5 Signs of a Bad Sales Person: How to Spot One Before You Hire Them

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The sales world is unlike any other. In a job where only 1 in 10 professionals are able to stay employed, the competition to be one of those successful individuals can be cutthroat. When you’re hiring new staff, or have the potential to bring on new employees, it’s critical you make informed decisions that won’t leave your organization in a weakened state. Even if they seem like an ideal candidate on paper, there could be warning signs that reveal a person isn’t suitable for the role as your company’s sales representative. Whether you are interviewing candidates for an entry-level sales position or hiring a VP of Sales, it’s important to know if someone won’t be able to grow with your company before extending them an offer letter.

Pay Attention to Body Language

As humans, we are highly visual beings, and body language can reveal a lot about a person’s true feelings. Are they comfortable or uncomfortable? Nervous or confident? When it comes to sales people, it’s important to watch for signs of discomfort, nervousness or even arrogance. Someone who is confident in their skills and knowledge of the company or product likely isn’t fidgeting. If a person is feeling uneasy about something, they may have a leg that is bouncing or their knee that is knocking against the table. This can also display nervousness or insecurity. Arrogance is usually shown by a person who is more interested in talking about themselves than they are in hearing what you have to say. This is often seen in a lack of eye contact and a lack of questions regarding the company and position. Sales professionals should be inquisitive and seeking information the entire interview process.

Be Aware of What They Say

While many people are aware of the importance of body language, they tend to forget that what someone is saying can be just as important as how they are saying it. Sales reps who are genuinely interested in your company and the product or service you offer will ask you questions. They will want to know more about your team, your goals, and your marketing strategies. They will ask about your customers, what your needs are, and the challenges your organization faces on a daily basis. If a potential salesperson doesn’t ask you any questions, or only asks you a couple, it’s likely they either don’t care about you or your company, or they don’t have any interest in the role or your company. If someone is truly interested, they will be asking you tons of questions about your needs, what you are trying to accomplish, and what you are looking to get out of the relationship. They will also be asking pertinent questions about the company and the position. This is how they get to know you and the company they want to represent.

Check Their Track Record

While a person may look like the perfect candidate on paper, the only way to know if they are actually a good fit is through their track record. When hiring a salesperson, you want someone who has proven they can meet or exceed goals. If a person has been with a number of sales organizations, but always seems to fall short when it comes to bringing in revenue, there is a problem. A person who has been with one or two companies, but has excelled in those roles on a consistent basis, is a better bet. You also want to make sure their sales records are accurate. You don’t want to hire someone who has over-inflated their numbers. You want someone who has sales records that are 100% legitimate. If you don’t have access to a candidate’s track record, or it’s hard to find, look for other signs. If someone has an impressive title or has gotten promotions in the past, it’s likely they have been exceeding expectations. If they have received numerous awards or recognitions, it’s even more likely they are a good bet.

Don’t Hire Too Many New Employees at Once

While you want to make sure you hire the best salespeople you can, you don’t want to hire too many people who are new to the sales industry. When you have a group of people who have never sold a product before, you could potentially have a group of individuals who don’t know how to sell or even what they are doing. When you have a group of salespeople who are new to the profession and are all selling the same product or service, it can create a negative environment. It can lead to the group feeling like they are being compared to each other and see their peers as competition. This can create a stressful work environment that can ultimately affect the sales numbers in a negative way.

Take a Look at the Company They’ve Worked For

While you want to make sure a salesperson’s track record is accurate, you also want to make sure their experience is legitimate. If they claim they worked for a major company in the past, you need to make sure it’s true. If they say they worked for Apple or Google, you need to make sure they really did. A salesperson who has exaggerated their experience or title likely won’t be truthful about other aspects of their employment history. It’s not uncommon for people to embellish their work history. It’s actually pretty common. You just need to make sure you are hiring the right people for the right positions.


Sales reps are the lifeblood of your company. They’re the people who will go above and beyond to make sure your product gets into the hands of happy customers. In order to do that, they will have to pitch your products and services in a way that makes potential buyers want to partner with you. Unfortunately, some salespeople are less than honest about what you can expect from them. If you hire a bad sales rep, it could end up costing your business a lot more money than necessary. However, with these 5 red flags, you can avoid hiring someone who won’t be as helpful as they seem

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