How to Spot a Poor Sales Person

(even when your eyes tell you different!)


Your candidate may appear like the perfect sales hire – but are your eyes deceiving you? Even if your prospective candidate looks like a 10/10, has a charming personality and exudes the perfect amount of confidence– don’t be too quick to jump to, “you’re hired!” (you may regret it)

Below is a list of some of the major red flags to look out for when meeting with a potential sales hire — so read on!

Does the candidate seem interested in long-term growth? 

For you to get a good return on investment from your sales hire, they need to be with you for at least 2 years (and ideally more than 3). Determining whether this will be the case means finding out: does this candidate have a history of sticking around that long? Are there any reasons to doubt their long-term potential for your company? Are they “settling” for your role even though it is not what they really want?


If the prospective candidate gears the conversation towards vacation days, termination policies and future job opportunities then be cautious!

Does the candidate show enough drive?

Drive is the engine that runs a great sales person. It is the thing that makes them dial that 100th prospect when 99 people have turned them down. People often mistake drive for enthusiasm or ambition. Just because they say they want to make $1 million by the time they turn 30, does not mean they have the discipline and internal motivation to do it. Drive requires planning, setting goals, and having a back-up plan when goals are not met initially.


Look for a consistent history of setting and completing personal, educational and professional goals.

Would your client buy from them?

Sure, they look polished and are charming, but is that enough for your client to make a purchase? Buying decisions are often made based on the credibility and trust built by the sales person. They must consistently show that they are truly looking to provide a solution and not just selling a product/service.


While interviewing the candidate, find out how much research they have done on you and your industry. If they “wing” the interview without much preparation, they will likely do the same when selling to your clients – which will leave your clients feeling uneasy and insignificant.

Have they got the results to prove their success?

The candidate may describe themselves as a top performer and a hunter – but can they prove it? Can they give examples of how and when they demonstrated valuable sales skills?


Look for an overachievement of targets set for them by previous employers and investigate how the candidate’s results compared to peers on the same team.