3 Traits of the Very Best Salespeople

by | 30 Oct 23

I’ve been in and around B2B (Business to Business) for almost two decades now. Been in everything from Customer Success to Sales, Marketing, and Product. And, I’ve seen a lot of so-called ‘revolutionary’ advice come and go. It seems like every new trend is touted as the next big thing.

But it’s always Sales that get the brunt of these ‘groundbreaking’ methods. It’s like one minute a new book drops and everyone’s like, “Yep, this is our new gospel.” Then barely two months later, another book comes along and it’s like, “Hold up, scratch that, this is the real deal now.”

So in this blog, I’m going to share with you 3 qualities I’ve noticed in salespeople over the years that really set them apart. When someone embodies all three, they’re quite simply the best I’ve seen.

And by ‘best’, I mean they’re the ones who really bring value to their customers and, consequently, bring in the most revenue for the business. But don’t get me wrong, a salesperson with just one or two of these traits can still be pretty good. But to hit the jackpot, you need all three. Those who have all 3 of them are leagues ahead of their peers and are an absolute godsend for the customers they serve

Table of Contents

Use these links to jump straight to the part of the article that interests you most.

> Trait 1: Relationship Builder (and Maintainer)
> Trait 2: Problem Solver
> Trait 3: Educator

Trait 1: Relationship Builder (and Maintainer)

If you’re wondering what makes a salesperson really ace at managing relationships. Well, it boils down to two sub-traits: being a Builder and a Maintainer.

Just like the 3 main traits I’ve mentioned, a superb salesperson doesn’t just build a relationship until the deal is sealed and then throws it over to customer success. Nope, they keep that relationship alive long after the sale has been made.

You might be thinking, “How on earth do they manage that? They must be swamped with work! They can’t play support too, can they? They should be chasing the next big deal!” Yep, I agree, and you’re absolutely right. But if you pay attention to how the best of the best handle their time, you’ll notice they somehow find moments to keep top-of-mind with customers.

Now, you’re probably wondering, “But how?” The answer is simple: online communities. We are living in an era where the most potent weapon for a salesperson isn’t a fancy suit or smooth talk—it’s being where their customers are. I’m not talking about haunting a bunch of outdated forums. I mean social media platforms.

Chances are your customers are active on at least one social platform. For B2B software and services businesses, the hotspots usually are LinkedIn (the undisputed champion of professional networks), Twitter, and Facebook groups. Instagram is pretty popular too, but it leans more towards B2C (Business to Consumer) sales.

A top-tier salesperson leverages these platforms to nurture and sustain relationships. The secret is to understand who your ideal customer profile (ICP) is and how to engage with them, figure out the problems your ICP faces that you can solve and then post relevant content regularly, and know how and when to request meetings with the right people (your ICP).

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Trait 2: Problem Solver

I talk about this a lot. Like a real lot! I’m running the danger of turning this into my very own cliche, but I’ll take the risk. Here’s my point: Stop bombarding your customers or potential clients with all the fancy stuff your product or service can do. Not even the benefits of those features.

Instead, sit down with them and ask about their struggles. What obstacles are they trying to overcome? And when you realise you’ve got just the solution to their problems, that’s when you arrange to show them how your product is their knight in shining armour.

Let’s face it, your customers and prospects aren’t really interested in your new features or even the old ones. The truth is, they couldn’t care less about your product as a whole. They’re focused on their current predicament and how they can transition into a better future.

Your mission, as a salesperson, is to pinpoint those problems first. The very top people in sales are always problem-solvers for their customers and prospects. They get the customer’s current state and their desired future state. They also know when that future state should become a reality. And they do this by being all ears – always listening and asking the right questions, and taking loads of notes!

This gives them a solid understanding of what the customer wants to achieve. Then they jump in to explain how they can help in reaching that future state. And, they do all of this without flashing a single feature.

At some point, you’ll give them a demo or presentation of your software or service. But before that moment comes, the top-notch salespeople are already recognised by the customer as the go-to person who gets them and can turn their current situation into something loads better!

Trait 3: Educator

I’ve had the chance to work with some really amazing salespeople. These are the ones who are absolute wizards at building relationships and solving problems. But the ones who went from being great to being the absolute best? They’re the ones who dove deep into their industry and understood the problem they were solving for customers even better than the customers themselves.

How did they do that? Well, the secret ingredient was research. Digging up information, data, and insights that related to the problem they were solving.

Imagine this: You’re chatting with a customer or prospect about their problem and you start dropping in facts, figures, and research findings about that very issue. Before you know it, they’ll be seeing you as the go-to expert in that field. You’ll be the person at the forefront of tackling that issue. Why? Because you’ve taken the time to understand the problem in depth.

Here’s a little story for you. I used to work in the Education Technology market, specifically with primary schools in England and Wales. Around that time, the government changed how schools could assess pupil progress and attainment. They scrapped the standardised method and allowed schools to create their own.

We knew this would stir up some uncertainty among our customers and primary schools across England and Wales. So, we decided to keep track of the different approaches each school took. We gathered this data and analysed how schools were handling this over time.

Why am I telling you this? Well, armed with this data, we could discuss with new and existing customers about the current popular methods of recording and analysing data, and which ones were fading or gaining popularity. There was no way a school could have this insight – they needed a company like ours that worked with many schools.

When we incorporated these facts into our conversations with schools, we were essentially educating headteachers and other senior leaders about a problem they had. We understood an aspect of that problem much deeper than they ever could.

So, with our knack for managing relationships, problem-solving, and the bonus of advising and educating our customers about their problems – we put ourselves in a very unique and appealing position.

I’d love to sit back and say, “Yep, that was all me!” But it wasn’t! I learned these 3 traits over the years from observing the best of the best at work.

And there you have it – the 3 traits of a top-notch salesperson.

I hope you found this helpful!

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