The Ten Traits of High Sales Performers

A big benefits-management company recently conducted a survey where they asked 365 CEOs and sales-management executives, “What are the three key factors that separate high-performing sales professionals from moderate- to low-performing sales professionals?”

Both CEOs and C-level sales executives (all people who don’t sell, but rely on their salespeople so they get paid) ranked self-discipline/motivation as the most important factor.

Next in line were customer knowledge, innate talent/personality and product knowledge. Further down the list were experience and teamwork skills. Totally bogus.

These are qualities of corporate greed, not value, service or help—the three things that customers require to give you their business and maintain loyalty.

If you’re interested in the most important qualities of a high-performing salesperson, let me give you a realistic list of success characteristics.

  • Perpetual, consistent, positive attitude and enthusiasm. This is the first rule of facing the customer, facing the obstacles, facing the competition, facing the economy and facing yourself.
  • Quadruple self-belief. Unwavering belief in your company, in your product and in yourself are the first three parts. But most critical: You must believe that the customer is better-off having purchased from you.
  • Use of creativity. Use creativity to present ideas in the customer’s favor and to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Ability to give and prove value. Prove the value of your product or service, as well as your ability to give value to the prospect beyond the sale so you earn the order, the reorder and the loyalty.
  • Ability to promote and position. Your use of the Internet to blog, create e-zines, utilize social media and achieve Google top ranking leads customers to perceive you as a value provider and a leader in your field.
  • Exciting, compelling presentation skills. You must develop not just solid communication skills, but superior questioning skills, listening skills and a sense of humor, as well as the innate ability to capture the imagination (and the wallet) of customers.
  • Ability to prove your value and claims through the testimony of others. Testimonials sell where salespeople can’t. The best salespeople use video testimonials to support their claims. But you don’t get testimonials; you earn them. Same with referrals.
  • Ability to create an atmosphere where people want to buy (because they hate being sold). This is done by engaging and asking, not presenting and telling.
  • Ability to build a relationship, not hunt or farm. I wonder if the executives talking about the factors of great salespeople are the same morons dividing their salespeople into hunters and farmers. Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.
  • Unyielding personal values and ethics. Great people have great values and great ethics. It’s interesting that 365 executives don’t deem them in the top 10.
  • The personal desire to excel and be their best. This is a desired quality of every salesperson, but the best salespeople have mastered the other 10 elements. And the key is that all 10 must be mastered in order for this quality to manifest itself.

There is no prize in sales for second place. It’s win or nothing. The masters know this and strive for—they fight for—that winning edge.

Lessons on sales strategies from the author of The Sales Bible, Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service.

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