Competency Areas for Sales Jobs

You can select questions from Interview Questions Worksheets in the following 22 competency areas to develop job interviews that meet the unique needs of your organization when hiring employees for sales jobs and sales management jobs:

Motivation (Internal Focus)

  • Need for Independence / Autonomy: Needing to work in an environment free from rules, regulations, and restraints.
  • Need for Influence / Control: Needing to control one's work environment by influencing people, situations, and events.
  • Need for Growth: Needing to develop professionally by learning new skills and acquiring more knowledge.
  • Need for Challenge: Needing to experience the challenges of selling and the excitement of competition in the marketplace.
  • Need for Change: Needing to experience novelty and variety and to avoid routine and predictability.

Motivation (External Focus)

  • Need for Achievement: Needing to accomplish difficult tasks and to achieve concrete, tangible results.
  • Need for Monetary Success: Needing to gain security, prestige, and status by meeting one's financial objectives.
  • Need for Recognition: Needing to be recognized and accepted by others for one's achievements.

Goal Orientation

  • Setting Goals: Establishing specific, realistic, and challenging short-term and long-range goals for oneself.
  • Initiative: Overcoming procrastination and taking action to influence people and situations that contribute to achieving one's goals.

Effort and Drive

  • Resilience: Demonstrating resistance to rejection and failure and not becoming easily discouraged when faced with obstacles.
  • Perseverance: Remaining committed to job goals and putting forth effort to achieve them when obstacles impede progress.

Professional Traits

  • Professional Integrity: Maintaining high ethical standards and rejecting deceptive and misleading tactics when meeting work objectives.
  • Professional Development: Demonstrating a willingness to take initiative in identifying one's own development needs and taking the necessary action to improve job performance.

Personal Effectiveness

  • Quality Orientation: Achieving work results that reflect an appreciation for quality and high personal standards of performance.
  • Self-Confidence: Demonstrating confidence in one's capabilities and showing self-reliance in achieving work objectives.
  • Stress Tolerance: Adapting to changes in job demands, work priorities, and organizational structure without adverse effects on one's overall performance.

Problem Solving Skills

  • Problem Diagnosis: Using a systematic process for isolating and understanding prospect and customer problems, needs, and opportunities.
  • Problem Resolution: Translating prospect and customer problems and needs into practical solutions through products and services offered.

Decision Making Skills

  • Decision Making: Arriving at timely decisions by distilling key pieces of information, drawing sound conclusions, and considering the ramifications of alternative actions.

Planning and Organization Skills

  • Work Organization: Setting daily, weekly, and monthly priorities and scheduling work activities to achieve objectives.
  • Sales Forecasting: Using a sound, systematic process for making sales forecasts for organizational planning and budgeting purposes.

Communication Skills

  • Fluency: Expressing ideas and opinions clearly, fluently, and concisely; speaking articulately in conveying information to others.
  • Telecommunication: Communicating effectively over the telephone by using appropriate etiquette, courtesy, and voice dynamics.
  • Business Writing: Writing business materials clearly and concisely, using correct vocabulary, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.

Interpersonal Skills

  • Sociability: Relating effectively with different kinds of people in various situations and environments.
  • Empathy: Accurately sensing and perceiving people's needs, values, concerns, perspectives, and reactions.
  • Self-Control: Controlling one's emotions when dealing with uncooperative, rude, or hostile people.

Co-Worker Relations Skills

  • Teamwork: Demonstrating a willingness to participate as a "team" member in order to improve the effectiveness of one's work group and to achieve group goals.
  • Negotiation and Conflict Resolution: Channeling people's differing needs, interests, ideas, and feelings into constructive communication and problem solving.

Product and Industry Knowledge

  • Organizational Knowledge: Understanding the business goals, values, and policies of one's company.
  • Product Knowledge: Understanding the features, advantages, benefits, and limitations of given products and services.
  • Industry Knowledge: Understanding the formal and informal operations, economics, structure, politics, and decision-making channels of target industries and companies.

Sales Dynamics and Prospecting

  • Sales Dynamics: Understanding the dynamics of the buyer-seller relationship and the appropriateness of sales techniques for different situations.
  • Prospecting: Using a variety of techniques to generate leads.

Preparing and Qualifying

  • Strategic / Tactical Preparation: Preparing for prospecting and sales calls by developing strategic plans and tactics.
  • Qualifying Prospects: Using a systematic process to determine whether any condition exists that makes a sale unlikely or impossible.

Obtaining Information

  • Listening and Probing: Asking questions to obtain information and to gain and maintain control of the sales interview.

Making Presentations and Handling Objections

  • Presenting and Demonstrating: Providing information on products and services by using involvement techniques and visual aids.
  • Handling Objections: Responding to people's objections by using techniques that overcome challenges and provide information on how products and services satisfy needs.


  • Closing Sales: Assisting people in making decisions about purchasing products and services by leading them through a process of "owning."

Obtaining Referrals and Building Accounts

  • Obtaining Referrals: Applying referral-gathering techniques to generate pre-qualified leads.
  • Building Accounts: Following up on sales to ensure customer satisfaction and to stimulate add-on business.

Staffing and Training

  • Staffing: Recruiting individuals who are best suited to perform specific jobs within the organization and making effective staffing decisions by using systematic and objective procedures.
  • Training and Coaching: Facilitating employee development by providing guidance and assistance concerning job tasks and job-related problems.

Delegating, Motivating, and Evaluating

  • Delegating and Supervising: Assigning and scheduling work among employees, communicating expectations, providing clear instructions, and monitoring progress toward work objectives.
  • Motivating / Team Building: Stimulating employee enthusiasm and interest in accomplishing specific goals; facilitating the development of trust, cohesiveness, and cooperation in one's work group.
  • Evaluating Performance: Evaluating the work procedures and outcomes of employees in a fair and objective manner; providing employees with constructive feedback regarding their job performance.

Organization Management Skills

  • Budgeting: Using a sound, systematic approach for developing annual budgets and for keeping organizational expenses within budget.
  • Developing Plans: Developing and implementing plans for completing projects and programs that satisfy organizational objectives.
  • Coordinating: Coordinating the efforts of several people to achieve the objectives of projects or programs and to ensure optimal efficiency and productivity.