Have you ever paused and pondered why some salespeople are so much better than others, or why someone in your organization or industry is recognized as the top salesperson?  

What makes the difference?  What are the defining characteristics that make one person better or worse than another in the sales arena?  Why aren’t you at the top of the performance ladder instead of someone else?  I know the answer and in the next few minutes I’m going to tell you.  Let’s make it simple, and discuss sales success in plain terms that can be readily understood.  I’m going to present the answer to sales success in the form of ten basic, time-tested and proven principles that have made the difference between sales superstars and typical average salespeople.  Now, to further clarify these ten principles, it is not just in knowing these principles that makes the difference.  They must be applied diligently and consistently – that is what the top sales performers do.  I don’t want you to mumble to yourself, “I know that.”  Knowing doesn’t make any difference in your sales performance.  Knowledge without action is a selfish indulgence and adds no value to you or your employer.  Consistently doing, using and applying these principles is the only way you will become a top performer, because these are the things top performers do.

Principle #1 - Desire:  You’ve got to want it so badly you will do whatever is legal, honest and moral to achieve success.  Top sales performers have a desire to succeed that is so compelling they will even do those things they don’t like to do because they know those are the very things that will allow them to succeed.  You must have a purpose in your life that will drive you to do those things when your motivation is low and discouragement is high.  Your purpose needs to be greater than the pain of sales activities.

Principle #2 – Knowledge:  Many people enter into the field of sales thinking it is something they can do to earn a living believing they don’t need to train, study, or learn.  After all, who attends college to learn sales - business or marketing maybe, but not sales.  You might think selling is easy; all you need to do is just declare yourself a salesperson and then go out and sell.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The very best salespeople have prepared themselves to be the best.  They have studied, practiced, roll played, rehearsed and sacrificed to earn top honors.  Successful salespeople have invested years of hard work to earn the title of top sales professional.  Top performers know their products and can answer questions and concerns directly, or know where to find the answers.  Top salespeople are full of knowledge, not “b.s.”.

Principle #3 – Time Management:  Most salespeople never have the time or the organization to be able to do those things that will allow them to be successful.  Sales success doesn’t just happen because you get up in the morning or because you hope it will happen.  Sales success is the result of planning and scheduling to do those things that will bring you success.  Sales success for top sales professionals is the result of following a game plan designed to give you victory on the playing field of sales when other, less successful, salespeople believe all they need to do is just “show up”.  Top sales performers plan, schedule and perform meaningful sales activities during each thirty-minute increment of time in their sales day.

Principle #4 – Dress for Success:  If you want to be a top sales performer you must dress like one.  When you dress for success you will develop an attitude of success.  It is very difficult to focus on selling if you are thinking about your appearance.  Your whole demeanor will change when you dress appropriately for your audience.  Your prospect will pay greater attention when your dress and grooming suggests you know what you are talking about.  You should dress for your audience, which means you may present yourself differently to each prospect based on their industry and market.  Top salespeople have the look of success.

Principle #5 – Hard Work:  Plain and simple, selling is hard work if you are going to be a top income earner.  There is a common perception that salespeople have a pretty easy job.  They are gone all the time, no one ever knows where they are, and sales just happen.  Successful salespeople work hard every minute of every hour of every day.  They work hard at doing the right things.  Successful salespeople never arrive at a point when they don’t have to work hard.  The harder they work the more money they make and they don’t stop working just because they have made a few bucks.  Successful salespeople don’t just fall into sales or get lucky.  What you might think is luck is actually the result of hard work and consistent daily effort.

Principle #6 – Consistency:  The consistent erosion of the earth from the mighty Colorado River formed the Grand Canyon.  It wasn’t eroding the earth occasionally; it was a consistent daily effort over a long period of time.  Too often salespeople find a great opportunity only to squander it due to lack of consistent follow-up.  Top sales performers are consistent in every aspect of the sales process.  They value each opportunity as a potential sale and believe through applying the correct principles on a regular basis they will have success.  Day in and day out successful salespeople religiously follow their sales process, knowing they will realize the reward they seek.

Principle #7 – Attitude:  I can’t think of a profession wrought with more rejection and potential discouragement than sales.  Eighty-four percent of all people who eventually purchase your product or service said “no” before they said “yes”.  People don’t want to be sold, and no one has the time to hear about, or to do, anything different.  If you don’t approach selling with a positive, “I can be successful” attitude, you will be eaten alive by the challenges associated with selling.  Top sales professionals experience the same challenges as every other salesperson.  The defining difference is found in their attitude, their belief that regardless of the challenging circumstances, they will be successful.  They know in sales there are only two things they can control, activity and attitude.  If they work hard and maintain a positive attitude, they will find the success that eludes the average salesperson.

Principle #8 – Rapport Building:  Those sales professionals who are top income earners know people buy from people they believe, like and trust.  They know sales success is ultimately the result of strong lasting relationships.  The most successful salespeople know a relationship built today will generate continuous sales, while a sale made without building a relationship will be lost in the storm of competition.  They cultivate the sales opportunity, building a solid foundation of friendship and trust that will withstand the constant buffeting of the winds of price.

Principle #9 – Problem Solving:  The very best and most successful salespeople realize selling is nothing more than finding a problem and then presenting their product or service as a solution to the problem.  There are impulsive buyers, but the majority of all people who purchase, are making that purchase to solve a problem or to meet a need.  Without a need there is virtually no opportunity for a sale.  Focus your attention on discovering what the buyer needs and then do all within your power to help him.  To effectively solve problems you must ask probing questions and then listen effectively.  Selling is the process of discovering needs and presenting solutions, not blindly telling someone they should buy your product.

Principle #10 – Caring:  The crowning principle embodied by all successful sales people is caring more about meeting the needs of the customer than in making the sale.  When you are willing to lose the sale in the process of helping the customer achieve their purpose, then you have reached that level of professionalism that will propel you to the success other salespeople find only in their dreams.  Your sales activities should be totally focused on providing the right solution for the customer without any thought given to your own income.  When you care that much, you will ultimately be rewarded ten fold.  Selling is not about you; it is all about the customer.