I love being in sales, I love talking to great sales professional. I think a large part of it is that success in sales requires you to really think.
Many people make a mistake when they think about sales. Some think it is all about the product--success comes from good product knowledge and a great pitch. Good product knowledge is important, but that's not what sales is about. And the pitch really has nothing to do with it, unless you are in the infomercial business.
Many think it is about the relationship. The image of the glad handing, back slapping peddler, whose motto is "when the going gets tough, the tough go to lunch." Deep, trust and integrity based relationships are important, but that is not sufficient.
The best sales people I have met are really great thinkers. They are constantly questioning, exploring, learning, evaluating. They are insatiably curious--about everything.
Great sales people know their customers' businesses---often, it seems better than their customers. They understand their customers' markets, competition, business drivers, business strategies, financial performance, operational strengths and weaknesses. They constantly look at what's happening with their customers and how they can help customers improve.
Great sales people know (and care about) people. They study the people they work with, customers, peers, others in the organization. They understand what drives each person, their aspirations, dreams, what keeps them up at night. They think about how they can help them achieve their goals and dreams.
Great sales people are fantastic strategists. They think with the end in sight. They analyze people and situations. They assess competition. They assess their own positions, strengths and weaknesses. They weave together all kinds of information and develop an action plan, enabling them to achieve their goals. They constantly reassess and adjust the plan based on things that change. They constantly evaluate alternatives.
Great sales people are problem solvers. They know how to take an incredible number of factors, analyze and synthesize them, and develop a solutions. Whether it is solving the customer's problem or developing a sales strategy. They are change enablers. They know how uncomfortable change is for people and organizations, and help people understand and embrace the change to better achieve their goals.
Great sales people think about themselves. They are very introspective. They have a realistic view of their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses. The best are constantly learning--they read incessantly, they train themselves constantly, they watch others and learn from them. The status quo is never enough, they constantly seek to improve themselves and to get an edge.
Sales is exciting, the intellectual challenge, the ability to deal with disparate pieces of information, abstract ideas, constant change and to see your way to achieving goals--for your customer, your company, and yourself is such an adrenaline rush!
Great professional selling is only for thinking people. The other thing about great professional selling is taking that thinking and translating it into action and execution.
Can you imagine anything more exciting?