Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are customer-centric: they always put the customer's needs and desires first."

Tag: trust

The Quintessential Salesperson: Navigating Trust, Value, and the Art of the Ask

The Quintessential Salesperson: Navigating Trust, Value, and the Art of the Ask

In the exciting world of sales, getting swept up in targets, quotas, and the rush of closing deals is easy. Yet, as a young salesperson just starting out in your career, it’s crucial to remember the essence of your role: You’re not just a seller; you’re a valuable addition to your customers’ lives and their companies. You offer a benefit that goes beyond the product you sell – you provide solutions, help achieve goals, and in doing so, create value that far outweighs the monetary cost of your product.

The Value Proposition: Solving Problems, Achieving Goals

In sales, the first step is always about understanding your product and its inherent value. Your product is not just a commodity – it’s a tool that solves a problem and facilitates the achievement of a goal. Your customers are not merely trading their money for your product; they are investing in a solution that is valuable to them and helps them conquer challenges and move closer to their aspirations.

Remember, if your product doesn’t solve a problem or help achieve a goal for your customer, they probably shouldn’t buy it. It’s your responsibility to ascertain whether the product you’re selling aligns with your prospect’s needs. Hence, the questions you ask before they become a customer are crucial. Those questions are designed to allow you to help them. The design of those questions enables you to discover if the prospect has a problem that your product can help with and if they have a goal that aligns with what your product offers.

In the memorable words of Jerry McGuire (a sales movie masquerading as a love story), discovery questions are simply asking the prospect to help you so that you can help them.

Trust: The Foundation of Sales Success

As a salesperson, trust is your currency. Your belief in the ability of your product to solve a problem worthy of solving is the foundation upon which you build your sales strategy. Your job is not just about making a sale but transferring that trust from you to your customer. And doing it quickly enough to matter to your timeline, be it this quarter, this month, or this year.

The trust you build with your customers also extends to understanding that your product might be a better fit for some companies. Discerning the right fit requires asking probing questions to determine if the prospect has a problem big enough and a goal valuably sufficient to warrant the investment of the company’s resources.

The Art of Asking: Confidence and Curiosity

As a salesperson, your strength lies in your product knowledge or persuasion skills and your ability to ask the right questions. This requires a blend of confidence and curiosity. Confidence stems from your belief in the product and the value it provides. Curiosity comes from your genuine interest in your prospect’s needs, challenges, and goals.

You’re not merely trying to sell a product; you’re attempting to do your prospect a favor by offering a solution that will make a difference in their lives or businesses. This perspective empowers you to ask difficult questions. It gives you the courage to delve deeper into your prospect’s needs and challenges to discover the true extent of the problem they’re trying to solve and the value of the goal they’re trying to achieve.

Remember, as a salesperson, you’re a problem solver, a goal facilitator, and a trusted advisor. You offer a benefit, provide a solution, and create value. Your job is not just about closing deals but about making a difference. And that, a young salesperson, is the essence of a successful sales career.

The Pride of Problem-Solving: A Salesperson’s Badge of Honor

In the grand tapestry of business, the role of a salesperson is often underestimated. The skills and tenacity it takes to close a deal are frequently overlooked, and the value a salesperson brings to the table can sometimes be undersold. But if you peel back the layers of what it truly means to be in sales, you’ll discover a role that’s integral, important, and worthy of great pride.

As a salesperson, you’re not merely a cog in the business machine but a problem-solver, a facilitator of goals, and a conduit of value. You’re the key that unlocks the door to solutions for your prospects, the bridge that carries them toward their goals. And that’s something to be incredibly proud of.

When you help a prospect solve a problem or achieve a goal, you do more than just sell a product. You’re making a tangible difference in their lives and businesses. You’re helping them overcome hurdles, reach new heights, and achieve success. The pride that stems from this role isn’t merely about the deals you close or the targets you hit but the real and meaningful impact you have on the people and companies you interact with.

So, as you step into the shoes of a salesperson, remember to carry with you not just your product knowledge and sales techniques but also a sense of pride in your role. Because you are more than just a salesperson – you’re a problem-solver, a goal-facilitator, a value-creator. You are a catalyst for change and a harbinger of success for your customers. Wear your salesperson badge with pride, for it is a testament to your ability to make a difference, one solution, one goal, and one sale at a time.

Header Photo by Mizuno K
15 Career Success Principles For Salespeople

15 Career Success Principles For Salespeople

Sales is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers a person can choose. It takes hard work, determination, and a robust set of career success principles to be successful in this field. This post will explore fundamental principles that lead to success in a sales career. Understanding and applying these principles gives you the best chance for success in your sales career.

  1. Identify your personal brand and develop a strong message
  2. Build a professional network and stay connected
  3. Stay current on industry trends and changes
  4. Develop marketable skillsets
  5. Maintain a positive attitude, even during tough times
  6. Stop selling and start helping
  7. Find a professional mentor to guide you
  8. Believe in yourself and your ability to sell
  9. Commit to continuous learning
  10. Be a resource for your clients
  11. Focus on solutions, not problems
  12. Build relationships of trust
  13. Manage your time and energy effectively
  14. Take the initiative and be proactive
  15. Be persistent and never give up

1. Identify your personal brand and develop a strong message

There’s no doubt that personal branding is essential for salespeople. In a world where buyers have more choices than ever before, it’s vital to stand out from the crowd and make a strong impression.

But what exactly is a personal brand, and how can you develop one? Simply put, your personal brand is how you present yourself to the world. It’s the sum of all the experiences and interactions people have with you, starting with how you communicate your message.

If you want to develop a strong personal brand, it’s essential to start by articulating your unique selling proposition. What makes you different from other salespeople? What value do you bring to the table? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can develop a strong personal brand that will help you close more sales.

Remember, there are three things that every salesperson sells in every deal:

  • Your product
  • Your company
  • Yourself

Since most products have competition that solves the core of the same problems, products rarely win the deal by themselves as the second best product usually has enough features/benefits to achieve the prospect’s goals.

Since most companies are of high quality, the company’s reputation rarely wins the deal. Yes, there are times when the customer will only buy from a specific vendor (the adage that no one was ever fired for buying from IBM is long over).

The significant variable in all sales opportunities is YOU. You can show you are a better partner and advocate than the other salesperson.

Customer loyalty isn’t what it used to be. When you have a relationship with a customer, everything is more straightforward. People don’t return simply because it’s where they purchased previously. They re-purchase because salespeople took the time to build a relationship. They gave the customer a reason to buy from their company.

But remember, even one mistake can cause a loyal customer to leave. It is up to you to sell them on your company, sell them on your professionalism, and then keep them sold through simple, consistent communication.

2. Build a professional network and stay connected

As a salesperson, it’s essential to have a strong professional network. After all, your network is your lifeline to potential customers and sales leads. But building and maintaining a professional network can be challenging, especially if you’re always on the go. Fortunately, you can do a few simple things to make sure you stay connected.

First, make an effort to attend industry events and meetups. This is a great way to meet new people and stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

Second, use social media to connect with other salespeople and professionals in your field. LinkedIn is a particularly useful platform for salespeople, allowing you to connect with others in your industry easily.

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to your contacts regularly. Whether you’re staying in touch via email or meeting up for coffee, maintaining regular communication is key to maintaining professional relationships.

3. Stay current on industry trends and changes

Salespeople need to stay current on industry trends and changes. The sales industry is constantly evolving, and salespeople who don’t stay up-to-date on the latest changes are at a disadvantage.

In addition, knowing about the latest industry trends can help salespeople be more successful in their careers. By being aware of new products, sales strategies, and other changes in the sales industry, salespeople can adapt their own tactics to better meet their customers’ needs.

Furthermore, keeping current on industry trends shows potential employers that salespeople are committed to their careers and are always looking for ways to improve their skills. Therefore, salespeople should make it a priority to stay current on industry trends and changes.

4. Develop marketable skillsets

In today’s competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to have a set of skills that will make you attractive to potential employers. While some jobs may require specific training or experience, there are a few skillsets that are prized by salespeople across industries.

One of the most important sales skills is the ability to build relationships. Whether you’re selling a product or selling yourself in an interview, your ability to connect with others and create rapport will be essential to your success. In addition, salespeople need to be adept at problem-solving and be able to think on their feet. The ability to quickly assess a situation and find a creative solution can be the difference between making a sale and losing out to the competition.

Finally, salespeople need to be able to handle rejection. In any sales process, there will be times when you don’t close the deal. The ability to pick yourself up and keep going despite setbacks is essential for any salesperson who wants to build a successful career.

5. Maintain a positive attitude, even during tough times

One of the most critical things salespeople can do is maintain a positive attitude, even during tough times. A positive attitude will not only improve your sales numbers but also make you more enjoyable to be around. Your clients and customers will remember how you made them feel, and they’ll be more likely to come back and do business with you again in the future.

A positive attitude is also essential for your career growth. You’re more likely to take risks and seize opportunities when you have a positive outlook. You’ll also be better equipped to handle rejection and setbacks. So next time you feel down, remember that a positive attitude can make all the difference.

6. Stop selling and start helping

Most salespeople see their job as nothing more than a numbers game. The more people they talk to, the more likely they will make a sale. But this isn’t necessarily the most effective way to sell. It often leads to salespeople becoming pushy and aggressive, which turns potential customers off.

A better approach is to focus on helping potential customers rather than selling them something. People are much more likely to buy from someone who is interested in helping them, not just making a quick buck. So, if you’re looking to improve your sales career, start by focusing on helping people, not selling them. You’ll be surprised at how much more successful you become.

It is important to remember that without customers, there is no business. Companies rely on new and returning patronage to succeed; therefore, the customer’s needs should always be the priority. The foundation of a healthy customer base begins with earning the trust and respect of prospective consumers.

When we focus on selling, we’re thinking about ourselves. A salesperson focusing on selling to the customer is thinking about targets, their car payments, and the holiday they’re aiming for. The customer becomes a means to an end. A sale from them is a step in the direction the salesperson would like their life to go – another step towards achieving their sales target and lying on that beach in Fiji.

Helping our customers develops trust, which translates to deeper customer relationships. When we focus on helping our customers, we blow the competition out of the water. Who wouldn’t want to deal with someone focused on helping us meet our needs and goals? This is where you’ll hear your customers’ actual pain points, the real reasons why they can’t say Yes to your proposal right now.

7. Find a professional mentor to guide you

A mentor can be a valuable asset for any salesperson, providing guidance and advice on how to succeed in the sales industry. A mentor can help you develop your sales skills, set goals, create a plan to reach them, and stay motivated throughout your career.

Finding an experienced and professional mentor can help you take your career to the next level. There are many ways to find a mentor, such as networking with sales professionals, attending sales conferences or workshops, or participating in sales training programs. In addition, a mentor can introduce you to new ideas and perspectives and provide outside advice on your sales strategies.

Once you have found a mentor, nurture the relationship by meeting regularly and staying in touch even when you are not actively working together. A mentorship relationship can be a valuable source of support and knowledge to help you succeed in sales.

8. Believe in yourself and your ability to sell

Salespeople are often told that the key to success is believing in themselves and their ability to sell. This may sound like simple advice, but salespeople must internalize this message. After all, selling is all about persuasion, and it is difficult to persuade someone to buy something if you do not believe in it yourself. A salesperson who does not believe in their own ability is far less likely to be successful than one who does.

Likewise, a salesperson who doubts their ability is much more likely to give up when faced with rejection. Belief is a powerful tool, and salespeople who believe in themselves are more likely to find career success.

9. Commit to continuous learning

Salespeople are always looking for new leads and ways to increase their sales pipeline. In order to stay ahead of the competition, salespeople need to continuously learn new sales strategies and keep up-to-date with the latest products. Additionally, salespeople need to be able to adapt to changing market conditions.

By committing to continuous learning, salespeople can develop the skills they need to succeed in their careers. There are many ways to commit to constant learning, such as taking courses, attending seminars, and reading sales books. Salespeople who commit to continuous learning will be better equipped to handle whatever challenges they face in their careers.

Obviously, a great way to learn is to subscribe to this site and follow me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/soshaughnessey/). You should also purchase and read my book Eliminate Your Competition. The reality is that at the end of every sales cycle, every competitor has been eliminated but the one that received the order. Don’t let someone else eliminate you from a deal that you want to win.

You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

10. Be a resource for your clients

Being a good salesperson is about more than just making a sale. It’s also about developing relationships and being a resource for your clients.

The best salespeople are always looking for ways to help their clients, even if it doesn’t result in an immediate sale. They build trust and credibility by demonstrating their expertise and knowledge and create long-term relationships by always putting their clients’ needs first.

To be successful in sales, adopt these habits and traits. Show your clients that you’re more interested in helping them than in making a quick buck, and you’ll reap the rewards in the form of loyalty and repeat business.

11. Focus on solutions, not problems

As a salesperson, it’s essential to focus on solutions, not problems. This habit can help you stand out from the competition and build trust with potential customers. When you focus on solutions, you demonstrate that you’re resourceful and capable of finding creative ways to solve problems. This is an essential trait for salespeople, as it shows that you’re committed to meeting your customer’s needs.

In addition, focusing on solutions shows that you’re proactive and can think on your feet. Customers will appreciate your ability to find innovative solutions to their problems, and they’ll be more likely to do business with you in the future.

12. Build relationships of trust

With the advent of the internet, it’s easier than ever for consumers to find information about products and make informed purchase decisions without even speaking to a salesperson. However, that doesn’t mean that salespeople are no longer important. In fact, salespeople who build relationships of trust with their clients can be incredibly valuable, forming bonds that last long after a purchase has been made.

A trustworthy salesperson is someone consumers can rely on for accurate information and recommendations. This type of salesperson doesn’t just try to make a quick sale; instead, they take the time to get to know their clients and understand their needs. As a result, clients are more likely to come back to this salesperson in the future and recommend them to others.

Building trust takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it for salespeople who want to create lasting relationships with their clients. Habitually truthful salespeople with strong communication skills are more likely to succeed in building trust than those who don’t possess these traits. By making an effort to build trust from the beginning of every relationship, salespeople can set themselves apart from the competition and create lasting bonds with their clients.

13. Manage your time and energy effectively

The best salespeople are the ones who know how to manage their time and energy effectively – they are effective time and energy managers. They don’t waste their time on things that don’t matter, and they take care of themselves so they can be at their best when it comes time to sell.

Great salespeople know how to prioritize their time, master the art of follow-up, are disciplined with their self-care routine, and always have a positive attitude.

Good salespeople know that their success depends on their abilities to focus and work hard, so they develop habits that help them make the most of their time and energy. For example, they might wake up early to get a head start on their workday or take a break after every sales call to regroup and recharge.

In addition, salespeople typically have high levels of self-motivation and optimism, which helps them stay focused even when things are tough. By developing these time-management skills, salespeople can set themselves up for success.

Being a salesperson is a demanding job. Many salespeople develop habits that sabotage their productivity. For example, some salespeople spend too much time on the phone or social media, while others allow themselves to be interrupted by email and text messages. The best salespeople have mastered the art of time management and know how to focus their energy on the task at hand. In addition, they know when to take breaks and how to use downtime effectively. They understand that sales is a numbers game, and they prioritize speaking with as many potential customers as possible.

14. Take initiative and be proactive

I am occasionally interviewed about my book Eliminate Your Competition. In those interviews, I am typically asked to summarize the differences between the 4 types of salespeople (Farmer, Hunter, Gatherer, and Trapper).

As I describe in my book, a Gatherer is a superior version of a Farmer and a Trapper is a superior version of a Hunter. That superiority comes with a lot of enhancements but primarily it is that a Gatherer is more proactive than a Farmer and a Trapper is more proactive than a Hunter.

You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Being a salesperson requires more than simply being good at sales. To be successful, a salesperson must also be proactive and take the initiative. This means always looking for new sales opportunities and taking the initiative to follow up on leads. Additionally, a salesperson must be able to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions to problems. These traits are essential for any salesperson who wants to be successful. By taking the initiative and being proactive, salespeople can ensure they are always one step ahead of the competition.

Any salesperson worth their salt knows that being proactive is a vital part of the job. That means taking the initiative, being assertive, and always looking for new opportunities. After all, the best salespeople are always one step ahead of the competition. While some people may be naturally inclined to be proactive, others may need to work a little harder to develop this habit. However, it’s important to remember that anyone can learn to be more proactive with a little effort. By cultivating the traits of a proactive salesperson, you can set yourself up for success in any sales situation.

Being proactive is the second most essential trait of all things that are needed for a great sales career. When I look at poorly performing salespeople, they are almost always reacting to things that are around them rather than driving those events. The most important trait is coming up below: persistence.

15. Be persistent and never give up

A salesperson’s job is not easy. It requires a lot of skill, charisma, and, most importantly, persistence. Persistence is the last trait that I list for two reasons:

  1. I think it is probably the most essential trait of successful salespeople
  2. Only those persistent readers will make it through to this last listed trait!

I often bastardize this great quote by President Calvin Coolidge:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence [in sales]. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful [salespeople] with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius [in sales] is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated [failed salespeople]. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent [in sales]. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race [especially when it comes to selling and making quota].”

Slightly edited and enhanced quote by President Calvin Coolidge

I have written about persistence before and explained how persistence won orders for me when I was a quota-carrying salesperson.

Have you ever tried to learn to water ski? In my experience, the most common advice for new skiers is to hang on to the ski rope until you almost can’t take it anymore, and then hang on a bit more. For new skiers, it is right when they feel like the rope will be ripped from their hands that they are about to be lifted from the water and beginning to glide. If they just hold on for one more second, success will happen.

The same is true of sales. Success is right after the next phone call. Success is only one more email, Twitter post, or LinkedIn connection away. If you stop now, you will not enjoy the result of this effort as you will have given up just one instant too early.

A salesperson must be able to handle rejection after rejection and still maintain a positive attitude. They have to believe in their product or service and never give up, no matter how often they are told “no.” This is not an easy trait to develop, but it is essential for success in sales.

The good news is that persistence is a habit that can be learned. With practice, salespeople can develop the skills and traits necessary to succeed in this challenging field. There is no doubt that sales is a tough gig, but with perseverance, anything is possible.

The best salespeople are persistent and never give up. They understand that sales is a numbers game, and the more people they talk to, the more likely they will find someone interested in what they’re selling. They also know that it takes time to develop relationships and build trust, so they’re patient and never give up on a potential customer.

Don’t ever give up. No means not yet. You will never be column fodder if you understand what is important to your prospect. You must be prepared to explain how you help your customer achieve their goals, even if the customer doesn’t want to hear it. The opportunity will come with persistence and perseverance.

These traits are essential for sales success, and the best salespeople have developed them into habits. They know that if they keep working hard and never give up, eventually, their efforts will pay off. So if you’re thinking about becoming a salesperson, remember: persistence and tenacity are key. Never give up on your dreams; eventually, you’ll reach your goals.

Get Started

These are just a few of the principles that can help you sell more effectively. If you can implement these principles into your career, you will be well on your way to achieving success as a salesperson. It takes hard work, determination, and a robust set of career success principles to be successful in this field.

If you want to learn more or need help implementing any of these concepts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Use these tips as a foundation to build the successful sales career you deserve. What principle resonates most with you? How are you going to apply it to your own professional development? Let us know in the comments below!

Header Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Are You Able to Make Small Talk?

Are You Able to Make Small Talk?

Casual conversation or “small talk” helps you sell yourself, which is frequently the most essential thing that you have to sell.

If you have read my book Eliminate Your Competition or you have read much of the pages of my blog, you know that I frequently talk about the importance of selling three different things:

  • Your product
  • Your company
  • Yourself

In most industries, your product is probably very comparable to several other products on the market. It may be slightly better in a few areas, but it is likely marginally worse in a few different areas. Essentially, it is usually a tie on the features and benefits of the product. The brutal reality is that if it is not a tie today, then it will likely be a tie in the future.

I am sure your employer is fantastic. I also assume that the company that wants to beat you is excellent. While there are undoubtedly differences, there aren’t that many companies that are so awesome that it is the primary reason that you make a sale. In general, companies in the same market are mostly a tie.

That leaves you. In most cases, you and your virtual sales team are the primary reason that you win or that you lose. You have undoubtedly heard the old adage that you didn’t lose; you were outsold. Few deals are truly won or lost on product and company – it is typically the sales team that makes the difference.

The sales team understands how to apply the product benefits to the individual needs of the people making the decision. The sales team knows the correct people that will be interested in those small variations of company benefits.

In order for the sales team to have this capability, every decision-maker in the organization must trust you, and hopefully, they respect you. The best ways to do this is through your innate knowledge of:

  • their individual goals
  • their collective goals
  • your ability to relate the correct information to them in keeping with their goals
  • your ability to engender trust in other people

You can develop confidence in other people by your ability to speak about you, your company, and your product. However, you can accelerate that trust if the decision-maker personally likes you. Personal likeability is not a pure requirement, but few people will trust someone if they absolutely do not like the person. In other words, you do not need to be a personal friend to the various decision-makers, but you definitely cannot be a personal enemy.

Personal likeability is the primary reason that you need to be good at small talk. It makes you a human. It elevates you beyond being the smartest person in the room; it means that the most intelligent person is also a friendly and enjoyable smart person.

If you have read my book Eliminate Your Competition, you likely know that I think that acronyms are quite helpful. I recently came across this tweet on Twitter that creates an acronym for the primary aspects of small talk.

FIRE is a great reminder, and I suggest that you have an “ice breaker” story or two in each of the four categories.

  • Family
  • Interests
  • Recreation
  • Entertainment

During small talk, you’ll get some idea of that odd-shaped part of a human being that’s invisible to the eye and impossible to articulate. Are they kind, hurting, silly, or malicious? Some combination of all of those?

Mastering small talk will help you find common ground to create a mini-bond with new contacts. Small talk may feel trite and unimportant, but it’s the small talk that leads to the big talk.

Ideally, small talk will uncover common interests, business alignments, the six degrees that separate you, the potential need for your product, and basically whether or not you enjoy each other’s company. The goal is not to become best friends or a new client on the spot.

The goal of small talk is to establish enough common ground to determine a reason to connect again.

Keeping a conversation rolling is simple when you learn to listen and ask appropriate probing questions that naturally grow from the dialogue. You only need to prepare a couple of questions in advance. If there is a genuine connection, then you can proactively engage in conversation.

There is a balance between too much and too little business talk. If you don’t talk business at all, you may miss an opportunity to communicate who you are, what you do, and what you have to offer and that you are competent in your field. There are some people who you can know for years and never hear them talk about work. You assume they are retired or not interested in more clients.

Match the depth of dialogue to the environment

You don’t want to let people overhear confidential or inappropriate information. Plus, talk that is too deep at business functions can lead to heated conversations. Over-heated conversations can quickly be subdued by merely making a statement that offers little room for a rhetorical comment. This tactic will diffuse the situation quickly and without incident.

For example, say with a smile, “Well, that’s one issue we’re not going to solve over lunch,” or close the conversation with “I understand your perspective,” minus the “but” that would aggravate the situation.

You won’t win points for always having to be right. You may win the debate while making someone else look bad, but in the end, you’ll make yourself look worse. You will, however, earn points for having social graces if you are the bigger person and cool potentially fiery situations.

You have to know when to let go and kill the discussion even if you believe you are correct on the issue. In the grand scheme of things, we must value the opinions of others and accept that it is not essential to win every debate. The last thing you want to do is to appear as the know-it-all who must end conversations as the perceived winner.

How you make people feel will be remembered

When it comes to small talk, don’t think you must say something amazingly insightful each time you speak. People will likely forget your words but will remember how you made them feel.

No doubt, small talk can get a little dull after a while. So, take it upon yourself to make it enjoyable. To prepare for conversations, rely on FIRE (described above). These will make it easy for you to swing an otherwise stale conversation into one that makes you a genuinely enthusiastic conversationalist.

Have you ever been in a conversation that wasn’t clicking, then suddenly the mood changes, and you both have a smile on your face as the conversation starts firing on all cylinders? That’s because you found common ground. It occurs when two people have an interest in the same topic.

By determining in advance what interests you, half of the equation for stimulating conversation is complete. Now your job is to guide the conversation from topic to topic. Your goal is to solve the foremost half of the equation: What’s of interest to your new contact?

You need to be good at this!

The real key to great conversations is to relax. Let the conversation flow naturally. That’s easiest to do when you’re fully engaged and genuinely interested in the conversation topic and the person with whom you are talking.

When you make small talk, you are primarily selling the one thing that you are the premier expert on: you. Since you are typically the reason that you will eliminate your competition and win the deal, you should practice it until you are extremely good at it.

Header photo Conversation by Sharon Mollerus on 2006-05-17 10:08:20
Six Ways To Gain Credibility

Six Ways To Gain Credibility

I have spoken of trust, honesty, and credibility before. When you understand that you sell three things:

  1. Your product.
  2. Your company.
  3. Yourself.

In nearly every sale, you probably have a competitive product that is very close to the same features and benefits as your product. You rarely have a massive competitive advantage in your product. Also, it is very rare that the quality of your employer is so much better than your competitor that it is the deciding factor in the decision-making process by the prospect. Alas, it is usually the salesperson and the sales team that makes the most difference to the prospect. Does the prospect trust you? Does the prospect think you are honest? Are you a credible vendor to the prospect?

John Care is a good friend of mine that has published two books and runs a consulting company that helps technical sales teams. One of his books is titled The Trusted Adviser Sales Engineer. The very description “trusted adviser” is the cornerstone of making sure that the third item that you sell (you) is the best that it can be. While John’s book is targeted to Sales Engineers, every person on the sales team can learn from his words of wisdom. I have recreated a couple of paragraphs from John’s book and also his six ways to gain credibility.

“What makes a customer actually trust you? It is much more than your technical knowledge and capabilities, as those are the basic table stakes that customers expect of any [salesperson] with. For [a salesperson], it is a combination of honoring your commitments, speaking the truth, and acting in the best interests of the customer – even if that may occasionally conflict with the best interests of your own company.”

“The downside is that once [a salesperson] loses credibility with a customer it can be very difficult to regain it. Giving vague or misleading answers to a question or being factually incorrect are classic examples of this.”

  1. Tell The Truth. Always. Plus, you get the benefit of never having to remember what you said!
  2. Be Considerate With That Truth. Younger [salespeople] can sometimes be too blunt – directly saying, “that is never going to work!” to your client may not be the best approach.
  3. Use I Don’t Know Wisely. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so, and then promise to go get it for the customer . Don’t make stuff up! You can only do this a few times in a meeting – excessive “don’t knows” shows that someone is in the wrong meeting.
  4. Show Passion. Show some passion and enthusiasm for your product/ solution/services and for helping the customer. Do relax and take a breather so you don’t speak too quickly from an adrenaline high.
  5. Utilize Your Credentials. It’s OK to cite your credentials, but don’t overdo it and do make it relevant. So yes – you can put CISSP, ITIL or vExpert on your business card and eSignature, but just use one. A raft of acronyms after your name is excessive. (Note: “MBA” isn’t going to make much difference in most countries. ) Also, be sensitive to cultures – it is much better for someone else to cite your credentials in many parts of the world than to use the US testosterone “in-your-face” approach.
  6. Do The Research. Know as much as feasible about the company, their issues, and the people that you meet. Just saying “I read that article in the Straits Times yesterday” can really help – as long as you actually did read it!

You can purchase John’s book wherever books are sold. I suggest that all my readers get a copy and read it, regardless of your role in the sales process

 

 

Care, John. The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer (Kindle Locations 266-270). Mastering Technical Sales. Kindle Edition.

Care, John. The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer (Kindle Locations 412-414). Mastering Technical Sales. Kindle Edition.

Care, John. The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer (Kindle Locations 422-444). Mastering Technical Sales. Kindle Edition.

 

Does your prospect trust you, your company, and your product?

Does your prospect trust you, your company, and your product?

More than your understanding of your customer’s needs and goals, your top priority in sales is to have your prospect trust you. In fact, your prospect needs to do more than just trust you personally – your prospect needs to trust you, your company, and your product.

It is possible that generating trust is the most important thing that you need to deliver. Let’s face it; you already believe that the combination of you, your company, and your product is a superior offering to your competitor, your competitor’s company, and your competitor’s product. You need to convince your prospect that they should trust your opinion that your trifecta of the three is superior to all of your competitors.

This is not easy. You may have to go to great lengths to engender that trust. You may have to prove the financial stability of your company. You may need to prove that your company has excellent support. You may have to prove the applicability of your product to your prospect’s needs. There is almost no end to the number of things you may have to prove to your prospect.

What you definitely do not want to spend too much time on is that you are a trustworthy person.

It is easy to undermine that you provide value. Proving that you are not a liar is not easy. For you to show that you are not a jerk can seem easy, but in reality is difficult to do. It only takes one slip up to destroy your credibility. All you have to do is:

  • Tell one lie.
  • Offer one misleading truth.
  • Exaggerate just once.
  • Make one inappropriate comment.
  • Look unkept and disheveled once.
  • Miss one commitment.

That is all it takes. One slip up and you could be relegated entirely to untrustworthiness. It is simple. It is easy. You screwed up, and now you depend on your product and your company to beat out your competitor’s trifecta of his company, product, and salesperson. This reputational damage is a huge disadvantage. Your inability to engender trust in yourself puts your entire sales effort at risk.

Being a salesperson is extremely difficult, and this is one one of the biggest reasons for failure. You blew it. You proved that you were not trustworthy. Sure you can blame your company, your product, or your prospect, but in reality, it is your fault. You were not on your best behavior at all times. You may not even have noticed that the prospect stopped trusting you. Most of our prospects are just too polite to tell you that they question your trustworthiness.

How do you fix this problem? Simple. DON’T!!!!! Don’t put yourself in the position of not being trustworthy. Don’t allow the prospect to think that you are not fantastic.

  • Don’t ever lie.
  • Don’t ever tell a misleading truth.
  • Don’t exaggerate.
  • Don’t ever make an inappropriate comment.
  • Don’t look disheveled.
  • Don’t break a commitment.

You should ALWAYS be on your best behavior. Don’t screw up. Yes, this is hard, but it is the easiest way to fail as a salesperson. Destroying your reputation with the prospect is the easiest way for you to eliminate yourself from consideration and not to eliminate your competition.

Image courtesy of LicenseAttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by torbakh