Throughout my career as a sales person and as a sales trainer, I've noticed that the   top 10% of professionals in this field all share a passion for what they do. It's not just that they have a knack for connecting with people and getting them to buy more goods or services more often. They also put a lot of thought into how they sell, how they work with people, and about why their personal approach works well for them. In essence, top performers have a personal philosophy for success—daily habits and disciplined beliefs that are at the root of how they do business with people on both a professional and personal level.

It's especially important to take action on this in today's economy, because frankly most of your less-successful competitors out there today are too busy repeating old mistakes, blaming the recession or even their customers (hard to believe, but true) for their disappointing sales results.

You know better than that, which is why you're here with us at Engage Selling Solutions! The fact of the matter is that success—real lasting success—in sales in any industry hinges on how you look at your work and on the choices you make in getting things done.

Become what you think about yourself

"People tend to become what they think about themselves." That's a quote from pioneer psychologist William James; one that I'm particularly fond of, because it applies so well to the selling profession. It underlines just how important it is for each of us to take time and ask ourselves "what kind of a sales person do I want to be?"

By deciding for yourself that you want to become part of the top-10% of sales performers in your organization, you're making a commitment to yourself to do more than just sell more in less time—you're also adopting a mindset for success.

You're shaped by who you associate with

Approaching sales from the right mindset also involves giving some thought to who you choose to surround yourself with. In my experience, I find that a lot of people are held back by the people they associate with. Tony Robbins said it most eloquently where he said your income is a direct reflection of the expectations of the five people who are closest to you.

In other words, it matters who you hang out with. It's crucial that you find people in your life who want to see you succeed, and who want to come along for the ride with you. I have some very specific advice to share about how you can leverage your personal and professional networks to work for you in this regard, and I'll be covering that in an upcoming article.

Equally important, open your mind to new ideas. Nurture your own personal success philosophy by making a habit of reviewing some of those great sales-related books that are out there, including those by Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale (just to name a few).

However, don't just mine for sales ideas from within your own industry. There's a lot of insight to be found in what's going on outside of your market, and by being among the first to bring those good ideas into your business, you stand to capitalize. So be daring! Browse areas of the bookstore other than the business section. For instance, read up on the latest insight by urbanist Richard Florida about how our economy is influencing where people live and the choices they make (see "Who's Your City?"). Or consider what essayist Nassim Nicholas Taleb says in his best-selling book "The Black Swan" about the role that unexpected events can play in how we make decisions (and mistakes) in our daily lives. Good ideas have endless applications to how you work and how you think as a sales professional.

Unthink the box

In today's new economy, no one can afford to keep adhering to that well-used euphemism of "thinking inside the box." Instead we need to follow the advice of my good friend and motivational speaker, Nido Qubein: now is the time to "throw the box out the window!" Begin with a clear slate and challenge assumptions you might have been making about why customers buy from you—and just as importantly, why they might not be buying right now.

Don't succumb to temptation of using tough economic times as a crutch. I'm sure you've heard this kind of talk from friends and colleagues: "my industry is suffering... my competition is going out of business… everyone is cutting back..." and so on. Each of these observations about the economy might be supported by facts, but complaining about them isn't going to help you one bit to become a better sales person. At best, mulling about it will be dead weight that will hold you down.

The challenge, therefore, is to take these kinds of facts and then ask yourself "how can I capitalize on this to help me reach my personal goals and my sales goals?" Indeed there are many ways to answer the door when opportunity knocks (and I'll be covering this topic in more detail in an upcoming article).

You are your own brand

The outcome of having a personal philosophy for success is that it helps others with whom your do business to form a positive opinion about you. In turn, this influences the kinds of decisions that your customers make every day. As Seth Godin wisely observed in a recent blog post: "Consumers don't make choices as much as they react and respond to the inputs and assumptions they have about the marketplace, their life and your brand."

Always remember: no matter what you are selling, you are your own brand. Your personal approach, your habits and the people you choose to surround yourself—all the elements that comprise your personal philosophy—are what can make you stand out in your work and be memorable among your customers. 

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Nonstop Sales Boom by Colleen Francis Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions ( Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.

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