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What makes a good salesperson?

The psychology of sales.

The similarities between psychologists and salespeople is perhaps more significant than we expect. People seldom make this comparison because the goals of psychologists and salespeople are so fundamentally different. While a psychologist's goal is to help another person with no personal gain, a salesperson’s goal is to close deals.

When you examine the underlying principles, techniques, and traits that each profession has, however, the similarities are remarkable. Moreover, hiring salespeople who possess traits of a psychologist will strengthen your organisation. After all, a company's revenue and overall growth relying largely on the ability of its salespeople to effectively generate leads and execute deals.

When most people think of salespeople they think of energetic, charismatic, money-driven, and relentless. Here are the 10 key traits to look to truly determine what makes a good salesperson which are also apparent in psychologists. Which of these resonate with you or your team?

Thinking makes a good salesperson

1. Ability to build empathy

For two reasons, a salesperson must be able to build empathy with prospects and clients.

The first reason is that people buy from people they trust and feel comfortable with. Product and price are secondary; the person behind the product is who the client is purchasing from. If a salesperson can build rapport more effectively than a competitor, they will close deals more effectively too. The second reason is that empathy is what enables the salesperson to elicit the problems and needs of the client, which moves the client towards closing the deal. The sale will close from the client's urgency, given the client's appreciation of the value the salesperson offers.

Psychology Today frequently stresses the importance of psychologists being able to build trust and empathy with their clients, noting that this is a key trait of successful psychologists. Finding a salesperson who knows how to connect, build relationships, listen, and build rapport is important for your culture and success.

2. Ability to listen and be naturally inquisitive

Listening is the most important part of any sales process. The ability to ask provoking questions, get your prospect speaking, and practice reflective listening will elicit the prospect's pain points, arm you with the knowledge to close the deal, and get the prospect to trust you.

For psychologists, listening is the crux of their profession. Asking questions and listening closely enables psychologists to extricate their clients' views and fix problems. To be good listener, psychologists and salespeople must be naturally inquisitive, always probing for more information to get to the root of their client's beliefs, wants, and problems.

3. Ability to put yourself in someone's shoes

A successful salesperson knows how to think in terms of what the other person is thinking. Salespeople need to be able to understand and communicate on their prospect's terms, because it is only then that they will be able to lead the prospect into arriving at their solution.

For a psychologist to be able to do their job, they must be able to think in terms of their client's world view and position. Putting yourself in someone's shoes is the bedrock of empathy, which enables both psychologists and salespeople to succeed in their jobs.

4. Intelligence and ability to infer

Salespeople know that the prospect's opinions are not always stated explicitly. Good salespeople can make inferences and logical deductions, reading between the lines to understand the true meanings and desires of their prospects, and be able to elicit pain points strategically.

Likewise, a main goal of a psychologist is to understand the true feelings of their client based on the verbal and non-verbal cues that their client's display.

Communication makes a good salesperson

5. Communicate effectively

Salespeople need to be able to speak persuasively, effectively, and concisely. Salespeople are required to read their prospect and know how to adjust their tone, diction, and speed to match the conversation flow of their client.

Psychologists deal with patients aged 50 and others who are 10 years old, and they must have good awareness and control over their speech.

6. Emotional stability and regulation

When clients express frustration, anxiety or fear, it is critical that the salesperson stays calm. The ability to stabilise and regulate one's outward emotions is key for maintaining a professional and effective sales process.

A psychologist's ability to manage and succeed in a consultation with their client depends largely on their ability to extract feelings without showing frustration or sadness themselves. With either profession, breaking character can lose the trust of the client.

7. Patience

Patience is a core quality of salespeople, who need to nurture leads and move deals forward over months at a time. Demanding a sale too early can ruin the deal.

For psychologists, patience is the name of the game. Being able to stay calm and collected while your clients speak and vent is core to the role.

8. Problem solving skills

Salespeople must be able to logically reason and know how to turn any rebuttal into an answer. A good salesperson never takes 'no' for an answer, and they can work their way around any objection. A good salesperson has the ability to create a bridge between problem and solution, understanding coherently the path they must take to make this logical sequence evident to his prospect.

Psychologists often run into unexpected problems, and they need to adapt and re-frame quickly in order to work through issues.

9. Self-awareness

Being aware of oneself and one's impact on the client is critical in making sure you are connecting with them when executing a deal.

For psychologists, being self-aware is what enables you to make sure you are communicating on the same wavelength as your client.

10. High emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is what defines good salespeople and good psychologists. Being able to understand, predict, and act based on what your knowledge of your client's feelings is pivotal for success.

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(Adapted from an article by Jake Newfield.

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