Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople

When you hear sales or salesperson, what is the first word that comes to mind? I bet that most you reading this aren’t thinking “the world needs more salespeople” or “whoa, salespeople are just the nicest and most honest people ever.”

The reality is, you are probably thinking the complete opposite. Perhaps your words of choice are “sleazy, aggressive, dishonest, or slimy.” I get it: It’s not your fault that you view salespeople in this manner. Unfortunately, you’ve been spoon-fed the stereotypical and suspicious perception of the used car salesman.

Plot twist: you may not consider yourself a “salesperson” but you are; everyone you know is a salesperson. Whether it was your parent trying to trick you into cleaning your room or that one friend who always manages to convince you to stay out later than you wanted. We’ve all been sold on something or someone. You’ve been guilty of selling too… it’s time to embrace the fact you might have stumbled into sales.

Today, more than ever, selling is an omnipresent and far more complex process than it was in the past. In the past, sellers knew more about the product then buyers. Now, buyers have a wealth of information and could be even more informed than the seller. Modern selling must be ever evolving to meet the needs of sophisticated buyers — sellers must sell more than the product.

If we are all involved in the sales process to one degree or another, how do we make the distinction between good and great salespeople?

According to Steve W. Martin’s HBR Sales Strategy article, there are seven personality traits of top salespeople. He spent over a decade administering thousands of personality tests to top performing salespeople from the technology and business services industries. The seven reoccurring attributes are:

  1. Modesty — This is a trait that many may be surprised that top salespeople possess. 91 % had medium to high scores of modesty and humility.
  2. Conscientiousness — 85% had high levels of conscientiousness. (Conscientiousness described as having a strong sense of duty and being responsible and reliable)
  3. Achievement Orientation — 84% very high in achievement orientation. Top salespeople strive to surpass or hit their quotas, so it only makes sense that top salespeople are very goal driven.
  4. Curiosity — 82% scored extremely high in curiosity levels (Curiosity described as a person’s hunger for knowledge and information)
  5. Lack of Gregariousness — Top performers averaged 30% lower in gregariousness than below average performers. This trait clearly differentiates top performers with those who rank at the bottom one-third. Lower gregariousness enables salespeople to be dominant over customers so that their recommendations are followed.
  6. Lack of Discouragement — Less than 10% were classified as having high levels of discouragement and being frequently overwhelmed with sadness. Majority of top performers are highly competitive and not easily discouraged.
  7. Lack of Self-Consciousness — Less than 5% had high levels of self-consciousness (Self-consciousness described as the measurement of how easily someone is embarrassed). Top performers are not bashful and are unafraid to take action, whether it is cold calling new prospects or going after large accounts.

Anyone can be a salesperson, but not everyone can be a great salesperson. Globally, one of the most challenging careers is in sales. Great salespeople know that there is much more to sales than the societal construct of the salesperson.

Since we’ve all got a little bit of salesperson in us, try identifying and developing these seven traits into your professional and personal life. Embrace your inner salesperson and let your sales staff how much you appreciate them!

Go Nimbly is the premier marketing and sales consultancy for SaaS companies. Founded and headquartered in San Francisco, Go Nimbly provides customers with a customized team to manage everything from strategy to execution for their marketing and sales systems. To learn more, visit