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Desirable Sales Traits

It’s easy for me to write about sales people because I’m one myself. Being a salesperson provides me an insider’s perspective on who we are and what makes us tick. The most desirable sales traits of a good sales person can cause a little disruption in the company as well as help them sell. I’ve included in this blog a list of “Desirable Sales Traits for a Hunter/Closer” type-rep and how they play out in the sales arena and in the office. It’s my hope that having this dual perspective can help you develop more support and belief in your team, which will lead to greater sales results. It should also provide you a guide on what to look for when hiring your next rep.

When we look at the traits that make up a top producer you should begin to see why it can be difficult to work with some reps. Not every sales position requires the same traits so it makes sense that some of you get along just fine with your team. In the Primary Traits for a Hunter Closer table I’m focusing on traits you want for an outside sales rep selling to businesses that can find their own leads and close business. These top producing sales people can produce the results you want for a long time if you learn how to work with them. If not, they could be off to another company bringing in the prize.

The primary traits you’re looking for are competitiveness, impatience, assertiveness, persistence, persuasiveness, decisiveness and independence. The table below will show you how these traits play out in finding and winning business and how they show up at your office. You’ll see that the traits are great to find you new business but can be a little disruptive when they show up in the office, but they can be tamed.

Primary Traits for a Hunter Closer
Trait Used in Sales Found in Office
Competitiveness They will fight to win. They will use their creativity, experience and fearlessness to find ways to help buyers see their offer favorably. They want to win so they work hard to make this happen. They can get over competitive at staff functions. They like to rib their peers, which can look rude to other departments but is normal among top sales reps. They get upset when they lose a deal or almost anything.
Impatience Sales people help buyers make decisions. Impatience can also be looked at as maintaining urgency. Urgent in their own activity and helping the buyer maintain urgency in their decision-making process. You won’t hear closers talking about the same people they are waiting on month after month. They work with those willing to keep moving or they go find someone who will. When a sales person needs something, they always seem to need it now, otherwise they wouldn’t ask. Why ask for something you need later, they might think? With buyers they can exercise some patience as they don’t want to lose the sale, but in the office with “family” you are going to get their strongest pitch to get what they want now. As you know they will exaggerate as much as possible to motivate you to take action.
Assertiveness Buyers are led through the sales or decision-making process. Someone who is assertive is willing to lead others to help him or her arrive at a decision. A professional will push the envelope with buyers challenging them to confront the status quo that is not working, but always with permission. They can be assertive because they believe they are right in their actions. They will be the first to ask questions, share opinions and argue when asked for their involvement. Some will constantly offer unsolicited advice. Since they are used to challenging decision makers they will challenge you more than most other employees.
Persistence Sales are made when timing is right. The problem is knowing when that right time is. Persistent sales people stay in front of buyers so they will be there when it’s time. I have heard sales people tell me many times that the buyer thanked them for staying on top of them. You would be surprised how may buyers don’t mind a persistent follow up as long as it’s professional and polite. When they want something to help them sell they will keep reminding you. They will not be easily worn down if you leave hope in their mind that you might make a decision in their favor. If you are not going to do something you will need to close the book on it by being clear that your no is no.
Persuasiveness In order to win business it often takes the buy-in of more than one person before a decision is made. The sales person not only persuades the main contact to buy but also many others. It takes much skill to persuade different personalities and roles but they understand the necessity if they hope to win the business. In the office the rep will gain support of multiple people when persuading you to make a decision. Others won’t go this far but the sales rep will. Others will state their case and wait. The sales person will be walking the halls gaining buy-in so you will see the light.
Decisiveness In order to maintain momentum in a sales process, decisions need to be made. Sales people that can decide on a commitment or answer when asked and then figure out how to get it done keep things moving. Others who often say, “Let me get back to you,” tend to lose more deals. The ability to make a decision with less information is a good sales trait, as long as they can back it up. In the office it might seem they are making decisions without thinking things through, but if you let them run with it they will usually figure it out or come back and relent. Don’t cave into fixing their decisions to often. Hold them accountable so they can learn from their good and bad decisions.
Independence Sales reps that can work independently will figure out how to generate sales with or without others help. They will welcome lead and customer service support but they will not depend on them if their income depends on it. They might not be volunteering for all the committees or fun groups at the office. Team building events are fun but they don’t mind if they miss one. Don’t hold it against them. They like the team they just don’t feel the need to doing all the team stuff if there are sales ready to close.

Of course you can ask them to tone it down and work better with everyone in the office but have you asked everyone else to pick up the energy and bring in some leads like your sale people do? With your leadership and a better understanding of sales people, your office atmosphere can become more supportive of the sales team, but they will always be different than other department personnel. With this in mind I suggest to work with the sales peoples traits and don’t resist or try to mold them too much. Help the other departments be empathetic to these sales traits and remind them without sales we wouldn’t have jobs or a business. I’m not saying treat sales people with a different standard than any other employee. I’m suggesting that all employees are treated with the same respect and appreciation for who they are and the role they play.

Rene is the President of Sales Manager Now, a company that provides fractional sales management services to small and family-run businesses. He has twenty-seven years of experience in sales leadership, coaching, and consulting. He is also the author of the Part-Time Sales Management handbook and is based in Auburn, California.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Well done Rene. This is always a challenge when you have top performers. Respect and creating an environment of collaboration are important. Emphasis on understanding your own behaviors and place in the organization are vital before you ask anyone in the organization to modify (not change) the way with others in the organization.

  2. Thanks Rene. I suggest that the desirable behaviors, motivations, and competencies should be written down before any hiring or evaluation is done. TTI has a great assessment tool called Trimetrix to help establish this. It’s not a clear cut task trying to do it on your own or with key personnel. If you want a sample, I can forward it to you. I am not a certified specialist, but I do use this tool to help a company determine what they think they want or need when hiring, or trying to recognize what behaviors need to be modified to blend in with the true culture of the company.

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