Top 6 qualities to look for in a potential sales rep

Top 6 qualities to look for in a potential sales rep

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In sales, the person selling the product is as equally important as the quality of the product or service. That's what makes hiring a sales rep such a challenging task for managers and business owners.

They know that the attributes of a successful sales rep are a blend of personal attributes and skills that align to make them stand out and shine in this field.

During the hiring process, you have a chance to evaluate a candidate's skills, experience and personality. The latter is essential as it carries traits that determine how the person will engage with your customers.

For a sales rep, these attributes count as much as the other qualifications and experience.

With that in mind, this article shares the top six qualities you should look for when hiring a sales rep for your business and how to test these qualities.

Coachability and eagerness to learn

One thing that differentiates a good sales rep from ordinary ones is their thirst for learning and improving their skills.

They're always striving for growth. Great sales reps never get enough knowledge.

They read industry articles and blogs, attend training sessions and watch tutorials on becoming better at their craft. They also keep themselves up-to-date with current news and affairs.

That's the reason good sales reps can strike a conversation with anyone on numerous topics. Their curiosity to learn is one of their greatest strengths.

When you hire someone eager to learn, they make sales coaching easy because they're open to discovering new selling methods.

This helps them gain extensive knowledge of your offering quickly, something that's essential in sales.

Ask questions related to your industry and general sales and marketing issues and see how knowledgeable a candidate is.

Get to know what they do to stay in their top form. Don't forget to ask how they view sales training and coaching sessions. (1)

Sense of responsibility and discipline

Another quality to look for when looking to hire a sales rep is a strong sense of responsibility.

This type of sales rep doesn't blame others when they face difficult situations. They get things done when they face obstacles.

Top sales reps accept responsibility when omissions and errors occur. Instead of blaming others or circumstances, they work to find a way out.

In addition, they always have a plan and don't start looking at pitch materials last minute. Being organised helps them to get things done on time.

A sales rep without a plan is likely to make prospects think they're being scammed. When a sales rep's thoughts are not together, they create doubt instead of being convincing.

When interviewing a candidate, ask them how they approach a sale and the subsequent follow-up.

Let them tell you how they manage their time and overcome obstacles along the way. If they can show some examples from their experience instead of only sharing theories, that's even better.

Business culture fit

Fitting into your business culture is something that you shouldn't overlook in a potential sales rep for your brand.

Similarly, the sales environment also matters. There's a vast difference between working as a sales rep for a small business and working for an established brand.

The latter typically has a good network, resources and good administration support.

In a small business environment, a sales rep is most likely to market and do a large portion of administrative support on their own.

Understanding where your potential rep is coming from determines if they can fit into your culture. You want to ensure that the rep has worked in a similar environment as your business.

Look at their previous work experience. Ask about a candidate's level of involvement in sales and marketing as well as in administrative duties.

One candidate may have had high success only because the environment enabled it. Another one may have succeeded despite having little support or leads to go by. (2)

Confidence and optimism

A good sales rep believes in their products such that they don't wilt or feel defeated when they encounter a no.

When faced with failure, they don't resign to disappointments by feeling helpless to turn the situation around.

They're aware that rejection doesn't mean they can't do it another time. Instead, they change their approach and try again.

Optimistic and confident sales reps focus on what they can do rather than what they can't.

They persistently and politely force an important issue even when a possible rejection is glaring at them.

One of the best ways to test a sales rep's confidence and optimism is waging a direct attack by faking a rejection at the end of the interview.

A person's reaction will tell you a lot of what will happen when a prospective customer rejects their pitch. This means that their performance will be inconsistent, making it difficult for you to track their sales record.

Always ready to sell

Persuading, impressing and making clients agree to spend money on something is no easy feat. There's a lot of work involved in closing a deal.

A sales rep needs to conduct a massive amount of research, take time creating a perfect pitch and prepare physically and mentally to deliver. While there are many ways one can go wrong, a sure way to get it right is to be well prepared.

They know their products in and out, potential objections the audience or prospects may raise and they know exactly what they will say even before they meet the prospects.

Their pitches make sense to the listener because they're in simple language, and presentations are customised to a particular audience.

Research indicates that over 70 per cent of sales reps are usually unprepared. You can quickly tell this when interviewing a candidate. Listen to how well they present themselves and their thoughts. (3)


Last but not least, a potential sales reps needs to show charisma. This means they're charming, magnetic, engaging or alluring.

They attract attention, make people turn to see who's speaking. They make people interested in products they would have otherwise ignored. No matter how good your brand, product or service is, unless an rep can cause people to listen, it won't sell. (4)

Does the sales rep sound exciting and engaging during the interview? Are they selling themselves well to you? Then they may have the ability to make people turn their attention to their pitches and the products or services they're selling products.


Every business wants to build a sales team with the most suitable reps. Hiring a competent sales rep can highly enhance your sales and marketing efforts.

They all possess the qualities discussed in this article and many others that make them shine from the average sales reps.


  3. "8 Traits of Great Salespeople"
  4. "Charisma isn't elusive, train yourself to become magnetic"