LAS VEGAS — Tom Hopkins knows a little bit about sales training. He is known as one of the foremost experts on training managers and salespeople to be successful in a sales career. He spoke with attendees at Focus on the Future about how to be a successful leader and have employees look up to managers as leaders.

“People don’t follow because they necessarily like the leader,” said Hopkins. “They follow because they respect the leader. And leaders should lead by example and how they live their lives.”

Hopkins listed his 10 characteristics of great managers:

1. They have total focus on building a team that functions in unison to reach a goal.

2.They live by what they teach, and they command respect by their example. The main job as a great manager is selling salespeople on selling.

3. They don’t become buddies. They practice detachment with subordinates off the job.

4. They don’t play favorites.

5. They develop future vision.

6. They attack pending problems and rapidly make tough decisions.

7. They promote risk-taking.

8. They are specialized at recruiting, training, and retaining top people.

9. They look at change as healthy.

10. They learn how to help people change their self-image by using their individual needs to be comfortable.

Change Isn’t Easy

Hopkins said that even the most successful people are faced with making changes because they often “lose focus.”

“If I see a person who is totally successful, and then their life begins to fall apart, it is because they lose their focus,” he said. “To get people to change, you have to make them desire to change.”

Hopkins said that in order to deal with changes, it is important for managers to understand the personalities of their people, especially salespeople. Some names he gives to various salespeople include: “Perry Professional” — “looks good, walks good, talks good”; “Negative Nancy” — always knocking the company and trying to gather others to support her negativity; and “Bob Barracuda” — a top producer who believes he has always done well by doing things his own way.

He included a “Commitment Form” in his presentation materials, which basically is an agreement between managers and salespeople to help each other achieve personal and professional goals. (The form is available for download at

Along with a commitment to grow and change, if change is necessary, Hopkins said it is important for managers to “understand and use five steps in the learning process.”

1. Impact. Consciously hearing, writing, reading, and saying the techniques.

2. Repetition. You must write, read, and say the techniques six times to get 62 percent retention.

3. Utilization. Consciously making yourself use the techniques.

4. Internalization. When the techniques and strategies are transferred to your product, they become a natural part of you.

5. Reinforcement. Going back to the basics once every year.

Hopkins added that people shouldn’t expect to get everything at once; change is a process. “A major successful life is made up of a lot of little minor successes.”

Sidebar: Developing A Mountain Mover Attitude

LAS VEGAS — Terry Nicholson, the president of Contractors Services, has a can-do attitude when it comes to achieving the extraordinary.

Nicholson spoke with Focus on the Future attendees on how ordinary people can achieve extraordinary feats.

“Become a dream catcher rather than a daydreamer,” he said. “Why not catch all of the dreams you have today instead of daydreaming your life away?”

Nicholson is a strong believer in self-improvement, adding, “You have to learn every day — read and educate yourself. Nothing in your life is going to get better until you get better.

“You have the power of choice, and the only opinion that matters is the opinion you have of yourself.”

Nicholson’s presentation, “Mountain Mover Attitude,” contained several “maxims” and “actions.”

1. Expectations are more important than talent, skill, and knowledge.

2. Attitude is the great equalizer.

3.Positive attitudes view the world differently.

4.Attitude is a choice; fate is not predetermined.

5.Attitudes are contagious.

6.Positive attitudes give birth to imagination and vision.

7.Great attitudes create confidence.

8.Attitude is the difference between success and failure.

1. Have a “TGIF” day every day.

2. Have a written plan.

3. Say something nice to at least three people every day.

4. Show up 15 minutes early and stay 16 minutes late.

5. Learn from your failures.

6. Laugh at yourself.

7. Surround yourself with positive people.

“Stop and turn negative situations into positive,” Nicholson stated. “We are subconsciously trained to focus on the negatives instead of the positive things in life. If you are going to accomplish something great, you are going to suffer hardships and setbacks. When life gives you lemons, turn them into lemonade.”

— John R. Hall

Publication date: 07/21/2003