Right now is the perfect time to be working in sales. There are challenges (thanks to the past two years) and there are advantages that new technologies bring with them that can put you ahead of your competition. But supporting any advantages are the core skills that a sales professional should always keep a check on.
Whether you're a senior enterprise sales leader or just starting out on your career the core skills are important to staying fresh and delivering successful sales figures month after month.
Becoming the best at our chosen profession requires a mixture of natural aptitude, trained ability and a willingness to adapt and keep learning as your profession changes over the years.
With a proliferation of online courses to pick from, such as LinkedIn Learning or Udemy, some of the basics still have the ability to make you a success. Whilst there’s no salesperson in the world that has an abundance of every trait listed below, the most successful sellers have a great mixture of all 10.
1. Staying positive
Virgil, the Roman poet, wisely said, “They succeed because they believe they can”. While he probably wasn’t talking about salespeople, his point is definitely as true for sales professionals as it is for anyone else.
The most important trait of any successful salesperson is a positive, can-do attitude. It breeds confidence throughout the customer base and will keep a salesperson going through good times and bad. If you don’t believe you can sell, you probably won’t.
2. Being honest
Leading on from my first point, it’s also important that you make sure you aren't being so positive that you pull the wool over your own eyes, let alone a potential customer. Don't start chasing deals that aren’t there to be chased. Be persistent, but also be honest enough with yourself to realize when an opportunity isn’t the real deal and that you’re wasting your time.
3. Remaining modest
If you're boasting and bragging every time a good sale comes through the door you may be setting yourself up for a bigger fall later down the road. The best salespeople know that boasting and bragging breeds overconfidence. And overconfidence in a salesperson, can poison your attitude and alienate future customers. Enjoy your successes, but focus on your pipeline and not on your past.
4. Honing those social skills
It’s always been important for salespeople to have great social skills. From the market stall to knocking on doors, great social skills and being likeable have been the cornerstone of any good salesperson's ability to earn a living.
Social skills are equally important online though. By making use of the wide array of technology and social platforms available to you, you can make sure that you remain at the forefront of your prospects’ and customers’ minds by being ever-present in their social feeds. To learn how to use LinkedIn to sell more, click here.
5. Being meticulous
To be meticulous is important for any sales professional worth their salt. If you’re missing the detail and letting quality slip in your work, you’ll miss great sales opportunities, lose key accounts and get the facts wrong when it matters most.
Keeping attention to detail, you’ll know more about your customers than they know about themselves, which will, in turn, give you endless insight into how your market works. This will help you to sell more effectively and make more money.
6. Always being transparent
There are many annoying types of people (those who eat with their mouths open, speak loudly on their phones in public places to name just a few), but no one is as annoying as the salesperson that agrees on a price with you, only to send a bill with hidden costs.
Don’t be that person. Be transparent about your costing and, if the prospect thinks it’s too high, explain that someone can always do it cheaper, but that nobody can do it better because of your unique benefits.
7. Driving sales with passion
Just like confidence, passion is infectious. If you’re driving your sales forward with passion about your product or service and the benefits it offers, there’s every chance that your prospect will share your enthusiasm. And an enthusiastic prospect is someone who’s easier to get hold of, easier to talk to and, above all else, easier to close the deal with.
8. Taking responsibility
All too often, salespeople can be heard making excuses about why a deal couldn’t be pushed over the line. You can’t win them all, but too many excuses will get in the way of you and your learning curve.
If you're always looking back and thinking that you could’ve done more or done something better, then ask yourself what you would do differently if you could go back in time, you’ll learn and improve far quicker than if you keep telling yourself that it was someone else’s fault.
That’s not to say that you should dwell on missed chances and beat yourself up. Just always ask what could’ve gone better. After all, there’s no point in making a mistake if you’re not going to learn from it.
9. Staying loyal
The best salespeople reward faithful customers by being loyal to them. You can achieve this by simply making regular calls to see if everything is going well with the products/services, or to see if anything new is in the pipeline. Or just to generally see how the business is getting on. Ongoing, regular conversation, like in our non-work lives, helps to build and maintain rapport.
Without this rapport, what’s stopping your customer from feeling bad about leaving for a competitor? Even a call to help them save money and have them spend a little less with you from time to time will boost their loyalty and have them feeling like they wouldn’t get better service anywhere else. If you’re loyal to your customers, they’ll be loyal to you.
10. Fine-tuning your persuasion skills
I don’t believe that good salespeople trick prospects into buying products they don’t need; in the long run, that’s a terrible tactic that reaps hardly any repeat business and very little reward.
A good salesperson can, however, make someone aware of a problem that they didn’t know they had and sell them a solution to the problem. Sometimes, people can be apathetic or just unaware of what’s good for them, and that’s where the ability to persuade comes in.