Sales managers often focus on how to train their teams of salespeople or distributors how to sell, negotiate prices, and close on a deal. But, soft skills are often more important than these hard skills. The bad news? They often can’t be taught. That’s why it’s so important to look for candidates with these soft skills during the interview process:


Clients want to know that their sales representative understands their needs and problems, so hiring a salesperson with empathy is a wise decision. When a salesperson doesn’t exhibit empathy, he can come off as cold, unconvincing and uninterested in the conversation—three qualities that do not lead to a sale. Look for salespeople who are able to put themselves in the clients’ shoes during the sales process.


Confidence is key in sales, but luckily, this may be the one soft skill that can be taught through coaching and mentoring. Without confidence, salespeople will not be able to build credibility with their clients. A stuttering, shaking salesperson does not give off the best impression, so make sure you hire someone who is a confident speaker and can discuss your product or service with ease.


Salespeople must see the glass as half full. This doesn’t mean salespeople have to be energetic and overly friendly in order to be successful, but they must be positive people in general. Clients don’t feel comfortable buying from someone who speaks negatively or overreacts to the slightest bit of bad news. Optimistic people are more cut out to handle the demands of a sales role, so this is an important quality to look for in candidates.

Open to feedback.

There’s always room for improvement when you work as a salesperson or wholesale distributor, so you should look for someone who is open to feedback. Salespeople improve through coaching and mentoring from their manager, but if you hire someone who shuts down when they are criticized, you won’t be able to help this person succeed. To find this kind of person, try giving each candidate feedback at the end of their interview. Suggest ways they can improve during their next interview, and see how they respond to it. The better they handle this situation, the more cut out they are for the world of sales.

Strong communicators.

Salespeople must be able to communicate clearly in person, email, and over the phone. If you hire someone who has strong written communication skills, but clams up when he or she must communicate face-to-face, this is a mistake. Salespeople must be able to master all forms of communication with ease. Why? Some clients will prefer face-to-face meetings on a regular basis, while others may only want to do business over the phone. The person you hire must be able to handle whatever client you throw his or her way, regardless of the preferred communication style.

What soft skills do you think are most important when it comes to sales? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!