12 Most Essential Attributes of the Best B2B Salespeople

12 Most Essential Attributes of the Best B2B Salespeople

There are certain attributes that B2B salespeople must possess in order to succeed. Most of the attributes are the very same attributes that are shared by all successful people across many endeavors. With these attributes, you are certain to succeed in sales. Without them, selling well is difficult (and without a few of them, impossible).

This list of the 12 Most Essential Attributes for B2B Salespeople. They are hierarchical, each one being necessary in order to posses the ones that follow.

1. Self-Discipline (The Ability to Keep One’s Commitments to One’s Self)

The cornerstone of success for all people in all walks of life is their ability to first keep the commitments that they make to themselves. Without this attribute, you are unable to keep the commitments you make to others.

2. Optimism (A Positive Mental Attitude)

To succeed in sales, you have to believe even when the odds are stacked against you. You have to be able to hear the word “no,” without feeling any sense of discouragement. You have to believe things will always improve and that you have the power to make things better than they are.

3. Competitiveness (A Desire to Win)

Sales is a zero sum game. When one salesperson wins, the rest of the salespeople lose. Salespeople that possess a competitive nature relish the competition. This competitiveness underlies and drives their actions.

4. Initiative (The Ability to Take Action)

Initiative is the ability to take action proactively. It means taking action before any action is required or necessary. Taking initiative is the defining attribute of professionals, and it creates opportunities that wouldn’t exist without it.

5. Resourcefulness (The Ability to Find a Way, or to Make One)

Succeeding in sales requires that the salesperson is creative. They need to be resourceful, bringing the creativity, their imagination, and their ability to identify possibilities to bear on their client’s problems, challenges, and opportunities. They find a way to get a result where it has been impossible for others.

6. Determination (The Ability to Persevere)

Call it persistence, intestinal fortitude, doggedness, or resolve; it’s a required attribute for B2B salespeople. This determination is required to persist in the effort to obtain new clients and to serve them after they have been acquired. The best persevere.

7. Caring (A Desire to Achieve a Positive Outcome for Others)

The best and most successful salespeople have the desire and the ability to create positive outcomes for others. The real foundation of trust that is built between a salesperson and their client is built on the salesperson caring about the client’s outcome.

8. Empathy (The Ability to Connect with Others)

The most effective salespeople have the ability to connect with others on a very real and very human level. This connection is built on the salesperson’s empathy and emotional intelligence. This is also a foundation of trust and long-term relationships.

9. Communication (The Ability to Listen and Explain Ideas)

Great salespeople have the ability to speak well and to communicate their ideas. But this skill is meaningless without the ability to first listen effectively. The very best B2B salespeople are extraordinary communicators, and even more extraordinary listeners.

10. Confidence (Belief in One’s Self)

The belief in one’s self precedes the ability to help others. Confident in their ability to help their clients, effective salespeople give their clients the ability to believe in them. They know that they can make a difference.

11. Influence (The Ability to Persuade Others)

This isn’t tactical. There are no tactics for creating real influence. Being someone worth following, worth listening to, and worth trusting is what creates real influence. Influence is the sum total of all of the preceding attributes.

12. Passionate Engagement (The 12th Attribute)

None of the preceding attributes mean anything if they aren’t employed to make a difference for others. None of them matter if they aren’t utilized in the pursuit of something meaningful, something special. Selling is meaningful work—if you bring these attributes and your whole, best self to everything you do. Be passionately engaged in what you do.

What attributes do you believe are important for those who would succeed in B2B sales? What attributes do you notice are shared by all successful people in all walks of life? What attributes do you possess that allow you to succeed in your chosen profession or endeavor?

Photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid. Used under creative commons, some rights reserved.

Anthony Iannarino


S. Anthony Iannarino is the President and Chief Sales Officer at SOLUTIONS Staffing, the Managing Director of B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, and an Adjunct Faculty Member of Capital University’s School of Management and Leadership. He writes a daily blog on sales and sales effectiveness at The Sales Blog.

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