4 Traits the Best Salespeople Share

Jeff Cochran


There are certain personality traits and characteristics that enable an individual to be successful at sales. Temperaments, ways of approaching people, and even external appearance can all be a huge influence on a salesperson’s efficacy with clients. Most of these traits are applicable to more than sales, too; they’re valuable life skills that will travel with you throughout your career.

Being Self-Aware 

To understand the way others perceive us, we must first understand ourselves. Being self-aware and identifying our emotions is a useful skill at work and in life. Salespeople have the inherent ability to read their own and others’ emotions, which allows them to adjust their response. Once you can identify how you respond to certain stimuli, you can work on changing your actions, if necessary.

Think about how you react when you don’t understand something. Do you get mad? Do you make a reasonable effort to wrap your head around it? Or do you change the subject? Salespeople know ahead of time how they tend to react and what type of reaction will elicit a positive response in a given situation.

Solution Oriented

Salespeople are adept at solving problems; that’s what makes them so good at their jobs. When a salesman pitches an idea or product, they must first identify a problem for which the product offers a solution. They convince the person by explaining how the product or idea works to make their life easier. In the event that a customer has a complaint or a pitch goes sour, they know how to solve that problem, too. Understanding is the foundation for problem solving. To effectively solve a problem, you must first understand the nature of it.


Optimism isn’t limited to salespeople. It is a healthy outlook everyone should embrace. Optimistic people are more confident, and confidence gets you everywhere. The key to becoming more optimistic is to thoroughly analyze your emotional response to situations. Imagine you wake up in the morning and stub your toe getting out of bed. You can either think: “oh great, it’s going to be that kind of day,” or you can think: “at least I’m wide awake now!” It’s this type of decision in your perception that alters your entire day.


Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. There are plenty of ways to convey your assertiveness without coming across as arrogant. When a customer tells an assertive salesman they would like to think about the offer and get back to them, the salesman will often ask for a specific time and date to follow up. This isn’t as passive as simply saying “okay,” and it’s less aggressive than saying “it’s now or never.” It is both firm and accommodating.

How to Influence Management

Jeff Cochran


You don’t have to be a manager or CEO to influence others. Many people are born with the innate talent to influence. They seem to have a natural ability to compel others to listen; however, this is a talent that can be learned, as well. Influence training helps people learn to look within themselves and find the power to lead people. Leadership is an important skill to learn, whether or not you’re in a leadership role. It’s a skill that can be carried on throughout the rest of your career and life.

Be Logical 

When trying to get your point across, you must first address the logic within your cause. If you can convey to someone that your argument is a logical alternative, he or she will be more willing to listen to what you have to say. If you’re trying to come to problem solve with upper management, logical arguments usually create attentive listeners.

Be sure your side is clearly defined, and offer factual details to back it up. Be ready to address the downsides with effective solutions, as well. For example, if you’re trying to influence management to let you take on new responsibilities, explain how you will handle these duties. Address the common pitfalls that hinder those with new responsibilities and how you plan to handle them.

Speak to His or Her Emotional Side 

Another way to build on your ability to influence is to appeal to the person emotionally. Obviously, you need to understand your audience to do this. Speaking with great enthusiasm isn’t going to win over curt and fact-focused managers. Think about the person you’re trying to convince, speak to his or her emotion, and slip his or her name into conversation when you can. This age old trick is a proven way to get people to listen – just don’t use it too much or you risk sounding robotic!

Work Together 

One of the most time-tested approaches to influencing others is to convince them to get on board with you. “If you can’t beat em’, join em’,” as they say. With this tactic, you’re playing up the solution you will reach together. There are several ways to appeal to the cooperative side of the argument. For example, you could ask the person for help or new ideas with a topic, you could partner up and work directly with someone, or you can form alliances with those who already support your cause.

Many effective influencers use a combination of these three tactics. With practice, you will learn when and where each scenario works best. As you get better at reading people, you will get better at influencing them, and vice versa. This will also help you build essential leadership skills to advance your career.


Can Men and Women Negotiate Equally?

Jeff Cochran


Perhaps nothing is debated more than the differences between how men and women negotiate. Many employees worry that men and women can’t negotiate equally, and cite examples of how the glass ceiling can affect these discussions. The truth is, our culture generally rewards men who negotiate well, but not women. Women can negotiate successfully for higher salaries, better hours, and other things they need. At Shapiro, we want to level the playing field.

Ask for What You Want

In their book, Women Don’t Ask, authors Sara Laschever and Linda Babcock contend that women don’t have what they want in their careers because, generally, women don’t ask. This applies to everything from raises to time off, from potential for advancement to more exciting assignments. The two authors have discovered that, as a result, women sacrifice over half a million dollars in the course of their careers and advance more slowly than men.

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Many women of all ages are hesitant to speak up because they fear being assertive will make them look uncooperative and bossy. The truth is, not asking makes a woman look like a doormat.  While many women are good at negotiating for others, they’re hesitant to do so for themselves. If you are a woman facing negotiations, don’t be afraid to speak up.

Know Your Value

Just like men, women need to do research before negotiating, especially in salary negotiations. Part of this involves knowing exactly what your skills are and what they’re worth in today’s market. Research how much people of both sexes with your skills or in your position are getting paid in your company or competing ones. Present these figures to your employer as evidence for why you deserve what you’re asking for. Negotiation training can help you learn how to capitalize on your strengths and make negotiations feel more natural and less stressful.

Look Through Your Lens

Many employees think only older women have problems negotiating. While women in their 40s and 50s can find negotiations difficult, younger women aren’t exempt. Your negotiation skills and comfort level depend on what was normal for you growing up, no matter what era you were born in. If you came from a patriarchal family, you’re more likely to feel uncomfortable questioning men in any context. Conversely, if most of the people who raised you were female, you may feel comfortable negotiating but be unprepared for masculine approaches and arguments. Don’t allow your gender to rule negotiations, but don’t discount it, either.

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Be Yourself

A great number of women hesitate to negotiate because they think gender biases are already working against them. For example, a woman with a male boss might say, “I don’t want to ask him for a raise because if I get too excited, he’ll think I’m being emotional.” This attitude sets you up to fail. Remember that no one wants to get emotional during negotiations or say anything inappropriate – it’s not “a woman thing,” no matter what past attitudes may have been. Learn how to be comfortable in these situations rather than putting up a front – negotiation training can help you feel comfortable being yourself and asking for what you need.

Learn From Others

Part of learning to negotiate successfully involves watching others negotiate, both men and women. Be willing to learn from others’ successes and mistakes. Ask the women around you what worked or didn’t for them – and ask the men the same question. Learn from mentors and coworkers when the best times are to negotiate, and how best to negotiate for different things.

Negotiating Your Salary: 10 Things You Don’t Want to Overlook

Jeff Cochran


Most people know salary negotiation will be a big part of any serious job interview, so they come somewhat prepared. Still, all the research in the world doesn’t account for nervous forgetfulness that may mean something will be overlooked in the process. Today we’re going to highlight ten key things you don’t want to overlook when negotiating your salary.

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Do Your Homework

As mentioned, most employees do some homework but not always the right kind. In fact, many of them go into negotiations with one specific figure in mind and refuse to negotiate further. This is a huge mistake that could get your job offer withdrawn. Use negotiation training first to set up for preparation. Afterward, perform research on what your potential company currently pays for your position.

Learn to Mediate

Business experts agree companies usually start negotiations at a little less than half of the salary you might receive. Be warm and friendly without over-sharing. Focus on your unique skills or how your personality traits will positively influence the position.

Bargain for Time

Sometimes employees get so caught up in the money part of negotiations, they don’t negotiate other aspects of the job, like sick leave or vacation time. This is crucial, especially if you have familial or other obligations. Use negotiation training to address this issue, among others.

Watch Your Attitude

While some interviewees come off as money-grubbing, others are too nervous during negotiations. They end up settling for a lower salary than they want and often a less fulfilling job. Negotiation training will allow you to be confident in your negotiations, which encourages time for thinking through the process. Let the company wait several days or a week for your decision.

Brainstorm First

List the pros and cons of negotiating for specific salaries. One common misconception is that a lower salary means more time spent at home. In reality, it often means more hours spent at work to earn the same amount of money as a competing employee.

Know Your Budget Basics

Before you negotiate, go over your budget. Where do you or your family spend the most money? Can you foresee any big expenses (medical, marriage, automotive, college)? With these things in mind, you can negotiate for a salary that best fits your needs.

Consider Cost of Living

The area where you live will heavily influence your salary negotiations. If you live in an urban area, you may need to negotiate for a higher salary because of housing, gasoline, and food costs.

Don’t Use the “S” Word

You’ll get farther with your interviewer if you don’t actually use the word “salary.” Let him or her bring it up. Use negotiation training to help determine when and how to begin the financial aspect of the discussion.

Be Aware of Alternatives

Many companies offer alternatives to traditional paychecks, such as stock options and bonuses. Research these and identify the ones you’re willing to take in addition to or in place of cash.

Prepare for Objections

As with any negotiation, employers negotiating a salary will often play hardball. Prepare yourself for objections your interviewer may make to the salary you want. Pretend you are the employer and address questions you might have, such as whether an employer with three to five well-honed skills should be paid more than one with 10 skills at different levels.