Successful Seller Characteristics

On the previous page you read about what I believe to be the top ten skills of professional sales people

In order to demonstrate those skills something has to be in place first.

To quote Zig Ziglar (and if you don’t know who Zig is I suggest you go and find out)

“You’ve got to BE, before you can DO and you’ve got to DO, before you can HAVE”.

BE – DO - HAVE that is the formula

So, to HAVE the SALES you want, you need to DO the act of SELLING (the skills from the previous page), but before you can DO that, you need to BE a salesperson. 

This is where a lot of the sales courses and programs miss out. They all talk about the skills you need. OK, but you could coach a 120 kg (260lb) man and give them all the skills in the world but they’ll never be a good marathon runner because that is not what they are! Nor is it what they want to BE.

OK, so who do you need to BE to be a successful salesperson?

Let me first ask you a few questions

When you go to visit a client is your focus on being interesting and presenting a good sales story or are you genuinely INTERESTED in what the client does?

Do you CARE about your customer and his / her business?

How much RESPECT do you show for the buyer? How do you show that RESPECT?

What do you think about the product(s) or service you sell, your company and selling as a profession ?

Do you really want to know about your prospect and their business or do you just want to make a sale ?

What is your Motive when you have a meeting with a prospect ?

When everything is going badly what do you do ? Keep moving forward or go home early or go and have a drink at a coffee shop or a bar ?

When you walk into a sales call or make a cold call what do you expect to happen ?

What do you believe it takes to be a successful sales person ?

Have you got your answers … I mean, written them down and answered truthfully

So, lets talk about whom you need to BE in order to be a successful salesperson.


Most people have a finely tuned sincerity detector. They know if you are attuned to your own interests and not their interests.

People buy from sales people they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST.

How can you be trustworthy ?

People will assess if you are trustworthy based on your Character and your Competence.

And if they sense you are self-serving your character will be in question.

As Zig Ziglar said “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Service - being there to HELP

My driving motive during my B2B selling days was to be of help to people.

I always enjoyed the sales where I made a big difference to a company. I didn’t always enjoy the big sales.

Incidentally, I have been told that the word sales comes from the Norwegian word “Selje” that translates literally into the word “Service”

If I can once again quote Zig Ziglar,

“You can have everything you want in your life, if you just help enough other people get what they want.” 

Curiosity - Interest

How curious are you about what your prospect does and the market they operate in?

Curiosity is just something I am naturally, always have been.

The difference it made to me in selling was that I asked more questions. Not just questions designed to set them up for me to sell to but questions about what their company did, challenges the company had and about them as individuals. I also made sure there was an understanding about what was said. If they told me they wanted “excellent service” I’d just have to ask “what is excellent service to you” or “what would you see if you were getting excellent service”. It also tended to make them be more specific. We use “lots of this stuff” would invariable lead to me asking “how much is lots” 

Incidently, Steve W. Martin, a professor at the USC Marshall School of Business and author of Heavy Hitter Sales Psychology wanted to find out how top sellers differed from average or struggling reps. 

He administered personality tests to one thousand B2B salespeople who worked at some of the world’s leading companies and he found that 82% of top sellers scored extremely high curiosity levels.


I don’t mean bouncing into your prospect’s office like you’d just won the lottery or 

 exuding the “It’s a great day aura” The idea is to be just a little more enthusiastic than your prospect. But what needs to be in the back of your mind is a genuine enthusiasm for the product or service you sell. A belief that it works. It also helps if you are enthusiastic about the company you work for. And finally are you enthusiastic about BEING a sales person ? Having an enthusiasm for selling will create in you the desire to learn and do it better and help you get through the bad days. Having this enthusiasm about you will make you seem more Congruent. Your actions will match your words. You will probably be more believable and be considered more trustworthy. 

Expectation and Confidence

When you talk to a prospect it helps if you are expecting good things to happen. Sometimes that’s not easy if you have just made 10 phone calls and been rejected on them all. But expecting a good outcome will affect your enthusiasm and the words you use. It will literally make your words more influential.

Tolerance, Patience and Respect

How do you feel when the customer can’t understand the benefits of your product?

Do you think they are stupid?

How differently would you feel if you were explaining something to a 3 year old?

Remember people buy from those they know, like and trust. Treating your prospects and customers with respect is a good start to developing that like. Likewise a bit of patience and tolerance helps cement your relationship with the buyer. 

Courage and Determination

Finally, we all know there are days when you are a sales person when it all goes pear shaped. Things go wrong: appointments get cancelled at the last minute, orders get cancelled, deliveries get delayed, buyers go missing, you get stuck in traffic, cars break down and so on. How do you deal with all those situations ? As a sales person you need to be able to shrug it off and keep moving forward.