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Key Traits of a Successful Salesperson

October 2, 2012

Learn what it takes to become a successful salesperson.

If you’re starting your own business then you’ll need a sales strategy. Quickly. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good your new product is if you can’t sell it. Don’t count on your investors to run out and hire a sales team from the get go. In the beginning, you’ll have to assume the task of VP of Sales.

Some people are natural salespeople. They get a kick out of the cut and thrust of negotiating and closing a deal, whereas others find it much more uncomfortable. There’s a lot talk about “the art of sales.” It’s often made out to be some sort of mystical act, but salesmanship is a skill you can learn, just like bookkeeping.

Here are a few tips to help you on your way:

Get comfortable with what you’re selling

There are plenty of people who are very good at what they do, but not good at getting the message across. They struggle to persuade a potential client why they absolutely have to buy a certain product or service. Remember that you’re not selling yourself. Even if you’re a one-man IT consultant business, what you’re selling is your expertise and your experience.

Write down a handful of key facts about yourself: for example, how many years experience you have in your field, the firms or people you’ve worked with or for during that time, what skills you’ve acquired and what sets you apart from your rivals. Once you’ve got that list, you have the basis for a strong pitch, which contains nothing that you can’t explain or expand on in a meeting with a client.

Pushy and assertive aren’t the same thing

Nobody likes pushy salespeople. Being pitched by them feels like being subjected to an interrogation: you’re being put under intense pressure to give answers you don’t want to give. You may get a sale from a client with those tactics, but you’re unlikely to get another one. Instead, be polite while at the same time setting out the exact conditions for a sale: the price and quantity the client is interested in, the time and date when the decision will be made. That way you’ve got all the information you need to close the deal without forcing the customer’s pace.

You’re not selling, you’re problem solving

Don’t fall for the myth that a fantastic sales pitch will get a client to buy something they don’t need. Nobody’s got the spare cash today to buy something they really don’t need.

Don’t assume you know what your client needs. Always ask first, their answer may surprise you. Who knows? It might open up a new sales opportunity you hadn’t thought of before.

By listening to what your client’s problem is and genuinely trying to solve it, you’re building trust and creating a long-lasting relationship. The end result will be making a sale.