I have several close friends who are top-performing salespeople and they're nothing like me, a quiet introvert who's better with words on a page than the ones coming out of my mouth. The qualities that make them good at what they do are obvious, but not everyone in the role is a natural-born salesperson. Here's what the latter looks like, and how you can get to the top of the selling game.
1. The best salespeople are likeable.
What gives a person this quality? Think about the people you like the most. They're probably genuinely interested in you, light-hearted and possess a healthy sense of humor. On the other hand, nobody likes a self-absorbed braggart, a negative Nelly or someone who never cracks a smile. To get higher on the likeability curve, make sure to exude positivity and foster a sense of curiosity about your customers.
2. The best salespeople are confident without being conceited.
It's a necessary leadership trait which inspires customers to trust a salesperson enough to lay down their dollars. If you want them to gamble on investing in whatever you're selling, they need to believe you're steering them in the right direction. For a scary but highly effective way to boost your confidence, take an improvisation class. I've interviewed several successful people who swear by it.
3. The best salespeople are available after the sale to put out fires.
My husband sells the management of high-dollar projects to commercial customers who award him repeat business because he doesn't walk away after the contract is signed. Rather, he keeps strong lines of communication open so he always can facilitate the fast fixing of problems. And he does it until every last bit of a job is completed. What doesn't work: making a sale, moving onto the next one and never looking back.
4. The best salespeople build relationships with their customers.
You want your customers to consider you a friend who has their best interests at heart. What do you know about your customer as a person? What does he or she value? What's his personal life like? What are her kids' names, ages and activities? What are some natural ways you can learn, remember and show an interest in these things? For example, instead of dining alone while traveling for business, find a customer in whatever city you're visiting and offer to buy him or her dinner.
5. The best salespeople use technology.
According to Jeff Schmidt, SVP of sales for sales and marketing platform ClearSlide, companies of all sizes should be using customer relationship management (CRM) software. "If you can engage [customers] with insight and tailor your message, content and follow-up based on where you believe they are, or what their interest may be, it leads to far more productive conversations and ultimately to more sales and a higher conversion rate," he says.
A slew of easy-to-use online platforms can help you find new customers and engage with them at just the right time and on whatever channel they use the most. And considering many CRM tools start at anywhere from $10 to $50 a month, it's worth a shot.