What are the qualities of a good salesperson? Well, that depends on various factors, such as the product or service type, the organization, the goals, context, stakes, team, manager…
Long story short, just like there is the right employee for the right position, there is a right sales representative for a given organization, in the context of a specific team. The notion of being a “good” sales representative wholly depends on context.
That being said, there are still qualities that are frequently sought for a good sales representative, such as ambition, perseverance, the will to succeed, adaptability, and so on.
Therefore, here are 5 unexpected qualities sales representatives should have and some strategies for future development in order to become the best salesperson you can be!
Empathy is the ability to feel the emotions that the person in front of you is experiencing. In the context of a sales representative, it is the ability to walk a mile in the client’s shoes – not only does that give insight on the best strategies to adopt, it also happens to boost adaptability and intuition. A sales representative who is deaf to the client’s reactions and emotions is unable to adjust his actions and therefore is bound to lose opportunities.
How is it possible to develop empathy, you ask?
For many people, the term “salesperson” carries a negative connotation. However, in reality, we are all salespeople! Who has never had to sell a project? To convince their colleagues to participate in an activity? To sell their abilities in an interview?
In order to be able to experience another’s emotions, it is necessary to be able to feel your own, first!
Are your sales representatives in touch with their feelings? Are they fully aware of when they are happy, mad or scared? Do they allow their emotions to rise to the surface, or do they smother them?
Any tactic that will help them be more in touch with their feelings will also help them develop and strengthen their sense of empathy.
Salespersons often have the (wrong) reflex of always wanting to speak, smothering silences, and filling every moment with information during conversation with the client. However – and this cannot be stressed enough – in order to excel in the domain of sales, it is essential to be at ease with moments of silence and to let others fill them! You would be surprised by how much you could learn with this technique.
Here are a few tips in order to develop active listening skills:
Help your sales representatives put themselves in their client’s position in order to get to know them better. With that goal in mind, propose that they try answering a few questions: How do you think the other feels in that context? How have you contributed to that dynamic? How does it look from their perspective? What are their objectives? What are they wary about?
Role-play is a quite useful tool if you are trying to develop empathy and become the best salesperson you can be.
I am fascinated by people. But most of all, I am fascinated by what drives their behavior, the elements underneath what they portray on the surface. Sometimes I can’t help but think of how differently people can experience the same event.
In order to become the best salesperson possible, it is necessary to be informed about clients and to get to know them. If you want to sell something to someone, the first step is to be aware of their needs in order to be able to recommend interesting solutions.
The most important step is asking questions and seeking answers. What are the client’s needs? What is at stake for them? What are their goals? How can you help them toward that end? What are the problems or obstacles that they need to overcome? What solutions can you propose?
Filling an information sheet about clients, companies and contacts is a good way of developing this competency and keeping yourself up to date; since clients’ needs and circumstances are continuously evolving.
In order to be efficient as a salesperson, it is highly advantageous to appreciate your product as well as your organization. It is so much easier and more optimal to sell with enthusiasm and conviction, with heart and soul, rather than the contrary!
Let’s take for example a struggling company: the results just aren’t there, employee relations are dire, high pressure brings destructive results and work conditions are difficult… But the salespersons are still required to sell, sell and sell again. Would you want to push yourself further in such a context? Would you be enthusiastic? Let’s face the facts: it is much more difficult in these circumstances.
You are probably thinking, “What can I do as an employer or manager in order to boost the enthusiasm of my sales representatives?”
The answer is very simple.
Do anything and everything possible in order to improve human relations, work environment, working conditions, team spirit and corporate values. You want them to sell your product, so start by selling to them! Give them all the adequate tools, make your passion contagious, share clients’ good news as well as their positive comments, and so forth.
If you want your salespersons to be productive, it is essential to ensure their happiness at work!
Why should we be preoccupied with our employee’s happiness in the workplace? Aren’t there more important matters to take care of – like sales, marketing, finance and operations? The answer is rather simple: all of the above are optimized if (and only if!) the employees occupying these functions are happy in the accomplishment of their work.
A typical sales stereotype is that the best salespersons are extroverts and that, inversely, introverts are unable to sell anything.
For sure, an extroverted individual will have an easier time making first contact and will waste less energy entertaining large groups. However, introverts have much stronger listening skills, which is just as essential an ability in order to perform sales.
According to a study conducted in 2012 by Adam Grant (Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), extreme introverts and extreme extroverts obtained similar performances when it came to selling. However, the most productive salespersons were located in the middle of the introversion-extroversion scale; they are called ambiverts.
How could you help your sales representatives develop their sociability?
If your salesperson is strongly extroverted, it will be necessary to help them develop their listening skills. It would also be appropriate to allow them to use their natural talents: regularly allow them to go out of the office, meet clients, participate in networking activities, and so on.
If, however, your sales representative is strongly introverted, some coaching will be needed in order to help them better initiate first contact and express themselves in front of groups, all the while ensuring that, in their typical work day, they have enough time alone to charge their batteries.
Any long-term relationship is built on trust!
In fact, trust is the result of a relationship and not its starting point! It is developed and constructed with time. How? By respecting engagements and promises. If you promise to do something, even if it is something small, it must be done! If it is not, your credibility takes a hit.
Another excellent way of developing trust is through humility – that is, knowing and facing your own weaknesses and lacks, recognizing that you are not flawless, being frank, and encouraging and respecting others’ points of view, even if they are not in line with one’s own.
Do you want to develop your salespersons’ competencies and skills? In order to do so, it is important to help them build up qualities such as empathy, interest in clients and enthusiasm. However, it is also necessary to optimize their level of sociability and assist them in harboring their clients’ trust. All in all, it is necessary to be aware of everyone’s sales style in order to maximize their strengths and help them become the best salesperson they can be!