What Makes a Successful Salesperson? 

Sales leaders often hear the question: Which salespeople will be successful?

Executives want to know the answer so they can reduce the cost of hiring the wrong people.

Mid-level sales leaders would like to provide more accurate forecasting to their executives, but inconsistency from newer salespeople makes that more difficult.

Field trainers would like to identify who the best candidates will be so that they don’t waste valuable time and energy on someone who won’t succeed.

At RevLocal, our sales team has doubled within two years. We are one of the thousands of companies that are trying to be great at identifying, recruiting and training great salespeople.

Unfortunately, there is not a precise template for the perfect salesperson. However, we have identified a few foundational qualities that we seek in any of our team members.

Patrick Lencioni captures these qualities in his book The Ideal Team Player. We believe that being Humble, Hungry and Smart are fundamental for the long-term success of anyone within RevLocal.

Let's discuss the three qualities.

Understanding Humility

Humility appears to be contrary to the characteristics believed to exist in great salespeople. Movies tend to characterize successful salespeople as domineering, self-confident and often obnoxious.

However, when was the last time that you felt good about acquiring a product or service from someone who exhibited those traits?

Humility is the willingness to demonstrate a modest view of one’s own importance.

Within the sales process, the prospective customer is the most important person. Within a sales organization, no individual is greater than the team.

A salesperson lacking in humility will believe they know what a client needs before they have listened to the client. This is a recipe for failure.

A person who lacks humility will also have difficulty becoming their best. Pride distorts our view of reality and limits our willingness to ask for, and receive, coaching.

We all have weaknesses. The greatest are those who will humble themselves and seek opportunities for personal growth.

Be Hungry

Hungry is not purely about hunger to make more money or have a better lifestyle.

Many people start their sales career to pursue fame and fortune. Top salespeople earn significant incomes, win contests and trips and often receive recognition.

If people get into sales for fame and fortune, and fame and fortune are obtainable, why do most people fail?

As Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Although his intention was more literal, this quote is a great analogy for sales.

Salespeople fail when their personal why isn’t greater than the daily obstacles they encounter.

Here are a few questions to consider when failure is taking over:

  • Are you so passionate about what you do that you are willing to overcome failure frequently?
  • When you continuously get told no, do you have the will to make the next call?
  • When several prospective clients don’t see the need for your service, do you have absolute faith that your company’s products or services will make a positive impact for the right client?
  • Will you rise above the challenges of the day to try again?

A great salesperson must develop an appetite for failure. Don’t misconstrue this as an acceptance of failure, but a willingness to fail multiple times per day while remaining positive and optimistic.

They must also have a thirst for repetition. In most industries, a salesperson will make several hundred presentations per year.

Eventually, it can seem monotonous unless you can engage in every conversation as if it’s unique. Championship winning athletes practice the smallest details, daily.

Hunger is essential to willingly seek the next opportunity, to say hello and succeed in your craft.

Are You Smart?

When I said smart, did you think IQ? That’s the natural thought when we see smart!

Of course, a salesperson must have a fundamental understanding of their products, services, processes and any systems they use. But what if we consider this ability as being people smart instead of book smart?

Most sales leaders have witnessed top salespeople who were not their company’s most knowledgeable in any of the areas listed above. However, they must have great awareness regarding each individual conversation.

I was once told that I have two ears and one mouth, please use them accordingly.

The great salespeople that I have been fortunate enough to watch are willing to ask questions and then listen intently. This sounds simple enough.

However, it is natural for us to hear a story that resembles a past experience and immediately associate the two.

A salesperson with high emotional intelligence will allow the conversation to be unique and personal. Even with our access to so much information and technology, relationships matter.

Finally, emotional intelligence also includes the ability to remain positive regardless of their day to day experience. They realize that short term failure in sales is neither personal nor permanent.

A great philosopher once said that no test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. Nearly every salesperson is hired to do a job that others have done successfully.

If others have succeeded, then why can’t you?

Final Thoughts

Do you have what it takes to be a successful salesperson?

We believe that anyone has the capacity for success. However, the probability is greatly enhanced when they exhibit the traits of The Ideal Team Player.

We are always looking for humble, hungry and smart digital marketing consultants at RevLocal, so make sure to check out our career opportunities