Lately I was in discussion with my friend Ashraf Chaudhry: Are sales people born or developed? Ashraf said that “I have not heard any mother shouting in the labor room that she has given birth to a salesman”! Whereas my view is that sales is a natural skill every human being posses, however only few take the challenge as a professional salesman!

Not many realize that sales is perhaps the most creative profession and entry level jobs are plenty! Companies need good sales people particularly in the economic slowdown and when competition is fierce.

Top sales people reach at this position because they know what makes people buy; they know what to say and when to say it! Those who do not reach to the top sales positions are generally “lazy”. Being lazy takes them nowhere – they are stuck in their career and often fired and look for another option.

In my view, every entrepreneur starts his entrepreneurial career with sales, because no sales means no business! There are three key things that any sales professional must understand at an early stage of his career:

  1. Sales is the best profession in this whole world.
  2. Knowing your product or services is the most important success factor.
  3. Understanding your customer help you gain trust and ensure high sales volume.

An excellent book “Heavy Hitter Sales Psychology” written by Steve Martin explains salesmanship as a process of building a relationship, turning a stranger into a friend and skeptic into a believer. Steve Martin believes that empathy is part of the natural process of building relationships, however, language is the real distinguishing factor and a successful salesman develops command in effective Sales Linguistics.

My personal experience is that sales people, particularly new to the profession, talk too much! Without realizing that talking too much actually place them into an awkward position that leads to further explanations. An alternate is not to talk too much about what their product or service “is not” but to focus on “benefits”. Remembers, buyers are looking for the best value for their money, they are not really interested anything else!

Now the question is; how to understand what specific benefits your customer is expecting? The only way to understand your customer needs is through “active listening”. This means hear what your customer says with full attention and interest. Active listening is a habit that can be adopted by anyone prepared to pay a little extra attention in personal development with a simple realization that “active listening is the only tool that helps building trust and relationship with customer”.

Sales people can develop sales linguistics with a bit of extra efforts and become more aware as with this, they become more capable in putting themselves into their customer’s shoes. Clarity of customer needs and their ability to pay is much more transparent at this stage and simple sales talk now becomes “effective communication”.

My friend Ashraf Chaudhry believes that sales leadership is crucial in creating top sales people. He calls his vision as The Art of Shepherding. The shepherd in this scenario is the team leader with a mix of shepherd’s characteristics: Entrepreneurship, risks, initiatives, leadership, discipline, mentoring, taking un-popular decisions and having an eagle eye on ROI (Return on Investment), ROE (Return on Efforts) and ROTI (Return on Time Invested).

Keep learning the noble profession “Salesmanship”!