Some Assembly Required

The Heart of the Matter

A salesperson packing only knowledge is weak, however. Armed with empathy, salespeople become potent forces because they have the "ability to understand the attitudes, needs and wants of others, putting themselves in their client's shoes," says Magennis.

They no longer sell products; they solve problems. And their customers evolve from being commissions to partners in a relationship, says Gail Harris of Incite Marketing, a South Norwalk, Connecticut, marketing company that specializes in technology and management consulting.

Supersalespeople can establish rapport with a variety of prospects, because people gravitate toward those who are empathetic to their needs and wants. As customers draw near, relationships develop and trust grows. There's no science. It's human nature.

"Customers won't buy from you if they don't trust you, and they won't trust you if they don't like you," says Paul Hickey, founder and CEO of Q Comm International Inc., an Orem, Utah, prepaid wireless technology and information services company that's growing at more than double-digit rates-due in part to sales strategies.

Unfortunately, some salespeople fake "heart"; they turn on the empathy in the customer's office and turn it off when they leave. They often act the same way with co-workers, who also need empathy. "If salespeople care only for themselves, they don't receive the team's support," notes Sapio, "and they'll eventually die on the vine."

Supersalespeople recognize their roles, the roles of others in the organization and, most important, their co-workers' dependency on them. Out of that recognition comes a drive to build long-term relationships with all the departments, from accounting to marketing. Thanks to the relationships they build, those salespeople become leaders-driving forces recognized and appreciated by others. That's when they truly begin to shine-not with hubris but with pride. "The supersalesperson is excited about being a salesperson," says Hickey.

Like any professional who excels at his or her art, supersalespeople lean not only on natural talent, but also on the one trait that remains consistent: discipline. "Regardless of how skilled and talented one is," Hickey continues, "if he or she doesn't do their work day in and day out, they will fail."

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This article was originally published in the August 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Some Assembly Required.

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