Negative stereotypes about sales professionals exist for a reason. You know what they are — and we can all spot them from a mile away. The worst sales people are pushy, selfish, and see their customers as just another rung on their ladder to hit their goals. We associate the sales role with these stereotypes because most salespeople aren’t the best at what they do. In any given industry, the bottom performing 80% of sales professionals share a good majority of those negative stereotypes.
If you want to be in the top tier of performers in your company, your industry, and even your activities, you need to reframe your thinking to be about more than just hitting your metrics.
Here are 5 attributes and ways of thinking that we’ve observed in the best sales professionals.
1. The Best Sales Professionals are Incredibly Thoughtful and Helpful.
Before they try to sell anything, the most effective sellers start their conversations with questions. Then they continue to engage rather than sell.
They wait and listen. You can’t expect to sell someone a product or service without having some idea of their needs. That said, people don’t always know exactly what they need. Great sales people know their product or service inside and out and can search for needs with questions.
When sales professionals let the prospect do most of the talking, the prospect will feel heard and cared for. While they are opening up to the seller, the seller can pocket those very words and use them to eventually explain how the product or service will meet their prospects’ known or unknown needs.
When sellers view their prospects as real people to be understood and empathized with and they garner a thorough understanding of how their product can genuinely help their customers, the uptick in closed sales naturally follows.
2. The Best Salespeople Know How to Keep Their Cool.
As much as sales professionals would love it, it’s impossible to control what prospects will do next. The only thing that you can control is yourself. It’s bound to happen. You’re going to have a bad day. 20 hot leads will go dark. A huge roadblock will drop between your contract and your most promising prospect.
Your attitude and your efforts do not have to follow suit. How one responds when the going gets tough is a measure of the success as a sales professional. Fear of failure cannot be an excuse to not go knocking on doors and making calls. Furthermore, a Debbie-Downer is not going to effectively engage a prospect on a phone call.
Rejection is normal. In fact, if you’re not getting rejected, you’re probably not clearly asking the kind of questions that close deals. Use rejection as a learning experience to shape how you approach the next opportunity.
Always bring your A-Game, even if the day is looking gloomy. You never know how huge the next deal could be.
3. The Best Sales People Understand the Role of Motivation.
Simon Sinek gave a TED talk back in 2010 that has inspired leaders across every industry. He explained that most people understand what their companies or organizations do and how they do it, but the best leaders know why they do it.
What is the motivation behind what you do?
If you want to be the kind of sales leader who inspires real action, you need to know why you sell your product or service and how it will profit the prospect awaiting your sales pitch.
4. The Best Sales People Make Their Intentions Clear.
We know when we’re being sold. We can feel it. No one likes to be treated as a means to a commission goal. The moment customers suspect that they’re being sold, it’s more than an off-putting moment. Trust is broken.
Trust is essential in the buyer-seller relationship, and it’s incredibly fragile. Proving you’re trustworthy is not easy after the buyer senses betrayal. The buyer’s interests need to be your top priority. If closing the deal is sitting in that throne, you can count on shattering their delicate trust.
If you sell someone a product that they don’t want or they won’t benefit from, it’s bad for both of you in the long-term. The best sales professionals are clear and authentic in reinforcing at every step of the transaction that they are there to help serve the client.
5. The Best Sales Professionals Recognize Their Weaknesses and Address Them.
Growth doesn’t happen until you can see things as they are.
If your performance is not what you want it to be, some key metrics to check are your closing rate and your referral leads.
If your referral leads are low, take some time to chat with the customers who were referred to you and the folks who referred them your way. They’ll likely provide valuable insights.
If you’re bringing in lots of leads but you’re not closing them, ask for feedback. What went wrong with the deals you lost? What went right with the ones you closed?
Successful leaders self-assess regularly. Once you bring yourself to a place of recognizing your flaws, it’s easy to make steps to address them. Regularly assessing your progress will help you continually improve your performance.