One of the real pleasures of my job - and what makes my job possible - is that I get to speak candidly and personally to a few hundred salespeople every year. It's in those conversations that I have come to understand the qualities that all the great ones seem to share.
As you might imagine there are dozens of behaviors, approaches and beliefs that one could point to. But in the end it seems to come down to a very short list of just three things. And if I were building a sales team today and could hire only three qualities, I'd pay for these:
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Curiosity. To truly sell means to persuade another person - or group - to do something significant. In this quest, curiosity is a superpower. The curious are always looking to understand more about the work and life and issues of the customer. Their curiosity helps them learn how the customer's business works, and why it sometimes doesn't. And it makes the customer feel deeply interesting and attended to. In this environment, change and commitment become truly possible.
Generosity. The old stereotype of the slick seller busily counting his commission would be laughable if it weren't so pathetically misguided. Great sellers rarely wait for the cash register to ring and always leave something on the table. They are also generous with their time and attention...and with credit when something goes well. Because they give, others want to give to them....support, loyalty, commitment.
Paranoia. Yes, this one sounds odd by comparison. But the touch of paranoia afflicting the great seller makes her always do one more thing...check one more detail...meet one more person...make one more phone call. When a deal is 95% certain, the great seller dwells in the 5% that's not...turning every bolt, checking every circuit. His curiosity and generosity are what bring business to the table; his paranoia is what finishes the sale and drives the success of his company.
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