The Top 5 Traits of Successful Salespeople

Show me a salesperson who works 60-hour weeks and I’ll show you someone who is inefficient, ineffective, frustrated and likely to leave you sometime soon.  They appear committed and passionate, then they’ve quit and you have a hole to fill.

It’s been my experience that the best sellers don’t log a ton of overtime.  They may work late here and there (prepping for that big presentation) but otherwise they show up on time and leave on time. 

If the path to sales excellence isn’t paved with copious hours worked, then what’s the secret?

As with excellence in any endeavor, overachievement in sales is not due to any one trait, but several.

Here are the top 5 traits of successful salespeople.


The best sales representatives are organized.  Their calendars are full of meetings, often color coded by type.  Their Task list is ever present with only a few overdue items.  When there is a big presentation scheduled, there is corresponding prep time scheduled too.  When something is due from them, it’s on time.



A good salesperson will spot things that need (or will need) doing to move their deals forward and they do them.  They actively look for ways to wow buyers, and they make them happen.  They invite the right internal stakeholders to meetings, grabbing a piece of their calendar with ample notice.



Your best salespeople have a burning desire to bring people (aka. buyers) to their way of thinking.  They enjoy turning a No into a Yes if they believe doing so will help the customer.  They want to earn an above average income.  They are competitive in a positive way and aren’t shy about it.



A top seller will regularly read books and articles, attend workshops and seminars as well as other learning opportunities related to their craft.  If asked, at any given time they’ll have at least one business book on the go.  They’ll also read in other disciplines to inform their approach to their craft (yes, they view sales as a craft).



The best athletes on earth need a good coach to help them excel, as do your top sales reps. The cream of the crop will be salespeople that embody all of these traits while still being humble enough to receive feedback from their (fractional) VP of sales or sales manager.

In my role as a Fractional VP of Sales, I’ve had the pleasure to work with many sellers.  Some great, many very good and a few that were miscast.  The myth that the Gift of the Gab = Great Salesperson is just that, a myth.  Meet with your best and my guess is they’ll display most of the foundational traits and characteristics listed above.  Encourage the rest of your team to follow suit and watch results improve. 

As always, there is lots of nuance to the application of the concepts I’ve noted.  I’m happy to chat further about them with you [email protected].