What Makes a Successful Salesperson?

by smartamarketing

This is one of the hardest questions on which to reach consensus even among successful salespeople and their sales managers. (If a salesperson is consistently successful, it does not matter whether they know the answer or not!) The answer is probably an amalgam of some, if not all, of the factors listed below.  What would you add?

The broad requirements for success are:

Q         Personal qualities

S          Skill

A         Activity

SM      Sales management

K         Knowledge

Professional approach


Ability to create a rapport


Ability to control (not manipulate) calls

Communication skills (questioning, listening, presenting, observing)

Realistic, but tough objectives

A well structured incentive programme

Commitment to succeed

Thinking and Planning

Pre-call preparation

Good time management

Real customer focus

Systematic approach to selling

Product knowledge (based on benefits to the customer)

Knowledge about the customer and his industry

Understanding and having the ability to deal with objections

Here are some comments on those factors.


A salesperson must have self-confidence.  Equally, without being able to obtain the confidence of customers (or manager or colleagues), there is no chance of selling products or services.  Secondly, salespeople must have confidence in their own organisation or financial institution.  Finally, the salesperson must have confidence in his organisation’s products and services and in both the organisation’s and their own ability to deliver.  Since many products and services have only limited product differentiation and are effectively sold as commodities, quality of service delivery can often be the decisive factor in who wins the business.

Commitment to Succeed

The commitment or desire to succeed cannot be instilled through training.  It can be arrived at through personal loyalty, the promise of a large bonus for meeting 110 per cent sales targets, fear of failure, or through many other motivations.  In the final analysis, how you gain commitment is irrelevant, but you must be committed to succeed.