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Born to Sell: What Makes A Successful Sales Personality?

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks
Editor Staff
Updated Apr 29, 2020

How do you rank above your competition if you have the same education, willingness, and resources provided to you as every other sales representative applicant?

  • The personality traits of top salespeople may have a significant impact on their success.
  • Personality traits among salespeople, such as being trustworthy, friendly, and modest, may be the complete opposite of the traditional way others often view salespeople, which is pushy and arrogant.
  • The Myers-Briggs Personality test may be able to predict which salespeople have the personality traits necessary for becoming top salespeople.

How do you rank above your competition if you have the same education, willingness and resources provided to you as other applicants?

The answer is simple: your personality. There are specific characteristics and personal traits that sales directors consider when hiring their next sales representative.

Although many entry-level sales employees learn most of their techniques from their authorities, the most successful ones are those with the natural skill to sell a product, idea or even lifestyle.

Steve W. Martin, a professor at the University of Southern California, did an in-depth study of over 1,000 salespeople and their most successful personality traits. He came up with seven identifying characteristics that separated the elite sales professionals from their average or subpar team members. Achievers who are extremely competitive, modest and able to take rejection are more likely to be successful in the sales industry. In the world of highly competitive online marketing agencies, a person with these sales traits fuels the excitement behind past, present, and future projects.

The top traits of a sales representative

Trust and transparency

The No. 1 one trait buyers are looking for in sales representatives is the ability to trust that their offers are true to their meaning, not exaggerated or hopeful insights. The more honest a salesperson is with their buyer about options and opportunities, the more likely a potential buyer will turn into a recurring client and a great referral.


Relationship-building is a required trait, too, but if a salesperson values the relationship more than the business efforts, it can become difficult to speak frankly with their client. In order to keep a business mentality, top salespeople refrain from making close relationships.

Achievement orientation

Success comes from carefully choosing the most promising person to accept your pitch and making the product or service relative to the company as a whole, instead of focusing on the actual function.

High emotional intelligence

Top salespeople are able to predict what the buyer may ultimately want and influence their thought process to fit the needs of both the customer and the company. Knowing the way certain kinds of people behave or respond to situations allows a salesperson to direct the outcome.

Resilient and optimistic

Possibly a more obvious trait is the ability to keep your head up after rejection. Top salespeople are extremely competitive and do not let losses affect their next sales approach.


When describing the personality of salespeople, curiosity is a common trait. Curiosity basically means striving for knowledge and information. Many salespeople are naturally curious individuals, especially when it comes to gaining knowledge about their counterparts. This inquisitiveness allows sales reps to ask their customers/clients questions, sometimes uncomfortable questions, to gain as much information as possible to allay customer concerns and issues and increase the probability of a sale.


Although salespeople are often stereotyped as being pushy, a large number of top salespeople are actually very modest and have a high level of humility. Rather than crediting themselves as the sole reason why a customer purchased the product or service, they often put their other team members in a higher role as being responsible for the sale. For instance, they may recognize the person who scheduled the appointment as the sole reason for them making the sale.

The Myers-Briggs Personality Test as it relates to sales personalities

As a starting point, these basic personality traits are a must, but in order to successfully become a top salesperson, your entire lifestyle must embody the world of sales. The Myers-Briggs Personality Test is widely used by hiring specialists and executives looking for the likelihood of ultimate success in applicants and employees.

A series of situational questions are asked based on how you interact with the world, how you absorb information, decision-making skills, and organization. Each category has two representations, ending with a definition of a person based on four main characteristics.

According to Paul Tieger, co-author of Do What You Are, the best Myers-Briggs personality combination for those looking to enter the sales industry is E-S-F-J.

ESFJ: The sales representative

Employers looking for eager entry-level candidates who have a natural ability to sell and a willingness to learn new techniques for success should look for these characteristics:

  1. Extroverts. These individuals are energized by people, they enjoy multiple tasks and move at a quick pace.
  2. Sensors. These individuals, also known as realistic people, are focused on facts and details. They apply common sense and past experience to come up with practical solutions.
  3. Feelers. Sensitive and cooperative, these individuals make decisions based on personal values and the impact of those decisions on  others.
  4. Judgers. These individuals are organized, prepared, they stick to plans and are comfortable following the rules.

If these are defining characteristics of your behavior, you should consider a career in sales. In such a diverse industry, the only anchor a salesperson has is their self-worth and determination. Knowing you have the key traits to be a successful sales representative should give you the courage to apply for that sales representative position you’ve been considering.

Get in tune with the depths of your personality and discover if you have what it takes to be the perfect sales representative. When that long, interrogating interview roles around, you can prove to them that you are the best applicant for the job.

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Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks Staff
Chad Brooks is a writer and editor with more than 20 years of media of experience. He has been with Business News Daily and for the past decade, having written and edited content focused specifically on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Chad spearheads coverage of small business communication services, including business phone systems, video conferencing services and conference call solutions. His work has appeared on The Huffington Post,,, Live Science, IT Tech News Daily, Tech News Daily, Security News Daily and Laptop Mag. Chad's first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014.