Identify Qualities of Top Salespeople

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain how curiosity and integrity can help salespeople close deals.
  • Identify the importance of self-awareness and emotional awareness in the sales process.
  • Describe how problem-solving and personal drive can help salespeople succeed.


Every business has growth targets, and sales leaders know the best way to hit those numbers is to develop smart go-to-market strategies, and recruit top sales talent. So what should you look for when hiring your next great salesperson?

The obvious choice is to look for candidates with sales experience or industry expertise. But in practice, you can find that some of your highest performers have neither. Instead, they can possess qualities that make them skilled at reading the room, building relationships, and handling setbacks — all equally valuable to close deals fast.

Knowing what to look for in a candidate can help you narrow the field. But after you line up the interview, how do you conduct it, and what kinds of questions do you ask?

In this module, we teach you best practices from sales executives at Salesforce, all designed to help you recruit, interview, and hire top sales talent so you can turn your team into a selling superpower.

Let’s dive in.

Hiring Great Salespeople

In the article The 7 Sales Skills That Can’t Be Taught, sales executive Dan Ross discusses his experience with recruiting. And during his tenured career at Salesforce, Dan hired and managed many, many salespeople. As he puts it, “Some of our best software reps had never sold before joining us. In fact, some of our best closers had never closed a deal before working here.”

Experience is important. But Dan found other qualities to be important, too.

Image woman standing on pedestal with puzzle pieces.


Customers and their needs can vary greatly, as can your product catalog. Staying up to date on training for every product and persona can be challenging. But a salesperson driven by curiosity will ask all the right questions so they can get a deeper understanding of a customer’s wants and needs.

“A naturally curious salesperson can put themselves in the customer’s shoes, get to the bottom of the problem, and present a solution that meets their needs.”
—Dan Ross, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce


There’s a difference between getting it done and getting it done right. But a great salesperson does both. Hire salespeople who have high integrity, and you’ll have customers for life.

“Do the right thing by the customer.”
—Dan Ross, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce


When your business is growing quickly, you need salespeople who challenge themselves to step up and do more. That means looking for salespeople who are highly motivated and driven. Remember, today’s top performers are often tomorrow’s sales leaders.

“Salespeople who demonstrate the drive to challenge themselves will be the ones who get those opportunities.”
—Dan Ross, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce


With so much information available, it’s not possible for one person to memorize every single thing needed for the job. But a problem solver can look at each specific case and either find or create an answer for it.

“Problem solvers find energy, not frustration, in this part of the job.”
—Dan Ross, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce


No one wins every deal, and all reps experience rejection. Build your team with people who can bounce back quickly, learn from their mistakes, and grow from challenges.

“The salespeople who are the most resilient bounce back the fastest, learn from their mistakes, and grow from challenges.”
—Dan Ross, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce


Salespeople who are self-aware can quickly identify what needs improvement and start working on it. Reps who aren’t self-aware can struggle to identify what to work on, especially if they have a bad month or quarter.

“The most self-aware sales pros are more deliberate with success and know how to repeat it.”
—Dan Ross, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce

Emotional Awareness

Teams that primarily work the phones need to be good at reading a prospect’s emotions without seeing facial expressions. And sales reps who conduct face-to-face meetings need to be able to read into interactions, and know when to drive and when to back off.

“Reps need to be good at reading a prospect’s emotions.”
—Dan Ross, SVP, Commercial Sales, Salesforce

What’s Next?

So now you know some of the qualities to look for in a salesperson. But how can you determine whether a candidate has these qualities? Up next, we share how to dig in during the interview process, find out more about the candidates, and hire great salespeople.


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