There’s no such thing as a natural-born salesperson

Crying baby in a salesperson's uniform and little cubicle

Successful selling traits can be taught

People like to say, “They’re a natural-born salesman.” Except they’re not.

​The reality is that people are no more born successful salespeople than they are born doctors, lawyers or any other profession. Salespeople, just like the rest of the world’s professions, are trained.

I created a list of successful selling traits I’ve observed in the 10 best home furnishings salespeople I’ve known. Some of these salespeople possess individual talents that aid in their selling success, but are not crucial to it. Some are quick-witted. They play mental combat with their customers. They always know what to say, and when to say it. This is a tough trait to teach.

​But the traits outlined in my “Gallery of Superstars” were those traits common to all 10.

1. Enthusiastic

Enthusiasm sells. Enthusiastic salespeople radiate confidence and trust. The most effective enthusiasm is bridled. When you are so excited you can hardly contain yourself, but do, you have bridled enthusiasm. Enthusiasm isn’t a flamboyant display of fancy adjectives describing your product.

Enthusiasm makes the trust sale, which leads to the product sale. Your enthusiasm for your product says, “You can trust me.” ​

​Here’s a simple formula for enthusiasm.

When you are with a customer, talk just a little bit louder than you normally do; talk just a little bit faster; open your eyes just a little bit wider and smile just a little bit broader. The key words are little bit.

2. ​Honest

Great salespeople always speak the truth. They don’t exaggerate or invent it. ​Selling is giving facts. ​Salespeople who make up facts forget what they say, and find themselves in trouble with contradictions. ​Customers often ask questions salespeople can’t answer. The honest salesperson makes the sale by saying, “That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer, but I’ll find out.” ​

There’s nothing wrong with not having every answer at your fingertips. This response proves to the customer that you can be trusted. The “trust sale” is made. The product sale is made.

3. ​Focused

The great ones always remember why they are where they are. They keep their mind and body together. ​If your feet are in front of a customer, your mind should be on the customer. ​

4. Positive

Successful salespeople expect success. They think about their good customers and anticipate more of them. ​You should refuse to listen to negative stories from other salespeople or merchants. Leave your personal problems at home. Tell yourself: “This is going to be a great day.”

5. Goal-oriented

Great salespeople have hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. They know where they’re going. They figure out how to get what they want. ​If your company gives you goals to reach, achieve them.

If not, set your own. ​You should know your average sales per-hour and have goals to increase it. The great ones are constantly pursuing a new personal best. They target on achieving their best day, best week, best month and best year.

6. ​Disciplined

The great ones don’t take shortcuts. They follow a system. They put pressure on the system to get results rather than putting pressure on themselves or their customers. ​The great ones follow the rules. They abide by store policies and dress codes.

7. Reliable

My “Gallery of Superstars” never miss a selling shift. You can count on them to arrive early for work, and leave late. They willingly attend sales meetings and training classes.

8. Clean

The great ones always look their best. They’re aware of the importance of first impressions. They dress to impress their customers, not co-workers or friends. Great salespeople look immaculate. Their hair is neat, fingernails are trimmed and clean, shoes are shined, clothes are not wrinkled — nothing is overlooked. You don’t need to look like you stepped out of Vogue, just professional.

9. Healthy

Why do healthy people sell more? It’s simple. They feel better, look better, have more energy and miss less work. It’s hard to sell when you’re sick; it’s impossible when you’re home in bed.

10. Knowledgeable

The great ones know their stuff. ​They’re knowledgeable. Gaining knowledge requires time and study. The great ones take the time to study, but they also show great results.

Every sales company has seen a new salesperson, with very little specific knowledge, step onto the sales floor and outsell the old pros who have been there forever.

How can this be? It’s simple: When a customer meets a salesperson who’s enthusiastic, honest, focused, positive, goal-oriented, disciplined, reliable, clean and healthy — the “trust sale” is made — the product sale is made.

As you gain knowledge, your results will improve further.

Give yourself a checkup from the neck up at least once a month. Pick your weakest trait and work to improve it.

Make these traits dominant; you will sell more.

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