John Graham, president of Graham Communications, talks about what makes an effective salesperson in his article, The Seven Strategies of the Highly Effective Salesperson. Building on the premise of books like The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Graham lists what separates the most effective salespeople from everyone else.
Knowing that solutions rest with the customer, not the salesperson. The customer knows the issues and understands the problem. What the customer needs is a way to find the solution and put it to work. Salespeople who think of themselves as the only “solution expert” in the room usually don’t make it to the next level. Top salespeople make certain the solution meets the customer’s requirements. They understand that convincing a prospect to buy comes down to a strong understanding of buyer needs. Then they accept complete responsibility for everything that happens with their customer.
A commitment to improving presentations. Highly effective salespeople hone their presentation skills continually. They make presentations look effortless because they take nothing for granted. Industry hot buttons are constantly changing and effective salespeople keep up with the trends. They make it a priority to stay up to date on buying patterns, up-and-coming trends and innovations in the industry. They focus on what motivates the prospect’s buying decision instead of what they want to accomplish.
Embracing new ideas. Top salespeople see change as an opportunity. They know that customers don’t have the time to educate themselves about all the products and services being presented to them. They develop reputations as people who can be counted on for new, innovative ideas.
When they make a mistake, they admit it. They don’t try to cover it up with excuses. And once they’ve admitted the mistake, they start working on how to solve the problem.
Asking questions that help prospects uncover their real objections without pressuring. Asking questions also shifts the focus away from the salesperson to the prospect, where it belongs.
Approaching prospects/customers with the attitude of a consultant, not a vendor. Top salespeople recognize they must be experts and authorities in their fields. They invest time to learn their products and services inside and out. They spend hours familiarizing themselves with every single detail of what they sell — and what their competitors sell.
Setting clear goals and plans to attain them. Highly effective salespeople are both concerned about the customer and concerned about the sale, and manage to keep the two in balance.