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The average annual household income in the U.S. is $56,516. For the top 5 percent of households, it’s $159,619, and for the 1 percenters, it’s $380,354. In our company, we are only interested in hiring associates who aspire to be 5 percenters or better. We call them ‘High Fivers,’ and we have a system to help them get there.

How do you build a ‘high five’ culture? Simple. Hire sales associates who aspire to be 5 percenters and coach them to success. Here are our observations of their top 10 attributes and activities:

  1. Mindset – Players versus victims. Look for associates with a growth mindset who believe they can figure this business out and be successful if they work hard enough. (See Dr. Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.)
  1. Hungry – Success takes effort. Hire associates who hunger to succeed and have the work ethic to get there. What is their motivation? What is their ‘why?’
  1. Character – Hire likable people who tell the truth and do what they say. These character attributes are the keys for them to be a trusted advisor, rather than just a salesperson.
  1. Empathy – Having the social skills to pick up on the subtle nuances and the feelings of another was the key attribute of the top 10 percent of sales associates, according to a study by Franklin-Covey.
  1. Flow – Flow fixes everything. We are in a contact sport. High Fivers are in flow (face-to-face or voice-to-voice) with at least 50 people a week—for some of them, it’s 50 a day! They use technology, but tend not to spend a lot of time looking at screens.
  1. Database – What holds an associate back from flow? Fear of making calls? It could be, but we’ve another common factor: they don’t have a good database. They can’t make the calls or send the mailings because they don’t have email addresses and phone numbers. Help them put together a database or hire a student to help them. A survey of 20,000 REALTORS® shows that less than 40 percent had a database (even scraps of paper and business cards in a shoebox counted). Those with even a semblance of a database earned 251 percent more than those without one.
  1. Value Proposition – High Fivers know how to create value by solving problems and making their clients feel good. They are constantly solving and serving, versus selling. They bring real value to their clients and know how to articulate their value proposition.
  1. Negotiation – A survey by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) of homebuyers and sellers rated negotiation skills as a key attribute in selecting a real estate professional. Are you practicing negotiation skills in your meetings? Share best practices on the five negotiation points of a real estate contract: Price, Terms, Dates, Inclusions/Exclusions and Contingencies.
  1. Focus – In his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey talks about living in our three circles. Circle 1 is our circle of concern: everything from politics to celebrities to football scores. Circle 2 is our circle of influence: clients, friends, kids, business. Circle 3 is our circle of control: our mindset, behavior and daily activities. High Fivers focus on their circles of control and influence. The 95 percenters tend to focus on their circle of concern and live their lives worrying about everything over which they have no control. This is also the focus of the victim. Players focus on their circles of control and influence.
  1. Reference Group – Harvard Professor Dr. David McClelland found that “80 percent of a person’s success can be attributed to their reference group (peers, role models, mentors).” His research supports the adage “Birds of a feather flock together.” What kind of a flock are you creating at your company? Are you focusing on High Fivers?

Focus on these 10 attributes and activities of High Fivers, and you will build a high five company—and culture.

Larry Kendall is chairman of Colorado-based The Group, Inc., and creator of Ninja Selling.

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