What Makes a great salesperson?

Salespeople come in many different guises, however, successful sales professionals tend to have many traits in common. It’s no coincidence that the highest performing sales reps demonstrate the same skills, characteristics and aspirations.

So you want to be a Salesperson?

Anyone drawn to a career in sales would be wise to examine their character thoroughly to see whether they could not just cope but thrive in what can be a fast-paced, competitive but ultimately hugely rewarding working environment.

Here are ten characteristics that every salesperson needs to pursue a successful career in the industry whatever specific market they may choose to specialise in.

Ten top traits that make a great salesperson

1) Drive to succeed

This goes without saying – think of the greatest salesperson you know, or one depicted in the media and you will immediately think of someone who is committed to securing that sale by any means possible. Many sales jobs have lucrative bonuses, performance-related rewards and other enticing incentives attached if you come out on top.

salesperson taking notes

Your heart has to be fully in it, and your desire to win paramount in your working life ambitions. Sales is not a job for someone who feels ambivalent about their chances and who doesn’t mind either way whether they succeed or not.

2) Empathy

Knowing your own self and what makes you want to succeed in sales is one thing, but you must also be able to read, understand and engage with your audience. This is next-to-impossible without empathy. The ability to understand what makes people tick, what they are looking for to fill gaps and solve problems, and how you might convince them to buy into your proposed solutions will help you to close deals.

Closely aligned with empathy is the ability to be better at reading people through facial expressions, body language and emotional responses. There are numerous resources available from psychologists who have studied human interactions of this nature to help you develop your empathy skills and learn more about how people react in different scenarios.

3) Competitiveness

There’s no getting away from the fact that sales is a competitive sector to be in, and if you have the drive to succeed, competitiveness won’t be far behind. Prosperous businesses understand their rivals and the threats to success that they pose.

running tracking for race competitions

They are not afraid to exploit any weaknesses and drive home any strengths to secure the result they want. You as a salesman should follow this model of working and make it your business to strive to come out on top. If you are part of a wider sales team, you may well find that sales figures are regularly compared and rewarded to keep everyone keen, committed and eager to win.

4) Intelligence

Another key trait for a good salesperson who wants to be creative, successful and independent is intelligence. Being able to understand the products and services that you are selling, as well as the wider issues or problems that they are designed to solve, will help your customer see the advantages of signing on the dotted line more easily.

You will find it easier to secure people’s trust too if you come across as,

  • capable
  • smart
  • genuinely knowing what you are talking about.

If you do feel that you have gaps in your knowledge or understanding, search for online courses, join relevant business and trade associations, ask your manager for further training and take time to read up on the subject wherever possible

5) Resilience

A salesperson will experience many knock-backs, tricky customers and bad days. So, whether you face a day of door knocking in the pouring rain, or just can’t reach your sales targets for the month, you will need to have a strong sense of resilience to see you through the tough times.

Resilience can be honed through experience and working on the right mindset that allows you to pick yourself up and carry on when things get difficult. This is very important for all kinds of jobs and careers, but especially relevant in the unpredictable world of sales where there can only be one top performer.

6) Persuasiveness

Everyone loves a charmer, and this can be a powerful weapon in your sales armoury. Having the ability to make people feel happy and relaxed around you will help you to increase your sales figures. Being personable, easy to talk to and charming will help you get people on side and willing to spend longer with you as you go through your sales pitch with them.

Charm comes with patience, empathy and a willingness to interact with other people in as pleasant and engaging a way as possible. Just watch out that your charm is perceived as genuine, however, as you really don’t want to find yourself slipping down into smarm.

7) Perceptiveness

Knowing when to close the deal and when to move onto your next target can help you streamline your day and cut down on wasted time. Understanding the right way to approach different types of customers, and which aspects of the product or service that you are selling to highlight all comes down to having high levels of perceptiveness.

Much of this comes with professional experience, however, keeping an open mind and remaining alert and inquisitive about everything around you will help you to develop this trait further. Listen to your instincts and know when it’s time to push for a sale and when it’s time to back off

8) Multi-tasking

The old adage is true. If you want something done, ask a busy person. A good salesman must be adept in multi-tasking; handling several clients or customer accounts at once and reacting quickly and effectively to changes and developments as they happen.

saleswoman multi tasking

Product specs and service packages can change and evolve and salespeople must be able to pick up and run with these changes straight away to demonstrate their credentials as top performers. Sales figures and forecasts are also subject to rapid movements, plus, with any luck, you will need to control a bulging contact book and full appointment diary.

9) Persistence

Aligned with resilience is the equally important persistence when it comes to describing how to be an ideal salesperson. Someone who won’t take no for an answer – at least not too quickly – and who will keep going to secure the sale no matter what.

Persistence pays off and it can really help you ascend the ranks to reach better roles and higher echelons of sales. No-one succeeds one hundred percent of the time, but the people who do eventually come out on top are those who keep on trying and learning from their experiences.

10) Versatility

Finally, successful salespeople can fit in with any scenario and turn their hand to selling any product or service. One amazing aspect of being in sales is the huge range of opportunities out there that enable you to choose where you fit in and establish your reputation.

From door-to-door selling to digital marketing; working for a brand-new small business to joining the sales force of a multi-national powerhouse, there is something for everyone in sales, so long as you are open to being flexible and seeing what’s out there for you to embrace