The Anatomy of an Elite Executive Sales Professional

A pair of sales executive high-fiving in a meeting room

Sales is indisputably one of the most competitive arenas to earn a living in. With immense pressure to deliver, many new sales professionals don’t last their first year. However, there are very distinct skills that sales professionals can focus on developing that dramatically improve their chances of success.

If you want to have a long-term, successful career in sales, invest the time in becoming proficient in the following selling skills:


Needs Analysis

A competent sales professional should be able to assess the client’s core problem and then offer a customized solution to their most compelling needs.

A client who doesn’t seem enthusiastic about the services you’re providing or is reluctant to come on board with your company is a client whose underlying problem you’ve failed to address.


Asking the Right Questions

In order to accurately determine a client’s key pain points, it is important to learn the right questions to ask.

Every sales trainer and sales training manual out there emphasizes the importance of asking open-ended questions.

All sales pros should have a list of open ended questions that they have memorized so that they can help their clients explain what they need on their own terms.

As they say, the key to getting the right information is asking the right questions!

Keep in mind that open-ended questions are not the only technique you should employ. After you ask some broad, open-ended questions, follow those up with qualifying questions to show the client that you’re attentively listening and to help you drill down to get more specific information on their specific needs.

Only after repeating back to the client what you perceive to be their pain points, and verifying that you understand their needs correctly, are you in a position to offer a solution.

A sales executive talking to a client


Testing for the Close

While the age-old sales adage “Always Be Closing” aka ‘ABC’ references the importance of closing deals with clients, it’s important to pace your client interactions so you’re not prematurely pushing for a close when the other party isn’t ready.

Keep in mind that you have not earned the right to offer a solution until you have clearly identified a client’s needs, and suggesting that you have a solution prematurely will often times leave the client feeling that you are strictly interested in making a sale as opposed to helping them with a particular problem.

Many successful sales pros consider that advice of ‘always be closing’ to mean that the end goal of closing should always be top of mind, including asking qualifying questions to identify pain points, etc.

Better advice may be to say that the objective should be to always be moving closer to the goal posts, but do not rush things or you risk the chance of losing the client’s trust.

Testing for the close is a skill that should be honed as early in your sales career as possible. That’s where open-ended questions become useful. Gauge your clients’ energy and enthusiasm, and if they don’t seem to be engaged in moving forward, go back to asking additional questions so that you can clearly identify their most critical needs, and only at that point can you start to suggest solutions.

Figure out their underlying problem, and target that!


Continuing Education in Sales Training

Sales training never ends. As sales psychology, theories, and techniques continue to evolve in the face of a changing market, you should continually strive to expand your knowledge. Invest in sales training workshops and make a goal to read a sales book or listen to some of the amazing podcasts and tapes that sales trainers offer on a monthly basis. Top-notch sales pros never stop polishing their skills, and continually add to their skill set by adding techniques to their tool belt.

Since 1999, International Search Consultants team of Sales Recruiters have been a leader in providing quota- busting sales pros to our clients on a national basis. With more recommendations on LinkedIn than any other recruiting agency in the entire US, we excel at strategically targeting top performers from direct competitors and bringing those rainmakers to our client’s attention.

Contact us today to start a flow of top talent for your critical fill hiring needs.

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Annette Krause leads ISC ‘s team Sales Recruiters & can be reached via direct dial at 888-903-3803 or email at

Ann Zaslow-Rethaber is President of ISC & can be reached via direct dial at 888-866-7276 or email at