Attributes of a Star Sales Person
There are many factors contributing to making a star salesman
For certain it is not the “gift of the gab”. Typical examples of poor sales people are the “order taker” or the “hard sell operator”
The best sales people understand and base their actions on the value proposition, put simply the “what’s in it for me?” from the customer perspective. It has been said that if the salesman is not solving some problem or issue for the customer they have nothing to talk about.
Of course we all know salesman who don’t fit these descriptions. The point is if the salesman isn’t differentiating their product it becomes a commodity and the price will be driven down; in this day and age that may well mean being sourced overseas.
Key ingredients for a good salesman are:
Market / industry knowledge
Business / Commercial Knowledge
Attitude ( a deep down unshakeable conviction you will win)
So where do these skills fit in?
Well there is a big difference between selling a lot and profitably growing business. Here it is essential that the salesman understands where his profit comes from; for each product he should have an understanding of the costs, a reasonable price and indeed which products are more or less profitable. Time and again we have seen salesmen who focused on selling a product that was easy to sell even though profits were minimal; volume and turnover in preference to profit – not a long term option.
In order to differentiate or highlight the “what’s in it for me?” to the customer the best salespeople understand their customers market and the issues and forces driving them. When combined with their own product information this customer insight allows them to select or adapt a product or devise a solution which genuinely brings value to the customer – something which is not a commodity and therefore worth paying for.
Further, knowledge of the customer leads good salespeople to identify all of the decision makers. Very often sales people have only one point of contact and fail to realise how many people influence the decision; they may convince the buyer but are rejected because of an objection from production or marketing, an objection they never get the chance to address or counter because they are unaware of it. The best sales people get an understanding of the issues and objections from all of the stakeholders so that their proposal addresses all of them.
This is where listening skills come in. Sales people are often branded as having the “gift of the gab”. There is no doubt that they need to be articulate but equally they clearly need to question and listen to all of the decision makers so they understand their requirements and any likely objections. Objections must be addressed – there is a saying that “no because…” is really “yes if….”; i.e if you satisfy all of the customer’s objections they have no reason not to buy from you. If they don’t you haven’t addressed all of their objections.
Of course attitude is important; faced with objections many sales people like most other people can tend to accept them and back off. The star sales people have the conviction that they can provide an answer and will treat every objection as an opportunity to provide a solution; to sell in fact.
Don’t judge the book by the cover. Outstanding salesmen come in all shapes and sizes; some are stereotypical, loud extroverts who can be little short of flash, others are quiet calm professionals who quietly get on with the job. What they share in their success is thorough professionalism; the will to learn the product the market, the customers, the intelligence to provide a solution and the conviction to never give in.
To boil it down the star sales people have the answer when the customer, in all their guises, says “What’s in it for me?”, because ultimately that’s all that matters.