Top 5 Characteristics of Successful Salespeople

4 Mar 15

There are five consistent characteristics of successful salespeople. In this post we will look at each one of these characteristics in more detail.


Whether you’re a sales manager looking to hire a great salesperson or a good salesperson looking to get better, recognizing the traits top salespeople have in common will help you get better results.

In general, traits are attributes that you have, or that you have a predisposition for. However, most of these traits can be cultivated or improved upon. I’ve found five consistent characteristics of successful salespeople. Let’s look at each one of these essential traits in more detail.


#1 High Emotional Intelligence

The first trait, high Emotional intelligence (known as EQ) is easier to refine if you have it and a little more challenging to cultivate if it is low. Your EQ is your ability to know your behaviors and tendencies and know how they will/are impacting those that you interact with. Furthermore, high EQ means that you can adapt your behaviors for the most successful outcome.

While a great deal of research tells us that EQ is increasingly important in the workplace and for leaders, it is also crucial for an effective salesperson. High EQ enables you to pick up on cues, adapt to people and situations, and has a stronger impact in selling than many other traits.


#2 High Level of Organization

No matter how effective your sales skills are, being organized is the only way to juggle all the balls in the air that you must prioritize as a salesperson. There are prospects that need regular contact if they are ever to convert to clients, potential clients in various stages of their sales process, and existing clients that still need to know they are a priority. Add to that administration, scheduling and meetings with managers, training, and other corporate requirements. Having your days and your accounts well organized is crucial to sales success.


#3 Self-Motivation

This is ‘fire in the belly’ combined with self-discipline. It takes a highly motivated person to get up every morning and start making calls, planning, and organizing their day without anyone looking over their shoulder. And yet the road to sales success requires just that: the discipline to execute a well-organized plan. Many salespeople work from home and the home environment is rife with the opportunity for distractions. The most successful salespeople possess self-motivation that keeps them on track.


#4 Resilience

Resilience is another trait that a great salesperson must-have. The ability to bounce back (and quickly) when things don’t go as you had hoped to ensure consistent sales results. The Harvard Business Review cited resilience as the number one characteristic of a great salesperson. Sales are full of ups and downs. The salesperson that can bounce back will see success more consistently.


#5 Desire to Improve

The final trait is the desire to improve their craft. The best salespeople I know are continually working to get a little better. They possess a certain humility that, while they know they are really good, they are always open to getting a little better, refining what they do or know, and actively seeking ways to get more efficient.

This list identifies traits that can’t be taught but can be cultivated and improved upon. If you’re hiring salespeople, use behavioral-based interviewing to get a feel for these traits. If you’re a salesperson that wants to get a little better, congratulations! You’re showing that you possess trait number 5. Review the rest of the list and see where you might improve.


Sales Training Research Report by Sales Readiness Group


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