6 Things You Didn’t Know About ‘Talented’ Salespeople

Customers, the average person and strangers all seem to have these very specific feelings about salespeople. However, most have never had a sales job. That’s like being one of those people who says they hate sushi even though they haven’t ever tried it! That’s silly.

Many people perceive salespeople to be ego-maniac, do-anything-for-a-dollar kind of people who will lie directly to your face if it will benefit them and their own self-interests.

My view: The best salespeople rarely ever sell, they never lie and they mostly say ‘no’.

When I tell people a little about what I do and they don’t really get it, I have to just say “I’m in sales’. They immediately think of used-car salesman or shoe salesman or people who sell some other relatively inexpensive, commoditized product in a heavily transactional environment. They don’t ever think of Investment Bankers or General Managers of Professional Sports Teams or Product Specialists at big SaaS companies. Then they say, ‘I could never do sales, I couldn’t take the constant rejection.’ Ugh.

So, to help everyone understand, I’ve put together a list of a few of the things most people don’t understand about salespeople.

#1 They say ‘no’ … a lot!

To be successful in sales you have to be very good at managing your time efficiently. How do these executives use that time wisely? They say ‘no’ a lot. Most perceive salespeople as ‘yes people’ but the reality is that those who are really trying to do right by their own business and do right by their prospective client will walk away very quickly if there is a problem their product can’t solve. The best salespeople spend the vast majority of their time on a relatively small list of prospective clients because they say ‘no’ to everyone else.

#2 They don’t ‘sell’ unless they’re sure their product can help.

To be successful in sales you have to be very good at managing your prospect qualifying process and understanding the real needs and business case for why the client wants to do anything and IF your product can help them achieve what they hope to accomplish. The only way to understand the whole picture is to spend +90% of your time asking questions, listening and learning.

#3 They spend very little time ‘selling’.

Most people percieve salespeople as ‘always on’ and in constant ‘sales mode’ but that just isn’t even close to reality. The best salespeople are a lot like professional athletes who ultimately get paid for how well they play when everyone is watching but most of the actual work is done when no one is around. The best professional athletes are those who work the hardest at practice, in the gym, watching tape, etc. The same is true for the best sales executives.

If I ‘work’ 60 hours in a week, less than five of those hours will be spent ‘selling’. The rest of the time is spent learning about my clients and prospective clients and understanding if/how my product/service can help them.

#4 Persuasion is a very small part of the job.

Selling is the act of ‘persuading someone of the merits of something’. The best sales folks are actively trying to ‘persuade’ someone on something a very small portion of the time. The best salespeople are only having conversations with those prospects whom they and their product can help and, for the most part, the prospect agrees. The ‘selling’ seems to come in when there is a thought that the prospect can do it with a lower-cost provider or that they don’t need to do it at all.

Also, most of the best salespeople are not naturally persuasive people. Most of the best salespeople can’t ‘sell sand to a camel in the desert’ or ‘a ketchup poscicle to a woman in white gloves’ or whatever other dumb metaphor there is. Most of the best salespeople carry strong views on a few key items in their business and spend their time trying to help their prospects see and agree with those views and the value of the product/service their company provides.

If you really believe in something and the value it carries for a prospective client, is it really ‘selling’? I don’t think so.

#5 They are authentic.

The best salespeople actually want to help you and your business A) make more money B) save more money C) grab market share D) beat the competition E) etc. Or, in other words, they actually want to help you and your business to improve.

#6 They are human beings.

So many customers have this perception that salespeople aren’t people. They have this perception that they’re one-dimensional robots only showing up at the meeting to take your money and run.

These stereotypes come from half-truths but stereotypes all come from somewhere, right? Of course, there are some one-dimensional sales people that don’t care about anything other that taking the money out of your pocket and putting it in theirs. Of course, there are liars and cheaters and those who will sell anything to anyone. But, there are also innacurate stereotypes about pretty much everyone.

Most salespeople care about doing well in their job, enjoying their work, being successful and providing for themselves and their families. But here’s the thing, most PEOPLE care about doing well in their job, enjoying their work, being successful and providing for themselves and their families.

Salespeople are people.

The best salespeople love to have impact, improve business results for their own organization and the clients they help and they enjoy the challenge of fighting for that change, that impact, those positive results. The best salespeople fight the good fight to improve the business they work for and the businesses they work with in the same way that most professionals try to do their part to improve things around them.

The best salespeople are professional advisors who see areas for improvement in an organization and are willing to stand up for what they believe in and fight the good fight for change, improved performance and the success every organization is chasing. These are the best salespeople, these are fighters in all of us.

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