There’s a good chance you’re looking for a full-time sales rep right now. How do we know? Nearly 13% of all U.S. jobs are full-time sales positions. But hiring sales representatives isn’t always easy, especially if your sales talent acquisition strategy is, well, old-fashioned. 

Talent acquisition is a far cry from what it used to be. While you still want to look for certain skills, top businesses are refocusing their concept of what a good candidate brings to the table. Ultimately, businesses have realized that the ideal recruitment strategy is searching for those who have the right characteristics—and can be taught the technical skills your team needs. This is an especially useful tactic in an ever-shrinking labor market; looking for characteristics as opposed to experience can broaden your sales talent pool. 

Read on to discover 6 key characteristics to look for when you’re hiring sales talent, from extraversion to team compatibility. 


You don’t want to hire someone who hates talking to people. After all, that’s what a lot of sales is about.  Review resumes for participation in clubs or volunteer opportunities. Business News Daily found that extroverts are sociable and feel energized by spending time with other people. If your interviewee seems reluctant to chat or lets silences sit unfilled, he or she might be better suited to work in another department. 


A salesperson with a strong sense of determination is driven to success and resilient to failure. A drive for success, or even to compete, ensures that a salesperson will perform at his or her best on a daily basis. Resilience to failure ensures that a salesperson will keep striving for success, even when he or she doesn’t succeed initially. To identify candidates’ level of determination during the talent acquisition process, ask interviewees how they handled a recent failure. 

Willingness To Learn

Curiosity and willingness to learn is key to good salesmanship. In today’s ever-changing environment, with new technologies being introduced every day, salespeople who do not follow and adopt new trends fall behind. Additionally, since your talent acquisition process will be based on innate characteristics and not technical skill, willingness to learn is vital to teaching your new hires those skills. To identify this trait, ask interviewees about the most recent business technology or strategy they adopted. 


Today, many businesses offer remote work opportunities. However, remote work requires a key characteristic in salespeople: self-motivation. To determine whether your candidate has this characteristic, review his or her experience, searching for indications of self-run projects. In interviews, ask how your interviewee manages his or her time each day. A self-motivated employee is in tight control of his or her time.  

Team Compatibility

While your salespeople should be independent and even competitive, they should also be able to work with other people. Sales teams often have to coordinate with other departments, like Marketing and even Account Management. For the best results with cross-departmental projects, salespeople need to be able to work with others. According to Forbes, professionals with “interpersonal sensitivity, curiosity, and emotional stability” perform on teams especially well. To determine whether candidates have these traits, ask about situations in which they needed to use teamwork to succeed. 

Focusing your talent acquisition efforts on identifying these six characteristics, instead of experience alone, empowers your business to widen its sales talent pool to include qualified candidates who just need some training to succeed on your team.

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This article was originally published on August 13, 2019; it has since been updated and republished on February 1, 2024