One of the questions that I get asked a lot is, “What makes a great salesperson?” Is it something that people are born with or is it something that you can train a person to be? Is there some kind of magical formula which results in a person being able to get good sales results? Do some people just make more sales than others no matter what you do?
These are great questions and ones which I have spent years studying and understanding. So first, I want you to consider this simple question, “What are the core attributes that great salespeople display?” When I ask this question of audiences they give me answers like… “motivated”, “inspired”, “tenacious”, “persistent”, “goal seeking”, “committed”, “dedicated”… you get the idea.
If you consider these and your own answers to this question, you will notice that the majority of the words that you have selected could be classed as attitudes rather than skills. I have asked tens of thousands of salespeople, sales leaders and business owners this question and the average percentage split is about 80% attitude and 20% skill. How you define an attitude and how you define a skill, type of industry you are in and your own personality tend to change the results… but the bottom line is that the vast majority of salespeople think that selling is mostly about attitude.
I’m not saying that skills aren’t vitally important. There is no substitute for being skilled at what you do but even when you have the skills, it is attitude that makes the difference. One way to look at it is that when you are selling, attitude is your ability to access your skills. I believe that selling is an attitude that leaves behind a trail of techniques. This is why slightly different sales approaches can get equally good results.
Let’s say that are about to undertake a negotiation with a client. You know your product and your company and you know how you add value for your clients. You know that you have the prerequisite negotiation skills because you have been trained in how to negotiate and you have steered your way through many successful negotiations in the past.
On this particular occasion, you have a meeting with a client that is several times bigger than any you currently have, a client who is capable of doubling your sales figures, a client who is more senior than anyone you have ever dealt with before. In this scenario, many salespeople would feel a little worried and nervous. They might put too much pressure on themselves and this might cause them to negotiate or communicate in a different way than they normally do, perhaps resulting in a poor outcome or even a lost sale.
In this scenario it is not their skills that have changed but their attitude. Their attitude in turn impacts their ability to access their skills and therefore their results. Most salespeople I meet are more than capable of negotiating and selling, they have the skills but they do not always have the right attitude.
This situation plays out in all sorts of sales scenarios from prospecting to presenting and from running sales meetings to networking. To get better results you need to ensure that your attitude is always the best that it can be. I like to measure sales attitude on a scale of “1” to “10” where “1” is the most inappropriate and “10” is the most appropriate. As a professional salesperson you need to be selling from a “10”.
People often ask me what has changed in selling over the last few years and my answer is that “good enough is not good enough anymore.” We have to be better. A few years ago salespeople could get by without being at the top of their game. No longer. If you want to be exceptional, if you want to get great results, if you want to make sales and grow your business, then you have to be at the top of your game. You have to be a “10”.
Ask yourself what a “10” looks like for you? What is your optimum mindset for specific sales situations? And how can you go about delivering more of that? Even just thinking about it once in a while will give you that little edge that might boost you just enough to make more of a difference with your clients.
Copyright Gavin Ingham 2014.