There isn’t a “right way” to be a salesperson. Different types of people can be successful in sales, from the brash to the methodical, the friendly to the businesslike. And despite what some people say, sales is a skill that can be learned and mastered, whether you have natural ability or not.
There are, however, certain personality traits that can prevent an otherwise competent and ambitious person from making something of themselves in the competitive world of selling. Here are eight personality traits that can quickly destroy a sales career:
While being neurotic may help in some detail-oriented positions, in sales, it just creates additional stress in an already stressful job. Effective salespeople know to keep moving forward and not get bogged down in the weeds, something a highly neurotic person struggles with.
Contrary to popular opinion, salespeople need to be patient (although that patience must be coupled with a sense of urgency). It takes a long time to prospect, pitch, follow-up, and get a deal to closing, and there’s a lot of repetition and a lot of work with no immediate reward. The pathologically impatient will struggle in sales, and won’t be able to handle the long-term commitment it takes to succeed.
A natural pessimist won’t succeed in sales, because it takes an almost irrational optimism to keep pushing through the adversity that every salesperson will face. Selling requires not just a positive mindset – but a consistently positive one. Anyone who looks at the glass and sees it as half empty won’t convince anyone else that it’s half full.
4. Low emotional intelligence
If you have low EQ, you might be able to close a few deals here and there, but you’ll never be consistent enough to take your career to the next level. Sales is about human interaction, and those who don’t care about humans, or don’t care enough to learn, won’t be able to accommodate them effectively enough to consistently close new business. IQ isn’t enough, you also need EQ.
Waffling is another reason why some people fail to launch. Every day, you’re faced with dozens of tasks and priorities, all vying for your attention. If you’re unable to prioritize effectively, or if you can’t commit to a game plan, the month or quarter will end and you won’t be anywhere near your sales goal. Decide, take action, or you won’t make it.
Rigid thinkers also have a hard time in sales, because it takes creativity and the willingness to adjust your game plan to reach your goal. Whether it’s a creative new way to structure a deal, a new approach in order to woo a prospect, or having enough self-awareness to adjust your own sales techniques when what you’re doing isn’t working, the modern salesperson must be flexible.
7. Lack of grit
In sales, you can’t just work hard every other day, you have to show up and put in consistent effort, day in, day out. Grit isn’t easy to develop, but it might be one of the most important traits separating those who rise to the top from everybody else. And if you know that you’re not the kind of person who can motivate themself to get going everyday, then you shouldn’t bother dipping your toe into the world of sales.
Salespeople who use deception to get ahead rarely last long, especially in today’s hyper-transparent world. Naturally deceptive people will not only lose business and get terrible reviews, they’re also likely to be ostracized by their fellow salespeople, whose ethics tend to be much higher than the general public often gives them credit for. Sales isn’t about lying, it’s about telling the truth in the most effective way possible.