Some Assembly Required

The Eyes Have It

Supersalespeople see on two levels-physiological and conceptual. Through the former, they can step into a meeting and scan the scene to study how customers sit, stand, shake hands and make eye contact. "They know how to translate body language, adjusting to customers' posture," says Hickey. Supersalespeople know how they're viewed by customers, and they use their own body language to further the process.

Conceptual vision plays the greater role because it allows salespeople to envision how their customers will use their products. "When salespeople find those uses, they can pitch particular needs or wants, wow the client and lay the groundwork for larger projects down the road," says Turner.

Meanwhile, the supersalesperson sees right through the process. He or she has looked at the client's history and seen the potential problems, whether generated by the salesman's company or by the client. According to Magennis, this vision is what enables the supersalesperson to take responsibility for the entire sales process.

In Good Hands
In the hands of any salesperson you'll find the tools for greatness: a briefcase, a mobile phone and a laptop equipped with software that enables them to create presentations or proposals in the blink of a cursor.

Beyond that, the hands and arms of the supersalesperson are symbolic. At first, the hand is associated with the handshake, the ability to build new relationships. Then there's the grip, the ability to hang on tightly-representing the salesperson's tenacity and perseverance. "Salespeople need the ability to go forward when others give up or when obstacles are in the way," says Barry Farber, president of Farber Training Systems in Livingston, New Jersey. "Tenacity overrides many of our deficiencies." It also keeps salespeople focused when their charm and insight aren't enough.

"Salespeople need the ability to go forward when others give up or when obstacles are in the way."

"Even the most charismatic salespeople need to follow the process religiously," says Riley. "Charisma has its highs and lows. On a bad day, the salesperson falls back on the process, carrying him through to the close."

Supersalespeople reach beyond actual job requirements to make the sale. Says Magennis, "They assume additional assignments, look for new solutions and demonstrate initiative outside their defined job role."

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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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