By Jim Annis
I was born a salesperson. At seven years old, I was selling greeting cards door-to-door. My experience has revealed that some people have innate sales ability and can be a star on day one. I’ve also learned that people with the right skill set can be developed to have a prosperous career. Both have certain habits in common that contribute to prosperity.
Identify the “right” prospect
Sales is about a lot of the “right” activity. An epic fail begins with trying to be all things to all people. Identifying an “A client” profile is key. Sticking with that decision will work for you as long as you are flexible and keep tabs on market changes. Think “dinosaurs aren’t here for a reason.”
Organized… to a point
A successful salesperson is organized but not detail-oriented. If you have ever looked in a salesperson’s desk that has left your business, you know exactly what I mean. Most salespeople will leave a huge mess because they always want to get along to the next deal. Use of software like Salesforce can help.
Plan your work and work your plan
Weaknesses in time management will kill commissions. If you do not plan your sales work, you will not make money. There is a delicate balance between prospecting and closing. A two-week plan mapped out with the call targets, including an integrated travel schedule for the next month, is a great, replicable system.
Two ears and one mouth
An excellent salesperson will not show up and throw up. They ask questions and gather information. They “listen” through social media and connect with potential clients through LinkedIn and Facebook so face-to-face meetings are not cold calls. They read voraciously about a prospect’s industry news, allowing for dialogue during a sales meeting. People still buy from people they like and trust. Sincere authenticity is the basis for fruitful relationships. Feigning interest in the client or target, their business and their hot buttons means instant death.
Salespeople need, and have, a great deal of courage. Some products and services are simply demanded every day and sell easily. For others, hourly rejection is the norm. The courage to say no – and realize when to “fire” a client before you even hire them – is a bonus.
Successful salespeople do not take things personally. Upon rejection, they simply say, “Next!” However, if a salesperson doesn’t show enough emotion and enthusiasm for what they are doing, then it is a red flag. When a salesperson is “truly” working, they are communicating to everyone about their results.
Habits are important for consistency. Fluidity and the ability to respond and be in the moment is a “master” skill. Salespeople who can flex their approach as the situation demands – to make another person more comfortable or to best accomplish the task at hand – are much more likely to be successful in influencing others.
Jim Annis is president/CEO of The Applied Companies, which provide HR solutions for today’s workplace. Celeste Johnson, Applied’s division director, contributed to this article.