What Makes a Great Seller? Buyers Say These Four Traits

BY Jessica Helinski
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While each person has their own idea of what makes a great seller, there are many traits that these ideal personas share. And while traditional seller qualities, like confidence and hustle, are still valued, an emerging set of traits is gaining preference.

LinkedIn reports that buyers are increasingly valuing reps who engage in buyer-​first practices. “Adopting a buyer-​first philosophy means aligning with what buyers want,” writes LinkedIn Sales Editor Paul Petrone. “So, we looked at the top traits most frequently listed by buyers as valuable and discovered important ways you can recommit to incorporating these traits into your sales process now.”

Common traits of a great seller

LinkedIn’s research revealed four traits that today’s buyers value, and Petrone discusses each, highlighting how sellers can adapt to embody each.

The first trait he highlights is active listening. SalesFuel has covered the importance of active listening, and LinkedIn’s findings further support its value. The top sellers are able to find a solution that fits each buyer’s needs; they learn about those needs by engaging in active listening.

While active listening isn’t necessarily a trait that everyone has naturally, it can be adopted and refined. There are specific behaviors that you engage in and hone to improve your active listening. And you will notice benefits. Not only will you be gaining a better understanding of the prospect and their business, but also strengthening the relationship.

When we listen to our prospects fully, two amazing things happen,” says Meredith Powell, author and business strategist. “First, they will tell us exactly what they need, which tells us exactly what we need to sell, when to sell it, and how to sell it.”

But secondly, and more importantly, when we listen, we send a strong message to our prospect that says, 'this relationship will always be more about you than about me',” she added.

Problem-​solving savvy

A great seller not only learns a prospect’s problem, but also uncovers relevant solutions. And it’s not just the prospect that the seller understands. Sellers must also be thoroughly knowledgeable about their own offerings and how they can be applied. They need to be able to identify how their solution uniquely fits a prospect’s need and clearly convey that fit.

SalesFuel’s own research supports this: The Voice of the Buyer study found that 57% of buyers say a top seller attribute is understanding the product and how it can solve their problem. As Petrone explains, “The trick to problem-​solving isn’t pushing past objections; it’s figuring out how to demonstrate that your product can solve the buyer’s problems. What are their pain points? What isn’t as efficient, effective, or reliable as it could be?”

One important step in effective problem-​solving is asking questions. To adjust your approach to asking effective questions, and honing that skill, check out our past articles about the topic, including this one. Again, this is a trait that takes practice to refine, but your efforts will be well rewarded.


This trait actually aligns with the traditional view of what makes a great seller. Even though today’s buyers lean toward a more consultative partnership, they still want to work with a confident seller. And this makes sense when taken in context with the other valued traits. “To the buyer, confidence doesn’t necessarily mean ‘confidence in their own selling ability;’ it means “confidence in their ability to solve the buyer’s problem,” Petrone explains. “If salespeople are confident about solving problems, buyers will be confident they can solve them, too.”

Thankfully, this trait is also one that can be cultivated. “Building unwavering self-​confidence is one of the critical elements to truly succeeding in sales and performing at a high level, day in and day out,” writes Andy Carlton for LinkedIn. “It is true that some people have an easier time of this (although not many). But it is something that you can develop over time. Think of self-​confidence as a skill or muscle that you can build up.”

The more you nurture your own confidence, the more of that confidence you’ll project to your prospects, giving them assurance in both you and your solution. To get started, take a look at our recent guide to the “rules” of confidence building in sales.

To read about the fourth trait that buyers value, take a look at Petrone’s article. And for extra guidance, our collection of blog posts and podcasts can help. By evolving your own style and behaviors to align with what buyers want, you set yourself up for continued success. As he points out, “This is a new era of selling, where buyers are more empowered than ever. Their priorities and preferences are shifting. As a seller, it’s vital to adapt accordingly.”

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions