I Googled this question and got over 6 million results. And, as it’s easy to do, I floated off to the blog-o-sphere, happily reading away, away, away… is there an echo in here? Much of what I found was as I expected. I didn’t expect the general opinion to be what I consider the most important attributes of a good salesperson; however, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the thoughts.
To answer this question, we must define a good salesperson. Is it a top producer? I’ve observed top producers who were sociopaths, with no regard for the customer, company, or the truth. Is that who you want representing your organization? Keep in mind, these are producers — they’re rainmakers — they will bring profit. On the other hand, I’ve seen people of good character, fail to make it rain, because they lacked drive and motivation.
A good salesperson represents your organization honestly, profitably, and proudly.
In a University of Florida White Paper, a reference to a Sardar and Patton article, “Who Makes a Great Salesperson, Links Between Our Heritage and Our Future,” was frequently quoted in my online search. Among the traits of successful salespeople, the paper lists the following:
• Possessing high energy
• Having self-confidence
• Being money hungry
• Seeing obstacles as challenges
• A compulsive need to win
• Desiring the affections of others
For the most part — I agree; however, I’ve seen being money hungry, and the need to win, drive salespeople to ruthlessness. I’ve watched the need to be liked cause undeliverable promises offered too many times to clients.
In the aforementioned University of Florida White Paper, Greensburg And Greensburg are credited with listing empathy, ego-drive, and ego-strength. No argument there, other than I believe there are additional important ingredients.
In a Forbes.com post, Lauren Wray lists good listening, integrity, teamwork, follow-through, and swagger as the keys to a great salesperson — all are on my list as well.
A good salesperson…
• Enjoys helping others. They are empathetic to customers’ needs, and they get a kick out of helping and watching others succeed.
• Is ethical and honest. They’re someone of good character who makes good character choices.
• Uses every resource available to learn their product, company and industry. They don’t have to be the lead.
• Develops leads — not waiting for leads to come to them, but actively prospecting.
For me, what makes a good salesperson isn’t always, or only, the “bottom line.” A good salesperson is — FIRST — a good person.