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7 Lessons of Great Sales People

I have been a member of the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) for several years now. I originally joined because they offer great discounts on hotels and car rentals, that save me much more than the annual membership cost (about $100) every year. The CPSA offers sales training, has a resource center with a ton of good “stuff”, produce salary information and offer other benefits to those who need them. They also have a regular newsletter that almost always has some very relevant content for sales professionals.

There is a link to the CPSA on my blog if you are interested … I would recommend it to anyone in a sales role. The following is an article I liked from the latest newsletter.

Seven Lessons to Learn from Great Salespeople… By Kevin Eikenberry

With all due respect to the many truly outstanding salespeople, the high-pressure stereotype is one still held by many people. And while we may have experience with this type of salesperson, most of us also have experience with someone who was extremely helpful. It is those positive experiences that I want you to reflect on as you read the seven lessons below. Chances are some – or all – will be consistent with your experiences, and by reflecting on your occurrences as you read you will make these lessons even more valuable for you.

1. Listen more talk less. How can a salesperson know what you need unless they listen? If they don’t listen they are making assumptions as to your needs, wants and desires. The same is true for us. We will get much further much faster when trying to persuade or influence others when we talk less and listen more.
2. Ask more and better questions. One of the ways to talk less is by asking more questions. Great salespeople are masters at asking questions. They collect and use questions intelligently to learn more about our needs. They use questions to understand us better and to strengthen their relationship with us. Questions are one of our greatest learning tools and one of the best ways to further relationships. Whatever your work, being more skilled at asking questions will make you more successful.
3. Focus on the longer-term, big picture. The best salespeople aren’t trying to sell one car today. They are trying to sell you your next 5 (or 10) cars. They know Rome wasn’t built in a day and that they won’t reach their goals – or best serve you – by pressuring you to buy now. So it is for you in your interactions. When we think about the longer term we will make better decisions and behave more appropriately.
4. Build relationships. Business success is about relationships, and great salespeople know that. One of the fastest ways to become more successful is by building more and stronger relationships. One of the fastest ways to lose your job is by neglecting relationships. Take it from the best salespeople – business is based on relationships.
5. Follow-up and follow through. One of the ways to build relationships is to follow-up and follow through. Ever had a service provider call you and check on your satisfaction? How did you feel about that provider and his/her organization after that? How do you feel about people who send you handwritten thank you notes? How do feel when people go above and beyond to stay in touch with you and make sure you are satisfied? You feel good about them and their services, right? Apply those approaches to your work. Send a note. Remember a birthday. Mention the article you read that they would be interested in. Do what you said you were going to do. Follow-up and follow through.
6. Lose the techniques – focus on the other person. There are many helpful techniques that we can learn from training, from watching others and reading. We look for a magical formula or approach. While it is important to learn the techniques, they will only help us if we integrate them into who we are and what we stand for. For example, there is a difference between practicing active listening techniques and actively listening. When the focus is on the result, we relax and use the techniques in support of the end goal. Great salespeople learn the skills, but focus on their Customer. In an almost paradoxical way, by focusing on the Customer (remember your colleagues and your boss are your Customers too) and being sincere and genuine, you will gain the advantage of the techniques you were trying to use to begin with.
7. Help them buy. People don’t want to be sold, but they do want to buy. Just like a master salesperson, help people be persuaded to your position. Help them see the value. Help them own the decision. Help them remove the roadblocks – real or perceived.

Kevin Eikenberry is a leadership expert and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group, a learning consulting company that helps Clients reach their potential through a variety of training, consulting and speaking services. To receive your free special report on Unleashing Your Potential go to or call us at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER.