How to Become a Good Salesperson
By Ronald C. Manalastas What could be the best antidote against the malignant effect of the ongoing intense recession, not only in America but in many parts of the globe? Being a good sales person is the best antidote. Under harsh socio-economic situation -- where severe financial crisis gets people out of job, re-employment becomes more difficult as work opportunities continue to shrink, prices of goods and services soar to high heavens, and tight credit causes businesses to snap out --- having the capacity to sell anything of value for additional income and improved liquidity is an important cash flow builder. Never before has the attribute of "being a good sales person" assumed so much importance than today. Anybody who seriously wants to insulate himself against the current malaise can surely achieve the purpose because as a refreshing quip states: "good salespeople are not born, they are made and built to last." Yes, being a good sales person can be acquired, but yet the downside is, being one demands a steadfast commitment to the tough discipline of purposeful learning. Having been in the sales and marketing profession for the last 25 years, I am delighted to submit the following time-proven prescriptions on how to become a good sales person, whether you are regularly employed, self-employed, or pursuing a part-time selling career.
1. Stay healthy. It is the foundation of good thinking, productivity and efficiency.
Lead a prudent life, one that gives premium to your physical, mental, emotional, and psychological integrity. Maintain adequate sleep, take periodic rest, have a good diet, and exercise every day. Never abuse your body, a delicate system that must be nurtured to perfect working condition. Being good in whatever you do, more particularly selling, which is an exacting job, requires the total coordination of your body, mind, heart, and soul. Life is predicated on whole-brain thinking and excellent physical conditioning. If you are sickly, your capacity to think, act, relate, and learn is adversely affected, and your predisposition is unnecessarily muddled, always preoccupied and cluttered by thoughts as to how you can get well. Under a worst situation, you may not even live much longer to see your desired future.
2. Analyze yourself, know your interest, and be guided by your passion. They set directions.
Before you excel in anything, you have to know yourself first, what you have
accomplished, what you are good at, what your compelling interests are, and what you are most passionate about. You have to establish also what your central purpose in life is. This self-analysis is very important. It will help you identify your needs and what you must do to satisfy those needs. You can ask yourself if being a good sales person has anything to do with your goals in life. You can further grill yourself to find out if selling is your passion, or you are simply passionate about the fruits that selling bears. In either case, you still have to appreciate and learn what it takes to be good at selling.
3. Learn and practice a lot on the art of selling. Be vigilant about it, and you will never go wrong.
If you have chosen sales as a career, based on my experience with thousands of sales people that I have managed, trained, and met, before you even consider what products to sell or what market needs to address, it is best that you immerse yourself early in learning the fundamental principles and best practices in selling. There is great wisdom in being initiated to the disciplined world of professional selling. Knowing the do's and don'ts of selling at an early stage develops in you a systematic and organized mindset that should enable you to maximize opportunities and effectively manage problems along the way. With this deliberate initiation, you can sport a lasting "halo of quality" that can influence people and induce patronage. The selling process involves six (6) basic steps such as: prospecting, preparation, approach and presentation, handling and overcoming objections, closing, and followup. Read a lot and learn about the process. Extensive sources of information on the topic are available and the Internet is a vast repository of such information. Maintain a hungry appetite for learning what past and contemporary sales masters have to say about selling. Consult people who can help you acquire and upgrade your selling skills.
4. Build moment of truth capacity. Have product, people, process, and technical knowledge.
Moment of Truth is your first contact with the customer where good or bad impressions are formed about you, the product, or the company you represent. How you conduct yourself in this encounter can make or break the business deal you might be so excited about. It is therefore mandatory for you to be spotless in your words, behavior, and representations during this critical customer interaction. "Moment of Truth is where you project your best form, substance, and impact to win the elusive customer." You should never miss out the essential requirement that you have to know your product completely. You have to internalize the features, advantages, and benefits of what you offer and be a master of the service processes necessary in delivering value to the customer.
The second thing that you must consider in the knowledge-building exercise is to know your customer by heart. You have to drill down their needs, wants, and expectations so that you can deliver value in the way they want it. Show keen interest and be involved in the business of your customer. Know their plans and programs. Prove that your product is contributive to the success of their business. As a third requisite, develop strong people knowledge because it builds rapport and trust. Remain friendly with everybody, especially with the customer. Develop relevant soft skills e.g. personal attributes of learning, focus, commitment, industry, organization, planning, persistence, tolerance, humility and sincerity. Fortify your selling personality with hard skills e.g. communication proficiency, product knowledge, technology know-how, including process and logistics orientation. Navigate in other areas where you are not familiar with in order to gain new knowledge. Charting untested water enhances your value as a sales person and your portability across a variety of new opportunities where you can sell or cross sell.
5. Choose the customer you will do business with. It saves time and protects your bottom-line.
From among your target markets, know and select which customers or customer groups you wish to do business with. Pour in your best resources to satisfy and delight the customer with whom you wish to have a lifetime relationship. You cannot please every customer; as such, have the discipline to know and engage those that can support your strategic interest and financial results. Never overpromise, but exert your best effort to over-deliver when the customer least expects it.
6. Be everywhere. Expand your network. Contact the customer. Conduct sales presentation.
Sales will remain a "numbers game," always dependent on the certainty, frequency, and quality of both the "key prospects" coming in and the "key actions" made on these key prospects. Successful prospecting requires: 1) habitual resourcefulness (for identifying and accessing sources of new leads 2) superior technology (for encoding, tracking, analyzing, and storing new leads), and 3) indicative pre-qualification (for validating new leads). Any shortfall in prospecting will necessarily derail total selling effort. A good sales person knows how to manage all these prospecting imperatives. After the pre-qualification, it is time for sales action. Call the prospect or customer and gear yourself for the moment of truth if you have not made any prior contact with the account. Schedule a sales presentation at a mutually convenient time. Rehearse and discern what you need to still improve on in your presentation style. It is wise to get enlightenment from the experience of other people who have gone through it. Revisit the success stories of outstanding sales personalities. And before you come into contact with the customer, be sure to dress properly for the occasion, bringing with you a fresh mind and a lot of support materials. Always remain confident and
never entertain any preconception that you will succeed or fail. Grab both opportunity and problem by the horn when you get to the customer - with your sales presentation. Never forget to ask for the business.
7. Maintain life-work balance. It injects added staying power against the rigors of selling.
While you need to be a successful in anything you choose to do, never give in to the tension and pressure of the selling profession. In any conflict of time or priorities, always revisit Step 1 --- stay healthy. You can best do it by maintaining a life-work balance. Find ease, comfort, and quality time with your family. The inspiration you get from them will cushion you against the exhausting and bewildering pace of selling. In a nutshell, preparation + discipline + discernment + communication will help make you a good sales person.