How to Be a Good Salesman: The Qualities You Need

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Sell or Be Sold" by Grant Cardone. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do you learn how to be a good salesman? What are the benefits of being a master salesman?

You can learn how to be a good salesman by having a sales mindset, acquiring sales training, and mastering the art of selling yourself. As a master salesman, you get to work with whomever you want, sell whatever you want, and make as much money as you want.

Read more about the path to mastering how to be a good salesman.

Become a Master Salesperson

The first thing you have to do to learn how to be a good salesman is to commit to the craft and develop your work ethic and skills, which we’ll cover in Part 1. Then in Part 2, we’ll cover the application of this mastery when confronted with a customer.

There are many salespeople in the world, but only a few of them are good, and only a handful are masters. Masters can predict customers so well they appear to have mind-reading skills, are unaffected by recessions, and have complete control over their lives—they work for whomever they want, sell whatever they want, and make as much money as they want. In this chapter, we’ll look at the steps to becoming a master.

Mastering How to Be a Good Salesman

Since sales is so important to success, it pays to get good at it. There are five steps to mastering how to be a good salesman:

Step #1: Commit. Put all of your time, resources, and energy toward sales and success. To do this: 

  • Mythbust your negative perception of sales (if necessary). You might have heard that selling is unstable or dishonest, but in reality, selling is a noble, respectable, important job that has several benefits such as control over your own hours and good money. 
  • Get over your dislike of selling (if necessary). The only reason people don’t like doing things is that they’re bad at them—feeling incompetent and powerless makes them uncomfortable. Once you learn how to sell (in step #2), you’ll feel perfectly comfortable.
  • Stop looking for and eliminate other career options. This will force you to commit.
  • Regularly remind yourself of your commitment. For example, Cardone wears a pin that says “100%” to remind himself of his commitment.
  • Think of success as a duty, obsession, and ethical requirement—if you ever see success as something optional or that will “just happen,” you’ll never reach it.
  • Take responsibility. Decide that whether or not someone buys is completely dependent on you, not them. Don’t make excuses or attribute things to luck.
  • Take “massive action.” When you really want to master how to be a good salesman, you will put in at least 10 times more effort than you think you need, and be unreasonable and insane. For example, when Cardone was working on a client, he called him 15 times in 72 hours even though the client never returned his previous calls.

Step #2: Train. A good training program must be both theoretical and applied. To train effectively:

  • While you’re driving, listen to audio programs about sales. Choose programs with concrete information (for example, how to handle an objection) rather than motivational programs.
  • Role-play scenarios that make you uncomfortable or that you have trouble succeeding in.
  • Take notes or record your interactions with customers so you can analyze them.
  • Consult Cardone’s resources such as his video segments, other books, or coaching (payment required).
  • Learn about your products. You need to be able to answer questions about the product and tell customers about its features and value proposition.
  • Train every day, ideally before and during the day so you can use your training as a warm-up for real sales situations.
  • When you lose a customer to a competitor, analyze why the competitor or product might have appeared more attractive than your offer. You can even ask a colleague, ideally a manager, to call the client and ask why she didn’t buy from you.

Step #3: Adopt a positive attitude. Learning how to be a good salesman requires having a positive attitude to sales. People are motivated by the need to feel good, and they prioritize positive interactions over product features, which means that if your attitude is good, you can sell products that are more expensive and less cutting-edge than your competitors’. To adopt your positive attitude:

  • Avoid negative influences such as media and people with bad attitudes.
  • Practice eliminating negative thoughts. Actions stem from thoughts, so if you can control your thoughts, you’ll be able to control the actions that shape your life. Try the following exercise: For 24 hours, don’t let any negative thoughts enter your mind and don’t do any negative actions (such as badmouthing). If you don’t last 24 hours, write down the negative thought or action that derailed you and restart the exercise.

Step #4: Manage your time with discipline. You should treat time like money and use it wisely. To do this:

  • Connect with customers at lunch. (Don’t go for lunch with your coworkers—they’re never going to buy anything from you.) Either schedule a lunch meeting with customers or go to restaurants and strike up conversations with people who could become potential customers.
  • Avoid things that waste your time such as calling your family, daydreaming, or taking coffee breaks. You’ll have time to relax and to spend with your loved ones after you’ve become successful.
  • Use social media efficiently. Social media can be a time-waster, but having a presence is critical to sales because it allows customers to connect with you. Today, most people’s first step to making a purchase is to research it online. Take your social media reputation seriously, and respond promptly and professionally to any negative reviews.

Step #5: Sell to yourself first. Before you can sell someone on something, you first have to sell yourself on it, because if you don’t believe in the product, buyers will sense your lack of conviction and won’t make a purchase. To sell yourself:

  • Be unreasonable in your conviction that what you’re selling is superior. Never even let it cross your mind that there might be something out there that can compete with your product. 
  • Ignore any negatives associated with your product and concentrate only on the positives.
  • Be willing to buy the product yourself at the price you’re asking. If you believe that the product is guaranteed to work out (as you will need to, to be sold on it), then you should have no trouble using all your savings or going into debt to buy it. 
  • Believe that not buying your product from you is the worst decision of someone’s life. You must think that failing to convince her to buy is an unethical disservice that you lose sleep over.

There are some products you won’t be able to sell yourself on; therefore, you won’t be able to sell them. For example, if you think smoking is unhealthy, you won’t be able to sell cigarettes. This is fine. You don’t need to be able to sell every product to be a good salesperson.

How to Be a Good Salesman: 5 Steps for Success

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Here's what you'll find in our full Sell or Be Sold summary:

  • How your happiness and even survival depend on your selling ability
  • The five steps to becoming a master salesperson
  • Step-by-plans to lead the customer to make a purchase

Joseph Adebisi

Joseph has had a lifelong obsession with reading and acquiring new knowledge. He reads and writes for a living, and reads some more when he is supposedly taking a break from work. The first literature he read as a kid were Shakespeare's plays. Not surprisingly, he barely understood any of it. His favorite fiction authors are Tom Clancy, Ted Bell, and John Grisham. His preferred non-fiction genres are history, philosophy, business & economics, and instructional guides.

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