The Mansfield Sales Blog

How to Tell If a Salesperson Is a Good Fit—Not Just a Good Interviewer

Hiring is both an art and a science, and arguably the most important aspect of any business. Not surprisingly, research shows organizations that spend more time recruiting high-caliber people earn 22% higher return for shareholders than their less discerning peers.

But the sales hiring process is complicated by these factors:

  • The majority of applicants exaggerate to get a job, and they often exaggerate by a lot
  • Most hiring decisions are made by intuition in the first few minutes of the interview
  • Two out of three sales hires prove to be a bad fit within the first year
  • Most interviewers are not properly trained, nor do they like to interview applicants

So how can you tell if someone is a great salesperson, and not just a great interviewer?

In fact, great salespeople are not born; rather, they are skilled professionals who have the right orientation and drive to be the best. These skills, habits, and attitudes can be identified and measured, and research has shown that top performers score highly on approximately 70% on the following traits.

Look out for these qualities in your applicant pool:


  • Customer-centric - puts the customer first
  • Commitment to service - has the skill and commitment to deliver impeccable service
  • Organized - uses a disciplined approach to customer relationship management and the sales process
  • Self-managed - is independently motivated to succeed
  • Accountable - takes personal responsibility for results


  • Active listener - picks up non-verbal cues and encourages people to be open about their feelings
  • Versatile - readily adapts to the variety of different situations, challenges, and different personalities.
  • Flexible - thrives on constant change and handles it with ease


  • Interactive - enjoys meeting and getting to know people
  • Curious - always interested in learning new things
  • Resilient - able to deal with rejection and overcome barriers, not easily discouraged
  • Motivated by winning - demonstrates a desire for money, efficiency, and return on investment
  • Independent - committed to controlling his or her own destiny

The best sales representatives—people who can truly maximize sales opportunities—have one more important trait in common: they are entrepreneurs. They are willing to take managed risks and make investments of their time and effort to get a return.

If you suspect your sales team doesn’t stack up, a B2B sales consultant may be able to help.


Want more sales consulting advice about finding and retaining great salespeople? Download our strategy brief How to Build the Best Sales Team to Scale Your Business.

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Topics: Sales Consulting Sales hiring


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