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How to hire a great salesperson: Identify them by their traits, drive

(DmitryPoch /

(DmitryPoch /

Sales is the livelihood of any company. It is absolutely essential to hire the right people to be on your sales team. Below administrators and executives, salespeople are the most critical hires an organization makes because they are responsible for ensuring a company’s financial success.

Here’s what Will Miller, chief strategy officer for Northrop Realty, a Long and Foster company, and Anthony Friedman, a team leader for the company, say are some specific characteristics that a great salesperson must possess.

Will Miller (submitted photo)

Will Miller. (submitted photo)

In commission-based sales positions, such as those in the real estate business, a candidate must show drive, motivation and confidence as well as being unafraid of rejection, Miller said. “If you tend to take on other people’s stress and let that get to you, it’s a tough industry to be in—longevity-wise.”

An effective salesperson needs to be able to command a room and get the attention of potential buyers, Friedman said. who often is allowed to choose who is on his team because they are an extension of him. For him, loyalty is an important trait for team members. “The last thing I want to do is spend all this time giving someone my secrets to the trade and showing them my processes and how I have built my success, but then have them leave my team,” Friedman said.

Experience isn’t always a qualifier: sometimes, both Friedman and Miller have been known to hire someone for real estate sales who has none.  “Even if someone has no experience, if I feel they are going to be excited to show up to work every day and I can see the passion in them—then they are willing to take a risk on,” Friedman said.

Anthony Friedman. (Submitted photo)

Anthony Friedman. (Submitted photo)

Miller said a good candidate should ask questions and should be able to establish rapport during the interview process. Friedman said if a person comes in with false impressions of the job, this isn’t the type of candidate you want. There are evenings and weekends involved and the sales industry is not always a job with set hours.

Part of Miller’s job includes interacting with salespeople who are trying to sell his company on products, such as advertisements to promote home sales. That gives him some perspective about the experience of being sold to by other salespeople. He’s found that his buying experience is best when he believes there’s a positive partnership between the companies. One challenge that he feels can hamper a good business-to-business relationship is a possible lack of continuity from dealing with multiple salespeople.

Real estate salespeople must get along with competitors when establishing a contract with two different companies. Sometimes, salespeople have to work closely with their companies’ biggest competition. But somehow, the two representatives have to be able to come to an agreement to close the sale. A good salesperson can’t be a bully and push too hard, because that could endanger the sale, Friedman said.

A great salesperson also has to have thick skin and be unafraid of rejection when making sales calls. He or she must be able to laugh it off and move forward, Miller said.

Paying a salesperson

Across America, the median annual wage for sales and related occupations was $27,020 in May 2017. That was lower than the median annual wage for all occupations, of $37,690. In the category, the lowest 2017 median pay was for cashiers, at $21,030. The highest  was for sales engineers, at $98,720. Real estate brokers and sales agents garnered an average of $47,880 in 2017. Employment in the sector was projected to grow by 3 percent from 2016 to 2026, slower than the average for all jobs.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


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