We all know the expression: “You’re not selling a product; you’re selling yourself.” It’s a sales adage so old that it veers on the edge of cliche — but that doesn’t make it any less true.
That’s why anybody who’s hiring sales representatives knows that the quality of the product or service being sold is just as important as the person who sells it. They understand that the mark of a successful salesperson lies in a skilled balance of habits, attitudes, and personal qualities that align to make them a star in their field.
During the interview and application process, there’s ample opportunity to gauge not only a person’s qualifications and expertise, but also their sense of style and the way they interact and engage with others and with the world. When it comes to sales, these traits can be just important as experience — if not more so.
Below are just seven of the traits hiring authorities look for when scoping out the best talent for their sales team:
1. A Positive Attitude
A positive outlook is an essential component of any successful salesperson’s personality. At the heart of every sales presentation lies the conviction that you can help make people’s lives easier or better. Top producers demonstrate that they have the empathy and insight to understand a prospective client’s problems as well as the ability to deliver a viable solution to those problems; this requires a fundamentally positive, forward-thinking way of framing the conversation. It all begins with the right attitude.
2. Being Quick on their Feet
Anybody can read a sales script, but top salespeople think quickly on their feet and adapt to unique or challenging situations. Improvisation is a necessary skill for new sales reps who may be tasked with difficult clients or handling unexpected objections. This isn’t just about being a fast talker: salespeople should be able to size up a scenario quickly, intuit what customers are looking for, and deliver new solutions that make sense. These skills can be developed with practice, but at a bare minimum, salespeople need to be comfortable with the likelihood that things may not go as planned, and they’ll have to roll with the punches.
3. A Realistic Perspective
Underneath the veneer of enthusiasm and resilience, salespeople need a hardened realistic perspective. Realism isn’t the same thing as pessimism, nor is it a pretext for lowering expectations; it simply means that a good sales rep should be intelligent and practical in determining how they pursue their goals, how to organize and strategize effectively, and how to make the most out of any given day. Optimism and passion are necessary traits, but the ability to see the big picture is essential to avoid getting blindsided.
If you don’t have a clear perception of yourself, how can you expect to understand your client’s needs and expectations? Self-awareness is a precursor to empathy, and unless you can grasp the challenges and pain a prospect is dealing with, you’ll never be able to truly connect with them.
Successful sales reps possess a hunger for information and a zeal for learning new things. Curiosity provokes questions to customers, which demonstrates interest. Genuinely demonstrating interest in other people’s lives is vital, as salespeople need to convey to clients and prospective clients that they not only understand, but are invested in, helping them reach their goals.
Persistence is one of the most essential components of a salesperson’s personality. It means understanding why a conversation always needs to end with scheduling a follow-up; it means being cognizant of the fact that “no” does not always mean “no,” but perhaps means “next time” or “not right now.” Basically, persistence comes down to knowing how to keep the conversation going — no matter what.
7. Calmness Under Pressure
In the sales game, sometimes things go south. A top sales rep will successfully exhibit patience and emotional control under pressure; this empowers them to keep their cool, and even thrive. They know that they can’t take failures personally or be disheartened by the loss of a sale, and they understand that the most important call is always the next one.