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You are here: Home / Sales & Marketing / The 15 Traits of Great Salespeople
The 15 Traits of Great Salespeople
The 15 Traits of Great Salespeople
By Jennifer LeClaire / CRM Daily Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
Are you a top-performing salesperson or doing your best to become one? Trying to figure out how you can up your game to increase your sales for the coming quarter? Or perhaps you're a sales manager charged with hiring and training the best talent for your team?

Check out these 15 traits that all great salespeople should bring to the table.

(1) Be a Good Listener

Active listening is one of the most important skills for any salesperson to master. Salespeople can easily get caught up trying to communicate their value proposition -- telling how their product or service is different from the rest -- talking too much, and then failing to really listen in return. Part of the challenge is that most potential customers aren’t necessarily going to lay out every piece of valuable information in a nice, neat row. You have to ask the right questions to unlock the information about what your customers really want and really need.

(2) Be a Problem Solver

Everybody has problems. Think of customer problems as your opportunity to offer solutions that ease those pain points. Ask the right questions and you'll find the right opportunity. Even if you can’t solve a customer’s specific problem at the moment, you can still use the failed sales attempt as a learning opportunity for next time, or an investment toward future sales.

(3) Be Respectful

J.C. Penney, the founder of the retail giant, was so big on the importance of respecting customers that the company handed out golden rulers to management. That golden ruler was supposed to remind management about the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. Always treat customers, prospects and colleagues with respect, even if they don’t return the favor. It will pay off in the end.

(4) Be Assertive

Ask not, have not. If you don't ask for the sale, chances are pretty good that you won't get the sale. Sure, sometimes clients will take the bait, jump in the boat, sign on the dotted line (and other clichés). But you can’t count on making the sale without making the effort. Jack Canfield's book called "The Aladdin Factor" teaches you why you should ask once and then keep on asking. Never be afraid to ask for the sale. Ask when to followup. Ask, ask, ask. If there are objections, work to overcome them. And always, be on the hunt for the next deal.

(5) Be Empathetic

Look at each sales situation through customer-colored glasses. In other words, try to see things through the eyes of your customers. By adopting the customers' points of view, you can empathize with their problems and challenges. You can also understand their hesitations and be prepared to help them see the value in what you are selling. Always ask yourself, “How will this purchase help my customer?”

(6) Be Optimistic

Sales can be a tough business. Virtually everyone hits a streak of dead ends, at some point. Like they say, it’s a numbers game. Yet, the best salespeople and best sales managers remain optimistic. Keep a can-do attitude, view each problem as an opportunity, and you are more likely to find creative solutions to close that next deal.

(7) Be Competitive

True competitors set goals -- goals that are attainable and at the same time goals that stretch them personally and professionally. Successful competitors not only compete against corporate goals and other sales reps, they compete against themselves. Month after month, they try to beat their last sales numbers. Be your own toughest competitor, set goals higher than others set for you, and always strive for your best month ever.

(8) Be Charismatic and Self-Confident

Some folks have natural charisma, others have to work at it. But you can build your self-confidence by knowing your product, knowing your customers, and knowing your strengths. So far as charisma, giving service with a smile and showing enthusiasm takes you a long way.

(9) Follow Through

Follow up and follow through -- these are two of the earmarks of successful sales reps. If you don’t follow up, you could very well lose the sale to the next guy who comes along with the right pitch, at the right time. Always follow up, focusing on customer satisfaction and what's important to your customers and prospects.

(10) Show Integrity

Without your integrity, you have nothing. Although everyone make mistakes at times, and some things are beyond your control -- like a shipper who dropped the ball on an overnight mailer -- do your best to deliver what you promised, and then some. Over-deliver whenever you can and show your customers you have their best interest top-of-mind.

(11) Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Focus on what's important, building your business one customer at a time, not just making a sale. A sale puts money in your pocket today. But a relationship can put money in your pocket for years to come.

(12) Be Self-Aware and Self-Reliant

If you lose a sale, critique yourself: Where was your presentation weak? How could you have better prepared for the client meeting? When sales are slow, don’t blame the economy. Others are succeeding in the same economy, and so can you. Change what you need to change in order to succeed.

(13) Be Grateful

Always have a grateful attitude. You’d be surprised at how this affects everything else you do. Be grateful you have a job. Be grateful you have customers. Be grateful for their business. Be grateful for the help you get from your staff and all who offer their support.

(14) Be Fanatical about Great Customer Service

I’ll say it again: be fanatical about great customer service. Customer service helps drive customer loyalty. And that old adage that says, "it's easier to keep a customer than to find a new one" really is true. Remember happy customers lead to repeat business and referrals -- the true key ongoing success.

(15) Build Strong Relationships

Last but not least, remember the difference between a contact and a contract is the "R" that stands for "relationship." Work on building relationships as much as you work on building your sales, and in the end, you’ll build both.

Quick Recap: The 15 Traits of Great Salespeople

  • Be a Good Listener
  • Be a Problem Solver
  • Be Respectful
  • Be Assertive
  • Be Empathetic
  • Be Optimistic
  • Be Competitive
  • Be Charismatic and Self-Confident
  • Follow Through
  • Show Integrity
  • Keep Your Eye on the Prize
  • Be Self-Aware and Self-Reliant
  • Be Grateful
  • Be Fanatical about Great Customer Service
  • Build Strong Relationships

The Bottom Line

For some people who are naturally gifted salespeople and experienced sales managers, this list of 15 traits should sound very familiar.

Indeed, many of these traits come quite naturally. But for most of us, these are skills that need to be practiced and cultivated over time. The good news? It's not rocket science... just common sense for making a personal connection with your prospects and customers, and focusing on providing great service, each and every time.

Tell Us What You Think


Posted: 2013-11-15 @ 2:14pm PT
It's also important for managers to keep in mind that it takes time for a new hire to settle into the position. According to Hireology CEO Adam Robinson, it takes approximately six months for a B2B salesperson to become effective in a role.

Matt Rogers:
Posted: 2013-10-16 @ 1:48am PT
This is a good list, I've read a lot on sales tactics, and this list summarises the key points well.
Something else to consider is researching your customer to find out about their interests and passions. This is a point suggested by Harvey McKay in his book 'How to Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive'. If you're interested, a summary of the book can be found here
Thanks for the article!

Linda Day Harrison/theBro:
Posted: 2013-10-10 @ 8:04am PT
This is a great list to share with all of your brokers, leasing agents and managers of commercial real estate. Customer service is vital in our industry and ties directly to sales, marketing and leasing of our property. Great article!

Posted: 2013-10-09 @ 5:43pm PT
All good points and I'd also suggest:

Be Your Customers' Advocate...

Be the eyes and ears for management, listening to the voice of the customer, sharing feedback with management about the customer experience. As a sales rep, or service rep, you're closest to the customer, out there on the front lines. It's up to you to ensure a great customer experience and to bring back business intelligence to corporate, to continually improve your company's offerings.

Sharon S.:
Posted: 2013-10-09 @ 5:30pm PT
Great list. I've been managing sales for 18 years and this is one of the best articles I've seen for sales managers, as well as sales reps. I'm definitely going to share this with my team.

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