Why the career of a sales person is like two sides of a coin?
Success or failure.
If you really want to make your career in Sales then you have to know very well, how to be successful else this is not your career. Unlike other jobs Sales is not a 9 to 5 job. This is a 24/7 job. You live each moment to strive for success and excellence. Why is that only some people are actually successful in sales and have that magic in their personality to get business whereas majority who join sales do not. What are the traits of a successful sales person?
Do all have these traits?
Are these inherent qualities or can be developed?
In this article, I will try to answer some of these questions based on my experience as a sales professional for the last 30 years. Many in society feel and believe that sales is the easiest job and someone who has no skills or caliber, choses sales as a career. My belief on the contrary is that this is the most difficult job and apart from knowledge of subject, this career also needs the capabilities to understand customer behavior and psychology. There is so much of research happening everywhere on understanding the consumer and buying behavior. Millions of dollars are spent every year by organizations to understand this behavior and a sales person who understands this very well makes it to the top.
Let us identify some of the traits required to be a successful sales person and then understand the same in detail.
2. Go Getter , never give up
3. Common Sense, keep it simple
5. Creative thought process : Think out of box
7. Guts to Say No
9. Understands behavioral aspects & body language
Well there are more but based on my experience, I feel if the above traits are there in you then you will see success.
Let us discuss these traits in detail to understand them more:
What is passion and how do you develop it?
Passion is a strong emotion, usually associated with a strong desire to achieve something which you like. The key point here is desire, and desire comes from liking, love, need or want.
It is important to be in love with your job and success to develop passion. You must have an objective to develop passion and a strong desire to achieve the same at any cost. You cannot be passionate if you do not love what you do. Passion reflects in the behavior of the sales person. He or She will always have that strong desire to win not only the heart of all their customers but business as well. They normally strike and build long term relations with their clients and peers. The strong desire to win drives then to understand their customer problems, suggest the right solution and ensure it gives them value. They develop a relationship of trust with their customers. Passion keeps them motivated to slog and put in those extra efforts to be successful. Believing in yourself and being confident in your actions keeps the passion live. A passionate salesperson is 100 times more effective and successful.
In short, as salespersons, we must have a strong desire and love to win business and customers. If that desire and passion is there and is felt, the rest will fall in place.
Go Getter / Never Give Up
Success, success and success is the only mantra for a sales person. You can’t afford to be a looser .One of the most important traits of a successful salesperson is to never give up, to be a go getter. A true sales person loves his/her work, has passion and never gives up. They never accept defeat; this word does not exist in their dictionary. They go beyond the call of their duty, always find alternate ways to find way to their objectives. They are positive thinkers, self-motivated and self-driven. They always have bigger picture, creative thought process and think out of the box. They are Enterprising, strategic and aggressive in their approach towards business. They have confidence and un- breakable trust in whatever they do. They strongly believe in continuously developing their knowledge about the industry, products and services. They always strive for excellence and perfection in whatever they undertake. They just focus on their work and stay away from gossips and negative elements.
Common Sense / Keep it Simple
Most of the successful sales persons are absolute on the ground thinkers. They keep all matters simple and handle situations by common sense. There is no complex art or science to manage sales. It is simple and pure common sense to be applied at the right time. Many sales people just come under pressure or become panicky instead of keeping it simple. Sales is establishing and nurturing a relationship and for all practical purposes, it can be compared with marriage. Let’s analyze the following stages in sales:
1. Prospecting – Proposing
2. Demo / Solution – Dating
3. Setting the expectations / Negotiations – Family Meetings
4. Contract – Marriage
5. Issue Management /Resolution – Differences , fights
Sales situations are not different than day to day life situations in our personal life and need to be understood in the right perspective with simplicity. Don’t make things complex by undue analysis or discussing with too many people. Just use simple common sense as you would in a personal situation, however if you have any doubt or hesitation or are not confident , in that case it is advisable to discuss the matter to find the best solution.
What is Common Sense actually? It is a feeling of inner sense, instinct or gut that arises during a situation or circumstance. In most of the situations, the gut feeling is always correct and resolves the situation however many times lack of confidence and fear prohibits sales persons from applying their common sense.
How is relevant common sense developed, it is not just that every person will be correct. Common sense and gut feelings are a result of great experience and knowledge gathered over the years. One should understand the situation well and should have the capability to react instantly in many situations with common sense. Never get into confrontation or make the situation complex. Personal emotions should be kept under control to keep things simple and should not over power your thought process. Whenever in doubt just consult your seniors.
Persistence is an important skill that all salesperson should have. What’s persistence?
The definition of persistence as per macmillandictionary.com is “the attitude or behavior of some one who continues to do, or try to do, something in a determined way” Persistence is as important as any other skill for a sales person. You cannot achieve your goals and be successful if you are not persistent. Most of the sales deals get stuck and sales people just drop the leads after two or three attempts if they do not find the right response. While it is important to be persistent in your sales follow-ups, it is equally important to be sensitive of not offending the prospects. This is a skill one need to develop on how to find your way in, the language and tone to be used and the approach to be used. Simple follow-up won’t help any deal to go through. Customers look for value to their business and clear differentiators. Persistence with value statement opens the doors sooner or later. The first two minutes of the call decides the fate of the call. When one is calling senior people, you just have two minutes to make it or break it and open doors for next 30 minutes or ending in just five minutes. Persistence only pays if and only if you as sales person demonstrate value. One should not waste time in asking routine greetings and wasting the most important two minutes. Ensure that you talk business straight away. Even important is to make good preparations before the call about the prospects business, industry challenges, and organization’s plans as well as about the person being called upon.
Creative thought process: Think out of box
What’s thinking out of the box? We keep hearing this term so often and wonder what exactly is out of the box thinking?
As per businessdictionary.com the definition of thinking out of the box is “Idea generation or problem solving that is not constrained by self-imposed limits or conventional barriers. Being free or breakthrough thinking, it creates new paradigms and explores non-logical and uncommon ways and solutions.”
As a sales person, you often get stuck in many situations and keep wondering what to do. This is the time when one has to move out of his or her boundaries or limit or “box” and think afresh. You have to be creative in thought process and think by changing roles. Change your role and imagine what would be the thought process of the buyer, or other stakeholders in the buying process and evaluate your position to find the alternatives. We all are so much bound by our own circumstances and business conditions that we get stuck in it. Whenever we have problems, our thought process for problem solving is limited to these boundaries only. This is the stage where creativity ends, ideas stop to emerge and business starts getting impacted.
Creative thought process or in other words moving out of your box is very important for success in any role or environment. We have to emulate and think differently. You have to challenge the assumptions, do introspection, forget all fears and negativity, have positive environment, do brainstorming or discuss with seniors, think alternatives and be positive to change.
Nothing works without discipline. Discipline should be part of each person’s life. Discipline cannot be enforced but should be inherent and self-adopted. Sales is all about process, responsibility and time lines. Discipline means respecting the processes, responsibilities and timelines. The processes and skills can be defined and understood but if they are not followed then results also can never be expected. A classic example of discipline is as follows:
If we see , a farmer religiously follows the process of farming with the expectation that he will get the desired results at the end. He religiously toils the soil, sow the seeds, adds fertilizer and water as per defined process and gets the crop, however just imagine what will happen if this process is not followed. In spite of putting in hard work, the crop will not be same in quality and quantity but the hard work was not less.
Many sales persons complain that they put in a lot of hard work and slog for business but don’t get the desired results. On the other hand if we analyze the lifestyle of some very successful salesperson, we will find that they closely and religiously follow the sales processes.
I would like to emphasize that while discipline is important but is not the only criteria to be successful. Sale’s is a combination of art and science. While the processes are part of science, the art is behavioral part of sales skills.
Guts to Say No
You really need guts to say no. It is very difficult for sales persons to say no, but learning to say no can really work wonders in the sales process. While it is important to have guts and to develop the art of communicating no, it is even more important to understand at what stage and when to say no.
In our personal lives, we all come across situations where we have to say no to certain things. How do we determine when to say no? While getting business is important to all of us but the key point to remember is that the business should be adding value to both customers and our organization. Sales persons want business at any cost and many times forget the basic fundamentals of ensuring that is the sale adding any value to the customer or their organization. Some of the parameters to understand this are as follows:
1. Do we understand the customer pain points?
2. Do we have the right solution?
3. Is the solution right fit to solve customer pain points?
4. Is the solution commercially viable for the customer?
5. Is this business strategic for your organization?
6. Is the sale making business sense for your organization?
7. Is it worth spending time on this?
8. Can you really win?
Based on the above criteria, we should be in a position to take a conscious call on whether to say yes or no to the customer. Saying no to business is also an art and should be communicated in the right perspective. Many times when we are in tough situations due to competition or any other reason, saying no might convert the deal in your favor.
Being motivated plays an important role in being successful in any aspect of life. A sales person’s life is full of ups and downs and lots of pressure. The only thing that works for a salesperson is number. Time is of great essence and we have to perform with in defined time lines. With so much pressure, how do we as salesperson motivate ourselves? We get bogged down if the sale does not happen in spite of our best efforts or is at the last minute shelved by the customer, or we find budget problems etc. and above all the number pressure.
In spite of all this, we the salesperson have to still perform and deliver. We have to find ways to keep the spirits high and motivated and keep running. What should we be doing to keep this going?
➔ Look for small moments of happiness around yourself.
➔ Keep yourself busy in activities that develop your intellect.
➔ Think big and look at the positive side of the coin.
➔ Set your goals.
➔ Take small steps, small success and be consistent.
➔ Have a go getter attitude.
➔ Be with people who think positively and are focused.
➔ Invest in developing your skills and intellect.
➔ Strive for excellence.
➔ Take Risk.
Based on my experience, I have summarized above some of the key attributes to keep salesperson self-motivated and always in high spirits.
Understands behavioral aspects & body language
While we work with prospects trying to sell our solution’s to them and put in a lot of hard work, make presentations, keep following , slog around and but still some professionals fail to make the sale or fail to move forward in the sales process. The main reason is these sales persons have unidirectional approach and just keep pushing and focus on making the sale without understanding the customer behavior.
Understanding body language is an important skill to be successful. We all behave and respond to situations depending on our likes, dis-likes, comfort or dis-comfort and this reflects in our body language. While we are prospecting and trying to make a sale, it is important that we understand the body language of our prospects and respond accordingly. Some of the behavioral aspects to be observed are as follows:
1. Is the prospect maintaining eye contact or shying away.
2. Is the prospect paying attention to you or busy doing something else.
3. Is prospect paying attention to you and acknowledging to what you are proposing.
4. Is Prospect’s tone and conversation style aggressive with too much questioning to shoo you away or conducive and meaningful.
5. Is Prospect’s arms and sitting posture- challenging or cooperative
6. Is Prospect’s facial expression – tense or conducive
For being successful in sales it is important to understand the above gestures and behave accordingly to make the prospect comfortable, win his / her confidence and to draw his / her attention. Observing the prospect is a great art and to develop this, all sales persons must be quite observant about prospects behavior during the discussions.
To summarize, sales is a career full of challenges, highs and lows. This is a career which only recognizes success and only success. To be a successful sales person, one has to develop all the qualities as mentioned above in this article and for sure this is the shortest route to the corner room.