Let me tell you… Figuring out how to become a better salesperson doesn’t have to be a total mystery. I’ve seen some people take to sales like a duck to water, but others have a rockier transition—and that’s okay.
Don’t be discouraged. Like most things, sales best practices can be learned. In fact, taking actionable, targeted steps towards improving your sales strategy is the best way to smash those quotas.
In this post, I’ll be delving into those qualities that make a salesperson great. So, let’s get started.
- What are the 5 qualities of a good salesperson?
- How to use technology to become a better salesperson
- How to become a good salesperson: 5 ways to start
- Okay, so how do you become a top salesperson?
It’s no secret. Salespeople can sometimes get a bad rep. Buts that’s a little… unfair. (I’m also a little biased.)
In my experience, a good salesperson almost always embodies the same few qualities. That being said, there are also many awesome sales reps who have years and years of sales experience—but find it hard to hit their number month after month. Why is that?
Let’s look at the five top qualities of a good salesperson.
1. A wealth of product knowledge
Every good salesperson I’ve ever met demonstrates impeccable product knowledge. After all, you can’t sell something that you don’t understand.
Sketchy tactics never work well in a sales pitch. Today’s prospects know their stuff and aren’t easily fooled. That means honesty lies at the center of every sales conversation you have.
Confidence is key when it comes to the sales process. A good salesperson needs to be the top authority for the message they’re delivering. And this is a direct byproduct of #1, which I mentioned a little earlier. Knowing your product inside and out is the absolute best thing you can do to naturally make yourself sound and just be more confident when you’re selling.
Plus it comes with a few perks too, like making you more resilient and unafraid of risk and rejection, because you already know what objections your prospects might bring up—and how exactly to counter them.
Get ready to work. Hard. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about top sellers, it’s that they don’t enter vacation mode just because they’re nearing the sales quota. They give 200 percent—300 percent of the time. (And of course, the bonuses help.)
4. Networking skills
“Networking” is a word that many people dread. But good salespeople also tend to be strong networkers. To be successful, it pays to make your clients, prospects, and partners know and love you.
And then there’s networking as part of your larger sales team.
I always tell people this: Help out and seek help from your team members consistently. Usr positive body language whether you’re networking face-to-face or just on a phone call. There are a ton of studies that show that better posture and facial expressions can trick your body into just sounding most positive and confident, and I find that it definitely helps to keep you in the zone.
5. Dedication to follow-ups
Follow-up is an essential for sales.
And between you and me, it’s one of the biggest things that have made me successful as a salesperson.
So how do you do it well?
Set a date for a follow-up sales meeting before saying goodbye to a prospective customer. Being responsive equals being remembered. And being remembered means you have a better shot at boosting those conversion rates.
I promise this works. Following through will keep your name and voice fresh in prospects’ minds. It pays to be persistent, and your sales funnel will thank you. Most good salespeople don’t give up until they receive a flat-out no. (And sometimes not even then.)
Here’s the thing. There are a ton of skills and personality traits that will help you become great at sales. But if you didn’t get lucky with the genes and don’t have the natural instincts for sales—or if you just don’t have time to get dramatically better quickly, what can you do?
The short answer: technology.
Rolodexes? Finally gone for good.
Lone travelers selling their wares on the road? That’s just the stuff of old movies now.
To be good at sales today, you need tools that are multifunctional and mobile. As I’ll show you in a bit, having the right devices and technology can really help you create a more flexible—and effective—sales process.
Use the right tools to open up communication
There are some great tools out there. Speaking from my own experience, CRMs and cloud communications platforms have been huge in helping me hit my numbers and become an even better salesperson.
Knowing your way around a CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot is super important, since it’s literally how you keep track of all your prospects and pipeline:
As a salesperson, keeping up with all your potential deals and prospects is probably your biggest priority. Like it’ll literally make-or-break your month (and career).
Having a CRM is one half of it. The other half of it is actually communicating with these prospects. Whether it’s a phone call or a video call or a text, you need a way to talk to these people.
Do it the smart way. Don’t use different tools for different communication channels—use one app or software that can handle everything, including messaging, video conferencing, phone, all that good stuff. I’m lucky enough to be selling a product that does exactly this, which is awesome. Here’s a look at how the desktop and mobile-friendly app works:
If you’re ready to up your sales game and you’re not already using tools that you’re happy with, start here. Technology has already helped me by making these tasks easier:
- More effective follow-ups thanks to easy access to contacts’ information (for example, when the person was last contacted)
- Call scheduling, click-to-call, and call logging all in one place. For example, here’s RingCentral’s integration with HubSpot:
- Being prepared for every call since the caller’s conversation history with us pops up on my screen when I receive an inbound call
🕹️ Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral helps me become a better salesperson by booking a product tour:
💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communication with each other—and clients.
Know your numbers
Sure, technology is great and all and can help you boost sales management, efficiency, and more.
But beyond all that, you should have at the very least a general awareness of how not only you, but also your team, is doing at any point in time.
Sometimes I find myself wondering how I ever lived without live reports and real-time dashboards that automatically update us with the latest numbers and how we’re tracking toward our monthly and quarterly goals. Again, not only can a good software here help you improve your performance over time, it’s also, in my opinion, key to sales success.
Pro-tip: If you’re a sales managers or owner, definitely look for a tool that shows you performance reports in an easy-to-read dashboard. Ideally, you should be able to see all your historical data and metrics relating to sales call queues and sales cycles. This can help you optimize your call flows and make corrective-course-of-action decisions ahead of time (instead of being reactive when things go wrong).
Find shortcuts where you can (without compromising on the quality of your work)
You’ve probably heard people say that technology is an awesome way to “maximize” salespeoples’ workflows—but what does that mean?
Just from knowing what our own product does, I can comfortably say that technology can help you take the fundamentals of sales and even your most basic tasks to the next level.
For example, if you’re using cold calling scripts when you’re phoning prospects, how are you storing those scripts right now? I’ve seen salesperson who just have folders and files of these scripts on their desktops—and let’s just say it can get… messy once you’ve got a decent library going and you want to save more to your computer.
What if you had some kind of outbound contact center tool that took care of that for you? For example, RingCentrals’ Engage Voice platform lets you log your scripts so that you can have them all in one place (and edit them if you need to), and you can even manage different outreach campaigns in that same dashboard:
These little “shortcuts” are the kinds of shortcuts that salespeople should be taking. Not cheating by using the same old script for every single prospect or call—but rather, finding ways to take current your low-value tasks off your plate.
Using RingCentral is literally making me the best salesperson I can be.
As a sales professional, I always strive to come in first place. I’m competitive, and that’ just who I am. I don’t want to just hit quotas—I want to blow them out of the water and overcome every objection someone can throw at me.
But beyond being good with words, and competitive, and charismatic and all that, what are some tangible, actionable things you can do to become better salespeople—right now?
(And this is by no means exhaustive—I still have learning to do.)
Let’s talk about how we can go from decent salespeople to really, really good salespeople.
Here are some best practices that I’ve noticed from observing some great salespeople in my career.
1. They copy the skills of others
Good salespeople want to get better at their job. When starting out, it’s always a good idea to go beyond what you learn in sales training courses. I started by shadowing other successful salespeople. This way I learned the lingo, picked up on best practices, and built relationships along the way.
2. They’re always working on communication
Good salespeople tend to be epic communicators with high emotional intelligence. They practice their people skills and get good at conversation to avoid falling into unpleasant, sales-y dialogs. See the person on the other end of the line as a person first and a prospect second, and it’ll naturally help you get better at connecting with them.
3. They know when to walk away
Good salespeople know when to walk away. The days when I used to waste time on dead-end-deals are well and truly gone. I roll with rejection without losing time and start again. On to the next one.
Pro-tip: That being said, you have to be sure that the deal is dead. I’ve had deals close one or even two years after the initial conversation, so perseverance is important too. This balancing act is one of the most important skills you’ll have to hone as a salesperson.
4. They know that a good sales rep is a prepared sales rep
Good sales agents prepare. They never wing a sales call. I’m going to let you into a secret that shouldn’t be a secret. I research every single prospect before ever picking up the phone. I understand their business, their industry, and recent news that’s relevant to them as best I can.
Does that mean the conversation will go perfectly or that I’ll always end up closing the sale? No, but I’ll look a lot better than that other sales rep who’s calling them and saying stuff like, “Hey, so, can you tell me what are some of the challenges you’re facing?”
5. They’re honest
Good sales agents aren’t crooks. We’re advisors and (most of the time) we’re genuinely interested in seeing how we can help make a prospect’s life easier. Of course, we also believe in what we’re selling and strive to offer those prospects genuine solutions. A tip? Use a consultative sales approach, and never make unrealistic promises that you’re not sure if you can keep. Instead, I see every customer success as my own.
We know what makes a salesperson. We know what makes a great salesperson. Now, the time has come. You’re ready for the big bucks. I’m about to tell you how to be a top salesperson. What is the magic ingredient to making insane numbers every quarter?
The best salespeople do everything that great sellers do. But I find that what sets these folks apart has to do with the details rather than some kind of superhuman ability to talk or sell. Top sellers pay attention to the details and nuances to find often-overlooked ways to maximize their services, outcomes, and efficiency.
Let’s look at how you can achieve those blow-out months and earn your prospect’s trust (and referrals) like a pro.
Always test and tweak your most successful sales techniques
Believe it or not, top salespeople like to keep things simple. Over the years, I’ve worked out a measurable, repeatable sales process for myself. This way, I reduce the chances of letting stuff slip through the cracks.
So, swap intuition for optimization.
Know the state of every single deal in your pipeline, and you’ll know exactly what your next steps should be. This helps me be consistent and make accurate, objective sales forecasts.
Engage in active listening
Top sellers are completely present when they talk to their prospects. They engage in meaningful conversations with buyers to build trusting relationships. You might have heard of the 15 percent rule: salespeople should never talk for more than 15 percent of a meeting.
That’s because it is asking questions—not talking—that gives you control as a seller. By asking about your prospect’s challenges and responding with supportive observations, your company will be remembered as reputable, honest, and worth holding on to.
Think critically and zero in on pain points
Critical thinking is one of the biggest (and most underused) assets in sales. When you think critically, you can adapt sales pitches according to your individual prospects.
I tailor my approach to my sales goals—and what my prospect needs. That’s why the discovery phase is so, so important to me, because that’s where I can get the most information from my prospect about their pain points and start diagnosing meaningful solutions.
Work—it’s a grind
Top sales reps don’t become top sales agents by leaving the office early. We grind. An unrelenting attitude is an essential feature of the best salespeople, especially if you’re relatively new in your career. Do whatever it takes to close deals, help cover for teammates when they’re on vacation, and be organized so that you can keep closing at a high clip even during high work volumes.
Part of this robust work ethic is follow-up. Top sales agents will follow up after every single proposal. On my best days, I can preempt client concerns in follow-ups, then offer the right solution before they even have to ask.
Ready to become a better salesperson?
You’re all set to start smashing those sales and reaching higher levels. Remember what’s important: perfect your product knowledge, show commitment and confidence, build strong networks, and always follow-up.
By making these practices part and parcel of your everyday sales tasks and mobilizing technology on the way, your sales will be set for a spike.
Originally published Nov 18, 2020