Ok, not my list but Bill Golder’s article on LinkedIn: Top 5 traits of the best sales people I’ve ever seen
The list hits on two traits that I believe are crucial to sales success. The first is curiosity. This trait sounds insignificant, but it is far from it.
From the article:
Every salesperson knows that you have to ask good questions and be a good listener. Unfortunately, far too many simply go through the motions based on some type of training or methodology they’ve adopted vs. truly demonstrating an interest in solving a customer’s problem.
The best sales people are not bashful about asking any question that can help them better understand how to help the prospect – even the dumb questions. Great sales people (like my 6-year old son) ask “why” a lot. Great sales people get excited to do the research in advance of an important call because they are naturally curious and want to learn as much about their prospects’ realities as possible.
Exactly. Have you ever encountered a salesperson with whom you felt like they were using “tools” on you. The salesperson clearly learned some techniques that they thought would help them trick you into revealing something. There are few things in life more annoying than having a tool clumsily used on you.
A curious salesperson, on the other hand, asks questions to get to an understanding of your situation. There is a sincerity to their questions and a earnestness in hearing your answer. They do not have this obvious anticipation as they prepare to unleash the next tool on you.
The second trait is that the salesperson loses fast. That’s right…loses.
Back to the article:
I once worked with a sales person who worked hard at getting prospects to say no quickly. That’s right. He pushed them to say no. He was focused on spending his selling time with only those that were qualified and wanted to make sure he didn’t waste his or his prospects precious time any more than was necessary – especially if it wasn’t going to happen.
When he received an RFP that did not provide any opportunity for interaction with key stakeholders within the buying team, he quickly wrote up a polite email declining to participate. About half of the time he would get a response that they would change the rule if he would participate. The other half he would have lost anyway.
The half that agreed to provide access often saw us immediately as a front runner compared to everyone else who were willing to submit without engaging in a dialogue. This approach was an outcome of sticking to a key criteria in qualifying prospect opportunities – those that were willing to provide access.
This trait cannot be overstated. The most important sales skill is qualifying and the key to this skill is the ability to determine if it is time to move on to another prospect. It is surprising how many salespeople struggle with this ability. What happens is that it becomes easier for some salespeople to continue to contact “prospects” that have no chance of closing than to find a new prospect to start qualifying. The familiarity of the dead-end prospect leads to expense spending on fine wines and rounds of golf…with no chance of getting an order from them.
The willingness to qualify a “no” is critical to sales success. A strong salesperson has an ROI clock always running in their mind. What is my return on investment for pursuing this prospect? Can I close them in an appropriate amount of time? Will we have a profitable solution? Will they be a drag on our customer support? These questions are always running in the strong salesperson’s mind. Their desire to lose fast fits perfectly into this successful mindset.
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