What does it take to become a successful salesperson? Is it the ability to persuade or negotiate?No—or, at least, not entirely. Sales models of the past may have relied on persuasion techniques to trick prospects into buying products they didn’t need. But today’s customers are far savvier, and there’s no shortcut to becoming a successful, trusted salesperson. Instead, salespeople who aspire to become leaders in their field should concentrate on cultivating a certain set of characteristics.
Here are seven characteristics that all world-class sales professionals need to possess in order to succeed in today’s business landscape.
A world-class sales professional knows that preparation for a potential sale begins long before the pitch. Before even getting on the phone with a prospect, they have already done the research, digging deep into the prospect’s company and industry and problems the prospect may be facing. A world-class salesperson will also research the current sales environment to learn what the competition has up its sleeve.
Savvy salespeople don’t act like typical salespeople. During a sales meeting, they’ll let the prospect do most of the talking. Rather than pushing for a sale of their product or service, they understand the greater importance of focusing on the prospect’s needs (both perceived and real). A world-class sales professional is aware of the “slimy salesman” stereotype and is careful not to come off that way. Combating that stereotype is easy when you make the sales meeting all about the prospect.
Taking the time to listen pays off for a world-class sales professional. By letting the prospect talk about the problems facing their company, the salesperson learns more about what solution the prospect thinks they need, and can identify the solution the prospect actually needs—knowing that those are not always the same thing! A truly successful salesperson is able to take on a consultative role and help prospects understand their situation and the possible solutions in order to make an informed decision. Salespeople bring value to the sales meeting through their knowledge and insight, not just the products they represent.
World-class salespeople ensure that their prospects feel that they are a priority. Customer needs are becoming increasingly complex, which means customers expect a high level of customization and sophistication. A focused, thorough salesperson consistently delivers on that expectation to create a personalized experience.
World-class sales professionals can focus on the prospect’s needs while still speaking from a place of authority and insight. Through body language, tone of voice, and warm rapport, a salesperson can embody an executive presence and demonstrate expertise. An authoritative presence should always be in addition to, not in place of, extensive research about the prospect and their goals and challenges.
World-class salespeople don’t disappear after closing a sale. They ensure their new customer receives the care and service they deserve. Sales professionals also explore ways to build a long-term partnership–one that benefits both their company as well as the customer. By designing a post-sales service plan, they seize opportunities to build rapport and create a world-class customer experience in order to continue earning their business.
True sales professionals are confident in their abilities but humble enough to know there’s always room to improve. They’re always exploring ways to maximize the effectiveness of their company’s sales approach, even if it means a sales process overhaul, and they understand the importance of providing top-notch sales training for their team.
If you don’t feel you possess all of these traits right now, that’s okay. Highly-successful sales professionals aren’t created overnight. The difference is that they continually work to hone their skills, and they invest in training that helps them sell more effectively and authentically.