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Hiring For Sales? Look For These 3 Things

- 26 Feb 2021 by Yehezkiel Faoma Taslim

The picture above is from a famous scene in Glengarry Glen Ross (1992). A successful salesman came from uptown to “motivate” a group of poorly performing real estate agents by threatening to fire them. With their careers at stake, the salesmen were driven to desperation, chasing potential leads through the city deep into the night, and even stealing the precious leads in order to close sales.

Business drama films can be over the top, but they do ring true about something in sales: it’s not easy.

Sales is one of the most popular jobs in the world with around 4.5 million workers in the US alone. Any business, no matter the industry, size, or location, will always have to sell. So companies will always be looking to hire salespeople, who are also known as customer relations officers, sales representatives, and so forth.

Here’s the million dollar question recruiters ask: what does it take to be a good salesperson?


“It takes brass balls to sell real estate.”
- Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)


In this article, we’ll look at the 3 potentials that recruiters should look for in a good sales candidate.

What does sales do?

In order to understand better the potentials needed to succeed in sales, let’s take some time to briefly understand the nature of the job.

Salespeople do much more than just sell. In fact, before you can even sell something, there are lots of different tasks that you need to do. Generating leads, evaluating prospects, and managing customer relationships all need different competencies and potentials.

On top of that, salespeople work in a tough and high-pressure environment. You have to meet a quota while on a deadline, compete with others, deal with difficult customers and face rejections.

If recruiters want to look for talents who could thrive in this career, they need to look for specific potentials within each candidate.

What are potentials?

Potentials are defined as an individual’s latent abilities that can be fully realized with training and development. Like personality, thinking style, and culture fit, different jobs call for different potentials in order for a candidate to perform well.

From our research on the nature and demands of the job, we found the specific potentials that are required to succeed in a sales career. This article shares 3 of the most important potentials to help recruiters spot promising sales candidates better.

3 Potentials In A Good Sales Candidate


1. Proactive Behavior

Sales is an extremely fast-paced job. You have to be quick on your feet and be bold enough to take opportunities before they pass by, or get taken by someone else. This is where Proactive Behavior comes useful.

Proactive Behavior is taking the initiative to actively create a desired change in the situation, rather than passively waiting for something to happen (according to Bateman & Crant).

Individuals with this potential would spring up and act independently without having to be told by anyone. And in the world of sales, this potential is invaluable to have.

Salespeople are the ones who take the initiative to the customer, not the other way around. They must make the first move to reach out to the customer, initiate a conversation, and get them interested in the product. Without having the potential for Proactive Behavior, a candidate may not make it through the very first step of sales.

2. Interpersonal Skills

As one of the most people-oriented jobs out there, Interpersonal Skills are a huge factor to look for when you’re hiring for sales.

Interpersonal Skills encompass communication and social interaction. This includes getting along with others, being able to listen, resolving conflicts, and having empathy.

Simply put, it’s the ability to form relationships and make others feel comfortable around you. This potential, therefore, is another one to look out for in sales candidates.

The entire sales process relies on the salesperson’s ability to gain the customer’s attention, trust, and decision to purchase. They need to have the potential for interpersonal skills to know how to approach a lead, when to bring up the sale and when to back down.

More importantly, this potential is needed to maintain relationships. The most valuable clients are not those who purchased for the first time, but those who keep coming back. To gain customer loyalty, you need to gain their trust — and you need interpersonal skills to do that.

3. Service Orientation

Back then sales was about getting the money out of the customer’s wallet (you can see this from the movie mentioned above). Times have changed since then. Today, sales is all about providing a solution to your customers.

The shift has focused from making profits to solving problems. Hence, our research found that the potential for service orientation is needed in order to succeed in sales.

Service orientation is wanting to help others. It’s the tendency to approach people with care and tenderness, and to be warm and friendly.

A successful sales candidate should want to help their customers, to genuinely understand their problems and offer the product as a solution for those pain points. With service orientation, customers would be able to tell the difference between hard selling and providing solutions.

Assessing for potentials

Those are only 3 of the most prominent potentials a good sales candidate should have. There are lots of other potentials you should look out for, such as resilience and persuasion.

The good news is recruiters can easily assess for these potentials and see if candidates have what it takes to sell real estate succeed in a sales position.

And this isn’t limited only to sales, but for other jobs as well. Every position calls for specific sets of potentials, and it would make the difference between a successful candidate or a case of poor job-fit.