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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

3 Main Characteristics to Look for When Hiring Inside Sales People

Posted by Richard April on Wed, May 29, 2024 @ 08:44 AM

Sales Prospecting Perspectives is pleased to bring you a guest post from Kevin Gaither, Vice President of Inside Sales at uSamp.

I love when candidates ask me the question, “So what are you looking for when you hire salespeople for your team?” While I have developed a customized and comprehensive benchmark for each Inside Sales position for which I’ve hired, I always reply the same way…..


I’m looking for salespeople with Drive. I don’t typically hire salespeople that have a wealth of experience in my industry. Why?  Because experience with no drive is a waste of a hire.  Instead, I’d rather hire somebody who is “green” or has very little experience that has tons of Drive. To me, that’s a winning combination. But what is drive?

Thanks to the very enlightening book Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again by Dr. Chris Croner (who is a great author and one heck of a stand-up guy by the way), Drive has a crystal clear defintion. Straight from, Drive is composed of 3 parts:

Need for Achievement: The intense desire to attain excellence and accomplish challenging goals, found in athletes like Tiger Woods.  They set high goals for themselves and work tirelessly in pursuit of those goals.  The motor keeps on running with people who have a high need for achievement.  It never stops.  These are the salespeople you have to TELL to take vacation or to go home at the end of the day.  They typically make sacrifices of family and friends and weekends in favor of work and, most importantly, they don’t regret making that sacrifice AT ALL.  It’s just par for the course for them.

Competitiveness: The unquenchable thirst to outperform one’s peers, and win the customer over to your point of view, found in athletes like Michael Jordan.  To be 100% clear, being an athlete does NOT automatically qualify a candidate as being competitive.  I’ve made my fair share of hiring mistakes to come to this conclusion so don’t be fooled.  Learn from my mistakes.  I’ve hired plenty of people who did NOT play any competitive sports growing up and are SUPER competitive individuals.  In one case, I hired a Division I Water Polo player from UC Berkeley and ASSUMED (remember what Mom says about assuming) that because of that experience he MUST be competitive.  BIG mistake!  He lasted less than 90 days.

Optimism: The certainty and resiliency that will not be denied, found in athletes like Lance Armstrong.  You and I would typically call somebody with Optimism having “thick skin.”  In my experience, people who are high on optimism have a shameless disregard for reality.  They don’t view rejection the way normal people do.  They aren’t affected by it.  By contrast, people with LOW optimism really internalize rejection.  When they lose deals, they need to take a walk around the block.  When they get hung up on, they need to get OFF the phone and commiserate with the other reps around them.  Before they make a call they think about all the things that are going to go WRONG on the call.  STAY AWAY from salespeople that are low on optimism.

I’ll take a team of highly driven individuals with little experience and stack them up, toe to toe with highly experienced (read “I’ll bring a huge Rolodex of contact and customers to your company”) salespeople and I’m confident the highly driven individuals will beat them out over the long term. No question.

For more info, check out this video

About the Author: Kevin Gaither is a recognized Inside Sales Expert and hands-on Senior Sales Executive with an 18+ year track record of growing early-stage and multi-million dollar businesses. Proven success in attracting, retaining and leading top-performing sales teams focused on accelerating revenue growth.  Recognized as an AA-ISP Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professional by AA-ISP in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.  Kevin is the Vice President of Inside Sales at uSamp. Follow him on twitter: @kevinsgaither

Tags: Inside Sales Management, B2B Inside Sales, Sales Hiring Strategies

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