Sales Then and Now: Top Qualities to Embody

For those of us who have been in sales for quite a few years, think back to what characteristics you possessed that landed your first sales job... If you were applying today would they be the same?

Have they changed? Are they even relevant anymore? What about sales leaders who are hiring sales reps, some perhaps their first role? What are you looking for?

I had the pleasure of being a panellist at the CSES- Canadian Sales Educators Symposium last week in Kitchener, Ontario. The audience was made up of college sales and marketing professors. They invited some external sales professionals to share our perspective of what we are seeing in terms of the required characteristics to look for in new hires. As a panel of 3, we came up with the following list:

1) Coachability

2) Integrity

3) Emotional Intelligence

4) Data Analytics

5) Self Motivation

Do you agree? What would you add to the list. Let me provide some context around our choices.


For me, this is important when doing 1: 1 coaching. I believe everyone is coachable. There may be certain reasons why some are more than others. What is their willingness to be coached? Do they connect with the other person? Did they have a bad experience in the past that is tainting future coaching experiences? It is our role as a coach to peel back the layers to understand why they may not be open to coaching and why some are. Sometimes it’s also just not a good fit.

The recommendation in the interview process- provide feedback on a role-play, scenario etc. Ask them to try again and see how well they implement your advice.


It is disappointing we have to add this to the list, in my opinion, this is table stakes for life. Be a good person, do what you say you’re going to do and don’t compromise on your values. This is not only important while interviewing but throughout life. As the age-old quote says “Integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is watching”, be that person.


This is a loaded one. There are so many emotions packed in here. However, before we manage and understand our prospects' emotions, do we have a handle on our own? Are we self-aware? Are we reflective? Are we empathetic to others? Our prospects feel our sincerity or lack thereof. Are we able to connect with them and disarm them to build trust in order to serve? Are we vulnerable? aware we may not have all the answers but willing to try and put ourselves out there? As I gained more life experience, I increased my EQ.

Data Analytics

With all the sales enablement tools, coaching and iteration of processes if we are not testing and reviewing our data how will we know what is working and what isn’t? Having an awareness of data analytics in the interview stage will separate us from most other applicants. Understanding Analytics shows we embrace technology and are continuous learners, always looking to see what we could be doing differently.


I started my career in Customer Service before moving into a sales role, my job was to answer the phone. When I moved to sales, I realized I had to make the phone ring, nobody was calling me. I couldn’t wait for my boss or my customers to motivate me. Many people wait for motivation to kick in, sorry to burst your bubble it doesn’t. Taking action starts getting you closer to your target, which motivates you to keep going. Nobody is going to light your fire but you. Do you know what motivates you? Surprisingly is it not money for all salespeople, some of you may be shaking your head.

Understating your purpose, why you chose your role, company, and sales as a whole will help you on the days you have to dig deep to get going.

Notice we chose all soft skills but one. In my opinion, the hard skills can be developed, the soft skills are harder to hone. This comes with a true understanding of self. Once you develop soft skills, they will produce hard results. In my corporate career, I would reflect after every sales call and ask myself 2 questions:

1) Would they pay for that call?

2) Did I add value? Make their lives better, easier, and take something off their plate?

These questions allowed me to see how I am showing up each day and where my focus was. What would you add to the list?

#b2bsales #salescharacteristics #sales #yourpurpose

About Karen Kelly

For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.

Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools  that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.

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