Let’s face it: Hiring sales reps can be a dicey proposition.

After all, great reps with great pedigrees don’t come cheap, while less-experienced salespeople often present a certain element of risk. Sure, you might get lucky and hire a diamond in the rough that eventually evolves into a sales all-star. But you could just as easily hire someone who flames out and wastes your time and money.

As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of more frequent questions I get from customers sound something like this:

How can I improve my chances of hiring the right sales rep? What questions should I ask in an interview to determine if the sales candidate can really sell? Which qualities or characteristics do the best sales reps share?

Unfortunately, I rarely have a simple answer that will satisfy every business owner’s unique needs. The right sales rep for your company may not be the one that fits another.

That being said, there are a few key things that business owners should try to uncover in an interview assessment:

  1. How disciplined is this person? Does the person stay on task or does it seem as though his or her mind wanders? What’s the person's track record for hitting quota and revenue targets? Sales requires a significant amount of task and goal-oriented discipline, so it’s critical that you assess this before you risk hiring someone.
  2. How comfortable is the person with people above their pay grade? In other words, does this sales rep possess the ability to call at the executive- or owner-level? If not, the person may not be able to move beyond IT or office manager gatekeepers.
  3. What motivates the candidate? Is the person driven by financial rewards, praise or internal relationships? Compensation may not be the only motivator. Understanding what makes people tick is critical to deciding if you’ll be able to push the right buttons to motivate them.

In my experience, I’ve found that the factors above are critical not just to a sales rep’s ability to do his or her job, but also your ability to lead him or her.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to lead your reps in a way that allows them to successfully achieve their objectives and your company’s revenue goals. Skills can be taught. Introverts can be successful salespeople (I’m one!). But the core attributes and competencies listed above are skills that reps must have before you hire them. 

If you’re ready to hire a salesperson, stop! Listen to this podcast I just posted on our blog before you extend an offer: Top 3 Sales Hiring Pitfalls to Avoid.

Kendra Lee is a top IT Seller, Prospect Attraction Expert, author of the newly released book, “The Sales Magnet,” and the award winning book, “Selling Against the Goal,” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment.