The Sales Professional: A Dogged, Definable Difference



If you want to succeed in professional selling you need to develop a dogged, definable difference.

During my years in the Irish police, An Garda Siochana I noticed that the detectives shared one of the smaller offices in the station, simply because there wasn’t that many of them.

professional selling

Out of a station with a total party of eighty members, excluding civilian staff, we only had seven dedicated detectives and a rotating number of between three and four plainclothes non-appointed detectives.

All in all, the maximum number we had at any given time was between ten and eleven individuals (10% – 13.75%) dedicated to solving what would have been regarded as ‘serious crime’.


When I entered the drugs units there was only three of us, one sergeant and two officers (3.75%), out of a station party of eighty members dedicated to keeping a lid on a rapidly growing local drugs market.

Less than 5% at the top of the sales chain

The one thing I noticed as I spent more and more time in the active pursuit of these unconscionable individuals plying their wares, especially the real killers like heroin and ice, was it is only a small few at the very top of the food chain that were making any kind of serious money from dealing drugs, probably less 5%.

The majority of drug dealers found themselves up before the courts, in and out of jail and living pitiful lives. You wouldn’t believe the number of guys I’ve taken pity on, sat down with in an interview room and recommended career changes to.

Only a small percentage ever stand out

The logical conclusion I drew from these experiences was that out of any collective group of individuals working in the active pursuit of whatever cause, set of goals or objectives, only a very small percentage of people actually stand out and make an active difference, for good or bad. People deemed ‘successful’ therefore, however one chooses to define or measure that term, superficially at least appear to belong to a unique tribe within the collective group.

sales professionals stand out

Does this logic apply to sales professionals

For instance, is there a difference between the average man or woman in the street and the world’s most successful and powerful people? Well of course there is.

This same thinking applies to all walks of life, especially so amongst sales professionals. This difference that exists, is it natural God given ability? Is it hard work? Is it intelligence or is it a person’s upbringing?

From my experience of working with, managing and training sales professionals I’ve found that these factors do to some degree play a part, but are by no means what defines the most successful of sales professionals.

In fact, some of the most successful sales professionals I’ve come across are also the most interesting to study. These high achievers almost always appear to in fact have an apparent deficiency in one or a combination of these factors.

Perhaps that is what drives them and compels them to succeed. For instance, the majority of people I’ve trained since coming to Australia were born overseas and English is a second language for them. I’ve worked with a few people that outwardly can come across as downright lethargic, but continually produce the top results in their centre or area. A few people have initially come up and straight out told me that they don’t consider themselves to be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but without fail they go on to absolutely clean up in a sales centre.

sales professional determination


The fact is all these sales professionals share one common value, one earnest trait, one remarkable quality that endures and conquers above all else, they are tenacious, they are voracious, they are hungry.  They are determined.

They share an insatiable hunger for a continued stream of multi layered successes such as a better education for their kids, better health care for their families, the dream house in the postcode they’ve always wanted, the Ferrari, financial stability, control over their destiny, leaving a legacy and so on. The list is endless but you get the picture.


Dare to operate in the top 1%

These are people that refuse to conform to social norms in terms of what general society deems to be ‘adequate accomplishments’. People, not just sales professionals, but anybody that chooses to operate in the top 10% and especially so in the top 5% and 1% of their respective fields do so because they are driven and determined, they are dogged in their approach to achieve their lifelong pursuits and ambitions.

Top percentile operators are driven to become more, to do more, to create more, to provide more, to contribute more and above all else to leave more of themselves here on this planet after they have gone than what is buried beneath the dirt.

Remarkably, or perhaps not so, all of this is done despite any perceived handicaps or deficiencies the individual might have had starting out.

Wherever you are starting out from in your sales career from this point onwards, know that the only difference between those we now know to be the ‘not so chosen few’ at the top of the game and the ‘choose to be there’ group, which is everybody below the top 10%, is an unwavering will to become the best.

And that makes all the difference.



Denis Linehan

Denis Linehan is a master sales professional and sales trainer who in his first 3 years of selling generated almost $100million in new home sales and is now teaching others to do the same.

Sales Professional | Sales Training | Sales Coaching |Sales Skills | Sales Seminars




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