Be The Consummate Professional

Consummate Professional

In previous posts of Black Sales Journal, such as Black Sales Journal 12/16/2010, The Seven Success Essentials of the Black Sales Professional, we examined being the Consummate Professional.  Many of you are very professional already, and this will be a refresher.  This is a great step to being the best and most effective sales professional possible!

Let me first advise, being the consummate professional will never be easy, as it involves preparation, study, forethought, and an exhaustive effort to be “the best” at what you do.  The more difficult aspect of being the best is sustainability and consistency.  You will know that you are ‘the consummate professional’ when you sustain it as part of your personal culture.

Being the Consummate Professional is Important

The consummate professional is someone who is effective, efficient, relationship driven, and visionary.  Promises are made, commitments are kept, and there is empathy for the problems of the customers.  Solutions are adequate and on time, because the professional has ‘actively listened’ as opposed to having ‘heard’ the problems, and has prioritized the delivery of the response properly.

Here is my version of the Consummate Professional Checklist:

The Consummate Professional is:

  • Punctual
  • Empathetic
  • Attentive
  • Knowledgeable
  • Organized
  • Responsive
  • Visionary

This checklist forms the foundation for the most solid professional performance for the sales professional, and it also benefits the customer, and the organization.

Let’s Look at Each One

Punctual – Most of you know this, but the punctual professional is seldom if ever late.  Recognize that there is a psychological advantage to being the one that is on time.  It never hurts to have your prospect or customer start out with a brief apology for their tardiness, as it indicates you mean business.  Be punctual to a fault.  Treat your prospects and customers with respect; value their time.

Empathetic – Be genuine in your empathy.  Know enough about your customer’s business to be empathetic.  Recognize why they need your product, why they are hesitant to buy, and how to rephrase and restructure your product explanations to make a consultative sale.  The customer’s business model, market, or timing could get in the way of your sales process, the more you know the better opportunity you have to show the attributes of your product.

Attentive – This means being an ‘active listener’.  When you couple this with empathy, you get someone who is aware and understands the situation.  This gives a powerful edge.  The sales professional that understands proposes the right solutions at the right time.  Practice listening actively with all of your customers and potential clients.

Knowledgeable – This area speaks volumes.  There are many areas of knowledge that you should excel in:

  • Product
  • Territory
  • Industry
  • Process
  • Competition

You might think this too much to master, yet it is a continuous process of learning and retaining.  You might refer to Black Sales Journal 12/20/2010, Your Customer Needs an Expert where we discussed being an expert in Product, Industry, and Territory.  Also note that knowing the competition is an extremely effective strategy.  The competitive landscape changes constantly.  The customer may not give you 100% credibility, yet your views will be listened to.

Organized – Being organized is essential.  Plan your appointments, your workday, and your workweek to the max.  Nothing ever goes totally as planned, yet in reality being organized allows one to prioritize well and be more effective.  Prospects and customers know when you are unorganized by the condition of your briefcase, and sometimes by your delivery. 

Responsive – This is a big one!  There are many components that define responsiveness.  Many of the issues have to do with communications, timeliness, and solving problems. You need to return phone calls within less than 24 Hours.  This is a must.  Nothing ‘frosts’ a potential customer like not being able to receive a response to a call or email.  Communicate early and often.  Deliver your bad news as soon as you are sure of the response.  Work to find solutions, and when you cannot produce the desired result, frankly and honestly let your customer know.

Responsiveness also involves responding to customer requests for new products, new services, as well as improvements and betterments in the current offerings.   Listening and working to solve issues exhibits responsiveness.

Visionary – The more knowledge you have of all types, and the more understanding you have regarding your customer and your own company, the better chance you have to find creative real-time solutions.  Being able to see down the road is important.  Anticipate your customer’s needs well in advance as your customer’s organization, and your organization changes over time.  As an example, anticipate the move to retail outlets by your manufacturing customer and be prepared to respond.  Forecast your customer’s need to manufacture in less labor costly areas, and give distribution and supply suggestions that will make them profitable, and you a star.

Be up to date on current events here and abroad, and by all means know what is happening with their competition.  This might sound like a lot, yet in this age of electronic media, it can be done.

In Summary

As a Black sales professional, there are few tactics that will have as much impact as being “the Consummate Professional”.  You might want to check out the following items for a little more “in depth” discussion.  These are links to past Black Sales Journal posts that cover them in detail:

Always remember, your customer wants to work with a professional.  It can be you!

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