Traits of Highly Successful Salesmen

Written by editor on February 20th, 2012

Traits of Highly Successful Salesmen
By Geoffrey James

Are you cut out to make the sale? Make sure you’ve got these characteristics–or else learn to develop them.

Selling and buying are not purely intellectual exercises. Buyers and sellers are emotional human beings, which is why great salespeople are always masters at managing their own emotions. Based upon my observation (and some pretty hefty research in emotional intelligence), highly successful salespeople cultivate the following five emotional traits:

1. Assertiveness
This allows you to move a sales situation forward without offending or frustrating the customer. Think of it as being located halfway between passivity and aggressiveness. For example, suppose a customer is delaying a decision. There are at least three basic responses:

2. Self-Awareness
You need to be able to identify your own emotions, understand how they work, and then use them to help you build stronger customer relationships.
This is a four-step process:

Identify the emotions that you’re feeling,
Based on experience, predict how those emotions will affect your sales effort.
Compensate for negative emotions that might hinder the sale.
Expand your positive emotions that might help you make the sale.

3. Empathy
This entails adapting your behavior to the customer’s moods and emotions. It begins with listening and observing, but simply knowing what the customer might be feeling is not enough. You must be able to feel what the customer is likely to be feeling.

4. Problem Solving
The desire to solve a problem helps you create new ways to satisfy the customer’s needs, both financial (the ROI of your offering) and emotional–such as the customer’s need to be convinced that your and your firm are reputable and reliable.
Problem solving is a four step process:

See the customer situation as it really is. (Never try to solve a problem before you fully understand it.)
Help the customer visualize a more desirable situation.
Devise a way to move the customer from the ways things are today to the way the customer would like them to be.
Communicate that solution in a way that makes it easy for the customer to make a decision.
While those steps might seem obvious, they’re the exact opposite of old-school salesmanship, where selling entails “giving a great sales pitch.”

5. Optimism
Optimism helps you maintain a sense of balance when things go awry. It proceeds directly from the (often unspoken) rules that you use to interpret daily events. For example, if the first sales call of the day goes poorly, your performance for the rest of the day will be different if you have this rule…

A bad first call means that I’m off my game this will be a bad day.
… rather than this rule:

Every sales call is different, so the next will probably be better.

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