What Makes a Great Salesman?


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Today’s sales world is so incredibly different than it was 15 years ago. Or even 5. Today’s salesperson works in an extremely complicated business environment with tools like The Cloud, tablet computers that weigh a pound, iPad’s that allow you to connect anywhere at anytime of the day or night. You can be 10,000 miles away from your office, and yet, be in constant contact. When I started as a salesman 26 years ago, I couldn’t even dream about the technology tools that I now have at my fingertips. This is un-heard of technology and it is only going to get faster and more efficient. In the old days, fax machines and high-powered cell phones gave you contact with a customer or your office. Beepers. Does anyone remember beepers?

However, with all of these advances in technology, the thing that still reign’s supreme in sales is face-to-face meetings and sales with your customers. There is nothing, in my experience, that will ensure your success more than actually meeting with a prospect or a current client. However, there are many more difficulties and challenges that as a salesman you must overcome. Customers are so much more educated now than they were in the past, and they demand higher levels of quality, style, and versatility. They will expect superb service. In this market, "selling yourself" is no longer the key to sales success. Today's educated and tough customer wants more than "a shoeshine and a smile." He or she wants proof and facts. Being a Salesperson means that you can't concentrate on a single aspect of business, such as one narrow product-type or customer-type. The markets are far more diverse and require much more flexibility to trends and needs.

Being a salesman offers many benefits:

  • It can offer you true freedom of expression
  • There is no ceiling to your earning potentials
  • It truly is a daily challenge
  • Thru your personal achievements and skills, you can obtain real and lasting security.
  • Being a salesman is fun, when you have mastered the art of persuasion. There really is nothing like the feeling of having a customer like you and then sign a contract to do business with you. It is one of the best feelings in the world.

I am currently still an active salesman in the Midwest. I have approximately 35 customers that represents over 2,800 accounts. Many of my clients have been with me for over 20 years. They trust me, they like me, they rely on me to tell them the truth … even tho it is not what they want to hear. I cannot stress how important it is to be trustworthy. If you have this, or develop this with your customers, then you will have a very long and very successful career or business.

Portrait of senior salesman showing tool to female customer in hardware store
Pictured: senior salesman in action

Top 8 Qualities of a Salesman

Below is a list of the Top 8 Qualities that you as a salesman or saleswoman should practice and practice until it is an unconscious part of who you are. Or if you are a business owner and have salesmen on your team, then make sure this is part of what you expect of them, as they are representatives of your company.

  1. Be completely and totally prepared. Always analyze your prospect ahead of time. Have a clear idea of how you are going to help them. Expect that they are going to have questions for you as well as objections. Be so prepared that you have an answer to each and every question they may have.
  2. Be happy and enthusiastic about meeting this new prospect, or this customer again. Let them see that you are excited to meet them and about the opportunity they have given you to do business with them. It is always flattering to feel that someone thinks that you are important. Show them that.
  3. They know you have competitors. Everybody has them – even your new prospect. Instead of bad-mouthing the competitors, tell it like it is. Tell your new customer what your competitors do, and then show them how you can do better. This will show that you have confidence in the products you are selling. This may just cause the new customer to sign right then and there. And wouldn’t that be sweet?
  4. Bring everything that you have to offer. Service, quality, price… If you only bring the price list, then that is the only thing you will be judged on. And there is never any profit to be made from being the cheapest out there.
  5. Never be dishonest! Always be truthful and have integrity in what you say and do. White lies never work. They will always come back to haunt you. And once they do, forget about it. Nobody will ever trust you and nobody will do business with you.
  6. Always listen to what the customer has to say. Always! In essence, they are the boss. The ideas and thoughts they have are of utmost value and you need to show that you are listening. Now, if they are wrong or have a misconception, be patient and kind in informing them that they may be a little misguided, and then back up your reasoning with proof.
  7. Dress professionally and have great hygiene. You always want to show the customer that you have a careful and professional manner about you. That way, they will enjoy working with you, because everyone enjoys being associated with professional and considerate people.
  8. Never start or get into an argument with a customer. Never make the customer look bad. Even if they are wrong or if they are rude. Never get into it with them. If you feel like the customer is being insulting or rude, then very gently ask them if there is something that you have done to make them angry. Most times … they will tell you. Most times you won’t even know what you’ve done. Just sincerely apologize and ask if they still want a meeting, or would they like to reschedule. If they insist on still being rude, then make your apologies and leave. For whatever the reason, the damage is done. But never lose your cool. This is a very small world, and it will get around. Don’t let it. Always act like a professional.

Related: Top 10 Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur

In conclusion. Being a salesperson can be a very gratifying and financially successful career. It will allow you to grow as a business person, as well as a human being. However, as with most careers, you need to work at it and constantly learn how to improve. Keep learning! Stay up to date with the latest techniques and technology, as they will only help you. And lastly, and most important, don’t be afraid to meet your clients - face-to-face. This is the best way, and quickest way to earn their trust. Treat them as you do your friends, whether they are or not. If you treat them with respect and honesty, then they will reciprocate in kind.

About The Author

John Montana

John Montana has been a successful salesman since 1990. He currently lives with his wife and travels between Chicago and Los Angeles. His site ABMSNOW offers tips and small business ideas on how to be more successful - no matter what your product is.

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