• JNI-ContentTeam

‘Going vertical’ and four other tips for the modern salesperson

We’re currently living through a period in human history that will be remembered for its drastic societal changes.

Whether remote working becomes the norm in the post-pandemic world or not, this is the era that brought about the digitisation of the workplace. And we’ll be learning of our new world’s peculiarities, innovating our way around its new challenges and enjoying its freedoms for the years to come.

Of course, the pandemic played a huge part in this move to take our professional lives online. But the internet has been around a lot longer than COVID-19, and its been slowly shaping us toward this eventuality ever since it was invented.

Good salespeople are renowned for their situational adaptability, for their quick-thinking and for their ability to always assume an air of understanding. They should, in theory, be well-placed to dive straight into the new working world. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use a little help.

There are many in the sales profession who still remember the ‘old’ way of doing things, the days before mobile telephones, the days where face-to-facing was an inevitability instead of an oddity. There are others, younger guns, who may look at the modern sales role and see in its racy, high-reward lifestyle something appealing.

Over at JNI, we’re constantly trying to understand what the market appreciates best. We think we know a thing or two about what makes a successful salesperson. We have compiled these skills and characteristics in order to help others, experienced salespeople and beginners, as they take on the new seller’s market.


No matter your industry, the marketplace is in a constant state of flux. It adapts and grows. It acts on the introduction of new tools, on the discovery of new markets, on the changing practices of potential new clients.

Whether you’re an old hat or new to sales, you’ll benefit if you can think on your feet and are open to new ideas. Be aware that most industries are changing daily. You may be an expert on all things to do with selling cars one day and back to learning how to navigate twisty turns the next.

Part of being adaptable is knowing what you’re adapting to. So, stay ahead of the curve and be…


Part of your role as a salesperson is in convincing your potential client that you are an expert in your industry. Modern salespeople don’t just put their foot in the door and wedge it open, they listen to their client’s desires and pain points and try and find the most appropriate solution from within the market.

You want to be prepared to answer every question that can be thrown your way. You’ll look knowledgeable and therefore more worthy of your client’s trust. You are trying to prove yourself an ally in your client’s quest for the best deal.

Obviously, you can’t learn everything about anything so the successful salesperson …

Becomes a specialist

This is perhaps one of the more contentious elements in our profile of the modern salesperson. There are arguments that support a broader knowledge base over a specific one but we’re of the latter’s school of thought and here’s why.

Most people, your clients included, can tell when you are making stuff up on the fly. If you do find yourself caught up in a arms-flailing attempt to talk your way out of your own ignorance, you’re likely to make your client distrust you.

It is better to learn your own industry, or sector of it, well than have a vague understanding of a greater number of things. This is something Marketing Professional and Educational speaker Cliff Quicksell calls ‘going vertical’.

According to Quicksell, you can’t be everything to everyone. Prove yourself an expert on one specific area and “buyers in those markets begin to look to you and rely on what you say as information which will help flatten their learning curve and give them an upper-hand in markets”.

Build yourself a network

Becoming a specialist is brilliant. It’s a great way to stand yourself apart and increase the faith buyers are willing to place in you. But it does necessitate your having a similarly well-placed team around you.

With a good network around you, you’ll be able to divert queries on things you understand less to those that are well-versed on it. Become a good delegator and you can avoid ever looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about by presenting your potential clients with someone who really knows their stuff.

Also, if you look to your partners one day, they may send clients to you the next.

Learn how to take a knock

Sales is fast-paced. It’s also ruthless. Sometimes you’ll put in a lot of work and get no obvious reward. It can be hard dealing with the disappointment of a sale falling through.

The best sellers will remember that each potential deal is part of a bigger picture. If your client decides not to buy one day, well at least you’ve built your relationship with them. They may come back to you some other time and you’ll be thankful for the trust you built together.

Believe in the value of these qualities

Treat this break-down of the profile of a modern salesperson less as a checklist that will help you achieve your goals, and more as a genuine guidebook.

You don’t just want to seem like your client’s ally or knowledgeable. You actually want to be both of those things. If you are, you’ll find that you sell more certainly, but you’ll also feel more confident in what you do.

If you, or anyone you know, wants a little more help in understanding how to get the best results as a salesperson, and in particular through the use of sales' most in-demand tool, Zoom, then tune in to our selling on Zoom webinar videos. The first of those videos is available below.

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