7 years ago
February 21, 2017

Top 5 Qualities to Look for in Sales People

Sales people are not all created equally. When hiring new sales reps, make sure your new hires have these five critical qualities for success.

Rhys Metler

Faced with constant struggles to improve salesforce effectiveness, increase profits, and improve turnover rates, many sales managers resign themselves to accepting that most sales people just aren’t that good. They accept that 80% of sales are made by the small 20% of reps. They accept the costs and consequences of high turnover. What else can they do?

Yes, hiring top talent is quite a challenge in sales, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a hopeless cause. Once you understand what specific qualities all top sales professionals have in common, you can start to look for these traits during the interview process in order to spot the gems and weed out the bad apples.

Here are the five qualities to look for.

1. They Ask Questions

Great sales people understand that they must ask questions in order to better qualify sales opportunities. Asking questions allows them to dig deeper and learn the prospects’ business issues, challenges, and pain points to uncover the true need.

During interviews, ask candidates to list off the top five questions they ask potential clients and explain what information they seek before considering the opportunity fully qualified. The best reps will include budget, authority for decision making, timeframe required, competing products or services that are being considered, the client’s business goals, and whether or not there’s a real need for the product.

2. They Listen

Perhaps the greatest misconception in sales is that top sales professionals are great talkers—that they can convince anyone to buy anything just through their words. Though this might have been a great quality to have in the past, today, the best sales people are actually the ones who are good listeners. After asking questions, sales people need to listen carefully to the prospects’ answers to better understand their needs. Prospective customers want to feel like their needs are central to the sale. They want to feel like they matter—that they’re not just a number, not just another sale.

Perform mock sales calls during your interviews to see whether or not the candidates spend time listening to their prospects or if they just talk, talk, talk.

3. Being Resourceful

Every sales person will have to overcome sales objections and obstacles. The best sales reps are resourceful enough to overcome these issues without hesitation. They use everything at their disposal to close deals and come up with creative solutions to tough situations.

During the interview, you can assess resourcefulness by asking the candidates to describe an instance when they had to think outside the box and come up with different tactics to achieve an objective.

4. Positive Attitude

Sales is a tough field to get into. There’s a ton of rejection, closing deals can be slow and tedious, and there can be times where sales people are in a slump. Mediocre sales professionals might give up in the face of tough times, but top sales reps will have a great attitude that will help them overcome rejection, stay motivated, and stay positive.

To assess attitudes during the interview, ask your candidates how they deal with rejection and what they do to stay motivated.

5. Results

Perhaps most importantly, though, great sales professionals produce results. You don’t have to wait until the candidate is hired before you can know for sure if they can successfully get results though. You can figure it out during the interview. Mediocre reps will talk about the tasks that they perform during their day, while great sales reps will talk about their results, the accounts they’ve won, and the revenue they’ve brought it. They’ll have facts and figures to prove it. You can ask questions about their past quotas and their rank on their teams.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.