The secrets to hire and manage a top performing sales team

The 3 top traits to predict future sales reps performance

The 3 top traits to predict future sales reps performance

There are some particular attitude traits that you should look for if you want to add stellar sales people to your team

55 percent of people earning their living in sales are considered to be better off doing something else (1), so it might be correct to think that there’s a lot of space to improve the general recruitment process in order to hire top sales reps.

The main points we will touch on this post are:

  • Discovering the attitude traits scientifically proven to be the foundations of great sales reps
  • A few tricks to help recognizing these traits during the interview process

Knowing about the three key top traits and being able to recognize them during the recruitment process will enable you to hire top sales reps in a consistent way.

Why Attitude Matters in Sales

The two top reasons for which attitude is even more important in sales roles rather than any other role in a company:

  1. The constant presence of a benchmark (quota) to be met consistently
  2. There is no other job in a company where an employee must be ready to hear a “No” so many times.

Not having the right attitude would mean, on one end, not being able to stay on top of the quota, but at the same time to easily lose confidence given the amount of rejections. That’s why it is fundamental to ensure that each sales person has some fundamental attitude traits that push them to improve over time and never give up.

The essential 3 key traits of top performers

Achievement orientation

 Top sales reps are like elite athletes. They share the same sense of inner drive to competition. A sense of competition might be with the team or with oneself. Sales performance will be generally driven by one of the two. People who are driven by competition with the rest of a team have a need to demonstrate to the world one’s worth. On the other side people competing against their own past performance are generally more secure and exclusively driven by a sense of betterment. Both people will perform, but their driver will simply be different.


The constant rejections typical of any sales role is something that many people would not be able to tolerate. The special ones don’t care. Losing is just another step to the next win. These special ones live by this equation:

SW-squared + WC = MO

    • SW-square = Some Will love your idea, Some Won’t
    • WC = Who Cares
    • MO = Move on
    • This is taken from a Tim Ferris Blog where Joe Gebbia – one of the AirBnB’s cofounders explains it extremely well. I strongly recommend listening to it. Here’ the link)
Lack of self-consciousness

Self-consciousness is the measurement of how easily someone is embarrassed. This goes by itself, but of course if a person is easily embarrassed it would be difficult to sell anything at all or cold calling prospects.

Of course there are other characteristics that make people top sellers, but these are the key three that would overlap in any role from telesales to inside sales, from AEs to SDRs, from store assistants to door-to-door sellers.

How to assess for these 3 key traits?

There are a few ways to assess for these key traits. While many companies overly-rely on gut feelings and tend to give too much importance to the last key trait (self-consciousness), having it on its own will not make that person a top sales rep.

Being confident is only part of the equation that makes a top sales rep. Confidence must not be confused with arrogance.


Don’t do it!

So, the first fundamental recommendation is to never overly-rely on our first instinct. Being self-confident is in no way a trait that in its own is predictive of sales performance.

Ask the right questions

If you want a catalogue of questions to ask here you go! But as you can see from this list of 40 questions very few focus on uncovering candidates’ optimisim and achievement striving dimensions. Here are the only ones:

  • How do you keep a smile on your face during a hard day?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are three adjectives a former client would use to describe you?

As you can see only 3 questions of the 40 listed on Hubspot are useful. How recommendation is to dig in with examples of past experiences in the sales field or not. Ask them about the sports they practice (even e-sports and games!), achievements, and past failure. What moved them? Did they give up on something? If so, why? You will get tons of insights that will help you frame the candidate in a more insightful way.

Use Online Attitude Tests

The easiest, more data-rich and scientific way of doing it is asking them to complete an attitude test. Sign up here and you can measure 30 different measures of the candidate attitude (including, of course, achievement striving, optimism and self-consciousness) by just using 10 minutes of their time. Additionally we will also benchmark the candidate responses to an attitude model for Top Sellers (different for each sales role) that you can reference to more easily read the data. You can also personalise the model to reflect the preferences of your own team/company.

It’s the sum of these three key traits who define stellar sales employees

Hire top sales reps consistently is possible and a repeatable process, but at times companies spend too much time assessing the wrong things. If a person is not highly driven, highly optimistic, and secure, it’s unlikely will become a top rep, even if they have extensive experience, a high IQ or EQ.

Assessing for these key traits is just a matter of focus during the interview process and likely technology can help make the whole discovery process quicker and more scientific.

Sign up to Fluttr now to easily discover these key traits in your candidates!

What about you? What are the key things that you look for during the recruitment process for sales people? How do you currently assess for these key traits? Share it in the comments section!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *