The 8 Key Character Traits of Top Sales Pros

Earlier this week I posted a list of “The Greatest Salesmen of All Time“. With that in mind, I thought it might be worthwhile to list out the character traits that I see consistently, not just in those individuals, but in nearly top sales professional that I’ve met.

According to two of my favorite experts (see below), there are eight:

  1. Goal clarity. Top sales pros have clear, specific, written-down statements of what they want to achieve.
  2. Follow-through. Top sales pros do whatever is necessary to make the deal happen and keep the customer happy.
  3. Self Awareness. Top sales pros have the ability to understand and control their own emotions, regardless of what happens.
  4. Social Ability. Top sales pros can achieve rapport and develop long term relationships with wide variety of people.
  5. Optimism. Top sales pros tend to look at the world in terms of possibilities and opportunities, not dangers and risks.
  6. Problem-solving. Top sales pros love the challenge of discovering new problems and solving them.
  7. Competitiveness. Top sales pros get excited and motivated when they’re confronted with a worthy competitor.
  8. Perspective. Top sales pros know that success in life isn’t the money you make, but the relationships you build.

Please note that some of these characteristics are personality traits — either you have them or you don’t. But all of them can be developed and grown from even relatively unpromising seeds.

Beyond these character traits, there are the sales skills, like presenting, closing, prospecting, competitive positioning, qualifying, planning, managing resources, objection management, listening, and so forth. These, of course, can be taught to anyone.

The list above combines perspectives from Ron Willingham, bestselling author of The Inner Game of Selling, and our good friendDave Stein, the world’s top expert on sales training. Both very smart guys.

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