First, I feel I need to define what I mean by the successful/professional salesman. A successful/professional salesman earns a handsome income, and additionally does business in a way that enables him to create and maintain along term relationship with his clients. Since he solves his clients’ problems, he and his clients often share a reciprocal loyalty.
The Qualifications of the Successful/Professional Salesman
The successful/professional salesman is able to excel in any kind of sales that he selects. While he understands and considers his customer’s needs, he is also very strong in his ability and dedication to close sales. He has a number of ingredients that enable him to sell with excellence, regardless of whether he is servicing existing accounts, or whether his work requires him to deal continually with new customers. To the extent that a salesman has the following qualifications, he will be consistently exceptional in his work.
1. High Ego Drive He has a deep inner need to dominate and take charge. While it is not always for a positive reason, the results are favorable. This is a trait all successful salesmen have. It is an inner emotional chemistry and while it is never developed in many cases, it cannot be acquired. I believe that the potential to be a successful/professional salesman is an emotional chemistry that cannot be acquired by a person that does not have it. However, many people in sales who have this trait never learn to develop it. I am convinced that there is no way to be a successful/ professional salesman without this ingredient.
2. High Empathy A salesman has a large degree of empathy and uses it to sense the needs and feelings of his customers. Because of this, he is able to understand their priorities, and will sell them the product they need, or at least he will show them how his product will meet many of their needs.
Empathy is skill that can be learned, regardless of age or prior experience, by any person willing to devote reasonable time and effort. Many salesmen experience sympathy when empathizing with a client. This often obstructs their ability to sell. While empathy is not related to sympathy, it often occurs simultaneously. The successful/professional salesman uses his high ego drive and high empathy in tandem and this is why he consistently excels.
3. He Doesn’t Crave to be Liked He is able to handle criticism whether it is warranted or not. He also easily distinguishes between refusal and rejection and while he may face “no” many times, he understands clearly that it is not a personal rejection. He recognizes that he is trying to service his customer’s needs, thus he earns the right to ask the client to buy. He realizes that just as he has the right to ask the client to buy, the client has the right to refuse to accept his ideas. In no way does he feel rejected. Many otherwise excellent salesmen fall short in this area, not recognizing that a turn down from a customer is not a personal rejection.
Lack of this understanding is tied for first place with one other factor as a reason why salesmen fail. In my career in training and developing salesmen, I have seen extraordinary changes in salesmen’s performances when they logically and emotionally understand this point. The urge to be liked is one of the strongest human urges. A successful/professional salesman may want to be liked; however he has enough self-esteem not to crave it.
4. Clearly Defined Goals and Purposes He has outlined clearly what his goals and priorities are. This greatly heightens his ability to sell.
No matter how competent a salesman is, he can increase his sense of urgency and increase his earnings by clearly defining his goals and purposes.
5. His Goals and Purposes He will not accept other people’s goals, but will establish his own. A sales manager can play an important role in the quota a salesman will establish, if the salesman respects the manager. The salesman will make the final decision himself. He will never set goals he wants to achieve unless he expects to reach them.
6. Risk Taker The salesman is a risk taker because he has sufficient self-esteem to take risks. A word in his vocabulary might be “Trisk”, a combination of trust in self and ability to take risks.
7. Demands Feedback He demands feedback because he refuses to live in a vacuum and will find out how he is doing at all times. He will do this in a sales situation by questioning the prospect. He will do it with his sales manager by discussing quota, performances, etc. He will do it with the people with whom he is involved on a daily basis by questions or by positioning himself to discover how he stands. He must know at all times whether he is winning or losing.
8. Self Management Skills The successful/professional salesman recognizes the importance of self management skills and devotes a lot of time and energy to the careful understanding and implementing of excellent ideas in the field of self management. Unlike the average salesman, he does not see long term planning as, “what am I going to do after lunch”. He recognizes the intimate and irrevocable relationship between time management, energy utilization, awareness, and decision making and constantly strives to improve his ability in all of these areas. Lack of self management ability is tied for first place with refusal/rejection as a reason why salesmen fail.
9) Calmness The successful/professional salesman operates from a pedestal of calmness. The demands on salesmen now are so acute that a salesman will be unable to excel on a long-term basis until he develops the ability to remain calm in the face of ever increasing change and stress.
10. Genuine Sense of Humor The successful professional salesman is able to see the ludicrousness of what happens to him in his daily life and can laugh at himself and the predicaments he creates or finds himself in. People who take them- selves too seriously consume enormous amounts of energy defending themselves to themselves and consequently are immobile to respond and grow. The ability to laugh at yourself is one of the greatest human strengths.
In essence, the salesman is devoted to understanding and perfecting the art and profession of selling on a continuous basis.
With the exception of ego drive, any of the other items discussed here in varying degrees, can be learned and employed by anyone in selling who would like to increase his sales competence.
Selling is not an esoteric subject as believed by many people, but rather is definable and explorable. There are three separate elements in selling that can be looked at totally independent of each other.
The successful/professional salesman, to a great extent, while maybe not even consciously aware of it, understands these various areas and can evaluate his performance in each one. I believe every salesman can improve his performance by understanding them.
The various areas are:
1. Product Knowledge while most salesmen understand their product, they understand it only from their own viewpoint and the viewpoint of their company. The successful/professional salesman also understands his company’s product from the prospects viewpoint and is able to deal very effectively with the problems that his prospect faces.
There are two areas under sales effectiveness,
a. Sales management skills. I discussed this earlier.
b. Persuasive skills. To buy. The knowledge of how to influence customers to buy.
Such things as:
I. The proper art of questioning.
2. Helping a prospect to discover his feelings about various subjects.
3. Persuading in a subtle way through suggestive selling which is more powerful than any other sales technique a salesman can use.
4. How to present the features of what it is he sells in terms that spell out the benefits to the prospect. While he talks in words, the salesman realizes that people think in pictures, and he continually hones his persuasive skills to effectively communicate with and persuade his prospect.
3. The Growth of a Salesman I believe this is the most vital and least understood area of the three elements in selling. It deals with the internal chemistry of the sales- man. Why should he want to get out of bed in the morning to acquire more product knowledge and sales effectiveness and strive for excellence to out-do his prior performances? A salesman’s performance will be vastly improved when he learns how to employ sound, proven ideas in relation to his personal and professional growth. To the extent that a salesman does not understand each of these areas, will he fail to meet the potential that he otherwise would achieve. There are no exceptions to this rule.