6 Characteristics of a Successful Sales Leader

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Jake Phillips
October 20, 2021
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min read

Sales can be an extremely cutthroat industry that can be incredibly difficult to succeed in. For every dozen sales professionals, there are only one or two who advance their career to the next level, growing into a sales leader.

So, what kind of character traits do these successful sales people have that allows them to advance in their career?  

Here, we’re going to identify some of the key traits for effective sales leadership. We’ll discuss what these characteristics are and how they can lead to better results on an individual and team level.

Characteristics of a Successful Sales Leader

While there isn’t just one path or playbook to advance your career, there are several consistent traits all successful leaders have.

Work Ethic

A planner notebook open full of upcoming tasks.

If you don’t work hard, no one will want to work for you or with you.

Sales leaders need to be disciplined, motivated, and capable of staying on top of their work. They need to have a certain drive that pushes them towards success despite the massive roadblocks that will absolutely occur.

In a sales context, drive is a need to achieve: growth in sales numbers, close deals, and take a team to the next level.

Successful sales leaders are inherently motivated to achieve and push their team to new heights. Without drive, a salesperson would not have the grit required to show up everyday, challenge themselves and their team, and do whatever it takes (WIT) to get the job done.


Zoomed in photo of 2 businessmen discussing something on a tablet while sitting outside on a bench

The best of the best want to continue to get better and raise the bar.

Coachable sellers don’t shy away from tough feedback—they embrace it and use it as a learning experience. Coachable employees will show a continued effort for improvement, and the motivation to make the necessary changes to actually apply the coaching.

If you’re going to grow in your career, take the coaching and respond by saying thank you and move forward with your newly gained knowledge. This response will inevitably help you get better, not worse.

Emotional Intelligence

Close up of a mans green eyes.

Emotional intelligence has two facets: the ability to control and manage your own emotions, and the ability to skillfully navigate interpersonal relationships.

Sales leaders need to deal with both of these situations on a daily basis. Hitting sales goals and managing a team is challenging and can take an emotional toll on even the most successful leaders. Leaders need to be able to think through their strategies and implementations clearly without negative emotions clouding their head space.

Without a doubt, sales is stressful, so being able to stay calm and steady throughout the process is essential to being effective as a leader.


A business man outside of a tall building with his arms up to the sky

The best teammates set a high bar for themselves and raise it for others, creating a contagious environment for all team members to thrive in.

The ambition you have for your business can drive you to succeed.

Salespeople must constantly challenge themselves to achieve more. These types of leaders and sales professionals are never satisfied with the achievement; they thirst for what the next goal will be.


Close up image of 3 darts hitting the bullseye of the same dark board.

Great sales professionals follow a repeatable, scalable process.

Consistency in sales results shows that you have ownership in time management, sales funnel strategy, prioritization, and accountability. This trait can be so important because if you fail and demonstrate that in your role today, then there will be a slim chance someone will believe in and give you the opportunity of a leadership position.

Consistency is also demonstrated by how you choose to show up each day. The best leaders stay consistent in their work and message and encourage their employees even on their bad days.

Great Communication Skills

a business woman on her phone while sitting on a couch with a laptop.

Communication is a core sales leadership function. Great communication ensures your team has the knowledge they need on any given project or goal, this allows for clear and concise expectations for your employees.

As a great sales leader, you need to make sure you communicate with your team often and remind them don’t hesitate to reach out to you first. It will encourage your team to be more open and transparent with you. Having great communication skills is particularly important with more and more people working remote.

What’s Next?

Now that you have learned what characteristics make a successful salesperson, it’s time to implement them into your daily life. No one can start to embody all of these traits in one day, it takes time and effort to understand and implement each trait.

Click here to read about The 15 Best Sales Books for Boosting Your Skills & Sales Performance in 2021 to further your personal sales development.

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