What makes a good salesperson

Tomer Irge


Even though what I do isn’t necessarily sales, in my heart of hearts, I’m a salesperson. It’s what I’m good at. However, being a salesperson and being a good one is a world of difference. Quite a lot of people dealing with sales (around 55% of them to be more precise) are not fit to be in the business in the first place and should be focusing on a different career path. Basically, every second salesperson is anything but a salesperson.

So what makes you stand out in this line of work? A lot of qualities which I’m pretty sure I could list for hours. In this post, I’ll try to break down some of the most important traits a good salesperson needs to have in order to be successful.

1. Empathy

The ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes and see things from their perspective is what allows you to think outside the box and engage with your audience better. Empathy develops in early childhood but not everyone achieves the necessary levels, especially in sales where a clear distinction is made and where a good empath shines.

Being able to discover and identify with another person’s point of view makes it easier to decide which features of your product or service they would like the most, why, and then present them. Keep in mind that you don’t need to agree with a person in order to empathize. You just need to understand where their feelings and opinions are coming from.

Heart and Brain digital image

A good empath is also good at understanding and responding to other people’s non-verbal and behavioral cues, adapting their own non-verbal communication accordingly. Also, empathy is one of the indicators of high emotional intelligence, which is necessary for a successful salesperson to relate to their target audience and appeal to their different personality traits.

2. Communication skills

Successful two-way communication includes both good listening skills and the ability to express yourself effectively. A good salesperson has to be able not just to talk about the product but to ask all the right questions and get his audience to speak as well. This will engage the buyer on a personal level and increase your chances of sealing the deal. Therefore you need to find out more about them and what makes them tick.

What do I mean by that? Show interest in their lives, ask questions about the things that interest them the most, the problems troubling them, or their personal beliefs. This way you can tell them why exactly your service or product is the right fit for them.

That said, be careful not to appear too nosy or overly inquisitive in your questioning, or those you are selling to might become reluctant and shy away. Most people like to talk about themselves so there should be no problem in eliciting answers if the questions are appropriate.

Being able to express yourself effectively is essential in getting the message across. A good salesperson needs to be clear and persuasive in their presentation. Equally, they need to be attuned to their listeners’ behavior, modifying diction, tone, and speed of their speech.

3. Patience

A potential client is much more important than a one-time quick sale. A good salesperson knows this and will arm themselves with a lot of patience, taking as much time as needed. Selling is a discipline where salespeople routinely fail, perhaps even more so than they succeed. So, that means playing the waiting game with your client which can be frustrating but ultimately rewarding. 

In order to close a sale, some clients need more handling/direction than others. Being able to keep your composure and follow your audience all the way through (no matter how you feel) is one of the key qualities that are highly in demand in this business. In most situations, it is only through patience and persistence that you can expect to get anywhere so take all the time you need.

4. Confidence and optimism

How you present yourself directly affects your selling success. In a way, you’re “selling” yourself, not just the solution you’re selling. In addition to meticulous appearance and excellent communication skills, other key elements at play when making a good presentation are optimism and confidence.

Being optimistic and having confidence in both yourself and your service or product will take you a long way. These personality traits attract attention and prospects will be more interested in hearing what you have to say. This not only refers to your attitude about the sale but also how you deal with rejection. If the client is simply not interested in what you’re offering, be able to take it while keeping your composure. It doesn’t mean they have anything against you personally, and understanding this will help you immensely.

With such an approach, who knows? Maybe you’ll have more success with that same person if you try again sometime in the future. 

5. Adaptability

Being able to adapt to various circumstances and showing desire for learning is highly appreciated in the world of sales. A good salesperson will show initiative in acquiring new skills and knowledge in all things related to sales, the specific product or service being sold, the latest marketing trends, psychology research, and beyond. This means paying close attention to social media, blogs, and any kind of news related to these things.

Adaptability is important in the very beginning of the selling career because it sets a certain standard. A desire for constant personal growth and development means that even if the salesperson doesn’t have much experience in a particular segment, he or she can easily learn all the skills and tricks needed to land a sale.


All these personality traits, along with a few others, are what makes a perfect salesperson. Sometimes such a person is born that way and doesn’t need much effort to succeed. Other times it takes a lot of self-reflection and practice to become a good salesperson. And sometimes even this isn’t enough, and the person just isn’t cut out for the business. May this guide help you separate the wheat from the chaff and set you on the right path.

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