When you are searching to hire a salesperson you want to be sure you are getting rock stars, right? There are many traits of a great salesperson but I believe there are five traits that cannot be taught. Below are the five traits along with an interview question to help you determine if the candidate has what it takes to be a rock star sales person.

1. Hunger

Great sales people have a drive that cannot be taught. They have a burning desire to challenge themselves. They compete with themselves more often than with coworkers and have the natural born desire to win. They enjoy the cold calling process, they accept the challenge that cold calling brings and never ever give up. These personality traits are built into the DNA of a top sales professional and while not always obvious can be found by asking the right questions.

Interview question: Can you tell me why you first started a career in sales and why you continue to work in the field?

Hungry sales professionals are not generic, they are impactful. This personality type looks to prove themselves to their clients, to the company and to themselves. They don’t simply accept status quo and look to create compelling reasons for why their client needs their product/service.

2. Passion

When you believe in the product or service you are selling, it is easy to see the passion. A passionate sales person is a person that gets  excited about what they are selling and their energy and belief in their product or service is contagious. They get their prospects excited by sharing their excitement. This is the trait that only killer sales people possess.

Interview question: Outside of work, can you tell me something you are passionate about and share why this is a passion of yours?

A passionate sales person will be able to describe what they are passionate about and why.  More importantly if you find yourself getting as excited as they are to share their passion then you are interviewing a strong sales professional.

3. Resilience

Simply put, you can’t be sensitive or scared of failure and rejection; it’s not personal, it’s sales. Salespeople are speaking to as many qualified, potential customers they can in a given day. By speaking to this many people, rejection is bound to happen. The great salespeople are the ones who respond with hunger instead of defeat in the face of rejection.

Interview question: What was your worst sales rejection and how did you handle it?

In your sales recruitment process, you want to look for a sales person who has the instinct to bounce back when times are tough. If they get knocked down, lose an opportunity or have lost their pipeline, a resilient sales person will respond with motivation and a winning attitude, not with anger or defeat.

4. Self-motivated

A great salesperson understands that being self-motivated is the only way to succeed. Their manager is not going to be with them every second of the day. The sales person who possesses this trait is also organized and hard working. They have daily, weekly and monthly activity goals. They focus on the activity metrics of success and are motivated by the big and small wins. They have an internal fire that drives their soul and losing in not an option. Self-motivated sales people have this characteristic embedded in their DNA. Self-motivated means doing the job, when no one is watching; the desire to succeed because of what it represents.

Interview question: What activity is required for you to be successful on a daily basis and how do you manage that activity? Are these the metrics that your company has assigned or are they your own personal metrics of success?

If their typical day includes waiting to be told what to do or waiting on someone else to help them, that should be a red flag. Although you want someone who can take direction, you need a salesperson who will run their desk as if it was their own business. Self-motivated individuals have a desire to succeed on their own, in life and in their career. They will drive whatever activity is required to be #1.

5. Personable

People skills are something that any great salesperson will have but you don’t have to be a natural born charmer to be a great salesperson. A personable salesperson is someone who knows when to listen and when to sell – someone who can read the room.

Interview question: Was there a time when you had to display great customer service, can you tell me what happened? Can you describe the relationship you have with your top client?  

A great personality is not necessarily in a salesperson’s job description but the great ones will always build strong relationships that are above and beyond the average representative. They have passion for what they do. It is not just their job, it is who they are…they are in the business of people and they are great with people. You want that person on your team!


The personality traits of talented sales professionals cannot be found on a piece of paper. As a result, it takes a detailed sales recruitment process and heavy lifting to speak with each sales person to understand and uncover these traits. Many companies don’t have the internal resources to speak with enough sales professionals to find the super stars. That is why we are here. Treeline invests the hours speaking with hundreds of sales professionals per week with the goal to identify the super stars from the average. This takes years of commitment and patience. If you are struggling to find this level of sales professional, contact our firm and we can share valuable insight for your recruitment strategy.

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Published On: March 13th, 2019Categories: Best Hiring Practices, Sales Recruiting

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