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Twelve key interpersonal skills to look for in a sales candidate

Recruitment | 6 Min Read

Twelve key interpersonal skills to look for in a sales candidate


Interpersonal skills are abilities individuals use to effectively communicate and interact with others. These include verbal and written communication, active listening, empathy, confidence, adaptability, and a positive attitude.

These critical skills are essential for success in many areas, particularly in sales, where professionals use them to build client relationships and finalize deals. Identifying these skills early in the recruitment cycle adds value to the hiring process.

For example, a salesperson with strong interpersonal skills communicates effectively, understands clients better, and brings valuable leads. Hence, they improve sales, build customer credibility, and boost productivity.

Mercer | Mettl plays an important role in hiring suitable sales candidates with relevant interpersonal skills. We offer pre-employment assessments that include behavioral tests, psychometric tests, cognitive tests, etc.

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Importance of interpersonal skills in the workplace

A workplace is a diverse environment where people from different thought processes and backgrounds work together. Interpersonal skills are essential in building rapport, resolving conflicts, and achieving business goals in various settings. They help individuals appreciate and respond to client requirements, making the most of available opportunities. Thus, it ensures clients remain loyal, increasing chances of repeated business and upselling opportunities.

While technical skills are essential for business and individual success, interpersonal skills also play a crucial role in sales. These skills impact what you say and how you present the company to a client.


Twelve key interpersonal skills necessary for sales employees

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1. Growth mindset


A growth mindset helps sales professionals fine-tune their efforts toward continuous success. Professionals with growth mindsets believe in strengthening their natural talents and developing new abilities over time. Therefore, hire sales team members ready to break the mold and use their interpersonal skills to push themselves out of their comfort zones.


2. Adaptability


Changing customer expectations, increasing competition, lower margins, and administrative tasks take a toll on sales performance. Therefore, sales professionals who embrace continuous adaptability see consistent improvement in their professional growth.


3. Flexibility


The expectations from sales professionals are constantly evolving; therefore, candidates should be open to changes in work settings. They should actively seek and incorporate feedback to improve personal and professional growth. It helps identify improvement areas, adjust strategies, build client trust and credibility, and establish long-term business relationships.


4. Empathy


Sales representatives improve customer experience by understanding user requirements, aligning with their challenges, and articulating potential solutions.

It helps them differentiate when and how to put forth a point by understanding customers’ emotional, financial, and psychological needs in different situations.


5. Communication


Sales professionals need to articulate their ideas effectively without challenges. The language and spoken English used during customer communications allow for generating more opportunities and closing more sales.

Remember, communication is a two-way street. Therefore, aside from effective language skills, sales professionals should also possess effective listening and observational skills to identify unseen challenges.

Versatile and active communication helps identify problems and propose suitable solutions. For example, Mercer | Mettl’s SpeechX is a tool to assess English proficiency. It helps gauge candidates’ language skills, such as fluency and accuracy in writing, reading, and listening. The tool uses artificial intelligence to improve candidate experience and ensure result accuracy.

6. Humility


Sales representatives must practice humility to build trust and rapport with potential clients. Humility helps establish credibility and resonance, improving the overall brand value. It shows that professionals genuinely want to understand customers’ needs and find solutions.

Additionally, humility encourages accepting mistakes and receiving constructive feedback, leading to improved performance and results in the future.


7. Confidence


Confidence enables sales professionals to assure a product or service’s value to potential customers. It is developed through experience, receptivity to learning, knowledge about services and products, trust in the brand, and determination.

Organizations must find candidates who are confident and clear-headed. This skill can also be developed through learning, starting from engaging with leads, pitching, and negotiating.


8. Emotional intelligence


Emotional intelligence is professionals’ ability to stay aware of their emotions and control their reactions in different situations. They should have the emotional intelligence necessary to influence prospects and receive desired results.


9. Resilience


Resilience in sales is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, challenges, and rejections that are a common part of the process. Sales is a high-pressure and competitive landscape, and sales professionals often face rejection and disappointment. Thus, these professionals must possess resilience and perseverance skills.

However, building resilience doesn’t mean ignoring negative emotions or avoiding a difficult sales call. It means finding healthy ways to manage difficult emotions to prevent burnout.


10. Authenticity


Customers know when businesses genuinely care about what products or services are sold to users. Therefore, find sales professionals who are authentic while interacting with clients.

Authenticity also involves keeping customers’ core interests at heart, being transparent about what’s achievable, and following up with an earnest interest in solving their problems.


11. Responsiveness


The digital era has improved responsiveness across industries. Therefore, when customers reach out to businesses with challenges, responsiveness by sales professionals improves the chances of sealing the deal.

Further, instead of waiting for the prospect to get back to them, sales professionals should be one step ahead. They should identify customer challenges, offer an invaluable solution, and move towards signing the deal.


12. Collaboration


Collaboration skills allow sales executives to work effectively with internal and external teams to achieve common goals. This involves sharing information, knowledge, and resources to improve business outcomes.

This skill also helps sales candidates identify new opportunities and develop strategies to reach potential customers.


Other essential skills in sales professional


Time management

Similar to key interpersonal skills, time management is imperative for sales professionals. If they work 60 hours a week and are unable to meet the desired targets or achieve favorable results, their time management strategy is not sustainable. Therefore, prioritizing work, delegating tasks effectively, and setting the right deadlines may help manage time.

Sales professionals can also use tools like customer relationship management (CRM) to import client data, continually track leads, resolve customer queries, and build valuable user relations.

Public speaking

Public speaking is an essential soft skill for sales professionals, as it improves presentation and client communication. Sales professionals need to regularly speak with different people, negotiate deals, and convince clients to purchase a product or service. Therefore, improving public speaking skills through regular practice will naturally enhance their sales pitch.

Product knowledge

An effective sales strategy or pitch starts with product knowledge. Any salesperson visiting a potential client to sell a product or service should know about it extensively. Its specifications, details, drawbacks, unique selling pointers, current sales, and customization options are essential to offer details to customers.

When a sales professional doesn’t have this knowledge, they may fall short of words or build wrong client expectations. Ensure appropriate training sessions to help professionals understand the product and service clearly.

Handling objection

Objection and rejection are common in sales. However, sales professionals can’t lose hope after an unsuccessful lead. Instead, they need to stay positive to move ahead and find new, better leads and opportunities.

Buyer research

Knowledge helps improve sales pitches because knowing your buyer is the key to converting leads. Sales representatives should understand their potential buyers, relevant markets, industry trends, and competition. This research helps prepare a pitch that enhances sales interactions and chances of closing the deal.



Good interpersonal skills are important to get leads and continuously build rapport with customers successfully. If you believe your company should close more deals by offering value to clients, examine and improve the interpersonal dynamics of these interactions. Improving these dynamics is the key to increasing your closing rates.

Hire the right sales candidate by taking the help of Mercer | Mettl’s behavioral tests, psychometric tests, and Sales Potential Assessment to identify candidates possessing strong interpersonal skills.



What is the most important interpersonal skill recruiters should look for in a sales candidate?

What are strong interpersonal skills?

Why are interpersonal skills important in sales?

Originally published February 13 2023, Updated February 13 2023

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About This Topic

Sales hiring is a talent acquisition process through which organizations build winning sales teams. Using standardized sales assessments, situational tests and role-plays can elevate your sales hiring and help you hire the best sales talent.

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