What’s the one characteristic successful sales professionals share?

Resilience. Well actually more specifically, a resilience edge, the psychology of sales.

Let’s start at the beginning, what is sales success?

Sales success of course depends on the business environment and the individual, but generally ‘success’ is quantified by meeting agreed targets, whether they be financial, quantity units or customer satisfaction levels. Whatever the targets, they’re measurable.

Traditionally success in a sales environment has been determined by meeting targets and making the sale. This approach in many organisations has been replaced with not only achieving targets, but by doing this in a way that aligns with the business values and brand. The focus has shifted from outcome-based sales, whereby the goal is to purely sell products and services, towards an outcome and behaviour model, whereby targets are met and sales are achieved…but in a way that promotes collaboration and long-term relationship building within the business and with clients.

The third level of sales success that’s emerging in mature organisations is the focus on the resilient sales professional who not only excels at the first two levels of sales success, but also has the ability to cope exceptionally well with challenges, whilst mastering their mindset to boost future performance.

The three levels of sales success

Psychology of sales

Characteristics of success

What do we know about the characteristics of success for exceptional sales professionals?

Harvard Business Review state it’s all about confidence, ego and personal drive. Forbes claim the key to success is adaptability and authenticity. According to Success the key to being an exceptional sales professional is structure and focus. Inc. have identified sales success characteristics as self-awareness, optimism and problem solving.

There is one framework that encompasses all of these success traits (and so much more)…The Resilience Edge™. It’s no surprise the number one characteristic Sales Directors state their teams need to succeed in their role is (you’ve guessed it)…resilience.

So if this is correct, what’s it all about?

Research with our clients has consistently pointed to personal resilience creating the difference between mediocracy and success in a sales environment. So, what exactly is resilience?


Self-belief and playing to your unique strengths in a sales environment boosts confidence, which is one of the key factors associated with increasing performance at work. From a sales perspective, increasing personal confidence results in an increased likelihood that you’ll go beyond your comfort zone and deal with challenges head-on.


Adapting your style of communication and behaviour depending on who your client is and what they expect from you is an indication of emotional intelligence. Being fixed on your goals, but flexible in how you achieve them encourages sales professionals to successfully think on their feet, spot unexpected opportunities and tailor how they respond to challenges to achieve the best result possible.


Effectively managing personal energy levels can be the difference between burnout and comfortable pressure. Often sales professionals thrive on a certain amount of pressure, but learning how to avoid pushing that too far and burning out encourages psychological wellbeing, which promotes performance improvement. Choosing to take an optimistic approach when dealing with challenges will put you in a favourable position when it comes to problem solving and dealing with tricky situations.


Understanding that your working life won’t always go to plan, and accepting roadblocks will get in your way encourages successful sales professionals to view challenging situations as a learning experience, which can be transformed into an excuse to propel forward professionally. Viewing situations from different points of view will put you at an advantage when it comes to creatively solving client issues and positioning yourself and your product or service effectively.


Honing your skills and becoming a master of your profession can only breed success. Focusing on goals, pushing yourself to get better at what you do and creating a personal success mindset will in turn enhance your performance in a sales role. To thrive in the future and boost performance, whilst dealing effectively with challenges, focusing on professional mastery is the key.


Building a strategy and approach that works for you increases performance in a sales environment, in turn boosting personal confidence. Creating a structure around you that will set you up for success, both tangible (results at work) and psychological (developing a success mindset) enhances your ability to achieve more in your working life. Your stamina will keep you moving forward, enabling you to continually raise your game in the long term.

Psychology of sales

Our research has shown focusing on these six pillars of resilience is critical in creating exceptional sales teams. Having the confidence to deal with challenges and rejection head on, and the ability to flexibly respond to clients to achieve the best outcome creates a high performing team. Turning challenging situations into positive experiences and using those situations as a way to learn and grow professionally increases overall performance. Mindset mastery, coping effectively with challenges and building professional stamina encourages sales professionals to thrive in their roles today and boost future performance.

Create your Resilience Edge™

Of course, how you create your very own Resilience Edge™ will depend on your unique situation. Mastering psychological resilience is different for all of us, and there are many approaches that may work for you. But…there are some ways to get started, no matter where you are on the resilience scale:

1) Identify your resilience hot spots (resilience areas that you feel strong in) and cold spots (areas you could develop). You may want to find more about the Resilience Edge™ pillars in order to identify where your personal hot and cold spots are.

2) Plan your progress. Success doesn’t happen by accident, you need to prepare and plan your next steps. Once you’re clear about where you want to enhance your resilience to boost your personal performance, plan how you will do this. Our strategy planner will help you to figure out the steps you can take to plan, plot and progress to enhance your resilience mindset. Click here to print your copy of a strategy planner.

3) Choose one thing. Work on your number one resilience cold spot – what’s the one thing you can get better at that will help you to master your resilience mindset? Working on one action at a time helps you master the area you want to develop and build your professional stamina.

It’s a journey

No matter where we are on the resilience scale, most of us would benefit from boosting our personal resilience. For some of us, we’ll be hoping to cope more effectively with challenges, pressures and stressful situations. For others, we want to master our mindset, achieve more and thrive in our working lives. Whatever your focus is, enhancing your personal resilience will help you to achieve new levels of success in your sales role.

More articles…

Can we recruit for resilience?The Success Perspective