One of the questions that I get asked a lot is, “What makes a great salesperson?” Is it something that people are born with or is it something that you can train a person to be? Is there some kind of magical formula which results in a person being able to get good sales results? Do some people just make more sales than others no matter what you do?
As an author and speaker specializing in sales and success, these are questions that I have dedicated my career to answering and they are, along with many others, questions that I will be answering in my articles in this column.
I want you to consider this simple question, “What are the core attributes that great salespeople display?” When I ask this question of audiences they give me answers like these:
- goal seeking
If you consider these and your own answers to this question, you will notice that the majority of the words that you have selected would be classed as attitudes rather than skills. I have asked tens of thousands of salespeople, sales leaders and business owners this question and the average percentage split is about 80% attitude and 20% skill. How you define an attitude and how you define a skill would impact this result and also the type of industry you are in and your own personality tend to change the results… but the bottom line is that the vast majority of salespeople think that selling is mostly about attitude.
It’s important to stress at this point that skills are clearly vitally important. There is no substitute for being skilled at what you do — but even when you have the skills, it’s attitude that makes the difference. One way to look at it is that when you are selling, attitude is your ability to access your skills. I believe that selling is an attitude that leaves behind a trail of techniques. This is why slightly different sales approaches can get equally good results.
Let’s say that you need to make a presentation. You know your product and your company and you know how you add value for your clients. You know that you have the prerequisite presentation skills because you have been trained in how to make presentations and you have made many successful presentations in the past.
On this particular occasion, you have a meeting with a client several times bigger than any you currently have, a client capable of doubling your sales figures, a client more senior than anyone you have ever dealt with before. In this scenario, many salespeople would feel a little worried and nervous. They might put too much pressure on themselves and this might cause them to present in a different way than they normally do, perhaps resulting in a lost sale.
In this scenario it’s not their skills that have changed but their attitude. Their attitude in turn affects their ability to access their skills and therefore their results. Most salespeople I meet are more than capable of making a powerful presentation. They have the skills but they do not have the right attitude.
This situation plays out in all sorts of sales scenarios — from prospecting to negotiating, from running sales meetings to networking. To get better results you need to ensure that your attitude is always the best that it can be. I like to measure sales attitude on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is the most inappropriate and 10 is the most appropriate. As a professional salesperson you need to be selling from a 10.
People often ask me what ‘s changed in selling over the last few years and my answer is that “good enough is not good enough anymore.” We have to be better. A few years ago salespeople could get by without being at the top of their game. No longer. If you want to be exceptional, if you want to get great results, if you want to make sales and grow your business, then you have to be at the top of your game. You have to be a 10.
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