By Tom Hopkins

When mastering the fundamentals of selling, think of a triangle with equal sides that illustrate the three main elements of selling: on one side is product knowledge; on the other side are selling tactics and strategies — the people skills; and on the base of the triangle are the words attitude, enthusiasm, and goals.

The three sides of the selling triangle are equally important. If product knowledge was all that mattered, then technical designers, manufacturers, or assemblers of products would be the best salespeople. Of course, these folks often know the products quite literally from the inside out.

But until they are trained in selling skills and understand how much of a role attitude plays in sales, their sales approach is often 99 percent description of product and 1 percent relation of the product to the needs of the individual clients — and that rarely results in a sale.

Great selling skills, without product knowledge and enthusiasm, won’t get you far either. Even if you’re comfortable talking with practically anyone, and you’ve invested a tremendous amount of time mastering the best words for creating positive pictures in the minds of your prospects, if you don’t have a clear picture in your own mind of what your product, service, or idea will do for your buyers, how can you paint the right pictures in someone else’s mind?

And if you’re excited about selling, but you have little knowledge or experience with selling tactics and strategies, your enthusiasm will open the doors a crack. But you’ll get your ­fingers slammed when you start pushing product (because pushing product isn’t how you sell anything).

A professional who hasn’t developed all three sides of the triangle is failing to reach his full potential and letting down his clients, who expect to work with a competent person. Do your best to develop all three areas of your selling life in order to reap the highest rewards.