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The 7 Personality Traits All Great Salespeople Have

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What makes a great salesperson? Are some sellers blessed with supernatural selling abilities, and destined to close more deals than you and I could ever dream of? Or are there specific sales personality traits that can be intentionally developed to boost your luck in selling?

As you’ve probably already guessed, we believe it’s the latter. Since selling is an interpersonal sport, cultivating a good sales personality is crucial to impressing your prospects and overcoming your own self-imposed roadblocks and doubts.

In this article, we’ll share the seven personality traits of great salespeople and how you can acquire them to become more successful. Let’s take a look at each one individually to learn more about why they’re so vital in sales.

What is a sales personality?

A sales personality is a collection of traits that are beneficial for a high-pressure sales job. When someone has a sales personality, that means they’ll generally gravitate towards a job in sales, or at least a job that allows them to use their sales-worthy gifts to their advantage. 

It’s tempting to assume that ‘sales personality = life of the party,’ and there are certainly many extroverts among successful salespeople. But being an extrovert doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do well in sales. The sales personality traits of top salespeople go deeper than being outgoing or shy – they’re traits that can be developed over time, and they can help you in all aspects of your life if you take the time to master them.

A quick note on personality traits

Before we dive in, we want to take a moment to reassure you: If you’re at the beginning of your sales career, or you’ve been at it a while but haven’t had as much success as you’d like, you might just be missing a few of the personality traits listed below. And that’s OK!

The great thing about personality traits is that they can be developed. While you might not naturally be optimistic or thick-skinned, for example, you can become that way if you set your mind to it.

We encourage you to read through the list of seven sales personality traits below with an open mind. Be honest about which ones you possess and which ones you don’t. Then, commit to acquiring any and all traits that you’re currently lacking.

Do this, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a top salesperson at your company!

The top 7 personality traits of great sellers

Based on what we’ve witnessed in high-performing sales representatives, we’ve listed the top seven personality traits that will help you become a great seller.

1. Optimism

The best sellers always believe they can make the sale. In other words, they’re eternally optimistic and positive in regard to their selling abilities. This is important because, as Digital Media Motion CEO Michael DellaVecchia says, “Optimism leads to enthusiasm, and enthusiasm sells!”

Sellers get told “no” quite often, which can be very demoralizing. But optimistic sellers understand two things:

  1. There are plenty of other fish in the sea. For every prospect that declines to buy your product, there’s another sale (or 10 more sales) waiting just around the corner.
  2. “No” doesn’t necessarily mean “No, forever.” Your prospect might come around in another week, month, or year, perhaps after having a negative experience with one of your competitors or just when the timing is better for them.

Optimism means seeing disappointing results not as failures but as learning opportunities and using these opportunities to become a better seller in the future.

2. Thick skin

Thick skin goes hand-in-hand with optimism. But this personality trait is less about having a perpetually sunny disposition and more about letting setbacks roll off your back without taking them personally.

As we just mentioned, salespeople hear “no” more often than people in other professions. Without thick skin, this continual rejection will start to weigh on you, and it’s easy to become discouraged, cynical, callous towards your buyers, or even depressed.

“Even the most successful salespeople face rejections, but the trick lies in resilience,” says Mayank Kumar, the Manager of Marketing and Partnerships at QuickEmailVerification. “So keep following up.”

Great sellers realize that failed sales pitches are just part of the game. They don’t take them personally. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t feel disappointment when a deal falls through. In fact, you should feel disappointed. It shows you care about your job and are passionate about the work you do. But you can’t let this disappointment slow you down.

Do what you can to develop a thick skin. It will make your life as a salesperson much more enjoyable and help you sell more effectively, guaranteed.

3. Creativity

Creativity is a trait more often associated with marketing than sales. After all, it’s marketing teams that come up with catchy slogans, slick ad copy, and in-depth promotional campaigns. 

But the truth is, a creative mind is just as necessary in sales, and the best sellers can go toe-to-toe with any marketing professional in the creativity department.

To sell effectively, you need to look at situations a little differently than most people. You need to be able to assess a prospect’s needs and offer them solutions that solve their challenges—solutions that might not be apparent at first blush. This requires creativity.

If you can consistently come up with creative ways to solve your prospects’ problems, you’ll never miss your sales quotas again.


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4. Empathy

While each of the personality traits on this list is important, empathy might win the prize for most valuable when it comes to selling. Those who can put themselves in their prospect’s shoes and understand their pain points almost always sell more than those who can’t.

But before we talk any more about empathy, we should discuss how it differs from sympathy.

According to Merriam-Webster, sympathy is the act of sharing the feelings of another. When they hurt, you hurt. Empathy, on the other hand, is the act of understanding another person’s feelings. You don’t have to share their feelings to empathize with them.

When you learn to empathize with your prospects, you’ll be able to adapt your selling approach to best suit their situation and provide solutions that truly solve the challenges they face.

But be warned, true empathy requires more than heavily rehearsed phrases. According to Jenna Weinerman, VP of Marketing at, good salespeople “display empathy for a prospect without specifically saying things like, ‘I hear you’ or ‘I understand where you’re coming from.’ Instead, they show that they actually understand by reflecting with the prospect on their desires, fears, and concerns.”

5. Strong work ethic

If you’re looking to skate by, do just enough work to avoid management’s ire, and never really apply yourself, sales is NOT the right profession for you. Great sellers put in the effort.

In order to close deals—especially for higher-ticket items—you need to know your products like the back of your hand, understand your prospect’s needs like they’re your own, and have a strong feel for the general market.

All of this requires research, which takes time and effort to conduct. That’s why Jason Power, the owner and managing director at The Hearing Clinic, says:

It’s hard not to mention time management skills when discussing a strong work ethic, particularly in sales. When working in sales, tasks pile up quickly, and things move faster than you can imagine, leaving you with minimal room for error.”

So decide, right here and now, if you’re willing to put the effort in to become a great salesperson. If the answer is yes, work to hone your time management skills to keep up with the many demands of selling products and/or services for a living.

6. Goal-orientedness

Do you have goals that you’re trying to reach as a salesperson? The top sellers always do. We’re not talking about vague objectives here. We’re talking about precise, detailed targets that the best salespeople use to keep themselves accountable.

The goals you set for yourself should be S.M.A.R.T., which stands for:

  • Specific: The more specific your goals are, the better. Instead of saying “I want to boost my sales numbers,” say “I want to boost my sales numbers by 20%.”
  • Measurable: Your goals should be measurable. That way, you can assess whether or not you’re on track to achieve them.
  • Attainable: We suggest setting ambitious goals. But don’t take things too far and try to accomplish unrealistic objectives. This will just set you up for disappointment.
  • Relevant: Don’t choose your goals at random. Aim for things that will actually benefit your company and your personal sales career.
  • Time-Bound: Every goal deserves a deadline. Returning to the example above, say something like, “I want to boost my sales numbers by 20% by December 31st, 2020.”

Fortunately, goal-orientedness is one of the easiest personality traits to acquire. Simply make time every week to set and assess your goals as they pertain to your career as a salesperson. Just remember that the goals themselves won’t get you across the finish line. As WESFED owner Wes Foster says, “Having sales goals is important, but not as important as having the drive to meet the goals.” 

7. Self-awareness

How well do you know yourself? Why do you react to certain situations the way you do? Do you know what your personal strengths and weaknesses are?

The top sellers are self-aware. They can look at themselves, see what they excel at and what they need to improve upon, and make the necessary changes. This is not a common trait—it takes humility to possess.

The good news is, if you’re reading this article, you probably already realize that you’re not as good of a seller as you could be. Which means you are more self-aware than most!

Assessing your sales personality

Let’s do a quick assessment of your sales personality traits as they are now (while also cultivating self-awareness!)

There are a few ways to get an objective view of your personality and how well you embody the seven personality traits we mentioned. 

In fact, to get a complete picture, we recommend you do as much as you can and, ideally, all of the following:

  • Take a moment when you are most relaxed (perhaps before bed) to assess yourself and how you’d score yourself on each sales personality trait – take note of what you find out about yourself.
  • Ask your close friends and family about how you embody each of the seven traits.
  • You also want to get a view of how you come across in a work setting. Ask your colleagues to let you know if you display the personality traits of a good salesperson. You could ask them to anonymously send you their thoughts if you’re worried they’ll filter their opinion because they’re in the office.
  • As a supplement to your self-assessment, you could take a trusted personality test. There are many different flavors of tests to choose from. Some good ones to start out with include the Big Five personality test, a character strengths test from VIA Institute, and an MBTI personality test.

Don’t be discouraged if your results are less than ideal. What these results will provide you is a starting point–a foundation upon which you can build a plan. 

Look at the personality traits you currently have that help you. Then, reflect on and commit to working on the skills you don’t currently have. If you do, you’ll greatly improve your selling abilities.

Become the best seller you can be: Strategies to develop your sales personality traits

Sales isn’t a mysterious profession that only a chosen few can do well. If you can acquire the seven personality traits listed in this article, you, too, can become a great salesperson. The only question is, are you willing to do what it takes to be great?

If your answer is “yes,” then do what you can to boost your capacity for:

  1. Optimism
  2. Thick skin
  3. Creativity
  4. Empathy
  5. Strong work ethic
  6. Goal-orientedness
  7. Self-awareness

Need some ideas on where to start? Here are some strategies for getting you started on building these sales personality traits:

  • Optimism: Keep a daily gratitude journal in which you record at least three things that went well in your day or things you’re grateful for.
  • Thick skin: Pursue uncomfortable experiences. Your capacity for discomfort might be small at first, so even saying hi to a stranger or simply raising your hand in a meeting can make you cringe. Try committing to doing one uncomfortable thing at work or in your personal life once a week or once a day.
  • Creativity: There are countless ways to develop creativity, as there are countless types of creativity. A good exercise to get started is brainstorming. Try thinking of multiple ways to solve a current problem you have – get as out-of-the-box and ridiculous as possible.
  • Empathy: Next time someone comes to you with a problem, you may be tempted to offer a solution. Before you do that, do your best to identify what they may be feeling and put it into words to relate to them. You can also do this exercise with yourself through journaling.
  • Strong Work Ethic: Keep a to-do list that focuses on your most important daily tasks and aim to complete the tasks before the end of the day. As for how many items to include on your list, the sweet spot is between three and five major items (tasks that will take you at least 1 hour to complete). A small handful of tasks lets you focus on what goals are really important to you.
  • Goal-orientedness: Keep a weekly, monthly, or quarterly list of SMART goals to refer to every day and work towards in your professional and personal life.
  • Self-awareness: Luckily, by reading and following this article, you’re already building your self-awareness skills. Mindful meditation is a good habit to adopt to improve this skill even more.

We hope these strategies sparked some ideas for you to cultivate the traits of great salespeople. Remember to start small and focus on one skill at a time instead of overwhelming yourself with multiple new goals.

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Looking for another way to up your sales game? Start a free trial of Nutshell today. Our CRM software is flexible, powerful, and loved by thousands of sales and marketing teams worldwide. No matter how you sell, Nutshell’s sales automation and pipeline management features will help you close more deals in less time.


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