The 7 personality traits all great salespeople have

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Contributor, Sell to Win

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 personality traits that can be intentionally developed to boost your sales numbers?

As you’ve probably already guessed, we believe it’s the latter.

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.

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 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!

7 Personality Traits of Great Sellers

1. Optimism

The best sellers always believe they can make the sale. In other words, they’re eternally optimistic and positive in regards 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 or 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 looking at disappointing results not as failures, but as learning opportunities, then 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 perpetutally 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 are 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 Updater.com, good sales people “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 have the ability to 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!

As we encouraged you in a previous section, take a look at this list of personality traits of great salespeople and compare it to yourself. Then 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

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

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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