Surprising Traits of Effective Salespeople

By Ruth on March 17, 2014 in advice

woman shopping

There are a lot of stereotypes about the sales profession. Many people believe that salespeople are arrogant, obnoxious and shady. Those traits may apply to some people in the profession, but most salespeople are actually down to earth people that try to do best by their customers. Steve W. Martin, a professor at the Marshall School of Business, recently wrote a new book titled Heavy Hitter Sales Psychology. This book highlights the traits that are most common to the profession.


Most people have the assumption that the average salesperson is an extreme extrovert. Psychologists have found that a high number of people that enter the profession are ESTPs on the Myer’s Briggs personality scale.

While more extroverts may be drawn to the sales profession, introverts and ambiverts tend to perform better. Martin found that the most successful salespeople scored 30% lower than the average population on the extroversion scale. This may sound surprising, but his claims are corroborated by studies. One study from Adam Grant of the Wharton School found that ambiverts tend to earn 32% more than extroverts and 24% more than introverts.

This research is very surprising at first glance, but Grant said that it makes sense when you really think about it. He said that ambiverts are assertive enough to get a sale, but they are also more attentive to their customers’ needs than extroverts. This gives them a huge advantage when they need to close a sale. This is something that you will want to keep in mind when vetting applicants for your sales team.

Collaborative Outlook

Many people believe that salespeople are all about themselves. They think many salespeople will ramble incessantly to encourage somebody to make a purchase without listening to their feedback. This trait applies to many salespeople, but they are rarely successful.

Martin’s study has found that effective salespeople prefer to have two-way relationships with the people that they work with. They enjoy other people’s company and tend to function well in a group setting. They also work closely in teams and listen attentively to their colleagues opinions.


Most people don’t think about salespeople as being modest. They believe that anybody that chooses the sales profession loves to hear the sound of their own voice.

Martin has found that the best salespeople tend to be modest and down-to-earth. He said over nine out of ten scored high on a modesty scale. This may indicate that modest salespeople are less likely to turn off their customers.

Hard Working

Some people think that the sales profession is easy. They figure that anybody that would rather sit around and ask other people to buy things must be lazy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It takes a lot of hard work to excel in the sales profession. Martin has found that nearly six out of seven of the most successful salespeople feel the need to go above and beyond the call of duty. They know that they need to pursue as many leads as possible and are willing to chase them all down.

About the author: Kalen has been an entrepreneur and marketing consultant for a number of years. He shares his experiences and advice with colleagues on the web.

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RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher


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