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Characteristics of Successful Salespeople

TargetBecause we help companies hire salespeople and then provide them with sales training, we're frequently asked what makes a person successful at sales? It's a complicated question without an easy answer. However, we feel qualified to respond because we work with thousands of successful salespeople every year. Based on our research, we see some common themes emerge:

  • Successful Salespeople exhibit a thirst for knowledge. They have a natural curiosity.
  • Successful Salespeople expect a return on their investment of time, energy, and resources. This is a nice way to say they're driven to earn a commission. They also strive to deliver a return to their customers and prospects for their investments.
  • Successful Salespeople have the confidence to fight for their prospects and customers. They don't tend to get "rolled over" by internal or external customers.
  • Successful Salespeople are coachable. They're confident, not arrogant.
  • Successful Salespeople have a sense of urgency. They work hard to meet client expectations as they relate to deadlines.
  • Successful Salespeople are friendly and people-oriented. They're easy to like and that leads to something far more important: Trust.
  • Successful Salespeople are personally accountable. They admit when they make mistakes. And they correct them. They don't point fingers or cast blame.
  • Successful Salespeople are professional. They understand that they must meet (even exceed) expectations. They don't take themselves too seriously, but they always take what they do seriously.
  • Successful Salespeople use Apple computers. Okay, that's not necessarily true.

It's critical to point out that every sales environment is unique and we believe that anyone has the capacity to succeed in sales. However, our experience shows us that those salespeople who have the characteristics above are most likely to be successful. Notice that none of these characteristics have anything to do with "Prior Experience in the [Whatever-it-is-you-do] Industry." That's because experience isn't as important as these soft skills. For example, a salesperson with a thirst for knowledge can sell just about anything. If they're willing to learn, they can gain the required product knowledge, understand market characteristics, etc. On the other hand, if they...

  1. Have 20 years of industry-relevant experience, but
  2. Don't fit your sales environment or
  3. Are without those soft skills...

...they will fail. @JebBrooks