What does it take to be a successful salesperson?
An outgoing personality?
A disciplined work ethic?
Those may help. But, those alone will have little impact unless they are part of a bigger framework built on three critical elements:
Competence tops the list because in the sales arena, you can “fake it” for only so long. Customers prefer to do business with salespeople who bring more to the table than an order form or a contract. They prefer salespeople who also bring insight and ideas they can use to improve, grow, or transform their businesses.
In that regard, you must be knowledgeable not only about your own business, industry, and products and services, but also about your customers’ businesses, their marketplaces, and their industries and industry trends. The more you know about your clients’ worlds, the better positioned you are to identify and make them aware of opportunities they can take advantage of (even if it doesn’t involve your products or services) and warn them about potential threats. When you help your clients improve their businesses, they tend to keep you around, even when your competitors come knocking at their doors.
Confidence is what enables you to put your knowledge and skills into practice. You must have confidence in your company’s ability to deliver the outcomes promised by its products and services. And, most importantly, you must have confidence in yourself. Confidence to ask your prospects and clients the questions that need to be asked…when they need to be asked. Confidence to share your thoughts and insights with them…even when it’s something they may not want to hear. Confidence to enter uncharted territory knowing that sometimes, the outcome may be less than stellar, but nonetheless will provide a learning experience.
Confidence is reinforced by competence. The more competent you are applying your knowledge and skill to the tasks at hand, the more confident you will be doing what needs to be done, especially when you need to venture outside your comfort zones.
Commitment “activates” the other two elements. Knowing what to do and how to skillfully do it is of little use if you don’t take action. Results come from motion, not meditation.
Commitment means binding yourself to a course of action regardless of your fear or the seduction of its companion, procrastination. It means having a purpose greater than simply closing another sale or earning another commission. If the meaning behind closing another sale or the significance of what you’ll do with the commissions you earn aren’t sufficiently important, then it’s easy to put the task off, perhaps while you look for a less “frightening” one.
Commitment also means being willing to invest the necessary time to properly prepare. Taking action without proper preparation is foolhardy, and perhaps worse than not taking action at all. While you may close a sale or two now and then, think of the reputation you are establishing along the way.
Competence, confidence, and commitment are not only critical elements for success in the sales arena, they are the underpinnings of success in almost any endeavor. A synergy effect is created when you bring the three elements together. When your commitment to act is backed by your competence, and bolstered by your confidence, your potential for accomplishment is unlimited.