Top sales professionals share five key qualities, reveals research conducted by a leading international sales advisory organisation.

The shared characteristics are advanced problem-solving skills, being highly motivated, integrity, tenacity, and sociability.

“It is very clear that, while proven sales skills can be learned, perfected and successfully employed, the top ten per cent of sales people also display five distinct ‘natural’ characteristics,” says Doug Tucker, Managing Director of Sales Commando.

“Firstly they have excellent problem-solving skills, which is especially invaluable when closing deals. They can immediately see ways of addressing any potential reservations that clients might have, which helps them to save a sale that might otherwise flounder.

“Secondly, they are competitive, highly motivated and results-driven. They tend to focus on their own statistics and compare themselves to colleagues’ successes and redouble their efforts to match or beat any competitor who they feel might be challenging or out-selling them.

“Thirdly – and this is something that cynics might find surprising – they display a high level of integrity. The whole point about sales is that you can always get someone to buy from you – once. Damage that relationship of trust and you can say goodbye to selling to that same individual again. A successful salesperson will work hard to develop a working relationship with a client and that will not be possible if integrity and honesty is put on the back burner.

“Tenacity is another notable quality of the successful sales pro. I suppose that this could also be translated as ‘doesn’t take no for an answer.’ So the client doesn’t want to sign on the dotted line today? That situation just acts as a spur and encouragement to the best sales people.

“Sociability is the final characteristic. Those who want to build up a solid career in sales need to be sufficiently obsessed with human behaviour, not only to seem genuinely interested in their clients but to learn how to read them. The ability to judge responses comes with time and experience, so it does help to be a little obsessed by people.”

Mr Tucker concludes: “The good news is that whilst these characteristics come naturally to the top ten percent, they can also be taught and practiced by all salespeople.”

The research, carried out between May and July 2013, is based on one-to-one interviews with 330 top-earning salespeople from 55 firms in the United Kingdom, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore.