The Blog

You know that there are many qualities, skills and capabilities that make up a successful Sales professional.

Since you have limited time and interaction during the interview process with the candidate, you always wanted to know about the top five qualities and skills that are essential for a successful sales professional.

Also, during the interview, what are the important questions to ask the candidate to get valuable insights into the person?

Let’s get started with the top five qualities to look out for during the interview:

1) Passion:

For me, this is the No1 criterion. Hire candidates that have the passion for sales. And one needs to look for someone who is also passionate about your company’s mission, too.

Check as to why the candidate wants to go into sales. Check on what training they have attended on sales. Or the video channels they have watched or books or blogs they’ve read about sales. Ask them what excites them about sales. With the answers from the candidate, you would figure whether he is passionate about the sales function. The level of passion one has for the role will determine whether he or she would be a long term successful player in the arena of sales.

Also check for the research the candidate has done about your company, your products and services. And also about your business’s competition. This would give you indications about whether he has a passion for your company.


2) Prior experience and success:
My no 2 criterion to evaluate and qualify strongly is the aspect of prior success in the earlier roles and the resultant confidence he brings to the new role.  This quality of a candidate is critical and is all about the track record: what kind of success “muscle-memory” he brings to the role.

Ask the candidate: What was the biggest accomplishment in your past work experience? Ask him to share the details about that accomplishment. Have follow up questions such as – What was the plan? How was it implemented? Who all did you collaborate with? What were the failures and how did you manage? How did you get the support from others? If you were to attempt this again, how will you do this differently?

You’ll be amazed by all the insights you will gather about the “success-genes” that he brings to the equation.

3) Hardworking  & tenacity:
This would be the No3 criterion. The other word is conscientiousness.  conscientiousness means that the candidate is focused on achievement of results and dependability of the professional to deliver results time and again. We can also refer to it as “hard work until you get it done,” also known as “GSD” – “getting stuff done” in any given situation.

Candidates who are conscientious are focused on the goal all the time. They have the tenacity to work against all the odds, persistent enough to pursue tough goals, and have very high expectations for themselves – exactly what you want in the new hire.

These qualities will ensure that they’ll be able to work autonomously.

During the discussions while hiring, ask them to tell you about a time when they set stringent goals for themselves. What did they do to stretch themselves, get out of comfort zones and achieve these challenging goals? Encourage them to share that story.

4) Coachability & open-mindedness:

While the qualities of hard work, tenacity, and persistence are essential qualities, the most successful candidates will find a healthy balance between that never give up attitude and ability to turn coaching into results. Coachability would be my No4 criterion.

During the hiring interview, a role play will give you insights into coachability. As a role play, prompt them to sell something simple to you, like their pen, phone or the table. Act as a prospect while they deliver an elevator pitch and prompt them to answer some of your questions. Then, ask them to reflect on the role play: what did they do well and what did they not do well? This conversation will give you valuable insights about coachability.

We all understand that Well-coached sales teams are highly motivated, resilient and consistently outperform the competition and improve forecasting accuracy.

5) Intelligence and common sense:

Last but not the least, for the Sales rep to be coachable and be smart about sales in various types of customer accounts, a rep must be intelligent. Sales as a function is a data-driven field, so successful reps can analyse sales data, read situations in a customer account and make smart decisions based on their analysis. During a sales campaign, competition will also come up with different sales tactics to win sales opportunities. An intelligent sales rep will read the moves from competition and come up with defensive or offensive tactics to win the opportunities.

During the hiring interview, look for indicators of intelligence basis your candidate’s academic and workplace experience and achievements, including ranks, GPA, overall %s, etc.

Those are my top five qualities that I look out for in my interviews with potential sales candidates.

Now, For the second aspect of what are the top questions to ask in the interview , here are my Top 10:

1) What made you get into sales function?

2) What motivates you?

3) What are four adjectives a former client would use to describe you?

4) In your last role in XYZ company, how much time did you spend cultivating customer relationships versus trying to get new clients, and why?

5) How do you research prospects before a call or meeting? What information do you look for?

6) What are some of your favourite questions to ask prospects?

7) What’s your approach to handling customer objections?

8) What’s worse: Not achieving your sales quota every single month or not having happy customers?

9) Have you ever had a losing streak? How did you turn it around?

10) Hypothetically speaking, If you were hired for this position, what would you do in your first 30 days?

These questions throw light into the candidate’s thoughts and the way he would approach your prospects and convert them into long lasting and profitable customers, for your organisation

Trust these pointers helped.

Wishing you the very best in building a highly passionate and efficient Sales organisation.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Your Comment*