Sales Rep Characteristics: 5 Personality Traits of Top Reps

Johnny Marx
May 8, 2015

Do you dream of office walls lined with sales awards and strive for the top spot on your team? Find out what great sales reps are made of, and how these key sales rep characteristics helped get them to the top.

5 Sales Rep Characteristics of Top Performers

1. Compassion Is “compassionate” not on the list of words that spring to mind when you think, “great sales rep?” Tear that list up, start over, and put “compassionate” on top. Sales is an industry replete with adages like, “they don’t care what you’re selling until they know you care” or “it’s all about helping others solve problems.” If all that sounds a little dated or even cliché, the facts remain that a B2B buyer isn’t going to buy what you’re selling unless he’s convinced you have his best interests in mind, and your product won’t get on a retailer’s store shelves if she can’t ultimately turn a decent profit. Top wholesale reps know that customer longevity and loyalty is paramount, and that their business is built and sustained on the art of understanding a customer’s needs and creating win/win situations. 2. Emotional Intelligence In Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success, author Colleen Stanley states that a “lack of emotional intelligence skills training is a key reason that sales professionals often don’t close the gap between knowing and doing.” According to Inc. Magazine, studies have shown that Emotional Intelligence can be directly linked to career (and sales) success. While B2B purchases are often described as rational, emotions ultimately shape all human interactions, including the persuasive, consultative art of sales. Emotional intelligence can be defined as one’s ability to read and manage emotions, connect with others, and use emotional information to influence a conversation. Reps with this ability are at a huge advantage. It’s not only about controlling one’s own emotions during a high-stress selling situation, it’s about the power of knowing what the buyer is feeling, and what their motivations are. 3. Integrity Integrity is both the foundation of and guide for a great sales rep’s actions. The best sales reps have typically earned reputations as straight shooters with the conviction to call things like they see them. Integrity builds trust, which is what keeps customers coming back. Sales reps with integrity work hard, make decisions based on ethical standards (no matter how much money is involved), and concentrate on adding more value than is generally expected of them. This is how they make sure that their first order with a particular customer won’t be their last. 4. Assertiveness Assertiveness in this case doesn’t equal “pushy” or “aggressive.” When a sales rep is said to be “assertive,” it’s all about confidence. It’s about being confident in her products, brand, strategic knowledge, and the value that she offers her retail buyers. Great sales reps concentrate on preparing themselves with things like customer order history, regional sales performance, technical product knowledge, competitive intelligence, etc. in order to walk into their sales appointments with the ability to drive the conversation, answer questions, and instill that same sense of confidence in the buyer. 5. Discipline While ambition may probably be what people talk about most when they’re describing an effective sales rep, ambition is nothing without the discipline to follow through on it. This is especially the case for wholesale sales reps, who work largely independently, set their own schedules, and are responsible for being the main conduit to the brand for many of their customers. Great sales reps are great self-motivators. They track their own performance and set high goals for themselves. Sales, after all, is all about accountability.