The Key Characteristic of a Good Salesperson

The other day after reflecting on my sales story (if you missed it, you can find it here), I began trying to figure out exactly what the key is behind good, successful sales strategy.  Again, like I mentioned the other day, I have no actual background in sales and am totally shooting in the dark here.  But that being said, I think I have come to a conclusion.  I think the most important characteristic of a good salesperson is fearlessness.  In other words, not being afraid to lose the sale.  

Right from the very beginning, the salesperson has to make a conscious choice that they are not going to be afraid to lose the sale.  If they go into the scenario with a ton of pressure on themselves, that is going to become apparent to the customer almost immediately.

The pressure that salespeople may be feeling is 100% founded, I’m sure.  I’m not going to sit here and say that there is nothing they could possibly be stressed about–oftentimes the people in these jobs depend very highly on how well they do sales-wise.  It might determine how well they get paid (commission), how they are viewed by their superiors, or perhaps even whether they have a job or not.

What I am saying, however, is that they need to somehow (and I’m sure it’s easier said than done) figure out a way to channel that stress into a fearless energy.  Because the second the customer picks up on a salesperson’s desperation, the customer’s defenses go up.  They start to think that the salesperson will do whatever it takes to sell whatever it is they’re trying to sell, which makes the customer feel very uncomfortable.

The trust in the relationship is quickly put into question, as the customer starts to think things like, “how bad do they really need to sell this?  Would they be willing to lie to sell it?  Or even exaggerate facts or numbers just a little bit?  How do I know they mean what they’re saying, and aren’t just saying whatever they need to to get me to give them my money?”  When the customer starts to wonder these types of things, it’s probably only a matter of seconds before they hang up the phone or head for the door.

But if a salesperson approaches the whole scenario with a certain fearlessness, they’ll tell it like it is.  They won’t sugarcoat things, mince words, or worry so much about “smooth talking.”  They are free to relax and be honest about what they are selling, what it does, and who can benefit from it.  When a customer senses that the salesperson is being honest, they trust them.

This might mean occasionally telling someone that they don’t need a particular product or service.  And that’s okay.  Chances are, even if a customer does make the purchase, they will eventually figure out that they don’t actually need it, and will resent the salesperson as a result.  They might return it/ask for their money back, or just tell their friends never to go to that business because it can’t be trusted.  Neither of those outcomes are desirable.

So if you’re in sales, this would be my advice to you (from an outsider’s perspective, as always): go out there and sell like you’ve got nothing to lose.  Think long term–you’ll win some, and you’ll lose some, but if you’re approaching the whole thing with fearlessness, you’re bound to win more than you lose.  And that right there is a recipe for success.