Can you think of one major thing that a business couldn’t survive without?
In order for a business to grow, they need to break even at least and then profit from their service or goods later. In fact, sales is such a popular profession that the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics indicate there are 13,715,050 people in sales-related occupations!
While there are many people in sales, it can be questionable how effective they are at their job. The best salespeople are down to earth, friendly and ethical.
But just like some of these individuals and members of the public, this isn’t always what’s perceived of a salesperson.
The thing is, many people tend to envision salespeople as pushy, money-driven, greedy and brash when trying to make money. If you imagined this also, it’s not your fault!! The media, films and some door to door companies have built that stereotype into our minds.
While confidence does help salespeople, there’s a lot of underlying characteristics, qualities and skills a salesperson must have to be successful.
Once you are aware of these qualities, they’re not hard to develop. In this article we will look at what a salesperson does, how you become a salesperson and what the qualities are of a good salesperson.
Skip ahead to:
- What does a salesperson do?
- Why are they important for your business?
- How do you become a salesperson?
- What are the qualities of a good salesperson?
What does a salesperson do?
The roles of salespeople can vary a great deal depending on the industry they work in. Generally, they do have some similar duties which are selling a product or service to customers, agencies and businesses.
As a salesperson, they must have a solid knowledge of everything they sell and answer any questions surrounding it. To gain a greater understanding, salespeople have to undergo training and attend conferences to build their product knowledge. Typically on a day to day basis, a salesperson would do the following:
- Greet their customers
- Talk to customers to understand what they need or want
- Educate customers about the products or services they offer and show their use
- Explain the differences in the product models
- Answer any questions surrounding the company, product, service and policies
- Inform customers regarding promotions, discounts or sales
- Order out of stock items or custom items upon request
- Prepare receipts or sales contracts
- Process purchases and payments
- Set up and manage merchandise displays
Why are they important for your business?
If you have great salespeople in your business, you’ll know they help close the gap between your customer’s needs and your products or services and how they fulfil their needs. First of all, salespeople help increase your conversion rate and help persuade customers with a baseline knowledge of your products and services to buy into them.
Salespeople are fantastic as they build a personal rapport with your customers, and in today’s digital world, the personal touch matters. Salespeople in your business can remember each customer and create an impact by allowing them to feel understood and valued. This allows you to benefit from repeat business, referrals and allow a positive reputation of your business to spread built by word of mouth.
Finally, salespeople help with adding more credibility to your business. Salespeople can influence customers to leave reviews and allow your credibility to grow online too.
How do you become a salesperson?
There’s a lot of scope for growth in the position of a salesperson. You often don’t need a lot of technical knowledge when just starting out, but you should have a general insight into how to sell.
Usually, to get into the world of sales, you have to begin as a Sales Development Rep, with an average salary in the USA of $44,959. Generally, vacancies that advertise for a Sales Development Rep look for candidates with strong organisation skills, excellent written and verbal communication, self-motivation, good interpersonal skills, knowledge of CRM systems, and a few other things. Depending on the company, they may require a Bachelors degree of some sort and 2-3 years of sales experience.
Typically the role of a Sales Development Rep involves selling products, identifying leads and educating customers through calls. They also undergo training, conduct presentations and provide outstanding support to existing customers. They help customers in person, online and over the telephone.
Moreover, once you’re in the role of a Sales Development Rep, there’s a lot of scope for you to climb the ladder. People in these positions tend to go on into higher sales level roles such as Account Executive, Outside Salesperson, Account Manager, Regional Sales Manager, Sales Engineer, Director of Sales, VP of Sales and more.
What are the qualities of a good salesperson?
If you’re looking to become a salesperson or want to better your skills, these are the top traits good salespeople tend to have:
The best salespeople are not robotic in their nature; they put the customer first and care about their needs. When a customer is looking to buy something, often they want to know the salesperson and form some relationship to the brand.
Often customers might ask questions surrounding a salesperson’s interests, goals and ambitions to see if your thoughts and motives are based on theirs. They do this to ensure that you care about fulfilling their needs more than the money you make from your company.
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2. Good listening skills
Customers feel valued when they’re listened to. Often the best salespeople know how to slow down their pace, reduce the amount they talk and strictly listen to the customer.
Great salespeople tend to take time listening to the customer’s challenges, needs and concerns. They do this to stop customers becoming defensive, and it helps drop their guard for future points in the conversation being more open to sales.
3. Sell accordingly to the customer
When it comes to sales, it’s not a one size fits all method. In fact, different customers require different things, and sometimes the customers themselves aren’t even aware of it.
The best salespeople build a package tailored to each customer’s needs that they’ve understood while listening to them. By asking the right questions and sharing their concerns, you can create a package or offer a product or service that has specific value to them.
4. Extroverted tendencies
Salespeople don’t get anything by sitting at their desks; they need to go out there and get it, without being pushed of course. The best salespeople are indeed people persons; they know how to schmooze, socialise and sell.
Many great salespeople go the extra mile by attending training, functions and conferences to build their knowledge and communicate with others. They also like to develop themselves outside of the business, which allows them to share more interests in conversion with their customers. This shows customers they’re human too.
5. Conduct background checks of their customers
Before salespeople jump directly into sales, they should know their customers first. To know customers, the best way is to constantly do research and stay on top of the latest trends in your industry.
Typical examples would be reading news sites, journals, blogs, listening to podcasts, news sources and more to help grow your knowledge. Once you have this background knowledge, it can help tailor your sales pitch to your customers.
6. Collaborate within other departments
Sales are highly beneficial to many other departments such as finance, marketing and more. The best salespeople tend to help out in other departments too to develop their knowledge. For example, a salesperson may share information or extracts from customer conversations with the marketing department.
They could even help designers understand how customers make potential orders for their products and services. Similarly, knowing how other areas of the business works will leave a salesperson feeling more knowledgeable and competent to answer any other questions to reassure the customer.
7. They’re optimistic
No matter what the situation is, all good salespeople are full of optimism. A proactive and solution solving attitude is quite infectious to have and even for the customer. A study was conducted by Dr Martin Seligman, which looked at optimistic and pessimistic salespeople in MetLife in 1980.
The process involved screening 1500 MetLife employees over 12 months. At the end of the study, Dr Seligman found that the salespeople with optimistic outlooks sold more than pessimistic salespeople by 21% in the first year and 57% in the second.
This is relevant in sales, as many salespeople are hit with rejection daily. The key to being a successful salesperson is that they have to pick themselves up from the rejection and go into their next sale with enthusiasm and positivity.
8. They’re honest
The most successful and ethical salespeople are honest when selling. This is arguably one of the most effective strategies to sell well. Many people have this image of salespeople being unethical, manipulative and full of lies.
When a salesperson is honest, even if they don’t get the business, it will cause the customers to think twice and build a positive reputation about that person and business. Plus, good salespeople know how to effectively manage outcomes and reputation, and part of their secret is being honest in the process.
9. They can multitask
Salespeople are constantly busy, and they always have to juggle responsibilities. Good salespeople can balance their job effectively. For example, they will have sales they’re trying to close, leads to nurture, follow up on, emailing and much more. Therefore a great salesperson will be able to organise all of this effectively and do their job smoothly.
10. They have a vast worldview
Salespeople are not narrow-minded; the best ones tend to have a broad worldview. This means they know and understand different opinions of other cultures regarding finances, decisions, justifications, formalities and expectations. Doing this allows them to be there for their customers and change their selling style to suit them.
Overall, the best people are driven and full of optimism in their approach. When they’ve faced rejection, they don’t let that get to them and carry on with the next customer. The top salespeople are not forward or obnoxious towards their customers; they’re empathetic and listen to their needs before presenting to them.
Once they’ve understood their customer, they deliver a service that matches what they’re looking for. They are also honest and constantly evolving their knowledge about existing trends and the world around them.
If you’re looking to be a salesperson, you can apply for a starting role as a Sales Development Rep with little qualifications. Then once you’re in that role, the opportunities to grow within sales are endless.