3 Traits Every Sales Manager Should Seek in New Hires
3 Traits Every Sales Manager Should Seek in New Hires

Sales managers must consider many different qualities when looking to add a new member to their sales team. Traits such as the ability to listen, overcome rejection and handle pressure are fundamental to a salesperson’s success, but they can all be learned over time.

Dr. Christopher Croner, author of Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again, says three innate, non-teachable assets are just as important:

  1. A need to achieve
  2. Competitiveness
  3. Optimism

This combination determines the drive that a salesperson needs in order to succeed in the profession, Croner argues. Hiring with these characteristics in mind can help a sales manager be more successful. Conversely, those who aspire to a career in sales can ask themselves these types of questions to determine their own hunger for success. 

Need to Achieve

This characteristic is demonstrated by the desire to work tirelessly in pursuit of a goal. This quality isn’t something tangible that you can easily detect in the sales hiring process. To determine whether someone has this drive, sales managers should ask questions similar to these in interviews:

  • What kinds of sacrifices have you had to make to be successful? Look for substantial examples that demonstrate dedication and a willingness to put other priorities on the backburner.
  • How do you know when you’ve truly succeeded? In other words, how tough are you on yourself? How do you judge your successes?
  • What is the hardest you’ve ever worked to succeed in your job? The ideal sales candidate will be able to tell stories that show incredible effort and sacrifice on a regular basis.
  • What do you feel determined to prove? Candidates should be able to provide lucid, specific answers that explicitly speak to a relentless drive for success.


This trait is marked by a person’s unquenchable thirst to outperform himself and others, as well as an incredible will to win. That competitiveness doesn’t have to be isolated to the work environment, either. It could be illustrated by a sales candidate’s admission that he can’t stand to lose a game of Monopoly with friends.

To ensure you’re dealing with a sales candidate who is truly competitive, you should ask questions such as:

  • When was the last time you were competitive, and what were you doing? People who are competitive won’t have any trouble answering this question. They’ll offer an example from yesterday or last week, rather than a time when they were in college or high school. Truly competitive people are fueled by a need to win every single day.
  • Where do you want to rank on your sales team? If the candidate’s answer is anything but “consistently at the top of the team,” it should be a red flag.


This trait is one of the most important drivers of sales success, yet sales leaders often overlook it. Regardless of their roles or responsibilities, sales reps must deal with frequent rejection and adversity. If they lack the optimism to overcome those hurdles, then they aren’t likely to last very long.

The best salespeople possess the certainty that they won’t be denied. For instance, when a prospect hangs up on or berates a sales rep, how do they respond? In an interview, it can be hard to see which end of that spectrum a sales candidate leans to, but you can look for evidence by asking questions such as:

  • When was the last time a customer got under your skin, and how did you respond? If your sales candidate says that she was able to shake it off and close that prospect sometime later, you might have a winner.
  • What happened when you lost your last deal, and what did you do to recover? Ideally, the person you’re interviewing will be able to put the situation in perspective and bounce back by working on another opportunity.
  • When was the last time you persisted while everyone else was giving up? With this question, you want to look for answers with specific details that show a substantial effort in the face of significant adversity.

These three qualities are usually indicators — though not a guarantee — of success in sales. Good sales managers know this and think of it as another filtering mechanism. If you find candidates who pass this test, then you can feel more confident moving forward with them. And if you’re aspiring to a career in sales and have good answers to these questions, then congratulations, you just might have a bright future.

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About the author
Stephanie Bauer
Stephanie Bauer works as marketing specialist, brand strategist, social media enthusiast and all-around whiz at Worldwide Express' corporate office in Dallas. Find me on Google+

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