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11 habits of highly successful salespeople

Oracle Corp. chief executive Larry Ellison waves at the beginning of his keynote address at Oracle Open World Conference in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2005


I have spent my professional life studying the attitudes, habits and behaviours of the top 10 per cent of of salespeople from organizations of all sizes and shapes – from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, in an attempt to uncover what makes them so successful. I use these findings to help my own clients improve their performance through implementing these behaviours.

Of course, being on top is not for everyone. Self-improvement can be a lot of work, after all. But let me ask you this: do you want to do any better than you are now, even if it's by as little as 1 per cent? If the answer is yes, then consider the following habits of high-achieving salespeople.

1. They're open-minded and accepting of solicited feedback. They make non-emotional decisions about what is most relevant and important.

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2. They give back. They're focused on adding value to clients and community and not just on growing a business.

3. They don't just learn, they do. Successful people move beyond just learning new ideas. They implement quickly, rigorously and often, even when the might fail.

4. They have a support system. Their team of mentors, advisers, partners and spouses offer them solicited, trusted feedback and advice.

5. They take ownership. They know that both rejection and success are temporary and can be replicated by action (or inaction).

6. They're thought leaders. The best entrepreneurs are thought leaders in their markets. They speak, write and present often. Leverage your expertise. Invest in developing think pieces that look at business problems in-depth, including white papers, research papers and statistical surveys. Associating your name with these products helps deepen the value of your brand and gives your audience something useful that they can bring back to the office and implement.

7. They're educated and willing to gather and use examples proof, research, references, testimonials and case studies and to apply them in their conversations.

8. They're well-rounded and have the desire to lead a well-rounded life and enthusiasm about many aspects of life. Successful entrepreneurs have passions outside of work and actually take vacations willingly!

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9. They're tuned in and able to have a conversation with others about anything that is going on in the world today. Don't worry about being an expert here, focus on being able to talk about all items your clients, partners, friends and family might want to discuss. In other words, successful entrepreneurs are not bores that can only talk about work.

10. They're confident and know how to ignore unsolicited feedback or jealousy from others.

11. They're focused on delivering results.

The top 10 per cent know that to change their results, they need to change their behaviours. The other 90 per cent lack the willingness to practice something new and refine the behaviour to perfection.

So what changes are you going to make this year to ensure your best year yet?

As the founder and president of Engage Selling Solutions, Colleen Francis helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.

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