Common Characteristics Great Salespeople Share

The best and the brightest sales professionals have common characteristics and personality traits. Let's review a few of these traits in this article.


Self-image problems will make your salespeople inefficient and cause them to steal from themselves and you. Some of these problems include:

  1. Salespeople who try to steal from their clients. If a salesperson's self-image is low, he or she will try to steal from clients because the person thinks of them as ignorant or foolish, the same characteristics assigned to himself or herself.
  2. The salesperson who is a snob to the client from whom he or she is trying to steal. If the salesperson suffers from a terrible self-image, that will be demonstrated by treating your clients as less than human.
  3. Salespeople who do not produce at their best level suffer from low self-image. These persons might steal from the company, the client, and themselves because they are underachievers.
To recruit the best and the brightest, you will want to check on both the salesperson's reputation and level of productivity. The productivity level of the sales representative tells the potential employer how strong that person's self-image is on a regular basis. The more stable the salesperson, the better the sales productivity. If you inadvertently hire a salesperson with a problematic self-image or low self-image, you will want to direct the person to some type of counseling or community support program. If the self-image is not repaired, it will cost your company in productivity and sales.
Relationship with Others
The best and the brightest salespeople are those who have invested in themselves by developing their people skills. These are the folks who have a large circle of friends and an active social life and are inclined to be the life of the party, or at least on the party list for every party. They get along very well with others and rarely tick off anyone. When you talk to their longtime friends, and they have a handful of them, those friends will tell you that they are fun, easy to get along with, and rarely argue.
Top salespeople are open, friendly, outgoing, and rarely meet a stranger. They spend time listening to others and drawing them out, even in their personal relationships. These are the qualities that make them excellent salespeople. You will notice when you talk with them that if they have a divorce or broken relationship, it is usually after a very long marriage and after exhausting every possibility for resolution. Top winners do not easily quit, are not easily discouraged, and do not wallow in self-pity. This does not mean they do not feel these things; it just means that this is not where "they live" between the ears, day after day.
Setting Goals and Reaching Them

It is estimated that people increase the probability of reaching their goals significantly if they write them down and place them in front of their face day after day. A top salesperson is someone who has realized the truth of the saying, "People do not plan to fail; they fail to plan." Top sellers plan, and part of their planning is setting personal goals.

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There is something psychological about writing the goal down and seeing it in front of your face day after day. Somehow it seeps into your brain like a nonverbal instruction. There is a biblical proverb that says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish," and another that says, "Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that reads it." The last quote gives further instruction to the reader, promising that if you write the vision and post it up, it will surely come to pass. Although these two examples are from the Bible, they lend the credence of time-tested wisdom, which is also taught today to the ambitious.

Top salespeople know that writing down goals and keeping them at the forefront helps achievement because they have studied and learned from people like Zig Ziglar, one of the world's best salespeople, or because they have studied a text or spiritual instruction that teaches this principle.

Do not expect your prospective salesperson to openly offer information to you about personal goals; but if you ask that person, you can expect him or her to give an affirming answer about taking an active role in setting those goals. The job candidate may offer to tell you where she or he posts those goals, but do not expect the person to tell you the details of those goals.

Attitude is closely tied to a person's spiritual disposition. The more positive a person's attitude, the more likely they are to personally know success. There is an old saying that says, "Your attitude determines your latitude." This has to do with not only how high you climb in the world, but also how much you will be entrusted with as a result of your attitude. You will notice an overwhelmingly positive attitude among top earners and top sellers. As a business owner, you cannot afford to discount a person with a sunny disposition and positive outlook on life because the true winners are few and far between and you will always want them on your team.
When my son was a toddler and learning to talk, I took special care to always praise him and to never talk badly about anyone in front of him. He is a very delightful boy today with the most positive disposition of anyone I know.

But, when he was toddling around our house, a relative visited and noticed my language with him. The relative made fun of my linguistic practice with my son commenting, "I don't want to say anything because it may not be P-O-S-I-T-I-V-E." He spelled the word positive as adults spell ugly words in front of small children to let me know that he resented my example to my son. But, the comment only highlighted his own bad attitude. In a similar way, the attitude of your prospective salesperson will show up in conversation at the interview.

You cannot and will not want to promote someone beyond what he can handle with excellence because your company will suffer. But someone who has a terrific attitude, especially in the face of adversity, is a treasure and a person you will trust enough to give a considerable amount of latitude and responsibility.

Work and Desire
In our current economic situation and under our new president, it is hard to write this section without seeming as if it is some type of political discourse. But I assure you, this is no commentary on what our president is currently doing to the practices of capitalism.

Having said that, the grandfather of sales, Zig Ziglar once wrote, "When you give a man a dole, you deny him of his dignity and when you deny him his dignity, you rob him of his destiny." We would all do well to think hard on this as we seek to reduce what we do each day and too quickly embrace the warm fuzzies of a government dole. In today's political climate, embracing Ziglar's notion may bring accusations of political opposition to the power party, or may bring accusation of racism. But Ziglar's words are pearls of wisdom for choosing the best and the brightest salespeople.