Were You Born with Successful Selling Traits?

Were you popular, outgoing, and positive in elementary and high school? Did you grow up in a comfortable (middle class) family in the city or suburbs? Did you have to earn your own spending money or play competitive sports? If you answered yes, you were probably born to sell, equipped with some natural successful selling traits since birth.

When sales-I (, a sales intelligence software company, asked 250 salespeople to describe their childhoods, a clear picture of confidence and competitiveness emerged. “These results revealed an unmistakable personality type for sales people. They are social, competitive and driven, with a positive outlook on life, not just in their work and career,” says Cary Cooper a professor of organizational psychology.

So just what are these successful selling traits? On average, respondents to the survey met their monthly sales target nine times and exceeded them in seven of the twelve months. Seventy-four percent of them were male; 71 percent competed on at least one sports team, and most described themselves as “social,” “driven,” and “positive,” as childhood characteristics.

What helped them get to their success today? “Competitive, driven personalities are rarely developed in adulthood,” says Paul Black, Sales-i’s CEO. “They exist within salespeople from a young age,” he says.

I found the most surprising result of the study was the fact that less than 22 percent pursued sales as their first career choice. The study found 64 percent of the respondents come from middle-class homes where, as Cary Cooper notes, the youth’s goal is to attend a university and then choose one of the professions.

That mirrors my experience in early career development. While attending Butler University, some of my college buddies and I were recruited for a summer of selling books door-to-door in southern Indiana, an experience so terrible that I vowed I’d never become a salesman. When I graduated, I pursued a journalist career starting as a reporter for the Kenosha News.

Some years later I moved to a publicity agency where I met salespeople who sold advertising space for trade magazines. That’s when I learned sales could be a noble profession. I learned selling was more about building relationships, not coercing people to buy your service against their will.

Today at Corporate Images, I’m involved in selling ideas. There isn’t a more complex sales situation that comes to my mind. Understanding client needs at the highest levels and developing unique solutions with creative programs is what we have delivered for more than three decades.

We have found many of our employees were initially turned off by the thought of being involved in “sales.” But when they realized good sales is providing good solutions to a client’s unique needs, they were able to embrace our style of selling and rise to the challenge.

Having personally gone full circle in my selling profession, I can see how my early childhood experiences match up well to the survey’s findings. So were you born to sell with successful selling traits?

We’d like to hear about your journey into sales. Please share it below.

Alan Bagg helps manufacturers boost sales by getting more mileage from their current marketing budget.

Alan is happy to entertain more discussion via email or phone. Reach him at or 262.633.7772. Or follow him on twitter @alanbagg. Find more information on Alan at his LinkedIn profile.

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