Sunil Thekkepat-Final

The Mindset of a Salesperson

Written by: Sunil Thekkepat
About the author: National Business Head & Sr Vice President | Over Two Decades of Corporate Experience; Voracious Reader, an avid Traveller and a Connoisseur of Good Things in life!



It’s often said that at the core, everyone is a Salesperson. Irrespective of the work, level or the profession you are in, as long as you are dealing with people, you are selling something. Hence, shouldn’t sales be second nature to all?

When you set aside the commercial angle of Sales, it is just an exchange of goods, services or ideas, which is an integral part of our daily lives. So, what is the larger definition of Sales? Here’s what I would put it as – anything you do to help another person or provide value to them in exchange for something – tangible or intangible, is Sales. And when that exchange entails a monetary value, its commercial sales as we know of it. And when there is no monetary aspect in this exchange, which is very often the case in our daily lives, we seldom think of it as Sales. However, the exchange for some intangible benefit is also Sales in another form.  

Now come to think of it in these terms, we are always selling something to someone on a regular basis. For eg: when we are recommending a restaurant/movie to your friends, pitching your political ideologies to your colleagues or just sharing a bit of advice/opinion with your family. The crux of Sales is when you care and want to help! In these instances, the intangible benefits being derived are acceptance/respect/status/goodwill, etc. 

It is said that the best Salesperson does not sell but just tells – in a way that the other person sees value & accepts the proposition. And therein lies the art – not to overdo the selling but subtly understand what the need is and just offer the solution/value.

There are 5 characteristic behaviours in a Good Salesperson 

  1. Empathy 
  2. Confidence 
  3. Honesty 
  4. Competence  
  5. Passion

Think about some of the people around you, who are not in the Sales profession, like your best teacher, doctor, your 5 am a friend or your doting uncle who you turn to for advice – all of them offer you great value by selling something to you and they display these 5 key characteristics.

While these are the important traits to exhibit, a true Salesperson should operate with 2 mindsets.

  • Rational  
  • Emotional 

Very often we lay high importance to the rational mindset for being a successful Salesperson. This is further from the truth, as being rational is just one part. One of the biggest mistakes companies do is to spend most of the time & effort training their Sales team on the product, process and propositions. All these help in developing the competence of the individual, which is just one of the 5 key traits required. What about the other four?

Both these mindsets are critical for being successful. Yes, emotional mindset to is an important one, as a majority of the purchase decisions are emotionally driven. Moreover, when you look at the 5 characteristic behaviour, the majority of them hinges on emotions. This is the area that needs to be strongly developed by Organizations to enable their Sales team. 

Hence, a well-balanced mindset enables a Salesperson to be highly effective, as shown in the diagram below.

When and how to use these mindsets is dependent on the nature of the Sale and the person(s) being dealt with. Very often it’s a balance between these two mindsets that enables a successful sale. This mirrors the Consumer behaviour too, which swings between rational & emotional while making a purchase decision.  

In other words, a successful Salesperson, apart from having high Intelligence Quotient (IQ) must operate with a strong Emotional Quotient (EQ) as well and I would weigh the latter a tad more important than the former!

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