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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Salespeople

From your experience or in your estimation what are the 7 habits of highly effective salespeople that sales professionals striving to be the best should adopt? - by Community Mailbox
In my many years of training and consulting many sales professionals will ask me about how to get over a slump. And, many sales managers ask me how to tell good sales people from average.

I believe in the 80/20 rule. My clients tell me that 20 percent of their sales professionals are getting 80 percent of the business. And, when I survey sales people they are concerned that they are not getting their share of business. They want more and are perplexed about what separates the good from the high achiever.

We all strive to be the best. Sales managers clearly want the best and CEO’s clamor it. So what then is the correct formula for bringing in more business?

In 18 years of sales experience and training I have narrowed it down to something I call 7 Habits of Highly Effective Sales professionals.”

1. Customer Knowledge
One of the many pet peeves that sales managers have with their sales professionals is a person that lacks understanding of their client. In today’s very fast and competitive world a sales professional must understand who their client is.

Recently, I watched a review a sales professional’s performance for the past year. When the sales manager queried the person about specific account information, the sales person became flustered. Unfortunately, other than saying the client is a multinational pharmaceutical company, the sales person knew little else.

The customer requests that you understand their business. A client is looking for solutions to business issues and they are looking to you as the sales person and account person to have the answers. Without understanding the client how can you understand how you might help them?

You are probably asking yourself, must I need to do in order to understand the client. First you must get a copy of the annual report. Read the information to determine what type of products the client is developing. Understand the competitive landscape and how your product or service can thwart competition. Learn about the competitors for new business opportunities.

When you obtain the report, read the president’s message, the financial information and lines of business, Try to understand where your products fit within the organization’s umbrella. Finally, look at the firm’s WEB site and review it for updates to the annual report, look for business climate changes. And, look for the anomalies in business so that your product or service can resolve the issues.

Second, read the newspapers and press releases for the most current customer information. Determine from your readings how your service or product can assist your customer during good times and bad.

Third, it is imperative to use the most widely accessible resource at your fingertips-the Internet. There are voluminous resources available such as www.factiva.com, http://interactive.wsj.com/, and www.nytimes.com. And the numerous portals such as Excite and Yahoo are constantly providing real time business content. Review any of these sites to gain quick and up to the moment access on your customers.

The sales person that does their homework and studies the customer and the changing landscape will learn how to quickly adapt to market conditions by finding solutions to customer issues. By becoming one with the customer and understanding their respective business you become a reliable business partner for today, tomorrow and well into the foreseeable future.
2. Questioning Aptitude
You get home in the evening, you are ready to sit down to a hot, cozy and comfortable dinner and the telephone rings. Don’t you hate that! Feeling obliged you pick up the telephone only to hear a sales person hawking a product or service. They talk and talk and talk. The person reads from a script and does not ask us one question. He or she does not qualify the opportunity. Moreover, he or she speaks so much that we quickly become disturbed and terminate the call.

The best sales professionals learn to engage their audience. The first task of the sales professional during an appointment whether direct, telephone or cold, must be to question the customer. Questions are a sales rule. Questions assist in uncovering useful information such as buyer behavior, decision criteria, budgets, time frame, competition, etc. These are issues they typically are not presented by the customer so it is imperative for a sales professional to ask them.

Most important, questions asked by sales professional must be open ended. A question such as “Do you have a budget for this project?” will give you a “yes” or “no” response. I mentioned that the purpose of questioning is to engage the customer in conversation. An effective sales professional will ask the customer an open ended question such as, “If you had a budget for this product what might it look like and when might you decide to make a purchase?” The revision entitles the client to think through the possibility of using this product and requesting purchase money. By revising the question, the client provides more information and sets the stage for the effective sales professional to ask more qualifying questions and perhaps uncovering any and all sales objections.
Finally, the sales person is able to discover more about the next habit, uncovering the wants and needs of the buyer.
3. Interpretation of Consumer Wants and Needs
There are several paths and processes to follow during a sales presentation; however the most important one understands buyer’s wants and needs. In order to sell anything to anyone, an effective sales professional most question the customer to understand why they want or why they might need the product.

Many of my clients tell me that they have exuberant sales forces, yet they are not effective in closing business. With analysis we discover that representatives are excited but they are so busy telling about product that they fail to ask questions. This communication breakdown takes the focus not only off of the customer but off the customer wants and needs. Without uncovering need, what can you possibly sell?

The solution here is to ask so many open ended questions, that your presentations become conversational. This will take some time but once you master the art of solid questioning, you can then formulate questions that hone in on wants and needs. When you do this you will notice your sales increase.

One final word on wants and needs- customers will also purchase from you for personal and/or professional reasons. Remember to ask yourself, what is in it for the customer? Are they looking for job recognition, cost effectiveness, or perhaps personal happiness with your product? As you progress with your line of questions, try to uncover what I call the “Truth of Purchase.”
4. Ability to establish client rapport
Without question, building a relationship with your customer is vital. People want to have relationships with people. They won’t buy large quantities of product from the Internet because they want to trust a live human being. If you have good relationships with clients, you will be able to sell to them five, ten, and 15 years down the road. Think of a client relationship as a lifetime investment. This portion of the process fits in with my earlier thoughts of becoming a consultant not just a sales professional.
5. Uncanny ability to ride the Sales Roller coaster
Sales are volatile process. One day is favorable, the next sullen, the next euphoric and so on. Each day brings a new experience and new challenge and a new adventure. In order to be an effective sales professional one must be flexible, and adaptable to change. Each opportunity, call and presentation brings a new question or perhaps education.

For years, I tell my clients to become a chameleon and adjust to the changing topology. You must because the instant you become frustrated the customers see this. Think of the customer as a mirror-they will mimic your behavior. If you are happy, they will be, you are sad they are too.

Since my first days on the job I have carried a small pocket mirror to every sales appointment. I look at the mirror prior to my call, I ensure myself that I am either happy or neutral. I look for my facial expressions and if possible body posture. By instilling a positive attitude and a neutral posture, I enable customers to feel at ease and do not allow them to understand some of the personal and professional trials and tribulations. I focus on them, their wants and needs and their contentment with my product and personal service.
6. Understands the Know’s Principle
The customer; the prospect; the product; the topic you are going to speak about when you meet with the prospect or client; the competitors, the marketplace and the issues that surround them; the questions you want to ask; the possible objections; the closing technique; the hot buttons factors which allow the client to say yes to you; and finally, your own limitations. You must know what you can and cannot commit to. Never lie, never cheat and never ever over-commit. In order to succeed your must KNOW how far you can go, based on how much you KNOW about your product and customer. If you never KNOW, the only sound you will ever here is NO!
7. Honest and Enthusiastic
Love what you do, love the product you are selling and love the people you sell with. If you don’t, then get out. If you don’t like what you sell, prospects will read right through you and think, “Why should I buy from someone who is not passionate about what they say or do?” Your energy and enthusiasm come through on each and every call, if you are dispassionate, you will not ask the right questions, you will not read the buying signs, hear objections and importantly will not make any money.
What you can do today to improve!
Commit to your boss, to your job, and to being the best you can be. Identify with the client, determine their wants and needs and then develop a plan to help them. If you do this, the client will trust you now and forever! Also, commit to everlasting improvement for yourself—set bigger and better goals, think of new ways to deliver better customer service, determine how to augment daily challenges.

2006. Drew Stevens All rights reserved.

About Drew Stevens PhD
Drew Stevens PhD is known as the Sales Strategist. Drew assists organizations to dramatically accelerate business growth. He is the author of seven books including Split Second Selling and Split Second Customer Service and Little Book of Hope and is frequently called on the media for his expertise. Drew was recently nominated as one of 50 Top Sales Experts. Download a FREE copy of Drew’s White Paper on “Selling Effectiveness” or “Business Building” e-book at http://www.drewstevensconsulting.com/freestuff - by Drew Stevens
The best list I've seen so far was:
  1. Outcome Setting
  2. State Control
  3. Time and Self Management
  4. Rapport
  5. Listening
  6. Questioning
- by Slick
Most important, questions asked by sales professional must be open ended. A question such as “Do you have a budget for this project?” will give you a “yes” or “no” response. I mentioned that the purpose of questioning is to engage the customer in conversation. An effective sales professional will ask the customer an open ended question such as, “If you had a budget for this product what might it look like and when might you decide to make a purchase?”
That's advice for people who want to continue selling scared. The best and most effective conversations can truly come from asking "Yes" or "No" questions. I know that conventional sales "training" often spouts the opposite, but I see it as one of the biggest myths in selling. YES and NO gives a true professional something tangible to work with. It engages dynamics. It fosters respect. It inspires CREATIVE LISTENING rather than reactive listening.

Is there an exception? Yes--absolutely. In cold calling particulary on the phone, it would be difficult to engage in a conversation asking closed ended questions. The circumstances are dramatically different than face to face interviews or in advanced stages of the selling process.

I don't know if there are seven habits..nine habits...or a hundred, but I'll list seven for the sake of the topic.

Creative Listening
Strategic Thinking (Big Picture and Small Steps)
Relentless Learning Towards Mastery
Promise Keeping
Beginning With The End In Mind

....and more. - by Ace Coldiron
in no order

1. time management
2. Passion (everyone wants to be the best, duh. But if you don't have passion nothing is gonna drive you to the level of the best)
4. balance in life
5. goal setting
6. honesty
7. followup - by richardgale
The key to achieving this goal is to align oneself to principles of a character ethic and to values that are universal and timeless. - by harjos
1. Good Questions
2. Listen
3. Sell
4. Good Questions
5. Listen
6. Sell
7.Have Fun

Really though, I think both open ended and closed ended questions are REQUIRED in any sales process.

You must know when to use each and what to do with the answers. You have two ears and one mouth, use accordingly. - by tw5270
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