Top 10 Characteristics of a Star Salesperson

ByÁngel Bonet- 19 / 05 / 2014

Every time I give a talk about sales excellence, there's one question that nearly always come up: Are great salespeople born or made? The truth is, that it's a very difficult question to answer. The rare stars I usually meet in my projects tend to have a mixture of both things: they've been born with a natural "gift" for personal relationships and may even have an innate sales intuition or sixth sense, but they've also deliberately honed these qualities. If you asked me to choose, I'd pick the made salesperson rather than the born one. In the 21st century and the information age, the sales process and rigorous sales mechanisms are more important than magic. And let's not fool ourselves: there are very few salespeople with innate skills out there, so the best course of action is clearly to create a good method to back us up and a large, uniform and controllable sales force.

When I say "star salespeople", I'm referring to the type of people who fulfill two specific conditions: one, they obtain results in terms of revenues and profit margins; and two, they follow the company sales process to the letter.

After more than 15 years analyzing sales networks, I've come up with what I consider to be the top 10 characteristics of great salespeople:

1. THEY HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE: According to a study by the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, sales success is only 23% dependent on intellectual skills and 77% on emotional intelligence. In other words, selling is a profession for optimistic people with a talent for infecting others around them with their enthusiasm.

2.  THEY SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH THE BEST. Star salespeople shine they surround themselves with great teams and partners. They welcome healthy competition and capitalize intelligently on the synergies generated by the power of the sales team (especially on major accounts)..

3. THEY HAVE EXCELLENT PUBLIC RELATIONS SKILLS. Star salespeople make sure they are well-known and build a reputation as an expert in the product they are selling. The way they do this is by being seen at key sector events, either as a delegate or speaker, and sharing their knowledge through social media and articles in the press, all with the ultimate aim of turning their clients into unconditional FANS.

4. THEY PREPARE THE SALE. Abraham Lincoln famously said,"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." Nothing in the sales process is random. Selling is more of a science than an art. If you really analyze the key people involved in a sales decision and influence them correctly, it's hard not to sell.

5. THEY OBSERVE THE SITUATION BEFORE THEY SPEAK. Of the time spent with clients, 70% is all about listening. The true merit of a great salesperson is obtaining information from clients and tailoring the offer to their needs. High yielding questions are crucial here because they promote responses that are more than one phrase or word, that require thought. As well as denoting intelligence they extract the best information!

6. THEY KNOW THE ART OF CLOSING THE DEAL. If there is anything artistic about selling, it lies not in the method but in closing the deal. Star salesperson develop a sixth sense about the right moment to do this and, more importantly, they have the courage to prompt it. Fear about closing the deal is one of the main problems in sales networks.

7. THEY LOVE THEIR CLIENTS. The real work begins once the sale has been made. In other words, they don't just forget about the client and move on to the next one, but spend time and energy finding out if what they sold fulfills the client's expectations. And that way, they obtain more sales with the client and good references to use with other clients.

8. THEY LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES. They love receiving a "NO". A "NO" in selling is part of the job, and because it's normal there's no reason to become frustrated or demotivated. The key is in knowing how to analyze the reasons behind a "NO", and how to improve your success rate.

9. THEY ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME. I don't believe in luck. You make your own luck by looking for it and then pursuing it, by working flat out! Great salespeople have a knack for being just where they need to be, but it's thanks to persistence and sheer hard work.

10. THEY ACT! Finally, they are people who take action. They change the status quo of things. They are "rainmakers" (an Apache word for those who make it rain in times of drought). Once star salespeople have analyzed the sales process, they don't waste a second before putting it into practice.

There is no doubt that if an average salesperson follows these 10 rules, he has every chance of becoming or at least resembling a star. The problem is that many salespeople waste time lamenting the crisis or blaming their failure on issues with competitors or within their own company instead of ACTING!