As I travel from client to client, I'm asked one question more than any other: What kind of people make the best salespeople? While there is no one answer, there are some common characteristics I see in most successful sales professionals. A great sales pro may not possess all of them, but they all seem to have at least a couple. These are the characteristics of the most successful sales people based on my surveys and experience:
The best salespeople are those who love people, and love their product. They find a way to enjoy every client contact. Real enthusiasm can't be faked, and the top sales pros bring it to every situation.
They understand that hard work pays off, and no work pays nothing. They don't care about quota. When they're ahead of quota, they work just as hard as when they're behind. It's the best way to keep the pipeline full and the customers happy. They do the "invisible work" of networking and researching so they're always prepared to act.
They are active and attentive listeners. Success in sales comes from being client-centered. The best of the best pay close attention to their prospects and customers, and always ask probing questions to get to the heart of the matter.
Giving up isn’t an option. Sales leaders work when they're sick. They work when they're tired. They work when the outcome looks iffy. If they don't succeed, it isn't because the didn't give their best.
They think on their feet, and make their company look good while meeting the needs of the client. Companies and sales pros succeed and fail together. If a customer loves you, but hates your company, the relationship is doomed to failure. Team spirit isn't just for sports, it's for business, too!
Solving the customer’s problem while achieving the customer’s goals is the most important thing to them, and they do it every time. The only goal a client wants to achieve is their own. They don't care if you hit quota, or if your company is having a milestone anniversary. They want to meet or exceed their goals. The most successful sales pros never forget this.
They believe in long-term planning their sales, so they never waste an opportunity to leave a great impression, even when a prospect isn’t in the market today. What makes a prospect a prospect is that there is a chance they will purchase your product or one that serves the same purpose. The best pros learn the prospect's business goals, and follow up periodically to stay current and relevant. If the prospects aren't in the market today, they will be another day. Generating a positive relationship with non-buying prospects saves a ton of groundwork when they finally are in the market.
All of these skills and characteristics can be developed. If your team is lacking any of them, coach them to add to their skill set, and to your bottom line!