10 Traits of a Successful Salesperson

To find a top performer, look closer at personality than experience.

How do you find a super salesperson who can take your remodeling business to the next level? It's not always easy to spot such a person by looking at his resume. In fact, a third of today's sales stars had no previous sales experience, says Tom Swartz, CGR, CGB, of J.J. Swartz Co. in Decatur, Ill.

Of course, you should have a solid sales process in place. Even then, though, you can't drop just any experienced employee into a sales position and expect good results. Many remodelers have moved someone from their field crews into sales, figuring the person knows the business inside and out. Sometimes that works, but the answer is more often to hire people who are likely to be able to sell and then teach them about remodeling.

If a remodeler is looking for a new salesperson, Swartz recommends giving more consideration to personality than to experience. The key is hiring people with the "sales personality." He lists these 10 traits shared by top salespeople:

1. Ego strength means having strong, healthy self-esteem and the ability to bounce back from rejection. Different from arrogance, ego strength is the ability to realize that rejection is part of sales and to avoid being immobilized by it.

2. Ego drive incorporates self-esteem and competitiveness. It's the desire to persuade people and close the sale. For the ego-driven person, getting to "yes" makes them feel good.

3. A sense of urgency means pushing sales to completion quickly. Like ego drive, urgency stems from competitiveness.

4. Assertiveness is critical for sales success. It results in the ability to be firm in negotiations, to lead the sale process and to get the point across confidently without being overbearing and aggressive. Such stereotypical used-car salesmen traits have negative connotations for good reason—they turn people off.

5. Risk takers are an asset to a sales team because they are willing to innovate and try something risky—more important than ever because new products and services call for new modes of selling. Successful salespeople can't settle for just taking orders.

6. Sociability needs little description in a profession where relationship-building is key. Great salespeople are outgoing, friendly, talkative and interested in their clients for more than just a sale.

7. Abstract reasoning, or the ability to understand concepts and ideas, is imperative for today's salespeople. As selling becomes more complex, they must be able to sell potential clients on concepts such as how beautiful their new kitchen or addition will be.

8. Skepticism might be the most surprising of all the traits on this list, but good salespeople have the tendency to view people with a little suspicion and a little lack of trust. It keeps salespeople alert, questioning and thorough in the sale process.

9. Creativity is a must-have trait for people selling new products and especially intangible services. A creative sales technique is a way to set your company apart from the competition.

10. Empathy is the ability to place oneself in someone else's shoes. If you’re selling someone something, you must be able to sense his need and meet it with your product.

Find someone with these 10 traits and, most likely, you’ll have discovered a top sales performer who can help grow your business. After all, it's a lot easier to teach people about your products and services than to teach them how to create a new personality.

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