Sales Success: Of Character, and Characteristics

The top sales professionals all have these tools in their skill sets. Do you?


By Jeffrey Gitomer


Herewith, a list of sales success characteristics. They represent the elements that make a salesperson successful. 

But here’s the secret: Before you make judgments about others and how they compare to the list, first judge yourself. Measure yourself against the elements that make salespeople who they are, and successful at what they do. And for those of you who hire salespeople, a checklist of the real things to look for in a potentially successful person.

If you want to succeed, you and whoever you hire better be somewhere between 8 and 10 (on a 1-10 scale) on every one of these characteristics. They make any person a “hire”able and “succeed”able sales professional—you included.


1. Smart.
Salespeople have to be smart enough to think on the spot, and deal with every kind of situation as it happens. CAUTION: Very experienced salespeople, who think they know everything, are most vulnerable to being beaten by a smart person with hustle.

2. Self-Starting. Great salespeople don’t need “motivation.” They have a built in fire.  Nobody has to tell them what to do.  They know what to do. And they do it. They make the first call of the day, and the last call of the day.   

3. Great Attitude. Great salespeople beli-
eve they will make every sale. They take “no” as “not yet” and accept every lemon thrown at them by management, customers and accounting—and use those lemons to open up a lemonade stand.  A great salesperson is able to take everybody else’s crap, and somehow turn it into money.

4. Excellent Communication Skills. Great salespeople are not “good” communicators; they’re great communicators.  Their message is both compelling and transferable. Their passion and their belief system is as contagious as their enthusiasm. And they’re able to articulate in a way that gets customers to buy, more often than not.

5. Physically and Mentally Fit. Exercising your mind and body before you get to work so that you feel good and that good feeling is projected every time you interact with a customer. 

6. Digital Literacy. There’s no excuse for a lack of computer literacy other than stubbornness and laziness. The Internet will rule the economic world for at least the next decade. Those who ignore this fact will find themselves completely unemployable after being fired from their present job.

7. Focused and Intention-Driven. Keeping your eye on the prize and working toward it steadily is what separates those who do and those who don’t. A goal without intention and focus is like an automobile without gasoline. It looks pretty, but it can’t get you anywhere. Intention is the fuel that will take you from where you are to your goal, your destination and where you want to be. 

8. Dedicated to Succeeding. With great salespeople, it’s not just a matter of goals. It’s a matter of focus on outcomes—multiple achievements foster a self-confidence that keeps the momentum going. The more you succeed, the more your success is likely to continue. 

9. Looking for a Career, Not a Job. If a salesperson has a base salary and a commission, the job person wants a raise in their base pay.  The career person wants a raise in their commission.

10. More Interested in Personal Success and Personal Development Than Money. Salespeople who work for money rarely achieve it. Great salespeople work to be their best, and dedicate themselves to that process daily. And as a result, earn tons.

11. A Constant Student: Willing to Learn and Adapt. Great salespeople know there is always more to learn. They dedicate themselves to being better, being best. Great salespeople know that learning from their past allows them to adapt and be ready for new encounters and new challenges. It’s the difference between “already knowing everything” and “life-long learner.”

12. Taking Joy in Serving Others. This is the “master” quality. One of the best salespeople I’ve ever known is John Ruhlin. He created and is the master of Giftology, and loves to serve.

14. A Great Social Presence and
Reputation.
Easier stated: “Google-
able” by you and any customer they might visit. They know social media, have a social understanding and participate daily in learning, posting and reputation building.

Notice one characteristic missing? Sales skills. I’d rather have attitude and brains than selling skills any day.
I can teach someone to sell. I can’t teach them to be smart or happy.

Compare these qualifications to the best salesperson you ever knew. Compare them to the best salesperson you ever had. Then compare them to yourself. Ouch!

Now that you know the criteria, you have some work to do.

About the author

Jeffrey Gitomer is author of The Little Red Book of Selling and The Little Red Book of Sales Answers.
P     | 704.333.1112
E     | salesman@gitomer.com