If you want to make it in sales, it's important to understand what personality traits successful salespeople have. It's not enough to know the basics of how to sell; you also need a deep understanding of your product, but especially the needs of your customers. Salespeople should be able to think on their feet, adapt quickly, and learn from their mistakes. They also need strong interpersonal skills to help customers feel comfortable with their purchasing decisions. This blog post will outline some key personality traits that are essential for success in sales.
What are some key personality traits that are essential for success in sales?
The art of the sell has been around as long as people have wanted or needed things. There have been several pioneers in sales that have made selling what it is today. Great salespeople are those who make an impact on the sales industry and whose strategies will endure for years.
Who are the greatest salespeople?
There are so many great ones out there, it would be impossible to list even a fraction of them—but to get you inspired, we want to name just a few of them. They are the ones who took risks and made mistakes, but despite the low points, they pushed forward to success. Here is a list of the top four who inspire us the most:
John Henry Patterson (born in 1844) was a pioneer of modern sales and direct marketing and a master of objection handling. Many of his sales models are still used today, such as the use of testimonials in sales pitches. Patterson included testimonials of satisfied customers in the mail he sent out to prospects, a definite game-changer for the company he sold for.
Mary Kay Ash (born in 1918), known as “the Queen of Sales,” said frequently that, in sales and life, one should “Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says ‘Make Me Feel Important.’” She founded the company Mary Kay cosmetics as a unique, multi-level marketing makeup company. Mary Kay is still a successful company today and a testament to the fact that a great sales model need never die.
David Ogilvy (born in 1911) commonly known for “the Ogilvy way of advertising,” was the master of the soft sell. The Ogilvy way states that a print ad must have at least one of the following: promise a benefit, deliver news, offer a service, quote a satisfied customer, recognize a problem, or tell a significant story. If this sounds at all familiar to you, it’s probably because this method of advertising is still used and encouraged today.
Napoleon Barragan (born 1943) didn’t shy away from using technological advancements to his advantage. It may be scary to try out new trends that seem to stray from successful known sales models, but it's important to find new ways to sell before your competitors do. In Barragan’s case, it was well worth the risk. As a mattress salesman, he bought the domain www.mattress.com long before his competitors even considered it, and he was certainly rewarded for it by becoming one of the most successful mattress sellers in the industry. It’s a good reminder for all salespeople to take advantage of emerging technologies!
What can we learn from them?
What can we learn from hearing these success stories? Try new things, challenge yourself, and don’t be afraid to stand out.
We were inspired by these sales legends’ stories, and hope that you can use their experiences to your own benefit. It’s important to remember that they didn’t start out successful. Many times, especially as they begin their careers, pioneers generate revolutionary ideas just to be heard and to stand out. For instance, Mary Kay was ultimately successful because she was frustrated that there wasn’t a place for her as a woman in the salesforce. That frustration is what drove her to make a place for herself by innovating her own sales model and strategy.
And she’s far from the only success story who had a humble beginning. Consider David Ogilvy, who originally started an advertising empire by selling cooking stoves door to door. He was so successful, the company asked him to write a sales manual to help the entire sales team learn to duplicate his efforts.
The age-old question: Are successful people born or made?
Were these entrepreneurs predisposed to becoming successful through their genetic makeup, or did it come through their environment? It might surprise you, but many studies show that genes play a large role in career choices. Studies were performed on twins, both identical and fraternal, to see what professional choices they made. They found four traits that are genetically inherited, namely:
- The likelihood of starting a business.
- The ability to identify new opportunities.
- The tendency to become self-employed.
- Being an extrovert.
While this has been shown time and time again in several different examples, there is a catch to these claims. If you don’t have the genetic makeup to start a business, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start your own business, or that it will fail. However, it also doesn’t mean you’ll find success just because you’re a genetic match either. Referring back to our sales masters, David Ogilvy’s father was a successful stockbroker, but John Patterson’s parents were farmers. We can assume that being a great salesperson wasn’t in Patterson’s DNA, but he still became one of the greats.
Essentially, entrepreneurs are born, but successful entrepreneurs are made. In fact, significant drive and practice supersede anything anyone is born with. Real-world experience and hard work are just as valuable as DNA. The bottom line is anyone can become a successful salesperson if they are committed to it.
Common Character Traits of Super Sellers
Knowing that commitment and desire (and sometimes genetics) are part of the equation that equals success, what are some of the other things to consider? We’ve found that for a lot of people in sales, it’s the intangible soft skills, or personality traits, that also reveal success. Here are some traits of successful sales team members to give you an idea of what we mean:
In a world where many people have preconceived notions of what it means to be successful, the best salespeople are anything but pushy and egotistical. 91% of them are humble folks who know that ostentatious behavior alienates more prospects than it wins over! As opposed to being at center stage during purchase decisions, top-level pros place technical counterparts in front of clients, so they can see how important these individuals really are. This way everyone gets recognition for their contributions.
This is the most important factor for being successful in sales. 85% of top-selling professionals have this personality type, which means they take their jobs very seriously and feel deeply responsible for the results. It’s especially important to have organizational skills, such as remembering small details and doing what you say you’re going to do when you said you’d do it. Be thoughtful of a client’s time, likes and dislikes, and things happening in their life. Try to remember what your prospects said in previous interactions.
Source: Harvard Business Review
Top performers have an achievement orientation, which is the trait of being fixated on achieving goals and continuously measuring their performance against high standards. These are people who work hard to prove they can hit their goals, but also exceed them. It's important for them to win a deal for the company and see these wins as steppingstones on their journey towards success! Being recognized for their wins is also very important for this personality type. Remember this when planning your meeting agendas—it will go a long way to recognize big or little achievements.
The high level of inquisitiveness among top salespeople is one reason why they have a strong presence during calls. In fact, 82% of the best marketers measured extremely high on this trait! Top-performing individuals are naturally more curious than their less accomplished peers; it shows in the ways they ask difficult questions and take an active approach when interacting with prospects or clients. This curiosity ensures they understand the whole picture and can fill in all the gaps for the prospect, making them confident in their final decision to purchase.
Lack of Gregariousness
Don't be too friendly--it could make you come off as a weak seller! One of the most surprising differences between top salespeople and those ranking in the bottom third is the top rank’s preference for companionship. The results show that above-average performers were 30% less gregarious than below-average ones. Dominance is an essential skill if you want to win over customers without their hesitation to follow your recommendations/advice. Do yourself a favor and don’t be overly friendly towards your prospects and clients, as this can lead to struggling in difficult face-to-face situations.
Lack of Discouragement
According to Steven W. Martin, “Less than 10 percent of top salespeople were classified as having high levels of discouragement and being frequently overwhelmed with sadness. Conversely, 90 percent were categorized as experiencing infrequent or only occasional sadness.”
He also states, “In casual surveys, I conducted throughout the years, I have found that a very high percentage of top performers played organized sports in high school. There seems to be a correlation between sports and sales success as top performers are able to handle emotional disappointments, bounce back from losses, and mentally prepare themselves for the next opportunity to compete.”
Source: Harvard Business Review
One of the key traits that top performers have in common is a high level of self-confidence. According to a survey, less than five percent of winning salespeople had low levels of self-confidence. This means they are comfortable speaking directly to one or more people, rather than being clumped into group communication.
The aggressiveness and bold confidence that come across from successful salespeople can be perceived as a positive trait if good results are delivered. Successful salespeople continue to fight against opposition despite any negative feedback they received along the journey.
How important are these traits?
It is a well-known fact that not all salespeople succeed. Different personalities can make one salesperson better suited for certain products or services than the other. Successful sellers often have traits like charm in common and are more likely to have good luck.
Conducting studies on this topic has led researchers to believe there may exist something special about true greats when coming up against competition from others. Namely, an innate ability for marketing oneself, which helps them gain advantages over less talented peers during negotiations. This gives these top performers much higher chances of success.
Source: Harvard Business Review
So, it could be argued that all you need to be a successful salesperson is the right tools, education, and propensity. But what are the right tools?
What kind of tools do stand-out salespeople NEED?
A salesperson should have applications and tools that enable them to find prospective leads and allow them to have tailored conversations with them. More importantly, these tools should carry some wow-factor helping the reps stand out among competitors. They include:
- CRM (customer relationship management) software: This software is used to keep track of your customers, whether it be tracking consumer trends or focusing on customer retention. The goal of a CRM is to drive growth and profit for your organization.
- Lead generation and sales prospecting tools: These tools usually enable you to capture and engage with your prospects. The goal of these tools is to give sales reps better insights into their opportunities and eliminate friction in the sales process. Saving time and never missing a beat with your prospects is a great way to stand out!
- Conferencing software: Thanks to the pandemic, we know the necessity of video conference software. Whether you’re meeting with customers, or with your sales team, this imperative tool allows your communication to cross geographical divides and foster more intimate conversations.
- Sales and marketing analytics: This software provides sales/marketing insights that help you understand how effective content, like PDFs, videos, and livestreams. Studies show marketing intelligence software can increase high-quality leads by 45%, which can improve sales and growth. The verbTEAMS admin portal was built just for this. It provides the data you need to make smarter decisions.
You don’t want to miss out on the boost each of these tools can give your sales team. verbTEAMS is the best way to wow your customers and close more deals.
Key takeaways: It’s not as easy as it sounds to be a great salesperson. There are many different skills and personality traits that influence your success as a salesperson. Some of these include modesty, being an overachiever, and curiosity. It’s important to practice consistency of these traits in all your prospecting. If you have some of these traits, are tenacious in your prospecting, and are brave enough to try new techniques, you will succeed in sales.
Interested in learning more? Schedule a demo today with verbTEAMS and see how our team can get your business on track!