What Defines a Modern Salesperson

Very early on in my corporate sales career my sales manager told me that there were three pillars behind all great sales people - the three A's:

Attitude - way of thinking
Aptitude - natural talent
Ability - skills & knowledge

However, no real development was aimed at attitude, unless of course you had a bad one - in which case you got sacked. Aptitude fell under the category of 'you either have it or you don't.' The main focus was always on abilities - increasing skills and knowledge.

More recently, I read this great Salesforce blog '6 Essential Skills Of The Modern Salesperson'. Interestingly, five out of the six essential skills described are clearly underpinned by attitudes and aptitudes: Expertise, Curiosity, Emotional Intelligence, Confidence, Teamwork, A knack for narrative.

We have all seen the most skilled and knowledgeable salespeople struggle, while the inexperienced yet enthusiastic salespeople outperform them. This is why accessing and unlocking these qualities plays such a huge part in sales success. Over the past 20 years I have come to realise that there is a far simpler and more important foundation that underpins attitude and aptitude -- it is Awareness.

Aware salespeople are the greatest asset to any successful business; they will naturally display all the attributes we associate with success. Whether selling complex solutions or simple transactions, an aware salesperson will always stand out.

What do we mean by aware?

Attributes of an aware salesperson:

Present - Clear Thinking - Motivated - Confident - Sense of Humour - Focused - Intuitive - Creative - Resilient

To be aware is to be present. Being present in this way brings about a different type of listening; it involves a still yet inquisitive mind. An aware salesperson is more interested in understanding what is being said than waiting for an opportunity to speak. This generates more intuitive, natural and appropriate responses, which in turn creates connection and rapport.

Here are a few examples of when a salesperson is NOT being aware...

- In a meeting thinking about what to say next.
- Insecure or nervous.
- Spending more time in their head than in the room.
- More interested in their own agenda than their clients.

The problem with transmitting!

Targets, performance indicators and business objectives naturally drive sales people to look towards what they want to achieve.

Because of this, many sales people are preoccupied with how to transmit information rather than how to receive it.

Presenting themselves and their products and/or services
Explaining their competitive advantages
Setting out their own agenda
Convincing the prospect that they need what their company has to offer

While they are in a transmitting frame of mind they are simply not aware, while they are not aware, they are not listening, connecting or understanding their client.

There is no other way to effectively receive information, other than to be aware.


Aware sales people are far more interested in what other people think, what their challenges are, and what it is that drives them. This results in their clients feeling listened to and understood. Aware sales people are then able to communicate their message with integrity and authenticity. Quite simply, whether it's a multi-million dollar deal with multiple stakeholders or a single transactional sale, people only buy from people they connect with and trust.

The transmitting salesperson is becoming an extinct breed; modern successful sales people must recognise the importance of being aware more than ever before.
Paul Lock
Paul Lock> all articles
Paul Lock has specialised in sales for over 20 years. Up until 2014 he was an integral member of a technology business helping to grow annual revenues from £5m to £21m. Paul has been a top performer in corporate sales teams and has built successful new sales channels. He has had success in all aspects of sales, from telesales through to selling complex solutions. Paul has been a buyer of services and has also experienced the difficulty of challenging markets and knows what it takes to remain motivated. Paul now specialises in helping others to understand the simplicity of what it takes to thrive and be at their best more consistently.
  • /data/userPictures/DAC24BBA-006F-402B-A003-64DB4E41C5AD.jpgClay Daugherty5/24/2016 10:37:29 PM
    This really is an eye opener for me. I want to strive to be an aware salesman and grow my business. This makes me set my bar even higher.

  • /data/userPictures/0038828B-F334-4093-B786-760CBC9F256E.jpgEmily Wertheim2/14/2017 3:43:50 PM
    This is a great reminder that creating relationships with customers through active listening and awareness can lead to more success in sales. Customers appreciate being heard and conversing about the benefits they may receive through your product. No one wants to listen to me ramble off a scripted product description! Thanks for the insight!

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgKorey Aukerman2/23/2017 10:53:00 AM
    This is awesome! In the NASP sales program, it also states that nonjudgmental and in-depth listening is key to becoming a successful sales person. I didn't realize that attitude and aptitude are supported by awareness. If your don't have the attitude to focus on others and want to listen to others, then you won't be aware of what drives your customer and what they need and want.

  • /data/userPictures/D3D159FA-61F6-42C9-9AAA-D63D8BBCD6B5.jpgJennifer L Young5/9/2017 7:05:24 AM
    Great article!

  • /data/userPictures/34B73E37-B655-41C1-AD09-5FF38EC89D5A.jpgSajin Mohamed7/26/2017 11:19:25 AM
    Excellent article. A simple but powerful attribute - "Awareness"

  • /data/userPictures/D47FA4A6-4A71-4714-A56D-9B174ABD20A0.jpgChris Dravis10/17/2017 3:34:13 PM
    This was a great article for me. Very well written. Thank you!

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgBrian Smith2/27/2018 7:48:16 PM
    Very well said!

  • /_ckcommon/images/blanks/userPictureMale.jpgCaleb Kelsey, Mr.8/2/2018 12:47:03 AM
    Enjoyed the read, thanks!

  • /data/userPictures/E7AFE85A-44C0-4135-8599-20C3B8205AF5.jpgKeaton Quinn10/10/2018 10:12:40 AM
    Something so simple like being aware can make such a big impact. I think there where some great points talked about just being present and NOT thinking on how to rebuttal or what to say next.