It’s an unfortunate reality that the sales industry suffers from an image problem. People form their opinions based on hearing too many stories of a salesperson doing anything to close a deal, whether ethical or not. Even sales professionals who feel they consistently meet their goals using ethical tactics can benefit from considering where they might improve.

Traits That Excellent Salespeople Have in Common

All salespeople should aim to get the job done and do it in a correct way. Salesforce defines hitting quota the right way as team members who possess the following attributes:

  • Excellent selling skills at every point in the sales process, including qualifying leads, overcoming objections, and negotiating a deal.
  • Interacts well with the employer’s customer relations management (CRM) software to establish every step correctly.
  • In-depth product knowledge and the ability to generate excitement about what it can do for the prospect.
  • Works cooperatively and not competitively with other members of the sales team.

Of course, it can take years of experience and strong leadership for salespeople to consistently meet these high standards. That means sales managers should model what they want to see in their teams and insist that they strive towards these metrics themselves.

The Dangers of Dishonesty

A salesperson who stretches the truth a bit may close a deal today, but he or she is unlikely to secure a customer for the long term. This type of sales representative sees only his or her own needs and not what the customer needs to solve a problem. Behaviors might include speaking negatively about the competition, overstating a product’s benefits, and downplaying any potential shortfalls it might have. These are dangerous practices in the Internet era when it only takes people a few minutes of searching to uncover the truth.

On the other hand, remaining honest from the start helps prospects build trust in their salesperson. Even if the current product won’t work for them, they’re more likely to call the same sales professional when they have a different need. When prospects sense honesty, they’re also more willing to refer the salesperson to others looking for a similar product or service.

How to Become a Better Salesperson

A highly productive and honest sales professional never makes promises that he or she can’t keep. That means listening more than talking so the sales representative understands exactly what the prospect needs. With active listening, the salesperson paraphrases what the customer has said to ensure understanding. He or she also asks appropriate questions to gain trust and more detail about the problem facing the customer.

The most effective sales representatives are highly confident in their skills and don’t allow themselves to feel a lot of stress about meeting goals. They’re also willing to pursue ongoing learning to continually improve their sales techniques. This could include requesting more coaching, taking sales classes, reading the latest books, and pursuing every possible opportunity to sell more while remaining true to their clients.

While the top performers have an incredible drive to succeed, they also know when a prospect isn’t a good fit and will walk away if necessary. This shows genuine respect of the sales lead as well as for their own time.