Are You a Pro?

By Malcolm Fleschner

Armani suit, convertible sports car, easy smile and a firm handshake – these are the trappings of the professional salesperson. But as Tom Szydlowski, the Boston-based national sales manager for Berkshire Mortgage Finance, points out, there’s much more to professionalism in sales than outward appearances. The following are Szydlowski’s six signs of the true sales professional.

1. Listen up
“Professionals are problem solvers&#nbsp; To solve problems they need to listen to identify the challenges. They ask quality questions that engage the customer and get the customer to keep talking.”

2. Self-awareness
“Many salespeople don’t really know what their products do. To be professional, however, you need to know your own offerings to craft a solution that fits the customer’s problems.”

3. Prep work
“Professionals prepare in advance so they can be helpful and efficient – they don’t shoot from the hip. They find out what a prospective company really does, beyond the obvious, and determine what this company is trying to accomplish with their business. Then professionals figure out how they can match their product or service to that long-term goal.”

4. In for the long haul
“If you make a quick sale because you just happen to be there when the customer needs you, you’re susceptible to the competition coming in and stealing that customer away. We make our money on the second, third and fourth deals. Professional salespeople have customers who are comfortable buying from them and who come back for repeat business.”

5. Embrace complexity
“Professional salespeople shine when problems arise. And there are always problems that arise – delivery isn’t made on time, market factors change or any of a thousand other issues. This is when professional salespeople rise to the occasion and bring their expertise to bear to correct the situation and salvage the relationship. The more complex the sale, the more valuable salespeople become, and the more money they stand to earn.”

6. No-blame game
“Unprofessional salespeople will frequently blame others in their own company for problems that arise. But professionals face up to the problems and deal with them. It’s natural to want to say, ‘I did everything right but it didn’t work out.’ But it doesn’t do salespeople any good to denigrate the company, because in the customer’s eyes you and your company are one and the same.”

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