Hiring a salesperson: what to look for

The first sales hire is one of the most important. It’s not always guaranteed to be a success, but at the very least it will teach you what you do and don’t want when hiring a salesperson. And if it is a resounding success, you can use that hire as a template to build a team. With that in mind, which traits should you look for when making a sales hire? From being a quick thinker to having a curious mind, we’ve got the answers below. 

Key sales traits in a nutshell

  • A quick thinker
  • Experienced
  • Listener
  • Personable
  • Curiosity

What to look for when hiring a salesperson

A quick thinker

Being quick on your feet is vital when selling products and services. As much as sales scripts can help, there will be moments when the rep needs to act in real-time and respond to questions they weren’t prepared for. 

The ability to adapt to unique and challenging situations is a sign of a high-quality sales rep. It’s not just about being a fast and charming talker, either. Reps need to improvise and take control of the situation to deliver a solution the customer is happy with. These skills can be developed over time, but having someone on your team with the ability to think quickly can make a real difference from the get-go. 


Your first sales rep shouldn’t be green unless you already have a sales background. Ideally, you’ll build your team around this person. For that reason, you should aim to bring someone on board who knows how to thrive in a sales environment. 

It’s even better if they have experience of startup life. Excelling for a company like Google is much easier than selling products or services that people probably haven’t heard of yet. Therefore, you need someone who’s taken the knocks and knows how to look past them and use their experience to reach sales targets. 

A good listener

Many people think that a good sales rep is someone with the gift of the gab who can talk their way in (or out) of anything. And while a confident attitude is necessary to success, it’s vitally important that sales reps take time to listen to their customers. 

You’re trying to solve pain points by providing services or products that people need. A sales rep able to sell ice to an Eskimo is all well and good, but you’ll ultimately end up with unhappy customers who didn’t really want the product in the first place. A rep who listens, however, can identify the best type of leads, tell the right story and help you build an excellent sales strategy that wins. 


Even in 2022, sales reps are still labelled with the stereotype of being pushy and brash. While the reality is quite different, when hiring a salesperson, you should aim to bring someone on board who is friendly, personable and fits in with your company culture. 

It goes hand-in-hand with being a good listener. Salespeople who go out of their way to make a customer feel valued can build long-lasting relationships and turn leads into customers. They need to have self-awareness, empathy and grasp the challenges a prospect faces so they can solve them. 

A curious mind

You want to hire reps that have a sponge mentality. That’s to say, they soak up everything around them and pay attention to the details, no matter how big or small. A salesperson always looking to learn and improve can become an essential part of your company. 

Whether they’re learning from you or looking at the leads that got away to see where improvement can be found, you should hire someone who’s always asking questions and wants to know more. That curious mind will develop into an a-star sales rep. 

Number one sales rep

While many aspects of sales roles are changing, the key ethos remain the same. Your hire needs to focus on reaching targets, being personable, curious and a good listener. With those traits, they can form the core of your sales team and help your startup grow and establish itself as a significant player in its industry. 

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