To Succeed in Sales, You Must Have These 8 Traits

The path to sales success is rarely an easy one. For most people, it’s filled with challenges, self-doubt, and lots of experimentation before finding out exactly what works and what doesn’t, and where they fit in the larger scheme of things.

There are lots of people who try sales before deciding it isn’t for them, and many others who stay and push through despite never finding great success in the profession, whether out of necessity or out of appreciation for what the job can provide.

It would be inaccurate to say that you need a certain type of personality to succeed, since there are all sorts of salespeople who do quite well. But there are certain traits without which you won’t get far, so it’s no surprise that many of those who’ve thrown in the towel have a lot in common.

If you truly want to succeed in sales, you must have these eight traits:

1. Resourcefulness

There’s a reason why being called an “order-taker” is an insult in sales. Real salespeople are industrious and don’t wait around for somebody to tell them what to do. Can’t get the prospect’s attention via email? Make a video, post it, and tag them. Creativity and resourcefulness take salespeople from good to great.

2. Thick skin

While you shouldn’t strive to be completely emotionless, having thick skin can ensure that some of the negative interactions salespeople have to deal with won’t slow you down. You’ll come across unpleasant prospects, demanding sales managers, and ruthless competition, and if you’re not stoic enough to handle the emotional pressures, you’ll probably want out.

3. Self-government

There are lots of jobs that can be done half-heartedly, but sales isn’t one of them. Everyday, you’re faced with challenges that require you to work hard, no matter what else is going on. This is why self-government: the ability to manage your actions and output is so important. Exceptional salespeople can make themselves work hard even when they don’t feel like it, and even when it’s the last thing in the world they want to be doing. If you can gain mastery over yourself, you can become an unstoppable sales rep.

4. Grit

Similar to the above, grit, or “an individual's perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state” can take average people further than natural talent and ability alone. Exceptional salespeople can tie their goals to their daily efforts, understanding that grinding it out day in and day out will pay dividends down the line. Some argue that grit is the singular most important characteristic that separates successful people from unsuccessful ones, and they have a fairly strong case.

5. Resilience

Salespeople aren’t paid well because they hear lots of yesses, they’re paid well because before they ever hear a yes, they’ll hear lots and lots of nos. It’s daunting and unpleasant to be rejected, and it can make us feel like we’re wasting our time. Resilience, however, can make all the difference, and instead of feeling sorry for themselves, successful salespeople get right back on the horse and go after the next prospect.

6. Empathy

It’s a tricky thing to be able to put yourself in a prospect’s shoes, but it’s also the one thing that can help you figure out how to sell to them. Empathy is critically important, and even though you need to temper the empathy with thick skin, it’s still the best way to develop a roadmap to closing the deal. What does the prospect want? What do they really want? Can you put yourself in their shoes and figure out what would persuade them to sign with you? If so, you’ve truly mastered sales.

7. Enthusiasm

You can know and say all the right things, but if you’re not enthusiastic about your role and about your product, you’re likely to fall short of your true potential. Not only can prospects sense a lack of enthusiasm, they can also be infected by it, for better or for worse. Enthusiastic salespeople give themselves an edge, and there’s literally nothing stopping you from doing some jumping jacks, pumping yourself up with some music, and putting a smile on your face before your next call.

8. Hunger

At the end of the day, if you’re not motivated by a goal, whether it’s financial, personal, or just a good old fashioned chip on your shoulder, then you’re unlikely to have the drive to compete with those who have one. Sales requires a desire to excel, and without it, you’ll just be going through the motions, and, while it’s possible you’ll be making a decent living, you’ll never max out the possibilities that the role provides. So think, really think about what drives you, then tie it to your current role, because a hungry salesperson will always have the advantage.

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