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The 5 traits of successful sales individuals

Books have been written about the qualities of a great sales individual. People deliver and attend seminars on what makes a great sales individual. The crux of the matter is that if you remove the fluff and take away the fancy terms, there are exactly 5 qualities that define a great sales individual.

5 traits of successful sales individuals

There could be more, in fact we are confident that there are more than 5 traits. However, mastering the 5 traits mentioned below can help progress your career and make sure you excel at selling.

Active Listening

Everyone has heard the 80:20 rule but following this rule blindly does not make anyone a great listener.

Active listening in sales

A great sales individual always pays attention to not just what is being said but also what the prospect means. No matter how closed your prospect is, there are always vital indicators that can help you ask leading questions.

For example:

Prospect: “We need 2 more licenses, we just took on a few team members.”

Transactional sales individual: “Sure, when do you need to add those 2 more licenses?”

The conversation moves on to more transaction things and you probably get a 2 license sale. There is no scope for expansion here. Here is the same conversation but in a more active listening mode.

Prospect: “We need 2 more licenses, we just took on a few team members.”

Active listener: “That is good to know. Are you planning on adding more members to your team in the coming future?”

Prospect: “Yes, we already have 10 more in training. This is going to be a continuous thing.”

Active listener: “Good to know. If those 10 people are going to be using our tool eventually. I will be happy to offer them training on the tool as well.”

Active listening ensures you engage better with your prospects but also allows you to create opportunities that you would have otherwise missed out.


We spoke about at length on the importance of showing patience in sales. Everyone thinks the best sales individuals kick ass at following up, what most sales individuals don’t understand is that it is important to know when to follow up and when to show patience.

The best sales individuals know when to let their prospects think things out and when to jump into action.

We highly recommend you go through our blog post on the importance of patience to better understand how to inculcate patience as a skill in sales.

Know your product but know your prospects even better


Do you know your ideal buyer persona?

If not, you are already running blind.


We cannot emphasise how important it is to understand who you are selling to before you can even make your first slide deck. We have already spoken about how you can build buyer personas in our earlier post.

Know your buyer personas

Once you have your buyer personas ready, you can make sure your sales pitch is more consultative and you can do much better name dropping in the process.

It is equally important for a sales individual to have working knowledge of the product he is selling. We don’t mean you should be able to troubleshoot technical issues, in fact we recommend you never have that much knowledge (you might end up talking features all day and get no where).

What we recommend, is that you make sure you don’t get lost in conversations the moment they turn technical or industry specific.

Jargon aside (although that is equally important), we suggest being able to make the most of any conversation with your prospect and this means knowing your product well.

Never shy away from difficult conversations

We spoke about negotiations fails in our earlier blog post. Negotiation aside, the best sales individuals are not afraid to have the difficult conversations with their prospects. This involves anything from asking your prospects why they need a discount to why they are evaluating a product in the first place.


It also means, you might end up challenging your prospects and even learn to fire them.


As a result of difficult conversations, the best sales individuals are capable of cutting loses early in the sales cycle. In addition, difficult conversations are a great way of judging if your prospects are even serious about your product/service.

Have great hygiene


The reason great sales individuals are able to meet quota every month is because they have a repeatable success plan.


For a plan to be repeatable, it has to be easy to analyse and you should be able to find your mistakes fast. This entails relying on your CRM data and every activity that you have logged.

Hygiene in sales

Don’t confuse hygiene with frequent follow-ups, hygiene is about making sure your follow-ups are well documented and your manager does not have to guess if you followed up or not.

Hygiene is making sure when you or your manager look at your pipeline, there is no need for a follow-up call or meeting. If you do your ground work well and keep good hygiene, you will be able to go back to your best deals and analyse how you closed them. As a matter of fact, you will also be able to analyse your lost deals and know what went wrong!

We hope this blog post was helpful. If you need more assistance, just send us an email or tweet to us at @insideselling

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