Companies and individuals spend a lot of money on sales training in order to increase revenue, or in the case of individuals, to grow their incomes.  Entry level sales training teaches sales people what to say or present. More advanced training teaches salespeople what to ask.  Learning to ask questions to potential clients is a better way to gain more sales than just learning what to present.  However, there is still a large gap between sales people’s incomes who participate and complete the exact same question based sales training program.  Some of this can be explained by work ethic, more successful sales people typically prepare more and work harder.  However, while you can learn how to effectively ask questions to prospective clients, there are also certain personality traits I have learned that you will need to develop in order to be in the top 1% of wage earners in your profession.

In sales, asking questions is critical to your success. You have to ask questions to identify and qualify potential clients and then ask more specific questions to help uncover their real needs. In order to provide more value to the potential client than your competitors, you must ask better questions. If you become better at asking questions and develop the following seven traits, you will outsell everyone!

Empathy – People do business with individuals they like, but they are more likely to buy from sales people who demonstrate empathy towards them.  Empathy is not sympathy.  Empathy is the ability to understand another’s situation, feelings, and motives. It is one thing to be liked, it is another to be seen as someone who can relates to a client’s specific situation and offer guidance.

Ego Drive – Top sales people learn to develop internal motivation which allows them to work hard and be seen as confident. They also know there is a line between having the ego drive necessary to succeed, and being seen as someone who is egotistical.  Egotistical is not a personality trait that is attractive. Being ego driven is a trait that lets clients know with certainty that you’re an individual who is determined to succeed and one who has enthusiasm and confidence in what they are selling. Ego drive is the motor inside every great sales person.

Customer Service Focused – No longer can a sales person take the attitude of ‘sell them and leave them’. The entire world is connected 24 hours a day, and this ease of access to information has given rise to an abundance of customer service ranking websites.  If you mishandle a client, there is a very good chance they won’t just tell their close friends, they may also tell everyone on the Internet.

Resilience – Sales is one of the top earning professions in the world.  The rewards are great, but many enter the sales profession with great hope, only to find out that you hear a lot of no’s. Resilience is the ability to overcome obstacles for a long period of time to achieve a big goal. The top performers have developed the grit necessary to keep going past the no’s and start again with the same enthusiasm on display for each client meeting.

Seek Knowledge – People fall into two different decision making styles. They either make decisions first, and then seek affirmations, or they seek knowledge and expertise and then make a decision. If you want to break out of the decision making that has led you to fall short of your sales goals, you have to be in the latter of these two decision making styles. The people who are thriving in sales are always seeking knowledge to become better.

Process Driven – Successful companies all have a process for maximizing business systems and capabilities. The same is true of top sales people. They are process driven and build a sales process for attracting new clients.  They take each candidate through the same process that mirrors their client’s decision making cycle. What can be repeated, can be improved.

Adaptable – Successful sales people are able to work in the present and have a plan to get better tomorrow. They have managed to navigate the ever-changing business climate by acquiring the skills that allow them to adapt and grow. It’s not good enough to say you had a decent sales meeting, the top sales people document what went well and what could be improved upon after each client meeting.

No one is born having all of these traits, great sales people work to create them. Which of these traits do you have to work on to reach the top of your profession?

All the best!

Peter