During many years of selling and working with plenty of other sales people, I have consistently seen common traits, behaviors, and sales techniques that the best sales executives possess and utilize. For all the top performers, the majority of these come naturally and only a few of them can be learned. To confirm my own personal observations, I asked over thirty sales leaders what they considered to be the most important attributes needed to succeed in sales. Here are the top 10:
- Passion To Be The Best – Top salespeople have the passion and drive to consistently improve their sales skills, exceed their quota, and rank at the very top amongst their peers. They are persistent in their approach, have a solid work ethic, and remain consistently focused on their goals despite rejection or other setbacks. Typically, passion cannot be taught.
- Superior Listening Skills – Many sales executives continue to lose sales large and small because they fail to actively listen to their customer. To be effective, you have to demonstrate a genuine desire by paying attention to what’s most important to your customer and their business. Remember, it’s about them and not you.
- Ability To Quickly Establish Trust And Rapport – This is one of the most important attributes of all and supports the fact that people buy from those they like and trust. Those that have a knack to quickly adapt and relate with other people have a clear advantage over those who do not. Being reliable and dependable will help establish long lasting and trusting relationships which are vital to sales success.
- Communication Skills – Effective communication is essential in sales. The best salespeople can quickly understand their customers’ challenges, and clearly and concisely articulate, in the simplest terms, how their solutions may benefit them.
- Product Knowledge – Customers will always value a salesperson that is an expert in their respective field, continuously enhances their product knowledge, but doesn’t overwhelm or over sell them. This is a valuable attribute that can be perfected over time. A knowledgeable salesperson is highly effective once they learn to use their product expertise when appropriate.
- Positive Attitude and Enthusiasm – These attributes are naturally evident and are contagious. If they exist in an individual, they’re usually hardwired within their DNA. Salespeople who have a positive attitude and are enthusiastic and also exude confidence, have a much greater chance to succeed. The opposite is also true. As Henry Ford once said; “Whether you think you can or that you can’t, you are usually right.”
- Sensitivity to Customer Needs – Another fundamental element for virtually every sales professional is to understand the needs and priorities their customer has. Successful selling isn’t about what you want, it’s about how you can best serve the needs of your customers.
- Discipline – The best sales people know that time is money and they have to follow repeatable and effective sales techniques to ensure their success. If you’re not a self-starter or are easily distracted or cannot effectively manage your time, you will struggle in sales.
- Creativity – It’s rare that the solution you sell will solve all your prospects problems and they will more often than not point out the flaws. Most complex sales campaigns require creative, flexible, and “outside the box” thinking to create a simple solution that makes sense. Successful sale executives are able to apply nonstandard and inventive solutions along with patience, and persistence to overcome the many obstacles they will likely face to take their prospect from a “no” response to a signed contract.
- Closing Skills – The ability to close the deal and ask for the order is not something that comes naturally to all salespeople. Even though this skill can be learned over time, having an assertive and outgoing personality will definitely help.
Although sales is among the most challenging and demanding careers you can choose, and becoming the best is no easy task, success can be very rewarding. Having some or all of the above attributes above should give you an idea if a career in sales is right for you. While having these qualities cannot guarantee your success, your own analysis of these traits and yourself may help you see your potential and what you may need to improve. Whether you are just beginning in sales or if you happen to be a seasoned veteran, self-examination never hurts.
What do you think? Are there other attributes you believe are essential?
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