Good vs Bad Salesperson

Not all salespeople have the qualities it takes to become a top performer. There are certain traits which separate the top performers from the bottom. Here’s your cheat sheet to the qualities of a good versus bad salesperson.

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Traits of a Good Salesperson

Here are the qualities the top performing salespeople possess.

Good Listener

If you want your potential customer to pay attention to what you say, you have to be willing to listen to him first. That doesn’t mean just giving your prospect a time to speak, but actively listening to what they have to say. 

Asks Questions

When you ask questions, you not only show you are interested in someone’s else’s needs, but you discover ways you can customize your sales pitch to show how your product or service can meet those needs.


Be confident not only in yourself but in the solution you are selling. Showing confidence in what you are selling positively influences the potential customer’s perception.


As the saying goes: you can catch more clients with honey than vinegar. No one wants to do business with a person they don’t like. While you need to keep it professional, you still have the freedom to connect with others on a human level. 

Follows Up

Selling doesn’t end when the meeting is over. Few potential customers are ready to buy after one discussion, and that means you need to follow up. Make sure you ask your prospects for multiple ways to connect with them and reach out!


There is no doubt about it; working in sales leads to multiple rejections. A good salesperson knows how to avoid becoming discouraged when they hear the word, “No,” over and over again. Instead they find other ways to get the results they want. 

Traits of a Bad Salesperson

Underperforming salespeople often do poorly because of their bad habits. The good news is that by evaluating yourself honestly and trying to correct behaviours, you can join the ranks of the high performing sales professionals. 

Talks Over the Customer 

No one likes to be interrupted or feel like someone isn’t listening. Give your customer time to express needs and wants. If you listen carefully, they will tell you the key to closing the deal. 

Assumes Everything

Sure, do your homework and research your prospect before meeting with them, but no matter how much you know, you don’t know enough. Never assume anything. A better approach is to ask questions and listen to what your prospect has to say. 


Be fearless when it comes to meeting new prospects and believe that you are offering the best solution for the person’s problem. People don’t trust others who are too shy or those unwilling to speak highly of themselves and their company.


Never confuse being confident and assertive with being disrespectful. Respect everyone you speak with: from the person who answers the phone and up. You never know who might become an advocate for the solution you are selling.

Waits For Customer

Many customers are hesitant to commit to making a purchase, especially a costly one. So never wait around for a prospect to call you, call them. This way you might find out what’s holding them back and you’ll be able to help them get past their concerns.

Gives Up Easily

Don’t give up. Sales is a numbers game. Get out there, and sell with passion, even if you feel dejected. You never know who will say, ”Yes.”

With a little time and effort, these good traits of a salesperson can help you turn around your sales record completely. Have a look at SOCO Academy which helps you to fine-tune your sales skills.

In every single organization, you’re going to find a combination of good sales professionals and not so good sales professionals. What I want to share with you right now is what are those qualities that actually make a good sales professional? What are the traits of a world-class sales professional? These are the traits that will separate the top performers from the bottom performers. Let’s jump right in.

The first thing you need to succeed in sales, one of the best traits to have, is to be a good listener. Sales is not about talking. It’s about listening. There’s an expression that says, “You were born with two ears and only one mouth so that you could listen twice as much as you talk.” That’s great advice. We need to be really good listeners. What do bad salespeople do instead? What they do is instead of listening, they’re talking over the customer. They’re barking orders, they’re talking about their features and benefits, and they’re just describing their product so much. They think they’re doing a good job, but the problem is, they’re not listening to a word the customer’s saying. I can remember even walking into stores and saying, “Hey, I’m looking for a TV.” The salesperson doesn’t even seem to listen at all and says, “You know what? We’ve got a good promotion on dishwashers.” I’m not looking for a dishwasher, bro. I’m looking for a TV. Aren’t you listening? Be sure that you’re listening and not talking over the customer.

Next, one of the traits of a really good sales professional is asking good questions. I tell this to sales teams all the time. If you want to get better at sales, get better at asking questions. Be curious. Try to find out more about the customer. What are their pain points? What are their goals, their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations? What are they hoping to achieve? What are they hoping to avoid? What are their goals and desired outcomes? You got to be curious and ask a lot of questions. But what do bad salespeople do instead? They assume everything. They assume to have all the answers. They’ve heard this before. They’ve seen this type of customer before. They don’t even bother asking you any questions. They just assumed that they know who you are and what you need and they start offering solutions right away. That is a huge mistake because those salespeople miss out on the subtleties and the nuances of what’s really important to customers and they will likely lose a sale. So, ask better questions. Be curious.

Another trait of really good salespeople is confidence. You have got to be confident. What does confidence mean? I’m not talking about arrogance. I’m not talking about being a know-it-all and braggadocios. I’m talking about having a quiet, sometimes not so quiet. That’s ok. But having a quiet confidence. What is confidence? It’s a belief in yourself. It’s a belief in your abilities. It’s a belief in your company. It’s a belief in your product and service. It’s a belief that you’re actually helping customers. Do you believe it? If you believe it, you’ve got confidence. Here’s the thing. I often meet some salespeople that are really timid and they’re passive and they just sit around and they wait quietly. If a customer approaches them, God forbid, then they might actually try to engage in some sort of selling conversation. But the thing is you need to have confidence in yourself, in your product, and your company. A belief in yourself. Confidence comes from competence. When you’re good at something. When you’ve got the knowledge, skills, and abilities to sell and to perform. When you got that strong product knowledge when you’re competent as a salesperson, guess what? Your confidence level skyrockets. That confidence is what it’s going to take to help you get through those tough patches, to brush off those failures and just keep on moving. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.

Great salespeople are also super friendly. I’ve never met a salesperson who is successful that wasn’t friendly. You’ve got to have some people skills. You’ve got to have those soft skills to be able to really get along with people. There’s this old expression you’ve probably heard. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. They’ve got to like you. They really have to like you. You’ve got to be personable. Because I’ll tell you something. I’ve seen a lot of companies out there that even have low prices, great products, but the service, horrible. Staff. Rude. Not even unfriendly. Rude I remember one time I was in a mall and I was trying to find a Starbucks. I went to the customer service counter and I asked the person behind the counter, “Hi, excuse me.” She looked at me and went, “Yes?” Just like that. So rude. “Hi there.” “Yes?” “Whoa! Okay. Where’s the nearest coffee shop?” “That way.” Whoa! Super rude. And that’s a person in customer service? Give me a break! I see that in sales all the time, too. I see salespeople that seem annoyed when customers approach them. It’s like I’m sorry I’m interrupting you playing your game on your phone. You’re here to serve customers. You’re here to sell to me. Be friendly and nice. A smile goes a really long way. Be sure that you’ve got that, my friends.

Here are a couple more traits I want to share with you and this is one of the most important. Great salespeople always follow up. They manage their pipeline. They know where their opportunities are in the funnel. They know what stage each opportunity is at in the pipeline. And they follow up consistently. As opposed to “bad salespeople” that sit around and simply wait for customers to pick up the phone or to drop them a message. What are you waiting for? So many times I train teams and I hear leaders ask their team, “What’s the status of that opportunity?” They almost always reply like this, “Pending. It’s pending. I say, “Pending what?” “Uh… don’t know.” They don’t know. It’s just pending. Which basically is an excuse. It’s just this limbo. Instead of waiting passively for customers to follow up with you, we need to follow up with customers super promptly. Use all the technological tools that you have at your disposal: calendar scheduling apps. Use your phone, use WhatsApp, use LinkedIn. Do whatever it takes. Pick up the phone. Old school. Stay on top of your opportunities. Use a CRM tool. Put in “What’s the date of next follow up? What action do I need to take
and by when?” Follow-up is the key to succeed in sales. You would hate to lose out on a deal because your competitor was more effective at following up than you. Why would you want to pick up the phone, call six months later only to find out that you lost the job to the competition. Stay on top of it. Manage your pipeline and follow up.

The last trait of all great salespeople –and this is probably the most important – is they’re relentless. Relentless. They will not relent. They will not stop. They don’t take “no” for an answer. In sales, “no” doesn’t mean no. It means “not yet.” It means “not now.” It means the customer is not sure, not ready, not convinced. Not at this time. But no is never “never.” No is temporary. They’re relentless. They’re like a dog with a bone and they won’t let go. I’m not talking about being obnoxious or pesky. I’m talking about being persistent. There’s being a pest and there’s being persistent. You want to be persistent. To persevere and to be relentless. Unstoppable. Unshakeable. You have dreams. You have goals. Don’t let anybody detract you from those goals. One of my favourite quotes from Mark Cuban is “Every ‘no’ brings me closer to a ‘yes’.” You’ve got to believe that. It circles right back to one of the first tips, I shared with you about being confident. You’ve got to have that self-belief and that relentlessness to never give up. Now get out there and do what you got to do.

Take care, guys.

Author Profile

Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.

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