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4 Universal Traits for Sales Success
Blog / For Sales Pros / Oct 29, 2019 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 504 

4 Universal Traits for Sales Success

3 comments

There are 4 traits, or skills, that are universally a part of every kind of success there is. I can guarantee that anyone who learns and applies these traits will always have a job, will always be successful, and will always be ahead of the competition.

We are writing about sales here, so in this article, I’ll apply them to that topic.

1. Manners

As old-fashioned as it may sound, the subject of manners is as pertinent today as it ever was. It’s not only behavior toward the other gender—and it goes both ways—it is applicable generally. Our society, in its current state, has all but forgotten the importance of manners.

The subject of manners not only covers how you appear and greet people. It’s about who is considered more important in a meeting or a conversation, and how this is handled. It includes how you dress for various occasions. It includes how you speak, and even table manners.

There have been many books written on the subject of manners. Probably the earliest and most famous was by Emily Post in 1922, entitled Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home, which for decades was the go-to reference on manners. The institute founded in Emily Post’s name carries on her work to this day. Peggy Post, wife of Emily’s great-grandson, has authored more than 12 books on the subject herself.

In prior times, manners were normal—and we’ve forgotten how to be normal. Today a common attitude is that “good manners are not cool.” Anyone who really has the belief that manners aren’t cool should, just once, try using good manners in social situations or on dates. They would then see what an amazing difference they make—that on the contrary manners are cool.

The same is true for a salesperson’s behavior to a customer. A salesperson should be polite and respectful if they expect to actually make a sale.

Because manners are so lacking in this society, you’ll find yourself winning in just about every situation in which you use them. People instinctively look for others who have good manners, because they’re nicer to be around. Simple actions such as helping someone who is struggling trying to carry packages will go a long way.

Having good manners will even cause you to see the world in a different way. One of the principles of good manners is that you’re not always looking out only for yourself. It’s how you observe and consider others.

2. Have Heart!

The second trait is closely tied to manners. It’s something that people should have already learned, really, but unfortunately, like manners, it’s not being taught today. It’s a quality even beyond character—and I summarize it as “having heart.” Of course, when you have heart, you have character, and all the other qualities including integrity. It’s all part of being a good person. 

Contrary to some opinions, being a good person is not “being a wimp.” If someone is speaking badly about a friend of yours, for example saying that they’re a loser, you should speak up and say “They’re not a loser!” If you don’t speak up, it’s the same as agreeing with them and silently acknowledging it’s true, even if you don’t believe it. There is a bit of an art to responding in a situation like this, which we’re going to take up in trait #4. But the bottom line is, you’re a wimp when you don’t defend your viewpoint!

Having heart means not being corrupt. It starts with the little things. For example, you see someone accidentally drop a $20 bill on the sidewalk, and you pick it up and hand it back to them. Deep inside, we know what is right, what is good, and what is correct. We also know what is wrong, bad, or evil.

In today’s cold, confused world, we need people to have heart!

Now, if you have great manners, and you have heart, who wouldn’t want to employ you? People are constantly looking for people like you. But of course, there’s more.

3. Be a Professional

The third trait is being great in your profession. How do you do that? Well, you have to learn.

That may seem like really obvious advice, but think about it. No one is forcing you to be a salesperson. Or a doctor or a lawyer, for that matter. But when you decide on a profession, take the time to learn to be great at it. Train!

As I’ve written several times, I’m a big fan of the New England Patriots. I know one thing for sure: Patriots champion quarterback Tom Brady is training very hard, every day. He’s not sitting in a nightclub, smoking cigars, staying out late and partying. He leads a very disciplined life. You might say, “It’s easy for him, he’s a multi-millionaire.” Well, he’s a multi-millionaire because he’s fantastic at what he does, and he stays that way by working hard to stay that way.

Don’t just sit on the couch watching someone like that on television, waiting to be great at what you do. Get out and learn your profession, and earn greatness.

Is it hard work? Yes! If you want to be better than others then you have to work harder than the others.

When you go and apply for a job, someone hiring you doesn’t necessarily expect you to be a super-genius. But they do expect someone who will be competent. When I hire, I want someone who has the guts to be great in their profession—good, and better than others.

So now we’re up to three amazing traits: manners, heart, and great in one’s profession. How many people do you know that have all three? You should!

But here we go with the last one. With all four of these, you’re winning against everyone.

4. Social Intelligence

What is social intelligence?

Basic intelligence is your native intellect, what you’re born with. Social intelligence, though, is largely learned. It comes from practice and experience with people, and learning from successes and failures in social settings. It is often referred to as “tact,” or “common sense.”

Going back to our example of defending your friend that someone was bad-mouthing, you could have done so by angrily shouting, “You shut up! My friend is the best!” But would that be correct? In applying social intelligence, you could do better. One of my favorite stories is about Abraham Lincoln, who would, when he was angry, write a letter to the person he was angry with—and then wait until morning to send it. In the morning, after having slept on the issue, he might have second thoughts about what he said in the letter, and not send it or rewrite it.

What does social intelligence mean for a salesperson? It means really learning to understand what the buyer thinks, walking in their shoes, learning to react properly to them, and not being led by your emotions. We all have emotions, and they’re fine—when they’re used correctly.

We Need All Of Them!

To sum up, we badly need people with manners, heart, that are true professionals, and that have and practice social intelligence.

You might look at this and say, “People with these traits are better.” No! I think this is what people instinctively look for in everyone else, and I think these traits should be the norm. The problem is that “normal” today has become degraded behavior, as portrayed in so much of the media. It has come to be expected as “normal,” when the opposite should be true.

If you possess all of these traits, and work to keep and improve them, you will always have a job, you will always be successful, and you will always be welcomed.

    About Author

    A 30-year veteran of the computer industry, Nikolaus has founded and run several software companies. He and his company uptime iTechnology are the developers of World-Check, a risk intelligence platform eventually sold to Thomson Reuters for $520 million. He is currently the founder and CEO of Pipeliner Sales, Inc., developer and publisher of Pipeliner CRM, the first CRM application aimed squarely at actually empowering salespeople. Also a prolific writer, Nikolaus has authored over 100 ebooks, articles and white papers addressing the subjects of sales management, leadership and sales itself.

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    Comments (3)
    1

    Isah Adoke Halilu commented...

    I have basically of the opine that manner as a trait is one of the best attribute that define individual and base on this it is a take to always be of good manner.

    1

    Silas Omugbe commented...

    As sales people, we are always creating new and developing existing relationships on a daily basis, hence the need for these traits.

    The mastery and combination of manners, heart, professionalism and social intelligence, ensures we get the attention of prospects, increases the probability of closing deals and even getting referrals.

    Therefore our ultimate goal as sales people should be to possess all of these traits, and work daily to keep and improve them.

    Thanks Nikolaus for sharing.

    0

    Emmanuel Oyibo commented...

    Manners, good old fashion manners really goes a long way in sales. Everyone is so busy that we have lost touch with basic human interaction. Thanks for this insightful piece

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