by Kobus Tosen, MD CCL Global

A positive attitude and ability to sell means that a person will never be out of work. Kobus Tosen has been in the sales industry for most of his life. Today he has his own flourishing business and offers sage advice on how anyone can sell and communicate successfully and keep their enthusiasm intact.

I train my people to not engage in negative thoughts such as “I’m not good enough because I missed that sale” or “I’m really worthless today because I haven’t sold a thing”. I train them to be proactive and undertake a situation analysis to determine what went wrong. I also train them to positively anticipate rejection, and by doing so, they are never overwhelmed by rejection but simply treat it as an integral part of the game.

Another component of success as a salesperson is that you need to like people and to really care about the person in front of you. To do that, you also need to believe in the product.

It is for all these reasons that we sell our products using the in-house demonstration model. Sure, the homeowner will be looking for the catch, but the in-house demonstration invariably resolves that. Knowing that, a successful salesman will have the attitude that he has a duty to the person he’s demonstrating to, to get him to see how the product could improve his life immediately. That’s caring!

The most important thing to remember is that ‘closing’ a sale is not a stand-alone event – but just a step in the process. The cause of most closing-anxiety is poor attitude. If you embark upon a closing conversation knowing that you have not over-promised, then you do not run the risk of under-delivering and can view the ‘close’ as a natural part of the sales cycle. Closing should not be viewed as the end but more as the beginning. Once you earn a sale, you have a customer. The problem is that most sales people stop after the first ‘no’. With each prospect, you need to keep building value, building rapport and showing them that you and your product will provide the solution to the client’s needs. The error that many sales people make is giving up too soon. It takes persistence to continue advancing a sales cycle after a prospect declines your offer.

How a sale of a worthwhile product is achieved is by getting straight to the point and using as few words as possible. Bad salesmen have the idea that they have to waffle or use small talk when selling to a customer. Becoming friends with a customer may not hurt the sale, but it doesn’t help it as much as many believe. The product sells itself.

Firms that make high-budget TV or online ads to sell their product typically make an emotional appeal to the consumer rather than focus on the product itself. Their proposition really is that whoever owns their product or service is cool, and whoever doesn’t is out-of-touch and old-fashioned . Our pitch, in contrast, is caring about the consumer himself and the benefits of the product. It’s more direct.

Businesses need to understand that anyone can sell, but in fact few succeed without support. Companies need to invest an enormous amount of effort in their salespeople to give them the right attitude, training and necessary business skills. Salespeople need plenty mentorship, training , as well motivational sessions to keep them positive.

In our business, we focus on constant improvement, and most of our talent development happens in the field. It’s the analysis and feedback from a sales person received after the presentation that resonates. For effective real-world training to happen, a competent leader needs to listen in on sales calls, review recordings and analyse the person’s performance to offer timely and specific feedback.

This should ideally happen hours after the experience, so the feedback is fresh and the sales person can reflect on the experience. I couple that with frequent, flexible, and manageable product education and field training. I do not expect perfection but consistent progress. Instead of instructing salespeople on what they should do differently, I get them to describe how they could have improved a situation. As a mentor, I track their progress daily and weekly to stay in touch.

One of the most common questions is whether there is a particular type of person most suited to selling. The characteristics of good salesmen are that they must be able to handle rejection, have a strong internal drive, be disciplined, be influential with all types of people, have good listening skills, always deliver on a promise, have a positive attitude towards training, have business acumen and most importantly, a passion for people.