What makes a successful salesperson? Sales is perhaps the most popular occupation there is, with over 4.5 million salespeople in the US alone. Yet few people really know what it’s all about. Most of us would probably just say ‘selling’, let alone know what it takes to succeed in a sales career.
But what does being good in sales actually mean? Nevermind the vague answers about ‘feeling it’ or ‘getting to it’. In this article, we will discuss the top 5 personality traits required to succeed in a sales job. So if you’re pursuing a career in sales, seeking to enhance your current sales performance, or just curious, read on.
What do salespeople do?
Salespeople are more commonly known as sales representatives (reps) or may take other titles such as business development, account manager, and the like. These titles also give a clue about what they do.
Expectations vs. Reality
Of course, they sell. Selling itself involves attracting attention and convincing people to decide on a purchase. But beyond that, the job involves generating leads, evaluating those leads for the most promising ones, and managing customer relationships so they stay loyal and make repeat purchases.
Sales jobs involve more than just sales.
That was not yet taking into consideration the work environment. Sales jobs are very demanding on meeting the quota with a deadline, often facing difficult customers and rough rejections, and competing to reach targets.
Obviously, a position in sales (that people sometimes take for granted) demand not only specific skills and abilities, but also a set of personality traits that are required in order for salespeople to perform well and succeed.
What are traits?
Traits are aspects of your personality and abilities that represent the potential to perform well in a job. Think of traits like soft skills, but instead of only abilities, traits also include elements of your personality.
And like soft skills, there are also specific traits that a person must possess in order to succeed in sales jobs. At Dreamtalent, we have identified such traits from the profiles of people who are already successful salespeople and our own research in the field. So without further ado, here are 5 of the traits that make a good salesperson.
Top 5 traits of successful salespeople
1. Achievement Motivation
Are you motivated by achievement? If you’re a high-performing salesperson, then you probably are! Achievement Motivation is the drive to achieve excellence in everything they do and the motivation to give only the best results; simply put, the need for success. Someone with this trait would always strive to go above and beyond the expectations and continuously set higher standards for themselves.
This is especially useful and necessary in sales jobs where everything is very target-driven and results-oriented. Salespeople have their monthly target or quota set for them, that is to close a certain amount of sales before the deadline. These targets must be met or there will be serious consequences, such as cut pay. Hence without Achievement Motivation, one wouldn’t be able to survive the sales life, or they would be pretty miserable. But with Achievement Motivation, a good salesperson would be in their element.
This trait is closely linked to some work values which are also held by successful salespeople. They value Recognition in their careers, which are intrinsic rewards that shows their work is appreciated, such as employee of the month awards. The other thing they value is Compensation, which are material (cash) rewards such as commissions and bonuses for going beyond the sales quota. These work values explain the characteristics of people that have the Achievement Motivation trait in sales.
2. Interpersonal Skills
This one is probably the most popular answer for the ideal trait for sales, and with good reason. Sales is a career that deals primarily with people, from start to end, as a means and an end. In many cases, customer loyalty to a brand is heavily reliant on their relationship with a specific salesperson. Therefore, professionals in sales rely on Interpersonal skills in order to successfully perform their job.
Interpersonal Skills refer to the ability to communicate effectively and form relationships. Practically, this trait includes things like talking and listening clearly, not being awkward around people, as well as regulating one’s emotions to fit the situation and hold back temper when facing difficult people.
This trait is necessary especially for the early stages of the sales process: getting people’s attention. Salespeople don’t only need to communicate effectively, but also to be interesting and to earn the trust of customers. For example, knowing and using body language properly, understanding the context of the situation or conversation, knowing when to press for the sale or when to back up.
Ultimately, Interpersonal Skills are vital for forming and maintaining relationships with customers. As explained, the highly prized repeat customers mostly rely on the rapport that a specific sales rep has built with them. After all, relationships are the defining aspect of what sales is all about.
3. Proactive Behavior
This trait is defined as the tendency to take initiative independently and the desire to make a significant contribution without having to be told first. When approaching potential customers, sales reps must be the initiator of conversations and be the one creating interests for their products.
In the fast-paced and highly competitive sales environment, you can’t afford to wait around and be told what to do. You must be willing to seize the opportunity lest the moment passes by or someone else took it from you.
Proactive Behavior also includes going the extra mile in order to secure a deal, especially in high-profile sales, such as taking clients out to dinner or answering their questions on a weekend night. Nobody told you to do it, but it’s up to you to make the extra effort in order to close a sale.
4. Service Orientation
A popular school of thought in sales is that good sales does not seek to get people’s money, but to provide a solution to customers’ problems. With the increased focus on the well-being of customers, instead of just profits, the Service Orientation trait would come in handy for salespersons.
As its name suggests, this trait is about how effective someone would be in a service role. Now that sales focuses more on the customer’s needs, this trait has gained more relevance in the field. One aspect in particular is sought out in salespeople: empathy.
Sales focuses on providing solutions to people, not just getting their money.
Service Orientation involves the motivation to help people out and solve their problems. But how can you help someone if you can’t tell what they need? This is where empathy comes in. Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings and viewpoints of other people. By being able to put yourself in the shoes of your customers, you can learn what problems they have that your product can help. And with Service Orientation, you will have the motivation to help them overcome this problem. Customers would of course prefer this more ‘caring’ approach rather than a hard sell, and would be more open to your offers.
5. Teamwork & Collaboration
We’ve hinted that the environment in sales is a competitive one. There are only so many leads available and only a meagre percentage would actually end up in a purchase, so you’ll have to fight to fill your quota before other people snatch those leads from you. Straightforward enough, right?
But there’s a catch: salespeople usually work in teams. The sales team should work together to reach the quota for their branch, for example, but the individual salesperson must also fill their own quota — not to mention the juicy bonus for going beyond the target. What happens when your competition is also a teammate you’re close with? How can one possibly balance competition and collaboration in a tight environment like sales?
Teamwork & Collaboration represents how well one works together with other people in a team to strive towards a common goal. This trait includes conflict resolution, communication, and being responsible, among other things. The sales position is competitive, of course, and it’s not uncommon that companies encourage competition among its employees even in other departments. This trait, however, ensures that competition stays healthy and mutually motivating, and not turn into a sour hostility full of unfair practices that would be disastrous for both employees and company.
Would you make a good salesperson?
Those are only 5 of the traits that are required to succeed in a sales career. Having a job fit also depends on personality, intelligence, working style, and many more. Would you make a good salesperson? Would you be happy working in it, or would you prefer another line of career? Find out with Dreamtalent today and discover what’s the right career for you.