Ability & Attitude: Qualities of the Most Successful Salespeople

Overcome and achieve success

As part of my sales-consulting and dealership-training work, I often interview candidates for job positions in commercial sales and management. In fact, I interview over 50 candidates every year, and – just like the insurance commercial says – I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two. Almost every factor I’ve seen contribute to sales success can be placed into two categories: “Skill” and “Will” (a pair of terms I’ve adopted from “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness” by Kevin F. Davis).

Last month, I shared a story from my high-school coaching days about a former football player who demonstrated how a will to succeed can overcome natural skill. In other words, attitude and motivation are just as important as ability and technique. Today, I want to take a deeper dive into the skill and will that can dramatically influence commercial sales success. These are top qualities that should impact how you hire, how you train, and how you pursue your own professional development:

Commercial Sales Skills: These are the practical and strategic behaviors, abilities, and techniques developed and performed by successful commercial salespeople:

  • Sales Skills: Conducting a sales pitch or presentation, asking guiding questions, overcoming objections, closing deals, gaining referrals, and retaining current customers
  • Networking Skills: Growing referral sources, organizing a networking system, identifying lead sources, and building rapport
  • Marketing Skills: Building and executing a marketing plan, developing a distribution network, and utilizing social media
  • Negotiating Skills: Holding gross profit, leveraging service and parts, and solving problems
  • Critical Thinking Skills: Technical knowledge regarding vehicles, upfits, regulations, programs, etc. – and understanding how those factors could influence a consumer’s path-to-purchase

Commercial Sales Will: These are the mental attitudes and personal motivations that shape the productive habits and overall work ethic of successful commercial salespeople:

  • Learning from Failure: The determination to use failure as a stepping-stone to success. In other words, the person who is not deterred by obstacles will always keep pushing ahead
  • Genuine Interest in People & Relationships: They always show an interest in other people that leads to the ability to connect with various types of personalities, and they have the ability to develop professional relationships into true friendships
  • Consistent Drive: A “consistency of determined action.” This person does not find excuses to not research prospects or make calls, but instead works hard, works smart, and consistently secures appointments with decision-makers
  • Positivity: Maintains a positive disposition in the most difficult of circumstances and encourages those around them to keep chasing success
  • Team Player: Not only do they work well with others in pursuit of common goals, but they also coach and empower their peers and subordinates to find their own successes

In over 20 years in this business, I’ve seen skilled employees who lack motivation and a positive attitude fall behind the strongly willed salespeople again and again. Even if they are without management support, available resources, diverse inventory, or personal experience, willed salespeople consistently find ways to move more inventory no matter what. In my previous article, I said, “Skill is great; will is better; and a salesperson with skill AND will is the best there is.” So, whether your dealership sells dump trucks, pickup trucks, or anything else, focus your hiring, training, and professional development on those top qualities related to skill AND will, and you’ll sell more trucks and vans than ever before.

Ken TaylorAbout the Author

Ken Taylor

As the Founder and President of Commercial Truck Training, Ken has consulted, coached, and trained commercial dealers on individual, regional, and national business levels. Known as an industry leader, Ken has worked with companies like General Electric, General Motors, FCA, Ford, Commercial Truck Trader, and Equipment Trader.


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