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Thursday, December 20, 2001

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Traits super salespeople share

M. Muhamed

WE all know that a few sales professionals always stay on top; downtimes or not. Why are a few men and women succeeding where others do not? I have been interacting with a number of successful sales managers and super managers and here is what I have noticed. Many of these people share some common traits or what you call passion. In this article I am listing a few of them. There may be more, and perhaps some of my readers will be able to point these out for the benefit of many others and myself.

They consider selling a service

The first secret of selling is to remember this simple truth: selling is a service. Super achievers share this common trait. They view selling not as something they do to their prospect but something they do for them. The essence of selling is simply this. Find out what somebody needs and provide it. Selling is all about thinking of the other person's needs rather than of your own desires.

They establish rapport with the customer

Here are a few ways you can establish rapport with your customers: By remembering their names and by sending thank-you notes. One senior VP at a major company recommends sending personal thank-you notes on at least 10 different occasions. He always sends them after an initial telephone contact, a personal contact, a demonstration or presentation, a purchase, a referral, or a product change. Now, most salespeople do this. But here is where super achievers stand out. They also write to prospects who refuse to buy, along with an invitation to contact them for further information.

They even send a note after they buy from someone else, offering to be in touch with them in the future. That extra-personal effort normally pays off in extraordinary selling success.

They also smile at most situations

This may be the simplest and most effective sales strategy ever invented. A smile tells people you like them, are interested in them, and enjoy them. An ancient Chinese proverb says: "A man without a smiling face must not open a shop."

They listen to what others say

One of the most important selling skills is the ability to listen. More sales are made on the basis of listening than speaking. The key to making a sale can only be accomplished by listening.

When you speak, you give out information; when you listen, you receive information. Active, energetic listening clues you in to your prospect's needs and desires, and enables you to anticipate his reservations and objections.

They set concrete goals

To sell like a star, set goals. Goal-setting is the prerequisite to success in every venture in life. It is absolutely vital to succeeding in sales.

Goals are dreams with deadlines. Goal-setting not only forces you to focus on what's most important, it also helps you measure your progress. They have the attitude of a superstar: Super achievers recognise the power of thought and harness that power to use it to their benefit. As Zig Ziglar says, "You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself."

How can you develop the attitude of a superstar? A few suggestions include the following: By cultivating optimistic thoughts and by replacing negative thoughts with positive action.

They believe preparation precedes success

There is no way around it, virtually every aspect of the sales process - from the initial prospecting to the final close - requires practice and preparation. Preparation can make the difference between gaining a lifelong client and losing the sale.

Here are a few pointers: Know your product (you should be prepared to answer every question a customer throws at you about your product, your service, financing, and how to upgrade); know your industry and market (to increase your selling power, build up your knowledge base of the industry, the major players and suppliers, and future trends); and know your prospects (not only should you seek to expand the range of your clients and prospects, but also increase the depth of your knowledge of their needs, interests, and buying habits).

They believe enthusiasm is contagious

If you wish to succeed in sales, you must be enthusiastic about the product or service you are selling. When you are excited about the product you offer, when you use it yourself, when you are firmly convinced that its possession will help your customer, your enthusiasm will be contagious. Your prospect can't help but be interested in the object of such excitement. I can talk of my friend Bala who is a successful General Manager (Sales) at a medium-sized company. He is always in high spirits, except when his boss comes down on him for lower sales levels. Even this is momentary and the guy has been clocking more than 100 per cent growth consistently for the company for several years.

They believe honesty is always the best policy

You may already know this secret, but I assure you, honesty makes all the difference between a superstar and a fly. The primary reason customers buy from a particular salesperson is that they trust and respect him. Establishing a relationship of trust is the necessary first step in selling. You cannot establish a relationship of trust with your prospects if you are not a trustworthy person. Honesty and integrity are the most important assets a salesperson can possess.

Super achievers use failure as fuel for future success

Rejection and refusal are the occupational hazards of selling. They happen to everyone - even to superstar salespeople. The difference between the superstar and the so-so salesperson lies in how he or she responds to refusals. As someone said, "The singlemost important difference between champion achievers and average people is their ability to handle failure and rejection." Adopting these nine principles will radically increase your effectiveness and long-term sales success. Start practising these traits of super salespeople and see the results for yourself!

(The author is Chief Consultant at Innovative Media, a knowledge management company. Feedback can be sent to bleditor@thehindu.co.in)

 
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