Maybe you were born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline. (Sorry not sorry, folks, I had to take that shot.)

That’s pretty much what the age-old nature vs. nurture debate boils down to — some sales reps believe successful salespeople are born, not made. 

But here’s the truth: Training is everything. 

Sure, some reps communicate more easily because they’re naturally extroverted. But don’t get it twisted — the introvert in the next cubicle can learn to be just as open and communicative with purposeful training and consistent practice. (They just have to try a bit harder.)

To elevate your sales game, marry work ethic with desire, and strive to: 

  1. Understand your sales personality.
  2. Know which traits of successful salespeople you don’t achieve naturally but want to learn.

The four sales personalities — know your selling style(s)

Whether your sales savvy is natural or learned, your sales personality needs to contain the core attributes required for selling success

Before we get into what those are, know your sales personality so you can tailor your approach to accommodate potential buyers. 

You don’t just buy from anyone, right? Neither do your clients. 

Business News Daily’s Max Freedman says the four sales personality types can be broken down into these traits: 

traits of successful salespeople
  1. Assertive: Goal-oriented, competitive, decisive, impatient, and controlling.
  2. Amiable: Good listeners who are curious and seek more than a surface relationship with clients. They’re also patient, friendly, and open to challenges.
  3. Expressive: Besides seeking strong personal relationships with clients, expressive reps are persuasive, outgoing, creative, spontaneous, intuitive, and enthusiastic.
  4. Analytic: These inquisitive reps don’t seek personal sales relationships. Instead, they’re fact-driven, formal, serious, direct, patient, and prepared.

Keep this gem in your back pocket: Traits of the most well-rounded, successful salespeople include qualities from all four sales personalities

The traits of successful salespeople you need to develop

Self-motivated, knowledgeable, conscientious, transparent, confident (but also modest!), extroverted, great listening and communication skills, driven — yup, we’re still talking about salespeople at the top of their game; not your dream date. 

But isn’t that what the job is? To sell yourself and your product as a dream-like solution to your customer’s problem until someone bites and gives you a shot? Pretty much.

Having the right skills is necessary to succeed in sales, but don’t underestimate the advantages personal characteristics will give you, too — and the good news is that both can be learned over time. (Don’t worry; you’re not screwed.)

Make life easier on yourself to cross the finish line, sales rep. These are the traits you need to develop ASAP. 

High emotional IQ 

Remember when that bland and stoic sales rep convinced you to buy their crazy expensive product?

Aaah, that’s right… It never happened. 

I’m sure you could’ve guessed, but sellers with high levels of empathy are better at listening, negotiating, and closing deals with customers. Go figure!

As you pitch, dare to jump off the script to inject the empathy your memorized lines don’t make room for. 

Successful salespeople are aware that “understanding and listening to the prospect puts them in the best position to provide and add value,” explains Aki Merced for Tenfold. “This way, they build a relationship with the prospect that goes beyond a single yes-or-no sales call.”

Business is buyer-focused, right? Here’s the key: Have enough empathy to see what your prospects need, which experiences they respond to, and which pain points hurt the most. 

Goal-heartedly focus on goals 

To thrive in (tough) sales environments, you have to manifest goal-orientation in your day-to-day tasks — or else you’ll sink under the weight of your workload. 

(I don’t think you can keep your lights on at home that way.)

By being open to your own challenges, you’ll be ready for anything your prospects throw at you. 

If you strongly agreed at the goal-oriented question the last time you took a personality test, let’s fact-check that. Successful goal-setters:

  • Create and execute effective plans that move them closer to business objectives
  • Show urgency when approaching sales tasks and persist in achieving every (single) goal
  • Suck it up for “boring” duties because they get that it’s also an essential part of the gig
  • Work on tasks with an endgame in mind 
  • Always review their tactics and tools to see what’s needed to close more deals
  • Embrace the relationship between productivity and The Sale™
  • Are self-starters who don’t depend on others to supply what they need

Goal orientation is a sales personality trait of all the G.O.A.T.s — get with the goal-gram, sales reps.

Curiosity killed the cat — not the sales pro

successful salespeople

You’ll find that the traits of successful salespeople typically include curiosity, and it doesn’t take rocket science to understand why. 

For starters, identifying a buyer’s needs start with asking the right probing questions. As much as you need to be prepared with rapid-fire rebuttals, make sure you know what to ask, too. 

Inquisitiveness allows sales reps to ask their customers/clients questions, sometimes uncomfortable questions, to gain as much information as possible to allay customer concerns and issues and increase the probability of a sale,” says an article from

The more you know, the more you stand to make. Cha-ching.

Grow some thick skin and be persistent

If it doesn’t come naturally to your sales personality, it’s time to learn how to be persistent. 

There’s no way around, beside, or under it. (Not if you want to cultivate the traits of successful salespeople, at least.)

The reality is that sales success and rejection are a duo; if you want one, you need a high level of persistence to deal with the other. 

Remember: The toughest salespeople don’t let obstacles get in the way of their success. They create new solutions to handle issues, seek new approaches to improve old practices, and then jump to the next meeting like it’s their first.

But, I thought it was best not to pressure prospects?” Still true! But persistence and pressure aren’t the same things — it sure is a fine line to walk, though.

When done respectfully and consistently, persistence reminds customers that you have a solution to their problems. Plus, tenacity makes it a cakewalk to strive for goals even after multiple rejections, disappointments, and setbacks. 

What do all successful salespeople do? Improve their skills

A case study led by global sales training organization Rain Group showed that a client who went through sales training closed 15.2% more deals, and the profit margin on closed deals improved by 12.2%. Whoa.

In the debate of nature vs. nurture, don’t underestimate the power of discipline — regular practice and a commitment to being a lifelong learner win every time, people. 

As you aim to be a (sales) god walking amongst mere mortals, do what the champs do:

  1. Always ask for feedback.
  2. Never think you’re too cool (or high up in the ranks) to seek mentorship. 
  3. Track your progress, set your sales goals, and record your performance.

Modern selling requires several traits of successful salespeople, like patience and persistence. But that’s not all — find out what it takes to radically improve your sales engagement in our sales persistency guide.

modern selling guide