20 Business & Sales Leaders Answer: What’s the #1 Trait of Sales Superstars? What does it take?

Could be a friend who can talk you into anything or a coworker who somehow closes the toughest of deals: sales superstars–they exist.

In the high-turnover world of sales, they are those who thrive, succeed, and make a huge impact in whatever environment they are in.

So, what makes a sales superstar? Is it sales DNA? Is sales DNA even a thing?

It’s nearly impossible to pin down a single trait that would make a salesperson a superstar–but we tried to come close.

We asked 20 sales and business leaders:

What’s the number one trait of sales superstars?

The answers are very insightful. Take time to read each one and pick up nuggets of wisdom to help you push yourself and your team toward the right direction.

20 Business & Sales Leaders Answer (1)


Grant Cardone Dave Kurlan Deb Calvert Tom Hopkins Ian Moyse Lori Richardson
Jeb Blount Kristin Zhivago Mark LaCour Jamie Shanks James Potter
Eric Loflohm Bob Phibbs Rico Wyder Mike Trow Mark Tewart Sandi Lin
Elizabeth McLeod David Towne Samar Singla



The greatest salespeople, no matter what the buyer says, states or demands, under no circumstances, ever disagrees or makes the buyer wrong or suggests their request is impossible.

Once you perfect this simple strategy, it will save your sales. The old saying, “the customer is never wrong,” is not true.

In fact, often, the customer is wrong, or they even lie, but that doesn’t mean you should call them out or make them wrong. When you tell someone you can’t, won’t, not allowed to or that’s impossible, you cause the customer to become defensive, more dug into their position, and make them less likely to agree.

Understand that all variations of no, not, never, can’t, won’t, against our policy, and impossible must be avoided.

Train, drill and rehearse agreeing with the customer. My cloud-based sales university, CardoneUniversity.com, has built-in drills to make sure you get this handled and quit blowing deals. 

Any and all variation of no and can’t must be eliminated from your vocabulary.

You may think, “I don’t want to mislead the customer. I’m going to over promise and be unable to deliver.” There’s an art to telling a customer, “I’d love to make that happen for you,” instead of, “that’s impossible,” or, “I can’t do that.”

The problem is, as soon as you say no, or that you cannot do something because you are ‘so honest’; you just eliminated any chance of being able to do anything for the customer.

The next time a customer asks for the impossible say, “I never say ‘no’ until I have to.”

Grant Cardone is the sales guru. He is a New York Times best-selling author,
international speaker,
and is considered the top sales training expert in the world.




The use of the word trait suggests that the answer should be a personality trait.

However, there isn’t any one personality trait that is predictive of success in sales.

We can substitute skill, strength, attribute or characteristic, but each has its drawbacks.

Prospecting skills and closing skills are most desirable, but without appropriate selling strengths to support them, the skills alone may not be enough.  Those strengths are important, but without sales process and methodology to direct them, no single strength is enough either.

Attributes are subsets of Sales Core Competencies, which include a combination of strengths and skills, but even those, without strong commitment to execute, can fall short.

Therefore, my long, but justified answer, is the commitment to do whatever is required to achieve success – on a call, in a meeting, in a sales cycle, with an account, always.

Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best-selling author, radio show host, successful entrepreneur, top-notch blogger,
and sales development industry pioneer. He was inducted into the Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame in 2012.
He is the CEO of Kurlan Associates Inc. and Objective Management Group, Inc. (OMG).





No trait matters more in selling than determination, an unshakeable resolve.

Superstar sellers can’t be deterred when in pursuit of a goal.

They display fortitude or “grit” in overcoming obstacles and relentlessly moving forward because they are bound and determined to succeed.

Superstars simply don’t give up.
They dig in when the going gets rough, and they work ahead to
steel themselves up for those tough times by recognizing and maximizing opportunities.
They believe they will reach their goals and, as a result of their drive, they do.  

Deb Calvert is a renowned keynote speaker, a Top 50 Sales Influencer,
UC Berkeley Instructor, author of the DISCOVER Questions® bestselling book series,
and President and Founder of People First Productivity Solutions.





Being disciplined is a decision we make every waking moment of every day. We can either take life as it comes, or we can learn and take the steps necessary to build the lives of our dreams.

In the early days of my sales career, I attended a training where the speaker said, “Find out who the most successful people are in your local area and invite them to lunch.” I looked around my community and invited one of the most successful businessmen to lunch at one of the nicest local restaurants. I was quite surprised when he agreed.

Being young, and nervous, about meeting with this man, I didn’t know what to say. He finally asked why I had invited him. I told him about the speaker’s suggestion and that I was curious to know how he became so successful.

He then offered to give me the words he lived by…the words that made all the difference in the level of success he had achieved. I was so excited until I realized I didn’t even have a piece of paper to take notes of this conversation. I grabbed my napkin and pen to write down whatever he was about to tell me.

He began by telling me that there would be days I’d hate him for sharing this advice. And there would be days he would bless me for it.

 Then, he gave me what I refer to as The Golden Dozen– twelve words that changed my life forever:
“I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”
That’s the essence of discipline.

There will be times when the last thing we want to do is to make one more call, or handle paperwork. But they’re pieces of the puzzle of success. When we concentrate on productivity, it’s amazing at how much more successful we become.

And, please note that laying on the beach in Hawaii can be productive, too, as long as it’s a recreational or restorative time that will allow greater productivity when returning to our main work.

I know that’s a long story to explain how to develop discipline, but I find in teaching that people remember advice better when it’s attached to a story.

Tom Hopkins is a sales expert, sought-after speaker, and author of top sales books
ike How to Master the Art of Selling and When Buyers Say No.




My number one superstar sales rep trait,  if I could select only one, would have to be
reps who exhibited habitual strong exploratory questioning techniques,
AKA ‘two ears, one mouth syndrome’.

Digging deeper on prospect customer’s  needs, issues, wants, wishes, etc., and understanding the Why’s Whats, Hows and What if’s at a deeper than surface level.

The more you understand and know the better you can quantify if you are a good fit for the client, what their ‘true’ selection criteria (with weightings) is and act accordingly to maximise both of your time and your capability to win the business.

A high proportion of sales people still do surface level qualification and miss getting good direction from the customer.  

Be like a child again, be inquisitive and ask lots of questions; ask Why, Why, Why and often you will be surprised what you dig up and find out!

 Ian Moyse is one of the leading executives and thought leaders in the Cloud Solutions industry.
He is the Sales Director at Axios Systems & UK Sales Director of the Year 2015 (ISMM),
who was awarded a 2015 Power Profile by LinkedIn.





Oh, I have two.

A superstar sales rep is a student – a learner – no matter how long
they’ve been in professional sales.

They look for cues, patterns, and the unspoken. They are also coachable, which ties into being a learner – the desire to improve.

Lori Richardson is a top sales influencer and strategist.
She is the founder and CEO of Score More Sales, a sales consultancy that works with
technology brands worldwide to drive sales growth.






The path to superstar-level success in sales is brutally simple.

So simple that it’s a Paradox of Basics: A truth that is so blatantly obvious it has become impossibly invisible. It’s also a truth that remains frustratingly elusive for most salespeople, causing so many promising, intelligent, talented people to fail miserably in sales.

What’s the secret that separates superstars from everyone else, and why do they consistently outperform other salespeople?  

Superstars are relentless, unstoppable, fanatical prospectors

They are obsessive about keeping their pipeline full of qualified prospects. They prospect anywhere and anytime—constantly turning over rocks looking for their next opportunity. They prospect day and night—unstoppable and always on.

This is why superstar salespeople out-earn and out-produce their peers. It’s why they take home the awards, spiffs, and trips. It’s why superstars are not one hit wonders – their full pipeline allows them to produce exceptional results year in and year out.


Jeb Blount is the founder of SalesGravy.com and bestselling author of Fanatical Prospecting and People Buy You.




I think the number one trait of superstar sales reps is bravery.

Salespeople need to be brave enough to pursue the conversations needed to make sales.

And when those conversations happen, they need to be brave enough to meet the prospect where they are in their buying journey, and to let the prospect lead the conversation. This means to not sell while selling, to back off, to stay in listen mode during the whole conversation, to work on the tradeoffs with the customer, and to finally let the customer decide that he’s ready to buy.

Customers don’t need us anymore to find out which solutions are available, but all of us need someone to talk over the tradeoffs with once we are ready to pursue a particular course of action.

Salespeople must be brave enough to let that conversation go in whichever direction is best for the customer.

Kristin Zhivago is an expert sales coach, marketer, and customer success professional.
She is the president of Cloud Potential.




The #1 trait of superstar sales reps in 2016?
They are exceptional problem solvers.

Prospects and existing clients are looking for solutions to their business issues. And if you can identify, articulate, and solve those issues, not only will you be a top performer but clients see you as an asset to their organization. Not as a vendor.


Mark LaCour is one of the leading experts in oil and gas sales. He is the founder of Modal Point




A never quenched thirst for learning and development.

Nearly every sales organization in the world is the same. 20% of the sales team produces 80% of the results – the ultimate Pareto Law.  

The superstar 20% is almost always reading, learning, watching, training and evolving their craft.  We have empirically proven with Social Selling that learning behavior has a direct correlation to sales actions & results.


Jamie Shanks is an expert in social selling and digital marketing.
He is the CEO of Sales For Life, a leading social selling company whose thrust
is to help sales departments socialize the top of their sales funnels.



Relationships = They listen more than they talk and give more than they take. 🙂


James Potter is The Linked In Man.
He is the director of the company with the same name where he helps businesses;
people break down their barriers to sales by being themselves.




The #1 trait is self-motivation.
They have the ability to solve problems from their internal drive.

Eric Lofholm is a seminar leader and sales scripting expert.
He’s also the founder and president of Eric Lofholm International, where they help people make more sales.




A superstar is always curious about behavior. Cause and effect.

What did they just say that got a good reaction? If they missed a sale, when did they feel it went bad?

Hacks repeat themselves and sound like it because they are just vomiting the same stuff on everyone.

The superstar may say many of the same things but knows how to make it sound fresh because they can micro-adjust their presentation on a dime based on what they read from the other person – and shut up long enough to process all of it.

Bob Phibbs is the Retail Doctor.
He is an expert speaker on retail sales, training, and marketing.





Capability to adapt and conform.

Sales rockstars have a very specific quality of continuous adaptation in any situation.

This could be in a sales meeting when adjusting a client conversation, picking up on hints and details what the client says, and guiding the client to realised themselves why they need this product. This could be to adapt to a changing process internally and to efficiently accomplish what is conform to the company but fits the client’s requirements.


Rico Wyder is a mobile expert, author & angel investor.
He is currently Tickled Media’s Regional Vice President of Product.





Being diligent and organized.

In today’s world of increased competitor attack and ‘noise’ from social media. Most, if not all, prospects and customers need to be guided and helped through the sales cycle.

The most successful sales superstars are those that are diligent and organized in their opportunity analysis and follow up.

Michael Trow is a marketing, sales, and systems expert helping small businesses grow.
He is the president of Alderbest CRM.




Two words: resilient and persistent. 

Mark Tewart is an automotive industry sales expert, motivational speaker, consultant,
and author of How To Be A Sales Superstar. He is the founder and president of Tewart Management Group.





Sales is a metrics driven funnel combined with the art of conversation. The best sales reps are highly structured about their time and activities in order to generate maximum results.

Sandi Lin is a customer onboarding and success expert. She is the CEO and Co-founder of Skilljar.





We assume that salespeople are primarily motivated by money. We couldn’t be more wrong.

After spending a decade studying top performing sales organizations, I’ve found that the salespeople who sell with Noble Purpose, those who earnestly and factually understand how they make a difference to their customers, outsell salespeople who are primarily focused on sales targets and money.

These findings are a wake-up call for companies and a game changer for any leader who wants to grow sales performance.

Elizabeth McLeod is the Vice President of McLeod & More, Inc.,
a leading sales leadership consultancy helping clients drive revenue and do work that makes them proud.





My own answer (and I’m a CPA, not a marketer) is that the number one trait of superstar sales reps is

focusing on people who have the means and the interest in buying,
and then not taking no for an answer.

David Towne is the Chief Financial Officer of Perry S. Marshall & Associates,
a consultancy that helps entrepreneurs find freedom and autonomy through direct marketing.





Samar Singla is one of India’s most promising young CEOs.
He heads two successful tech companies: Click Labs and Jugnoo.


Go ahead and take these lessons. Use them to improve and push yourself and your team. Working towards being a sales superstar sounds like hard work–but the fulfillment and rewards are surely worth it.


FREE WHITE PAPER: How Often Do Mortgage Lenders Follow Up via Calls & Emails?

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Aki Merced

Aki Merced

Aki Merced writes about B2B sales and marketing as a content marketer for Tenfold. Follow her on Twitter @akimerced!

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