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Self-Responsibility: The First Trait of a Great Salesperson
Blog / For Sales Pros / Jan 31, 2017 / Posted by Nikolaus Kimla / 5371 

Self-Responsibility: The First Trait of a Great Salesperson


There are probably thousands of sales trends, approaches, tips and tricks out there–just go to Amazon or any bookstore and look through the titles. Additionally there are hundreds or thousands of technological tools for sales–lead programs, CRM, sales enablement, contact management solutions and many more.

The question becomes: will a sales methodology or a software solution make for a successful salesperson? The answer is obvious if you look at it like this: if you’re a sales leader or a company owner, you can only use a sales approach, tip, trend or software solution to better a salesperson. You have to have a decent salesperson there to start with. It’s just like a car and driver–you could have the best car in the world, but if the driver can’t drive, what good is it?

It is evident, then, that all the tools and methodologies in the world won’t substitute for the elements that a salesperson needs to have as part of his or her mindset–and this is what we’re going to explore in this new blog series. For there are many now seeing that for a salesperson, the mindset is actually more important than the skillset. This may or may not be true–but we think the mindset is at least as important as the skillset. And that mindset is what I call social intelligence.


What’s the first component of a salesperson’s mindset–of social intelligence–without which none of the others will fall into place? That would be self-responsibility.

Interestingly, many salespeople become salespeople because they want the relative freedom that can come along with the job. But freedom is 1 side of a 2-sided coin: the other side is responsible.

Broader Importance

We can see the importance of responsibility if we look at a family, at a community, in a city, at a county, at a state and, finally, at a country. Every citizen must take responsibility for their own lives and livelihoods. A person must grow up and start working on their own, so the family can survive. People in a city, county, and state must pull their own weight. And as for the country, it is basically bankrupt at this point and cannot continue to support people and businesses.

This point is supported by the fact that the new president, in his inaugural address, very interestingly used the word “I” only once, when he promised to fight for the American people. His other statements all included our responsibility in them: For example, “America will start winning again, and WE will bring back our jobs.” (Emphasis mine). This means you are included in the we.


Of course, self-responsibility isn’t something a person can learn, like a craft or a skill. It begins with a decision to be responsible, and that’s a decision that will have to be made many times over through a person’s life. It becomes part of–and known as–a part of a person’s character.

At the same time, every company should have systems and policies in place that help generate and reinforce self-responsibility in its workforce.

For example, Pipeliner CRM’s basic functions are designed strictly for this purpose. At the heart of self-responsibility is focusing on a goal. With Pipeliner CRM, we enable this focus with our Dynamic Target–in the pipeline view, it’s always right there on the screen, in front of the rep. With Pipeliner CRM’s Navigator feature, a salesperson, team or sales manager is consistently and exactly focused on priorities. Pipeliner’s Mobile features serve to keep a rep who is out and about always focused on importance and priorities.

Again, these features won’t sell for the rep–the rep is responsible for achieving that target. They must consistently engage with that target and go for it.

Pipeliner also makes it possible for sales management to instantly see who is being self-responsible, and who isn’t. Who is making their target? What activities have they engaged in and accomplished?

Demonstration of Responsibility

The concept of responsibility is certainly nothing new. Take the age-old parable of the Good Samaritan.

We could re-tell this parable in modern terms. Let us say we have a pharmaceutical salesman selling to medical centers in a large urban area. One day he is on his way to a medical center, and he gets attacked by gang members, who are after the drug samples that he carries. He is badly injured and basically left lying by the side of the road.

A patient on his way into the medical center just passes him by, who “doesn’t want to get involved.” So does an employee of the medical center. But a competing salesperson–someone who works for another company, who also comes into the medical center to sell–sees him lying there, and decides to rescue him. Not only does she realize that it’s the right thing to do, but she realizes that it could have been her that was targeted and robbed. The salesperson makes sure the injured man gets medical attention and hangs around to make sure that he’s actually okay.

This is certainly a demonstration of responsibility– a responsibility that would be on the shoulders of anyone who came across a scene such as our salesman lying by the side of the road. If you see something that really needs to be taken care of and you ignore it, you’re already guilty of not taking responsibility. Such a thing can also happen to you, so it’s certainly in your best interest to help someone the way you would want to be helped.

As you can see, our world can only change if each of us takes responsibility. And much more pertinently to our topic, salespeople can only sell, and sales leaders can only manage, if they have this vital quality, too.

Find out more about Pipeliner CRM–the CRM that empowers self-responsibility.

    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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