Stu Schlackman

The Relationship Selling Expert - Building High-Performance Teams

Three Traits of Top Sales Performers

One of the best sales people that I ever worked with displayed three traits that still hold true to this day. Let’s call him Frank.

Frank was a professional seller long before the internet existed, before the onset of social media and yet he was skilled at selling a complex solution for a company that was always in the underdog position. Time and time again he would end up on top, winning the business against all odds. 

I went with him on a few sales calls where the customer explained that we were in a “come from behind position”. And, I watched in amazement as Frank again set himself apart from the rest of the sales team. The result – we won the business.

Even though it’s the default of most sales people to sell from their perspective, he sold based on the customer’s perspective. It was never about our products and solutions; it was about the challenges and issues the customer was facing. 

The typical opening question would be focused on the customer. He would ask the customer, “from your perspective, what do you see as the greatest challenge in implementing this type of solution?” He asked this question every time. 

The result. The customer opened up to him and poured his heart out on the major concerns he had.
Here’s what I noticed.

Frank was sincere when asking questions – he truly cared for the customer’s well-being. Not until he understood their point of view and needs would he discuss our solution. His success was because he always started from the customer’s perspective.

The second trait he displayed was being realistic. When it came time to talk about our solution, he was brutally honest about what the prospect could expect for results and outcomes. Being realistic means, “if you don’t know, don’t pretend.” Customer’s appreciate sales people who are real and transparent.

Being realistic also expresses confidence that the sales person is not afraid to speak the truth even though the offered answer might not be what the customer was looking for. It’s better to under promise and over deliver. Unfortunately, many sales people are afraid to disappoint the customer so they stretch the truth on functionality or delivery and in the long-term it sets them up for failure.

The third trait of top sales performers is they challenge the status quo. Most sales people follow a process to uncover customer’s needs, problems and challenges, which leads to crafting the best solution to alleviate the issues the customer is facing. The customer then compares the proposal to two or three other competitors and then decides. 

Only top performers take this process a step further, going beyond solving the obvious problems to find problems that the customer might not have even realized they have. Challenging the status quo is about asking unexpected questions. It’s these questions that move customers to action.

Remember the power to buy is in the hands of your prospect. They are more likely to decide in your favor when they are confident in you and they believe you can deliver as promised. 

Customers are always motivated to make decisions based on intrinsic choices in their mind and not on extrinsic pressures by a sales person. As you lead them through the solution you’ve offered in response to their need, it should become obvious to them what their best path forward is.

Top sales performers are realistic, they challenge the status quo and they approach each sales opportunity with the goal to understand their perspective.
Use these skills and you will gain the competitive advantage and win.

Good selling!

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