The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Salespeople

In 1989, Stephen R. Covey, an educator and business consultant, published a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The book became an international best-seller, with over 25 million copies sold. Bill Clinton even invited Covey to visit with him at Camp David during his presidency to find out how he could apply the principles laid out in the book to his administration.

The most effective salespeople also have a set of habits that set them apart from everyone else. Using Spiro, the personal sales assistant, can help salespeople make a lot more money, but the core habits have to be in place if you want to rise to the top of your profession. Here are the seven habits of highly effective salespeople:

1. Commitment

Everything starts with commitment. You need to devote yourself to your profession, and that means not only accepting your role as a salesperson, but embracing it. Far too many people see sales as a backup plan, or a temporary way to make a lot of money, but the highest performing salespeople are devoted to their career. If you’re not committed to your position, how can you ever expect a customer to commit to you?

2. Begin with the end in mind

This is one of Covey’s actual habits of highly effective people. Whether it’s prospecting, pitching, or closing, always make sure to remember what your goals are. Start with the end goal in mind and then work backwards from that goal to determine what you need to do every day. The end may mean making a certain amount of money, which would mean closing a certain number of deals, and based on your closing percentages would mean pitching a certain number of prospects, etc. Always start every action knowing what you’re intending to accomplish, this will help you take the appropriate steps to get there.

3. True relationship building

We once wrote about a Harvard study that set out to determine what distinguishes good salespeople from great salespeople. According to the study, top performers had larger, better quality relationships with their network inside their organization. While it may seem counterintuitive to spend time at work talking to co-workers and joking around (as salespeople love to do), the more quality relationships you have within your circle of influence, the more deals you’re likely to close.

4. Going the extra mile

Most salespeople will do what it takes to get a deal closed, as long as it’s within their normal responsibilities. But only the most successful salespeople are willing to take it a step further and go far and above what’s expected of them. This can include doing something for a customer that has nothing to do with what’s outlined in your job duties, or actually maintaining a long-term relationship with the customer after you’ve already closed their deal and gotten their money. It may seem like an obvious way to become a sales success, but the overwhelming majority of sales reps don’t (won’t) go the extra mile.

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood

Another of Covey’s habits of highly effective people, this one is absolutely critical to becoming an expert salesperson. Arguably the most important skill a salesperson can learn is to listen to customers instead of talking at them. But you have to take listening a step further to truly become the best. Effective listening involves more than just echoing what the other person said through your own perspective, it’s actually putting yourself in the perspective of the other person to truly understand their feelings and their meaning. If you can do that with every customer you come in contact with, your closing ratio will skyrocket.

6. Control what you do now

Steve Jobs once said “Most people never pick up the phone, most people never ask. And that’s what separates, sometimes, the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you gotta be willing to fail.” There’s an important distinction between thinking about what you did yesterday, dreaming about what you’re going to do tomorrow, and what you choose to do now. Only what you actually do makes any impact on the world and on your success. Thinking about it, talking about it, dreaming about it might feel good, but it accomplishes nothing. The only thing you can control is what you do, so pick up that phone and ask.

7. Knowing your “why”

Everyone has a “why,” and knowing what it is can be one of the most important revelations not only in your sales career, but in your life. I started Spiro because of my passion and commitment to the sales industry, my interest in start-ups, and the groundbreaking machine-learning technology that’s changing the world. Many people’s “why” has to do with their families, and providing them with the best quality of life they possibly can. For others it can be an innate drive to compete, which sales offers at a level unlike any other profession. Find out what your “why” is, and make sure it’s always on your mind as it will drive you to be the absolute best at whatever you set out to accomplish.

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