According to research done by SHRM, it can cost the equivalent of 50-60% of an employee’s annual salary to find a direct replacement. One of the most difficult aspects of management is putting the right people in the right seats. So, how do you know how to hire the best sales reps that will deliver results? There are a few specific characteristics that you must look for in a potential sales rep, and the difficulty is in recognizing those characteristics within the short time that you have to interview candidates. Here are some tips on how to cut through the fluff and get down to the points that truly matter when you are hiring new sales reps.

1. Be sure you’re in the position to hire the best sales rep!

Before you dive into the process of hiring a good sales rep, make sure that you are ready to hire. You must have a good onboarding system, have sales rep development procedures in place, and have the agreement of important stakeholders that a new hire is the correct decision. If you are not prepared, you risk losing a great candidate and wasting your company’s time and resources.

2. Evaluate the candidate’s Coachability

Your are evaluating each candidate’s experience, knowledge, and coachability. Out of the three, coachability is arguably the most important characteristic to screen for during interviews. You can gain insight into a candidate’s coachability by asking questions such as “How did you learn to do that in your previous job?” or  “How did you learn from a past mistake?”. The idea is to recognize when someone is able to learn through listening and take direction well so that you can successfully coach them later on.

3. Know how to interview for the right qualities

Although there are many qualities specific to a top performing sales rep, there are a few important characteristics to look for. The difficulty is being able to recognize when a candidate has what it takes to be successful from just an interview.

High EQ (Emotional Intelligence)

People who are able to comprehend and manage both their own and other’s emotions are good sales reps to hire. Interviewing for emotional intelligence is important but difficult. You must ask behavioral-based and situational questions, then dive into how they responded in a previous situation, the reasoning behind the actions they took, and how they felt during the process. You can get some insight on their EQ based on the answers you receive. Employees can continually develop their EQ, so your evaluation of their coachability is relevant as well.

Self awareness

People who have good self awareness understand what motivates them, and what motivates the decision making of other people. They are able to recognize what type of work causes them to burnout and what skills they lack so they can focus on activities they are best at to gain the most return on their invested time.


Sales reps who have experience and self awareness tend to be more efficient. They know what behaviors to focus on in order to see results due to trial and error and an understanding of their own skills. Be straightforward – ask what actions the candidate has taken to make their job more efficient.


Great sales reps will persevere but will not be overbearing or pushy. Does the person you are considering hiring follow up politely but persistently? Are they able to answer direct and straightforward questions in the interview regarding their status and the hiring timeline? Take into account how they interact with you and the hiring manager – these actions can speak volumes.

Make your decision quickly

This may go without saying, but when you recognize the qualities of a great candidate, you are not the only one who will see this. You can also usually be certain that a driven person will be courted by more than just one company at a time. Act fast to have the best chance at securing a top performing sales person before another company capitalizes on your hesitation.

Knowing how to hire the best sales reps is a skill that often takes time and experience, but when you think you have the right candidate, keep them motivated, focused on the right behaviors, and coach them to be their best. Looking for more? Check out this article for 7 more qualities to look for when searching for a new candidate!