Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are dedicated: they are careful and conscientious in their work."

Tag: persistence

15 Career Success Principles For Salespeople

15 Career Success Principles For Salespeople

Sales is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers a person can choose. It takes hard work, determination, and a robust set of career success principles to be successful in this field. This post will explore fundamental principles that lead to success in a sales career. Understanding and applying these principles gives you the best chance for success in your sales career.

  1. Identify your personal brand and develop a strong message
  2. Build a professional network and stay connected
  3. Stay current on industry trends and changes
  4. Develop marketable skillsets
  5. Maintain a positive attitude, even during tough times
  6. Stop selling and start helping
  7. Find a professional mentor to guide you
  8. Believe in yourself and your ability to sell
  9. Commit to continuous learning
  10. Be a resource for your clients
  11. Focus on solutions, not problems
  12. Build relationships of trust
  13. Manage your time and energy effectively
  14. Take the initiative and be proactive
  15. Be persistent and never give up

1. Identify your personal brand and develop a strong message

There’s no doubt that personal branding is essential for salespeople. In a world where buyers have more choices than ever before, it’s vital to stand out from the crowd and make a strong impression.

But what exactly is a personal brand, and how can you develop one? Simply put, your personal brand is how you present yourself to the world. It’s the sum of all the experiences and interactions people have with you, starting with how you communicate your message.

If you want to develop a strong personal brand, it’s essential to start by articulating your unique selling proposition. What makes you different from other salespeople? What value do you bring to the table? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can develop a strong personal brand that will help you close more sales.

Remember, there are three things that every salesperson sells in every deal:

  • Your product
  • Your company
  • Yourself

Since most products have competition that solves the core of the same problems, products rarely win the deal by themselves as the second best product usually has enough features/benefits to achieve the prospect’s goals.

Since most companies are of high quality, the company’s reputation rarely wins the deal. Yes, there are times when the customer will only buy from a specific vendor (the adage that no one was ever fired for buying from IBM is long over).

The significant variable in all sales opportunities is YOU. You can show you are a better partner and advocate than the other salesperson.

Customer loyalty isn’t what it used to be. When you have a relationship with a customer, everything is more straightforward. People don’t return simply because it’s where they purchased previously. They re-purchase because salespeople took the time to build a relationship. They gave the customer a reason to buy from their company.

But remember, even one mistake can cause a loyal customer to leave. It is up to you to sell them on your company, sell them on your professionalism, and then keep them sold through simple, consistent communication.

2. Build a professional network and stay connected

As a salesperson, it’s essential to have a strong professional network. After all, your network is your lifeline to potential customers and sales leads. But building and maintaining a professional network can be challenging, especially if you’re always on the go. Fortunately, you can do a few simple things to make sure you stay connected.

First, make an effort to attend industry events and meetups. This is a great way to meet new people and stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

Second, use social media to connect with other salespeople and professionals in your field. LinkedIn is a particularly useful platform for salespeople, allowing you to connect with others in your industry easily.

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to your contacts regularly. Whether you’re staying in touch via email or meeting up for coffee, maintaining regular communication is key to maintaining professional relationships.

3. Stay current on industry trends and changes

Salespeople need to stay current on industry trends and changes. The sales industry is constantly evolving, and salespeople who don’t stay up-to-date on the latest changes are at a disadvantage.

In addition, knowing about the latest industry trends can help salespeople be more successful in their careers. By being aware of new products, sales strategies, and other changes in the sales industry, salespeople can adapt their own tactics to better meet their customers’ needs.

Furthermore, keeping current on industry trends shows potential employers that salespeople are committed to their careers and are always looking for ways to improve their skills. Therefore, salespeople should make it a priority to stay current on industry trends and changes.

4. Develop marketable skillsets

In today’s competitive job market, it’s more important than ever to have a set of skills that will make you attractive to potential employers. While some jobs may require specific training or experience, there are a few skillsets that are prized by salespeople across industries.

One of the most important sales skills is the ability to build relationships. Whether you’re selling a product or selling yourself in an interview, your ability to connect with others and create rapport will be essential to your success. In addition, salespeople need to be adept at problem-solving and be able to think on their feet. The ability to quickly assess a situation and find a creative solution can be the difference between making a sale and losing out to the competition.

Finally, salespeople need to be able to handle rejection. In any sales process, there will be times when you don’t close the deal. The ability to pick yourself up and keep going despite setbacks is essential for any salesperson who wants to build a successful career.

5. Maintain a positive attitude, even during tough times

One of the most critical things salespeople can do is maintain a positive attitude, even during tough times. A positive attitude will not only improve your sales numbers but also make you more enjoyable to be around. Your clients and customers will remember how you made them feel, and they’ll be more likely to come back and do business with you again in the future.

A positive attitude is also essential for your career growth. You’re more likely to take risks and seize opportunities when you have a positive outlook. You’ll also be better equipped to handle rejection and setbacks. So next time you feel down, remember that a positive attitude can make all the difference.

6. Stop selling and start helping

Most salespeople see their job as nothing more than a numbers game. The more people they talk to, the more likely they will make a sale. But this isn’t necessarily the most effective way to sell. It often leads to salespeople becoming pushy and aggressive, which turns potential customers off.

A better approach is to focus on helping potential customers rather than selling them something. People are much more likely to buy from someone who is interested in helping them, not just making a quick buck. So, if you’re looking to improve your sales career, start by focusing on helping people, not selling them. You’ll be surprised at how much more successful you become.

It is important to remember that without customers, there is no business. Companies rely on new and returning patronage to succeed; therefore, the customer’s needs should always be the priority. The foundation of a healthy customer base begins with earning the trust and respect of prospective consumers.

When we focus on selling, we’re thinking about ourselves. A salesperson focusing on selling to the customer is thinking about targets, their car payments, and the holiday they’re aiming for. The customer becomes a means to an end. A sale from them is a step in the direction the salesperson would like their life to go – another step towards achieving their sales target and lying on that beach in Fiji.

Helping our customers develops trust, which translates to deeper customer relationships. When we focus on helping our customers, we blow the competition out of the water. Who wouldn’t want to deal with someone focused on helping us meet our needs and goals? This is where you’ll hear your customers’ actual pain points, the real reasons why they can’t say Yes to your proposal right now.

7. Find a professional mentor to guide you

A mentor can be a valuable asset for any salesperson, providing guidance and advice on how to succeed in the sales industry. A mentor can help you develop your sales skills, set goals, create a plan to reach them, and stay motivated throughout your career.

Finding an experienced and professional mentor can help you take your career to the next level. There are many ways to find a mentor, such as networking with sales professionals, attending sales conferences or workshops, or participating in sales training programs. In addition, a mentor can introduce you to new ideas and perspectives and provide outside advice on your sales strategies.

Once you have found a mentor, nurture the relationship by meeting regularly and staying in touch even when you are not actively working together. A mentorship relationship can be a valuable source of support and knowledge to help you succeed in sales.

8. Believe in yourself and your ability to sell

Salespeople are often told that the key to success is believing in themselves and their ability to sell. This may sound like simple advice, but salespeople must internalize this message. After all, selling is all about persuasion, and it is difficult to persuade someone to buy something if you do not believe in it yourself. A salesperson who does not believe in their own ability is far less likely to be successful than one who does.

Likewise, a salesperson who doubts their ability is much more likely to give up when faced with rejection. Belief is a powerful tool, and salespeople who believe in themselves are more likely to find career success.

9. Commit to continuous learning

Salespeople are always looking for new leads and ways to increase their sales pipeline. In order to stay ahead of the competition, salespeople need to continuously learn new sales strategies and keep up-to-date with the latest products. Additionally, salespeople need to be able to adapt to changing market conditions.

By committing to continuous learning, salespeople can develop the skills they need to succeed in their careers. There are many ways to commit to constant learning, such as taking courses, attending seminars, and reading sales books. Salespeople who commit to continuous learning will be better equipped to handle whatever challenges they face in their careers.

Obviously, a great way to learn is to subscribe to this site and follow me on LinkedIn ( You should also purchase and read my book Eliminate Your Competition. The reality is that at the end of every sales cycle, every competitor has been eliminated but the one that received the order. Don’t let someone else eliminate you from a deal that you want to win.

You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

10. Be a resource for your clients

Being a good salesperson is about more than just making a sale. It’s also about developing relationships and being a resource for your clients.

The best salespeople are always looking for ways to help their clients, even if it doesn’t result in an immediate sale. They build trust and credibility by demonstrating their expertise and knowledge and create long-term relationships by always putting their clients’ needs first.

To be successful in sales, adopt these habits and traits. Show your clients that you’re more interested in helping them than in making a quick buck, and you’ll reap the rewards in the form of loyalty and repeat business.

11. Focus on solutions, not problems

As a salesperson, it’s essential to focus on solutions, not problems. This habit can help you stand out from the competition and build trust with potential customers. When you focus on solutions, you demonstrate that you’re resourceful and capable of finding creative ways to solve problems. This is an essential trait for salespeople, as it shows that you’re committed to meeting your customer’s needs.

In addition, focusing on solutions shows that you’re proactive and can think on your feet. Customers will appreciate your ability to find innovative solutions to their problems, and they’ll be more likely to do business with you in the future.

12. Build relationships of trust

With the advent of the internet, it’s easier than ever for consumers to find information about products and make informed purchase decisions without even speaking to a salesperson. However, that doesn’t mean that salespeople are no longer important. In fact, salespeople who build relationships of trust with their clients can be incredibly valuable, forming bonds that last long after a purchase has been made.

A trustworthy salesperson is someone consumers can rely on for accurate information and recommendations. This type of salesperson doesn’t just try to make a quick sale; instead, they take the time to get to know their clients and understand their needs. As a result, clients are more likely to come back to this salesperson in the future and recommend them to others.

Building trust takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it for salespeople who want to create lasting relationships with their clients. Habitually truthful salespeople with strong communication skills are more likely to succeed in building trust than those who don’t possess these traits. By making an effort to build trust from the beginning of every relationship, salespeople can set themselves apart from the competition and create lasting bonds with their clients.

13. Manage your time and energy effectively

The best salespeople are the ones who know how to manage their time and energy effectively – they are effective time and energy managers. They don’t waste their time on things that don’t matter, and they take care of themselves so they can be at their best when it comes time to sell.

Great salespeople know how to prioritize their time, master the art of follow-up, are disciplined with their self-care routine, and always have a positive attitude.

Good salespeople know that their success depends on their abilities to focus and work hard, so they develop habits that help them make the most of their time and energy. For example, they might wake up early to get a head start on their workday or take a break after every sales call to regroup and recharge.

In addition, salespeople typically have high levels of self-motivation and optimism, which helps them stay focused even when things are tough. By developing these time-management skills, salespeople can set themselves up for success.

Being a salesperson is a demanding job. Many salespeople develop habits that sabotage their productivity. For example, some salespeople spend too much time on the phone or social media, while others allow themselves to be interrupted by email and text messages. The best salespeople have mastered the art of time management and know how to focus their energy on the task at hand. In addition, they know when to take breaks and how to use downtime effectively. They understand that sales is a numbers game, and they prioritize speaking with as many potential customers as possible.

14. Take initiative and be proactive

I am occasionally interviewed about my book Eliminate Your Competition. In those interviews, I am typically asked to summarize the differences between the 4 types of salespeople (Farmer, Hunter, Gatherer, and Trapper).

As I describe in my book, a Gatherer is a superior version of a Farmer and a Trapper is a superior version of a Hunter. That superiority comes with a lot of enhancements but primarily it is that a Gatherer is more proactive than a Farmer and a Trapper is more proactive than a Hunter.

You may purchase my book Eliminate Your Competition from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Being a salesperson requires more than simply being good at sales. To be successful, a salesperson must also be proactive and take the initiative. This means always looking for new sales opportunities and taking the initiative to follow up on leads. Additionally, a salesperson must be able to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions to problems. These traits are essential for any salesperson who wants to be successful. By taking the initiative and being proactive, salespeople can ensure they are always one step ahead of the competition.

Any salesperson worth their salt knows that being proactive is a vital part of the job. That means taking the initiative, being assertive, and always looking for new opportunities. After all, the best salespeople are always one step ahead of the competition. While some people may be naturally inclined to be proactive, others may need to work a little harder to develop this habit. However, it’s important to remember that anyone can learn to be more proactive with a little effort. By cultivating the traits of a proactive salesperson, you can set yourself up for success in any sales situation.

Being proactive is the second most essential trait of all things that are needed for a great sales career. When I look at poorly performing salespeople, they are almost always reacting to things that are around them rather than driving those events. The most important trait is coming up below: persistence.

15. Be persistent and never give up

A salesperson’s job is not easy. It requires a lot of skill, charisma, and, most importantly, persistence. Persistence is the last trait that I list for two reasons:

  1. I think it is probably the most essential trait of successful salespeople
  2. Only those persistent readers will make it through to this last listed trait!

I often bastardize this great quote by President Calvin Coolidge:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence [in sales]. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful [salespeople] with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius [in sales] is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated [failed salespeople]. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent [in sales]. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race [especially when it comes to selling and making quota].”

Slightly edited and enhanced quote by President Calvin Coolidge

I have written about persistence before and explained how persistence won orders for me when I was a quota-carrying salesperson.

Have you ever tried to learn to water ski? In my experience, the most common advice for new skiers is to hang on to the ski rope until you almost can’t take it anymore, and then hang on a bit more. For new skiers, it is right when they feel like the rope will be ripped from their hands that they are about to be lifted from the water and beginning to glide. If they just hold on for one more second, success will happen.

The same is true of sales. Success is right after the next phone call. Success is only one more email, Twitter post, or LinkedIn connection away. If you stop now, you will not enjoy the result of this effort as you will have given up just one instant too early.

A salesperson must be able to handle rejection after rejection and still maintain a positive attitude. They have to believe in their product or service and never give up, no matter how often they are told “no.” This is not an easy trait to develop, but it is essential for success in sales.

The good news is that persistence is a habit that can be learned. With practice, salespeople can develop the skills and traits necessary to succeed in this challenging field. There is no doubt that sales is a tough gig, but with perseverance, anything is possible.

The best salespeople are persistent and never give up. They understand that sales is a numbers game, and the more people they talk to, the more likely they will find someone interested in what they’re selling. They also know that it takes time to develop relationships and build trust, so they’re patient and never give up on a potential customer.

Don’t ever give up. No means not yet. You will never be column fodder if you understand what is important to your prospect. You must be prepared to explain how you help your customer achieve their goals, even if the customer doesn’t want to hear it. The opportunity will come with persistence and perseverance.

These traits are essential for sales success, and the best salespeople have developed them into habits. They know that if they keep working hard and never give up, eventually, their efforts will pay off. So if you’re thinking about becoming a salesperson, remember: persistence and tenacity are key. Never give up on your dreams; eventually, you’ll reach your goals.

Get Started

These are just a few of the principles that can help you sell more effectively. If you can implement these principles into your career, you will be well on your way to achieving success as a salesperson. It takes hard work, determination, and a robust set of career success principles to be successful in this field.

If you want to learn more or need help implementing any of these concepts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Use these tips as a foundation to build the successful sales career you deserve. What principle resonates most with you? How are you going to apply it to your own professional development? Let us know in the comments below!

Header Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Five Habits of the Best Salespeople (and how they differ from their underperforming peers)

Five Habits of the Best Salespeople (and how they differ from their underperforming peers)

Are you doing things every day to make you a successful salesperson? Are you following the best practices of top salespeople?

For managers, do you know which traits to encourage in your reps? Do you have a plan to make them better by pushing them in the right direction for success?

1. The top salespeople spend more of their time selling. High performers spend 36% selling than their peers. Top salespeople spend 19-23 hours selling per week, but average salespeople only spend 14-18 hours selling per week. Spend time focusing on activities that generate revenue. 

If you want to be a top salesperson, you need to spend time focusing on activities that generate revenue. It is not uncommon that salespeople will complain about being dragged into non-revenue generating activity, but few maximize their time. This also means that you need to understand that being a top salesperson is not a 40 hour per week job. You need to delegate the time-draining activity to weekends and after hours. When are you doing your expense reports (hopefully on Saturday morning)? When are you sending thank you notes and follow up emails (hopefully in the evening while helping the kids with homework)?

2. Top performing salespeople don’t give up easily. Top performers will try to contact a lead nine or more times before giving up. Average performers will only try to reach a non-responsive lead five times before moving on.

This activity doesn’t have to all be once-per-day phone calls. As I explain in my book, Eliminate Your Competition, you should be developing your own newsletter for maintaining a relationship with your customers, your top leads, and your cold leads.

3. Top performers are driven individuals. When asked to discuss their traits, 81% of top salespeople rate “being driven” as being very important. Average reps only said this 57% of the time.

4. Top performing salespeople think critically. When surveyed, top performers rate “critical thinking” as being essential to their success while only 40% for their average performer brethren.

5. Surprisingly, high performers tend to be more independent. Top salespeople solve their own business problems and are not needy of their manager. Sales managers report that they spend 30 minutes less time per week than their average performers.

Part of the reason that sales managers spend less time with their top-performing reps is that every manager wants at least a moderate improvement in rep productivity. By definition, it can be easier to get more net growth from a low performing rep than a top-performing rep.

However, to be a top salesperson, you need to be able to run your business. You can count on your manager for “air support” in times of need, but you need to have your own plans for moving your prospects through the pipeline and making small customers into big customers.

Following is a video that gives a few more details to these five critical traits.

Header Photo by OpenClipart-Vectors (Pixabay)
Don’t Ever Give Up

Don’t Ever Give Up

In the past, I have written that there is no crying in sales. When you lose, you need to get back on the horse and keep going. This is excellent advice, but you also cannot give up on that prospect that just rejected you.

There is a chance that your product is a “one and done” type of product and therefore the customer will never repurchase a similar product. However, most products are not that way. In fact, many products that are sold from one business to another business are continuously used and repeatedly purchased. The first order is just that, only the first order.

In most situations, you only lost the first order. Yes, this might put you in a disadvantage for the longer term purchases, but it doesn’t disqualify you.

I still remember the first time I lost to a DIY (Do It Yourself) solution which is a frequent competitor in the software industry. I was calling on a company in Minneapolis MN (I live in Cincinnati OH). The company was a high-tech company, and they had a lot of astute, young professionals. I was very late to the sales cycle and found out about the prospect’s need after they had done a lot of work at identifying how to achieve their goals. If you have read my book, Eliminate Your Competition, you can easily guess that I was in trouble from the very beginning.

I only had a few people identified in the Power Matrix. I had not had the time to develop relationships with multiple levels of the organization.

Being that late caused me to lose the deal. The engineering team at the customer convinced the division manager that they could engineer the solution themselves with some open-source software and off-the-shelf computer add-ons. Four weeks after learning about the customer’s need, I received a phone call that I had lost.

The loss was my fault. I was outsold by the internal engineering team. Time to get back on the saddle.

My manager told me to shake it off as I was obviously column fodder. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, column fodder is when the customer only looks at your product to prove to “management” that the evaluation was complete and covered enough competitors to ensure that the assessment was fair.

I don’t like being column fodder. I don’t like to lose either.

I called up the admin of the VP of the division and asked for an appointment with him in two days. This is back when most executives had an administrative assistant and that person actually answered the phone. I had met with him once before, but it was a brief conversation, and I was still learning what was important to him. The only thing I knew for sure is that he was very demanding of his team and that he had severe deadlines on this project. She informed me that John (not his real name) was in all day, but his calendar was booked. I told her that I understood that he was busy, but I really needed to see him, and I would be sitting in the company lobby all day in the hopes that he could see me.

I flew to Minneapolis and arrived in the company lobby at 7:15A. I had two documents with me that I thought would make a difference to John. It was the dead of winter, and it was frigid outside. The lobby was merely a security entrance with a security guard and three plastic chairs against a window that let much of that Minneapolis cold seep through the glass. Unfortunately, it was not the employee entrance, so I was not able to “ambush” John as he came to work.

The two documents that I had in my possession were the tools to set the only trap that I could set. I didn’t know if it would be good enough this late in the decision cycle. It was the same trap that I would have wanted to set weeks or months earlier, but I couldn’t because I was late. This one trap had to be so good that John would need to use it to override the wishes of his own engineering department. I was a Trapper and just like I would write in my book many years later, I knew exactly what I had to say to make the trap work. I assumed that my internal competitor had left me this one opening and I had to play it. My major goal was that this meeting would allow me to stop an existing decision. My minor goal was that maybe they would implement the homemade solution once, but they would turn to my company for the rollout of a purchased solution. Failure of either of those goals would mean that I was going home to Cincinnati empty-handed.

Larry, the security guard (his real name), was amazed that I was there to see a VP without an appointment. But he was kind enough to call John and tell the admin that I was there. At 8:30 (1 hour and 15 minutes after I arrived), Larry took pity on me and called again and said I was still in the lobby. This time John walked out and started laughing. He said he had heard about annoying salespeople camping in a lobby, but he had never seen it himself.

John brought me back to his office. He explained that he had full faith in his engineering team to create a solution that would satisfy his needs and that I wasted the plane flight to MSP. I thanked him for his time and explained that it was my fault that we were in this situation. If I had known about their needs earlier then we would have had this exact meeting several weeks ago. It was my fault that we had not had this conversation and I appreciated that he was allowing me to have the discussion now. I told him that I just wanted him to look at two documents and then I would leave. He agreed to see the documents.

The two documents that I placed on his desk were the annual report for his company and the annual report for my company. I asked him to find where in his annual report his company attested to being experts in the creation of this type of software. I followed up this question with a request to look at my company’s report and how many times we explained how we were experts in this area. He didn’t reply (I didn’t expect him to).

Then I laid it out to him. “John, you told me when we met three weeks ago that you demanded excellence from your team and you were proud of their accomplishments. You also told me that this project was critically important to your company and, in fact, your CEO says in your annual report that your company is in a highly competitive industry and constant improvements in this area are critical for the health of the corporation. Our company is obviously excellent in this area, but yours is obviously going to be learning for the first time. What are you going to tell your CEO if your engineering team is not excellent enough? Your excellence is in making your product. My excellence is making our product. Don’t you think you should reduce your risk and not hope that your engineering team is as good as mine when we have been doing this for years?”

And then I was silent. I didn’t say a word.

Finally, John said, “How do you know we cannot create this solution?”

“John, I don’t know. They might pull it off. But I do know that there is no question that my software can do everything that has been described to me that you need. Why are you taking this risk?”

“My engineering team says they can do it cheaper than buying it from your company. Especially, since we have to roll it out for over 100 installations.”

“Your annual report doesn’t say that cost is an issue. It says that if you don’t drive improvements in your product, then you will lose your position in the market. Why are you talking about cost when the risk of failure is the driving factor?”

He was silent for a long time after that question, but I knew that I had won when he finally responded.

“Can you wait in our cafeteria while I meet with my team? I promise it won’t take more than an hour.”

After 45 minutes of drinking hot coffee in the cafeteria (I was still cold from sitting in that cold lobby for over an hour), John walked into the cafeteria with the two lead engineers on his team.

I closed the deal two weeks later for list price. The deal doubled in size 6 months later with a repeat order due to the success of my product and the customer’s product. I blew away my quota that year. I would never have done that if I gave up on this order. I would never have won the order if I didn’t understand my prospect’s true issues and align the benefits of my offering to those issues.

Don’t ever give up. No means not yet. You will never be column fodder if you understand what is really important to your prospect. You must be prepared to explain how you help your customer achieve their goals even if the customer doesn’t want to hear it. The opportunity will come with persistence and perseverance.

I leave you with a quote by President Calvin Coolidge almost a century ago.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Header Photo by skeeze (Pixabay)
Calvin Coolidge photo courtesy of Wikipedia and in open domain