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There are lots of successful salespeople out there, and many of them come from diverse backgrounds and have unique personality traits that don’t overlap with others. To put it simply; high-performing salespeople cannot be identified based on who they are. They can, however, be identified and lumped in together based on how they approach their profession and how they think.

Every successful salesperson has to possess certain psychological skills in order to succeed. There are simply way too many challenges that salespeople have to face on a consistent basis to lack these skills and expect a high level of output. Thankfully, all of these skills can be developed with enough effort.

Here are the six psychological skills that every salesperson should possess:

1. Maintaining a high level of motivation

This psychological skill can be easy to maintain when things are going well, but you have to teach yourself to maintain a high level of motivation when things are going badly as well. You have to train yourself to understand that the rewards and benefits that you’ll experience from being a successful salesperson aren’t immediately forthcoming, but that you can keep these rewards and benefits in mind when things get tough in order to maintain your high level of motivation.

2. Goal-setting

Successful salespeople need to learn how to set long and short-term goals that are realistic, measurable, and time-oriented. Anyone can set a goal for a month or a quarter, and you can bet your sales management will be setting them for you anyway, but high performing salespeople with well-developed psychological skills not only set these goals but truly hold themselves accountable against them on a regular basis and adjust their efforts as needed to make sure they’re a personal requirement, not merely a suggestion.

3. Managing anxiety effectively

Sales is one of the most stressful professions you can choose, and you’d have to be a psychopath not to experience some level of anxiety. But managing anxiety effectively is a valuable psychological skill that can make a huge difference. Understand and accept that anxiety is a part of the job, and learn how to channel it into productive activity. And if your anxiety becomes too strong, learn how to address it and manage it so that it doesn’t cause you to shut down or affect your overall mental health.

4. Positive self-talk

It might sound corny to some, and you don’t have to go into the bathroom and stare in the mirror while you’re doing it, but positive self-talk works to help maintain confidence during difficult times. Talk to yourself the way you would talk to a friend or a family member if they were experiencing what you’re experiencing. Most of the time, the advice you’d give is totally applicable and helpful to your current situation, and can help you feel better and see the big picture.

5. High emotional intelligence

This is more of an overall and comprehensive social and psychological skill that can help you communicate, but emotional intelligence is huge in sales. A high level of emotional intelligence allows you to understand, empathize with, and better handle interpersonal relationships. But it also allows you to be aware of, and control your own emotions, which is critical in a communications-driven profession like sales.

6. Maintain a high level of focus

Lots of salespeople tend to be all over the place when it comes to focus, not merely because such personalities are common in sales, but because the job can pull us every which way on a daily basis. You need to learn how to focus, but you also need to learn how to pick what to focus on. Paying close attention to a prospect and their needs, and sitting down every day and focusing on prospecting activities can help move the needle for you, whereas focusing on interpersonal office politics can feel cathartic, but is a terrible use of your attention. Learn how to maintain focus and avoid distractions, unless they are high-potential deals. (You could also try using Spiro’s full sales CRM, which proactively recommends what deals you should focus on.)

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About the Author Ken Kupchik

Ken Kupchik is the creator of Sales Humor and the author of the funniest sales book ever written, The Sales Survival Handbook, which you can order on Amazon.com. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


  • This is the best blog you’ve written. Too often within a company IT, management, operations or shipping can’t understand the personalities top salesmen or women possess. Why we are wired the way we are. If we were wired like a dock worker that is what we’d be doing. It takes a self motivated self person to continue to push the ball up the field for an organization.

    Thanks for writing this.

    Jef A Taylor
    Medical Purchasing Solutions

  • A wood says:

    Great write up! This goes beyond career advise and is relatable to every area of life!

  • JC Drapper says:

    This one is really good, you have to have a strong mind to stay in the business.

  • Virendra Kumar says:

    Wonderful, loved this. One has to focus on the right issues, zoom in and zoom out as per requirement( Applicable for Managers). Maintain the anxiety level, all crucial points. However, one important point is “self-talk”. In fact, it will be nice if somebody can talk to himself in front of the mirror….it can clarify the bigger picture.

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