The Habits of Every Successful Salesperson

Too many people fail to take advantage of the opportunities to maximize their employment. Worse yet, otherwise competent employees can be heard complaining about their job, their boss, the need to occasionally work past ‘quitting time,’ bad coffee in the break room, failing to be thankful to be gainfully employed at all, or just grousing in general.

You can be ‘absotively, posilutely thoromazingly’ (translation upon request) sure that successful salespeople do not do the ‘crybaby complainer dance.’ Successful salespeople do, in fact, do a dance. It’s an elegant, exciting, delightful, and enriching experience for both dance partners, when done well.

The successful salesperson has a dance with prospects and clients. Sometimes, the salesperson leads, while other times, the salesperson invites the prospect or the client to lead the dance. Sometimes it starts as a group dance, but as the music plays on, the dance is ultimately between two partners whom each have the freedom to decide whether to dance, or to dance again.

This dance probably won’t involve holding hands, leaping in rhythm, or pressing your cheeks together. It will involve some mental and emotional exercise, and there will be give and take between the partners. The dance will definitely involve paying close attention to the steps of your dance partner.

That’s enough about the dance for now.

Habits of a Successful Sales Professional:

  • Listen to the marketplace. Get an idea what people in you marketplace may want or need.
  • Identify suspects who are people that may have an interest in hearing about your product or service.
  • Determine what sort of marketing best suits your suspects, and how that marketing should be delivered.
  • Plan and set aside regular time to identify and add suspects to your pipeline of people to approach.
  • From the suspects, determine which have become qualified prospects. This would include decision-making authority, interest in the product or service, the urgency of need as viewed by the prospect, and opportunity to meet with you.
  • Those still classified as suspects (not prospects) should be marked to the ‘suspect recycle bin’ for follow up at some future time. Rank them as a) on a slow day, b) when logistically convenient, c) after obstacles to doing business have been crossed, or d) probably never.
  • Professional salespeople will, when speaking with a prospect, endeavor to:
    • Think along the lines of what the prospect wants and needs
    • Learn what obstacles, frustrations, processes, and time-lines the prospect has on his/her plate
    • Identify whether your prospect must consult with someone else before making a buying decision, and work to include that person either directly or by inference in the discussion
    • Refuse to gloss over real concerns or objections from the prospect
    • Identify whether the prospect is uncertain and ‘hedging,’ or is waiting for you to clearly invite him/her to buy
    • Never leave a conversation with a prospect without an agreed plan with the prospect for the next step
    • If / when the prospect is determined to not actually be a qualified prospect, be pleasant, and get out of the interview. This avoids wasting the time of the non-prospect, and your own time. The non-prospect may be a qualified prospect in the future, and will remember your professional courtesy when that time comes.

Professional Salespeople will also have the following habits:

  • Punctuality. Plan to arrive early. If someone is apologizing for being late, let it be the prospect.
  • Preparedness. Have a plan for the discussion. It’s much better to have a plan from which to depart, than to not have a clue where to start.
  • Well-rested. This might be more difficult at times, but a well-rested salesperson is more efficient.
  • Knowledgeable. Know your product or service inside and out, backwards and forwards. Be familiar with realistic delivery schedules, costs, possible results, and especially how your product or service is a good fit for the need(s) or your prospect.
  • Constructive Listener. Everyone – everyone wants someone to hear them, appreciate and understand their situation, and respect their roles and contributions. The salespeople who consistently walk away ’empty-handed’ from what might have been a sale have mostly likely not listened well to the prospect. Ask thoughtful questions, then listen. Taking notes can be a great idea. After your client has told you their thoughts, then summarize to them what you think you heard them say, and ask them to confirm. This will add to your knowledge, and to the confidence your prospect will have in you.
  • Build Value. Any intelligent businessperson knows they must make a profit, and will eventually admit that you must do so in order to continue in business. So make the price as irrelevant as possible by demonstrating that your product or service will enhance their ease of doing business, their profits, their employee morale, or any combination of these and other concerns.
  • Ask for the sale. Any experienced, professional sales person can tell you that there had been times when s/he didn’t expect to get the sale, but asked for the sale – then closed the deal!


Professional salespeople are interested in their product or service, but are even more interested in how they may improve the lot of their prospects and clients. As the legendary Zig Ziglar often said:

“If you will help enough other people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.”

Effective, knowledgeable, timely, compassionate conversation will lead to the crafting of appropriate solutions, and the professional salesperson continues to develop the study of the prospect so as to offer the best available solutions to the prospect. The client and the salesperson both win.