sales skills

Is your organization struggling to recruit and retain productive salespeople? This is a common concern among companies that rely on a professional sales force for their main revenue base. The “80/20 rule” applies in sales as much as any other discipline, where 80% of sales are made by 20% of the company’s sales force. It doesn’t have to be this way, however.

Building a strong sales team starts with hiring and then carries through into training. In fact, research reveals that over half of the people in sales should be doing something else with their time. The ones who are left might need to either find something else to sell or simply be better trained to do their jobs.

There has been a lot of discussion about what makes the best salespeople. Some are sales “skills” that can be taught or learned, while others are inherent personality traits that a company will want to uncover when hiring. Here is a consensus of five common traits that your top sales performers will share.

1. Focus

A sales person with focus is one that is driven to reach their goals and is generally self-motivated. Incentives are always effective, but not the driving force with these salespeople. They don’t require direction or guidance at every turn or appear anxious about procedures. In an interview, these candidates will give clear answers to questions and demonstrate a history of achieving objectives.

2. Positivity

Successful salespeople are positive and passionate about every aspect of their work. People would much rather make a deal with a cheerful salesperson than a bitter or pessimistic one. Everyone has life struggles, but these top performers understand that bringing a negative attitude to work will just compound matters. Passionate and positive traits are usually inherent and are difficult to teach. When you meet these people in an interview, they’ll stand out.

3. Integrity

Putting customers first is winning long-term strategy and a critical sales skill for sustained success. Sacrificing a sale or missing a quota for the sake of doing the right thing pays dividends over time in goodwill and future business. Salespeople that truly care about their customer’s needs find the most long-term success.

4. Self-Awareness

Sales is an ego-driven occupation that tends to be loaded with Type-A personalities. In some cases, this benefits your company, but when it comes to admitting faults and making changes, there can be issues. Your top sales people are not only going to be high achievers, but they’re also going to have the self-awareness to pinpoint where they need help. They’ll be coachable and willing to adapt to both improve their sales and benefit the company.

5. Resilience

Let’s face it – salespeople get told “no” a lot. This isn’t the best career path for someone who bristles at rejection. A top salesperson not only needs thick skin to be able to handle rejections and bounce back, but they also need to get comfortable with persistence. Following up repeatedly or responding to a series of customer objections might be necessary to land that big sale. Some of these traits can be trained, but a level of underlying confidence must also be present for true success.

For some, sales is a natural talent. Several traits of top salespeople could be considered inherent attributes. Others, however, can be taught, and this training can bring a company’s sales team to the next level, boosting profits and bottom line results. Businesses with an eye on building winning sales teams should scan for these other characteristics during the interview process, bringing in a sales force with an advantage on day one.

Read more: Animal Instinct: What’s Your Sales Personality?