Family-owned businesses often employ family members. For the most part, this is a reasonable hiring plan that works well for everyone involved. However, businesses may find they have positions, like sales staff, that require looking outside the family for the best possible candidates. For business owners unaccustomed to hiring “strangers,” finding qualified salespeople can prove a difficult task. Here are a few characteristics that all successful people possess—regardless of the product they’re selling:


A person with integrity “adheres to moral and ethical principles; possesses soundness of moral character, and is honest.” Every customer appreciates when a salesperson is honest and upfront about all questions that are presented to him/her. This also applies when the salesperson is volunteering information.


This rule is simple: a salesperson must show up to get the work done. Making and keeping commitments is crucial. In many cases, follow-up calls are the keys to “closing the deal.”


An optimistic attitude is vital to being successful in most areas of life, and it is certainly important for a salesperson. Self-confidence, good posture, positive body language—all are components of a good attitude and can go a very long way in making a customer feel receptive to a sales pitch. A good salesperson knows they must exude a good attitude if they want great results.


Being excited about waking up each day and seeing what the world has to offer is an attribute that is typically written all over your face. Displaying a lively interest in the work, in the product and in the customer is vital to successful transactions. After all, if the salesperson can’t get excited about the product, why should the customer?


Readiness to leap into action and an ability to be decisive are qualities of a person with the necessary initiative to successfully promote a product. This is significant as sales people are looked upon as being leaders, people who are ready and eager to “get the job done.”


Common sense, yes, but some people miss this very important quality. Daily hygiene habits should include showering, wearing deodorant, and possibly even a bit of (but not too much!) cologne or perfume. Salespeople should also strive to be clean-shaven and neatly manicured, and wear appealing and appropriate clothing or a well-maintained company uniform. Never forget that first impressions are extremely important, and you only have one shot at it. A customer’s initial reaction to a salesperson can definitely impact how much money they will be spending on a company’s products.


A person’s behavior and the way they carry themselves are good indications of whether or not they are mentally ready for the challenges ahead of them. The way a person reacts to any situation—good or bad—displays his/her maturity, or lack thereof. An individual who can take a tough situation and turn it into a favorable outcome is someone who has the potential to succeed in sales.


Most salespeople are very goal-driven, and the ultimate goal is typically compensation of some form. Salespeople, competitive by nature, rank results and satisfaction from winning uppermost in their minds. Feeling like they make a difference each day is a form of self-fulfillment and knowing they have helped to support the business is rewarding. So, set a goal and watch ’em go to work!


A person’s education and how he/she obtained it is important. Placing time, effort, and money into themselves to be the best that they can be is a valuable indicator of the kind of salesperson they’ll be. Putting the education to good use and collecting experience is the next step in the process. Together, education and experience give a person an understanding of what to apply and when to apply it. And honing his/her skill sets on a continual basis is imperative for long-term success. There are many ways to keep learning—whether it’s furthering one’s education in a classroom setting, or simply remaining receptive to new ideas and being willing to adopt them. A good salesperson will never stop learning.

If you are a salesperson and you recognize these qualities in yourself, congratulations! Taking the time to read this is proof that you are looking for ways to be more effective. Remember to challenge yourself and do your best every single day.

If you are a business manager or owner (or both) and see these qualities in your staff members, say thank you! Boosting morale and lifting spirits will increase sales. Increased sales will increase profits! Don’t be afraid to talk to your salespeople about what you can do to help them be better at their profession. What challenges do they face? What can you do to help them overcome any obstacles? Start with the phrase, “Help me help you.” Good luck!