15 Traits of Top-Performing Sales Executives

Great sales executives do more than hit an impressive sales quota. They're empathetic, make real connections and approach sales holistically.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Great sales executives do more than hit an impressive sales quota. They're empathetic, make real connections and approach sales holistically.

A. They Are Persistent


A good salesperson will sell their way into the job. She will follow up. She will be persistent without feeling like a pest. She will win your heart and mind through logically constructed thank-you's and follow ups that you will feel compelled to respond to with niceties. A good sales executive won't give you another option to consider. - Ross Resnick, Roaming Hunger

A. They Are Organized and Likable


People often do business with people they like. This gets you in the door. From there, it takes someone who is persistent (this is different than aggressive or pushy) and who is organized with following up and sales information. This combination of qualities generally leads to a successful salesperson who can be taught about the specifics of your product or service. - Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40 / Finance Whiz Kids

A. They Create Value


A good salesman makes a sale. A great salesman creates value. A top salesman gets referrals. The most important thing to look for in a prospective salesexecutive is a history of positive feedback, seemingly endless referrals and a vast network. Look for an executive who helps every client achieve their goals and that knows how to turn the client's network into clients as well. - Joshua Dorkin, BiggerPockets

A. They Are People-Focused


Research has found that top-performing salespeople have a very specific combination of personality traits. They tend to be more people-focused, have a high tolerance for risk and, interestingly, a more pessimistic inward orientation. Assess your current top performer's personalities, and find candidates who match. - Vanessa Van Edwards, Science of People

A. They Hustle


You want your salesperson to be all-in and care about your brand and product just as much as you do. There is no such thing as a 9-to-5 salesperson. The right sales executive is prospecting 24/7, constantly helping you grow and build your brand. - Stanley Meytin, True Film Production

A. They Are Empathetic


Sales executives have to be able to identify with the people they're speaking to, feel what they're feeling, and make them feel respected. This is just as true for customer relationships as it is for motivating sales staff. As an executive, they'll also need to be a role model of empathy to inspire the same quality in their team. Being able to listen and establish rapport with anyone is key. - Dave Nevogt, Hubstaff.com

A. They Are Resourceful


Resourcefulness is the trait that I look for in every single one of my employees. I look for people who come across a problem and figure out how to solve it on their own using the resources around them. I also look for my sales execs to be hungry for the sale. If the company makes it, then they make it. I want someone that will take responsibility in all aspects of the business aside from sales. - Jayna Cooke, EVENTup

A. They Are Passionate


An ideal sales executive is an experienced communicative extrovert with excellent written and presentation skills. But an ideal sales executive for a startup must also be passionate, because they need to have the gumption to tackle the unique hurdles that come with working for a startup. Also, a sales executive who brings his or her own business contacts to your startup is definitely advantageous. - Jason Thanh La, Merchant Service Group, LLC

A. They Have Startup Experience


Lots of startups hire successful sales executives out of larger organizations, not realizing that it's hard to compare a person's success at a larger organization with their potential success at a startup. At larger organizations, sales executives get access to resources like Sales Development Reps to generate leads, pre-existing sales materials and sales training that most startups don't have. - Mattan Griffel, One Month

A. They Don't Fear Rejection


Anyone can learn sales with the proper training, but there are those individuals who have that "secret sauce." They have an inherent likability and charisma that allows them to speak with customers on a level that engenders respect and trust. Those traits, coupled with a fearlessness to pitch without worry of rejection, is a winning combination. - Blair Thomas, EMerchantBroker

A. They Value Alignment


A sales executive is going to have to lead, inspire and motivate finicky sales talent, and he will usually have to do so under pressure and in a quickly changing environment. You can teach, train and manage a lot of things, but values alignment is something that they need to show up with out of the gate. - Christopher Kelly, Convene

A. They Are Flexible


During the early stages of your company, your process and goals change frequently. Bring on sales executives who are passionate about your startup, but nimble enough to adapt to change and continue to execute. - Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia

A. They Can Work Independently


As your startup grows, you'll run into new scenarios that you didn't anticipate. Having a sales executive on the front lines who is competent to make independent, smart decisions and communicate these clearly to you will help you grow your business faster through efficiency. - Mark Daoust, Quiet Light Brokerage, Inc.

A. They Are Well-Rounded


In a small, fast-growing organization, team members are often asked to wear multiple hats. Yes, your sales executive should be primarily concerned withsales. However, they shouldn't be shy about jumping in to work on product development or brainstorming marketing campaigns as needed. - Mary Ellen Slayter, Reputation Capital

A. They Are Dedicated to Company Growth


A prospective sales exec needs to be more than just a likable, charismatic person. I look for people who are knowledgeable, creative and self-motivated. I need someone who's not only looking to make a commission, but is dedicated to growing the company as a whole. - Mike Seiman, CPXi

These answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Go To Homepage

Popular in the Community