The usual educational and experience criteria having been met, what are the core skills and personality traits that a potential employer will be looking for in applicants when filling sales jobs?

1. Strength of personality
Any successful salesperson will have a strong enough presence and personality to impress a potential customer. 

2. Self-confidence
He or she should radiate self-confidence. If a discussion is faltering and the client is obviously starting to lose interest, a salesperson must also be capable of being assertive. This is particularly relevant with telesales jobs.

3. Engaging with the individual
As with most personal interactions in life, it helps a great deal if you actually like the person you are dealing with.  Trying to sell to someone that is really disinterested and just wants to get the representative out of his or her office is very difficult. This is where the real skill of the salesman comes into play.  Being able to turn an awkward rapport into a conversation is really the name of the game. 

4. Knowledge is power
Researching a potential client thoroughly is part and parcel of the sales process.  Knowing as much as possible about a sales prospect puts you in a position of power, and will boost confidence when dealing with him or her face to face. It is also helpful to know about your client or customer so you can target your pitch to their needs. 

5. The first meeting
Careful and thorough preparation before an initial meeting is essential. It is very easy to feel embarrassed and nonplussed if the client refers to an aspect of their business
that you do not understand. If the individual detects that you are ill-prepared and have not bothered to make yourself “au fait” with his or her business you might fail to close a sale. 

The first meeting is vital and it should be regarded as successful only if there is a firm commitment from the customer to engage further with you, and to move forward to an actual order.

6. Elicit essential information
To provide exactly what a potential client requires it is necessary to know what questions to ask and how to ask them. Preparing some questions beforehand is a good idea but the questions asked are mostly guided and dictated by the conversation itself.

7. How to listen
Good listening skills are essential in a salesperson. If during a discussion the conversation is all one-sided, the potential client will quickly become fed up and want to see the back of the representative as quickly as possible.  By listening carefully you can discover exactly what the customer needs, and will be able to make informed suggestions to help them.

8. Solutions
Once the needs of a client have been fully identified it is time to present the solution to their problems by suggesting specific products or services.

9. Firming up for an eventual sale
When the initial discussion is concluded it is time to ask for some form of commitment from the customer. This is often not in the form of an immediate order but is often just a firm commitment to meet again to discuss the matter in greater detail.

10. Closing a sale
This is the most difficult point in the whole sales process for some people. To be faint-hearted at this point is really the kiss of death. Actually asking for an order for a product or service that you fully believe in should never be difficult. Be confident and the sale will be secured.