I’ve been thinking a lot about sales superstars lately — Ongig is scaling up our sales team and I’ve been studying sales pros such as Brian Tracy, Michael Bernoff, Stan Billue and Tom Hopkins.

I recently nerded out on The 80/20 of Hiring Superstars (in which I learned that the average superstar generates between $12 million and $100 million per year in revenue for you!). I also wrote about a cool sales recruiting tool Yelp uses last week.

One old-school sales pro (now passed away) who doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves is Chet Holmes.  Chet is famous for helping to double the revenue of many of the businesses of Charlie Munger (Warren Buffett’s right-hand man and one of my heroes.


I want to pass along to you the 5 key qualities Chet recommends that a sales superstar should possess:

  1. Ego — They should have huge self-confidence and “bullet-proof” armor when it comes to rejection
  2. Empathy — They should be able to put themselves in the shoes of the person they are trying to partner with.
  3. Superior at Core Skill Sets — They should be solid at core skills like time management, organization and follow-up.
  4. Market Knowledge* — They should be experts more on the benefits to a client in the market as opposed to just the features of the product they are selling.
  5. Coachability — They should be highly coachable, meaning they should constantly be investing in developing themselves.

*Update Note — Since writing this, I have learned that if you have a commodity type product, then you don’t need a salesperson with market knowledge (they can just be a strong extroverted relationship sales type of person) whereas if you have a unique product that requires some education to the clients then you typically need a more analytical/introverted salesperson. 

The first two, ego and empathy, are by far the most important qualities a sales superstar should have. And your salesperson should have both.

If a sales rep has only strong ego/self-confidence, then they are going to be cocky and difficult for others to work with. And if your sales rep is only empathetic, then they are likely just a relationship salesperson who is liked by prospects — and doesn’t have the killer instinct to close.

If you want to dig in a bit more on this, here are some Chet Holmes tips on sales recruiting.

Thanks, Chet!


About the Author — Rob is the Co-founder & CEO of Ongig, the software platform that eliminates boring and biased job descriptions.  Salesforce, Yelp, Autodesk and GoDaddy are among the early customers of the Ongig SaaS.

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