It's a fact. Most people get into sales thinking it's just a temporary position, a paycheck to help them get by until something better comes along. After a few discouraging weeks or months, most leave the profession forever, only to be replaced by another temporary sales force. Of those that stay, many constantly struggle to meet sales quotas, never understanding why they aren't the ones to get the easy sale, or the lucky break. Those that do go on to become successful have several traits in common that help them to become a better salesperson.
1. They've come to the realization that they are professional salespeople. This is the most important aspect of success, which is why it is listed first. Think about what your general expectations of a professional in any field are, and apply them to what you do. Be they doctors, lawyers, accountants, or fry cooks, most of us expect experts to be knowledgeable, honest, and professional in manner and attire. If your family doctor doesn't know how to administer a vaccine, you're going to change doctors, right? If you've got an important court date you wouldn't want your lawyer to show up in Hawaiian shirt, short pants and flip flops, would you? No one wants a CPA that shares her clients financial information with her friends down at the country club, or even a fry cook that consistently burns lunch. No matter how long you intend to remain in sales, be it a few months or the rest of your working life, you must be a professional in order to succeed. Learn your product. Learn your customer's needs. Dress appropriately and be honest, which leads us to the second point.
2. They have integrity. Let's face it: if you are in sales, you have a mountain to climb. Everyone who's ever purchased a car or sat through an insurance presentation has had a bad experience with a salesperson. There are far too many in the profession that look at what can be a very rewarding career as a fast way to make a buck at the expense of someone else. Many are dishonest, and spend most of their time chasing down new leads to replace the bridges that they have burned by lying to the customer. Do not lie to your customer. Ever. They'll eventually find out that you've been dishonest, and reward your dishonesty by announcing to any and everyone that will listen to them that they should steer clear of you. On the other hand, if you consistently deliver on your promises, they will not only be amazed at finding an honest salesperson, they will happily refer friends, family and colleagues to you when appropriate.
Many of these dishonest salespeople become sales managers, preaching the "turn 'em and burn 'em" philosophy of selling to their sales force, and are not interested in helping you become a better salesperson. If you have the current misfortune of working for this type of sales manager, put in your notice and find another position somewhere else. Your sales manager represents the company's true nature, and if the company you work for lacks integrity you'll not only have to work twice as hard for half of the financial gain, but your own personal integrity will called into question over and over again because of your employer's bad reputation.
3. They believe in the product. This also falls under the integrity category. If you don't think that the item or service you are selling works, or is necessary, change jobs and sell something that you believe in. Fake enthusiasm is noticeable and dishonest; genuine enthusiasm is also noticeable and has the added bonus of being contagious.
4. They under promise and over deliver. "Under promise and over deliver" has become a catch-phrase, but successful salespeople live by it. For example, if you tell a prospective client that you'll email a proposal to them by the end of business on Friday, you should be making that promise with the full knowledge that it will be waiting for them in their inbox no later than Thursday afternoon. The customer wants to know that you are putting in the effort to earn their trust, and ultimately, their business.
As long as you are in sales, make it your mission to be the shining example of what a salesperson should be. You'll find that the easiest way to make a sale is to put yourself in the customer's shoes. Giving them the service that they deserve will give you the success that you desire.