Anyone can be a salesperson—you see them every day and everywhere— but it takes desire, perseverance, and hard work to be a true professional. Many people in sales get by selling the minimum and earning the minimum, but these are not the true professionals. A select few are the top producers and top earners, and these are the true professionals.
Why are there only a few true professionals, and what does it take to be one? Why can two different salespeople sell the same products or services in the same market, but one sells five or ten times more than the other? Being a true professional and rising above the ordinary is the answer. These professionals are constantly seeking a better way to achieve their goals and honing their skills. Here are some qualities necessary to be a true sales professional:
- Desire. You have to have a burning need to succeed and be the absolute best you can be. Some people are born with this, and others acquire it. The desire to win makes everything else easier because there is no second choice.
- Ethics. Being honest and truthful in today’s world will help you build a long-term reputation. Even one dishonest or unethical act can follow you through your career. And there’s a very true old saying that says, “It takes five more lies to cover up just one lie.”
- Optimism. You have to always look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow because you know it’s there. You need to know that rejection is only part of the journey and must be endured to reach your destination. Start every day with a smile and great expectations.
- Empathy. You must understand the prospect or customer’s feelings and motives even if you don’t agree with them. You must be able to find their needs, desires, and reasons why they will buy and when.
- Preparedness. You must get to know the prospect and the company before the sales appointment. Do research at the library or on the Internet so you know their type of business and how they can use the product or service most effectively. Make your presentation fit the mold of the prospect.
- Conscientiousness. You need to have a stick-to-it attitude and not be easily distracted. You can’t be at the ballgame or playing golf when you should be making sales calls. Make a plan and keep at it until you achieve your desired results. Schedule fun and personal activities only for non-selling hours.
- Good listening skills. Listening to a prospect or customer gives you an edge in making the sale. Doesn’t interrupt, and makes notes on critical points that will be helpful later. You must have the mental fortitude to keep quiet and learn from each situation.
- Focus. Set goals and monitor your progress on the way to achieving them. Keep your mind on the end result and do what’s necessary to get there. Make necessary adjustments along the way and keep an eye on the light at the end of the tunnel.
- Energy. You must be tireless to keep going when the going gets tough. Don’t quit, because the next presentation could be the big sale you’ve been striving for. Keep yourself in good physical condition and mentally ready for the next challenge.
- Experience. This will come when you’ve been in the sales profession for long enough to fine-tune your skills. You won’t be afraid of new challenges, because you’ll be able to draw on your past successes and failures. Log each new success or failure in your memory bank for future reference.
- Tact. Don’t say things that can kill a sale, and think before you speak. Be able to change directions during a sales presentation as needed based on a customer’s responses. You also need to have the common sense to know the right thing to say or do at a given time.
- Creativity. Use new ideas to benefit the overall sales procedure and share those ideas with others. Have an open mind regarding new solutions to old problems—don’t be afraid to try them. Use your creativity and imagination to stimulate new ideas.
- Persuasiveness. You must have the ability to turn objections into benefits without the prospect feeling pressure. You should be able to convince the prospect that the sale will make his or her job or life better. Keep the sales interview going in the direction of a close at all times.
- Concern. You should have a sincere interest in providing a great service to the customer—and then follow up to make sure it’s done. Handle any problems with an order in a timely and caring manner, to the satisfaction of the customer.
- Professional attitude. Act and dress in a way that gives confidence to the prospect or customer. Practice good manners and efficiency in words, actions, and deeds.
- Interesting presentation.Keep prospects’ interest and attention by getting them involved in the sales presentation. Never sound as if you’re reading a script or using a canned approach.
- Savvy. You need to be able to sell the value rather than the price. Be clever enough to understand the customer’s objectives rather than your own. And you need to know whether you are meeting with the decision maker or just a messenger.
- Wisdom. Know that it’s time to stop talking when the sale is made. Don’t talk yourself out of a sale by bringing up previously unmentioned features when the prospect has already decided to buy. Recognize closing signals at any time during the presentation and do a sincere follow-up after the sale.
- Customer-oriented attitude. You should have the ability to know what the customer needs to know or how they feel so they can make the purchase without remorse. Use all the company’s resources to satisfy the customer.
- Enthusiasm. Be excited about what you’re selling every day, so that it’s contagious to the prospect and others in his or her company. Start every morning with a positive attitude, a plan, and a smile.
- Persistence. You must have the ability to keep going at full speed when rejections are high and sales are low. You can’t give up in the face of opposition or objections.
- Loyalty. You should be faithful and devoted to your company and all of its products and services. Be a believer that your sale will benefit the customer, and be backed by an honest and truthful guarantee. Always give 100 percent effort during working hours.
- Confidence. You must believe that you’ll be successful. Trust your abilities and your company. You should feel as if you have a chance to close every sale before you even start. You should never worry about making your quota, because it’s a shoo-in!
Do these qualities describe you or most of your sales force? Are there any reps who need some reinforcement or strengthening? Think about them one by one when you’re driving in your car, eating lunch, or conversing at a sales meeting. Knowing your strong and weak points is half the battle to being the sales professional you really want to be. When you master most of these qualities, you’ll be a winner, not a wisher.