As a sales and marketing recruiter, I speak with sales and marketing professionals day in and day out. One might be born with qualities of a sales person, but great sales person is trained. Like an athlete - you do not only training when you are about to compete, your whole life is built around winning the game - similarly, a great sales person build her life to win a deal, whether it be your acuteness to market trends, how you market yourself, how you communicate with others. From my experience, below are some of the winning qualities of an outstanding sales professional:
1.) They are always ON
An interview does not only begin upon a phone interview, it begins the moment you begin communications with her. A great sales person is ALWAYS on, meaning this person's emails will always be professional, with proper punctuations and spelling, comes across pleasant. A great sales person should also understand that until she meets you, the only way you know who she is is by the resume, email exchanges and even how she come across on the phone. As a hiring manager, few things to ask yourself in this process is: Will you present this person’s resume to the Board? Is this person likeable to you? Do you think this person can represent your company?
2.) They ask intelligent questions
Yes, I am strong believer that questions a person ask reflect their priorities and even intellectual curiosity. A great sales person's questions should be purposeful. A sales candidate should never ask you questions they can find on Google. For example, with a candidate with poor tenure, I question any candidate who does not put me on the stop and ask me HARD questions during an interview, as it might be an indicator of how serious she is about her career. Going back to purpose, when a candidate asks me details about the number of sales people in a particular territory, sales team's tenure, and % of sales people at goal, this person is either calculating her risk in joining your company, or figuring out potential products' weak points. If you are a hiring manager, write down all the questions a sales candidate asks you: what do they say about this person’s priorities and prospecting ability?
3.) They do come across sincere
I have recruited for both insanely cut throat and insanely laid back environments. One type of candidate that will get the job in both companies - the sincere ones. Sincerity is difficult to qualify. So, one question to ask yourself at the end of the interview is - will you buy from this person? If you won't buy from this person, your clients won't either.
4.) High level of maturity
It doesn't matter if you are hiring for a more junior sales person or someone who's seasoned, enterprise level sales professional, a strong sales person should have a high level of maturity - someone who deeply understands the reputation trail she leaves. This attribute is hard to know through interviews, as everyone will be on their best behavior. If possible, see if there is some mutual connections on LinkedIn. If they are not able to provide you first-hand insights, maybe they can share this candidate's "street-credibilty." You can also glean from this person's follow through, which I will discuss in the following point.
5.) Good follow through, a.k.a. always be closing
Good sales person always leaves a trail of pleasant feelings to those around her. In other words, this person should not only be great while interacting with you, this person should also provide you with great follow-ups. If this person is interested in the opportunity, closing you is like closing a deal. If this person does not have good follow-through with you, you cannot expect this person to have good follow through with potential clients. What happens if the candidate is not interested in the opportunity at the end of the interview, this candidate should still follow up with a nicely written note, explaining politely why this is not the best opportunity for is not the best for her right now. A good sales professional with a mature mindset understands the importance of leaving a positive trail behind - burning this bridge with you now does not only mean burning the bridge to a great opportunity in the future, it may mean burning a potential sales some time down the road.