Comprehensive Study on Sales Personas Reveals Diverse Characteristics of Top Salespeople

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Velocify, the leading sales acceleration platform, today announced the release of a new study and interactive online test, “The Persona of Top Sales Professionals,” by Steve W. Martin, a sales author and professor at the University of Southern California, which aim to shine a light on the diverse characteristics of successful salespeople. The study compares top sales professionals – those who exceeded 125 percent of their quota in the previous year – across a broad range of personal attributes, from favorite school subjects to their willingness to bend the truth to make a sale.

“At the heart of this research we tap into an age old question: Are top salespeople made or born? This is a question that has perplexed the field for decades,” said Nick Hedges, president and CEO at Velocify. “Rather than looking at stereotypes of successful sales behavior, this study serves as reference for salespeople to identify their own values and selling style. The study challenges sales professionals to draw positive comparisons that can result in improved self-awareness and continued professional growth.”

To promote self-awareness in sales, Velocify has paired the report with an open online test for anyone that wants to know where their answers would place them in the broad spectrum of sales personas.

“Sales professionals or anyone interested in pursuing a career in sales can explore, compare, contrast, and measure their own personality attributes and selling styles to those of top performers,” said Martin.

This study is the first in a series of reports that will delve into the psyche of sales professionals. Future studies will explore topics such as the differences between men and women and how geographic location affects selling style.

Are Successful Salespeople Born or Bred?

The overarching study of sales personas surveyed more than 1,000 salespeople and sales management leaders, who completed an extensive 43-question survey on subjects that included sales strategy preferences and past sales performance, along with questions about their values and personal beliefs.

By diving into the underlying traits of high-performing salespeople, the study finds certain common attributes, but more often uncovers a surprising diversity of opinion and self-perception. For example, a staggering 84 percent of top performers indicated that being respected and recognized by peers at their company is very important to them, demonstrating that high-level sales professionals feel their opinion matters and always want to be heard. However, when asked about whether logic or instinct plays a more important role in important life decisions, respondents’ answers were spread evenly from one end of the spectrum to the other.

The resulting report does not suggest that the specific attributes are exclusive to overachievers or claim that sales success is dependent upon one particular behavior or another. Rather, the study findings provide an overview of the attitudes of top sales professionals and serves as a reference to allow individuals to positively reflect on how their persona aligns with their own ideas of success.

“This study proves that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sales,” said Martin. “The tools available to salespeople today have opened the door for a diverse range of strategies and sales personalities, each of which is equally likely to be successful. As we continue to explore the differences in sales professionals, we’ll learn even more about the different paths to sales success—invaluable information for every sales leader.”

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