Success Is An Inside Job
by Bill Caskey
Contrary to the old adage, I believe great salespeople are made, not born. Furthermore, the "making" of a great salesperson involves more than just going to the right training classes or having the right coaches. It also requires developing the attitudes, attributes and inner discipline that allow you to maximize what you've learned in those classes and coaching sessions. What are these qualities? Following is my list of the top five attributes of a high-performance sales professional.
Mental toughness. This is skill number one for all salespeople, yet typically it hovers below the radar screen of most conventional sales trainers and recruiters. The top 5% of sales professionals achieve at a higher level than 50% of the rest. Some might attribute these results to superior closing, probing, or territory management skills. In reality, they're a result of mental toughness: the inner ability to know what to do, coupled with the mechanical ability to execute it.
Profound communication skills. Effective communication involves more than just matching and mirroring prospects. Profound communication skills enable you to create an environment of trust in which prospects become willing to share and reveal the truth about their problems. Ninety percent of sales processes are based on lies, misinformation and gamesmanship. In order to get prospects to open up and reveal their problems, you must understand how to communicate in a way that elicits truth. Then, and only then, will you be working on the right problems.
Knowledge of value. Some would say this is not a skill. But if not, what is it? If you don't understand the core tenets of your value proposition, how can you expect to articulate them effectively to the marketplace? In fact, most salespeople have a weak understanding of what a value proposition is, which is why they typically convey only a small percentage of the value their company really offers. Communicating real value requires study, practice, and shedding preconceived notions about what selling really is.
The ability to deal with humans. Those pesky humans! Wouldn't it be nice to not have to deal with all their insecurities and pains? But then, who would write the checks, approve the deals, and have the motivation? When you accepted life on earth, you accepted the challenge of relationships. The better you are at having a relationship with yourself, the better you will be at external relationships. This applies to relationships with your superiors, clients, prospects, vendors and anyone else you come in contact with. If you're in sales, you signed up for relationships, and lots of them. So your skill at dealing with people is essential. Do you have a good psychological understanding of why people do the things they do? Do you know why most prospects lie about their true motives when a salesperson shows up? Do you know why a prospect gets excited about the presentation, only to disappear two weeks later? Do you know why some prospects simply cannot pull the trigger to buy? People who study this stuff get real good, real quick. They make a great deal of money because they are dialed into their profession at an entirely different level than their competitors.
Process thinking. This essential skill keeps you from spending too much time with the wrong people in the sales process. Time is an active asset, ticking away each day. Do you spend it talking with true prospects who understand and believe in your value, or with average prospects who have to be convinced of the value in your services?
Ideally, it would the former: potential clients who see your value. But that's not what usually happens. Because of insecurity about their own value, most salespeople will spend time with anyone who extends an invitation. Then, instead of telling the prospect that it doesn't appear to be a good fit, they continue trying to force a fit, ending with confusion, frustration, and possibly a small deal that was hardly worth the time.
When you understand up front what a good prospect is, how he thinks and acts, you will spend more time with the right people. Success is an inside job. By focusing on developing these five attributes, you will acquire the positive attitude and mental discipline necessary to be a high performing salesperson, and accomplish all you desire in the field of sales.
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