10 characteristics of a salesman

25 Jun

I am back from a discussion with (master) Dedalo Piffer, probably the best salesman I’ve ever met.

The discussion was on the characteristics (aka attributes) that a person should have to be a good salesman.

It seems there are 10 of them and all 10 must be at a reasonably high level: having a bad score at only one of those will compromise the whole and will never allow that person to reach a higher level.

What I also found very interesting in the discussion is that most of these characteristics are also necessary in many other fields and some are in general very interesting attributes that a person should  have for a professional growth.

Let’s see them:

1. Determination

the power to pursue objectives, with self-motivation and perseverance

2. Medium to high technical preparation

as a very high technical level will make the focus shift from business and sales to technical issues, resulting in discussions about technical problems, critical aspects and in general negative elements instead that focusing on value for the customer, positive effects and return on investment.

3. Capacity to inspire Trust

as a person, as a company, as product and services that I represent. All of those three.

4. Ability to quickly identify the Power Base

that is the group of the most important, influent people for the sale. Doing the right thing at the right time with the wrong person will not work. And speed is essential.

5. Ability to quickly identify the Critical Issues

for the customer, his main problems and where the products and services we have can give the maximum added value.

6. Capacity to ride (even create) a Compelling Event

the urgent need that will make the customer close the deal and not procrastinate forever. This capacity is especially important in tough times like the crise we’re in.

7. Have the courage to ask Customer Committment

at some point of the sales process: have the customer promise a contract with a certain amount at a set date.

8. Ability to negotiate the Closure

of the deal never losing control, never getting nervous, never giving up.

9. Capacity to build, day by day, a human capital

a network of relations that will lead to other relations and sales. This is primarily what the salesman will leverage to call high and grow.

10. Passion

and enthusiasm. Passion and the ability to inspire passion in the people. My favourite one.

Achieving only average levels in all ten of those is for some people very hard. I am one of those: very strong in a few points above but too weak in some others; I’ll probably never be a salesman, but I enjoy understanding how it works and when looking for a salesman for my company I’ll be careful evaluating the candidates over these 10 characteristics.

Last but not least other recently discussed (very broad) topics I love:”Exit the confort zone” and “Think big, start small“. These two have never been more important for me than now.


Strategic Selling

Power Base Selling

Target Account Selling (TAS)


8 Responses to “10 characteristics of a salesman”

  1. Nuno Teixeira June 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm #

    What about:

    11. A good liar

  2. francescociriaci August 26, 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    Unfortunately a single small lie can destroy a lot of trust and a lot of human capital… in the medium and long run is not a good strategy at all for a good salesman.

  3. Steve December 23, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    I think you are right on! As a sales manager for many years in Canada and the US, the ability to sell comes down to TRUST, LEADERSHIP at your account, VALUE that you bring, YOUR BRAND (salesman inc), Follow-up, do what you say you will do, Care, Win-Win deals for long term business. I am in the process of creating a training tool to be used at some up coming events. Your thoughts were good to see.

  4. Graham C February 10, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    Trust is a really strong item in my book. And a book about trust is
    Steven MR Covey – the Speed of Trust

    – the boy who kept the yard clean and green puts it across probably better than his old man.

  5. tinaliu90 July 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    so i’ve been wondering, how can people be passionate about selling products to others?

  6. Frank Sorichetti July 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm #


  7. Samuel S. Lee (@OpenNotion) April 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    Very interesting Mr. Ciriaci. The notion of a salesman I think conjures up images of a sleazy car salesman or superficial market hawker- however, I feel that in every moment of life we are either selling or being sold something. I agree with many of the points you have made here. Understandable that all are important elements that don’t work in isolation, but how would you rank them if you had to?

  8. @adelsidiqi June 4, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

    Wonderful article Ciriaci. I have written on “Why should you be a salesman first?” on my blog at http://bit.ly/SalesmanJob. Please let me know what you think.

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