November 11, 2008

The verdict on what makes a good sales person

What makes a good sales person? Now that may sound like a difficult question to answer, but as you will see it's not. In fact, there is no mystery to what makes a good sales person.

To see what I mean - think of the salespeople you have dealt with over the past 12 months – both on the home front (e.g. buying a car, or a suite of furniture) and at work (e.g. the stationery salesperson, or the IT vendor).

First, think of the bad ones and what made them bad. That is an easy list to create and typically includes such items as; arrogant, insincere, pushy, overly-friendly, fast talking, does not listen, lack of product knowledge, un-trust worthy, just wants to sell, interrupts, etc. Yes, we are all too familiar with that type of sales person.

Then think of the good salespeople that you like dealing with. They may be fewer in number than their bad counterparts, but their characteristics stand out. They are generally described as; good listener, asks questions, respectful, polite, does not interrupt/arrive uninvited, not pushy/gives us space, knows our industry, offers good advice, has our best interest at heart, trustworthy, looks to build a relationship, etc.

I have been asking these questions of groups of managers up and down the country for two decades and they have no problem clearly identifying the characteristics of both good and bad salespeople. The guidelines for all of us in sales are clear!

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