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Traits of Highly Successful Salespeople

by Matthew Ferrara

Because Success Starts on the Inside


Matthew Ferrara

What do highly successful people have in common? It's not their logos, gadgets, systems, scripts or tweets. While all of these are helpful, reaching the pinnacle of your profession doesn't come from outside. It springs from within.

After 20 years of working with organizations around the world, I can tell you with conviction that great performers start their success on the inside. They don't reach their goals because they suddenly discover a secret formula, technology or trainer. I know as many top performers who use a pen as use Twitter. 

Some have elaborate systems, technologies, assistants and budgets. Just as many achieve results with mundane materials. Certainly the right tools, systems and skills can help. But one thing I've learned over and over: even when you give someone the best technology, training and techniques, you don’t necessarily make them successful.

Many years ago, when I first became certified to teach "Integrity Selling," I learned that the key to personal growth is to focus on a professional's beliefs before his or her activities. 

Since then, I've always asked salespeople and leaders of organizations to take a look at their core values. To improve their performance selling to the public, they had to strengthen their inner beliefs first. This holds true for any person in any endeavor, great or small. And it's why highly successful people in different fields around the world have the same things in common. These include:

Goal Clarity. Great achievers know why they work hard, not just how to do it. They have clear, measurable and written goals for their lives: personal, physical, spiritual and professional. 

They go beyond a business plan to working on their lifeplan every day. They work on their entire selves, not just their work-selves. Through their work, they achieve important rewards: financial goals, personal improvement and contributions to their family and societies. Their professional success is one element of a much bigger journey in their lives.

Drive. High performers are driven. We hear this all the time, but often wonder why are some people are more driven than others. It's simple: having clear goals releases your inner drive. 

When you focus on clear goals (those you deeply desire and believe you deserve), your energy will be inexhaustible. The reverse is true: without goals, you easily show up late, work half-heartedly, procrastinate, avoid unpleasant activities and generally not give your all. At work, at home, in society.

Emotional Maturity. Most people value intelligence. We go to school to try to improve it for years. But equally important to our success is our emotional intelligence, or our ability to manage how emotions affect our performance. 

Successful people are aware of their feelings' impact upon their actions. They learn to monitor and channel their emotions, as well as to maintain effort toward their important activities (especially the blood, sweat and tears kinds). They control their emotions so they don’t interfere with reaching the best outcomes. High performing people understand the "bridge/breaker" role of their emotions.

Social Smarts. Successful people aren't necessarily more outgoing or gregarious than others. They can't talk others into the deal. Some are even reserved or shy (think George Washington). But all have learned to adjust their personal behavior to fit different people and situations.  

It doesn't mean they are faking it. It means they adjust their communications style and interpersonal behavior to best engage each individual they meet. They lead others by learning to interact with them in a way that permits a mutual exchange of value – not a victory of one personality over another.

Curiosity. Top performers are curious. They are interested in trends, new ways of creating value, interesting ideas and emerging technologies. They are willing to listen – not necessarily adopt – and explore opportunities. In fact, high achieving people learn to be more curious over time. Being curious helps them adapt to change, try different techniques and, most importantly, keep their minds open habitually. A healthy sense of curiosity protects them from accepting defeats and drives them to seek pathways around obstacles.

There have been a great variety of successful people in history, each with their own style, personality, vision and contribution. Some have changed the lives of millions. Others have left their impact on a personal few. 

No matter what the scale of their achievements, we see these five traits repeatedly in their journeys. Wherever they started financially, socially, technologically or intellectually, it was the degree to which they developed these traits in themselves that mattered most. Each of us can choose to develop them, too, in our lives. Wherever we are, whatever we hope to achieve.

They are free. It's up to us. Success is always so close: Because it's always within.

Matthew Ferrara is CEO of Matthew Ferrara & Company, an international real estate consulting, management, strategy and sales organization. For more than two decades, Ferrara has been helping top performing brokerages transform their marketing, technology and customer service strategies to create loyal clients and lead the competition in the next generation of real estate business. Learn more at www.matthewferrara.com

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