Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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8 Core Competencies That Effective Salespeople Share

June 28, 2013

Do you possess them? Can you develop them?

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People come to the sales profession from all directions, for all kinds of reasons. Maybe you took some of those career guidance quizzes way back when and scored high on the “sales” traits. Or it runs in the family. Or you liked the idea of working irregular hours and meeting a lot of people. Or you wanted to work with a particular company, and sales was where you seemed to fit best.

You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase, “natural-born salesperson.” Is there such a thing, or do people who want to sell have to work on developing the right skill set?

I think it’s a little of both. The best sales professionals I know have some innate characteristics that mesh well with the profession. But they’re also constantly doing self-evaluation and honing their techniques and approaches.

That said, here are some of the personality traits and learned skills that the most effective salespeople I know possess:

  • They genuinely enjoy interacting with people. Anyone who doesn’t like to engage others in personal and business conversations has no business in this business.
  • They’re confident in their own abilities. It doesn’t take an FBI profiler to spot salespeople who aren’t.
  • They know how to build rapport early in the sales cycle. You can’t count on clicking quickly with every prospect. And some simply won’t respond to your best efforts. But without coming on too strong too quickly, the most successful salespeople I know can establish a connection in the first meeting.Todd Martin 053113 image 2
  • They qualify quickly. Is this customer a likely prospect or not? Too much time spent on this stage will cut into your commissions because you’re wasting too much time. It probably annoys the prospect, too.
  • They know their way around basic business processes. You don’t need an MBA, just a good understanding of concepts like goals and objectives, measurements of success, etc., and the ability – and willingness – to implement them.
  • They don’t close fast. Rather, they see a successful sale as a series of small victories that occur as both they and their prospects determine if there’s a good match.
  • They broaden their horizons. Depending on what you’re selling, you may be interacting with populations you would never encounter in your personal life. They might have interests and worldviews that differ from yours. Take the time to get up to speed on their cultural references, and determine what problems and needs they might have. Helps you with the small talk stage, too.
  • They’re not afraid to enjoy their work. You’ve seen these salespeople. Made you want to buy, didn’t it?

How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

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Your profession isn’t as intense, and you’ll never have your face on a box of Wheaties, but you can join the ranks of the top earners if you build on what you were given.  Athletes are a good example of the nature vs. nurture argument. Some people are born with physical and mental traits that make them potential Olympians. But the ones who get the gold also train and train and train.

Stock images courtesy of


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