While it’s possible to learn certain skills on the job, most salespeople identified as high performers share several of the same personality traits. One of these is emotional awareness. A sales professional must read the tone of a prospect over the phone or from an email to gauge his or her true level of interest. This can be especially challenging, particularly without the benefit of visual cues. Reading these signals correctly allows the salesperson to know when to back off a bit and when to attempt to close the sale. Here are some other common personality traits of high sales performers:
- Driven to achieve: The desire to push themselves to exceed sales goals comes from within more often than externally. High achievers are never satisfied with the status quo. They continually push themselves to research new products, meet new prospects, and close sales.
- Knows how to build trust: People aren’t going to buy anything from someone they don’t trust. Successful people are friendly while remaining business-like. They give advice and make recommendations based on the prospect’s needs and not their own. This equates to a strong sense of integrity that others respect.
- Strong problem-solving skills: High-performing sales professionals don’t feel discouraged easily. They come up with several solutions to obstacles rather than feeling defeated by them. These people tend to have a positive outlook on their life outside of work as well.
- Self-aware: No salesperson can improve if he or she refuses to accept feedback and learn from mistakes. The best performers continually self-evaluate and plan for improvement. They also have a low fear of rejection and don’t feel self-conscious when making presentations.
Learned Skills of the Self-Made Successful Salesperson
Because a sales professional cannot possess all the inborn traits to be successful, he or she must be committed to learning the inner workings of the trade. Language specialization is just one example of this. Those who go on to achieve a high measure of success memorize their product’s features and the benefits it can offer a prospect. They are also proficient in the technical language of the business sector they serve, such as industry abbreviations, specialty terms, and acronyms. An added benefit of language specialization is gaining the prospect’s trust.
Political acumen is another skill that most salespeople learn as they go along. This doesn’t mean knowing the prospect’s political beliefs. Instead, it involves the ability to accurately determine the motivations and influence of each decision-maker. Having intimate knowledge of what drives his or her purchasing behavior is instrumental in closing the deal.
Achieving the right balance of inborn personality traits and learned sales skills can be challenging. However, motivated professionals with a strong mentor who believes in their potential should enjoy a long and successful career in sales. While most people start out as a salesperson, the most driven go on to become managers of small teams and entire territories. Some even transition into high-level leadership positions thanks to their direct knowledge of how a company’s products work and what customers want to buy.