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What’s the Single Best Personality Trait to Look for in a Salesperson, and More of Your Questions Answered

When an online complaint is clearly unfounded, should you still reply?

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When somebody makes a crazy complaint online, is it still worth responding?

Yes, always respond and do it with love and respect, says business consultant Andrea Hill of Hill Management Group. That doesn’t mean you can’t imply the person’s complaint is clearly baseless. Hill provides the following example: “I’m so sorry. We weren’t actually open last night when you were disrespected, but how can we help you?” The third time they complain, it’s OK to close the thread, she says. “By demonstrating patience, you’ll also gain the sympathy and admiration of prospective customers. Bad reviews are one of the best ways to get new customers if you handle them right,” she says.

What’s the single best personality trait to look for in a candidate for a sales position?

Personality tests of top salespeople reveal they score highly in traits that seem to both confirm and defy expectations: Yes, they are invariably conscientious, achievement-oriented, not easily discouraged and tend to lack self-consciousness (cold calls don’t worry them). At the same time, the best ones are most often modest, curious, and lacking in gregariousness (overly friendly salespeople don’t gain the “willing obedience of customers”). What is most important with any such list is that it’s the mix that counts, not one single trait. Nor is there one selling style that is most effective. The best salespeople bring their own idiosyncrasies to the game, and they probably can’t even effectively articulate why they are good — they just seem to have a natural-born ability to tap into what is important to a customer, be able to instill confidence and know when to close. As a rule, over-emphasis on any one particular trait is usually unwise. Tenacity is generally a good attribute, but so is knowing when to give up on a lost cause. Curiosity can have great benefits, but too much results in an inability to stay focused. Hunger for financial success can lead people astray. Knowing who will make a good salesperson is fiendishly difficult — until you see them in action.

I’m thinking of dumping my landline. I do nearly all my work through my cellphone, have a small one-man repair shop and it’s just one more expense. What do you think?

We think you should hang on to it a bit longer. A landline is still equated with credibility. “Having one will prove to potential clients your company’s legitimacy,” says Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of retailminded.com and a recent speaker at an American Gem Society Confluence event. A landline implies your operation is more than just you and that you’re a stable and reliable business. And yes, telephone technology has advanced hugely, but there are also practical reasons to maintain your old phone. Leinbach Reyhle lists the following:

  • A dedicated business number allows you to give out or list one number, as opposed to different cellphone numbers for different staff members. Such consistent business branding is also important for SEO.
  • A landline allows you to set business hours, keeping your personal and private life separate.
  • An office phone will allow you to take advantage of incoming call notifications, professional voicemail, and call screening.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at [email protected].

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