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How to Be Successful in Sales

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(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons)

Closing the deal is what Joe Candido loves most about being in sales. The rush of signing a new prospect or selling a product makes his job feel meaningful and rewarding.

Joe_CandidoCandido, who is president of Fifth Element Associates, a Colchester-based research, marketing, and sales consultancy firm, is a seasoned sales professional with more than 30 years of experience working with multinational corporations, regional companies, and nonprofits.

His secret to success? For Candido, it’s all about time management and building relationships.

We talked to Candido, an instructor in UVM’s Collaborative Selling Professional Certificate Program, about what it takes to make it in the world of sales.

Sales is more complicated than it was 20 years ago. What kind of business sense do you need to be in sales?

Today, salespeople need to have a very strong business acumen. They need to understand finance, their customer’s business, the competition, the market, and a wide range of internal factors such as product pricing, margin, features, and value proposition. If you’re selling beer to a restaurant, for example, you can’t just go in there and say you have a great-tasting beer. You need to have a strong understanding of that restaurant’s business, their customers, and their needs.

What are some of the qualities you need to be effective in sales?

You need to be a problem solver. You have to know the problem your customer is having and work collaboratively with them and your company in finding a solution. Your customer needs to be shown the merit of what you’re recommending. You have to be smart, do your homework, and be disciplined.

I think most successful salespeople are good time managers. The average salesperson spends only about a third of his or her time selling. if you’re not vigilant, you won’t spend enough time selling, which means you won’t be successful. Compare that to the great salespeople who spend 50% or more of their time selling.

If one-third of a salesperson’s time is spent selling, what is he or she doing the rest of the time?

You’re spending your other time developing solutions and planning. You have to work internally with your company to determine things like a pricing model, credit checks, and intervals of delivery. You have to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

In order to be effective and efficient, your time should be spent on account planning and call planning. You want to look at your sales territory and accounts and make sure your level of service is appropriate. Without planning, you become highly reactionary and you’re just putting out fires. You also want to keep on learning about your product to stay current and research prospective customers.

You also want to figure out the right person to call and why, and figure out how to differentiate yourself. Ask yourself, “What do we bring to the table that no one else brings?” That’s smart selling. Otherwise, you’re basically just doing the equivalent of dialing for dollars.

Do you need to be an extrovert to be successful in sales?

I used to buy in to all those assumptions that I would be good at sales because I had an outgoing personality. I thought sales would be easy for me because I had the right personality. But I eventually learned that all kinds of personalities succeed in sales. It was a real eye-opener to see people who were on the introverted side be better at sales than me.

What do you love most about sales?

I love closing and I love getting the deal. It’s a rush. If you’ve done your job, then you know you can help the customer. Most of selling is building relationships and building trust. Customers are looking for salespeople who believe in the solution they’re proposing.

Why are relationships so important in sales?

Relationships are very important in sales because you need to establish trust and good communications. Customers buy from you because they trust you. It’s not about liking you; it’s about trusting you.