The #1 Sales Success Trait You Should Have…And How To Use it


There are many traits that lead to success in sales, one can argue their rankings as variable, industry relevant, male or female, for new or experienced sellers and there are as many ways to add, slice and prioritize as there are traits to have–or not have. To the extent a salesperson, business owner or deal maker is blessed with many or few success traits or abundance of them or expertise with a few of them surely matters to results. Of all these skills, learned or inherent, however, there is only one number one and the criteria for that is simply that it’s absence, abuse or abandonment makes future success unlikely. That crowns it a cornerstone to a pattern, and even a lifetime of success. What is it? Well as David Letterman might have suggested a while ago, let’s go to the Top 10 List:


10 – Respectful, 9 – Likeable, 8 – Empathetic, 7 – Thick Skinned, 6 – Persistent, 5 – Passionate, 4 – Great Listener, 3 – Client Advocate, 2 – Resourceful…

…And the #1 trait you should have to succeed in Sales…Honesty.

Honesty also happens to be the most likely trait to be absent in anyone’s image of a bad salesperson, followed by pushy, annoying, dumb and the rest of that gang we’ve all known and experienced at some point. Precisely because one’s integrity is most dependent upon the perception of their honesty is why it is the paramount trait for real success. Anyone can lie their way through a sale but liars don’t get referrals and serious liars eventually get numbers under a mug shot.

You should never confuse honesty with weakness whether selling or negotiating, and it surely doesn’t mean taking the prospect’s side in every objection. By walking the wire between what is and what we’d like to believe does sometimes push the honesty boundary with successful people but those who achieve with the intention of deception will ultimately pay with their happiness (in my humble opinion of justice in the universe). So success is more than how much money you make, it is how much joy and satisfaction you have in your life.

There are three top ways a seller can take advantage of their honest intentions:

  1. Unexpected Honesty. This is when you concede to a prospect that there is something better than what you are selling. Tell a person not to buy something from you and the trust you will get back is immeasurable. People always want to buy from those they like and those they trust. Honesty when your sale isn’t their best deal can get you an ally that will easily buy from you when the value proposition is correct or more competitive or recommend you without having bought.
  2. Money Truth. Always keeping in mind that money is completely relative, a hundred dollars to one buyer can be more significant than a thousand to the next. With that in mind you don’t have to agree or convince someone else your price is right but you should use honesty, yours and theirs, to find the way to present value. There is also nothing wrong with making a profit on what you sell so rather than try to hide that fact be prepared to honestly defend it because you earn it. (Chances are practically perfect you are selling to someone who makes money on something they sell.) Finding fairness and advocacy for your price is more easily attained with honesty than by trying to shade and sham around numbers.
  3. The Truth But Not The Whole Truth. Don’t mistake being honest with spilling your guts about every spot on your laundry. You don’t present honesty by overselling it as a virtue. While hiding from reality with a sort of truth is pushing the line honesty does not compel you to be father confessor with every detail, only the ones your client has told you are important or that you realize they should consider as such.

Your reputation is based on your performance and your perception. Of the two your “Integrity Profile” is born. The most successful sellers end up answering their phone for a sale as often as they might dial it. Nothing gets you a positive referral as heartfelt as a reputation for honesty. On top of being able to feel good about what others feel and say about you honesty allows you to recognize pride in your own integrity. No matter how many leads you crack, cold calls you master or big deals you close being able to look in the mirror and know you provided honesty with your sale means you can like what you see, and so can everyone else who agrees to see you.

For more articles by Tom go to or follow Tom on Twitter @TomFoxTrainer.

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