5 Personality Traits of the Most Successful Sales Reps

The 2011 book, The Challenger Sale, by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson classified B2B sales reps into one of five profiles: the Hard Worker, the Lone Wolf, the Relationship Builder, the Challenger, and the Problem Solver. These profiles were based on the skills and behaviors reps exhibit when interacting with customers. But behaviors are not the same as personality and anyone who has ever worked in sales knows, it’s full of personalities. While every sales rep is unique, the cream of the crop across profiles tend to exhibit some of the same personality traits. Here's our list of the 5 personality traits of the most successful sales reps. If you work in sales, chances are that you share some of these. Which ones apply to you?

1) Charismatic - Sales careers demand being in front of customers day in and day out so reps have to be a sociable bunch but, the most successful sales reps are charismatic in a unique way. The difference between the best and the rest is that their charm isn't based on arrogance, but rather a capability to find a way to relate to everyone. This in turn makes everyone want to be around them. They are great listeners, storytellers, and always make their clients feel like they are the most important people in the room.  

2) Aggressive - The same quality that gives salespeople a bad reputation also happens to be one that sets the most successful ones apart. Being aggressive in sales is a must. But the top performers know how to be aggressive without being abrasive or pushy, and that is a nuanced difference. A successful sales rep is not afraid to push the line ever so slightly and always overcomes objections with knowledge and grace. An unsuccessful one isn't able to assess where the line is for a customer and gets defensive, angry, or lashes out at the competition when a customer brings up an objection.

3) Confident - If you don't have confidence in sales, you will never succeed. It's just that simple. Dealing with rejection day in and day out is incredibly difficult, and every single sales rep experiences it. The difference between the ones at the top of the board and those that aren't is that they understand that rejection is a part of the process, and are confident that if they just keep plugging away, their next deal is right around the corner. Successful sales reps are confident in their own abilities, and never come off as arrogant to their coworkers and their clients, no matter how successful they are. 

4) Competitive - Many former athletes go into sales because of the competitive nature of the profession. Since you're constantly being measured and compared to those around you, the best sales reps allow their competitive nature to come to the surface and drive them to attain better results. There are also some sales reps who frame competition differently, preferring to focus on beating their own previous performance numbers rather their co-workers; more like a solo mountain climber looking to bag a higher peak. But the best sales reps are truly competitive, and they compete with class, preferring to leave the arguments and pettiness on the sidelines where it belongs.  

5) Systematic - This personality trait is probably the most overlooked when it comes to the most successful sales reps. A system, or a process, for conducting business is one of the most vital aspects of high performance. This doesn't always mean organization, as many high-achieving reps may have desks scattered with paperwork (and empty cans of Red Bull). But it does mean that they have a process, which may only be in their head, and they execute it. Whether it's a system for prospecting, pitching, or following-up; unless a sales rep has a consistent process, and iterates to perfect it, he will never be the best. 

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