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Life Health > Running Your Business > Prospecting

The 5 Success Disciplines

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What makes a successful salesperson? At the most basic level, the attribute that all successful people share is self-discipline. It is their self-discipline that allows them to keep the commitments they make to themselves. Successful people know that their good intentions don’t add up to a hill of beans. Actions make the difference in their results.

You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Successful people do what unsuccessful people aren’t willing to do. (Note: It’s not that unsuccessful people are unable, but they are unwilling.) When it comes to success in sales, the following five areas require a thoughtful, disciplined approach.

1. The discipline of prospecting. There is one area of sales where self-discipline makes a tremendous difference (and is rarely found). That area is prospecting. You can immediately produce better sales results by applying your self-discipline to prospecting. Salespeople with no real sales abilities or skills often outperform those with greater abilities or skills simply through disciplined prospecting. You give yourself more opportunity to be successful through the discipline of prospecting. Long term, your results are going to be the product of your prospecting. Make prospecting a discipline.

2. The discipline of nurturing. Your dream clients already have a supplier, maybe even a partner. Ignoring and neglecting your dream clients doesn’t do anything to move you closer to the relationships you need. The discipline of nurturing is what eventually opens up the relationships that open up the opportunities. Your effort to create value for your dream clients—without demanding anything in return—is what will eventually bear fruit, but only if you exercise the self-discipline to create and share with them your ideas and solutions.

Who you are as a professional salesperson is visible in your client list. If you want to add marquee clients to that list, you have to have the discipline of nurturing.

3. The discipline of following up. Your clients and dream clients are judging you, make no mistake. They are watching to see if you keep your commitments. This is true for all commitments, great or small.

The discipline of following up is more than just sending the email you promised to send. It’s also the discipline of doing high-quality follow-up work. You make it easier for your client to say “yes” when you observe the discipline of following up, keeping your word and doing quality work. Practice the discipline of follow up, and you’ll be someone who can always be counted on.

4. The discipline of improvement. You can’t afford to rest on your laurels. You did the work to turn your dream client into a paying client, but becoming complacent can cost you their business. From quarter to quarter, you have to improve what you do for your clients. You have to share with them the value that you are creating, as well as your plans for creating even more value together in the future.

Practice the discipline of improvement and bring clients ideas that help create new value.

5. The discipline of personal development. The environment we live and sell in is like nothing we’ve ever seen. The forces of globalization, commoditization and disintermediation make for some tough sledding. Success means you need to become the very best version of yourself you can. You need to become You 2.0.

The self-discipline of personal development begins with your ability to eliminate distractions. Instead of filling downtime with distractions and novelties, you have to use some of that time to improve yourself through reading, studying, taking classes or attending action-oriented webinars. You have to invest both time and money in improving the only real asset you will ever have: you! Practice the discipline of personal development and continue to grow so you can make a greater contribution.

Spend some time each day practicing self-discipline, and before you know it, it will be second nature and you will have joined the ranks of the truly successful.

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Anthony Iannarino is the managing director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, a boutique sales coaching and consulting company, and an adjunct faculty member at Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. For more information, go


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