There are many personal attributes that make a sales rep a success machine. And if you’re looking to hire sales reps, or are looking to improve your own sales success, you probably already have your own list of desirable attributes.
So let’s start with a list of the obvious, then I’ll present my #1 and why I think its the first among equals.
First, very successful sales reps are:
- Intelligent – not Einstein bright but smart enough
- Personable – something close to a Labrador puppy is best
- Articulate – can speak their thoughts clearly without taking someone’s head off at the neck
- Honorable – they are moral, ethical, trustworthy, have integrity and everything else that distinguishes Nelson Mandela from me 😉
- Conscientiousness – they are dutiful, responsible and reliable (this from HBR’s Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople)
And you could go on forever but these are the ones I believe are key, to be surpassed only by my #1 sales attribute.
But before I reveal that attribute, here’s how I came up with my #1.
Two weeks ago I was at a business dinner with my client and her boss.
First, a little about my client. She is a top sales performer extraordinaire. Her President routinely calls her in on high-level projects that cover advanced technology, large sales, complex strategies, and organizational issues. She’s high wattage. And she does this is in addition to driving sales results in several groups.
She definitely is a category A top sales performer and she has all the attributes listed above.
But it wasn’t until that dinner that I realized what the #1 sales success attribute was. She was personifying it to her boss in a long conversation about a particular client of theirs. She was fascinated by how their client protected its supply chain, and how that impacted their overall business viability and profitability.
Now her conversation was tangentially close to what her company sells that client. But she had deep knowledge about that industry, that business and that client organization. Very deep. She may know more about that business than her client contact did.
What I recognized was that she has an insatiable curiosity about business in general. She’s thinking, discussing and digging for understanding about how it operates, organizes, sells, markets, and brands. And this curiosity was laser focused on her clients’ businesses.
Of course she knew her business inside out, and has sales experience, and is good with people. Hopefully, all sales reps have these to varying degrees. But it was her curiosity in general that makes the difference.
This I believe is the key to her success, as well as top sales performers in general. Though “curiosity” is rated #4 in the Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople from a numerical research standpoint, I feel it’s the real driver for sales success. Again, the other attributes listed above need to be present, but the driver is “curiosity”.
First Among Equals
Curiosity is the first among equals. And it’s something we can nurture in ourselves because we all have it to some degree. For sales reps to become more successful, they must let that beast run free, and become obsessively curious.
There it is. My #1 attribute of a sales success giant is curiosity.
I dare you to comment on line. Go on, it’s not so scary as it seems.