Career Development

What Makes a Good Salesperson? These 19 Traits

September 7, 2021

It's been said many times that a career in sales or marketing requires a certain level of psychology-based knowledge and intuition. Indeed, the elemental techniques and traits are indicative of the ability to read and understand people, a rare skill in today's society. As you'll come to discover as you move through this article, it takes a unique mix of characteristics to be an exceptional salesperson, and some might surprise you. Keep reading to discover the top 19 personality traits that combine to make a great salesperson.

Related: 15 Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader

Key characteristics of a good salesperson

The nature of the job calls for salespeople who possess a unique and diverse set of personal characteristics and soft skills. In this line of work, individual success (or lack thereof) is immediately made apparent by simply looking at their results. It's said that it takes a unique kind of personality to succeed in sales, possessing most or all of the following characteristics:

Active listening

A great salesperson knows the right questions to ask to get their prospect to talk openly and seizes the opportunity to carefully listen to identify the pain points the client is experiencing so that they can inquire for more information and deliver the solution to the client's problems.


A flexible outlook on scheduling and what is best for the client is important for salespeople to show their clients that they really do have their best interests in mind.


Salespeople know that first impressions are lasting, so they strive to create exceptional first impressions that get them on the path to the sale. Speaking clearly, concisely and confidently is very important, as is looking your business best.


Speaking clearly and persuasively are only part of the communication skill set of a great salesperson. Salespeople must be able to read people, so they can quickly know how to approach the client with their sales pitch.


The core of a successful career in sales is being confident in one's abilities as well as truly believing that what they're offering is the single best solution to the client's problems. Customers recognize confidence and tend to mirror it, which enables them to trust their salesperson and make the purchase.

Emotional intelligence

This allows a person to form a plan of action determined by feeling out the client's hesitations and pain points and approaching them in a way that speaks to them in their current situation.


A salesperson must be able to identify the client's needs to take the right angle in selling to him or her. Empathy provides valuable insight and feedback from the client and allows the salesperson to establish a comfortable working relationship and earn the trust of the client, making the client more likely to buy.


Remaining excited about the prospect of making their next sale is a true mark of a successful salesperson's personality. They're always motivated and are constantly looking for the next sales opportunity.


Focused individuals are driven to meet goals, demanding more of themselves and pushing themselves to do what needs to be done to exceed their goals. Paired with empathy, a great salesperson who listens can identify with the prospective client while staying focused on the goals they've set and presenting solutions that are right for the customer.


The most successful salespeople in the long-term make honest deals. They're focused on providing solutions to their clients, and they know that if they're dishonest, the relationship will fall apart and future sales will disappear with it. They also understand word of mouth, so they're not eager to compromise their entire client base to make one deal.


Self-motivation and a strong sense of independence make salespeople excel at working on their own clients. Companies are more likely to prefer independence in a candidate for a sales job because it requires less time walking them through every step of the day.


Salespeople aren't only working on one prospect at a time. they've got to be able to service, pitch and close with different clients on the same day. This occupation sometimes requires one to be on the phone while answering emails or researching their next prospective lead.


While some people have no tolerance for failure or setbacks and are quick to give up, a salesperson remains optimistic, choosing instead to change the circumstances through resilience and drive. They may be disappointed by rejection or failure, but their inherent initiative and the ability to view problems as opportunities and find viable solutions keeps them focused on what they can do rather than what they've failed to do.


A patient salesperson knows when to strike, reading the client to determine the perfect time to pitch. Too early, and the deal can be sullied, but too late can lead to missed opportunities. A salesperson needs to be able to bide their time, nurture their working relationships and act at the perfect time.


Good salespeople can close sales without being pushy. They use all the facets of their set of skills to read people and learn their biggest obstacle so they can find new ways to overcome it. They've also got the tenacity to put the time in for prospecting and the passion to keep going, knowing that even after a hundred "no" answers, they'll get the one "yes."


Logical reasoning, debate skills and creativity in offering solutions to the most obscure of problems allow good salespeople to close the gap between the client's problem and the solution the salesperson is offering. Intuitively figuring out the sequence of events that will lead to a closed sale is a unique skill that allows a salesperson to excel.


Rather than become discouraged and downtrodden during a period of low sales numbers, they keep looking for new ways to innovate in their field and make those hard-to-close sales.


A responsible person manages to get things done regardless of the obstacles that may arise. These salespeople have a sense of urgency to solve problems, anticipating the possible outcomes before taking action. This no-excuses personality trait allows a person to remain positive and optimistic, accept constructive criticism and make adjustments to improve performance when necessary.


This trait is undoubtedly interwoven into many of the other characteristics of a good salesperson. Remaining constantly aware of one's impact on the client is essential in connecting with the client and closing the deal.


View More 

How to Create the Perfect Elevator Pitch - Plus Examples [Video + Transcript]

In this career advice video, learn how to create an elevator pitch for a networking event or interview that tells a compelling story about who you are and where you are going in your career in under two minutes.

Myers-Briggs Jobs: Personality Test To Find Your Ideal Career [Video + Transcript]

In this career advice video, learn indicators that can help you identify your Myers-Briggs personality type and jobs that could be a good fit for you.