7 'Under-the-Radar' Traits of Top-Selling Sales Reps, According to Sales Leaders

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Jay Fuchs
Jay Fuchs

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We all know the “obvious” traits high-performing sales reps exhibit. I‘m sure you’ve read plenty about the value of qualities like empathy, ambition, and confidence throughout your career — but you didn't click on this headline because you want to hear more about those conventional, played-out traits. Now, did you?

salespeople exhibiting under the radar sales traits

No, you're here for some novel, wild, “Who'da thunk it?” insight you can only find at a revolutionary publication that supplements an esteemed legacy with a funky, devil-may-care edge — in short, you're looking for what The HubSpot Sales Blog has to offer, baby!

So in the interest of delivering on our reputation as the boldest, most boundary-pushing blog about sales-related and sales-adjacent topics on the Internet, we connected with some industry leaders for their thoughts on some unconventional, “under-the-radar” traits that set the very best sales reps apart from their peers.

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7 "Under-the-Radar" Traits of Top-Selling Sales Reps

1. Storytelling with Authenticity and Evidence

Craig Focht, Co-founder & CEO of All Pro Door Repair, says, "Top sales representatives excel in storytelling … You might think storytelling is simply a part of effective communication, but it’s actually a distinct skill. It requires reps to be clear, concise, engaging, and authentic. An authentic story can help your company become more memorable to buyers, appeal to their emotions, encourage action, and demonstrate to buyers how similar clients have resolved similar challenges with your solution.

“To develop this skill, coaching reps on how to tell stories is crucial, particularly in the use of case studies, research, and other evidence that adds to the story’s credibility. For instance, have your reps convey a relevant story to a prospect in a key market. When giving feedback, focus on whether they included appropriate content and if their delivery seemed genuine instead of coming across as too sales-focused.”

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    2. The Ability to Forge Emotional Connections with Prospects

    David Rubie-Todd, Co-Founder of Sticker It, says, "A top-selling sales representative‘s ability to pitch unconventionally is an often-overlooked trait. Rather than selling, they strive to connect emotionally with their customers. This means they listen more than they talk, showing genuine interest in their clients’ challenges, interests, and needs.

    "By doing so, they build trust and rapport, which are foundational to long-term business relationships. The empathetic approach turns potential transactions into meaningful interactions, and customers feel that you genuinely care about their journey to success.

    “This empathetic approach also helps top-selling sales reps stand out from the crowd. In a world full of pushy and aggressive sales tactics, taking the time to understand and connect with clients can set you apart from your competitors. This unique trait allows them to close deals and create loyal customers who will come back for more in the future.”

    3. Responsiveness

    Justin Abrams, Founder & CEO of Aryo Consulting Group, says, “Top-selling sales reps are incredibly responsive — answering messages in under 15 minutes or so. While companies typically purchase products that solve pain points, those products will inevitably break. Having your point of contact make calls and resolve issues is something that goes the extra mile and makes me hand-feed them business to similar C-suite executives.”

    4. Tri-Modal Thinking

    Gary Gilkison, Principal Analyst at Riverbase Cloud, says, "Throughout my career trajectory, which spans from the rigorous fields of IT management and sales to the innovative realms of startup mentoring and business consultancy, I've had the unique opportunity to dissect and understand the fabric that constitutes top-selling sales reps.

    "A particularly unconventional trait that has repeatedly surfaced among the best in the field is the capacity for ‘tri-modal’ thinking. This ability to seamlessly blend analytical, social, and conceptual thinking is crucial.

    “It empowers sales reps to not only deeply comprehend the product and its market fit but also to connect with clients on a personal level and conceptualize broader, strategic implications of their solutions, enhancing the appeal and effectiveness of their pitch.”

    5. Real-Time Adaptability

    Tasia Duske, CEO of Museum Hack, says, "One trait that comes to mind is adaptability. This means being able to quickly pivot and adjust strategies based on the needs of each individual client. Instead of sticking to a one-size-fits-all approach, top sellers can think on their feet and tailor their pitch to resonate with the specific interests and pain points of each prospect.

    “This ability to adapt in real-time sets them apart from others who may rely on scripted responses or rigid processes. By demonstrating this level of flexibility, top sales reps build stronger connections with clients and increase their chances of closing deals successfully.”

    6. Curiosity

    Evan Freemon, Sales and Account Manager of iCONN Systems, says, "I‘ve noticed that successful salespeople tend to be genuinely curious and want to learn more. Salespeople with this skill tend to ask insightful questions, actively listen to the customer, and work to understand the nuances of each client’s unique situation.

    “This curiosity and the knowledge they gain from it enable them to adjust their solutions effectively and provide value-added insights, thus making them much better salespeople. Additionally, the customer can often sense this curiosity and tends to really appreciate it and respond well to it.”

    7. A Willingness to Embrace “No”

    Celeste Routh, SEO Strategist at The Elegance Edit, says, "Many sales reps are taught to relentlessly pursue the ‘yes’ from their prospects, but the most successful reps I've learned from have a different approach.

    "They‘re not afraid of hearing ’no‘ — in fact, they actively seek it out. They understand that a ’no' carries a deeper meaning: perhaps the lead is unsure of the real benefits, needs approval from someone else, or has a different concern altogether.

    "When a lead is honest enough to say ‘no,’ it opens up a dialogue. Skilled salespeople seize this opportunity to dig deeper into the objection and uncover the root cause. By addressing the underlying issues, they can tailor their approach and find a solution that resolves the prospect's concerns.

    “So, rather than fearing 'no,' top sales reps view it as a signal of honesty and a gateway to understanding and overcoming the obstacles standing between them and a successful sale. Embracing 'no' allows them to build trust, uncover valuable insights, and ultimately, close more deals.”

    So there you have it — some next-level, revelatory insight that will help you shape and refine your sales game. Obviously, this list isn‘t exhaustive. There’s a host of other “under-the-radar” traits that are so “under-the-radar” that they might have flown “under the radar” of this article dedicated to “under-the-radar” qualities.

    I should clarify — this piece isn't written to undermine the more conventional traits that are traditionally coached into sales reps. All of those have a place in helping you develop a solid skill set and can guide you in shaping a long, productive career in the field.

    No, this article is tailored to get you thinking a bit outside the box about what other qualities you can work on to supplement your sales game. Hopefully, we helped get the ball rolling on that.

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