What makes a great seller? While responses to that question can vary, most don't stray too far from certain traits and behaviors. Prioritized traits may differ slightly depending on the situation or industry. But for the most part, common characteristics come to light, whether you ask sales managers or customers themselves. And research backs up these responses, as the highest performing reps share the same traits.
"Good salespeople come in all different stripes," Kelly Breslin Wright notes in an article for gong.io. "But those of us out there who have come across superstar salespeople – the type that could sell anything to anyone, I’d bet we all agree – we could drop them into almost any company, of any size, selling any product, and they would rise to the top."
What traits make a great seller "rise to the top?"
In her article, Breslin Wright highlights some traits and behaviors that top-performing sellers have in common. Coming in as her first example is the ability to communicate well. It makes sense that being able to communicate effectively with others is a major factor in sales success. And note the word “effectively.” Basic communication skills aren’t enough; great sellers are masters of communication. This means that they understand how to connect and are able to engage with a variety of people in a variety of situations. And most importantly, they understand that good communication requires good listening skills.
“Top salespeople just talk less and listen more,” she explains. “Master communicators are also active listeners. Engaged listeners. They use eye contact. They pay close attention. The best salespeople not only listen, they truly hear and understand.”
If you feel like you need to sharpen your active listening skills, take a look at SalesFuel’s tips for honing this valuable soft skill.
The best sellers have big hearts
Another top trait among the most successful sellers is demonstrating empathy. A great seller, to put it simply, cares and shows that they care. Gone are the days when sales were impersonal and transactional. Today’s buyers want to work with people who care about them and their business.
Michelle McGovern, writing for Resourceful Selling, agrees. As she explains, top sellers “build relationships – that’s what customers say they want when choosing and using solutions important to their work and lives – on the premise of helping, not selling.”
In fact, SalesFuel’s Voice of the Buyer study revealed that approximately 54% of buyers say that caring about them and their business is a top-five attribute they look for in sellers.
“The greatest salespeople care about others,” Breslin Wright writes. “They want to have a meaningful impact. They derive deep personal satisfaction from giving and helping those around them.”
As SalesFuel has discussed, empathy is a skill that can be nurtured and strengthened. If you feel like this area may be a weakness for you, or you don’t quite know how to demonstrate empathy, consider these professional tips.
"A growth mindset is key"
Again, being a great seller today means harnessing soft skills, including having a growth mindset. You’ve likely heard this term often, as more awareness of its importance has made its way into the sales industry. In an episode of the Manage Smarter podcast, Gerhard Gschwandtner discusses the importance of having a growth mindset as a seller. “…people who have the growth mindset adapt to new situations, learn new things, and they are curious,” he says. “They try to become better and better as time goes on..[they] leverage all of their experiences.”
Breslin Wright explains that the best sellers actively seek ways to learn, grow and improve themselves. “The best salespeople are eager to learn. They are coachable…love self-improvement…have an insatiable appetite for learning. They are never satisfied and want to always learn more, grow, and get better. A growth mindset is key.”
These are only a few of the top traits that she discusses in her article. By taking note of what common characteristics the top sellers share, you can identify whether or not you demonstrate those traits in your own sales career. If you uncover an area that could be improved, take initiative and work to develop those traits. You’ll find that with intention and dedication, you too can be a top performer.
Photo by Anna Shvets