The Personal Habits of Successful Salespeople

Monday, February 10 2020

Mickey Mantle said,

“If I knew I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.

We can get away with a lot when we’re young: function on little sleep, eat badly, drink and smoke without immediate health consequences. We can run up our credit cards and have a whole lifetime to pay them down. Then one day we wake up and realize we’re middle-aged, our joints ache, we’re overweight, we sleep badly, and we are having trouble following the conversation we’re having with our customer.

It’s all about habits. “First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” [1] Our daily lives are filled with them. We can create them intentionally or they can develop by default.

To be successful on a sustainable basis, we need to develop good habits. While many of us prefer to learn these lessons on our own, we could save ourselves a lot of time, grief and pain by learning from others.

How do we take better care of ourselves?

Be proactive. This is Stephen Covey’s first recommended habit[2]. Think ahead. Get out in front of something before it becomes a problem. This includes daily healthy practices:

  • Eat healthy foods in moderate quantities
  • Exercise
  • Document three things for which you are grateful
  • Enjoy eight hours of sleep
  • Brush and floss your teeth
  • Use sunscreen
  • Practice positive, optimistic thinking
  • Reflect on lessons learned
  • Set and achieve goals
  • Develop positive relationships
  • Minimize stress
  • Read or listen to interesting books
  • Manage screen time
  • Dress professionally
  • Be on time

What does this list have to do with sales? A successful salesperson is high energy, thoughtful, focused, helpful, respectful, and fun to be with. It’s hard to be that person if we don’t take care of ourselves first. It’s hard to help others if we are unhealthy, pessimistic, uneducated, tired, or stressed out.

One of the most important rules in selling is to forget about ourselves completely and to focus when we are with them, entirely on the needs of our customer. We cannot do that if we aren’t healthy, happy and confident in our own abilities. The airline rule to secure our own oxygen mask first before helping others is relevant to sales.

[1] John Dryden, mid 1700s

[2] Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People