Some people are born to sell, while most others have to really work to develop the necessary skills and competencies to succeed. Whether born or made, a great salesperson needs to possess certain essential characteristics and work habits to maintain long-term success. These abilities include building relationships, maintaining integrity, following through and remaining resilient in the face of rejection.
Arguably the most important quality a great salesperson possesses is the ability to form and maintain relationships. It's no secret business is all about who you know, so an effective salesperson must be able to maintain current relationships with clients, vendors and partners while fostering new ones with prospects. To do this, the salesperson must possess a healthy dose of empathy, which is the ability to identify with another person. A salesperson who empathizes with a potential customer by listening to his needs, reading his emotions and showing true concern is able to gain his trust quickly and establish a rapport. This is the basis on which any business relationship is formed.
Another essential quality every great salesperson possesses is integrity. While it can be argued that integrity is important in any industry or life situation, it is particularly important in sales. If a customer does not trust you, he won't spend his money with you, plain and simple. Gaining that trust is as simple as doing what you say you will do and remaining consistent in your actions. Beware of promising customers "the world"; if you're unable to deliver on those promises, you will come across as shady and untrustworthy, and that label is nearly impossible to overcome.
Follow-through is a not-so-distant cousin of integrity and is another important quality of a great salesperson. In this technologically advanced day and age, it is easy to lose sight of good old-fashioned manners and etiquette, which makes it all the more important for a salesperson to use. Responding quickly to questions or requests, checking in periodically as a courtesy and sending handwritten thank-you notes are all effective ways to stay near the top of a client or prospect's short list.
An often-overlooked yet vital quality of a great salesperson is resilience, also known as "thick skin." The sales industry is notorious for constant rejection, and those without resilience will find it hard not to take things personally and quit. A great salesperson, however, knows how to take rejection and spin it into an opportunity. A salesperson's job is to overcome customer objections by presenting alternative ideas and solutions to satisfy the customer's needs. If the customer still chooses to decline, a great salesperson lets the rejection go and swiftly moves on to the next prospect.
While the potential for success in sales is astronomical, it takes loads of perseverance and skillto get there. A great salesperson knows the value of traits like empathy, integrity, follow-through and resilience, but these attributes may not come naturally. Consistently working to improve yourself in these areas can take you from average salesperson to superstar.
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