There are no-brainer traits that every professional should have: being on time, making deadlines, dressing appropriately, and so on. But the active nature of sales requires some unique skills and abilities. Here’s a look at five traits every salesperson should have for a successful career in sales:
1. Assertiveness/confidence: Confidence is key when faced with making a cold call and presenting the right information in an upbeat manner. An assertive salesperson gets in front of decision-makers and puts them at ease during a sales pitch. Keep in mind that assertive doesn’t necessarily mean aggressive. As 360 Solutions, a business consulting company, explores on its website, an aggressive salesperson is likely to irritate a client rather than focusing on the client’s needs. “Assertive salespeople do not tell the customer what to do,” the 360 story says, “but rather they help lead them to an educated decision by providing them all the necessary facts.
2. Optimism: For an occupation that invites a fairly constant stream of rejection, it can be tough to say (or hear) “stay positive.” But a good salesperson should do just that. Colleen Stanley of Salesopedia likens pessimism to a virus. “It is a deadly virus when it hits a sales organization because emotions are contagious. … When people are in a certain mood, happy or depressed, that mood is often communicated to others.” Here are some of her recommendations to stay positive:
3. Passion: Believing in the product or service can go a long way in making a sale. As Paul Cherry, founder of Performance Based Results, explains, a passionate salesperson is eager and motivated. “This sales rep is a doer, not just a talker,” he says. “He doesn’t blame the economy, or competitors’ lower pricing, or waste time whining about possible weaknesses in his product compared to the competition. He’s got great ideas, and they’re measurable by the number and quality of his activities. Passionate salespeople create their own opportunities instead of waiting around for them.”
4. Modesty: Here’s one that bucks that old salesperson stereotype — the blustery, fast-talking braggart. Steve W. Martin, who teaches sales strategy at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, has studied personality traits among salespeople, and found that modesty was a crucial one. “The results suggest that ostentatious salespeople who are full of bravado alienate far more customers than they win over,” he wrote in a post for Harvard Business Review. Being more team-oriented, he says, instead of acting as the focal point, can make the difference in a sales call.
5. Accountability: When things go wrong, and we all know that they will, a good salesperson will tackle the issue and not try to deflect blame. A client (or a supervisor) won’t be impressed with a laundry list of “not-my-fault” excuses. As sales trainer Kelley Robertson says in a post for Future Simple’s Growth University, top salespeople “know that their actions alone will determine their results and they do what is necessary to achieve their goals. They never blame internal problems, the economy, tough competitors, or other factors if they fail to meet their sales quotas.” Even if it’s not your fault, own it. People will respect you for it. Anyway, when things are screwed up, fault isn’t as important as solutions. Be a solutions-oriented person and you’ll go far in every facet of life.