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What are the top sales qualities?

I’ve often wondered if top salespeople share common characteristics that could be adopted by those striving to be more successful.

When it comes to business questions like that, the Harvard Business School will usually turn up some answers. And, sure enough, Harvard did a study looking for attributes in highly successful salespeople that, if adopted, could boost selling success for others. Here are the major ones. See how you stack up.

Top salespeople:

• Accept total responsibility for their results: They never blame the economy, the competition or their company’s products and policies for failing to close sales. Rather, the worse things are, the harder they studied and worked to turn negatives to their advantage while the “average” salesperson usually just accepts defeat.

• Display above average ambition: Their desire to succeed is obvious. It’s reflected in how they establish their priorities, how they spend their time on and off the job and with whom they hang around. Winners always seek the company of winners.

• Do not take “no” personally: They never feel like failures. They always exhibit high levels of confidence and self-esteem so that, although they might be disappointed they didn’t close a deal, they are not burdened by it. They already “see” the next sale.

• Are strong on empathy: They’ve developed an ability to put themselves in the customer’s or prospect’s moccasins. It actually becomes a habit. They take time to understand the prospect’s needs and concerns and, only then, imaginatively offer positive responses.

• Have above-average willpower and determination: Whether we’re talking about salespeople or high achievers in any pursuit, they’ll all exhibit extraordinary self-discipline. No matter how tempting it might be to throw in the towel on a possible sale, they persist toward the goal. It’s key.

• Are passionately goal-oriented: Highly successful salespeople always know what they’re going after and exactly how close they are to achieving it. Seeing the goal also keeps distractions from getting them sidetracked into time and efforts that don’t contribute to reaching the goal.

• Are impeccably honest: This might be the most important attribute of all. Studies of top salespeople reveal they are always honest with themselves and their customers. They’re steadfast in their refusal to fudge facts and, as a result, gain the trust of their customers. That trust results in repeat and even increased business as those customers sing praises to more prospects.

So how many of these attributes do you exhibit and what might you work on to boost your success rate? The truth is that selling is an exciting profession because the opportunities to make money and excel are really as much a matter of self-control and focus as anything else.

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