Figuratively, they move mountains and produce rain when it's sunny. Literally, they generate a yes after buyers say no. They are the professional salespeople who dramatically grow our top lines-our revenues. These are sellers who help their clients grow their businesses by providing solutions, becoming important resources and sometimes friends. The best ones represent some of the brightest, most interesting people I've ever known. Ever wonder what these great ones have that all the others don't?
Years ago, while head of sales at WCBS in New York, I was asked by CBS Corporate to speak to a group of high school seniors about potential careers in broadcasting sales. In preparation I developed a list of 14 attributes that I thought were essential to achieving sales excellence. Each trait is mutually exclusive from the others, allowing for someone to possibly score high in 13 but not in one, perhaps detracting from their shot at sales greatness. Here's my list, which I know still holds up today.
An outstanding salesperson must be.
1.) INTELLIGENT. This means blending street smarts with book smarts. The ability to read people and situations is at the core of successful salesmanship. Being somewhat of a student of the world is a big plus.
2.) COMMITTED. It's about being a dedicated, self-motivated high achiever with a strong work ethic and a keen focus on attaining success.
3.) A GOOD COMMUNICATOR. One needs to be an articulate, engaging speaker as well as an effective writer of presentations and notes.
4.) PERSUASIVE. Ultimately it's about convincing a buyer to say yes.
5.) HONEST. Nothing can happen without trust and credibility.
6.) COMPETETIVE. Competitors abound. Wanting to win is a must for a salesperson.
7.) TENACIOUS. A no is just the beginning. Sometimes it can take a dozen more interactions to get to the order.
8.) AFFABLE. People like to do business with people they like, someone they'd want to share a lunch or dinner with.
9.) WELL-ROUNDED. Having other interests, like history, fishing, fine wine, books, baseball or ballroom dancing, makes you multidimensional and interesting. Buyers also have interests that can be relationship connection points.
10.) RESILIENT. Even the best lose and feel disappointment. Bouncing back and moving on is a must, otherwise defeat breeds more defeat.
11.) WELL ORGANIZED. Time can be a salesperson's best friend or worst enemy. Prioritizing; managing calendars, databases and multiple details; making timely follow-ups and processing orders are an integral part of the drill.
12.) SELF-CONFIDENT. You must believe you can make it happen with any prospect at any level.
13.) CREATIVE. Getting around a no often takes new, innovative approaches and suggestions.
14.) CARING. Hug the client. After getting the order it's all about service.
I've been fortunate to have worked with salespeople who are all the above. And I'm pleased to say that I still do today.