Do you have character, characteristics of success?
by Jeffrey Gitomer
Published: September 26,2005
In my last column in the Mississippi Business Journal, I asked you what it took to be a great salesperson. I asked you questions, and then gave examples of both right and wrong ways to approach and capture the customer.
I promised you a more complete list of characteristics, so you could judge yourself — measure yourself against the elements that make salespeople who they are and successful at what they do.
And for those of you who hire salespeople, a checklist of the real things to look for in a potentially successful person.
What’s it take?
NOTE WELL: If you want to succeed, you better be somewhere between eight and 10 (on a one to 10 scale) on every one of these characteristics.
With that in mind, here’s a list of 12.5 individual characteristics that would make any person a “hire-able” and “succeed-able” salesperson (you included).
1. Smart. Salespeople have to be smart enough to think on the spot and deal with every kind of situation as it happens. CAUTION: Very experienced salespeople, who think they know everything, are most vulnerable to be beaten by a smart person with hustle.
2. Self-starting. Great salespeople don’t need “motivation.” They have a built-in fire that’s somewhere between a double espresso and a Red Bull. Nobody has to tell them what to do. They know what to do. And they do it. They make the first call of the day and the last call of the day.
3. Great Attitude. Great salespeople believe they will make every sale. Great salespeople take “no” as “not yet.” Great salespeople accept every lemon thrown at them by management, customers, and accounting — and they use those lemons to open up a lemonade stand. A great salesperson is able to take everybody else’s crap and somehow turn it into money.
4. Excellent Communication Skills. Great salespeople are not “good” communicators. They’re great communicators. Their message is both compelling and transferable. Their passion and their belief system are as contagious as their enthusiasm. And they’re able to articulate in a way that gets customers to buy more often than not.
5. Physically and Mentally Fit. The statement speaks for itself and implies that you work out on a regular basis by working your mind and your body. You exercise your mind and body before you get to work (push-ups and brain-ups) so you feel good — and that good feeling is projected every time you interact with a customer.
6. Computer Literate. There’s no excuse for a lack of computer literacy other than stubbornness and laziness. The Internet will rule the economic world in less than a decade. And those who ignore this fact will find themselves completely unemployable after they get fired from their present job.
7. Focused and Goal Driven. Having a goal is a basic fundamental element. Having a plan is a basic fundamental element. Keeping your eye on the prize, and steadily working toward it, is what separates those who do and those who don’t. “Goals without focus” is like an automobile without gasoline. It looks pretty, but it can’t get you anywhere. Focus is the fuel that will take you from where you are to your goal: your destination to where you want to be.
8. Dedicated to Succeeding. With great salespeople, it’s not just a matter of goals — it’s a matter of achievement. Multiple achievements lead to success and a self-confidence that keeps the momentum going from sale to sale.
9. Past History of Success. Every time a great salesperson makes a sale, it remains in their self-confidence memory bank and can be called upon for positive energy in any situation. The more you succeed, the more your success is likely to continue.
10. Looking For a Career, Not a Job. If a salesperson has a base salary and a commission, the person with a “job” wants a raise in base pay. The person with a “career” wants a raise in commission.
11. More interested in personal success and personal development, than money. Salespeople who work for money rarely achieve it. Great salespeople work to be their best and dedicate themselves to that process every day. And as a result, they earn tons.
12. A Constant Student: Willing to Learn and Adapt. Great salespeople know there is always more to learn. They dedicate themselves to being better, being best. Great salespeople know that learning from their past allows them to adapt and be ready for new encounters and new challenges. It’s the difference between “already knowing everything” and “lifelong learner.”
12.5 Taking Joy in Serving Others. This is the “master” quality. One of the best salespeople I’ve ever known is Mark McDonald. He signs his letters, “I love to serve.” And he does.
Notice one characteristic missing? Sales skills. I’d rather have attitude and brains than selling skills any day. I can teach someone to sell. I can’t teach them to be smart or happy.
Easier answer. Compare these qualifications to the best salesperson you ever knew. Compare them to the best salesperson you ever had. Compare them to yourself. Ouch.
Now that you know the criteria, you have some work to do.
GitBit: If you’d like examples of how to discover and breed great salespeople, go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time user — and enter the word SALESMASTER in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
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