As with most things, sales skills aren’t distributed equally. About 15% of salespeople make about 85% of the available money.

What is it that allows these people to have all that money flow their way? Is it luck, hard work, a good attitude?

Based on his experience working with sales force, veteran sales consultant Jerry Vass concludes that the people who succeed consistently (1) are skillful at verbal communication and (2) understand the dynamics of the sales transaction.

Less talk, more listen
Selling well means listening more and talking less. Yet many salespeople fear the silence required for the buyer to think. They guess at the buyer’s needs, and guess and guess and guess. And they are nearly always wrong.

Studies show that the higher people get in business, the more information they obtain by listening. In tests, executives retain 90% of the information in a 45-minute presentation. Assembly-line workers retain 25%.

There is a process
That top 15% also understand that sales is a technical transaction, not slick talk. In fact, effective selling is simply problem solving. The steps are straightforward: identify the problem, understand it and present solutions.

When the sales process is focused on these elements, you don’t need clever tricks or strong-arm tactics to get past buyers’ defenses. Buyers will invite your attention. Even when they realize they are being persuaded, they still like it.

That’s why top sellers not only are more successful at sales, but actually enjoy it more.

Adapted from “Soft Selling in a Hard World,” by Jerry Vass. Published by Running Press,

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