The 6 Key skills successful salespeople have
Have you ever been in a position where you are approached by a salesperson and you can’t wait to get away from them? They are so cringe worthy!
Why do we hate this approach so much?
It’s because you feel like the salesperson is looking to sell you something for their benefit – not yours. This is what gives salespeople a bad name. They are looking to push their products and services onto them so they make money. They don’t necessarily care if what they sold you works or not.
As a person who loves to learn and improve my own skills, I always love to read what others have written about leadership, management and sales, especially if they are offering something of value or some training.
Why the cringe worthy approach ultimately doesn’t work
I recently watched a video about cold calling and approaching unsuspecting prospects in the street. This particular gentleman certainly had the gift of the gab. He had an outgoing personality and talked a hundred miles an hour. In the video, he started talking to this women waiting to cross the road. It was unbelievably contrived. He basically lied about having something in common with her to build rapport quickly. Then to get her email details he told her he was in the same industry as him (which he wasn’t) so he could blast her with salesy stuff. Cringe worthy. There was nothing authentic about his approach and he certainly had no integrity.
I watched another video of a gentleman demonstrating how to get someone to say yes after they had said no. I was appalled at his high pressure tactics that basically bullied this woman into buying something from him that wasn’t going to help her achieve her goals and she could not afford. It was a $20,000 training program in an industry I knew something about. Again cringe worthy. He was teaching others high pressure sales tactics. I don’t know about you, that doesn’t sit well with me.
Both of these salespeople boasted of the money they made and paraded their flash cars and other material items they gained from being super salespeople thinking this is what motivates people. And it does – some people.
I don’t have a problem with success in fact I love to help others become successful. But what’s important to me is integrity. Selling a solution that is not only right for someone, something they can afford. What both these ‘salespeople’ lacked, was integrity. Needless to say they are not in my RSS feed.
This is what I call the cringe worthy approach and while it makes the salespeople money, it doesn’t create a loyal customer base because somewhere along the line, the customer realizes they were duped. What’s worse, their approach gives legitimate salespeople who genuinely help customers succeed a bad name.
Gift of the gab is not enough
What cringe worthy salespeople have is the gift of the gab, they are able to convince people to buy whether it’s the right thing to do or not. These cringe worthy salespeople also sell their “systems” and claim that if people follow their exact approach they will get the same results.
I don’t think so, because they make the assumption that all people are just like them.
We are not all alike. Not everyone has the gift of the gab or is outgoing and can approach people cold and not care about rejection. So if you are not outgoing like them, their approach won’t work for you because you are not like them.
Selling is not about having the gift of the gab and being an extrovert.
What you do need are highly developed communication skills and a process to follow that works for everyone regardless of your skill level. This can be learnt regardless of personal style or confidence levels. What this approach does is allow you to be yourself, be authentic and work with integrity. It’s about being you and the best you – you can be.
Here are the six key skills successful salespeople need to have.
1. They build rapport quickly
A successful sales person builds rapport quickly with a prospect. In the video I watched where the cringe worthy salesperson approached this women on the street, he engaged her in conversation but failed to build rapport. You could see it in her body language which was constantly turned away from him. While he thought he made a connection – in actual fact he didn’t. The woman was being polite. You know the feeling – when you get approached by people in a shopping mall trying to get you to buy something. Approach enough people and someone will buy out of politeness.
This is what I call a shotgun approach. Try this approach and yes eventually someone will buy but is it a good use of your time? No.
What really successful salespeople are able to do is to build trust and confidence with a prospect before they even try to sell them something. Building rapport is a skill that even introverts can learn. In fact they are often very good at it because they tend to be very good listeners and listen with empathy which instantly builds trust and confidence.
2. They have great questioning skills
No one likes feeling like they are being interrogated by a salesperson. A successful salesperson knows how to gently ask questions that immediately builds trust and maintains rapport. The more they stay in rapport, the more the prospect opens up to them.
This is an important skill to have because when you meet with a new prospect for the first time, it’s likely they will be guarded about what they tell you. Let’s face it, when you meet a small business owner or operator for the first time, they aren’t going to blurt out all their business problems in the first sentence. It may make them feel embarrassed or a failure and this is certainly not what you want either.
Successful salespeople not only build rapport to get prospects to open up, they are able to ask effective questions to uncover hidden buyer needs. They do this in a way that the prospect genuinely believes the salesperson is there to help them – not to sell to them.
3. They are active listeners
When a successful salesperson asks a prospect questions, they listen carefully to the answers. The answers often hold a clue as to what they need to ask next. Listening carefully allows them to clarify what the prospect has said by attending, following, reflecting and paraphrasing to ensure they understand what they are being told. These skills are known as active listening skills.
4. They are able to determine a prospect’s social style
As I alluded to above, not everyone is an extrovert. You know the kind, they are the life of the party and get along with just about everyone. Some people are introverts and don’t necessarily like putting themselves out there but in their own way can be highly successful people. Other people are more task focused and prefer facts and figures whereas others are people focused and details are not their thing.
A successful salesperson is one who is able to determine what a prospect’s social style is and adapt their communication style to suit that person.
5. They are able to communicate in a prospect’s VAK language
All of us have what is known as a preference in the way we communicate. We are either Visual (V) Auditory (A) or kinesthetic (K) known as VAK preferences. Visual people are interested in the way things look. Auditory people are interested in the way things sound. Kinesthetic people are interested in how something feels. A successful salesperson knows how to adapt their communication style to match the style of the prospect they are talking to. It not only helps to build and maintain rapport, it also is a valuable skill when it comes to making presentations, writing proposals and closing sales.
6. They follow a sales process
Most successful salespeople follow a proven sales process like the Bi-Sell-Cycle™ and there are a few different models out there. It’s more than handling objections and closing sales which is what salespeople used to be taught to focus on. Successful salespeople know how to uncover buyer needs, explore the impact or consequences of not taking action and to focus on assessing what a buyer’s target goals are. Only then do they pitch their products and services which is why they encounter less objections and close more sales.
On a final note
When you develop exemplary communication skills and follow a proven sales process, you are more likely to achieve success in selling your products and services.
In A Nutshell
What I have just described, are advanced communication skills. To become a successful salesperson, you must develop exceptional communication skills.
- Build trust and confidence with rapport
- Develop excellent questioning skills
- Become an active listener
- Learn to adapt your social style to your prospect
- Communicate with prospects in their VAK language
- Follow a proven sales process