B2B sales ain’t what it used to be. Gone are the days you could cold call an enterprise organization and reach the final decision maker on your first try. The modern B2B sales average more than 6 DMs per deal, which means salespeople always have to be on their A-game.
It goes without saying that good salespeople are competitive, passionate, hard-working, accountable, and resilient. But there are a few traits that highly successful salespeople have that separate the best from the rest in the sales world of 2019. A successful salesperson is:
1. Self-aware and Always Looking to Improve
The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe they are smarter and more skilled than they really are. Every rep is vulnerable to this bias. A less skilled salesperson is less likely to recognize their weaknesses. They think they’re better than they are and are less likely to try and learn more about sales and get better. Meanwhile, someone more skilled is more likely to recognize how much more they have to learn. They are much more likely to doubt themselves but are more likely to try and get better.
A successful seller is self-aware and able to overcome the Dunning-Kruger effect. They have a desire to excel and are never satisfied. They are self-motivated and seek out challenges. They are always learning in order to improve themselves, and they use every outlet they have in order to do so. This can be through reading sales books, seeking feedback from managers and leaders, taking guidance from people and companies they admire, listening back to their own calls, and utilizing peer feedback.
2. Coachable and adaptable
Part of looking to be better means working with your superiors and accepting feedback. A successful salesperson needs to be coachable. They need to be willing and able to learn from their mistakes. They also need to be adaptable to any situation. They need to be resourceful and creative enough to find quick solutions to any problem.
3. Personable and relationship-driven
In Yuri van der Sluis’ book, Trust me, I’m a Salesman, he writes about the Sales Wolf and the Sales Dog. The Sales Wolf is a hyper-aggressive salesperson who will do whatever it takes to get the deal. This is the exact type of rep that buyers avoid, because no one likes a high-pressure sale. On the other hand, the Sales Dog focuses on building lasting, trusting relationships with their buyers. They are authentic in their approach and truly want to help the buyer solve their problems.
For salespeople, this means more than just being likable. It means being personable and approachable to your customers. They just want a regular person they can talk to. It also means being communicative and being a good listener. Establishing a rapport and letting your customer tell you what they want helps build trust. A good rep focuses on team-building and making connections. Working on building relationships is more important than blindly trying to push the sale, and things like that will take time.
Possibly the most important thing to show the customer is empathy. Understand them, show concern, and be a problem-solver. Relationships are valuable, and making the customer feel understood, respected, and taken care of will leave them happy and keep them coming back.
4. Devoted to the customer
Great sellers value the customer and their needs–the best reps do not make it about themselves. It’s all about serving the customer. Successful reps are client-loyal. They value the customer’s time, care about their interests, have a deep understanding of the customer, and they have the ability to uncover the customer’s problems and solve them. Additionally, the successful salesperson is always honest. Overpromising will only burn bridges and damage the trust you have so carefully built up.
5. An expert at time awareness
The best salespeople know how to make the most of their day so they can be as productive as possible. This means multitasking, scheduling out blocks for email, updating the CRM notes (hint: this should be after every call), prospecting, and any other activity that deserves full attention.
Excellent time management also means taking time for yourself. Work-life balance for salespeople is incredibly important. Make time to relax and spend time off work with friends and family. You don’t want to burn out on the job!
Additionally, being time-savvy means being resourceful and creative with the tools you have. Smart reps use everything available to them. They think outside the box in order to work around problems. They know how to build out email cadences, they understand which content pieces will resonate with their prospects, and they aren’t afraid to ask others for help. They also stay up to date on trends and methods for reaching their buyers, such as video and direct mail.
6. Well-prepared and knowledgeable
A successful salesperson is well-prepared and has in-depth knowledge of their products. They are ready to give details for any questions a customer has. They provide special insight, delivering information that a customer could not easily find online. It is important that they not overwhelm the customer with a flood of information. They have to be smart with how they give it out, tailoring the information so that it is relevant to the customers’ needs. Finally, a great rep really believes in their product. The customer is a lot more likely to love your product if you do.
All of these skills are gathered over time and sharpened with practice and repetition. By mastering them, you will create a more authentic and meaningful approach to sales, one which values trust. You’ll build stronger client relationships, and by delivering long-term value to the business, you’ll get deals that are more likely to close. All of this will help you achieve your goals and boost your confidence in executing similar deals in the future.