Honestly, that is not something that ever came out of my mouth… nor did it ever come to mind. When I was a kid I wanted to be a chef because I loved to cook and eat. I wanted to be a Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2. I wanted to be a Madonna (before she did all the weird stuff). After watching A Few Good Men, I wanted to be a lawyer, and for a brief moment, I worked at Express and thought I wanted to be a fashion merchandiser. Why didn’t I dream of becoming a sales person or better said, an expert in sales strategy?
The truth is it didn’t seem like it would fit my personality. As a child, the idea of being a “sales person” meant I would have to wear polyester suits (ok, maybe I was watching WKRP in Cincinnati too much), stand around a cubicle area and drink coffee, beg people to buy my products, and be looked at as that person who is always selling something.
The fact is, while it’s highly unlikely that you’ve ever heard a child proclaim, “I want to be a sales strategy expert when I grow up” – there are many characteristics of a GREAT sales person that are innate. These characteristics can be seen early on. Great sales performance first requires innate God-given sales talent. We readily accept this idea in sports and entertainment. Michael Jackson was born with God-given talent; Kobe Bryant was born with God-given talent. It’s also true that great sales performers are born with God-given talent!
Following are 10 innate characteristics of a GREAT sales performer:
1) They are extremely positive! They don’t get discouraged easily, and their perspective is typically “the glass is half full."
2) They are problem solvers. They like to analyze the situation and figure out how to make it better. They don’t get stuck in the problem; they identify it and then focus on the solution.
3) They are very competitive. Whether they compete to be the best in the room or the best they can be, they are always striving for excellence!
4) They like to work with people. Great sales people are very personable, and others are naturally drawn to them.
5) They are extremely loyal. If you can earn their respect, and they know you respect them, and if they know you’re counting on them AND you believe in them… they will work hard to make you proud. They would never want to let you down.
6) They are direct. They are not afraid to ask the tough questions and they are not intimidated to ask for the order.
7) They are confident. They don’t get intimidated easily, and they can hold their own in a conversation—regardless of the title or rank of the person they’re talking with.
8) They are purposeful. They set goals and work diligently to achieve them. Goals matter!
9) They are thoughtful. They really care about their client’s success. They take it personally!
10) They are honest and extremely trustworthy. Clients know they can rely on them, and they inevitably become indispensible partners.
Next time you hear a kid say “I wanna be a fireman, or a doctor, or a rock star!”—think about the characteristics above. If many of them are prevalent, you could be looking at the next great sales performer! And if you’re a sales manager looking for your next great performer, when you come across someone who has the skill set you’re looking for AND all 10 characteristics above, HIRE THEM!
Oh and btw, my early perception of a “sales person” was completely wrong, as I’m certain most of you know! When I was a kid, if I knew the truth about what it’s really like to be a sales person… I’m quite certain I would have proclaimed “I wanna be a sales strategy expert!” Now that’s funny!
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Demrie Henry is a Performance Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.