Twenty-Four Attributes of Outstanding Salespeople (Part 1)


Twenty-Four Attributes of Outstanding Salespeople (Part 1)

Mediocre salespeople are on the defensive. They are cutting prices, engaging in giveaways, focusing on short term gains, and losing the trust of customers through unethical sales pitches and poor service. Excellent salespeople, on the other hand, are on the offensive. They sell value. They are confident that their products and services satisfy customer needs. They build lasting relationships by keeping their promises. They help their customers make purchases that will allow them to save money, time, or effort to get the results they want. Effective salespeople are widening the gap between themselves and their underperforming counterparts. These twenty-four attributes are characteristics of outstanding salespeople:

  1. They are passionate about their work – Salespeople who excel at meeting targets and earning high-performance bonuses are typically passionate people. They are more enthusiastic about their organisations’ products and services than salespeople who may be competent but are disinterested in their work. Excellent salespeople are zealous about improving both their performance and interpersonal skills. They are committed to resolving each customer’s problems by learning all they can about their customers’ expectations.
  2. They go the extra mile – Salespeople are often expected to take on a variety of roles (not just sales but advertising, problem-solving, collecting remittances, management, promotions, etc.). It is not surprising that underachieving salespeople fail to see the importance of these additional responsibilities as a way to improve their selling skills. Successful salespeople understand the big picture and can go the extra mile to exceed their customers’ expectations. Going the extra mile also means developing time management skills that ensure that customers are never disappointed in service before, during, and after a sale.
  3. They are a resource – Ineffective salespeople sell goods and services; good salespeople sell goods and services and themselves as a resource. Outstanding salespeople are prepared to provide advice, innovative ideas, and information about the products and services they sell. Follow-up phone calls are an opportunity to check on customer satisfaction with a product or service. Postcards serve as reminders when it is time for routine maintenance. Email or text messages are used to thank customers for their purchase, announce upcoming sales, or suggest upgrades. The goal is to build customer loyalty by being the first person a customer thinks of when they are contemplating a purchase.
  4. They are creative – Some salespeople may shrug off the idea of sales and marketing being a creative endeavour, saying “there isn’t anything new in selling.” This could not be further from the truth. Salespeople who run profitable accounts know that they always need to be on the lookout for new ways to connect with former or potential customers. Innovative use of a variety of sales strategies will help them to satisfy their customers and establish themselves as professional salespeople, not just a person who sells things.
  5. They invest in themselves – Personal growth is crucial to the success of sales and marketing professionals. Communication skills improve as salespeople seek out classes in public speaking, take leadership roles in professional organisations, and read books – books that offer insights into new sales techniques, manuals that increase their knowledge of the product or service they represent, and biographies of men and women who have built successful careers in sales and marketing. A quest for knowledge and self-improvement requires an investment of money, time, and commitment, but the rewards will exceed the costs.
  6. They are authentic – Star sales professionals are successful because their work ethic and on-the-job performance resonate with hard work, honesty, and reliability, all of which translate into a quality of authenticity that customers value.
  7. They love what they do – Successful salespeople enjoy their work. A customer’s search for the best product or service to meet their needs should be taken as a challenge to find the very best option available for that customer. They relish the opportunity to delight the customer. They do not see themselves in competition with others in their profession, but typically set for themselves sales targets that are higher than those set by management.
  8. They are service-oriented – Professional salespeople build their reputations by providing superior service that assures customer satisfaction. A disappointed customer is a threat to a salesperson’s privileged status unless and until they work diligently to correct the problem. Failures are inevitable, but failures are also opportunities to learn and grow in the profession.
  9. They provide support – Effective salespeople know that they will not always have the solutions to clients’ problems without turning to others from both inside and outside their organisation. Technicians or financial experts, for example, may help steer both the salesperson and the customer towards a successful solution to problems. Building a professional network establishes relationships that reassure customers that their salesperson is smart enough to ask for expert advice.
  10. They are late to bed and early to rise – Fruitful salespeople work hard. They know that success in their job depends on delighting their customers. If customers encounter a problem with a product in the middle of the night, or a service is needed immediately, a professional salesperson will make the time and effort to respond immediately.
  11. They believe – Professional salespeople have faith in themselves, their mission, their organisation, and the products/services they offer. This belief influences everything they do. By delivering high-quality products and services, they trust that their customers will keep bringing business to them.
  12. They are focused – Trying to meet the expectations of several customers at the same time can be a challenge. Star salespeople know that remaining focused is critical. Customers who can tell when they are being rushed to make a decision or that their salesperson is distracted will often walk away and look for the undivided attention they deserve. Success is never achieved by juggling multiple responsibilities. Focus means doing one thing at a time and doing it well.

Have you had an encounter with a salesperson who was unprofessional in their line of duty? If yes, did the experience discourage you from using the product or service?

(Adapted from Sales Management – A Primer for Frontier Markets, by Robert Hinson, Ogechi Adeola and Abednego Feehi Okoe Amartey, Information Age Publishing Inc. USA, 2019)

Dr Ogechi Adeola is an Associate Professor of Marketing and the Academic Director of the Sales & Marketing Academy at Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University.

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