There is not one single quality that you need to succeed in sales. Unsurprisingly, the secret to success is more complicated than that, and includes attitude, personality traits, habits and skills.
Here, we take a look at what makes top sales people successful – with ten of their secrets revealed:
- They’re “ambiverts”
According to researcher, Adam Grant, from the University of Pennsylvania, extroverts don’t make the most successful sales people. In fact, a new personality type, the “ambivert”, is the most successful.
Grant studied 300 sales people for three months and found that “ambiverts” made 24% more sales revenue than introverts and 32% more than extroverts.
So, what’s the key to their success? “Ambiverts” are more or less equal parts extrovert and introvert, allowing them to switch their approach based on the personality of the prospect. Therefore, they don’t overwhelm an introverted prospect or underwhelm extroverts.
- They ask the right questions
As in all areas of life, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. In sales, this equates to not getting the information you need to sell effectively and close the sale.
Top sales people have learned to ask tough, probing, thought-provoking questions, which make prospects think. Research a prospect thoroughly before calling and make sure you know what you need to ask to make your prospect think – as well as to ensure you get the information you need.
- They listen
Listening is an under-rated skill in most professions – but particularly in sales where many think selling is synonymous with talking.
But the key to making a sale is to listen to what a prospect is telling you and be able to address their concerns. This also means being flexible in your approach and not just delivering the same pitch to each prospect.
To sell, you need the ability to make a product or service relevant and important to that person. And you can’t do that if you don’t listen.
- They self-evaluate
This is true for every successful person – they have the ability to self-evaluate and improve. In sales, this means asking yourself the right questions. An article in Inc. has a few examples of the kind of questions you should have in mind in order to reflect and improve, such as:
- Do I tend to increase the pressure on prospects in my pipeline to buy quickly (and alienate them) as the end of the month approaches?
- What is the quality of my prospect list? (Do these people and companies align with my ideal customer profile?)
- Do I emotionally struggle with letting go of prospects whom I know won't buy, while holding out false hope that they will?
Develop questions like these to ask yourself to ensure you stay on track.
- They’re positive
Positive people make other people feel good – and as a result most people want to associate with them, they want to hear from them, and potentially do business with them.
A positive outlook helps you to sell with confidence, but also helps you to bounce back. In sales, more than any other profession, you can spend your days being ignored or interrogated, and it can take a long time for a sale to close. Without a positive mind-set, it can be hard to keep going.
- They research
The key to making a sale is in the research. Using social channels, industry publications and the prospect’s and their competitors' sites, you need to find out what your product or service will help them achieve, and what problems you can solve.
- They’re persistent
It takes a long time to get hold of a senior decision-maker – and even longer to close a sale. Without persistence, you could miss out on a lot of sales, simply by giving up.
If you want a lesson in persistence, read Robert Terson’s “The Mound Road Story”.
- They keep their commitments
Trust is a very important part of sales and successful sales people start trying to build this trust from day one. They make commitments and they always ensure they stick to them. If you fail to do this, you can lose prospects early on – because if you can’t even stick to a meeting time, how can they trust you with their business?
- They welcome complaints
Complaints are an opportunity to improve and the most successful sales people realise this. Instead of taking offense, the top sales people will see a customer complaint as a learning opportunity.
- They focus on the second sale
The very best salespeople think beyond the initial sale. They think in terms of referral business – providing the kind of service that will lead to referral business. They often ask for introductions from happy customers, so that they make fewer truly “cold” calls. This is a long-term strategy which helps top sales people stay successful.
Find out more about sales best practice by reading our whitepapers, including Phrases Proven to Kill Rapport and Engagement and The Real Cost of Poor Prospecting and the Best Practices of Winning Sales Professionals.
What do you think makes a successful sales person? Share your thoughts below.
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About Olivier Gachot
Olivier Gachot is EVP of North America Sales at NewVoiceMedia, responsible for accelerating growth through new customer acquisition and maintaining successful and trusted partnerships with existing customers. He is a proven leader in building and transforming SaaS companies at scale on a global basis. His 20+ years of experience include leading several companies from early years to successful IPO and acquisitions.