.
Adapting to a client’s schedule, preferences, and needs may make all the difference in how long a relationship is maintained and how deep it goes. And because they’re selling solutions, rather than products and services, super salespeople are positioned to adjust their positions quickly and effectively.
We’ve said it before; people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Approachability and a relationship of trust is built on personal connections, and those derive specifically from an understanding of a customer’s struggles and pain points. The salesperson who gets inside a client’s head can provide the proper solutions by recognizing the customer’s desires, goals, and motivations. This typically means talking in ways that demonstrate genuine understanding, but without it being scripted or full of jargon.
Being a good listener
Soft skills such as active listening are a make-or-break point for anyone wishing to be successful in sales. Good listeners are more likely to develop good customer-relationships, hearing the concerns, sensing a prospect’s tone, and reading between the lines more quickly.
The ability to pick up on your prospects’ tone relates back to the importance of quick, critical thinking. And the value of keeping track of subtext and specific details can’t be over-estimated.
Good salespeople love to schmooze. It’s not unusual to find them active in their community, joining neighborhood, fraternal, and other organizations for the networking opportunities they provide. These are the people who size up every relationship through an “Is this a business opportunity?” filter…and it invariably pays off.
Regardless of their age, really good salespeople are always hungry. Their sense of drive may come from commissions or a sense of competition among coworkers, but these people are natural self-starters and go-getters who are tenacious, always want to do more, and are intent on doing it better. They’re rarely discouraged, know that selling isn’t just about price, and can be counted on to find innovative solutions to business challenges.
SALES HACK: To improve your own results, ask any prospective reps you’re interviewing what motivates them.
Being anxious to learn
Gallup reports 92% of salespeople develop their sales skills on the job, and only 51% actually learn from manager feedback. But if you want to keep your sales force engaged, encourage them to develop their workplace skills by:
- Attending webinars and conferences
- Consuming blog posts, podcasts, and videos from sales leaders
- Closely tracking what the competition’s doing
- Taking online courses from reputable salespeople
- Reading sales/psychology books
- Working with a mentor
- Pursuing sales certifications
- Participating in performance analysis
This last item, in particular, will make it easier to understand which aspects of sales are a struggle and determining how to fix the problem.
Being in love
The most successful salespeople love their work…and it shows. In fact, those considering themselves “happy” can be up to 13% more productive. These are the people who enjoy the challenge of a cold sales call, thrive around their co-workers, and prosper in competitive environments. They believe in what they’re selling, are always motivated, actually need to sell, exude a confidence that’s infectious, have magnetic personalities, and are easy to do business with.
Such rainmakers are proud of what they do and where they work, and should be encouraged at every turn.
The best in the business know never to mess with the truth, as it’ll ruin one’s reputation literally overnight. High-quality salespeople understand that lying translates into not producing for clients, not getting order renewals, and not getting referrals for future business. And they recognize that burning bridges can cost a lot more than just one client.
A charming sales representative creates a good first impression. This is someone who speaks well, dresses well, smells good, can tell a joke or a story, and knows when to shut up. This person goes to conferences and chats up every prospect, rather than sitting dourly eating while people wander by. This is, beyond question, a person who will open the door to sales for your company.
Being able to walk away
A good salesperson recognizes that some clients need a little more time to come around, and they’re patient. However, they also understand that time is money, and top salespeople know when to walk away from an opportunity. They recognize that sales prospecting and lead qualification are both significant investments, and (if a deal doesn’t pan out) a HUGE waste of time.
This is why great salespeople know two things going into any discussion:
- Whether a prospect matches the customer profile; and
- Roughly how long to invest in a prospect, giving them 20 minutes on the phone, two weeks of emails, stopping after reaching out 10 times, etc.
Being a problem-solver
We all know the adage “If you want something done, give it to a busy person.”
A good salesperson has a tight schedule, an endless to-do list…and a bottomless supply of resourcefulness. Because this person is a self-starter, they’re more likely to work with whatever tools they have, rather than constantly asking others for help. They’ll simultaneously juggle deals and leads, work the phones and email concurrently, operate with a dynamic sales strategy, understand that every prospect’s different, and be anything but rigid in their thinking.
A study from CSO Insights observes collaboration increases sales quota attainment by up to 21%. This explains why the best of the best in sales knows how to work with marketing and other team members, and to coax the highest quality results from each of them.
Any salesperson typically juggles several deals at once, each of which needs to be qualified, nurtured, followed up, pitched, documented, etc. So is it any wonder that so many salespeople lose hours out of every day getting bogged down with these details?
The best salespeople may also get bogged down, but they know how to work through a slump, and understand the truth of the adage “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” It’s also been found that those who don’t use today’s technology efficiently have a 12% decrease in their goal achievement rates. To counter this challenge, we recommend consolidating your tech needs into one place, allowing proper management of your in-house and customer communications efficiently.
Great salespeople recognize the truth of the saying “Out of sight, out of mind.” They work HARD to remain in a client’s line of sight, sending monthly newsletters, emails with articles potentially of interest, birthday greetings, and thank you cards.
A successful salesperson recognizes from the start that not every prospect will be interested, have the time to learn more about the product or service being sold, or show up for scheduled meetings or phone calls. As my first boss taught me; if your prospect says “NO”, take a minute to compose yourself, then tackle the next one with the same gusto. And by watching carefully, a smart rep will start seeing patterns to the rejections and use those patterns to anticipate answers before the conversation even starts.
BOTTOM LINE: Every organization needs good sales people to keep growing, and hiring good salespeople must be a top priority for your business. Sales efforts needn’t be aggressive to be effective, though, and are an excellent example of working smarter, rather than harder. To build your sales pipeline effectively, plan to find sales reps with the motivation and passion to present your products or services in the best way possible so it results in a higher conversion rate.