The good, the bad, and the mediocre. A sales report card.

The good, the bad, and the mediocre. A sales report card.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

481The good, the bad, and the mediocre. A sales report card.

I was reading a survey conducted by a BIG benefits management company (a human resource consulting firm). They surveyed 365 CEO’s and business executives. One of the questions they asked was, “what are the three key factors that separate high performing sales professionals from mediocre to low performing sales professionals?”

They ranked “self discipline/motivation” as the most important. Next in line were “customer knowledge,” “innate talent/personality,” “product knowledge,” and further down the list were “experience” and “teamwork skills.”

What a bunch of hooey.

Typical corporate executive unenlightened gibberish about the very people who provide their wages. When do you think was the last time these executives actually went out and made a sale. Or to be fair, maybe they were not really thinking about the answer, and just said whatever popped into their heads to get rid of the survey person.

Whatever, their answers were not accurate. Oh, they listed important characteristics to have — just not the separators between “superior” and “mediocre” — they were more like the difference between “mediocre” and “fired”

Some sales characteristics are a “given.” And this survey was supposed to be about what separates the TOP from the mediocre. “Customer knowledge?” “Product knowledge?” Give me a break. Superior product knowledge is not going to win the day. It’s a given, not an advantage.

Let’s talk about the real nuances that make the top people “tops.” Here are a list of characteristics, that if possessed and mastered by one salesperson, will make him or her rise above the rest. These are the characteristics of “superior” salespeople.

If you were starting a sales team tomorrow, these are the 12.5 characteristics that will benchmark the winners. How many of these are you the master of?
1. Perpetual positive attitude and enthusiasm. The number one separator of great, good, and poor. The person of attitude (the winner) leads prospects to the sale. The whiner leads people to the pity party.
2. Unyielding self-belief in the company, the product AND the person (him or herself.). Self-belief is the number two rule of sales success. You must believe that your product and company are the BEST. And you must believe that you are the BEST. Real winners believe they will win.
3. The use of creativity to differentiate yourself from the competition. When products or services appear the same to the customer, creativity by the salesperson in the areas of approach, presentation, and follow-up will help a winner emerge.
4. Exciting presentation skills. A salespersons ability to present and communicate are as important as the product or service itself. Superior presentations lead to superior sales.
5. A sense of humor that builds deep rapport. While humor is not THE winning factor. It is A winning factor. You can never build too much rapport. There’s an old expression that says, if you can make ’em laugh, you can make ’em buy. The actual truth is that humor makes you likeable, and people want to buy from people they like.
6. An ability to give “value” to the prospect so you can earn the order. Value (perceived or real) is the ONLY thing that separates one product from another, other than price. The value seller generates PROFIT and loyal customers. Price is a transactional sale, that doesn’t need a salesperson to complete. A three year old kid can walk in with the lowest price and make the sale.
7. The ability to promote so you are positioned in your market, and known by your customers. All superior salespeople know that, and all superior salespeople are well known in their market. Superior positioning also reduces competition — a wonderful bonus when selling value.
8. The ability to maintain price integrity. Do I have to say anything else here? Well, how about lowest price equals lowest profit. Superior salespeople deliver profit with the sale.
9. The ability to create an atmosphere where prospects want to BUY. As I have stated every chance I get, “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to BUY.” Superior salespeople create a buying atmosphere with superior questions, superior ideas and answers for the prospect, and deliver superior service.
10. Unyielding personal values and ethics. Ethics are obvious. As obvious as the absence of them. Superior ethics may not always win the sale, but they always win for the salesperson.
11. Reliable and dependable. The statement: “Bill is someone I can COUNT ON to get me what I need.” will win many orders, and many more re-orders.
12. The passion and desire to excel and be the best. This is a personal characteristic that is evident to others by their exhibited enthusiasm for what they do. No prize in sales for second place. No sense in striving for second best.
12.5 Selling for the love of helping others get what they want, rather than the love of money. Money is what others measure you by. Helping others leads to fulfillment. Fulfillment is how you measure yourself.

Wow! There’s a list. How did you measure up? Still got some work to do? Don’t worry, superior salespeople are always working on themselves.

FINAL NOTE: If you have read this list and passed it off as a bunch of baloney, then this list doesn’t apply to you. It only applies to the people who will pass you.

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Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to