During one of my 79 keynote presentations last year, I was asked to describe the most important traits of engaged and successful salespeople. It was a great question that prompted me to interview hundreds of stellar salespeople and sales leaders over several months. The results came back with great uniformity and centered on seven key attributes:
1. They like to win. Competitive by nature, salespeople get intrinsic motivation by “making the sale” or winning the customer account.
2. They listen. Rather than pushing product or brochures at customers, they listen intently for customer needs or pain points.
3. They are solution-oriented. After listening intently, they are creative in designing solutions that fit the customer’s needs.
4. They have an effective partner-in-crime. Rather than going it alone, they bring a sales partner to offer balance and additional perspective. This rang especially true for me when I, as a male baby boomer, brought along a young, bright, millennial woman on my sales calls. Not only did she bring more technological proficiency to the table, but also, more age and gender balance, which was positively received by people more like her on the vendor selection committee. Together we landed some of the largest accounts in our company history.
5. They persevere, and they are patient. In the spirit of Rome not being built in a day, engaged salespeople consistently strive for the long haul. They recognize that, “patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish,” as once said by John Quincy Adams.
6. They treat customers fairly. Despite being tempted by short-term profit or gain at the expense of their customers, the best salespeople are ethical and fair, keeping their customers’ best interest at hand. This honorable trait pays great long-term dividends, since their customers become the salesperson’s best “Net Promoters,” referring them new customers, time and time again.
7. They always find a work around. During the many interviews I conducted, one of the best quotes I fielded about this key trait of successful salespeople came from Keith Flitner, Global Account Manager at Parker Energy: “When the door is slammed shut on them, they find a way to crawl through the window.”
Are you hiring and retaining the right salespeople with these traits?