Some salespeople suck and stay stuck. Others manage to go way above average. A few become sales superstars. These elite performers — who constitute 4% of the sales force — deliver a disproportionate share (about 64%) of a company’s total sales receipts and rightly take home as much as 50 times the income of their peers in the bottom 80%.
Detailed by Brian Tracy in Be a Sales Superstar, this finding validates the Pareto principle (aka the 80-20 rule) and should spur you to join the top 20%. From there, you can eventually achieve superstardom by being among the best of that already high-performing club. The challenge is enormous, but so are the perks, which include six-figure salaries based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So how does one become an elite sales performer?
While there are striking similarities in how experts address the issue, the differences are just as pronounced. Whether these experts are outlining a process or enumerating personality traits, you’ll seldom find identical formulas for excellent sales performance coming from two independent sources. For instance, experts differ in their opinions on which single quality best equips you for success, citing various traits such as grit and conscientiousness as the most important. Meanwhile, you’ll find hundreds of self-help advice in the form of books, podcasts, articles and videos that promise to transform you into the ultimate sales professional.
Still, there are notable attempts at bringing some process, science and even analytics into the fray. InsightSquare parsed executive opinions on Quora, while Objective Management Group conducted rigorous research involving 1 million salespeople to isolate characteristics of top performers.
We’ve probed into these and other sources to find where they intersect and establish common grounds for further exploration. We've created a list of qualities based on these common grounds. Consider these qualities as the bedrock of selling excellence, something anyone who plans on pursuing a sales career should build and improve on continually.
You might think you already possess most of these skills in varying degrees. But to become an elite sales professional, you need to have all of them in ample amounts. Practice and hone your skills at work, and join training programs that will help you develop critical traits. It might take years to master all of them. But given how highly successful salespeople exude confidence, wisdom and fulfilment, it's certainly worth doing.
If you want to learn which countries are the biggest sales superstars, check out our Global Sales Performance Review.
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