In a special advertising section produced by Hollister Publication Services, Inc. for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Century Associates President David Allen talked about the qualities that define a good salesperson. The article, "What makes a good salesperson? Sensitivity to the customer's needs", is excerpted below:

Utilize your Contacts

David Allen stresses networking for the experienced sales applicant seeking a new position. "Utilize your contacts," recommends Allen, president of Century Associates, a center-city Philadelphia firm that specializes in information technology, health care and insurance sales jobs.

Many technology companies have cut back on sales jobs because business has been off, and this type of company would sooner curtail sales than cut jobs in product development. But there has been a recent increase in technology sales job opportunities, Allen notes. "It looks like we're coming out of it."

He recommends that inexperienced sales people seeking their first position, start with an "inside" position or try to get into a company's sales training program.

Allen suggests another way to break into sales might be by spending a year or two employed by a distributor or reseller, before moving on to a more demanding job with a manufacturer or vendor.

The successful salesman, Allen says, is one with "persistence, intelligence [and] the ability to communicate with customers on the customer's terms, to help solve problems in a positive way."

Memberships in numerous technology, Manufacturing and HR organizations have provided additional exposure to high-profile candidates.