The 7 Traits of Successful Salespeople


As you prepare for a successful 2013, make sure you’re hiring and encouraging the right personality traits in your sales team.

1. Modesty

According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business School, “91 percent of top salespeople had medium to high scores of modesty and humility.” In sales, we get rewarded by achievement. Progress is measurable in quota attainment and ACV dollars. Focusing on achievement comes natural to all sales reps. However, the reps that sell the most for the company are also the ones that sell their success the least. Success speaks for itself, and if you rub it into others’ faces, you’ll find hostility, jealousy, and an unwillingness to engage in teamwork. Focus on client needs and let the numbers speak for themselves. Also, sales managers who give their reps adequate praise won’t encounter a team of fiercely driven sales reps that promote themselves before the company.

2. Confidence

Successful salesman are confident in themselves, their companies, and their companies’ products or services, says Drew Stevens, director of the Sales Leadership Institute at St. Louis University. How can you expect a prospect to buy from a sales rep that doesn’t have faith in his or her products? Also, it’s very hard to sell something in which you do not believe. Don’t hire reps that are good at sales, but not interested in your products. If you already have, don’t keep them around; they’ll only bring down the team.

3. Good Communication Skills

Good communication skills are an important asset for salespeople. The top salespeople have mastered the skills of communicating information clearly and efficiently, of listening to their prospects and of reading body language. Sales people need to be especially perceptive when it comes to communication over the phone and online, and someone to whom socializing and communicating comes natural will more willingly adapt and learn how to read between the lines of client conversations on a number of different media.

4. Preparedness

Your chances of beating out the competition in B2B sales are best if you do your homework first. The most successful salespeople research their prospects thoroughly to learn about their needs before ever talking to them, and the most successful teams use sales intelligence tools to prepare for meetings quickly.

5. Thick Skin

Can you take “no” for an answer without being upset? The best salespeople can. Being a salsesperson and hearing the word “no” go hand in hand. Selling is a numbers game. Learn to experience rejection without taking it personally and you are ahead of the game. The only real reason to look back at a rejection is to see if something can be learned from the experience.

6. Honesty and Reliability

Some salespeople will say anything to gain a new customer, even if they have to say things that are not quite true. This sales technique may close a deal, but it will also gain you a negative reputation, and lose you any hope of repeat business from that customer. It’s very easy to find out online whether a sales rep is lying: websites and forums address all kinds of topics that come up in sales conversations. The top salespeople are the ones prospects can trust. If people believe you are telling the truth and will follow through with your promises, they are much more likely to buy your products or services, and to come back for more in the future.

Like most things in life, being good at B2B sales takes practice. Evaluate your selling style and make necessary changes. Learn from past successes and failures. You will not win every bid, but you can increase your success rate with practice.

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