It’s been said that to be a successful salesperson, not only do your listening skills have to be great, but your closing skills have to be even better. However, I believe that while these skills are helpful, they are not essential. In my opinion, to be a top-performing sales professional, you must be a great leader. It is a fundamental character trait. Although we have all known salespeople who have had stellar years based on the luck of a few great clients, those with sustained, long-term success always exhibit great leadership skills.
What is a leader? Leaders are people who empower others to do seemingly impossible things, whether individually or as part of a group. They help people see issues and opportunities they would not normally see themselves. Most importantly, they instill a level of confidence in people that make them pro-active in dealing with situations they otherwise would be hesitant to handle.
These leadership traits are essential for top-performing salespeople to exhibit on a daily basis. By demonstrating these qualities to your prospects and clients, you are communicating your value to them. They will see that you have their best interest in mind and are not out to just “make a sale.” You will create the confidence they need to desire to do business with you. Salespeople who see themselves as leaders are far more likely to provide the client with the services necessary to help them achieve their long-term goals. For example, a salesperson who is a leader will wisely show a 25-year-old the significance of buying life insurance both as an investment tool and a “peace of mind” policy.
Top-performing salespeople understand how positioning themselves as leaders can further their success. You will increase your profits by selling more to an existing customer, so it only makes sense to display leadership to them. In addition, because the best new clients often come from referrals, your existing customers will be much more apt to confidently recommend you. In my experience, I have observed that salespeople who behave as leaders are less likely to need multiple closing techniques to make a sale. I firmly believe that the higher the degree of leadership in a sales professional, the less time spent on closing the deal. Similarly, the opposite holds true, and the result is a loss of valuable time.
Over the years, I have come to believe that “sales is leadership and leadership is sales.” The more salespeople with whom I work, the more I confirm the validity of this statement. Although it’s important to work on both your ability to listen and your closing techniques, fostering your leadership skills is far more essential. Begin today to set yourself apart from the competition by positioning yourself as a leader to your employees, your clients and your prospects.