Key learning outcomes:

  • Recognise that hard work, good management and being solution-driven are key ingredients of success.
  • Practice active listening to achieve positive outcomes.
  • Develop goals and targets to indicate you are self-motivated and keen to succeed.
  • Demonstrate that you know your product, market and customer.

Article

Having spent the last 17 years or so coaching and mentoring salespeople, I have gained a unique insight into the differences between good, great and average performers. Looking back, some had advantages to leverage off, such as brand awareness or market momentum, but generally the things that make salespeople great come from within. Why do some people succeed while others fail when they have the same opportunities, the same brand and operate from the same market? Here are a few of my key observations.

You make your own luck

Great salespeople do not leave things to chance. You will often hear less successful people say, “he/she is so lucky to be working in that market, for that office or for that company”. It is through good management and hard work, not good luck that successful people find themselves in a position where they can make the most of opportunities. Likewise, good results are most often not brought about by chance, but through building good long-term relationships with clients and through a solid sales process.

It’s not always about talent

You have probably heard the old saying, “hard work will always beat talent if talent does not work hard”. This is never truer than when it is applied to sales. You will often see a salesperson with natural talent and flair who can pull off one or two great and spectacular deals, but cannot do it consistently. The great ones work hard, day in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out. They consistently complete the activities required to be successful, hone their skills through training and always operate with transparency.

You have two ears and one mouth for a reason

Great salespeople understand the value of “active listening”. They strive to ask high-quality questions and understand that the more that they know about their client’s needs, the easier it is to provide a suitable solution. Even though most salespeople have the gift of the gab, the great ones spend a lot less time talking than they do listening. They also seek out and listen to those that might be able to offer them a better way to do things. The most successful seek out training, coaching and mentoring because they understand that like an elite athlete, there is always room for improvement.

There are no short cuts on the way to the top

Great salespeople follow systems and processes. They are consistent in their day-to-day activities and in their dealings with customers. They follow a sales process that allows them not only to deliver great service but also to be able to handle a high volume of transactions. They do not tend to look for short cuts or for ways to shorten the process as they understand, at the end of the day, doing things the right way will save time and bring about a better result.

Know where you are headed

Successful salespeople set their own goals and targets. They review their results weekly to determine if they are running on or off the track. Average performers will say things like, “I am not sure where I am at” or “wow, is that all I have done?” Great performers do not need to be told; they know what they have achieved to date and where they need to be, and will modify their actions and behaviour if necessary to get there. You will find great salespeople will often set their goals well in excess of any company’s expectations as they are self-motivated and driven to succeed.

Knowledge is power

You will rarely hear a great salesperson say, “I will have to do some research on that and get back to you”. They seek to learn as much as they can about their products, market and customers. They understand that knowledge is something that shows they are experts in their field and this helps to build on their ability to influence others. It is rare that you will see a great salesperson winging a sales presentation; they tend to be well prepared and will have done any necessary research before being face-to-face with a client. This is not to say that they will always know everything. When they do not have an answer they will be transparent with the client, go and find the information and then follow up on time, every time.

Attitude is everything

One stand-out thing that sums up the difference between average performers and great performers is quite simply their attitude. They tend to have high energy, are positive and most importantly they are solution-driven. They do not rely on others for their success but take responsibility for it. You will not hear a high performer complaining for very long, even if there is something that has not quite gone their way. They tend to deal with it and move on. They understand that wasted time and energy will have a negative effect on their results, so they look to minimise it.

Use this article as a checklist to look for areas that you can work on to take yourself or those around you from being good to great. One of the key things that I have found over the years is that most of the things that make a person successful in sales are easy to do and also easy not to do. The difference between those that make it and those that don’t is that they do these things consistently and with passion.

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