6 Traits Of A Successful Salesman Learned From Derek Jeter


Sitting here in a local establishment for lunch I watch as ESPN cover Derek Jeter’s fairytale end to a fairytale baseball career. Here are a few facts, he had 12,000 plate appearances, Jeter struck out over 1,800 times placing him 13th on the all-time strikeout list. And yet, Jeter is widely considered to be the greatest ballplayer of his generation. He, much like Babe Ruth before him, trained himself to overcome the fear of striking out in pursuit of getting on base.

Great salespeople do the same thing everyday. Being a sales professional requires a special kind of mental toughness to ignore all of the times the word no is spoken in pursuit of yes. In my experience, there are six  traits found in every extraordinary salesperson that help define this resiliency. Here are a few things I learned from the career of Derek Jeter 

1) Achiever

Sales professionals invented the use of game mechanics in the workplace. Leader boards, the President’s Club and special incentives have been part of the institution of sales for decades. It is effective because salespeople care so much about winning. Achievement—more so than money—is the primary motivation for the best reps. They want money, of course, but they also want the thrill of winning the big deal and being recognized by their peers.

2) Focus

Exceptional salespeople don’t get flustered. They have a Zen-like ability to focus on the specific task at hand while exuding an aura of calm confidence. In the early 1980s, the Macintosh development team used the term “reality distortion field” to describe Steve Jobs’ charisma. Winning salespeople typically have a flavor of this condition that makes them unflappable in the face of challenges.

3) Excellence

The average tenure for a VP of Sales is 18 months. That is CRAZY!  The reason it’s not 24 or 36 months is that somewhere along the way they get surprised by a missed forecast and don’t have enough time to backfill the lost deal. That’s why the very best salespeople obsess over every detail of the presentation. They dress rehearse meetings. They’re at Kinkos at 5:30 a.m. meticulously assembling the proposal. Good salespeople hate surprises. And the best way to reduce the chances of being surprised is to focus on every detail of the process. In the years of contaminated professional sports Derek Jeter has managed to carry himself a step ahead of everyone else. A valuable lesson any of us salesman can learn from.

4) Loyal

The stereotype of salespeople is that they are constantly scheming to line their pockets with the customers’ money. While this might be the case for bad sales reps, the opposite tends to be true for exceptional salespeople. The best are intensely loyal to their customers and step in to solve problems. If things happen to go awry after the sale, the sales rep works on their behalf to fix the situation. This is the social contract that all great salespeople live by.

5) Optimistic

 Salespeople are optimists. They have to be to survive the emotional rollercoaster of winning and losing deals. But that optimism is often balanced by a healthy dose of paranoia. The best salespeople constantly ask themselves how could this go wrong? In one column, they will write down all of the ways in which they could lose the sale. And then in another column they write down what they are going to do to reduce the risk of that happening. 

6) Toughness 

Over my sales career I have went through extreme high's of closing 20 plus sales a month in Merchant Services sales, to extreme lows in dealing with long drawn out fleet management sales. But through everything I have learned that mental toughness is half the battle. If you have what it takes to be told no on 50 consecutive times just so you can get the yes on the 51st pitch, then you are on the path to an exceptional career in sales. Possessing these six traits will get there faster.

7 Things A Strong Sales People Should NEVER Do

7 Things A Strong Sales People Should NEVER Do

A successful sales person knows the steps to make a sale without even thinking about it. From product knowledge to final follow up, they can go through the sales process without ever giving a second thought to the steps involved. These strong salespeople have the process ingrained in their memories and they rarely go off course. The process takes work. It takes planning, development and practice. These professionals know that there are 7 things strong salespeople should not do.

1) Don't Wing It.

You need to be well versed in your product. For every feature that your product provides, you need to know the benefit of that feature. Learning about the product or service you sell is more about answering the customer's question: "How does this help me?” than simply learning each specific feature of the product. The feature was developed to provide a benefit. Strong salespeople will learn that connection.

2) Don't Wait for Customers.

Unless you have the product of the century, potential customers are not going to come knocking at your door. Strong salespeople know that prospecting is the search for new customers and they know how to do it. Prospecting is a complicated process in itself and can save you time and effort in the long run. Take the time to do your homework. Create a profile for the type of people who use your product, and build from there. Continue to take notes.

3) Don't Use the Wrong Approach.

This is the first step in building the relationship with a customer. Strong salespeople know that the first meeting sets the foundation for the relationship. Based on the prospecting work you did, now is the time to contact the prospective customer. You need a good sales approach to achieve sales success.

4) Don't Stop Thinking About the Customer.

Strong sales people are constantly trying to understand and assess of the needs of their customer. You can only do this by asking the customer many specific questions. Prior to the call, you should do some research on the company by reviewing their website and other information sources. Remember, when you ask questions, the customer is going to tell you what they need. You need to match the needs with the features and benefits of your product.

5) Don't Go Off Topic.

Strong salespeople remain focused during their sales presentations. They have done the customer's needs assessment, which is what the bulk of the presentation should cover. There may be new and improved features to your product or service that you think are the greatest. If that feature is not something that will help this particular customer, don't dilute your presentation by spending time overly discussing that feature. Maintain your focus on the needs of the customer.

6) Don't Fail to Close.

It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of sales are lost because the salesperson does not close the sale. Strong salespeople know that getting to the close means overcoming obstacles and never being complacent. They know that this is the goal of the sales process. To make the sale, get the order, or sign the contract.

7) Don't Forget to Follow-up.

Strong salespeople know that follow-up is important because sales are based on relationships. No one likes to feel like he or she has been left hanging. Follow-up is nurturing. It can be reassuring to the customer that the sales person was not just "in it for the sale". If you have done your homework, kept detailed notes of each meeting, and have developed a relationship with the client, the follow-up is easy. In addition to maintaining the relationship, the follow-up can also lead to some good prospects.

Strong salespeople know the process and they don't mess with the process. To be successful, you need to know what Strong salespeople do and what they would NEVER do.