I delivered two public seminars in the past two weeks, with a combined audience of more than 1,800 people. Salespeople.
Either their company paid or they paid — to come to an event in the hope of learning to better their skills, secure more customers, keep their existing customers loyal, figure out new strategies, or some other form of making the sale including overcoming economic conditions or just plain getting out of a rut.
Both audiences were all ages, with all types of experience – at all levels of competence with one basic common goal: Learn more to earn more. That’s one of the characteristics of a great salesperson: continuous learning. Student forever.
I was racking my brain to think what other job exists where this type of activity takes place. You could make a case for professional development and specific career knowledge for doctors, lawyers, accountants, and architects. But even they are dependent on sales, marketing, or some form of practice development in order to increase their business.
And so, I asked myself the question: Why do people get into sales? What characteristics do they have that sets them apart? And I thought that it might be an interesting exercise for anyone contemplating sales to answer the question, and for anyone in sales to reaffirm or answer the question: “Why is sales for me?”
Sales is economic freedom and challenge. If you’re on commission or some form of bonus – you’re ostensibly free to go out and create your own economic environment, based on your performance.
Sales has no economic barriers. If you’re in a commission-structured job, the more you sell, the more you earn. If you’re in a bonus-structured job, the more you sell, the more you earn. You create your own pay.
One of the early attractions to me when I first got into sales was that income was only limited by my ability to perform or succeed. I didn’t have to wait until it was time for a raise, I could give myself one by simply going out and making more sales.
But sales is a much bigger opportunity than money. Great salespeople have character, and characteristics possessed by few others.
Here are the highlights:
Presentation skills. How to speak in a compelling manner. How to persuade others to your point of view. How to overcome barriers. In short, how to get your way.
People skills. Every salesperson must learn to interact with customers, coworkers, executives, and anybody else in their field in a manner that is relationship building.
Networking skills. Salespeople have social and tactical skills to help them turn business time and social time into strategic alliances, connections, and leads.
Questioning skills. Salespeople know that asking is more powerful than telling.
Listening skills. Salespeople have antennas that are always alert to information, buying signals, buying motives, or other elements of how to make the sale that come only come from the person buying. Great salespeople are also great note takers.
Salespeople are always seeking to improve their skills. They don’t just come to my seminars, they read and listen to self-improvement information all the time.
Personal development skills. Salespeople have a positive attitude. They achieve their goals and seek to master the other intangible aspects of the mental and physical elements needed to win at the game of sales.
The ability to achieve a goal. The opportunity to win prizes, win awards, earn recognition, travel, and in general enjoy more freedom than most other jobs in a company
Creativity skills. Salespeople have to prepare with creativity, demonstrate with creativity, respond with creativity, sell with creativity, and use creativity to build relationships.
Moxie. Salespeople have self-confidence, self belief, determination, and persistence. Moxie is the added ingredient needed to transfer beliefs and confidence, and moxie is the unspoken swagger needed to complete the sale.
Likeability. People buy from people they like, believe, have confidence in, and trust. Like starts the ball rolling towards trust.
And, oh yeah, they have sales skills.
But there’s risk involved in selling. You have to perform. Often you’re presented with quotas, sales plans, or other forms of forced achievement.
You also have a boss. Someone who you may or may not totally love or respect.
The challenges are multifaceted which I believe is part of the attraction. It takes intelligence, personal dedication, continuous education, and the ability to self-start.
Often salespeople are working remote. They’re in a car or on a plane, by themselves with the challenge, or the pressure, to perform. And they do. Or, they die a sales death.
I’ve often quoted the great Red Motley, who in 1946 said, “Nothing happens until a sale is made.” This is yet another reason why people decide on a career in selling. It’s the spark. Or the pressure to light the fire. It’s the challenge, and it’s the euphoric feeling you get when you know the sale is yours.
Salespeople also have unlimited opportunity to grow in any organization. Leadership positions and executive positions abound for the man or woman who can sell.
One more bonus for great salespeople: Unemployment does not exist. There are always openings for people who know how to sell.
Want a bit more about the attributes of sales? Go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first time visitor, and enter SALES ATTRIBUTES in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Red Book of Sales Answers. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on sales and customer service at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to [email protected]
permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer . 704/333-1112 www.gitomer.com