What makes “excellent” salespeople excellent? What differentiates them from “average” salespeople? Is it attitude? Is it skill? Could it simply be luck? Are there identifiable characteristics that define excellent salespeople and set them apart from the rest of the pack?
Yes. Here are four:
Motivation. Average salespeople sell to live. They entered the selling profession, not due to any special affinity to the profession, but simply as a means of earning a living. If they’re lucky, they’re selling products or services that are meaningful to them on some level beyond the income they earn. (Most are not that lucky.)
Excellent salespeople, however, live to sell. They truly love “selling.” And, they do it, not because they have to…to earn a living, but because they want to. They are energized by the process of identifying, seeking out, and engaging prospects as well as qualifying opportunities, crafting solutions, and closing sales. For them, selling is more than a daily challenge to face; it’s a puzzle to solve…a game to win. And the commission they earn, while important, is a supplemental reward to winning the game.
Perspective. Average salespeople tend to view each potential sale primarily from a “me-centered” perspective. Certainly, they consider the benefits that will accrue to the customer. But, if truth be told, those considerations are secondary. Their real focus for completing a sale, and their somewhat shortsighted rationale for utilizing whatever technique that seems appropriate to moving the sale toward completion, is to get one step closer to meeting their quotas and earning commissions and bonuses.
Excellent salespeople, in contrast, are firmly customer-centered. Their focus is to not only provide prospective customers the best possible product or service, but to provide the best possible experience throughout the process. Their concern for prospects’ goals being fulfilled and their respect of prospects’ points of view are genuine…not the manifestation of a strategy or technique designed to facilitate compliance. They recognize the direct and inescapable relationship between sincerely helping others fulfill their needs and their own needs being fulfilled.
Commitment to Skill Development. Average salespeople get by with the skills they originally brought to the job. While those skills typically improve over time, the improvements are more a byproduct of learning from experience than a conscious effort to improve.
Excellent salespeople, on the other hand, have made a commitment to ongoing improvement. For them, “good enough” is never good enough. To ensure that they continue to win the game, they continually hone their skills. “Learning from experience” is deliberate. Every action they take has an intended purpose and outcome—benchmarks by which they can measure their effectiveness.
Commitment to Process Improvement. Average salespeople continue to do what they have always done. They exhibit the same patterns of behavior and employ the same strategies and tactics over and over again, regardless of the results they achieve. For the most part, those results have as much to do with happenstance as they do with any predetermined identifiable plan of action.
Excellent salespeople recognize that excellent results are only achieved by implementing their well-honed skills within the framework of well-designed systems. They continually strive to improve and perfect the strategies and processes they employ. For them, nothing is left to chance. There are no wasted motions. They have elevated the tasks of asking questions, analyzing customers’ and prospects’ requirements, and crafting and presenting best-fit solutions to that of an art form.
So, what makes “excellent” salespeople excellent? They have a somewhat different state of awareness about selling than average salespeople. They have a greater concern for the prospects and customers with whom they interact, the products and services they deliver, and the manner by which they do both. While their successes are noteworthy, their excellence is defined not by those successes, but by the manner in which they achieved them.