My Take On the Key Hallmarks of Top Sales Professionals-Heads up ! there's more than 5

Photo by Joshua Earle

Photo by Joshua Earle

Sorry, it’s more than 5 !

I have had the privilege of working alongside some of the best salespeople in the business. The most successful salespeople I have worked with have a mixture of some of these qualities:

1. They are the most focused. They know what they needed to accomplish. They are organized. There are always issues that can distract you. The best reps acknowledge the issues, work on solving them or bringing them to management’s attention, and then they move on and get back to their plan.

2. They always think about what the customer is thinking. This canny ability allows the rep to determine what the customer’s challenges are, understand the problems and thus see the opportunities.

3. They have a sincere desire to achieve. This means they are tenacious and confident, and possess willpower, courage and determination. They sell with passion. I often ask customers the question “Why did you choose us to do business with?” You might be surprised to learn that the answer is sometimes dead simple: the relationship, trust, service, price, references, et cetera. But one answer that stands out because I heard it more often was this: “The account team wanted it more than any other team. They worked for it; they were tenacious.”

4. They are persuasive and are aware of the behavioral buying patterns of customers. Eighty percent of decisions are made on emotions. The top salespeople are attuned to the emotions or emotional states of their buyers.

5. They are superb listeners. They sincerely care and are empathetic (high on the emotional intelligence scale

6. They are responsive. They deal with problems quickly, and they honor their commitments and promises to their support team and their customers.

7. They are positive and enthusiastic. Enthusiasm spreads, as you know. A person walks into a room with that special kind of energy that can change the dynamic in the room. The same goes for the reverse. Enthusiasm is contagious, but it’s a balancing act—don’t overdo it. It may not come across as sincere.

8. They are naturally curious. They read voraciously. I always suggest to reps that they stay up to date with what’s going on in the world around them, as this helps tremendously when meeting with and talking to clients. Natural curiosity then extends to a sincere desire to question and inquire and to learn more about their customers.

9. They have goals and they make plans for the day, week, month, quarter and year ahead.

10. They do their homework and prepare, and then prepare some more. I’m not sure I can emphasize enough how important preparation is. Preparation for a sales call, for a bid, an overall account strategic plan—the person who has a plan is in control. Remember the words from the great John Wooden, one of the greatest college basketball coaches in history: “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

11. They know their company, its products and its services, and they have the ability to communicate a compelling story to their prospects.

12. They are great at building rapport and relationships, and so they are quick to gain credibility and win trust.

13. They are the hardest-working and the most committed. Sales success does not come without effort. Salespeople acquire knowledge through hard work and a burning desire to succeed.

14. They have the ability to call on the right people at the right time, with the right message. This sounds easy, but it takes a lot of the skills described above to make this happen.

15. They are highly adaptable to change and technologically literate. They know the power of the internet, social media (especially LinkedIn) and computer technology and apps that help them communicate with customers. New tools will continue to impact the way we relate.

16. They understand collaboration and are never afraid to get help when and where they need it. Selling today is about team selling more than ever. You typically can’t win opportunities by yourself. You need help.

17. They are trustworthy and guided by integrity. They do what they say they are going to do, and they stand up for what is right. I believe that if you are honest and do the right thing, you will win business and be rewarded.

In the highly demanding business world of today, sales professionals are expected to be financially literate (e.g., know how to read a balance sheet and income statement) and to be industry experts, relationship builders and company collaborators. Their customers expect the rep to be their voice and to have that voice be respected. There is no limit to the variety of challenges, people and opportunities the sales profession offers, with both financial and professional awards beckoning.

I believe that selling is an honorable vocation and is attracting different and new talent because of the challenges, varied experience and rewards it offers. It’s important to me to keep evangelizing the caring nature of the role, the code of ethics it needs to abide by and the fact that it’s a profession that exists, primarily, to help people and organizations make good business decisions that will help their business thrive.

I would love to hear your viewpoint on the top selling hallmarks, please feel free to comment.

To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website .

Mark Welch


Street Savvy Sales Leadership

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email