There are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of “competencies” or success factors that are characteristic of successful salespeople: Positive outlook. Takes responsibility. Motivated from within. Manages rejection. Goal-oriented. Time management. Comfortable talking about money. Work ethic. Teachable. Confident. Competitive. Persistent. Focused. Empathetic. Comfortable with change. Passionate. Takes initiative. Good listener.

The list goes on and on.

But what you won’t find on the list is “conscientiousness,” according to Amie Lawrence, Ph.D., of Select International. Having a strong work ethic is important to sales success. But being someone who dots all the i’s and crosses all the t’s is not. In fact, Lawrence says, being “structured and rule-bound” isn’t a characteristic for success in sales.

Success factors don’t include having a college degree

Another surprise: “Getting good grades in school, or having a college vs. a high school education has very little to do with success in sales,” Lawrence adds.

This is good news for people who started coloring outside the lines in nursery school, tend to zig when others zag, thrive on spontaneity, and use a “piling system” to organize their desks rather than neatly labeled file folders.

When you work in sales, you step into the unknown with every phone call or client visit. The person who is highly organized and likes predictability might be put off by this uncertainty. The true salesperson, on the other hand, views it as an exciting opportunity. The possibilities are endless. This beckoning of limitless opportunity distinguishes the salesperson from others who prefer more predictable professions.

Good grades in school, high SAT scores, post-secondary and even graduate-level education are success factors for many career paths. Not so with sales. A motivated high school graduate with good communication and math skills can outperform an MBA in sales. It’s all about having a can-do attitude, confidence, and drive.

Find your sales career match

What type of sales career is in your DNA? Virtanza will prepare you for a sales career that aligns with your strengths. Our program helps build the skills necessary to go from the classroom into a thriving sales career. We start by administering an assessment tool that shows your natural match to at least 14 different kinds of career sales roles. Then the fun, and the work, begin. Real-life role-plays. Training in communication-building techniques. Consultative listening. Microsoft training. Interviewing, resume writing, and personal branding.

Visit our website to learn how preparation and coaching from Sales2Job Academy can help you succeed in a sales career. Take a few seconds to fill out the form and we’ll contact you within a day. Remember … the possibilities are endless.

Ibby Vores, SHRM-SCP, is is a veteran human resources manager, recruiter, writer, and editor. She’s also a Virtanza instructor.

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