Traits of the Top 1%

by | Dec 4, 2010 | Sales Motiviation

By Jeff Beals

The thing that ultimately separates successful entrepreneurs and salespersons from the not-so-successful ones is the level of risk they are willing to take.

So says consultative selling expert Mark Hunter, who has been actively studying the traits of the top one percent of salespersons and entrepreneurs over the past 12 years. Widely known by his professional moniker, “The Sales Hunter,” he has compiled a list of these traits and uses them to help his clients do more business.

Of all the traits, risk-taking comes out on top.

“That doesn’t mean stupid risks,” Hunter says, “but calculated risks.  We have to be willing to step outside our boundaries.”

An entrepreneur’s or salesperson’s risk tolerance is especially important during economically challenging times. That’s when the low-hanging fruit has all been picked, forcing professionals to try new things and take chances.  Tough economic times bring more opportunities than ever before for those who are willing to take risks.

But risk-taking isn’t the only trait of the top one percent.  Some of the others include:

·         Niche-focused

·         Open-minded

·         People-centered

·         Passionate

·         Client-focused

·         Implementers

·         Innovators

·         Strong work ethic

·         Confident

·         Competent

·         Persistent

·         Resilient

·         Optimistic

·         Driven, results-oriented

If you look at the first two listed traits, “niche-focused” and “open-minded,” there appears to be a dichotomy.  In other words, how can a high-performing professional be niche-focused yet open-minded at the same time? 

Hunter admits that these two traits appear a bit paradoxical, but “niche-focused” implies that a salesperson or entrepreneur is incredibly driven toward one specific thing.  He or she has an amazing level of commitment to the mission and goals.

“Open-minded” refers to a high performer’s willingness to try new things, to see what else is out there.  As Hunter says, “I want to sniff, feel and discover.  I want to meet people and network.” Open-minded professionals study everything and translate what they learn back to their company.  Such people always have at least one close friend in a different industry.

There’s one trait you will definitely NOT find on the list: arrogance.  Over the years, Hunter has found that arrogance may put a person in the top one percent temporarily but won’t sustain them.  Those who are at the top, and stay at the top, truly understand the merits of being confident without coming across as cocky or self-serving.

Perhaps disappointing to many people, “servant-focused” is also not one of the universal traits.  Hunter sees it in some top performers but not all.  That may come as a surprise, because many leadership gurus have written extensively on the virtues of servant leadership.  Hunter suspects that some of the top one percent are so focused on and driven toward what they want to accomplish, they may not always view themselves or be seen by others as servants.

By the way, if you would like to contact Mark Hunter or learn about his services, go to

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to friends, colleagues, clients or anyone else who might benefit from it.

Jeff Beals delivers presentations to a wide variety of audiences nationwide. Presentations are adapted to fit your organization’s goals and can be keynote speeches (30 to 90 minutes) or workshops (two to four hours) covering the following topics: 

  1. “Self Marketing Power: Branding Yourself as a Business of One”
  2. “Tons of Room at the Top: the Attitude of Success”
  3. “National Signing Day: Sales, Marketing & Personal Branding Lessons from College Football”
These presentations are energetic, humorous and packed full of valuable information. To discuss booking a presentation, go to or call (402) 637-9300.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

To discuss booking a presentation, go to or send an email to

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