People often compare athletes to salespeople.  Their competitiveness, work ethic, and drive to succeed correlate strongly, which is why you often see a sales floor comprised of a majority of athletes.

While it is rarely spoken about, the similarities between psychologists and sales people is perhaps even more significant.  People seldomly make this comparison because the goals of psychologists and sales people are so fundamentally different.  While a psychologist's goal is to help another person with no personal gain, a sales person's goal is to close deals.

When you examine the underlying principles, techniques, and traits that each profession has, however, the similarities are remarkable.  Moreover, hiring sales people who possess traits of a psychologist will strengthen your sale organization.

With a company's revenue and overall growth relying largely on the ability of its sales people to effectively generate leads and execute deals, it has become increasingly important for companies to find, recruit, and hire stellar salespeople and be able to distinguish them from less competent ones.  

When most people think of salespeople they think of energetic, charismatic, money-driven, and relentless.  Here are the 10 key traits to look to truly determine the prowess of a salesperson which are also apparent in psychologists.

1. Ability to Build Empathy

For two reasons, a salesperson must be able to build empathy with prospects and clients.

The first reason is that people buy from people they trust and feel comfortable with.  Product and price are secondary; the person behind the product is who the client is purchasing from.  If a salesperson can build rapport more effectively than a competitor, they will close deals more effectively too.

The second reason is that empathy is what enables the salesperson to elicit the problems and needs of the client, which moves the client towards closing the deal. The sale will close from the client's urgency, given the client's appreciation of the value the salesperson offers.

Psychology Today frequently stresses the importance of psychologists being able to build trust and empathy with their clients, noting that this is a key trait of successful psychologists.

Finding a salesperson who knows how to connect, build relationships, listen, and build rapport is important for your culture and success.

2. Ability to Listen and be Naturally Inquisitive

Listening is the most important part of any sales process.  The ability to ask provoking questions, get your prospect speaking, and practice reflective listening will elicit the prospect's pain points, arm you with the knowledge to close the deal, and get the prospect to trust you.

For psychologists, listening is the crux of their profession.  Asking questions and listening closely enables psychologists to extricate their clients' views and fix problems.  

To be a good listener, psychologists and sales people must be naturally inquisitive, always probing for more information to get to the root of their client's beliefs, wants, and problems.

3. Ability to put yourself in someone's shoes

A stellar salesperson knows how to think in terms of what the other person is thinking.  Sales people need to be able to understand and communicate on their prospect's term, because it is only then that they will be able to lead the prospect into arriving at their solution.

For a psychologist to be able to do their job, they must be able to think in terms of their client's world view and position.  Putting yourself in someone's shoes is the bedrock of empathy, which enables both psychologists and sales people to succeed in their jobs.

4. Intelligence and Ability to Infer

Sales people know that the prospect's opinions are not always stated explicitly.  Good sales people can make inferences and logical deductions, reading between the lines to understand the true meanings and desires of their prospects, and be able to elicit pain points strategically.

Likewise, a main goal of a psychologist is to understand the true feelings of their client based on the verbal and non-verbal cues that their client's display.

5. Communicate Effectively

Sales people need to be able to speak persuasively, effectively, and concisely.  Sales people are required to read their prospect and know how to adjust their tone, diction, and speed to match the conversation flow of their client.

Psychologists deal with patients who are 50 and others who are 10 years old, and they must have good awareness and control over their speech.

6. Emotional Stability and Regulation

When client's express frustration, anxiety or fear, it is critical that the sales person stays calm.  The ability to stabilize and regulate one's outward emotions is key for maintaining a professional and effective sales process.

A psychologist's ability to manage and succeed in a consultation with their client depends largely on their ability to extract feelings without showing frustration or sadness themselves.  With either profession, breaking character can lose the trust of the client.

7. Patience

Patience is a core quality of sales people, who need to nurture leads and move deals forward over months at a time.  Demanding a sale to early can ruin the deal.

For psychologists, patience is the name of the game.  Being able to stay calm and collected while your clients speak and vent is core to the role.

8. Problem Solving Skills

Sales people must be able to logically reason, and know how to turn any rebuttal into an answer.  A good sales person never takes "no" for an answer, and they can work their way around any objection.

A good sales person has the ability to create a bridge between problem and solution, understanding coherently the path he must take to make this logical sequence evident to his prospect.

Psychologists often run into unexpected problems, and they need to adapt and re-frame quickly in order to work through issues.

9. Self Awareness

Being aware of one's self and one's impact on the client is critical in making sure you are connecting with them when executing a deal.

For psychologists, being self aware is what enables you to make sure you are communicating on the same wave length as your client.

10. High Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is what defines good sales people and good psychologists.  Being able to understand, predict, and act based on what your knowledge of your client's feelings is pivotal for success.

Published on: Apr 11, 2016
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