Most small business owners have little experience in hiring salespeople. They use their instincts and learn by trial and error, often looking for characteristics of successful salespeople they’ve hired in the past. But hiring the wrong salesperson can have serious repercussions for your business, causing you to waste time and resources without closing any sales.
Being able to confidently identify what great salespeople can help you hire the right person for the job at the outset. Here’s what you need to know about what makes a successful salesperson:
Characteristics of a Great Salesperson
What makes a successful salesperson? Stephan Schiffman is a highly-respected author on this topic. In his book The 25 Sales Habits of Highly Successful Salespeople, he lays out the characteristics of successful salespeople that every business owner should look for. Here are a few of the most important traits he recommends:
- Analytics: A good salesperson can analyze their own sales process to anticipate any breakdowns. They can then change their process accordingly without getting stuck in an unproductive routine.
- Leadership: To build trust with a prospect, a salesperson must display a good leader’s qualities. No one likes a sleazy salesperson, but they will respect someone who projects an air of well-earned authority.
- Listening: You can’t anticipate a prospect’s needs if you’re too busy practicing your sales pitch to listen when they’re talking. A good salesperson is an active listener and knows how to ask the right questions to obtain the information they need.
- Forward-thinking: It often takes more than one touchpoint to close a sale. To be successful, a salesperson must think ahead to the next touchpoint and enact it at the right time.
In their book Biz Dev Done Right, Caryn Kopp and Carl Gould layout even more characteristics of successful salespeople, so business owners know what to look for. A few of my favorites are:
- Organization: A salesperson must be able to successfully keeping track of leads and follow up at regular, appropriate intervals
- Adaptability: Salespeople regularly need to think on their feet. They must remain up-to-date with the latest brand messaging and adapt their pitches depending on the prospect.
- Motivation: The most successful salespeople are self-starters. They genuinely believe in what they’re selling, and they’re just as excited to get new leads as you are. You can teach many skills, but you can’t teach motivation. The person you hire needs to have passion.
- Likeability: The perfect sales pitch will fall flat if your salesperson rubs people the wrong way. This trait can be hard to quantify, but if you feel uncomfortable or ill-at-ease talking to this person in the job interview, you can imagine your prospective clients will feel the same way in a sales meeting.
Learning to identify the characteristics of successful salespeople requires some forethought. I can help you specify what to look for in a candidate and set you up with reasonable and important goals. Fill out my contact form, and let’s have a free chat about how you can pinpoint the characteristics of successful salespeople in your new hires.