On Friday, I had the honor to be interviewed by an executive regarding crucial issues related to selling and buying. It was an excellent discussion, but the questions he asked stayed in my head. He asked me, “What are the three traits that distinguish great salespeople different from other salespeople?”
I replied, “Oh, there are numerous.” ……” He interrupted me, telling me, “Dave, you only have to pick 3 of the best, and not more.”
The thought made me stop and think about it; we all create a list of the traits of great salespeople. Sometimes it’s a half dozen, usually a dozen. There are lists that continue to be endless. ….. Brian’s question was a bit difficult to answer; I was only given three characteristics. I thought, what if I could combine the various characteristics into one? Perhaps I could come up with a massive long sentence that contains all sorts of adjectives that describe successful salespeople.
After a couple of minutes of reflection, I came up with three well-worded phrases:
A goal-directed curiosity and approach to problem-solving.
An innate desire to help people reach their goals and aspirations.
The ability to accept changes and also to influence the people they work with to accept and embrace differences.
Let me explain myself.
1. The goal-oriented nature of curiosity and focus on problem-solving.
Every successful sales professional I’ve ever met is constantly fascinated. They are eager to learn all they can about their solutions and products as they can. They are willing to learn about them, to be able to explain them to their customers. They are interested in their customers, both their own businesses as well as the customers they serve as individuals. They study their companies and their customers and their markets, and their competition. Their interest is not unfocused but rather focused. The most successful salespeople know how they can assist their clients. Their curiosity is focused. It’s focused on finding the issues and opportunities their clients are facing that the salesperson is able to address. Sales professionals who are successful do not go for fishing trips on a whim, and they don’t call cold-every phone call is meticulously planned and researched, they do not waste either their customer’s or time. They don’t fall for illusions, but think on the practical aspects of the situation: Does my customer suffer from a need I can address? Do I have an opportunity that can accelerate the capability of my customer to reach their objectives? At the end of the day, it’s about the results that they can help their customers produce as well as those they create for their companies. The most successful salespeople are also interested in their work. They read constantly and attending seminars and workshops, and conversing with people they admire. They are aware of the need to remain on top in their industry, to be the best. The standard is constantly being raised.
2. A sincere desire to help people reach their goals and goals.
Top performers are focused on their own success; however, they recognize that the only reach their goals is by helping customers achieve their own, whether that’s the business’s overall objectives, their department’s goals, or even their personal goals. The best performers are thrilled to see their customers succeed in implementing the solutions that they have offered them. Sales professionals who are top performers do not “hit the road and leave” when things don’t seem to be functioning. They don’t simply ignore the customer. They go back and try everything they can to fix the issue. Sometimes, they aren’t able to correct the problem, but the customer can tell it’s not because of an inability to try. Top salespeople care!
3. A capacity to accept change and get their colleagues to accept and embrace the change.
The most successful salespeople have realized that selling is all about transitions. Customers are asked to change vendors or suppliers and to choose an alternative to the product they’ve previously used. We encourage people to alter their methods, how they operate, to look at possibilities to become more productive. We invite customers to accept an entirely new approach to their companies, to look at innovative ways to improve their business or expand. The best ones also realize that they’re asking their own companies and the employees who work for them to shift the way we treat customers and how they are valued and how we can create the most enjoyable experiences, and how to keep and expand our customer base. We are constantly developing new solutions and products that we could offer to improve our relationships and grow our business. The best salespeople recognize that some people are afraid or aren’t aware of the impact of changes. They know their responsibility is to assist people in understanding the concept and to take it seriously, and take it on in their mission as their purpose. Sales pros who excel recognize that they are change managers and must develop the same excitement and vision for change with their clients and within their own businesses as they imagine.
There are many more aspects to be successful in sales. However, I believe these three characteristics set the top salespeople in a different way from the rest. Are you in agreement? If you were given only three traits to pick from, what would you choose?