Everything in life is a negotiation
To many people, the word selling implies manipulating or pressuring someone into purchasing something they neither want or need. Fair.
With this being said, what do both CEOs and business owners both agree on as being the strongest skill contributing to success in any given field?
Thats right, sales skills.
Sales skills are simply enhanced communication skills and regardless of the industry, selling is little more than explaining the logic and benefits behind a concept or idea.
As an employer, employee or freelancer, offering a product, service or idea – you are always selling something and when it comes to business, the art of communication is critical for success.
Forbes attributes sales professionals as the best CEOs through their understanding of the intangible side of business. While sales jobs are not always very glamorous, learning how to sell is the ultimate training for the business world.
Here are some of the skills and habits shared by elite sellers and successful people:
1: Relationship Building
Building rapport is critical for every relationship in the life of a salesperson. Whether its in person or over the phone, effective salespeople know how to find a common ground with whoever they’re talking to, as well as their likes, dislikes, wants and needs.
Salespeople are experts at finding out about a person and then being able to talk to them for a long time, however, being able to build relationships is not only a critical business skill, but a critical life skill if you want to achieve success in any given field.
2: Goal Setting
Efficient salespeople always have a target in mind. While working, they’re constantly thinking about this target and what it’s going to take to get there, automatically making them more likely to achieve success.
If you set a goal and embed it into your mind, your decisions are going to be far more likely to lead to success. Goal setting helps you to understand your long-term destination while providing the short-term motivation to get there. Just figure out where you want to go and what it’s going to take to get there.
Arguably more of a state of mind than a skill, confidence is usually what tells a person that they want what you have. It is the act of putting someone at ease through talking with sincerity and conviction and, due to it’s power, many elite sales professionals rely on confidence as their main selling tool.
Confidence is also a belief in abilities and a certainty that a chosen course of action is the most effective. People who are self-confident acknowledge their capacity for success in any given situation and if they want something, they go after it. They do not rely on approval from others to affirm their existence and they capitalise on opportunities that come their way. People aren’t always born with it, but it’s a valuable attribute that can be continuously refined and improved.
4: Active Listening
Not only do efficient sellers find the right questions to ask, they also actively listen to everything their prospects say. They are looking for any mutual interests or talking points, as well as making a mental list of all of the clients wants, needs, likes and dislikes. This allows the sales professional to modify their sales pitch to the tune of the customer while already in conversation, sounding like a knowledgable expert and not a sales bot.
Effective communicators know the difference between hearing and listening. You can hear everything but listen to nothing and, like most things in life, the key to success in sales is in the finer details. Active listening is a skill developed by sales professionals, effective leaders and anyone wanting to build lasting relationships with those around them.
Successful sellers are quick thinking problem solvers. They are often faced with difficult situations, tough negotiations and time restraints with not much more than their wits and the internet, but the best always figure it out.
An article from Harvard Business Review calls them Modern MacGyvers, without the life and death situations. Joseph Curtis, VP of enterprise sales as Salesforce, says that this is because resourcefulness is as much a mindset as it is a skill.
Constant rejection can be a tough pill to swallow, but if a salesperson wants to be successful, they have no choice but to shake it off like water from a duck’s back.
The best never let short-term failures throw them off the path to achieving success and they move from opportunity to opportunity with the same levels of energy and enthusiasm. Someone said no today? Challenge accepted. An elite seller will call and try again tomorrow, the day after and again next week.
“Refuse to attach a negative meaning to the word ‘no.’ View it as feedback. ‘No’ tells you to change your approach, create more value or try again later.” – Anthony Iannarino
Whether it be in sales, or life, every failure is just an opportunity to find another road to success and persistence is what will take you there.
7: Time Management
As the old saying goes, Time is money, and every minute a seller is not engaging in selling activities means lost opportunities and lost revenue. Success in sales involves managing numerous tasks, some both tedious and time consuming, but all critical to overall success.
A seller will quickly learn to prioritise tasks and work in an efficient manner, or risk being lapped by the pack when it comes to results. Same goes for success in life, do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.
8: Knowing When to Walk Away
As important as it is for a salesperson to be persistent with their prospects, the best also know when to walk away. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for efficient salespeople to be chasing dead end leads or barking up empty trees. The best quickly learn to recognise when it’s time to move on to other opportunities.
Successful people often ask themselves “is this really the best use of my time,” and just like salespeople, they know when to count their losses and walk away from things that no longer benefit them. Just because something has had a large time investment, it doesn’t mean it’s still worthwhile.
9: Always Selling
Elite sales professionals know that sales is a long term game and that they constantly have to be searching for opportunities to achieve success. When meeting a new person, they leave the best impression possible and make sure the person knows about they products and services they offer.
Success in life also comes from recognising opportunities and chasing them down. Always be selling. Even in the simplest of tasks, like sending a CV or going to a job interview, you are selling the idea of yourself to another person or organisation. Sales professionals learn this as a second nature and take it into any aspect of their lives.
If you want something then use every opportunity to take yourself closer to getting it.
10: Taking Time Out
A sales professional’s energy alone can make or break their chances of success in any given situation. Small mistakes can be costly so when an elite seller sees any dip in performance, the take some time out to recharge. On top of regular breaks throughout the day, elite sellers will also achieve adequate sleep on a daily basis.
Sleep promotes cognition and memory, reduces stress, aids learning and recharges our mental and physical batteries, helping us make the most of every day.
Efficient salespeople will recharge at regular intervals throughout the day, while always ensuring to get a good nights sleep. Plentiful sleep and regular breaks improves mental and physical health while reducing stress and allowing our body to perform at maximum capacity.
The best sales professionals are elite communicators and effective self-managers.
Anyone who has worked in sales knows that emotion drives the process while logic and facts rarely win over potential buyers. While the list above skills are critical to the success of an elite sales professional, while also stepping stones for success in life, the most effective tool in the sales process is the art of communication.
“Great leadership is found at the intersection of wisdom, persuasion, and empathy. Sales professionals have a unique understanding of the human element and tend to embody this mix of skills in just the right amounts.” – Chris Myers.
Regardless of your career path, you’re always going to be selling so consider investing some time into developing the skills listed above.
About the author: Harrison has more than five years experience transacting both residential and commercial assets in Australian property markets and is currently the trainer and supervisor of an international sales team based in Barcelona.
If you are looking to start a career in sales, don’t hesitate to get in touch.