A few months ago I shared with you this article form HBR on sales people characteristics: https://olivierfontana.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/great-model-about-sa/
An interesting addition if this article, also from HBR, on their top 7 qualities: http://bit.ly/ofblog_HBR2
Based on my personal experience in sales and countless interaction (on both sides of the table!) with sales people I can only agree with most of those (well I do have an issue with 5):
- Modesty: the “foot in the door” or “used car salesman” is not something for the business to business world
- Conscientiousness: own the process (and the customer), don’t just follow the flow
- Achievement Orientation: you need to want the sale, badly.
- Curiosity: just don’t come and rehash always the same spiel. You need to be curious to always learn, ask probing questions, etc.
- Lack of gregariousness: This is the most astonishing of all. Top performers are not the ones that prefer being with people. This is so counter intuitive that I’m being hard pressed agreeing with this one.
- Lack of discouragement: no comment!
- Lack of self-consciousness: This speaks mostly to the ability to not being afraid to “fight for your cause” and do what needs to be done (including calling people high-up in and organization or cold-calling with just a company name and phone number at hand.
As several comments notes in this article, empathy is surprisingly not listed. Or do they assume one cannot be curious about a customer without some empathy? Regardless, I can hardly see a sales person being successful long term without a decent level of empathy for their customers.