For some salespeople, success is elusive. They struggle, search and try, year after year, to find financial security. Others seem to achieve great sales success effortlessly.
What’s the difference between successful and unsuccessful salespeople? Is it luck that leads to success, having the right contacts or selling the “hot” products or services?
Or is hard work, a powerful will to succeed or some other measurable quality, like persistence?
The gap between success and failure
While no one can say that one quality guarantees success or the absence of another means failure, the following list represents the differences between those who succeed and those who fail, particularly when it comes to prospecting:
- Planning. Most successful salespeople spend more time planning than they do in sales presentations. They plan to make time, plan calls and plan all selling activities. Below-average achievers devote most of their time to making sales calls and very little to sales planning.
- Specific goals. One of the major differences between successful people and unsuccessful people is how they set goals. Successful salespeople set both short- and long-term goals and monitor themselves continually to make sure those goals are met. They are extremely time-conscious, realizing every minute is a potential for income. Less successful salespeople fail to set goals, which can lead to time management problems.
- Enthusiasm. People want to do business with those who are upbeat, positive and demonstrate that they like what they’re doing. Dull doesn’t do it. Neither does blah, a common trait of the unsuccessful salesperson. Successful salespeople come across as positive and their customers usually feel positive about them.
- Commitment. Top salespeople earn their customer’s respect and their business by delivering for them. Selling isn’t about trying. It’s about delivering. This is one of the qualities that separates sales winners from losers. For sales achievers, commitment begins at the start of a customer relationship, and it never ends.
- Perseverance. Even top salespeople face failure every day. It’s the nature of the business. What determines sales success more than any other fact is the ability to fail successfully and keep trying, learning and improving.
- Follow-up. Many sales are lost because of a lack of consistent follow-up. Prospects are taking longer than ever to make decisions. Following up means staying abreast of the customer’s business and keeping an eye out for new trends, products or services that may impact the prospect’s business. Lack of follow-up is a common problem for unsuccessful salespeople.
- Value alignment. Successful salespeople make every effort to understand the customer and then relate to him or her. They realize that what they value is of little significance unless it’s also valued by customers. Less successful salespeople only discuss value when dealing with price cutters. And by then it’s usually too late.