Qualities and attributes that define a sales professional – how do you compare?

Expectations Checklist

“What qualities define a sales professional?” To answer this question, I had to deeply reflect both on my personal experiences as a field sales rep, and as a leader of sales teams for various organizations over the years. The result is the checklist below.  Each point has a real-life story behind them – not theoretical but in the field actual events.

So – here are my defining qualities and attributes of a sales professional:

As a sales professional you must:

  • Be RESPONSIBLE for your actions
  • Hold YOURSELF accountable
  • Focus on RESULTS – nothing else matters
  • Do things with a sense of urgency
  • Do what you say you are going to do
  • Position yourself in such a way that it will be very hard for a prospect to say NO. Make it personal
  • Work hard, work smart
  • Manage expectations…under promise and over deliver
  • If you made a mistake, be the first one to report it…. take responsibility…admit it…so that the focus can be on a solution. Trust is earned. The cover-up is usually where people get into trouble…. resulting in a loss of trust and wasting time
  • Have higher expectations of yourself than others have of you
  • You have to be your toughest boss…if your Sales Manager or VP of sales is tougher on you than you are on yourself…then you have a problem that you need to solve
  • Appearance – look like a professional. Dress one step above your industry’s expectations
  • Positive Attitude
    • Wanting to win 100% of the time…
    • Do not talk yourself out of success- when the deal is closed – get out within 30 seconds….
  • Every night is opening night. Don’t skip steps in your sales process
    • Approach and methodology – having a clearly defined sales process that you will implement all of the time. You can’t jump up a step ladder…you must go up one rung at a time. Same with selling
  • Be in alignment with your customer
  • Bad habits are developed when sales are going well. Don’t take your foot off the pedal
  • Don’t forget that the buyer has just as much pressure to buy as you do to sell
  • Act like you have the winning lottery ticket in your pocket when making sales calls – especially when making cold calls. Very liberating.  Try it.
  • Be observant. Look around. Pick up hints
  • Be a problem solver and a solution provider – diagnose before you prescribe
  • Be naturally curious
  • Questions are a sales rep’s weapons
  • Show up and don’t say anything stupid (This is my personal favorite – I just can’t wait to tell you the story behind this)
  • Courteous and Respectful – to your customers, to your customer’s employees from the bottom to the top of the organization, to your fellow employees and to everyone you come in contact with
  • We all make a choice every day. Will I have a good day or a bad day? I choose to have a good day everyday…life is too short. Nobody likes crabby people
  • Don’t make excuses
  • Most of the time a plan fails because of execution…not strategy
  • The hardest door to open when making a cold call is your car door
  • Invest in yourself
    • Why should anyone care about your success if you do not care enough to invest in yourself?
    • One of the great joys in life is learning – Wanting to learn more… Reading self-improvement books, articles, seminars. Being a lifelong student. Favorite quote from Ghandi – “Live as if you will die tomorrow…. learn as if you will live forever.”
    • Knowledgeable in:
      • Sales as a profession
      • Your Industry
      • Your Products
      • Your customers
    • Base discussions on FACTS only…no feelings…no emotion…
    • Willingness to reach out for advice, for assistance, for help
    • Be ON TIME. Period. Better yet, be 15 minutes early.
    • Work harder than your competitor
    • Listen, listen, listen
    • Stop talking – don’t feel that you have to fill silence gaps
    • How likeable are you? What is your likeability index?

Why do you have a job as a sales rep?

  • New business, new business, new business.
    • Sell new accounts.
    • Sell new products/services to existing accounts.
    • Help your current accounts grow their business.
  • Be a consultant to your customers…add value
  • Nothing happens until somebody sells something
  • Top line growth. Period


  • Sales is a game of strategy – the most prepared will usually win
  • Sales is applied psychology
  • Know your competition
  • Know your customer’s needs
  • Always have a purpose of what you want to accomplish on the sales call
  • Planning lowers stress:
    • Objectives – Strategy – Tactics – Execution
    • Have a plan for the year – for the month – for the week – for the day – for each hour – for each call – then work your plan
  • You don’t necessarily have to be the only company that has a certain feature, you just have to be the first one to say you have it
  • Think of yourself as a defense attorney – only provide the facts that support your defendant…your company – never talk about what you don’t have

Confidence – it is ok to have some swagger!!

  • In yourself
  • In your team
  • In your company


  • For your profession…passion for results…passion for success…
  • Emotional – to be emotional can be very strong when making a point…to show emotion is good – just do not be emotional on the inside
  • You need to have acting skills
  • Be adaptable
  • A sales rep has to have the same properties as water. Without water we will not be able to live beyond 3 days.  Without sales the organization will cease to exist. Water is persistent, powerful force…look at the Grand Canyon. At times a sales rep needs to be as cold as ice…other times – boiling hot passionate.  Water takes the form of what it is poured into…a sales rep needs to be adaptable as well. From a beer bottle mentality to a champagne bottle mentality


  • In yourself – in your company – in your products and services
  • Leverage your knowledge, skills, experience, education –sell who you are


  • Never forget why you do what you do…to make a better life for your family and yourself
  • What is your definition of success?


  • To your success and personal growth
  • To the team’s success
  • To your Company’s success

To be respected

Life is too short….HAVE FUN!


Tony Picciano is the founder of Top Sales Success Group. TSS is the result of the unique experience and lifelong ambition of Tony. For over forty years, Tony has worked in sales and sales management with a wide range of businesses from startups to Fortune 100 companies. Tony is not only a sales expert, but also a marketing practitioner with expertise in strategic planning, new product development, new business launches, and collateral material development.





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