Characteristics of a Great Inside Sales Rep

Hiring sales reps at any level is particularly hard. The reason hiring sales reps is hard is that by their very nature they should be good at selling. Unfortunately being able to sell themselves often does not translate into their ability to sell your products. By looking for three key characteristics a hiring manager can better tip the scales in their favor to finding sales talent.

The three characteristics to look for are; innate curiosity, affability, and resiliency.

Innate curiosity

This should be a key characteristic of any sales rep at any level. When a prospect asks a question, a sales rep should never simply answer the question, they should be genuinely curious as to why the prospect is asking the question. Often prospects ask questions that are layered and nuanced. Responding to a question directly and succinctly, while appealing to the prospect rarely achieves the desired outcome of understanding their core issue and driving reason for the question. By digging deeper in the issues and asking, “why”, or, “why is that important to you”, a sales rep can uncover hidden pains or cause a prospect to double back and realize that some features are would be nice to have and not must have. 

Another key reason innate curiosity should be a core characteristic of a sales reps is for control of the conversation. Controlling the conversation is key for any sales process, and the person that asks the questions is usually the one that can direct and ergo control the conversation. A person with innate curiosity will ask deeper and more meaningful questions that require more than a yes or no response. The more deeper the questions the greater the control.


The age old saying that people buy from people they like is still the case today. Sales reps that are affable are pleasant to be around, people that are pleasant to be around make more friends, and people by from people they like. Natural salespeople can light up a room with their smile and make even the most miserly prospect feel warm and fuzzy. Suffice it to say, the psychological ease that an affable rep places on a prospect is insurmountable.

Sales kickoffs (SKOs) are typically fun and interesting events in interesting locations. It is the age old saying that people buy from friends. If you are hiring a sales rep and you don’t feel that this person would be a great partner at every social gathering how do you think your prospects are going to feel when this person calls or turns up for a meeting?


Sales reps are the soldiers in the trenches. Day in day out they are doing battle at the front lines and getting their teeth kicked in over every minor product or service issue a prospect can think of. Like Muhammad Ali doing the rope-a-dope, your sales rep needs to weather the storm, keep their chin up, move in at the right time, and try to get the deal done when they can.

If the sales rep does not have tenacity or resiliency, they will slowly break down under the daily deluge of prospect driven ill will. With their innate affability eroding, their negative attitude will start to corrode both their own abilities, and the abilities of their colleagues.

One underperforming sales rep can easily turn into a metastatic cancer winding its way through your sales pit.

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