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quality sales talentDuring the interview process there are specific characteristics and traits that you’ll want to be on the lookout for with your candidates. By using specific questions, you can dig beneath the surface of their resume and find out what makes them tick as a person and whether or not they will be quality sales talent.

Not everyone is suited for sales and there is a definite difference between people who are good at the role and those who naturally excel in this position. These traits and characteristics are all common with quality sales talent.

Past Achievements

Ideally, your candidates should have at least some experience in sales, whether it is through internships if they are fresh out of school, or a past work history. Quality sales talent will list these achievements on their resume, but you’ll still want to go deeper to determine just how qualified they are and whether or not selling comes naturally to them.

Ask your candidates to provide you with different scenarios from their past experience, such as overcoming objections, handling difficult clients and what they feel has been the pinnacle of their sales career to date. You’ll learn a lot about each candidate from their responses.

High Levels of Self Motivation

Quality sales talent will display higher levels of self motivation as well as self accountability. They should not need to be micromanaged or motivated constantly. These traits keep them hungry and keep them excelling at their jobs. This has an added benefit of taking the stress off of your sales manager. When you have quality sales talent who are capable of creating their own personal goals and sticking to their own game plan, it leaves the sales manager free to do the rest of their duties.

To determine whether or not a candidate displays these key traits, ask them questions such as “How do you create goals for yourself,” or “Do you have a game plan for yourself for now as well as in the future?” These questions will help you determine whether or not the candidate is content to have someone else setting their goals or whether they take the bull by the horns and do it on their own.

An Overlooked Trait

There are numerous traits that high quality sales talent display, such as self-confidence without arrogance, a natural talent for organization and the ability to start up an instant rapport with others, regardless of how well they know the person. An overlooked trait however is the ability to empathize with others.

Strong levels of empathy are what truly place quality sales talent in a level by themselves. They can easily place themselves in their prospects shoes and determine how best to sell to that person on an instinctive level. They are also more capable relationship builders and are adept at making a prospect feel at ease and gaining their trust.

To determine empathy levels, ask candidates questions like, “When dealing with a difficult or reticent prospect, how do you bridge the gap,” or you can even ask them situational questions from your own experience where high levels of empathy were needed to complete the sale.

By weeding out the “ok” sales candidates, you’ll be left with the high quality sales talent you need to make your organization successful and help it continue to grow.


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Matt Cook

Matthew has over 20 years of sales and sales management experience. In addition to being the founder of SalesHub, he is the founder of SalesForce Search, which was #4 on Profit Magazine's Hot 50 list as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada. When he’s not helping companies improve their revenue he trains and competes in half ironman distance triathlons to “relax”.

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