skills to look for in first time sales reps

First time sales reps are a breed entirely of their own. That’s why we’ve created a series dedicated to exactly how you should handle them. First up, we’re talking about how to find great first time sales reps. Parts two and three of our series discuss how to onboard first time sales reps, and how to successfully coach them too.

Identifying first time sales reps with unlimited potential is half the battle when it comes to building a talented sales organization. Selecting sales reps that have natural tendencies and characteristics that will help them succeed in their new role will make your job much easier down the line.

Look for the following skills when hiring first time sales reps.

1.  Listening Skills

Highly developed listening skills help sales reps hear the underlying issues potential clients are describing, and frame a solution to fit their needs. Sales coaching can help improve this critical skills, but it’s better if your first time sales reps are good listeners from the start. Give them sample customer scenarios in their interview and see if they’re able to pick up on root problems, or if they simply jump to conclusions without actually hearing the context.

2.  Confidence

Your future sales reps need the ability to guide conversations, lead demos, and keep prospects and customers interested in what they’re saying. All of these requirements take confidence. Watching body language during an interview is an excellent way to measure your potential first time sales rep’s confidence level. Think about the following while interviewing:

  • Are they fidgeting?
  • How is their posture?
  • Are they shrinking back into their seat or leaning forward?

3.  Thick Skin

Sales reps face constant rejection. In fact, 80% of sales require five follow ups after initial contact has been made. Candidates who are too sensitive will not push past obstacles and closed doors to finish the deal. Pay attention to weaknesses in the interview stage, and also challenge some of their responses. How do they handle the challenge? Did they stick to their guns and offer further explanation, or immediately backtrack and change their answer? Now, imagine how their response would play out with a potential client. Would this candidate close the deal?

4.  Time Management

Sales reps often have fully independent, or semi independent roles within their organization. They’re given the tools to succeed, a timeline, and goals. The rest is up to them. When interviewing first time sales reps, ask them about specific examples that describe how they manage their time. Use inquiries like:

  • What tools do you use to help manage your time?
  • Describe a time when you felt you didn’t have enough time to complete necessary tasks, what did you do?
  • How do you react to stressful situations?

5.  Willingness to Learn

A sales career means a lifetime of continued training and development to stay competitive and successful. A candidate who refuses to partake in professional development activities will never have a successful run at sales. Determine which first time sales reps will have the right attitude about learning by asking the right questions during the interview phase. Consider what education they’ve had in the past, how active they are in pursuing additional learning opportunities independent of their organization, and their level of interest in continuing to improve.

Building a team of allstar sales reps is a lot easier when your first time sales reps are starting off with the right characteristics and skills. Make sure you’re choosing candidates who will flourish in a sales career, and bring a competitive advantage to your organization.

Stay tuned for resources on onboarding and training first time sales reps in parts two and three of our series.

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