There are average salespeople, and then there are extraordinary salespeople. What’s the difference between the two?
I’ve had the privilege of speaking to, coaching, and training tens of thousands of salespeople over the years. Here are the characteristics that I’ve learned distinguish the exceptional salespeople from everyone else.
Great salespeople don’t wait for opportunities, they create them. They initiate. They set their own goals and they proactively do what it takes to achieve them.
The best salespeople are the best because they have to be—they’re highly competitive. And not only with their competitors, but with themselves. They’re always trying to beat their previous records and top their previous successes.
Amazing salespeople don’t try to win at their customer’s expense though. They understand that they only win if their buyer wins as well. Their empathy and their focus on service lead them to be consultants and advocates for their clients.
An efficient salesperson is an effective salesperson. The most effective employ both tools and systems to stay organized so they can make the most of their precious time.
Extraordinary salespeople think positively. They expect success. They see the bright side and can perceive opportunities where others can’t. They’re optimistic about the future and believe that things will work out.
Things don’t always work out though. And when they don’t, great salespeople press on nonetheless. When they fail, they pick themselves up, learn from their failure, and try again.
Exceptional salespeople know how to make friends and build relationships. They tend to genuinely like people. They are good listeners and are able to read people and adapt their behavior. Plus their positive attitudes are attractive to prospects and customers alike.
This doesn’t mean that they will “go along to get along” or allow themselves to be pushed around, however. Top salespeople are not shy about making recommendations or asking for commitments. That’s not to say they’re pushy—there’s a big difference between assertive and aggressive, and great salespeople understand the difference.
Outstanding salespeople care. About big things and little things. About themselves and others. They are honest and ethical, taking pride in their words and actions. They ensure that things get done and that they’re done right.
You can’t do everything, and superlative salespeople accept this. They excel at prioritizing their to-do lists. They’re fanatical about managing their time and focusing on what’s most important.
Too many salespeople give up too easily. Top performers know that sales can often take a long time. So they follow up relentlessly. They evince a similar commitment when facing challenges: they stick with the problem until they solve it.
Exceptional salespeople are supremely confident. And not just in themselves. They’re also confident in their product, service, company, and team members. And because confidence is contagious, their prospects become confident as well.
There’s always more to learn, and the best salespeople never assume they know it all. On the contrary, they have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge which leads them to become life-long learners. They read books, magazines, and blogs; they listen to CDs and podcasts; they attend conferences, seminars, and workshops. They are always learning, so they are always getting better.
If this list doesn’t describe you perfectly, don’t despair. Think of it as a roadmap to greatness. You can improve in any or all of these areas. Just pick a few, make a plan, and execute it.
Strengthen your skills in these thirteen areas and you too can be one of the best.