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Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople

Source If you ask an extremely successful salesperson, "What makes you different from the average sales rep?" you will most likely get a less-than-accurate answer, if any answer at all. Frankly, the person may not even know the real answer because most successful salespeople are simply doing what comes naturally. Over the past decade, I have had the privilege of interviewing thousands of top business-to-business salespeople who sell for some of the world's leading companies. I've also administered personality tests to 1,000 of them. My goal was to measure their five main personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and negative emotionality) to better understand the characteristics that separate them their peers. The personality tests were given to high technology and business services salespeople as part of sales strategy workshops I was conducting. In addition, tests were administered at Presidents Club meetings (the incentive trip that top salespeople are awarded by their company for their outstanding performance). The responses were then categorized by percentage of annual quota attainment and classified into top performers, average performers, and below average performers categories. The test results from top performers were then compared against average and below average performers. The findings indicate that key personality traits directly influence top performers' selling style and ultimately their success. Below, you will find the main key personality attributes of top salespeople and the impact of the trait on their selling style. Modesty. Contrary to conventional stereotypes that successful salespeople are pushy and egotistical, 91 percent of top salespeople had medium to high scores of modesty and humility. Furthermore, the results suggest that ostentatious salespeople who are full of bravado alienate far more customers than they win over. Selling Style Impact: Team Orientation. As opposed to establishing themselves as the

7 Reasons Sales People Fail

Sales is undoubtedly a tough job. Out of the thousands of sales representatives, only 40 percent will consistently hit their sales targets, while the other 60 percent will fail to close deals. There's no doubt that there are great sales professionals and mediocre ones. But what differentiates them? Why do some sales people succeed while others fail? Here are some of the reasons why some reps just can't close deals. 1. Poor Listening Skills New and mediocre sales people will simply do sales presentations instead of determining what their prospects actually want and why. Their sole focus is on "pitching" their offerings to clients. They think that if they drill down hard enough and push hard enough, they'll get the sale. But all this leads to is resentment. Prospects feel disrespected and neglected when it's clear that the sales rep only cares about the sale, and not their needs. The best sales pros have great listening skills. They listen to the needs of the clients: their pain points, their desires, their objections, and their concerns. They ask the right probing questions and actively listen to the answers, which offer insights into the prospects' wants and desires. Through active listening, they can then better meet their clients' needs, while also making them feel cared for and valued at the same time. 2. Poor Organizational Skills Sales reps with poor organizational skills will not only have trouble generating new business but will also likely end up losing business because of poor follow-up and follow-through. There is a tremendous amount of research to do in sales. The best sales professionals understand that they need to know their prospects, their businesses, their competition, and their industry inside and out. And they take the time to learn this information ahead

Close, close, close

The wife and I walked into a furniture store the other day looking for a set of dining room chairs. Did we have a budget? Perhaps but we did not tell the sales person. He too us around the shop showing some chairs. Tested some of them, sat on them, gave some buying signals like "wow  this one is more comfortable than that one." We commented on the material and said something like "I think that colour will coordinate well with the curtains and the current colour scheme." After we were done, we said we would like to take some time to decide. Oh yes, when I say "after we were done," whose prerogative is it to say when "we are done?" Is it us or the sales person? The reason I reflect on this is because when we walked in the store, into the territory of the sales person, it is his duty to say " when we are done." Because when we walked in, the sales process started. Check out this article later. And part of the sales process ensures that he attempts to close. Don't ever let the prospect get away with a "let me think about it." He walked into your territory. You drive the sales process, not him. You will close and not let him have the last word by saying he will like to think about. Need to know more about closing and the sales process? Contact me at          

Don’t sell in the intro

Your intro should be the stage of the sales process where you gain the interest of the prospect to want to hear more. If you are in telesales this is the where you want the prospect to give you some time to present. If you are in face to face sales, you want the appointment to sell. The introduction is not the stage of the sale where you sell. This is not the part where you mention prices, costs etc. You can mention general ball park figures or potential savings but this is done just to spark interest. If the prospect asks if you are selling anything, my response is: give me a few minutes of your time Mr Prospect, who knows at the end of our time together you may just be buying and I won't be selling. This is said as a joke and can be a crucial ice breaker in the introduction.

The human buying process

Note that i did not say the human selling process. The reason is because it's not about you but the prospect. To many times sales people place to much emphasis on themselves. They focus on how much time they are investing/wasting on the prospect; the targets that they need to meet; the inability to control their emotions in the face of rejection; their manager putting too much pressure on them; etc, etc, etc. Once you understand these steps of the human buying process, you are half way to success. These are steps that involve a psychological decision making process on the part of the prospect and something that we as sales people need to be aware of and control. Many sales people today disregard this buying process and don’t identify the steps properly. As a result many of them miss/jump certain steps without making sure that the customer is with them in this process and will be with them when they close. That is the reason many sales people don’t close a sale-because the prospect is still the INTEREST stage. They mistake interest for buying signal and prematurely try to close the sale. With these steps of the buying process it is your job to move the prospect from stage to stage. The first crucial step in this process is to eliminate Fear. You need to understand that all potential prospects have a certain fear within them when approached by a sales person. You then move them from fear to CURIOSITY in your introduction. While in your intro you make them curious so that they want to listen to you to hear more. You then get to the presentation part and here you need to gain their INTEREST. Still in the presentation, you lay out the features


You are in the presentation, you mention features, and then more features; after a while you then try and delve and probe and start asking discovery questions. You now want to diagnose and then prescribe. But it's too late. With most prospects they simply say that they are not interested or they want to think about it. Very few would tell you straight up that it is too expensive. Yet, that is what they feel-too expensive- and you are to blame for this. You run the risk of the client perceiving your product is too expensive when you mention all the features. Some features of the product are not even needed by the prospect. And so you need to start early finding needs and pain points of the prospect. You run a risk of the client feeling that your product is too expensive when you mention all the features at one go.

How to Frustrate your Customers and Prospects

In a customer service situation- the easiest way to frustrate an existing customer who approaches you or contacts you with a problem is to start shaking your head while they are explaining their problem as if to say you can’t be of assistance. In sales= the easiest way to lose trust or frustrate a prospect when selling your services or goods is to respond without showing him that you are taking his current situation into consideration. This is especially after he has spelt it out to you.

The Status Quo is your greatest Sales Killer

The status quo is when the customer is still in the state of mind, commitment or understanding before your intervention with him. The most important part of the sales process is moving the sales process forward. Whether you are busy on a sales or in between sales calls with the same prospect, you must make sure that something has changed. By that I mean: During the presentation- get some “small yeses” that will lead to the final yes; get some agreement as to the feel of the product, the fulfilment of a need or desire; gain some small wins. If you could not close the sale in that call, then make sure that you have a firm, committed schedule for the next meeting. Make sure that the prospect understands what he needs to have for the next meeting; and make sure he knows what you are going to show/bring/ feedback. Also, let him know that sooner or later you are going to close.

How the Fear of Rejection is Manifested

The fear of rejecton is manifested in your reluctance to cold call; the reluctance to pick up the phone and dial; the seereluctance to add one more dial when things are tough and you feel that you have called enough. It is also manifested in your fear of clsoing and asking for the sale. It is manifested in your need for approval. You feel that sales is about making friends and less about making customers. You don’t like to hurt other people’s feelings by asking them for the close and putting pressure on them. You feel that they-the prospect- should know best, and you don’t know best. If you are sales manager, you will identify the above in your sales person’s consistent pattern of excuse-making; lack of confidence, not a self-starter; always in need of and asking for motivation; squealing about the leads/data; no momentum; and off course- no sales.