The Successful Salesperson – Chapter 2 Sample

CHAPTER 2 — THE SUCCESSFUL SALESPERSON
What makes a great salesperson? I’ve often thought about this—especially when I am interviewing sales candidates for an open position. If you search for it on the Internet, you will get thousands of hits, so I guess there’s a lot of other people trying to figure it out, as well.
Every sales organization is looking for that star salesperson. Most companies realize that a few of their salespeople make the lion’s share of the sales. What makes these people the stars?
Although sales skills are important—and while you need to understand how to make a sales call and handle an objection—it’s the personality, the demeanor, the work ethic, and an individual’s character that make a great salesperson.
If you’re a salesperson involved in direct selling—or sales management—you can learn from their success. By emulating these characteristics you can improve your sales skills to become a more successful salesperson. I know it’s not a good idea to generalize—but I’ve noticed during my sales career that athletes often make good salespeople. When I was in IBM sales training, many of the young men and women had been college athletes.
One good friend—who helped me quite a bit—was a football player from Texas Tech. He had a great personality, everyone liked him, and he knew how to work with a team. But he also knew how to excel as an individual.
There are a lot of similarities between a sales organization, and a sports team, if you think about it.

  • A few stars that do most of the scoring.
  • Support people, who start and contribute to the team—but typically, not at the same level as the stars.
  • Bench players who play some minutes, but just can’t seem to consistently break into the starting line-up.

I can draw a similarity to that in a sales organization. You have a few stars, other reps who consistently contribute to the monthly sales performance and a third tier who are trying to contribute, but often, just don’t make it.
Some people feel that if you want to do something badly enough—and you practice enough—you can achieve just about anything. Here are two examples of my favorite professional basketball players:
Dirk Nowitzki hits everything. His practice routine is long and legendary—and he’s one of the best players in the game. Does practice make Dirk a great player?
My other favorite player is Allen Iverson. His dissertation on practice is also legendary—but not quite for the same reason. A.I. is also an unbelievable player—even without being a big fan of practicing—so maybe it’s not just practice that makes you a star.
So what makes the “star”, the “star?” When I was a child, my cousin—a high school cheerleader—took me to a high school football game. I decided, right then, that I wanted to become a defensive lineman—I loved that they got to “smash” into other players.
At 17, I was 5’8” tall and, weighed 135 pounds—so you can guess how my defensive tackle career worked out. Let’s consider that something we can call “God-given talent” is a large factor in a star athlete.
“God given” talent is not something you can learn or acquire. But if a basketball player can become better by studying the game—and practicing—you can become a better salesperson if you study and practice. I believe that you can learn to become a better salesperson—and if you have appropriate “God given talent”—all the better.
If you watch enough sporting events—you’ll notice something else. Occasionally, a more talented player or team, loses to another player or team, with less talent—that either out works, has better discipline, makes fewer mistakes—or just gets lucky.
What makes athletes good salespeople is that they understand what it takes to win—why they lose—while most of us don’t. They understand that it takes hard work, discipline, study, practice, time management, and how to play as a team to win. They understand that there is limited time in a game—and the necessity of a “sense of urgency”. They understand what a game face is—and how you must perform at a higher intensity level in a game—than you do in a practice.
These are some of the skills that are also needed in sales—consequently, athletes come to sales training with a different set of characteristics than the non-athletes in the class.

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