As discussed in the previous post, What are the essential qualities of the best retail sales professionals?, successful retail salespeople demonstrate attributes, perhaps even we should call them virtues, that add value to every transaction. These retail professionals go beyond providing friendly, efficient and knowledgeable service to strengthening deeper professional and personal relationships.

In the fashion business, this takes the relationship between associate and customer from simply selling to helping the customer dress, for every day and every occasion, positively impacting the customer’s self-confidence and self-esteem. There are no doubt similar applications to all retail verticals.

The virtues of the most successful sales associates who succeed to building deeper professional and personal relationships with their customers include:
1. Warmth and Friendliness with a Passion for Service
2. Professional, Knowledgeable, and Authoritative
3. Entrepreneurial, Resourceful and Agile
4. Successful, Renowned, and Preeminent

Some of these qualities are inherent in the individual. Take the first point above as an example: If you don’t like people and don’t enjoy serving others, then you shouldn’t be in the retail business. Some things simply can’t be taught. However, hiring the right individuals isn’t enough: to optimize results, ongoing sales and service leadership is required.


The best sales and service leaders can be described as possessing a servant leadership style and should have the following attributes or virtues:

They provide focus, motivation and inspiration. They instill a commitment to excellence.

The great selling and service leader develops and effectively communicates sales and behavioral goals to their team, illuminating the path to achievement. The leader helps to establish within each individual a personal emotional connection to the achievement of those goals and a belief in themselves and their abilities. These leaders know that a belief is not merely an idea that the mind possesses, but rather an idea that possesses the mind. They see infinite possibilities in providing direction to their teams and developing self-confidence within their people. Their selling team is highly motivated and knows where they are going.

They engage, develop and empower their people. They effectively manage performance.

Great selling and service leaders understand that their team members’ beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors determine the quality of the customer service delivered and ultimately lead to the achievement of sales goals. They know that the quality of service will never exceed the quality of the people who provide it. They strive to recruit top talent and to earn the recognition that their team is the best. Their passion is to teach their team members how to serve their customers, equip them to serve, and then empower them to serve with excellence. Simply put, they know that selling is about understanding what their people need to do and then helping them to do it better. Recognition for their people development skills is their most coveted badge of honor. They receive acclaim for the quality of their people and their people’s drive for continuous improvement.

They build relationships, foster teamwork, and ensure collaboration.

Great selling and service leaders understand that developing relationships with both internal and external customers is the foundation to success. They believe that relationships are built upon trust, communication, and interaction and that every interaction is an opportunity to further enhance and deepen the relationship. The satisfaction of the external customer is their highest purpose and they strive to instill the same high-level focus throughout the organization. They know that what’s best for the customer is in the end best for the organization and for every individual employee. They know that to achieve success, everyone must be on the same page, striving for the same goal, aspiring to the same vision, and functioning as a team, because teamwork will always produce greater results than individuals working alone. They possess the ability to develop, maintain, and strengthen partnerships with others, inside and outside the organization, which provide information, assistance, and support.

They communicate clearly and courageously, have a high level of interpersonal awareness, and champion diversity.

Great selling and service leaders are straightforward in their words and messages. They are open, honest, and clear because they know this is crucial for personal, individual, and group growth. They see directness as a virtue but deliver with sensitivity. They are able to notice, interpret, and anticipate others’ concerns and feelings. They are empathetic but do not equivocate or hesitate in delivering the message. They are self-aware and use this awareness to better understand others and to adapt their leadership style accordingly. They believe that a diverse workforce is a more competent workforce and that the results of the team will be improved due to its diversity. They also see diversity as a business opportunity, enabling acquisition and engagement of a broader customer audience.

They embrace responsibility, take initiative, and consistently deliver

They eagerly assume responsibility for their own and their team’s performance by setting clear goals and expectations, tracking progress against the goals, ensuring the delivery of timely feedback, and addressing issues promptly. They are driven to improve upon past accomplishments through self-growth, self-development, and self-improvement. They possess the motivation, energy, and willingness to pursue goal achievement: they are able to quickly identify what needs to be done and how to do it. They can be relied upon to consistently achieve goals and they, and their team, take great pride in their unfailing record of success.

Today’s guest blogger, Don Uselmann, is a senior level retail executive with over three decades of experience in the industry, who applies the “Art of Caring Leadership” and multi-store expertise to deliver best in class results. His innate ability to create a team environment fostering ownership and pride for all employees at all levels has led to decades of retail successes. Don employs an innovative approach to evaluate situations, identify opportunities and solutions, and implements processes to deliver exceptional results. He has been called “an inspirational influencer” who uses effective communication skills to gain buy-in at every level of the organization while effectively managing change.