How often do we hear people say that someone has the “gift of the gab” or they could sell “apples to an orchard”? When it comes to describing stereotypical salesperson, do we imagine them to be an outgoing individual who talks a lot, oozes charm and wit?
Many of us will agree with this image. Yet, one might ask - what is it that makes good salespeople so great?
Having worked with sales people for many years, I have observed numerous qualities which I believe are important to succeed. Lots of people share different views, yet there are similarities too. So, this got me thinking about what I believe are the 9 most important traits a good salesperson should have.
- Positive & enthusiastic attitude – We’ve all heard the expression “a smile is contagious”. People are instantly attracted to people who are upbeat and positive in their attitude. No one wants to meet or talk to someone who is negative or gloomy.
- Great interpersonal skills – Great salespeople are skilful communicators who can think on their feet. They have the ability to read and tune in to the other person, recognising the nuances and picking up on the cues. They stand tall and create a presence when they walk into a room. They can effortlessly engage with customers and lead a conversation without being overbearing.
- Being a good listener with oodles of empathy – Lot of people agree that one of the main ingredients of a good salesperson is the ability to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and really listen. Customer’s don’t want to be talked at – they need to be understood. We need to listen to their fears, concerns, preferences and opinions.
- Hunger for knowledge & interest in others – A salesperson with a curious mind will naturally take interest in other people and ask questions. As a result, they quickly get to know the customer and learn what’s important to them. Not only do they make the customer feel special, but by discovering what they really need, they can help make relevant recommendations.
- Long term view & relationship focused - There is an age old saying “people buy from people”. A good salesperson understands the long-term view is far more important than the quick sale. Sometimes the customer may not want to buy “right now”, so we need to be patient. Other times, it may be a wrong fit so it is important to be honest, make other suggestions or perhaps walk away. Customers love this authenticity, it builds trust, they tell their friends and come back again.
- Motivated and self-disciplined – I once heard a saying that said “1/3 of sales you will get, 1/3 of sales you will never get and the last 1/3 is up for grabs if you go out and look for them”. Waiting for the phone to ring will not get customers. A good salesperson has the discipline to get up every day and consistently go out knocking on doors. They have goals, they make a plan and are focused on achieving them.
- Resilience & optimism – Sales is hugely influenced by numbers. A good salesperson knows they will encounter plenty of rejection – often hearing “No” before they get a “Yes”. As a result, they need to develop a thick skin, remember it’s not personal, stay hopeful and bounce back every time.
- Persistence – A good salespeople is tenacious and patient. They don’t hound customers, yet they consistently follow up with people when others give up. Customers don’t always want to buy right now. By being persistent without being a pest, the customer gets to know them and trust them, thereby increasing their chance of getting the sale.
- Open-minded – The final quality of a good salesperson is to be open-minded when dealing with different types of people. Having the ability to qualify and disqualify leads, look at problems and find solutions, whilst seeing mistakes as opportunities is crucial. By having an open-mind and lots of flexibility, a good sales person also has a willingness to consistently grow and learn in order to improve.