Sales can be a competitive industry. With the best sales reps 250% better at qualifying leads than their colleagues, it’s perhaps no surprise that 8% of sales people close 80% of the deals in their team. What makes them so successful? In a sector where people are constantly fighting to out manoeuvre their competition and get the deal for the best possible price, having ambition and drive isn’t quite enough if you want to make it to that top 8%. Instead, you need to work on developing your skillset if you want to stand out.

Here are the traits that the most successful sales people have in common.

They have excellent product knowledge

It goes without saying, but the most successful sales people know the ins and outs of the product that they’re selling like the back of their hand. Given that more than half of prospects want to see how their product works on the first contact that they have with a potential seller- and 61% say that the top way to create a positive sales experience is by providing relevant information about the product – having this know-how is essential. Good sales people can use this knowledge to underline the benefits of their product, and then can go on to address the problems that they can help their customer solve, should they buy it.

They know their customers inside out

Nurtured leads make purchases that are, on average, 47% larger than those that are non-nurtured. It stands to reason, therefore, that a successful sales person should know everything about their customers if they want to close a great deal with them. Factors to take note of include the type of company customers are from, the profile of decision makers and their roles and responsibilities, and the buying and decision-making process – and who’s involved. Successful sales people will do their research in order to better tailor their approach to target the right customers.

They know how to sell against their competitors

The market is competitive, and knowing how to gain the edge over rival sales people can be invaluable to your employers, especially as one of the top process challenges that sales organisations face is dealing with competitive concerns. Know your enemy: great sellers can identify who their biggest competition is, and will research their product, their customer base and the market that they operate in so they can formulate a well-rounded argument and effectively sell the benefits of their product over that of their competitors.

They ask a lot of questions

A recent analysis of sales calls showed that there was a direct correlation between the number of questions asked by a sales rep and their chances of closing a deal. It’s no wonder: the more questions you ask, the more you’ll be able to clarify your customer’s needs, discuss how your product might be able to help them solve any problems they might currently have, and have a better chance of influencing the decision-making process. Knowledge is power, after all, and the more of it you have the more able you’ll be to create a convincing argument.

They listen more than they talk

69% of buyers say that good sales people listen to their needs. Asking questions is all very well, but it’s even more important to take the time and listen to the answers that you’re given. Many sales people talk a lot- it’s part of the job- but focussing solely on selling their product, rather than listening to what the customer has to say, could actually have a negative effect. This could mean sales people end up addressing the wrong issue or not taking the customer’s view into account- and missing out on a sale as a result.

They know where they are against their target at all times

Working to target is a vital part of any sales person’s job, as it lets them identify where they need to focus their efforts, manage expectations and give different areas of their job the attention that required. Not only does this approach benefit the sales person, but it also benefits the team. This is because the team leader knows that vital aspects of the role are being addressed and worked towards, rather than sales people doing their work wholly independently, without checking back in with management.

They are planned and organised

50% of the time that sales people spend in the office can be wasted on unproductive prospecting. It’s no surprise, therefore, that a productive and efficient sales person needs to be organised so they don’t fall behind in any aspect of their job. It can be very easy to go after any potential lead without considering whether other issues need addressing, so team members need to plan their activity in advance, allocate blocks of time to certain things like sorting emails, or doing paperwork- often the least glamorous part of the job- if they want to work efficiently.

They are resilient, positive and motivated

Working in sales can be tough. There are knock-backs, there are deals that fall through, and there are customers who can sometimes be difficult to work with. To thrive, you need to be positive, and as a result many of the most successful sales people tend to be resilient, motivated individuals who won’t let temporary inconveniences knock their confidence- and given that 48% of workers rate positivity as the top personality trait they’d like to see in their colleagues, an upbeat attitude has its benefits inside the office as well as outside of it.

Kick-start your sales career with BMS Performance

Making a success of your career is all about having the right attitude, and searching out the best advice. We can help: find out more about how to take charge of your career by picking up the phone and talking to our experts.