Characteristics sales managers look for in new salespeople

By: Sneha Shah

Aptitude and personal characteristics are typically thought to place an upper limit on an individual’s ability to perform a given sales job. Two people with equal motivation, role perceptions, and training might perform at different levels because one does not have the personal traits or abilities necessary to do the job as well as the other.

The questions to consider are these: What specific personal traits and abilities enable a person to achieve good sales performance? What are the determinants of sales aptitude?

Research indicates that enthusiasm consistently ranks among the personal attributes sales manager consider most important in recruiting. Other characteristics considered relatively important are good organizational abilities, ambition, and the two related attributes of persuasiveness and communication skill.

Although many executives consider previous sales experience to be important in indicating the sales aptitude of new employees, general experience in selling is typically viewed as more relevant than specific product or industry experience. Sales managers, while evaluating potential recruits also rely on some of the background factors like personal’s educational attainment, course of study and general work experience. Companies seek individuals with a college education.

Companies continue to focus on hiring sales representatives with prior experience. Much of the conventional wisdom to which sales managers and consultants have adhered over the years has stressed the importance of such personality traits such as self-esteem, extraversion, sociability, dominance, and a strong need for achievement as determinants of sales success. Moreover stable traits like openness to experience and conscientiousness may be strongly related to sales success.

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