I’ve worked with, and around, sales professionals for most of my professional life.
Some of them have been unbelievably impressive at what they do, seeming to make the whole process effortless. A great many more, however, have pretty much been the square-root of useless.
But what makes a great sales person? Confidence? An understanding of human behavior? An entrepreneurial spirit?
Probably all of the above, and a lot more besides. However, for me there’s one common trait that the best sales and marketing people all seem to possess:
Passion for their company, their products, their people, their services. Passion for their customers’ concerns, goals, experiences and dreams. Passion for the industry that they’re in. A passion that what they’re doing matters outside of their own world. A passion that they’re making a difference.
Passion is infectious, and difficult to ignore. Passion focusses on outcomes, not process.
In contrast, “lesser” salespeople (I call them ‘salespeople’ with a lower-case ‘s’) get bogged-down in minutiae such as features, jargon, numbers and acronyms. They’re intimidated by customers who are more technically-proficient, or by competitors with superior product offerings. They offer price reductions at the drop of a hat because that’s the only way that they think the customer is going to buy from them.
Passionate salespeople prefer to concentrate on how they can be better. How they can improve their business value offering, and how they can better understand their customers. They see themselves more as industry pundits, mentors, experts, and problem solvers. They bend over backwards to help – whether it’s a customer, colleague or supplier. They have seemingly limitless energy and a genuine sense of accomplishment and self-worth.
Reading from a crib-sheet or a pricelist, regurgitating corporate rhetoric verbatim isn’t selling. It never was. In our age of the ‘informed, empowered customer,’ such behavior gets you shown the door pretty rapidly – assuming you were able to get inside in the first place.