You are a professional sales person, you generally reach on or about target, and life is good.

Have you ever wondered just how some people become a sales legend? What secret do they have that is not common knowledge? Why do the same people win the competitions and make club year after year, even after their targets have been doubled? Are they just lucky? Are you someone who believes that they have no life, or a horrible one, because they work too hard? They are too stressed?

Myths Surrounding The Legends

Is it true that these very high achievers have no life, high stress, minimum chance at successful personal relationships and are the hard players?


A truly successful sales legend does not fit any stereotype. I have met many who are normal family people, who work no harder than the rest, have the need to entertain their clients less often. They have personal lives like anyone else, some good, some not so good! They do not give up everything to be a legend, they just are! It is because of their extraordinary results and ability to outwit competitors and build enviable, yet ethical, relationships with clients. They are not necessarily hard, or ruthless, and do not fit any general stereotype assigned to them.

They are legends because they execute seemingly flawless strategies against insurmountable odds, and win time and time again. Their customers love them. They are always underestimated by their competitors. They usually work quite calmly and confidently, often with an air of enigmatic mystery. They rarely discuss their strategy to outsiders, bragging is not in their psyche, and people love to make up stories about them to compensate for the enigma these legends represent.

These people are often so successful that colleagues in their company, their industry, become first curious as to what secret these people hold that allows them to be so ‘lucky’. A small number of observers will try to learn from and emulate them. Most people will allow jealousy to take over and will justify the difference by creating negative scenarios about these people, such as they are work obsessed, they have no lifestyle, they are hard and callous - possibly even engaging in inappropriate activity, or they are just lonely, unhappy people.
I have been privileged to meet, and learn from, many sales legends. None of the people I have met fitted any of the negative scenarios above, though many such things were rumoured about them. Everyone wanted to be their friend, but many were actually trying to befriend them for the wrong reasons.

One man, called Manuel, comes immediately to mind. He won salesperson of the year, every year I worked with the same company. He overachieved his targets by up to 100% regardless how large they were upgraded each year. He never entertained clients, and was always home in time to spend the last hour of each day before bedtime, with his small children. He did not attend events and parties for the industry; he did not accept gifts from suppliers, or clients, under any circumstances. He did not socialise with colleagues, yet he maintained an excellent working relationship with everyone, always treating company staff as his internal customers. There was never anything discovered about Manuel that was not the image of a true, dedicated family man who loved and excelled in his work as a sales professional. He had, and still has, a wonderful life and a fabulous lifestyle afforded by his substantial income.

Another Sales Legend that comes to mind was a bit more of a traditional ‘wheeler and dealer’, flamboyant, full of fun and open to new ideas for his clients. He helped his clients make more sales and profit by the products he didn’t just sell them, but he ensured they would sell them through to their clients. He was truly adored by his clients, and his mischievous sense of humour and easy smile were welcome everywhere. He refused to ever sell anything to a customer that he did not believe was absolutely right for them. He minimised risk and understood his buyers motivation at all levels. He was incredibly open and up front about his personal life, which was rather colourful but never dishonest, and this endeared him to his customers even more.

Both Legends, operating in entirely different markets, yet I noticed that both people shared similar characteristics and approaches to closing a sale. Neither fitted the stereotypical myth of the high roller, devil may care, overworked heart attack victim! In fact quite the reverse, they both had fabulous lifestyles and quality of relationships that mattered.


There are too many differentiators between a legend and an average sales person to fully explore in an article. However I would like to briefly explore the key elements that differentiate the consistent very high achiever.

Integrity: It is essential that a Sales Legend maintains integrity with themselves. They must have a reputation of being honest, open and trusted. They must be able to manage any intolerance, impatience and/or prejudice.

Human Connection: They respect everyone with whom they interact. They live in the moment, able to listen actively and respond appropriately. They give most people they meet just ‘one minute more’ and thus are memorable to many. They honour their commitments 100% of the time and deliver value through the sales process. They are charismatic, yet maintain appropriate professional relationships never crossing the line of intimacy. They understand who wins in their customer and why. They are alert to corporate governance and never place themselves, or their client, at risk.

Politics and Buyer Motivation: They understand the politics of their client, and their own organisation. They know who can influence the outcome of their sales process. They protect themselves in the event of a reorganisation in the client. They can access the most senior levels of both organisations because they always respect time, and offer value. They understand the personal needs and motivations of each of their decision makers.

Hard Line Qualification: A critical success factor is their ability to know with a high degree of certainty whether or not they can, and WILL, win a deal. They will be able to clearly articulate why they will win. They will know what the weaknesses are, and what competitive strengths they must overcome. They will have a plan in place to win.

Focus: Sales legends are incredibly focussed. Not just on winning the deal but on exploring other business within the client simultaneously developing their future and enhancing their client relationship. They will have their lives arranged in a way that they can focus on their work without penalty. They will plan and document meticulously to ensure they miss nothing. They have two goals always in mind - winning the deals and enhancing the relationship, a positive self-feeding circle.

Follow-Up: The legend will deliver on every commitment without fail, rarely having to apologise for their own actions. They will follow up every action required by anyone to be able to close their sale. They will promote their client internally in their own organisation. They will motivate and lead all teams both internal and external that can influence the outcome. They will accept total responsibility for win or loss.

Strategy: They will have the ability to develop high level strategies for both their client and for the individual sales. They will have their key competitive strategy firmly in place and understood by key people within their organisation. They will excel in the art of distraction. They will understand their weaknesses and have them covered. They will be proactive in every way. They will have two secret elements ready for deployment: The Field Change and the Gold Bullet.

The Consortium: They will have extraordinary talent for assembling winning consortiums, when required, to win a large opportunity. They will demonstrate leadership qualities in this environment including an excellence in conflict resolution.

Customer Enthusiasm: Their clients will be enthusiastic about them and the solutions they represent. They will see them as trusted advisers. They will refer the legend to other clients, other divisions and actually assist them in closing the sale. They will achieve this through a set of outstanding communication techniques, and building strong relationships across their clients’ matrix. They will operate from a platform of respect, appreciation and availability.

Reputation and Networking: The Legend is always working on personal and business networks to be truly connected. On the business level they will be incisive in knowing who really matters, no matter what level they are at. They will be great listeners, yet only speak of things that interest their audiences. They will hear the underground but never engage. They will enjoy a good sense of humour and demonstrate tolerance. They will protect and grow their reputation, even taking it as far as building a personal brand.

Art of Replication: The Sales Legend will win, win and win again. They will acknowledge the great race their competitors ran, and respect them for it. They will be working on the Overlap Development sales model, and rarely engage in domino models or one-offs.

To become a Sales Legend means that others are in awe of what you have achieved, your customers are delighted and you are consistently a high achiever where failure is not an option! On the rare occasion you lose, you will be in awe of your competitor and find out what you did not do, or did do, that lost you the sale. How did they outsell you? You will not be interested in calling foul play, it is too undignified, because you know there is only ‘outsold’ – otherwise you should not have been there in the first place.

It is possible to become a legendary sales person regardless of industry. Markets such as real estate, insurance, IT, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, finance, industrial projects, transport and capital equipment stand out as great spaces for legends to demonstrate their skills and be amply rewarded.

Author's Bio: 

Terrie Anderson is the author of The Little Red Success Book, 30 Days of Inspiration, 999 Legendary Selling For the 21st Century (due March 2010) and other books and publications on Success, Happiness, Human Potential, High Performance Team Building and Essence of Leadership.

Terrie has had a very successful corporate sales career and also coaches and mentors a very small group of successful people throughout the world.

999 Legendary Selling for the 21st Century is both a book and a corporate training event that will be launched in April 2010, to be informed on release please visit the website

In 2010 Terrie Anderson will be available again for speaking engagements for public or corporate events.

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