If you look up the top characteristics of successful salespeople, one article after another will point toward the same things. They tend to be: conscientious, problem solvers, respectful, assertive, good listeners, go-getters, persistent, empathetic, positive, charismatic, resourceful, passionate, independent, personable, alert, and good time managers.
A quick survey of the top traits of good mothers shows a wide variety. Some of them include: patience, inspirational, honest, a sense of humor, good communication skills, loyal, able to survive harsh conditions, able to relax, thinks first, positive attitude, creative, responsible, determined, trustworthy, consistent, flexible, provokes guilt.
Other prized motherly traits include giving good hugs and being willing to be peed and pooped upon, but those might be traits to keep out of the workplace. There is a surprising amount of overlap between the two, and while some are described differently, at their core they are the same. So what does this mean? Does it mean mothers make good salespeople, or does it mean a colleague is going to find himself absently handed a pacifier when he’s been talking for too long at the weekly sales team meeting?
Jason Wesbecher, in his article, “The 5 Characteristics of Extraordinary Salespeople” for Entrepeneur.com, starts out saying, “In all of the coverage of Derek Jeter’s fairytale end to a fairytale baseball career, one fact goes unmentioned: across 12,000 plate appearances, Jeter struck out over 1,800 times placing him 13th on the all-time strikeout list. And yet, Jeter is widely considered to be the greatest ballplayer of his generation.”
He goes on to say that the same mental toughness Jeter had is a key trait of a great salesman. One could also effectively argue that all great mothers have also displayed that trait, or what Wesbecher calls, resiliency. Refer back to the mothers’ trait of surviving harsh conditions.
The five characteristics Wesbecher listed include: “achievers” who, while interested in money, are more interested in closing the big deal and being recognized; “reality distortion field,” the ability to stay calm, cool and collected; “control freaks” who obsess over details and hate surprises; “fiercely loyal” to not only their customers, but also in solving problems; and, finally, “paranoid,” which would seem to be a negative, until you realize it’s meant as a balance to optimism, and asking what could go wrong, then preparing for it.
Change the wording a bit, and all those traits could be used for mothers. Except for paranoid. That’s not a trait mothers generally want directed at them, particularly if it’s lobbed by a teenager, saying, “Mom, you’re crazy! Just chill.” It’s at that point the calm, cool and controlled aura may desert her and said child may just wind up duct-taped to their bedroom wall.
Of course that could be funny if it happened to a mouthy co-worker, but it’s generally frowned upon.