ple take command of the sales cycle process to control their own destiny.” Yet, taking command is more than just “sell- ing the product”—it’s selling the specific product that satis- fies the buyer’s intrinsic needs. And this can only be done satisfactorily if the buyer’s wants and needs are known and conscientiously respected. Sales trainer and author Tom Hopkins pinpoints a vital objective for selling conscientiously: “Selling is a business of emotions. People want to believe they make decisions rationally, logically—but in reality they make them emo- tionally first. Then, they defend those decisions with logic. They rationalize.” What buyers don’t want is to be embarrassed or criti- cized by their boss or colleagues for making a poor choice. Conscientious sales reps know this and make every effort to ensure that doesn’t happen. Jeff Floyd, sales vice president for West Virginia Electric Supply, Huntington, W.Va., emphasizes a company culture of total customer satisfaction. “Our customers don’t want to hear ‘no,’” said Floyd. “We want to source the product they are looking for right away and we want to follow up.
We can say that we’ll take care of an issue, but if we don’t actually follow up, nothing happens. Whatever the issue is, we make it a point to know what the customer needs and then it becomes our responsibility to take care of it.” Neil Cohen, vice president, organizational development and HR, for Affiliated Distributors, noted, “Salespeople have to be able to understand the customer’s business and how it relates to what the rep is trying to sell and how it fits into the customer’s overall plan. It’s a little ‘emo- tional intelligence,’ as well. One has to know the buyer’s hot buttons, what drives him or her. While the best sales reps understand their own behavioral style, they also un- derstand the behavioral style of their customers and adapt accordingly.”
• Achievement oriented.
Top salespeople are plan- ners. They have vision, focus, and an end game. They know not only what they want, but also how to get it, step by step. Highly successful sales reps don’t see selling as a simple transactional event. Rather, their focus is truly on serving customers. Their goal is to help customers, not sell to them. High achievers become tops in their industry because
they are rooted with a “no excuses” attitude. They are self- starters, highly confident, persistent, and committed to making things happen. They see producing positive results as their only alternative and do not shy away from taking responsibility. In fact, they demand it. One key to their success is the ability to identify and address the most important issues first. Even though ef- fective planning techniques (e.g., alternate plans) are con- structed to avert “urgency” conditions, high achievers appreciate the uncertainty of the future and are emotion- ally prepared to meet it head on. Finally, high achievers consider “next step” actions in their preparations. Typically, if asked where they stand in the planning cycle, they can describe, in detail, their im- mediate activities, when they are expected to be completed, who is responsible, and specifically what follows next.
Cohen pointed out that innovative prob- lem solving is a key sales talent that helps to elevate super salespeople over their competitors. The best sales reps “fig- ure out ways to help customers solve problems and think outside the box.”
At the company level, problem-solving techniques fre- quently rely on group dynamics, the wisdom of crowds, brainstorming sessions, and consultative services— resources to which distributor sales reps rarely have ac- cess. Nonetheless, as Cohen suggested, sales reps are not without natural skills that can ease or contribute to the resolution of a problematic condition. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psy- chology at University College London, maintains that in- quisitive people are inclined to generate more original ideas, are open to new experiences, and have higher toler- ance to ambiguities. In concert, these qualities are the essence of problem resolution theory. Chamorro-Premuzic observes that one’s level of curiosity, known as CQ (curi- osity quotient), is the “ultimate tool to produce simple solutions for complex problems” ( drtomascp.com). Selling is a process that is regularly composed of imper- fect information, multiple variables, conflicting intelli- gence, and misleading data. For the superior sales rep, these conditions are ladders to success. The rep’s innate talent for identifying, assessing, and resolving customer problems is ingrained in their work ethic. Their CQ is one
Top salespeople are planners. They have vision, focus,
and an end game. Top salespeople know not only
what they want, but also how to get it, step by step.
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