While no two salespeople are exactly alike, there are certain truths that are common to the most successful salespeople.
In our culture, salespeople often get a bad rap. Negative stereotypes in movies and on television have some people believing that all salespeople are pushy, arrogant, and more than a little sleazy. When you mention sales, a lot of people picture a used-car salesman from any one of a thousand movies, shows, and commercials. Like most stereotypes, these simply don’t represent the truth about salespeople. In any profession, there will be people who don’t represent the industry very well. However, the overwhelming majority of salespeople are honest, hard-working, and truly interested in helping their customers. While no two salespeople are exactly alike, there are certain truths that are common to the most successful salespeople.
While there are some personality traits that can make it easier to learn to be a salesperson, it still has to be learned. The most successful salespeople put time and effort into learning and improving their craft. They attend conferences, talk to mentors, and take classes to help them learn to do their jobs better. When you see a salesperson who is “lucky” or who “gets all the breaks,” you can bet that they’re working hard to make their own luck, and have earned those breaks.
Many unfair depictions of salespeople feature an overly talkative salesman, and a hapless customer who can’t get a word in edgewise. If this ever happened, the customer would be back out the door as quickly as they came in. To be successful, salespeople have to listen to their customers, and understand what their particular needs are. Rattling off a well-rehearsed sales pitch won’t give customers the personal attention they’ve come to expect. If a salesperson can’t connect with prospects, they’ll never become customers.
Trying to force customers to buy something doesn’t work. The key to successful sales is making them want to make a purchase. No amount of pleading, pushing, or cajoling will convince somebody to buy something they don’t want. Successful salespeople know that pulling is the only way to make a sale. Pull the customer into a conversation. Pull them into talking about their needs. Pull them towards the products that fill those needs. Then pull them into completing the purchase. If you push, it will only push them toward a competitor.
People buy products and services that can do something for them. They are looking for a solution. Giving them a dry product description isn’t likely to help them see how product provides them with any solutions. The best salespeople are able to take what they’ve learned from the prospect, combine it with what they know about the product, and create a value statement that directly addresses the needs of the prospect. Once a prospect can see how a product can directly and personally help them, the sale is already made. Helping customers see the value of products and services is how the best salespeople earn their living.
Sleazy, dishonest salespeople don’t stay in business for very long. Word of mouth has always been a powerful tool, and it’s become even more so with the rise of social media. A salesperson who lies about products, disappears after the sale, or otherwise treats customers poorly will quickly develop a very bad, and very public, reputation. To be successful, salespeople must demonstrate integrity in all of their dealings with customers. They have to be where they said they would be, when they said they would be there. They have to follow through on their word, even when it’s inconvenient. And, most importantly, they have to maintain communications with customers, even after the sale. If the customer has a problem, and feels like the salesperson is leaving them in the dark, their next step will be to post about it on social media pages.
Claire has 4+ years of experience in sales and recruitment. As a Director of Client Services, her main objective is to connect great people to great companies by building strong relationships with both top clients and candidates in the sales industry. She specializes in sales roles of all seniority levels for both enterprise and start-up clients North American wide. When Claire isn't networking with top talent, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending time with friends & family.