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The Right Stuff: 7 Qualities of Top Sales Professionals

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17 / Mar / 2008

Throughout history, the best thinkers have asked the question, “Why are some people more successful than others?”

This question crops up in history, philosophy, religion, metaphysics, psychology, and success literature. Aristotle said that behind every desire we have yet another desire … “The wish to be happy.”

Throughout your life, you constantly strive to move away from pain toward pleasure, and away from discomfort toward comfort. Consciously and unconsciously, you strive to be happy. In business and in sales, we define happiness as “fulfilling our full potential and achieving everything that is possible for us.”

What then are the qualities of the most successful and happy people in sales and business?

Ambitious.

Successful people have an intense, burning desire to be successful, to achieve more and more, and to constantly raise the bar for themselves.

In addition, ambitious people see themselves capable of “being the best.” From the time they begin their sales or business careers, they strive for excellence, to be among the very best people in their industry. They set bigger and bigger goals for themselves, and persist longer than anyone else to achieve those goals. And they never give up.

Courageous.

Successful people confront the fears that hold most people back: failure and rejection. The fear of failure causes you to think more of what you might lose if you take a chance than what you might gain. The fear of rejection makes you hypersensitive to the opinions or criticisms of other people, and especially to the negative reactions you get from prospective customers.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” What this means is that successful people confront their fears, face their fears, master their fears, and do it anyway. The wonderful thing is that, the more you do the things you fear, the less you fear doing them.

Eventually, you become fearless, and then unstoppable.

Committed.

Successful people believe in their companies, products, customers, and themselves. They actually become emotionally involved in what they sell and who they sell it to. You’ve heard it said, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Successful people care.

Because they are committed, top people love their work. They can hardly wait to get started in the morning and they hate to quit in the evening. This infectious enthusiasm for their products and services transfers into the minds of their customers. The customers then want to buy from these people and recommend them to their friends.

Professional.

Top business people see themselves as consultants, dispensing good advice, council and recommendations to their customers. They see themselves as “helpers,” continually looking for ways to help their customers to get more enjoyment and benefit from what they sell.

Instead of talking incessantly about their products or services, they ask good questions and listen carefully to the answers. They look for ways that they can improve the life or work of their customers with their products or services. Their goal is to help their customers to be better off with their products or services than they could be without them.

Prepared.

Preparation is the mark of the professional in today’s competitive environment. Top people take the time to do pre-call research, finding out everything they can about their customers before they approach them the first time. They set pre-call objectives; they determine exactly what questions they will ask, and what results they want to achieve, in a particular sales meeting. Finally, top salespeople do detailed post-call analysis, writing down everything that was discussed in the sales meeting so they don’t forget it later.

Because they are so well prepared, top salespeople have more confidence when they approach a customer. Customers can tell. Customers know when the salesperson has taken the time to do his preparation. This dramatically increases the salesperson’s credibility and makes it much more likely that the customer will listen to the salesperson and buy his or her products or services.

Continue to Personally and Professionally Develop.

Top sales professionals are dedicated to lifelong learning.

They realize that “to earn more, you must learn more.” Whatever got you to where you are today is not enough to get you any further. Your current level of knowledge and skills is only sufficient to keep you where you are; it does not allow you to go any further. To increase your income, to grow in your field toward being one of the highest paid people, requires that you continually learn and apply new ideas.

The key to continuous learning is simple: Read in your field of sales and business 30-60 minutes each day. This will amount to about one book per week, or 50 books per year. Since the average sales or business person reads less than one book per year, reading regularly in your field will give you a distinct advantage over your competition.

Next, listen to audio programs in your car. The average sales professional sits behind the wheel of his car 500-1000 hours per year. This is the equivalent of 3-6 months of 40-hour weeks, or 1-2 university semesters. By turning your car into a university on wheels, you can become one of the best educated, most knowledgeable, and most skilled professionals in your field.

Finally, take all the seminars and additional courses that you possibly can. Attend sales seminars given by professionals in your city. Enroll in on-line learning programs for sales effectiveness. Become a life-long “do-it-to-yourself” project. Never stop learning and growing.

100% Responsible for Themselves.

As important as anything else, top professionals see themselves as 100% responsible for themselves, and everything that happens to them.

Because they are responsible, they do not make excuses or blame others. They do not criticize or complain. They say, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

This attitude causes top people to see themselves as self-employed, as “Presidents” of their own personal sales corporations. They see themselves as responsible for every aspect of their own personal entrepreneurial business, including production, quality control, marketing, promotion, and training and development.

In summary, you have within you, right now, the ability to be, do, and have far more than you have ever before. The only limit to what you can achieve in the future is your imagination.

You can learn anything you need to learn, to accomplish any goal you can set for yourself. You can solve any problem, overcome any obstacle, and achieve any level of income you desire, if you will but apply yourself, and practice the seven qualities of top people until they become lifelong habits.

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