3 Traits to help you avoid recruiting a Sales Lemon

Sales Person QualitiesOver the past few weeks I have shared some approaches for getting to know the numbers side of your sales activities. Analysis of key Sales and Marketing numbers and ratios are often referred to as Marketing Metrics. One of the fastest ways of improving your overall Marketing Metrics is to increase the effectiveness of your Sales Team’s ability to convert prospects into paying customers.

In turn, one of the fastest ways to increase your Sales Team’s sales conversion efficiencies is to ensure that you have the right people in your Sales Team in the first place.

Important Qualities and Characteristics of Sales People

A quick Google for important qualities and characteristics of Sales People will find numerous lists and recommendations. Qualities, characteristics and skills such as the following are likely to be listed:

  • Ability to ask for the order
  • Hard working
  • Contentious
  • Honest
  • Ethical
  • Charming
  • Intelligent
  • Ability to work autonomously
  • Able to think on their feet
  • Ability to read upside down

I do not doubt that these qualities are important, in particular the last one, which incidentally was in my first ever Position Description.

Suffice to say the ability to read upside down is a useful skill to have but it can get you into trouble

Three ‘Must-have’ Core Traits

In my experience in working with successful and not-so-successful Sales People I have identified three ‘must-have’ core traits of successful sales people. Sure successful sales people have all or most of the long lists of qualities, characteristics and skills many of which are listed above. However, there are the following three ‘must-have’ core traits that without them a Sales Person will always struggle to optimise sales conversion outcomes:

  • Expressiveness
  • Assertiveness
  • Adaptability


Expressiveness is simply a term that I use to describe the level to which people express or share their emotions. People who are highly expressive share their mood and emotions quite readily. They laugh, smile and express pleasure and happiness on a regular basis. They also frown, get upset, and visibly look sad and concerned just as easy. In other words they display a wide range of emotions on a regular basis and do not go to great lengths to keep control of their emotions. These people tend to like other people and will take an interest in other people wanting to know more about their life, families, work and outside interests.

These are the people who will happily listen to your story about your ingrowing toenail and will genuinely want to know more about it!

Their interests in other people combined with their ease of sharing emotions mean that they also tend to be easy to get along with and they forge relationships easily. Their tendency to express their emotions makes them appealing and trustworthy to other people and as a result they are often good at forging relationships with prospects and customers. Sales People who are highly expressive are often described as ‘natural sales people’.

Talking to people, getting to know them and forging relationships not only comes easily but is fun and a way of life for them.


Good Sales People are usually highly assertive. Asking for the order requires a high level of assertiveness. Let’s put this ‘asking-for-the-order’ thing in perspective.

You are asking someone to take money out of their own pocket, slide it across the table or counter and put it into your pocket.

In addition to asking for the order a Sales Person needs to know how to use questions to take a level of control over the sales interaction. A Sales Person needs to able to handle objections usually by asking more questions to clarify the objection. A Sales Person will often need to introduce themselves to strangers in crowded rooms, at networking events and various other strange scenarios including public speaking at special Bingo nights and meat raffles.

A Sales Person often has to intrude and introduce themselves to strangers and ask them to listen to their message and then at the end ask them for money!

All in all, a Sales Person’s role is often quite intimidating and certainly requires a high level of assertiveness on a daily basis.


Over the course of a day or week a Sales Person will meet with quite a wide variety of individuals in a variety of situations. This means that to be effective a Sales Person must have the ability to be ‘Adaptable’.

The main call for adaptability is when dealing with the wide variety of personality types that exist within our prospects and customers

Our customers are likely to comprise of a broad variety of different personality types and personal styles. A good Sales Person will be able to adapt to these differences in personality, personal characteristics and needs.

The greater your ability to be adaptable the greater your ability to develop rapport and forge relationships with a broad variety of personality types.

Sales Person Traits

As I mentioned above, I acknowledge that there are numerous qualities, characteristics and skills that help make a Sales Person successful. However, Expressiveness, Assertiveness and Adaptability are three traits that I believe are absolute ‘must-have’ traits upon which most other requirements can be developed. So it makes sense to make sure your next Sales recruit can demonstrate these three traits.





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