A Good Salesperson Can Sell Anything


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I was having coffee with the COO of a large organization a few weeks ago. We were talking about selling and the characteristics of great sales people. He made the statement, “A great salesperson can sell anything.”

I reflected on his statement, replying “I’m a pretty good salesperson—I’m really great at very large complex deals, but I’m not sure I could sell anything.” He replied, “You’re far too modest, I know you can be great selling anything—selling is in your blood.”

Since our conversation, I’ve thought about the topic a lot, can a great sales person sell anything? I suppose there are some elements of truth to it. The examples I keep coming back to are things like, selling a car, working as a sales person in a big box store, selling insurance.

Each requires great talents and skills to be successful. At the lowest levels, the steps are the same—find an interested prospect, determine their needs, present a solution that meets their needs and compels them to buy, ask for the order.

I also suppose that I could sell cars, or in retail, or even insurance. I could probably close a few deals—but could I sustain my performance? Could I beat my targets year in and year out?

While I probably could close a few deals, I’m not sure I could sell in a B2C environment. There are even some B2B environments I’d probably struggle at.

All kidding aside, the job of a car sales person is really difficult. It’s basically a one call sales cycle—establishing a quick relationship, developing the level of trust necessary for the transaction, and completing the transaction in one call—possibly with hostile/distrustful customers.

It takes me a while to build a relationship, I want to really get into the customer’s problems, issues and goals. I also may be a little slower, I like to reflect on the customer situation and think about the best approach to solve their problem. I can’t necessarily do that in an hour or so that a car salesperson might have. I certainly couldn’t do it in the few minutes a big box sales person might have.

Then there’s this thing called passion. Part of being a great sales person is being excited and passionate about what you are selling. Years ago, I was Vice President of Sales for a technology company. They had a wide product line. The core products were, for me, uninspiring—I was really excited about a few product lines that were more complex, much more interesting. I spent a lot of time looking at those product lines, helping sales people on those deals—but had great difficulty with the core products—the one’s that paid the bills. It was a real struggle for me. We met our goals—but if they had relied on me to do the deals, we wouldn’t have. Fortunately, we had sales people that were passionate about the core products.

A rose by any other name is still a rose—but selling is not selling is not selling. While at its core, B2B and B2C selling may be similar, to be successful requires very different skills, competencies and attitudes. Both are challenging, but for different reasons. One is no better than the others, though there is a lot of posturing about B2B and B2C. Both are challenging, they each require passion, great skills, real competencies. But they are different!

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’ve alluded to this in the past, but on January 14, Future Selling Institute is being launched. It’s focused on sales leaders and aspiring leaders—sales managers, executives, general managers responsible for the sales function. It’s packed full of resources to help sales leaders excel! Any sales leader interested in their personal, professional and career development will want to join this community. Join us on January 14 for the kickoff conference.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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