Characteristics of High Performing Sales Reps

How do you sieve through the numerous applications for a sales job to identify a suitable candidate? As a hiring manager, you can’t rely on someone’s experience in a sales position only if you want to get high performing salespeople. This is because, besides experience, research has shown that sales superstars demonstrate common traits that an average performer lacks. So, if your target is to add top performers to your team, you are better off not betting on experience only but also adding the following traits to your selection criteria.

  1. Enjoy meeting sales targets and breaking records

According to a study by Steve W. Martin, over 80% of top sales reps love to win. They are highly motivated to achieve their goals and constantly review their performance against set objectives. This allows them to take charge of their performance and do not need to be pushed to do their work. Such individuals are not only highly motivated but also self-starters. 

Since top performers are focused on closing deals as fast as possible, they will target key decision makers in an organization and negotiate with them directly. This saves them the time they would otherwise waste meeting with mediators.  

  1. They are client centric

When it comes to relating to clients, high performing salespeople display a genuine commitment to helping the customer grow. They are, therefore, keen on selling products based on client needs and not the qualities of the product. However, they are not gregarious and will let customers have their space.  

Because of this trait, they will talk about the product’s qualities and benefits. However, they are careful not to appear dominant when it comes to advising customers on whether products are good for them or not. They respect that the clients are depended on them for professional advice only. 

  1. Have a verifiable track record of good performance

One of the easiest ways to spot a top-tier sales rep is by checking their portfolio and customer base in a particular industry. The comfort of working with someone who has proved to be an excellent sales person elsewhere is that they have a higher chance of doing the same in your company. You should, however, verify any information provided in a sales rep’s resume to make sure that the achievements stated therein are true. 

  1. Highly optimistic but also good planners

A sales job is not easy especially in territories with stiff competition or when breaking into new markets. It’s not unusual for salespeople to be discouraged when things aren’t working out in their favor. On the contrary, high performing individuals understand that in a competition you can win or lose. This enables them to do their best to win a deal but also have a fallback plan. 

In the event a deal goes to the competition, they move on to new challenges and don’t waste time mourning over lost prospects. This self-drive enables them to approach cold markets without the fear of being rejected or embarrassed.  They understand that the more clients they see, the higher the chances of meeting their targets. 


When recruiting a sales team, you want to have as many high performing individuals as possible. It is therefore important to know what dominant traits to look for in your interviewees. What other qualities have you noticed in top-tier salespersons?