Whether it is pitching a startup to investors or selling cars at a dealership, successful salespeople are vital to all business ventures. But as many who have tried their hand at sales can attest, not everyone is cut out for this line of work.
Identifying the core characteristics required for sales success can help you determine if you have what it takes for a career in sales. It also can help business owners identify and hire sales candidates that will be best for their bottom line.
Business News Daily spoke with business leaders to discover the traits that the most effective and productive salespeople share. [See Related Story: 4 Keys to a Successful Sales Pitch]
1. They care about customer's interests.
"Your customers want to know you ... understand their challenges, dreams and goals, and have carefully considered why your solution makes sense. And, they want to be sure you have their best interests at heart. They have to be sure you care [more] about their mission and the greater good, than your numbers." – Karin Hurt, founder, Let's Grow Leaders
2. They're confident.
"If you don't believe in your product, you aren't going to make a customer believe in your product. If you can confidently explain how your product or service is going to solve a problem for the customer, then you've got the customer in the palm of your hand." – Megan Ingenbrandt, social media assistant, General Floor
3. They're always on.
"A good salesperson ... is always aware of her circumstances and surroundings, can see how her product or service might positively impact her environment, and will be prepared to present and make a sale at any moment." – Judy Crockett, retail management consultant and owner, Interactive Marketing & Communication
4. They're subtle.
"Great salespeople never look like they are selling anything. They are educating, instilling faith and confidence. They are quietly and invisibly demonstrating why customers should believe in them and, in turn, buy from them." – Mark Stevens, CEO, MSCO
5. They're resilient.
"Top sales achievers have a unique ability to cope with difficulty, to negotiate obstacles, to optimize performance in the face of adversity. They take rejection as a personal challenge to succeed with the next customer." – Jim Steele, president and chief revenue officer, InsideSales.com
6. They're extroverted.
"An extrovert is generally sociable, gets energized by spending time with other people, likes to talk and start conversations and makes friends easily. They also tend to have many interests. This allows a salesperson to be willing to meet people, enjoy the interaction, and talk about many things. The more subjects they can converse about, the better they're able to connect with the customer." – Dominick Hankle, Ph.D. and associate professor of psychology, Regent University
7. They're good listeners.
"You have to listen to the customer's pain point before you start selling your product or service. Great sales people sell solutions to problems and they do that by understanding and listening to the customer." – Timothy Tolan, CEO and managing partner, The Tolan Group (Sanford Rose Associates)
8. They're multitaskers.
"Multitasking is just a natural occurrence in any sales environment. You have sales you're trying to close, leads you're nurturing and following up on, and potential leads calling or emailing for more information. A great multitasker can keep everything sorted, conducting multiple trains on a one-train track, and this leads to efficiency, which in turn leads to better performance." – Coco Quillen, vice president of operations, Davinci Virtual Office Solutions
9. They provide insight.
"In today's marketplace, most customers are much better informed and educated before reaching out to a vendor. Simply providing specs and product data isn't enough. A sales professional with a consultative mindset identifies customer needs and seeks to tailor custom solutions that fit those needs." – Rudy Joggerst, digital marketing manager, Janek Performance Group
10. They're persistent.
"Persistence, when done respectfully and consistently, breaks through. It reminds [customers] that you are there with a solution to their problems. It gives them multiple chances to connect. And, though it may take half a dozen times to get a response, land that meeting or open a discussion, they will thank you in the end." – Michael Mehlberg, co-founder, Modern da Vinci
11. They're honest.
"A successful salesperson will not fib to close a deal because he or she knows that you've not only burned that bridge, but all of the potential other bridges that lead from your contact to their contacts. Better to miss out on a deal and maintain your honesty, integrity and network." – Ollie Smith, CEO, Expertsure.com
12. They're focused.
"The reps that achieve the best numbers quarter after quarter all have one thing in common: focus. They don't get distracted by instant messenger or email, and they aren't worried about office gossip. They understand what they need to do to be successful and set goals for themselves to achieve that success. They act with purpose in their day-to-day and apply deep focus to all aspects of their work." – John-Henry Scherck, growth marketing manager, DocSend
13. They're optimistic and upbeat.
"Top salespeople ... tend to be upbeat, and radiate a sense of humor, fun and general positivity. While grounded in reality, they focus on what they can control, stay on course with optimism about what they can achieve, and [don't] let the rest drag them down." – Mike Kunkle, senior director of sales enablement, Brainshark Inc.
14. They have a broad worldview and cultural understanding.
"Timing, decision criteria, financial justifications, formality and even the expectations for support during and after a transaction may be quite different [in other markets], so international sales success takes empathy as well as patience. Additionally, in many markets around the world business is based on relationships, which takes longer to develop when working with international customers." Ed Marsh, exporting adviser to American Express and founder of Consilium Global Business Advisors
Additional reporting by Brittney Morgan (Helmrich). Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.