The Top Characteristics of Great Salespeople

© | Lichtmeister

In this article, I will explore the importance of salespeople for any business and the major characteristics of them by going through the following sections: 1) an introduction, 2) why salespeople are so important for a firm, 3) characterictics of great salespeople, 4) how to recruit a great salesperson, and 5) a short conclusion.


The Sales department is one of the most important and crucial departments for any business or company. No matter how good your product is, if you don’t sell then there will be no in-flow of cash, and this could lead to a loss and potentially bankruptcy. But what really drives this department and brings in cash-flow is the level of expertise of the salespersons or sales team. A lot of businesses take hiring of sales persons more casually than hiring other employees like managers, engineers, and technicians, etc. It is important to remember that not all sales jobs are similar to one another, and each needs a different set of skills and knowledge attributes. Thus, the statement ‘great salespersons can sell anything to anyone’ is just a big myth and is something that must not be believed in.

Research shows that only one in about 50 deals or sales situations are struck at the first encounter between the seller and the buyer. Yet most of the salespeople tend to give up only after one or two no’s from the customer. To understand this fact and the importance of good salespersons, you must go through the following given statistics:

  • 44% of sales people give up after one “no”
  • 22% give up after two “no’s”
  • 14% give up after three “no’s”
  • 12% give up after four “no’s”

These statistics tell you that 92% of the salesmen give up after four “no’s”, and just 8% cent of salesmen request for the order a fifth time. This means that about 80% of customers or potential customers say ‘no’ about 4 times before saying yes. This means that 8% of salesmen are driving 80% of the sales.

Thus, it is highly important for business owners, entrepreneurs, and other leaders to pay a lot of attention to the recruitment process of salespersons and must be aware of the characteristics that make for great salesmen. This article shall help you understand who an excellent salesperson is, how someone like this can be recruited and why excellent salespersons are important for a firm. So read on to find out more.


There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that salespersons or salespeople form an integral part of any business, no matter how big or small it may be in scale. They are the ones that have the power to convert sales, convince customers of the viability of the product and push a half-interested customer to buy a product. Even in this era where online shopping has taken over traditional shopping methods, leading to a decline in the number of people taking up this job, the importance of salespeople cannot be underestimated. As markets are trying to recover from the recession, business organizations need good commercial salespersons to make the most of the uplift. The following are some of the main reasons why salespersons are so important for any firm:

  • Sales person are the main drivers of sales for any company or retailer. This means that irrespective of the effectiveness or quality of the product, a salesperson has the capability and power to convince the customer that this is the product he/she needs. An informed and dedicated salesperson can drive sales and hence shoot up the overall profitability.
  • If a salesperson works on improving his/her performance, then not only does this affect the overall profits earned by the business but can also help him/her improve the salary or earning. This means that if one concentrates on improving skills, knowledge, training and persistence, then he/she does not only benefit the company but also raises his/her bar of performance.
  • While it is true that selling something is an art but the good news is that this art may not be in-built and can be learned and inculcated. Any person can become a good salesperson by studying, practicing sales and showcasing conviction to sell a product or service. It is a lot about reading the customer’s mind, and this skill can be incorporated.
  • It is the salesmen or salesperson who is the point of contact of customers with the brand, company or retail outlet. It is up to them to build a rapport with customers to engage and retain them. It is a fact that if customers are put off by salespersons, they may form a negative opinion about the retailer or business.


Not every person working as a salesperson may be highly equipped with the knowledge and skills to perform well at the job. Not every salesperson may have the art to sell, convince customers of the product or have the right communication skills to build a rapport with customers. There is thus an obvious distinction between excellent salespersons and average ones. So what are those characteristics that create a distinction between the good and the average salespersons? Well, you can go through the following top qualities and characteristics of successful salespeople to find that out:

Outstanding communication skills and Verbal acuity

One of the first and the most important characteristic of an excellent salesperson that separates him from the weaker ones are outstanding communication skills and verbal acuity. Having strong control over written and oral communication is a prerequisite for entering the field of sales. The following are some aspects of this major skill:

  • Outstanding communication skills – A good salesperson is one who has exceedingly superb communication skills. He/she is usually an excellent speaker with verbal clarity. Besides being good at communication, he/she must have a strong control over speech and should know how to direct it to different kinds of customers. The message conveyed must be rightly-paced, correct as far as the volume is concerned and free of repetitive words or unnecessary slang.
  • Ask great questions – If a salesperson knows what the customer is looking for, he/she is much more equipped to help and sell. This is why a good salesperson is one who asks intelligent questions that are focused not on the data but on its implication.
  • Good listener – Besides being good at communication and asking questions, a good salesperson must also be a good and patient listener to understand the needs and requirements of the customer. Only by listening can a salesperson understand the customer and respond accordingly.
  • Empathy – Empathy is the quality of identifying with customers, making them feel respected and showing a sense of loyalty towards them. A salesperson who is empathetic tends to gain more trust and builds a better rapport with the customers.
  • Modesty – Humility and modesty are some of the other aspects of overall communication skills which a good salesperson possesses. Modest salespersons often gain trust and respect of customers, and this can have a huge impact on the overall sales.
  • Curiosity – An excellent salesperson is curious to gather more information and knowledge. This inquisitiveness helps them to learn more and get an insight into the minds of the customers.
  • Comfortable talking about money – Another characteristic of a good salesperson is that he/she should be comfortable discussing both small and big numbers with their customers and colleagues.
  • Comfortable with silence – Confidence of a salesperson is demonstrated with the way he/she handles silence. When a salesperson observes silence at the right points, he/she gives customers a chance to consider what has been told to them.

Goal oriented personality

Another major characteristic of a good salesperson is having a goal-oriented personality. Most of the successful salespeople are fixated towards their goals, and this acts as a driving force for sales as well. Here are a few other aspects of the same characteristic:

  • Achievers – A salesperson who considers selling and making sales as his/her own achievement is the one who ultimately reaches success. Achieving maximum sales day after day must be the aim of a salesperson not just for accumulating more money for the firm but also for the sake of reaching personal goals.
  • Self-motivated and highly focused – Self-motivation is the key to success in a job like that of a salesperson. Motivating self even on low sales can be a great way to maintain a good performance. But at the same time, focus too is an essential quality, one that drives them towards achievements.

Situational dominance

Situational dominance is a quality of a relaxed yet dominant interaction with a customer in a way that makes him/her feel at comfort but being under the influence of what the salesperson recommends and advices. The following are some aspects of this quality:

  • Dominance – Dominance refers to a control over the communication and relationship of a salesperson with the customers. A salesperson must not be overbearing but should also not succumb under the pressure of the customer and should have a non-threatening control over him/her.
  • Ego-drive – Ego-drive is the persistence shown by a successful salesperson in order to win and sell products. It’s about gaining the competitive edge over the customer by refusing to give up on the efforts.
  • Show up prepared – A good salesperson is one who is always prepared, does not lack knowledge and is totally informed about products and services. He/she must have a prepared sales pitch and should have it practiced.
  • Don’t rush – Rushing and seeming desperate to the customers and trying to make quick sales may put off customers and are not qualities of a good salesperson. It is important to show a sense of calm and confidence.
  • Low Gregariousness – Successful salespersons tend to have lower levels of gregariousness surprisingly than average ones, and this is another characteristic to consider.


Persistence, as mentioned above is a quality of a good salesperson and persistence arises from optimism. Thus, one of the main and important characteristics of a successful salesperson is his/her optimism and positivity. Only with optimism can one avoid giving up early on since then there is a hope that a customer can be won over.

  • Persistent and optimistic – A salesperson must not be annoyingly persistent but should be optimistic in the sense that he/she mustn’t’ feel disappointed by a rejection. This means that a salesperson who is not able to make a sale but still feels positive about overall results and achievements is one who can truly go on to become successful. Persistence also plays an important role since it avoids a salesperson from giving up even on hearing a no or seeing a negative reaction from a customer.

Client oriented and highly responsible

Another important quality or characteristic of a good salesperson is being client-oriented and very responsible. A person with a strong sense of responsibility handles tough situations better and accepts mistakes and errors. The following are some aspects of this characteristic:

  • Highly responsible – Not blaming others for certain failures and circumstances and accepting full responsibility for a mistake is a quality of an excellent sales person. He does not transfer the blame onto others and makes sure he rectifies his mistakes in the future.
  • Motivated to help his clients – A successful salesperson is one who is always motivated to help the clients or customers in the best possible manner and is driven to serve them in the way that is most suitable.


Even without the pressure of the employer or team leader, a salesperson who organizes his/her work on his/her own is one who is truly an excellent one. A successful salesperson is one who considers it his responsibility to be accountable for himself. He is self-motivated and makes efforts to perform better each time even without the pressure of a superior.


If you are a business owner or entrepreneur, who understands and realizes the importance of a good sales team and excellent salespersons then it is important to know how to recruit the good ones from a bunch of applicants. It is important to tighten up the process of recruitment in order to hire only the most suitable, well-trained, qualified and skilled salespersons who possess maximum characteristics given above. The following is a step-by-step approach to recruiting great salespersons:

Step-by-step approach

1st step: The first step or stage to recruit great salespeople in your company or workforce is to define what kind of skills you are really looking for. The above-given characteristics are the major skills or qualities needed, but it is up to you to narrow down on the main ones that are suitable for your product, service or business. Thus create a list of the main skills that you are looking for and then move forward from there. Divide the list of skills into certain parts like compulsory skills, add-on skills, etc.

2nd step: The next step is to look for people to hire both internally and externally. This means that you must consider both external and internal recruitment since, at times, you can find several potential good salesmen even inside your work environment.

  • External recruitment – External recruitment is the kind of recruitment in which employees are hired from the environment outside the company or organization. This recruitment involves leaving out vacancy ads and then interviewing interested applicants. This process could also involve interviewing your customers regarding the kind of salespersons they would want to deal with.
  • Internal recruitment – Internal recruitment or hiring is a kind of recruitment process in which you interview your existing sales team and observe which employees are truly deserving. If you do not have a desired sales team then you can consider training them or replacing them through external recruitment.

3rd step: Now the next step is to prepare a series of intelligent, non-standard and interesting questions to be asked during the interview. The better the questions asked the more will be the chances of coming across truly deserving and excellent salespersons. The questions must be aimed to know about the experience, the personal skills, judging communication skills and measuring the attitude needed for the job.

4th step: The last step is to shortlist upon the few suitable candidates and then pick up the best ones out of the lot through discussions with other decision-makers or the HR team. Once the candidates are selected, they must be informed, and an agreement must be charted out to formalize the process of employment or recruitment.


It won’t be wrong to state that any business, big or small depends and relies greatly upon the sales team or workforce that it has and recruiting an able and skilled sales team is the key to success and profitability. Replacing average sales persons with a bunch of excellent ones can result in a huge difference in the sales over a given period of time. Not only do they bring a good name to your organization but have the power to control the customers softly. So look for a salesperson who is persistent, honest, and perceptive of customer’s requirements and possess an incredible personality with excellent communication skills. Remember that a great salesperson is one who is well-adapted to the environment in which he/she is making the sales.

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