Extraordinary salespeople accept nothing less than being at the top of their game. They know they are the very engine of today’s economy. Sales is not an easy job. It is largely based in potential and there are no guaranteed deals. The work isn’t always enjoyable. However, top performing salespeople thrive without guarantees. To them each potential deal is a worthy challenge. To follow are some unique traits which set top performers apart from others.
1. Product knowledge
An exceptional salesperson always starts with knowledge. They are knowledgeable, down to every detail, on the products they sell. They are experts on product uses, mechanics, systems, and operations. Because of their knowledge, elite salespeople don’t have to sell themselves, they simply have to present the information the customer needs to understand. Personality is an important factor in sales, but it pales in comparison to what knowledge and being able to answer customer questions brings to the table. Consumers aren’t looking for a new friend, they are looking to upgrade and enhance the efficiency of their business.
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When a salesperson believes in what they are selling, it is more exciting for them to sell. It gives them opportunities to show off a product they are proud to be involved with. A sales rep can even veer on the more introverted side of a personality, but if they are passionate about what they are selling, and how it can greatly improve the productivity of a business, not only financially, but also in the reduction of stress and effort for their customers, the easier it is to sell the product they represent.
The more organized a salesperson is with customer information, the more notes they take on what products or systems have been sold/installed, where the problems have been, and what issues are still open or have been escalated, the better able they are to keep their customers happy long-term. When a salesperson has the detail the customer needs, even the detail the customer should have organized themselves, the more trust is developed between the customer and the salesperson.
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Great salespeople not only nurture the customer accounts they’ve inherited, but they seek and hunger to develop new connections and to find new ways to explore avenues of business with existing customers. They are willing to cold-call. They persist until they get themselves in front of key people to land new accounts. Their hunger doesn’t diminish in the face of rejection; instead, it challenges them to find new ways to get to the same end. Top performers thrive on the idea of potential, rather than on the rigid idea of achievement or not.
People skills are a must to stay at the top of the game is sales. This doesn’t mean all salespeople need to be superficial charmers, but they cannot be so introverted that customers misread their demeanor as rude or otherwise aloof.
Great salespeople study potential customers and what specific needs their product would meet for them. These observations help them to know when to talk, and when to listen. It helps them to know how much to share to establish trust and security between themselves and the potential customer, and also know when to be less revealing as a strategy to get the customer in the position of the seeker.
Exceptional salespeople close deals in such a manner that the customer believes as if the close of the deal was their own choice.
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6. Hard working
Extraordinary salespeople understand the sale doesn’t stop at the close of the deal. The sale continues as long as the customer is using their services. Great salespeople understand there will be complications, and that it is up to them, as the customer’s point-of contact, to get customer issues resolved in as quickly and efficiently a fashion as possible. Top salespeople are well-networked within their own company. They are supported by their inside-sales teams, engineers, and those in upper management. When they encounter customer problems they cannot resolve on their own, they have a team of support to help them work the issues to solution.
Extraordinary salespeople recognize the need for support and guidance; however, they do not need appreciate feeling babysat. They are self-motivated and take responsibility for their territory. This sense of responsibility makes it easier for managers and upper executives to trust them when making decisions. Needy salespeople consume so much energy from their managers, that they end up wasting valuable time that could have been better spent out in the field taking risks and learning from their mistakes. Exceptional salespeople are competitive by their nature. They strive to be the top grossing salesperson on their team. The rewards to this are plentiful when it comes to bonuses, commissions and free vacations.
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8. Time awareness
Great salespeople view time as their most important reputation-building commodity. Managing time well is demonstrative of their leadership style, sense of responsibility, trustworthiness, dependability, scheduling, and of their ability to follow through. Exceptional salespeople make sure to be on time for customer meetings, for in-house forecasting calls with their team, and when scheduling appointments with customers from different time zones. Great salespeople know if they’re not on time, they are not the only person who is frowned upon, as the salesperson is representative of the value, standards and worth of the company as a whole. One irresponsible or disrespectful salesperson can destroy the reputation of the entire company in the eyes of a disgruntled customer.
9. Social awareness
Exceptional salespeople know the importance of being socially aware when it comes to office politics. They know how to play the game, but do so with high levels of self-possession and integrity. They do not engage deeply in gossip. They are cognizant of who they are, and what information they share when attending company-wide events. They control the expression of their opinions and their overall levels of maturity in business environments where alcohol is involved. Extraordinary salespeople understand that respect from their peers runs deeper than being the “fun party person.” They make it a point to be a team-player, and yet are mindful not to blend work relationships to friendships that could potentially lead them to lose their sense of authority or status with that particular individual.
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10. Work-life balance
Because sales can be an all-consuming 24-hour-a- day career, the best salespeople make sure to live with a healthy work-life balance. They are able to distinguish needy customers from those who are truly in need of troubleshooting, and are more than willing to work on issues in need of urgent care on their down time. They make sure to get away for long weekends, to take the necessary time to enjoy their families and to shut down their electronics in an effort to recharge. Without down time, it is too easy to burnout and lose motivation. Exceptional salespeople do not put themselves in this position. They put their well-being above all else because it is their well-being that keeps them at the top of their game.
Sherrie Campbell is a psychologist in Yorba Linda, Calif., with two decades of clinical training and experience in providing counseling and psychotherapy services. She is the author of Loving Yourself: The Mastery of Being Your Ow...