6 Characteristics of Alpha Salespeople

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 1.57.05 AM


Wolves are a social animal.  They live and hunt in the wild in packs ranging in size from as few as 2 all the way to as many as 30.  Just as any organization benefits from strong leadership, the wolves seem to have figured out it’s best to have a set of strong leaders.

These leaders are the Alpha wolves.

Alpha wolves are the undisputed leaders of the pack.

The Alpha male and female are usually the only 2 animals in the entire pack that mate.  All of the other pack members assist in the care and training of the Alphas’ young pups.

When the pack moves and hunts, the Alphas select the prey, they decide how long to tail a mark, and can even call the pack off the hunt if they so choose.

When a kill is made, Alphas eat first.  The pack defers to them.

The pack relies on the Alphas to lead well.  Poor leadership could mean the end of them all.

An Alpha rises to the position through acts of dominance, from menacing body language escalating all the way up through physical violence.  Younger wolves that wish to challenge an Alpha for leadership either succeed, or they are forced to leave the pack.

Thankfully, we operate by a different set of rules than the animal kingdom, although at times sales can feel like you’re trudging around in the wilderness, trying not to get eaten.

In modern human society, we don’t have to physically intimidate anyone to become a leader in our pack.  So is there still such a thing as the pack?  You can rest assured, if you work with any number of people higher than 1, you’re in a pack.

Your company is your pack.

Your sales team is your pack, and your pack is competing in the wilderness for a set of limited resources.

There are other packs out there; Packs that would like you to leave the field and let them have all the resources.  It’s your job to help your pack become as healthy as possible, so you can prevail against your competitors’ packs.

One great difference between wolf packs and sales packs is that unlike wolf packs, depending on your style of sales or industry, you could have as many Alphas as you want.

So how can you help make your pack healthy?  How can you become an Alpha?

Become great at the following 6 things:


1. Alphas Radiate Warmth


Contrary to wolf pack dominance, ours is not established by snarling and baring our teeth…although that would be fun to try sometime.

Alpha salespeople establish dominance through warmth.  They put people at ease.

They smile at people.  They laugh.  They joke.  They do not take themselves too seriously.

They say “Good Morning” to strangers they pass on the sidewalk.  They strike up friendly banter with their neighbors in line at Starbucks.

They leave most people they come into contact with “up” when they walk away.  The enthusiasm and warmth emanating from an Alpha causes people to seriously consider being more friendly immediately following their interaction with the Alpha.

Alphas are capable of transferring their positive energy to others.   Now you may not be like this.  You may be more introverted.   I am of the mind that most people are introverted more by fear than ACTUAL psychological disposition.  This is why they say they are “introverted.”  They don’t have to ever test the theory.  They just “are.”

If you’re up to it, I’d like to give you an experiment to try today.

When you go to Starbucks; when you go to lunch; or pick up your drycleaning…doesn’t matter.   ALL DAY, I want you to ask ONE question to anyone you come in contact with for more than 5 seconds: Smile and say, “Hey there. How’s your day going?”

I can 100% guarantee that you’ll feel more powerful.  You will feel a strange rush that you’re doing something most people can’t do.  If you go a whole day, you’ll definitely come across some fearful people, and yet at the same time, you’ll see them open up as they realize its better to be polite than afraid.

That’s the base fear I think.  Most people are afraid to interact with strangers.  There’s even a good chance you’re reading this article standing in a line on your phone, not talking to other people.

I don’t know, maybe its a holdover from our childhood and the danger of strangers that we were taught.

Ask yourself, how much brighter would the world be if everyone wasn’t lying to themselves about their social dispositions before even giving themselves a chance to interact?  How much brighter would your own world be?

2. Alphas Are Confident


Where does their confidence come from?  It comes from an inner knowledge that they have what it takes to handle almost any obstacle.  Their skills are developed and their pack is strong.  They also have a vision and a plan for their future.

If you do things like what I tasked you with above…

If you have chops

If you embrace the learning curve and have 10-20-30,000 personal interactions and pay attention to your results, tweaking as you go…

You will find that you experience a sense of peace.

Life is more fun when you’re doing it with and for other people.  The most common human need following water, food, and shelter, is acceptance.

If you become a large source of acceptance for people, the way they respond to you will leave you feeling gratified…and wanting to be that way even more.

That realization that life doesn’t need to be as difficult as you once thought; that’s confidence.

Alpha salespeople know they serve the customer’s best interest and that by doing so, they will be taken care of in turn.

Beta salespeople worry if they’re going to make a sale and whether or not the customer likes them.  They spend so much time in their mind thinking the wrong thoughts that they can’t perform the right actions.  They render themselves a waste of time to the customer.  This leads to more fear.  It’s an unfortunate downward spiral.

Ironically, this makes beta salespeople the more selfish of the two, while only making a fraction of the sales.

3.) Alphas Are Competent


The primary ingredient in confidence is competence.   Alpha wolves closely study their wilderness.

Alpha salespeople never stop working on both their selling skills and product knowledge.

Top real estate agents know their local market statistics like the back of their hand.

Medical device salespeople know everything there is to know about their equipment….so much so that some of them ASSIST the doctor in the O.R. while he’s using it.

Industrial chemical salespeople know things that you and I never even think of like dilution ratios and surface application temperatureszzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZ…but seriously, they need to know it.  That’s their wilderness.  If they didn’t know it backwards and forwards they would starve.

How much do you know about all the products you sell, the alternatives, and what the pros and cons are of each?  I believe your job is not to push specific products, but to be able to lay out all the options and help a customer make an educated decision, all while having the backbone to be willing to divert them if they’re going down a bad path.

Alphas don’t just study the products.  They also study the actual process of selling.  They are ALWAYS learning to hunt more effectively.   They’re always tweaking and testing, trying to figure out how to be more effective.

Betas are doing things the same way they’ve always done.  Some of them even carry the mindset that they “deserve” to be fed.    No one deserves to be fed…except defenseless pups.

4.) Alphas Dress Well


It’s cold out in the wilderness.  You better come dressed prepared to survive the elements.

In my career in packaging distribution, out of the top 10 income earners I’ve known and worked with, 9 of them dress incredibly well.  I’m talking tie, dress slacks, occasional blazer.  9 out of 10.  90% was a good enough commonality for me to follow suit.  No pun intended 🙂

I was in the real estate industry for 8 years before packaging.  Guess how many of those top earners wore ties?  Lots of them.  I attended several conferences with some of the highest earners in the country.  They were seas of thousands of business suits and ties.  You remember this clip from the last post right?  Success leaves clues.

Some people might scoff at these successful salespeople’s dress codes.  One very common reason I’ve heard over the years is that some days it’s too hot to wear a tie.  It’s as if some people’s commitment to excellence ends at 90 degrees.  I’m one of the crazy ones that thinks the hotter it gets, and the more I don’t let it affect me, the more impressive it is.

I must clarify though, Alpha salespeople do not dress well to be pompous or to feel important.  They aren’t trying to impress anyone.  They also don’t dress up to have an upper hand over anyone.

They do it because they believe their customers deserve the best.    It’s also interesting to note that there is actual scientific evidence that dressing well changes the way you think about your work, and the way people think about you.

Alphas look to perform at the highest level in every area of their work and life, and this is the natural extension of that philosophy in one small area we call “wardrobe.”

It’s not about “the tie” or “the suit.”

It’s about the fact that OF COURSE there is a tie…if everything else is there…right?

Why would there NOT be a tie?

If you’re missing something that simple…what else are you missing?

Here’s a possible response you could throw in your toolkit in case anyone (especially a customer), ever asks you why you dress well:

Note: Any time someone questions or comments on a piece of your approach that is truly exceptional, it’s best to respond as if it’s not that big of a deal.  

Tell them, “Huh…you know…it’s just part of our company culture.  We believe that our customers deserve the best…of everything.  Dressing well is a show of respect for you, because without you, we wouldn’t have jobs.” /chuckle

If you can come to personally believe this and make it your own philosophy…then this sentence is spoken like you’re dropping a feather as the words leave your mouth, but the implications will hit the customer like a sledgehammer when they see your competition come in the next day wearing a polo shirt and jeans.

This guy clearly can’t possibly care about his job, or the customer, as much as you do.

The unspoken realization is priceless.  You deserve the business.

A word of caution: make sure the quality of your overall approach and activity matches your dress code….or else you’re really just a well dressed Slick Rick.

5.) Alphas Have a PhD in GSD


Alphas are resourceful.  They work with the rest of their pack to find a way to survive.

Alpha wolves might tail a group of caribou for a week or more.  The pack trusts that the Alpha is doing the right thing.  They have a plan.

You need to have a plan.  You need a process to follow.  You need something that is tried and true. Where can you find this?  The Alphas on your current sales team.

Alpha salespeople don’t let things sit.  They are always politely pushing and prodding to get to the next step.  They don’t let the caribou (the sale) wander too far away…they stay in contact and they know when the time is right to move in.

How many beta salespeople have you heard making excuses for why they lost a sale, why their business is in decline, how things were better in the good old days, or how the world owes them something?  Listen carefully when you’re around any larger group of salespeople…there are always going to be some betas in there.

My advice to you is to steer clear of people like that.  Run them out of your personal pack, because they carry some very contagious diseases: complacency, negativity, laziness, and entitlement.

6.) Alphas Hunt Forever


Beta salespeople reach a certain income level and they stop hunting.

They get fat.  They get happy.  They don’t stay hungry.

Alphas know that the hunt never truly ends.  The minute you stop growing you begin dying.  There is no static place.  You must keep moving…or eventually you will starve or freeze.

Alpha salespeople develop a serious work ethic.  They work until it’s a habit ingrained as deep as the Mariana trench.

It becomes WHO they are.  They’re not afraid of committing however many hours it is going to take.

I’m not saying they work ever more increasing hours.  They work smarter and make their existing investment of time more and more valuable.  They learn to constantly earn more income in the same amount of time they’ve always allotted for work in their daily schedule.

They open accounts, they grow accounts, they set ever higher income goals.  They open more new accounts.  They purge the smaller or more labor intensive accounts that no longer support their income goals.

They give these “scraps” to the younger pups in their pack and they continue to hunt.

The pack becomes stronger.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.