There is a significant gap between a good salesperson and a great salesperson. We now know a great deal about what lands a person on either side of that gap. I have listened to thought leaders and read their work on the topic, and spent several years hiring, working with and observing A-grade salespeople.
Here is what I have learnt about the secrets of those who are great.
Everyone is talking about the fact that it’s becoming more difficult to sell, but it’s also becoming more difficult for the customer to buy. The masses of data available on any product or service is staggering. Buyers are more informed than ever before and, as a result, expect more from the salesperson. Increased information can make the purchasing decision process confusing and sometimes overwhelming for the buyer.
Truly successful salespeople speak the customer’s language, communicating the solution they propose in terms that are meaningful to the customer. They distil the buying process into simple steps and, in doing so, remove a lot of the pain of it for the customer and ultimately themselves.
I look for hunger when I’m hiring because I know it will take that individual to the next level. A hungry salesperson does that little bit more in everything they do, from meeting preparation, to self development, to asking the extra questions around the purchasing process. They have a sense of urgency that means the status quo is not good enough. They are responsive and want to do better than average. While some reps are happy that they are meeting expectations, those with a hunger will never be satisfied unless they exceed internal and customer expectations.
This one is more difficult to define, but great salespeople are naturally curious about the customer they are selling to and the trends that might be driving action. That curiosity means they do their homework and come to meetings well prepared. During the meetings, they ask interesting and pertinent questions. As a result the customer gets more value out of the interactions with the salesperson and will trust the salesperson understands their needs.
Good preparation and making the most of the things that are under your control are powerful influencers of success. But what happens when the things you have no control over turn against you – when the business pulls budget or has a downgrade and is forced to park a project?
For successful salespeople, such challenges are expected and are simply a necessary part of the journey to a sale. They are resilient. They never give up (although it’s important that they also know when to qualify out) and they are innovative in facing challenges. It's during those challenging times when the good reps dig deep and push on. Resilient salespeople always find a way to get to their number. One deal might not go to plan, but they have three others lined up that will.
Whether it is around their negotiating skills, their discovery technique or their presentation skills to various types of audiences, great salespeople know there is always room for improvement. If you are not developing yourself then, at some point, others will overtake you. It’s like going to the gym – there are so many different muscle reflexes required in sales and you have to consistently develop all of them.
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