Three Outstanding Personality Traits of Top Salespeople

Every sales organisation operates differently, and what makes one person thrive in one company doesn't necessarily transmit to another. However, there are character traits that all top salespeople possess, such as a winning mindset, the ability to work harder than their peers, and an intense customer focus. Anthony Iannarino and I recently discussed the winning mindset and beliefs of top sales professionals on his podcast, In The Arena, (click here to listen) which led me to reflect on how I learnt the skill sets to thrive in a variety of different sales environments.

This is what I saw when looking at the top performers in three vastly different sales environments.


The Best ENTERPRISE Salesperson I've Ever Met

Deal characteristics: High-value, long and complex sales-cycle, enterprise-wide solutions.

This chap had a big influence on my career. I've never seen anyone conduct a meeting with such grace and precision. It was like watching Roger Federer play tennis, Muhammad Ali box, or Lionel Messi cut through 5 players to score a goal. There wasn't a person in the room, regardless of the number in attendance, who didn't feel acknowledged and special, and this led to frank discussions and a desire to work together. He had learned to control his intrinsic motivation, which was an intense desire to win and maximise the revenues for his company. Not only that, but he channeled this intrinsic motivation into serving his customers.

His Outstanding Personality Trait: Sales EQ. He was able to control his emotions, channel them to connect with his customers, and drive revenue. Check out Jeb Blount's new book Sales EQ for an in-depth understanding of how it applies to the sales profession.

One thing he taught me: Your sensitivity is your greatest strength.


"The best salespeople have a high emotional quotient (EQ), and use it to differentiate themselves" (Tweet)



The Best TRANSACTIONAL Salesperson I've Ever Met

Deal characteristics: Very high-value, high volume, short sales-cycle, C-Level pitches.

This chap had an intense drive to win, and was a pure strategist who feared nothing. There wasn't a molecule in his body that didn't see itself as an equal to his clients, and when talking to customers, he was giving them a choice: To work with him, the best in the industry, or chose a lesser service. His conviction was contagious, and he was able to generate more revenue than his peers or competitors on every piece of business he won. Sometimes, I would question why he maintained 100% intensity, as he was already very wealthy and successful. The answer came from within; he wasn't trying to operate at 100%, but this output was all he knew. When an opportunity arose, he never hesitated for a second to make a call, leverage his network or ask for the business. This behaviour mirrored that of his customers, and he served and protected them with the same genuine intent.

His Outstanding Personality Traits: Hard work, a clearly defined strategy, and flawless execution. Check out my book, The No.1 Best Seller, for more on this mentality.

One thing he taught me: Don't do anything that doesn't generate revenue.


"What is the ROI of your next action?" (Tweet)



The Best RELATIONSHIP Salesperson I've Ever Met

Deal characteristics: High-value, no key product differentiators, short sales-cycle.

This girl had a very different value proposition. In a market where a handful of suppliers were all adequate, her personality was contagious, and she was able to form meaningful relationships with stakeholders quickly. Unlike the above salesmen, she wasn't strategic, and rejection or deal losses cut her deeply. However, no matter how burnt she felt, I could always make her laugh, and by the time she had stopped laughing, she was back in the game. I admired her ability to brush herself off, put on a smile and get on with it again. As the top enterprise salesman had told me, her sensitivity was her greatest asset, but this wasn't her true unique ability. She had something very special- the ability to quickly recover from disappointment and discard the emotional baggage that hindered her progression.

Her Outstanding Personality Traits: Resilience, tenacity and likeability.

"The faster you recover from a deal loss, the faster you are onto the next" (Tweet)


These salespeople played to their intrinsic strengths and honed their craft to excel in their unique environments. We are a collection of our experiences, and on every deal, I would remind myself of their dominant traits to ensure I was prepared for all eventualities. The lesson from this is to learn the rules of the game, emulate the best, and then do it better.

If you haven't yet received my 2017 research paper, it discusses the differences between selling in the UK vs. the USA, as well as how digital networks are impacting multinational businesses differently on each side of the pond. Download from the homepage.