Confident, egotistical, gregarious, ad-hoc, competitive, aggressive, smooth talking — we all know what it takes to be a successful salesperson, right? Turns out that stereotype is pretty much a myth, at least in the b2b technology services space.
I’ve always taken what I describe as an unconventional approach to sales. When we first started the company I worried about this. But since it’s turned out to work well I’ve at times been rather smug about the fact that it’s different than what engineers describe as the stereotypical “sales weenie” approach. My bubble of smugness has been burst by a study of the personality traits of top sales people reported on in the Harvard Business Review.
Here are the traits of top sales people that Steve W. Martin found when he administered personality tests to a 1000 salespeople. I think these are likely to line up much more closely with people who have technical backgrounds than the list above:
- Achievement Orientation
- Lack of Gregariousness
- Lack of Discouragement
- Lack of Self-Consciousness
The HBR article has a good description of what in particular makes these traits important to the sales process.
This study should give you some confidence if you’re a technical founder of a software development firm following your instincts and going about sales in a way that makes sense to you.
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