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This willingness to trade a short term pleasure and invest in themselves for the long term benefit is the first characteristic of a successful salesperson. Most just aren't willing to make the sacrifices that success calls on them to make.
I call characteristic number two "the ability and propensity to learn." For salespeople, I define learning as exposing yourself to new ideas, and then changing your behavior in positive ways as a result. Thus a successful salesperson is always looking for the next good idea, and continually experimenting with practices and behaviors that are designed to give him the best results.
This is the operating expression of the first characteristic. Whereas the desire for success supplies the energy and motivation, the ability and propensity to learn is one key way that motivation expresses itself.
Following this life-changing practice means that eventually every success-seeking salesperson is going to become exposed to the best practices of his profession, and every salesperson so inclined will eventually fold them into his/her routines. That means, equipped with this characteristic and given enough time, they are going to be successful. It is inevitable.
These two characteristics are so powerful and fundamental that they form the cornerstone of a success profile for a salesperson. The other characteristics which follow are derived from and expressions of these two characteristics.
For example, successful salespeople deal successfully with adversity. They don't let failure knock them off the path. They see failures and adversity as temporary stumbling blocks, and bounce back from every defeat. This is such a pronounced characteristic of successful salespeople that some authors hold it up as the single most outstanding characteristic of successful people.
It is this characteristic that causes them to make the second sales call after having been rejected in the first. It is this characteristic that stimulates the salesperson to approach just one more prospect, or visit this account one more time in spite of having failed previously.
The last of my big four characteristics is "the ability to focus". This is particularly important in our 21st Century economy. There are so many "things to do", so many opportunities and demands on our time, the unfocused salesperson can squander much of his day reacting to the superfluous.
Remember the movie "City Slickers?" When asked his secret for living a successful life, Curly held up one finger. "One thing" he said. Focus on one thing and do it well.
Very few people can do more than one thing exceptionally well. Sales is an incredibly sophisticated profession wherein real, long-lasting success takes years of disciplined work. Successful salespeople know that, and stay focused on the basics of their job, and the practices and principles that they know will pay off.
Given these four characteristics and enough time, the salesperson will become successful. When we find one of them, and then we add training in the principles and practices that define the best way to do the job, we have every reason to expect that person to develop into one of the successful superstars.
It starts with character.
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