Eight Characteristics of a Great Salesperson


Article by Frank TraditiReading this article’s title, you might be saying to yourself right now: “I’m not a salesperson,” “I hate selling,” or “Why do I need to learn about what makes a salesperson great?” But let’s take a look at what it really means to be a salesperson for your own small business or independent practice.

You are selling an idea, a vision, or the ability to solve a problem. Your prospect is looking for the solution. They have many choices and they may be confused. They’re looking for the right product or service that is going to get the job done for the right price. And you are that product, the solution, the answer.

Now, who’s going to be selling the product? It won’t be your brother, sister, mother, or father, or any brochure you send them… It’s all about you!

Although you may not be a salesperson by trade or training, you already possess many, if not all, of the basic characteristics of a great salesperson. You just need to know what they are and how you can use them to win new clients.

Eight Characteristics of a Great Salesperson

1. Has expert listening skills and the ability to “tune in.”
Every great salesperson is a great listener. He or she not only listens to the words but also to the meaning behind the story. A great listener knows how to interpret the story and make assessments about what the customer needs, wants, and has to have.

2. Is naturally curious and likes to explore.
Curiosity is showing that you really care about the individual and their current situation. Being curious builds a collaborative relationship, allowing for information and ideas to flow. A natural byproduct of being curious is to explore — asking the questions that draw out the client and their stories. Great questions let customers know you have thought about what they said and want to help.

3. Knows how to tell it like it is.
Unfortunately, salespeople have been placed in that “used car salesman” box. Yes, there are a fair share of those folks out there. However, great salespeople couldn’t be further from that definition. One of the core differences — they tell it like it is. Taking this approach elevates the level of trust between customer and salesperson. Trust is a huge factor in getting hired for anything.

4. Knows what motivates his or her customer.
Everyone has a motivator switch. Some you can see, some you can’t. Every great salesperson has the ability to uncover exactly what that motivation is. In any selling opportunity (whether selling a product or yourself) the quicker you find out what is motivating the client to make a change, the better your chances are for getting the sale.

5. Knows the product.
Product knowledge is key in any sales opportunity. Being aware of the main features and benefits is level one. The second level is to understand what fits the client’s needs the most. The most powerful weapon in your arsenal of product knowledge is the ability to create a customized product or service solution for each and every situation.

6. Is a problem solver.
A great salesperson doesn’t push products on a customer. Rather, they flesh out the actual problem facing the client, explore the circumstances surrounding the problem, and then masterfully develop a solution that appears to be customized just for the client’s situation.

7. Knows how to improvise.
Just like a good jazz musician can anticipate the flow of the music and improvise so well that it sounds like every note was carefully planned — so does a great salesperson. Each question you ask and piece of information you present can be redirected in a moment by what the client says next. The key is to have the ability to make that change and not miss a beat.

8. Uses a sense of humor to build rapport.
You don’t have to be a stand-up comic, but leveraging clever and timely humor can alleviate any tension between the salesperson and the customer. Humor has a special ingredient that brings two (or more) people to an equal level. That’s where the most productive business is done.

Carefully review these key characteristics of a great salesperson and notice where in your life or business you have displayed these characteristics before. There’s a good chance that you will check off a majority of the list.

Now, here are some questions:

  • Do you see any technical or specialized skills in the list above?
  • Are there any attributes that require a six-month long training program?
  • Do you think you need five to ten years experience before you could use them with your prospects?

I’ll bet it’s safe to say the answer to these questions is no!

You already have what it takes to be a great salesperson for your business. Now you need to put these characteristics to work, and gain the confidence that selling isn’t that uncomfortable or difficult.

Just being yourself is the most important part of what it takes.

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