10 Important Qualities of Successful Salespeople

Written by Chris Crosby

Published on December 15, 2020

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The performance of your sales department depends on the kind of people working within it. Salespeople are responsible for contacting prospects and turning them into customers. 

However, it doesn’t matter how good your sales processes, pipelines, strategies, etc., are. If you make the wrong choice concerning your hire’s sales reps, it will affect your company’s bottom line. 

For that reason, you should hire the right salespeople from the start. Here are some essential qualities to look out for in sales representatives:

1. Successful Salespeople Are Goal-driven

Goal-driven people are motivated to set specific target objectives and meet them. They will, therefore, work harder to make sure they achieve the goals they set.

According to a study conducted by Steve W. Martin of USC Marshall School of Business, 84% of top salespeople are goal-driven. Such people are driven to achieve their goals and continuously measure their sales performance. 

Sales are mainly a numbers game. It requires people within the sales department to achieve set sales targets in the set periods. So, you need to find sales reps that are goal-driven. They will thrive in an environment that requires them to set goals and attempt to achieve them.

2. Successful Salespeople Are Teachable

A teachable person is one that is an apt student. Such a person should be willing to learn so they can acquire knowledge. Not everyone is eager to learn, which can work against your sales department.

Studies show that 46% of sales reps did not intend to go into the sales profession. Meaning many salespeople did not get the training they need to sell. Additionally, such people are less likely to pursue training outside of work, which means they will struggle to do their job correctly.

For your sales team to be successful, you must ensure that you hire teachable people. They may not have the necessary selling skills when you hire them, but they can be very successful if they are trainable. Their success will boost your company’s revenues.

3. Successful Salespeople Are Active Listeners

Active listeners are people who listen will all their senses. They will concentrate on what is being said, understand and remember it, and respond in ways that make the speaker feel someone is paying attention. They will also show empathy. 

Active listening is an acquired skill.

Studies show 92% of all customer interactions happen via phone, yet 85% of customers feel dissatisfied with their phone experience. So, while many customers are doing their fair share of talking, they are not feeling heard. And that means sales reps are not doing a good enough job of listening to what their prospects are saying.

You must ensure that every sales rep on your shortlist displays the ability to listen and understand other people. Without that skill, your sales team will consist of professionals who never understand prospects’ pain, fears, motivations, etc. That, in turn, will lower their chances of selling.

4. Successful Salespeople Are Organized

People who are organized are people who can plan their work so that they can accomplish their goals. Such people can structure schedules and focus on many different tasks by efficiently dividing their time and energy, so everything gets done when it should.

Being organized is an essential quality for a salesperson because there is more to selling than most people think. Sales reps only spend 35.9% of their work time selling. Other tasks that a salesperson may have to do as part of the job include:

  • Finding the right prospects to sell to
  • Nurturing leads
  • Contacting prospects via phone, social media, and email
  • Visit local neighborhoods to promote company products and services.
  • Attend trade shows
  • Attend networking events
  • Demonstrating how products work etc.

It pays to bring onboard salespeople who are organized. Organized sales reps can better keep track of everything they need to do to sell and have the best chance of getting things done on time. 

5. Successful Salespeople Are Accountable

A sales rep who is accountable is one who owns up to their responsibilities. Such a person can be relied upon to do their part and owns up to their mistakes.

One of the significant benefits of having a sales process is that it helps everyone know what they need to do and when to do it. But for it to work effectively, each sales rep must own the tasks they are given. They must do those tasks and complete the set milestones so the prospect can be moved to the next stage of the sales cycle.

Unfortunately, 85% of workers are unengaged in the workplace to some degree. That means they don’t care about doing their jobs properly. You cannot rely on such people to get things done. If you trust them with responsibilities that underpin your sales activities, there’s a chance they may not do them well or at all. You can forget about meeting your sales quota.

So, take the time to find salespeople who are accountable. You should be able to rely on them to complete their tasks if given the company sales playbook, the right training, and then left to their own devices.

6. Successful People Are Creative

A creative salesperson is one that is capable of coming up with original ideas. Such a professional will think outside the box to come up with ways of packaging your company products and services better to sell them to reluctant prospects.

According to one Stanford University study involving one-minute speeches, 63% of listeners remembered stories, while only 5% remembered a single statistic. Such is the power of storytelling.

However, if your sales reps are not creative, they will not be able to sell your products creatively. Instead, they will probably try to package the products’ features and benefits in a bland manner that will bore your prospects to tears. Then they will fail to close the deal, which means your company will lose money in the end.

Ensure you find people who have a vivid imagination. Sales reps should be able to paint pictures in their prospects’ minds with words. Creative ones will do just that.

7. Successful people Are Assertive

An assertive person is self-assured without necessarily being overly aggressive. Being decisive is an essential quality for every salesperson looking to deal with prospects. That’s because they will be dealing with challenging tasks such as cold calling.

Research shows that 91% of customers say they would be willing to give referrals; only 11% of salespeople ask them. Additional data shows that sales reps who actively seek out referrals will earn four to five times than those who don’t. 

It’s quite clear not every salesperson is assertive enough to go after what they want. As a result, they are losing out on sales opportunities that would enable them to meet their sales quotas faster.

8. Successful Salespeople Are Tenacious

To be tenacious means to be determined. Determined people are persistent. They go after things and stay committed to the cause until they get what they want.

Most things about selling are not going to come easy. Very few people are willing to part with their hard-earned monies without good reason. Convincing them to do so is going to take serious effort on the part of the sales reps.

For example, one report shows that it takes a whopping eight calls to make contact with a new prospect on prospecting matters. Even for the best salespeople, it takes an average of 5 touches to generate a conversation. 

Another report shows it takes as many as 18 dials to connect with a prospect. This report goes further to show call-back rates are a mere 1%. Do remember the initial contact with the prospect is just the beginning. There is a lot of work to be done before closing a deal.

After the initial meeting, 80% of the sales will require at least five follow-ups. And yet, 44% of sales reps will give up after just one follow-up. They simply don’t have what it takes to persist and close that deal.

If you want your company to have an edge over the competition, you need to hire persistent sales representatives. They must be people who will keep on calling when everyone has given up. It is their tenacity that will make a difference in your company’s bottom line. 

9. Successful Salespeople Are Sociable

Very successful salespeople possess some degree of sociability or gregariousness. Sociable people are friendly and can comfortably engage in relationships that involve other people.

Social selling involves developing relationships as part of the sales process, both offline and online. Salespeople can use platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, offline networking events, etc., so long as it helps them achieve their purpose.

Studies show that 78% of sales reps who use social media will outsell their peers. Those who use social selling are 51% more likely to meet and even exceed their quota.

Thus, being sociable is a quality every salesperson must-have. It enables them to engage potential clients in ways that will make them more likely to buy your company’s products and services. So, find sales reps that thrive in relating well with others.

10. Successful Salespeople Are Adaptable

Adaptable people are flexible. They can adjust to the situation in which they find themselves and continue to perform effectively.  Adaptability is a quality that a successful salesperson must have because prospects will always throw them several curveballs.

According to one HubSpot report, different prospects want different things at each stage of the sales process:

  • Nearly 60% of buyers want to discuss pricing during the first call
  • More than 50% of prospects want a demonstration of how a product works during the first call
  • 25% of buyers want to discuss budget, authority, and timeline contrary to what many salespeople expect

Sales processes must be based on a buyer’s journey to be effective. That means if your sales representatives find themselves confronting a buyer that does not behave as others do, they can adapt to the challenge and meet them at their point of need. 

It’s all about the prospect and what they need at each stage, even when it doesn’t make sense to the salesperson. For that reason, you need to hire salespeople who are flexible and can adjust to what each prospect wants.


Successful sales representatives are mostly made, not born. But it helps if they show raw capabilities that can be molded over time to make them good at selling. So, pay attention to the crucial qualities that successful sales reps tend to have. It will make your work of creating an effective sales team so much easier.

Originally published Dec 15, 2020 11:00:00 AM, updated Dec 15, 2020