It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about sales success, but I recently ran across this great HBR article by Joseph Curtis, VP of enterprise sales at Salesforce and couldn’t resist writing about it. “The 5 Things All Great Salespeople Do” details what sets successful salespeople apart from their peers and sheds light on why they consistently outperform everyone else in their organizations.
The first thing top salespeople do is “own everything.” That means they take responsibility even when a situation they find themselves in is not their fault. They don’t blame the territory, the management, or anything else. This brings the blush of shame to my cheeks. Many years ago, as the first saleswoman hired by Dictaphone in Washington, DC. I blamed everyone for everything. I got the rookie territory, there weren’t enough demo machines to leave with prospects, the paperwork was onerous . . . You get the picture.
Here are the other four things the best salespeople do:
- They are resourceful; they are MacGyvers. As Mr. Curtis puts it, they assess their strengths in the face of difficult circumstances and make things happen. “Resourcefulness is as much a mindset as it is a skill . . . If you don’t start with the MacGyver mindset, then you will never fully develop the skills associated with being resourceful.” Mr. Curtis recommends that the next time you find yourself in a difficult position, you put down your phone, turn off your computer, and focus on alternative ways to get to your goal.
- They are experts. “Sales,” says Mr. Curtis, “is less about selling and more about leading, which requires high levels of confidence, which in turn requires knowledge and experience.” So work on acquiring industry knowledge and a point of view about what you’re selling. Don’t, as I and my less-successful colleagues did, blame the product for our failure to sell it.
- They help each other. Mr. Curtis notes, “Regardless of where you are in your career, there is someone else you can help. I remember with gratitude the sales guys who helped me, even though they did rib me a bit for general ineptitude. As a writer, I’ve been grateful for the wisdom others passed along when I started my business and am happy to say that I’ve been able to pay it forward.
- They move quickly. These professionals are not reckless, but they do have a sense of urgency. They respond without delay. They do what needs to be done to help customers and prospects make an affirmative decision.
Those of you who read my posts know that I believe we are all in sales even if that’s not our official job title. We’re endlessly persuading others to do what we’d like them to do—whether it’s to go out with us, accompany us on a run, mow the lawn. You name it. Life is filled with possibilities to put our sales and leadership abilities to work, and I believe we’re all the better off for it when we do.