Monday, October 25, 2010

21 Attributes of Extraordinarily Effective Salespeople (Attributes 1-7)

I had an interesting conversation recently with a business owner I’ve known for 25 years or so who has been a long-time follower of MSI. He told me it seemed the direction of many of my monthly topics had turned to sales, and he didn’t feel they applied to him because he doesn’t have a sales team. He is in a business with a physical location that serves consumers in the general population. Most people who do business with him find him through special offers by direct mail or word-of-mouth. I was surprised he felt the way he did.

We’re all in the sales game whether we know it or not. If we understand this fact, we can execute our sales activities that much better. Marketing involves attracting, converting, and retaining clients. The conversion portion of this process is where the sale happens. So whether we have dedicated salespeople who bear that title doesn’t determine whether we have salespeople in our businesses. We all do. How well they handle this function will determine whether we consistently grow and succeed.

Over the decades I’ve been a salesman and worked with clients’ salespeople, I’ve identified 21 attributes that are consistently prominent among those who are successful. They hold true with the person standing at a counter in the front lobby, the employee stocking shelves, cashiers, and other personnel just as much as they do with full-time inside or outside salespeople.

Today I’ll share the first seven of the 21 attributes with you. As you receive all 21 over the next couple of weeks, take time to review them and examine your own situation. Where are you strong? Where do you have room to improve? After I’ve shared all 21 attributes, I’ll share a method for making them part of how you and your staff do business.

Here are the first seven of the 21 attributes.

Extraordinarily effective salespeople:

1. Ask questions
No one likes to buy from a pre-programmed know-it-all sales presentation machine.

2. Listen
After you’ve asked meaningful questions, process the responses with sincerity.

3. Focus on the needs of the client
If anything comes ahead of the client’s need, your insincerity will shine through and your career as a salesperson will be short-lived.

4. Know when to stop talking
When you realize there isn’t a match between what you have to offer and what the client needs, or when the client has made a purchasing decision, be heads-up enough to realize it and simply stop talking.

5. Walk away from unproductive deals
If there is no foreseeable positive outcome (regardless of what that means in a given situation), be wise enough to walk away.

6. Only think in terms of mutual benefit
If the deal is good for you, but bad for the client, be ethical enough to correct the situation. If the deal is good for the client, but bad for you, be wise enough to correct the situation.

7. Help decision-makers look like heroes
If the fit is right, don’t let the decision-maker miss out on the opportunity to look good. If the fit is wrong, don’t let the decision-maker misstep and look bad. Help decision-makers look like heroes and you’ll always have insider advocates.

I’ll share the next seven attributes with you next week.

Here’s to your extraordinary sales success!

Bryan Waldon Pope


  1. Bryan,
    Last year was our worst year in business, we couldn't seem to give glass away. We bid on just about the same number of projects as the year before, but folks weren't going ahead and making the commitment to spend money.

    This year, to us it seems like things have gotten easier, we're getting more jobs (although they are often smaller than in the past.)

    But when I talk to gallery owners and other artists, they seem to feel that things are just as bad as last year, or worse.

    So we looked at what's different for us this year and it turns out that Jeanne has been doing more marketing than ever before and this is paying off. So salesmanship is playing a large part in our success. We are approaching more folks and presenting different ideas than we have in the past.

    And there is something to that idea that things are getting a little better. We have gotten some jobs from folks who have found us on the internet.

    So we're finding things get better with the economy and our sales efforts helping our personal economy to get better.

  2. David, you hit on an important point here: Showing up is half the battle. When we put effort into marketing, even if it isn't as good as we might hope, it still pays off.

    Keep it up! I look forward to more positive reports from you and Jeanne.