By: Sid Ridgely, Professional Sales Trainer and Coach
|For the record, what does it really take to become a successful sales person? Why do some people make it to the top? Why is that some people who have top talent never seem to perform better than “average”?
Clearly some of the reasons may be product, price or value related – which the organization must address. During my career I have had the opportunity to manage a commission sales force of 23 people, and I have learned that successful sales people share some common characteristics.
It starts with a great attitude and a belief in themselves. Their belief extends to their products, services and their company. They have learned, first hand, that a positive attitude makes achieving success much easier and more fun. The second thing that they share is a belief that only by being Customer-centered will they maximize their earning potential. The third thing is they are constantly looking for opportunity and when they see it, they act on it.
Jeremy, a commission sales person who worked in my organization, was an under-achiever “average” performer. He was always impeccably dressed, looked great, and had the kind of professional image that was clearly in the top 10% of the sales force. Yet, despite his impressive knowledge base about our products and services, his sales performance, was lower middle of the pack.
Mike, on the other hand, selling the same lines as Jeremy was mid 40’s, didn’t look anywhere near as impressive, yet he was in the top 10% --- get this --- in all of Canada for his lines. What Mike understood, was that it is so much easier, and more profitable, to help Customers “buy” rather than “sell” them. He would listen more than he spoke. He also knew that the more you can solve problems, the easier path you will have to sales success. Prospects and Customers don't want facts, they want easy to understand answers. He understood that he must know the competition and when serving a Customer he never would put down a competitor, he would profile the benefits of his products, services and of course, with dealing with our company.
But there was more. Mike had the attitude, and he often told the Customer early on in the conversation, that he was going to do a great job for the Customer so that they would refer other business to him. Sure enough, he always did what it takes to do a great job and sure enough, he would ask for a referral --- and he got them.
In fact, he got five times more referrals that any of the “average” performers. Asking for referrals is a characteristic of successful sales people.
Jill and Shelly were also commission sales people, yet Shelly consistently outperformed her peers. Why? Well, she knew her Customers very, very well. She was diligent in keeping Customer information current. In particular, when out on a sales call, she would review the Customer’s history and if there were any pending orders she would make internal inquiries to ensure that she was aware of any issues that could affect delivery. Customers appreciated the fact that Shelly could speak intelligently about them and about their recent orders. If anything was wrong, she would take responsibility. Top performers recognize that blaming is a waste of time, and it is during these times that they are given the opportunity to shine.
|Shelly and Mike, along with the other top performers also had a quest, or thirst, for new learning. They were interested in feedback about their performance. They were constantly looking for ways to improve. Whenever there was a training program, you can be sure that these folks would show up first while others barely showed up on time. To these top performers, new information was essential to sustaining their success as a professional.
Duncan was another top performer and he was a superb example of how to network for success. He belonged to the right associations and attended events where he would see his Customers and by default, meet new prospects.
Two more characteristics that top sales people have. The first is they are consummate goal setters. The second is the have an attitude of gratitude because they know that prospects and Customers do have a choice as to who they will do business with.
The successful salesperson does not always have to be the fastest (rabbit vs. turtle); or the strongest (David vs. Goliath); or offer the lowest price (KIA vs. Mercedes). But they must be knowledgeable, responsible, self-assured, and willing to do what it takes to satisfy their Customers.
Sid Ridgley can be reached at 905-294-1260 (toll free: 888-291-7892), or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last revision on May 06, 2004