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Sales, Training

3 Traits of the Modern Seller

Jacco van der Kooij

Written by Jacco van der Kooij

Founder, Winning by Design


The world of sales has changed. The buyers have more control and are demanding a new experience that moves beyond the purchase decision to a new customer solving process that helps them achieve their desired outcome. To be successful in this environment salespeople need to shift their focus away from ‘chasing the close’ towards helping customers to achieve their desired outcomes to unlock your sales success.

Make how you sell as important as what you sell and you will become the Unique Selling Point.

Jacco vanderKooij

There are many traits that help salespeople to succeed but we have boiled down to the three most import traits to help the Modern Seller survive in this customer centric world.

1. Empathy

They truly put the customer first, after all it is their problem we are trying to solve. What is the best way to truly understand the problem? By genuinely asking them and keenly listening for their response.


With a very curious nature The Modern Seller is constantly searches for insights into the customer potential challenges prior to engaging them in a conversation. They realise that a first conversation with a customer’s isn’t the opportunity to show off your  product or industry knowledge but to ask targeted, selfless, thought provoking questions that help both you and the customer to identify the route cause of their problems.

With only 3% of potential customers ready to buy at any point in time, the Modern Seller is cognizant of the customer’s buying journey and matches messaging, content and level of engagement to continue to build rapport.

95% of buyers chose a solution provider that “Provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process”  

Displaying empathy towards the customer doesn’t give customers a license to disrespect you, your product or time. Sales guru, Steli Efti talks regularly about displaying Friendly Strength – which helps set the expectation that you are two equal partners in solving the problem and if at any stage you feel that isn’t the case you can respectfully

In B2B sales it may be the company that pays the bills but it is an individual, or group of individuals, that is going to be make the purchase decision. Where are you going to place your focus? The Individual. Being empathic towards their situation and desired outcomes is at the core of the Modern Seller.

2. Strategic

The reality of sales is that no matter the amount how much the customer evolves, sales is still a binary activity i.e. activity + effectiveness = sales success

The Modern Seller takes a strategic approach to allocating their time to ensure they extract maximum value from all activities. This starts with setting goals, prioritizing their activity and adopting best practices to succeed in the new customer driven world using the available tools as a force multiplier.

Setting Goals

Sales is binary, if you do certain activities and are effective you will generate the outcome you want. Each company, product and person has their own individual ‘sales math’. They establish that early and use that as the baseline to measure their performance


By using the abundance of available data they align their activity to the customers, segments, geographies or industries that are confident that they are going to deliver the maximum returns. Once they commence the engagement they are able to block out the non urgent items and focus on the important.

Adopting best practices

With the customers traveling their own journey of discovery they position themselves as a trusted advisor by engaging with customers in their online journey through LinkedIn, Twitter & Quora while building trust in their personal brand through the sharing and creating of their own content. To increase their efficiency and effectiveness they are going to adopt the select few sales tools that are going to reduce their non-selling time and scale their successes.

3. Tenacious

There aren’t many jobs where you walk into work with the expectation that 7/10 people are going to tell reject you. This is tough, rejection isn’t for the feint of heart. To succeed in this environment as a Modern Seller facing rejection and finding a way through to the next opportunity is just as important as ever.

in 2007 it took 3.68 attempts to reach a prospect, today it takes 8+ attempts

After their strategic customer research they have confidence in their ability to solve the customers the Modern Seller find a way to to push, batter and hammer your way through to a conversation with the right individuals, supporting their efforts with all of the available tactics to build a broad base of trust and support.

Like the greatest athletes the Modern Seller never stops honing their craft. Whether that be A/B testing new email subject lines, establishing role plays with colleagues, making pre-meeting plans or conducting strategic account reviews. They never cease in trying to better their skills

We have witnessed many other traits in A-Players but these three consistently appear in those at the top of the pack and will be leading attributes of tomorrow’s Modern Seller.

Make sure you keep posted for my upcoming posts where I will provide more actionable tactics to help you become the Modern Seller.

Happy Selling!