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Warning: Sales Talent with These Traits Are the Wrong Candidates

You’re looking for top sales talent to fill a position. A candidate who seems great on paper enters the virtual interview. They are intelligent, have a strong background in the medical field, and demonstrate excellent communication skills. 

Here’s the problem: That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re cut out for sales. In fact, the gregarious young candidate who knows little of medical products but who is eager to learn and has leadership experience may be a far better choice. 

Right now, there’s an increasing number of job seekers switching industries who don’t have any experience in sales. According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, about 84% are willing to take a job outside their most recent industry or role. 

Many may not have a background in science or know what it takes to succeed in sales, and that’s OK. They can still be strong candidates if they match the right criteria of soft skills. 

But whether you’re evaluating a newcomer or a seasoned medical sales rep, you need to know how to detect the red flags that indicate potential candidates aren’t a good fit.

Here are the five traits you can’t afford to overlook in medical sales talent: 

Socially awkward

There’s nothing wrong with being socially awkward, and — for most jobs — it doesn’t deter one’s success in the least. 

But it’s different for individuals trying to assert themselves as top sales talent. Meeting new people regularly and building strong relationships with returning customers are requirements for the position. 

According to RAIN Group’s report on Virtual Selling Skills & Challenges, 88% of sellers agree that developing relationships is one of the most significant challenges in virtual sales. And 87% said the same about building rapport with customers. Although not all sales positions are virtual, this data demonstrates that many sales reps understand those relationships are crucial to success.

A lot of people need time to get comfortable with someone new before opening up their wonderful, engaging personality. But medical sales reps don’t have that kind of time.

Someone who will truly excel in sales will be confident from the get-go, agreeable throughout the conversation, and comfortable in various new situations. 

Concerned about assessing candidates’ confidence in body language when they’re wearing masks? Look for these visual cues


When hiring for sales, it is valid to drop a candidate who bores you. It may feel picky, especially if the individual would otherwise be a great fit. But blandness has a genuine impact on sales. 

In the RAIN Group report, 91% of sales talent said gaining a buyer’s attention and keeping the buyer engaged was the biggest challenge in virtual sales. Since so many cite this issue at the top of their list, it is clear that seasoned sales reps know engagement must be a priority. 

During the interview, notice if a candidate’s energy stays consistent. Many will put their best foot forward and start off being personable. But if that drops off halfway through your time, it might be an indication that their welcoming personality isn’t authentic. 

Also, be mindful of your role in the interview. While you don’t want to bore the candidate with disinterest or cliche sales phrases, you can’t be overpowering. You must let the sales talent be the one engaging you. 

Panics in the face of problems

Almost every team has someone who freezes in a crisis. And, in some settings, that works. When the team is balanced, Person A may offer excellent problem-solving skills while Person B’s strengths fall elsewhere. 

But medical sales reps don’t often make sales calls as a team. And they don’t have the luxury of relying on someone else to pick up the slack if they panic. There are instances when it’s OK for reps to admit they’re unsure. But it leaves a far better impression on their customers if they can walk them through possible ways to resolve an issue. 

Looking at the RAIN Group survey again, 68% of buyers said one of their greatest needs was for sellers to show them what’s possible or how to solve a problem. For that to happen, the sales rep you hire must know how to find a solution and explain it to others. 

You need to look for candidates who can be agile, solve problems on their own, and walk others through their problem-solving thought process.

A people pleaser

There are appropriate times and places to adopt people-pleasing behaviors to satisfy others’ needs and strengthen your rapport with a group. But it is not appropriate in sales. 

Sure, it’s advantageous to be aware and considerate of customers’ needs. However, a candidate who is too accommodating would struggle in the position. 

With all the negotiations necessary, good sales reps must be willing to push back a little after hearing the first “no” on a sales call. The art is in the balance of persuasion and charm, and people pleasers are likely to struggle with that. 

During the recruitment process, be sure to establish role expectations for a medical sales rep. If your sales talent shies away from the idea of negotiations or can’t reference an example of when they gently pushed back in a conversation without overstepping, they might not be the right fit for what you need. 


It is inevitable that customers will have questions (and wants and needs and worries and overexcitement and doubt).

So there are two necessities sales talent must have to answer customers well. 

First, they must know the answer. A charming candidate isn’t a worthwhile hire if they’re terrible at memorizing information or won’t pick up the necessary concepts in training. 

Additionally, they must have the patience to respond to each concern without making the buyer feel attacked or unintelligent for their questions. 

According to the RAIN Group research, the top influence on a buyer (71%) is a sales rep who is willing to lead a thorough discovery of their concerns, wants, and needs. And if a seller doesn’t do enough to make them comfortable to share these thoughts with them, the sale is as good as lost.