Which Qualities Help Build the Best Salespeople?

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Not everyone can be a salesperson. Going up to near strangers and getting them to either purchase your product or sign on to your services can be a tricky situation without the right type of personality and skill. For some the mere thought of going out and attempting to make a sale gets their mind in a jumble. Those with the salesperson gene not only get excited at the prospect of going out to make a sale, they live for the entire routine. So what are the best qualities for a good salesperson? Ability to quote numbers to the exact decimal on command? Or does it all fall in line with what kind of personality they have? Below we’ve asked some entrepreneurs to share their thoughts on the subject.

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Having persistence

Persistence is probably going to be the #1 quality you’ll hear the most from your submissions. Generating sales, unlike other (more technical) skills, doesn’t require a lot of know-how or specific expertise. Instead, appropriate temperament (persistence and drive) rather than a lot of tangible skills — are, in our experience, what is common among the most effective sales people.

Thanks to Teja Yenamandra, Gun.io


Showing up ready to help

When I first started out in the financial services industry, I attended daily (required) classes on how to “sell” to people. The idea was that if we performed our sales tactics correctly, our prospects would be powerless to resist us. And some were, but what I found is that most tactics used fear or motivated the prospect to act quickly in order to avoid a negative consequence. At the end of the day, those tactics didn’t feel good. What I discovered on my own was that the more I focused on the possibility of a prospect’s situation, and really listened to what they wanted, the more I was able to talk to them from a place of collaboration. When I “sold,” my primary concern was getting them to buy. When I listened to their unique, individual issues, my goal became to “solve.” The responsibility for action shifted from them to me, and I realized that the more I showed up ready to help, the better salesperson I became.

Thanks to Mindy Crary, Creative Money

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Be a good listener

Having been in sales in some capacity for over 15 years, I would have to say that the most important qualities are being a good listener, being organized which leads to good follow through, being creative when faced with a challenge and making the person to whom you are selling feel important. Often a prospect will give you important feedback about what you are pitching but salespeople don’t always hear it. I have found that truly listening to what I am being told is the difference between a hard “no” and a “call me later.” Follow up and follow through are critical as you want to show that you are reliable but it also tells the prospect that you believe in what you are selling. This often results in them wanting to listen to you perhaps more than other salespeople. At times a little creativity is required especially when a product or service don’t exactly match a customer’s need, however if there is desire to make something happen, there are always creative ways to create a win-win for all parties. Last, making the person you are selling to feel special (and not just like another phone number on a call sheet) is a sure way to get to the next stage in the sales funnel. Doing a little research on the company or person themselves never hurts either.

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Thanks to Jenifer Kramer, Jenerosity Marketing


A high standard of business ethics

The best qualities to look for in salespeople are often not that obvious. Honesty, integrity and having a high standard of business ethics are all very important because the actions of the salespeople you hire make a direct impact on the reputation of your business. While you want people with strong self-images that can sustain many doses of rejection yet keep their attitudes, beware those who are too strong or too outgoing. They may frighten your buyers away. Rather, seek out people with servant attitudes, above-average intelligence and help them learn the skills required to sell.

Thanks to Tom Hopkins, Tom Hopkins International, Inc.



The very best quality that a salesperson can possess is stick-to-it-ness. Over and over in my different businesses I have witnessed discipline trumping talent. Talent or potential is certainly not an indicator of success but give me someone hungry and consistent, and they can chip away at the success iceberg and beat out others with way more “so-called” talent!

Thanks to Ray Higdon

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Motivated to help others, but not money hungry

1. Motivated to help others, but not money hungry. We’ve all had those sales people that are clearly motivated by financial gains. They look at you like a lion staring at a rare piece of meat. The best sales people are the ones that will do anything to help you achieve your goal, even if it means losing the deal. 2. Honest. The best sales people always share the good, the bad, and the ugly about their product or service. Nothing in the world is perfect. If you have a sales person that can’t offer you even ONE downside to choosing their product or service, then something’s fishy. 3. Listen. The best sales people are the ones that listen. The best way to spot the worst listeners is to watch how they respond to questions. Many sales people begin answering the question before the customer even finishes the question. When you spot this, run. You need someone who can zip it while you are sharing your needs. 4. Communicate. In shopping for a great salesperson you need someone who wants to communicate. If they are slow at returning your calls, evasive in their answers, or they don’t ask how you want to be communicated with (phone, text, email, tweets) then there is a good chance you have a bad sales person.

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Thanks to Stacey Alcorn


Having empathy

I’ve hired and trained thousands of salespeople. Contrary to popular opinion, great salespeople come in all personality types. But to me there are two qualities that all the great ones have in common. The first is persistence: they have to know how to be winningly aggressive; that is, they have to be aggressive without appearing pushy. Second, they need empathy: they have to be able to see the world through their prospect’s eyes, and empathize with that position. I’ve seldom known anyone with both those traits to fail at sales.

Thanks to Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates


Being able to connect the dots

Identifying the qualities of a top performing salesperson these days depend upon the markets, products, and services he or she is selling. For the transactional sale, characteristics like resilience, high energy, and interpersonal communication skills play a major factor. But in selling services and high end differentiated products, a high level of curiosity, critical thinking skills, ability to think on your feet, and emotional intelligence are essential. To differentiate oneself and a differentiated product and/or company brand, salespeople must have a strong grasp of the competition and the marketplace. This requires continuous research and an insatiable desire to become an expert and resource to their clients. Top performing salespeople also have high emotional intelligence. Not only do they have a strong self-awareness but are great observers and listeners. They are chameleons – responding to the buying styles of a diverse audience. Finally top performers salespeople can spot trends by “connecting the dots” and seeing opportunity between the lines when others only see white space.

Thanks to Ira S Wolfe, Success Performance Solutions


Being goal driven

Successful salespeople are very goal driven determined to achieve their distant star and beyond. Further defining the personality and deep within, the successful salesperson does soul searching to understand their motivating forces and then prioritize which to accomplish first. This becomes a forever commitment to education to be the best and do one’s best. When unusual ideas are presented, the successful are not quick to dismiss but instead possess an open mindset to consider possibilities. The attitude is, anything is possible with the right plan in place. Intuition is never ignored as the sixth sense is rarely wrong. Rather than talking much, the better salespeople question, listen and clarify for keen understanding. The more successful seek compatible clients in order to always find joy in their work. And when new opportunity is presented, the successful circle back to priorities and commitments already in place to always deliver excellent service that reaps repeat business, referrals and testimonials. This personality type is usually of high energy and uses the words Thank You prolifically.

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Thanks to Elinor Stutz, Smooth Sale


Optimism and patience

Contrary to popular belief, great sales people don’t magically appear in the world fully formed, ready to start hitting the phones and closing deals. Like most other people who rise to the top of their profession, great sales people are a product of their environments. Although these environments may vary greatly, depending on their target industry, whether its b2b or b2c, the prevailing market conditions, certain factors will be consistent. Great sales people are usually: 1. Great listeners – They ask intelligent questions, do their research before meeting prospects and genuinely listen to the answers they receive. This forms the basis of their ability to build a strong rapport with prospects and ultimately close more business. 2. Good multi-taskers – Most great sales people understand that balancing their pipeline is critical for long term success. This means that at any given point in time they are prospecting for new leads, qualifying existing deals in their pipeline and trying to close opportunities at the bottom of their funnel…not an easy task! 3. Honesty and ethics – This quality might surprise some people, but to be successful long term in the sales profession, your integrity and your personal brand are two things which great sales people are never prepared to discount, even if it means walking away from some transactions 4. Optimistic and patient – Sales can be a brutal and punishing business on occasions, but it can also be incredibly rewarding and stimulating. The majority of great sales people combine a healthy dose of patience with optimism, to keep themselves motivated and keep their heads in the game.

Thanks to Cian McLoughlin, Trinity Perspectives

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