How can you determine your sales rep’s chances of success?

by Shannon F.

Hiring a new sales rep can be a gamble, especially considering that he or she may take three to twelve months or even longer to become fully productive. If you recently hired a new sales rep, you are probably trying to gauge whether he or she is going to be an asset to your team in the long term. Fortunately, there are some key signs to look out for. We’ll break it down into performance-based and character-based indicators of success.


Cold-calling activity. Sales success has a lot of components, but a big one is simply your activity levels. High activity levels (especially when noted consistently over time) are always a good sign. Sluggishness in the beginning may be due to your sales rep’s lack of familiarity with your products and services, but after the first couple of weeks, activity levels should be steady and consistent with your company’s expectations.

Appointment-setting rate (# of appointments set/# of leads contacted). The ideal appointment-setting rate depends heavily on your industry, so be aware what your top sales reps are doing. Often, having a high ratio of appointments set depends on consistency of follow-up. Is your rep giving up after a couple of calls, or is she persisting until she gets her prospect on the phone?

Lead follow-up time. When a new lead comes in, such as through the company website, how quickly is your new sales rep following up? If he acts right away, that’s a great sign. A study by the Harvard Business Review revealed that sales reps who responded within an hour were about seven times more likely to land the deal than someone who responded after two hours, and about 60 times more likely than someone who responded after 24 hours. Responsiveness and quickness to act are critical traits.


Attitude towards rejection. A sales career can lead to many rewarding relationships, but there are also days when reps experience rejection from every angle. A thick skin is essential to staying positive and productive.

Product knowledge/interest in the product. How enthusiastic is your new sales rep about what you sell? If she wants to learn as much as she can about the product, that’s a great sign. Both boredom and enthusiasm are contagious; which does your salesperson project around the office and on the phone?

Thoughtfulness/problem-solving. The best salespeople are independent thinkers who consistently strive for new solutions and strategies to improve their performance. Is your new sales rep content to be a follower, or does he take a critical, thoughtful approach?

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