5 Habits of Successful Sales People


What is it that makes successful sales people stand out? I have managed sales teams for many years and operated as a salesperson both in large corporates and startups. Here are five common habits that I personally observe in successful sales people.

1. Daily curiosity

The best sales people are curious. They are often what Belbin would describe as resource investigators. Their inquisitive nature means they are always looking for new ideas to bring back to their team and also to their clients.

They are aware of trends and the latest news. They use their networks and tools like news aggregators and curation tools to stay on top of industry trends. They are aware of how to use technology and social media to pursue their curiosity.

2. Regular research and learning

A natural consequence of curiosity is continual research. They focus on what works in their industry, and what their competitors are doing, which helps them understand the value of their own offer. They seek out case studies, talk regularly to customers and non-customers about what works for them and what doesn’t work. This research allows them to build extensive knowledge and expertise, in essence to learn. They are continual learners. This learning enables them to gain the authority and respect of people in the industry.

I believe strongly in these words from Rand Fishkin:

“The best way to sell something – don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, & trust of those who might buy.”


3. Thinking positively

The best sales people have a positive attitude. We all have bad days, the difference is in how we respond. There is something in the old saying ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going’. Losing, though it hurts, is part of being a sales professional. Learning and moving on is essential to stay positive and to being successful.

I often find that positive people have mentors or team members they can share with. This enables them to vent frustrations but stay focused, and look for the positives.

People like to be with people that have a positive outlook and it is this positivity that breeds success.

4. Listening

All of us want to feel heard and appreciated, particularly customers. Listening is about respect for customers but it is also about understanding. What issues are your customers struggling with, what keeps them awake at night? Good sales people listen and explore issues with customers.

It is often said that sales people should listen at least twice as much as they talk, a skill I am still trying to master.

5. Providing free consultancy

The best sales people act as a free consultant. They understand the issues a client is facing and can draw upon their knowledge and expertise to provide advice. They are always happy to spend time providing advice and ideas, and sharing what they have recently learnt.

In my view the best sales people are those the client would pay for consultancy advice.

Take it further

If you are interested in ideas around sales you might want to check out this daily briefing on the latest thinking from 20 of the top sales blogs.