5 Qualities All Great Salespeople Have in Common

What does it take to be successful in sales?

According to Harvard Business Review, the best salespeople take pride in their art form, separating themselves from the rest of the pack regardless of the circumstances.

So what’s their secret?

Read on to discover 5 common patterns, habits, and characteristics top performers have in common that help them consistently finish at or near the top of the leaderboard each month, year in and year out:

1. They Take Ownership of Everything

It’s no coincidence that the same salespeople end up being the top performers time and time again. And it’s not because sales come easier for certain people, or because some people have been given a break, or because they just happen to be lucky. While everyone has different starting points, the most significant difference between perennial top performers and everyone else is attitude.

 “Quality Performance Starts with a Positive Attitude.” –  Jeff Gitomer

“Elite salespeople approach their goals with a total ownership mindset,” states Harvard Business Review. “Anything that happens to them, whether or not it was their doing, is controlled by them. It may not be their fault, but it is their responsibility.”

Psychologists refer to this as the internal locus of control. In other words, individuals believe the power lies inside of them instead of externally. Interestingly, possessing an internal locus of control equates to success at work, higher income, and greater health.

Instead of blaming their circumstances or people for their failures, top salespeople own everything and recognize that they are responsible for their own successes.

2. They’re Resourceful

Remember the popular T.V. show, MacGyver? It was pretty impressive how MacGyver could make a welding tool with a car antenna, jumper cables, and a battery, wasn’t it?

The lesson here is that the lead character found himself in seemingly impossible situations with few to no resources, very little time, and only his wits to help him either escape or survive.

MacGyver didn’t waste time bemoaning his lack of tools and equipment or lamenting about the difficulty of his circumstances. Instead, he took stock of his strengths and resources and made something happen—every single episode.

Similarly, the best salespeople are often faced with difficult situations and deadlines, not to mention having to negotiate unpredictable obstacles with nothing more than their wits and their phones. And they’re almost always able to work things out.

“Resourcefulness is as much a mindset as it is a skill.” — Harvard Business Review

Failing to adopt and continually practice a “MacGyver mindset” prevents salespeople from fully developing the skills necessary for being resourceful.

3. They’re Experts in Their Respective Fields

“Sales is less about selling and more about leading, which requires high levels of confidence, which in turn requires knowledge and experience,” advises Harvard Business Review.

Expressed mathematically, the concept looks like this: Knowledge + Experience = Confidence to Lead. While the first part of the equation can be controlled, the second part comes with time.

Continuously learning and gaining industry knowledge, along with a strong point of view about the products they’re selling, should be a top priority for salespeople with a desire to succeed.

 “Your Life Can Only Get Better When You Do. Do Something Every Day To Improve Your Key Skill Areas.” – Brian Tracy

Expertise builds confidence, which fosters trust, which leads to sales.

4. They Help Others

No matter what point salespeople are in their career, there is always someone else they can help out, whether it’s by sharing knowledge about a product or by demonstrating a process or tool.

The best salespeople have no qualms about passing on their knowledge to less experienced salespeople—with no expectations of receiving anything in return.

Of course, their act of giving is the very thing that helps them build confidence in themselves. Additionally, others notice their willingness to help, too. In the book Big Potential, the author found that people who provide support to their coworkers (“work altruists”) are 40% more likely to receive a promotion.

5. They Act With a Sense of Urgency

While top salespeople don’t move recklessly, they do move quickly. There is no hesitation in getting back to their clients or customers, and no delay in delivering contracts, forms, or other materials necessary for making a decision.

“The best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly today.” ― Dale Carnegie

The best salespeople get things done “NOW”—not after lunch, not first thing tomorrow, or when it suits them. They realize that every minute of every day counts towards achieving their sales target, and they act accordingly.

The Takeaway

To achieve consistent and long-term success in sales, the best salespeople know that good habits will make them more productive.

These top performers take responsibility for everything they do, they’re resourceful and knowledgeable, they act quickly, and they make it a point to help out others.

Not surprisingly, salespeople that exhibit these qualities tend to stay at the top of their game, month after month and year after year.

Sherene Funk is the author of the contemporary romance Autumn in Your Arms and two small business e-books. She is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime. A graduate of Brigham Young University, she worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current writing position at Rain Retail Software. She researches non-stop to see what successful retailers do and loves to share what she learns with small business owners.