Sales Testing – Faux Hunter-Closers and How They Fool You

images-2One of the things that all hiring managers seem to agree on is that interviewing sales people is largely a hit and miss affair. Even the most savvy sales hiring veteran will admit to being fooled by sales candidates who looked and sounded great at the interview but who ultimately turned out to be sales failures.

Many of these hiring mistakes can be chalked up to the candidate ‘playing the role’ based on what they believe you are looking for, which of course means that during the interview you are seeing the ‘act’ rather than the ‘true person’. As I have often pointed out, this role-playing should not be thought of as the candidate being ‘dishonest’.  On the contrary, it is just what job candidates quite naturally do since they want the job. Unfortunately, even though we tend to rely on interviews, they are, in the opinion of most experts, a flawed vehicle for obtaining true insights into potential sales success.

While it is true that candidate role-playing is not cheating in the true sense, it is still something that the candidate is conscious of doing throughout the interview process. The purpose of this article is not to talk about the above-mentioned candidate role-playing, nor to address, once again, the inherent flaws in job interviews. What I wish to describe is a second way that you, and other interviewers, are frequently fooled when interviewing sales candidates, and in particular when you are hiring sales closers. In these instances you are deceived because you have misread and misidentified the traits and behaviors you are witnessing right before your very eyes. These candidates are not playing a ‘role’ but just behaving transparently and being themselves.

To understand these situations it is worth noting the specific trait drives that account for the success of hunter-closers. Their success is derived from a special combination of high assertiveness that is coupled with a high level of extroversion. This trait drive combination can be likened to, ‘an iron fist in a velvet glove’. What I mean by this is that they can be very warm and outgoing due to their extroversion but due to their high assertiveness they can apply considerable pressure as well. Prospects tend not to feel the full extent of this pressure because these sales types tend to deliver it in such a warm and outgoing manner. It is this same combination of high assertiveness and high extroversion that also makes them great sales hunters. The high extroversion enables them to quickly warm to and relate to different personalities. As well, their high level of assertiveness equips them with a ‘thick skin’, enabling them to absorb the rejection that is inevitably a big part of sales hunting.

So how do they fool you? These ‘faux hunter closers’ do have the high sociability/extroversion of the real hunter-closers. In fact they are extroverted to the extreme. But the critical piece they are missing is high assertiveness. Unfortunately, their very high level of extroversion, sociability, empathy, tends to create the impression that they are assertive and self motivated. In truth, they are anything but! Matters are complicated since their extremely outgoing nature means they are very much in their element when in job interviews and hence they know what you want to hear, what to say and how to say it. In your role as an interviewer you are at a serious disadvantage!

Hire a person of this type for a hunting-closing role and it can often take a very long time to realize and accept that you’ve made a hiring error. Why? Because while they may make the calls, (remember they are social so they do love interaction) the truth is that their interactions are really more in the vein of passive, warm, public relations. Calls will be made, but with very little or no purpose in mind. This is because the critical assertiveness of the true hunter-closer is the critical missing piece.

Many managers have hired this type and have spent untold sums of money and have wasted hundreds of hours of management time trying to turn this kind of situation around, in the mistaken belief that the problem was a lack of skill, training or experience. Unfortunately, as the old saying goes, ‘you can’t train away a hiring mistake’.

Does the above scenario sound familiar? If it does, I’ll bet it was expensive! Are you aware that our sales test can eliminate this problem?

If you’re interested in learning how our proven sales test eliminates this, and other sales hiring mistakes I would enjoy hearing from you and having a frank and open conversation about your specific hiring challenges.

Sales Personality Testing – Misconceptions About Successful Sales Personalities


A big part of our work here at involves talking to hiring managers about what personality traits are required to be a success in the sales roles for which they are responsible. A common element of these conversations is my attempt to have the client describe for me, in their own words, the ‘perfect person for the role’ in terms of style and personality traits. In the course of these conversations, clients will typically provide a wide ranging and highly diverse description that is rich in both relevant and irrelevant descriptors. That’s okay because my job, and part of what they are paying us for, is our ability to sift through this information since we have such a long history of job analysis under our belts.

One of the interesting things about these conversations is that the client often tells me what they don’t want their sales people to be like. Which brings me to the subject of this article.

For example, you would be amazed at how often clients will actually say “I don’t want a used car salesman” or “I don’t want a life insurance” salesman. I have had enough of these conversations to realize that this is their short hand or coded way of telling me that they do not want to hire sales people that are overly pushy, sleazy and unethical among other not so nice attributes. We have all seen these clichés on TV and in the movies so many times over the years that I’m sure that I don’t need to go further to spell out for you what it is that they mean.

What’s most interesting is that the facts tell a story that totally contradicts the widely held assumptions and preconceived notions about the sales people in these roles. In two recent studies of top performing sales people, one of top insurance sales people and the other of top auto sales people, our findings show that the top performers are anything but the unethical, slimy and pushy types that the public and many hiring managers assumed them to be. In fact, if these managers knew what the facts actually revealed many of them would say that these were exactly the type of sales people that they wanted to hire.

Despite the fact that the studies looked at top performers in two different industries there were a lot of shared traits between the groups and, as mentioned, these personality traits are not what is widely assumed.

Specifically, our studies show that a very high percentage of these top reps are very altruistic in mindset and are therefore not particularly motivated by commission, ‘winning’ or closing the deal. Instead, and surprisingly, they are primarily motivated by the need to help or to be of service to others. They are a conservative, careful and helpful group who tend to follow the rules and procedures and follow up with prospects very diligently.   They are anything but pushy and overbearing. Instead they are careful to do their research in order to determine the prospects needs and to thoroughly answer the prospects questions, provide information and to address any concerns. Rather than overtly pushing the prospect for the close they hang in there until the prospect is ready to ‘buy’.

One should definitely not assume that just because this style of sales person has proven to be very successful in these two companies that this sales style will work in all companies within these two industries. As well, just because a sales person has come from, and perhaps been successful in, a particular industry you should never assume that they have a sales style that is specific to all that are successful in that industry. Sales roles can and do differ dramatically from company to company within an industry. This goes a long way to explain why a sales person can be a flat out failure in one role and a great success in another, sometimes even within the same organization.

Almost every hiring manager agrees that the overwhelming reason why sales people fail is because the sales person’s personality is poorly matched to the sales role for which they were hired. It has been my experience that a lot of these mismatches are avoidable by properly analyzing the role from the perspective of it’s personality and motivational requirements. Often, this vital step either does not get done properly or is not even done at all. Without this step being performed sales people get hired with no true sense of whether they are a good fit since obviously they are not being measured against a consistent and relevant set of criteria. Talented sales people are interviewed and even hired, but when you’ve hired the wrong talent for that role the results are typically very disappointing for all concerned.

One of the great benefits of using is our thorough analysis of your sales role(s). The results of this analysis is that we clearly identify the specific sales traits that you need in your sales roles in your company. This is particularly powerful when we test a sampling of your top performing sales people in order to create your unique Target Profiles. The resulting Suitability Rating scores of your sales candidate’s test results are then highly predictive of future sales success.

If you would like to learn more about how this process works or if you have any questions about what we do and how it might be of benefit I would be pleased to hear from you. I promise to be very frank and straightforward in any of our discussions.