Sales: The Least Time-Effective Process in All of Business

Neil Mahoney


Making the sales process more time-effective is not easy because salespeople have so many unavoidable duties they must perform: call reports, expense reports, travel time, handling complaints, maintaining relationships… The list never ends.

The long list of non-selling duties that confront salespeople leaves just 30 percent of their time to devote to their primary function: representing their company’s products and services to customers and prospects. Thus, it’s highly important that this time be used to best advantage.

The Science of Selling described in this article explains three essentials salespeople should know in order to maximize their sales effectiveness:

  1. How to know and better manage themselves when dealing with others
  2. How to recognize their prospects’ social styles, and adjust to them
  3. How to best learn the wants and needs of their prospects

Getting Salespeople to Know and Manage Themselves Better

Knowing how to manage your responses and behavior and being better at anticipating the behavior of prospects in most selling situations are highly important for any salesperson. The well-known and highly respected Myers-Briggs testing process is an excellent way to learn this. Just Google Myers-Briggs and answer the several questions they ask. It’s easy to do and it’s confidential.

Once you’ve answered the questions and studied the results, you’ll have a better understanding of your Social Style as well as a detailed description of it. In all, Myers-Briggs identifies and describes 16 different social styles. It’s important to note that no one social style is superior to any other, nor do the different social styles make anyone any better at a particular trade or profession, or limit a person’s management potential. The Myers-Briggs test tells you whether you tend to be:

  • An introvert or an extrovert, and to what degree. (If you’re highly introverted, sales may not be a good career for you.)
  • Whether you are “sensing” (take things at face value) or are “intuitive” (interpretive of situations). Intuitiveness is an asset for good salespeople, but seeing things as they are is important too.
  • Whether you are “thinking” (judge things mainly on facts) or “feeling” (evaluate things from a more personal perspective. Again, a mix of both is good, but pay attention to the rating you get for each. If you’re ranked high on one, that’s your dominant characteristic.
  • Whether you are “judging” (decide things quickly) or “perceiving” (wait for more information until deciding). Again, pay attention to the spreads. If you’re high on the judging side, you’ll need to exercise patience when trying to sell a perceiver.

Every person is a mixture of these four characteristics, but each person possesses them to different degrees. By studying your own analysis, as well as the other information provided by Myers-Briggs, you can prepare yourself to better judge how your prospects are likely to react to various selling situations, and estimate how best to prepare both yourself and your sales presentation.

Attributes of Good Salespeople

There are almost as many descriptions of the “sales type” as there are people describing them, but I have found these characteristics to be essential in any successful salesperson:

  1. Empathy – Be able to put yourself in the prospects’ shoes; think like they do
  2. Strong ego – Not a big ego, a strong one. When your proposals are rejected, don’t take it personally; just smile and move on the next prospect
  3. Persistence – Selling takes time and more than one call before you make the sale. You have to keep coming back. Don’t quit too readily, but know when to stop wasting your time.
  4. Self-discipline – This is what gets you up every morning to face a fresh new world. Don’t roll over for one more snooze, or sip one more coffee.
  5. Attentive and Observant – This is another way to say, “be a good listener.” Take good notes, and follow up on questions and promises.
  6. Honesty – If you’re not honest, you can’t really be a good salesperson. You may get away with it for awhile, but things will eventually catch up with you.
  7. Determination – It’s what keeps you coming back again and again, but know when to stop wasting your, and your prospect’s time.
  8. Reticence and Tolerance – Knowing when to hold your tongue and allow room for other points of view.
  9. Resilience and Flexibility – It’s the elasticity in you that lets you keep bouncing back and knowing when to bend – but not too far. This is a highly important quality in a salesperson. If you’re too inflexible, you won’t be able to negotiate well and should probably find dome other type of work. If you’re too flexible, you’ll probably tend to give away the store.

Neil Mahoney has more than 30 years of experience in sales and marketing. His website is