Sales Testing – Bitter Truth #4

images-3Sales Tests Can’t Identify Certain Critical Factors

In my conversations with clients about the results of our sales assessment tests, they are usually looking for answers or at least some guidance. I do my very best to address their questions and to help them to understand the pros and cons of the results we are discussing. Our clients are savvy and pragmatic so they know that what we offer is a tool and is not the be all and end all answer. At the end of many of these conversations I find myself using the phrase, ‘people are complicated creatures, thank goodness’.

When I use this phrase I’m not being flippant, nor am I trying to brush off questions or concerns about a candidate. I use it to express something that both the client and I are always cognizant of; that people are often very hard to figure out and that when it comes to hiring sales people there are no easy answers. The process of evaluating sales candidates has been sliced and diced for so long that there are tools purporting to measure almost everything. Despite this, there are certain critical contributors to sales success that just cannot be measured by any tool or test. At least none of which I am aware. While by no means a definitive list, I have highlighted a few below.


How important is this in a sales person? I would venture to say that it snookers many other things including both hard and soft skills. Can it be taught? I don’t think so! Will it help the rep in their dealings with prospects and customers? I would say without a doubt it will. Even though a candidate might be better ‘on paper’ they may not seem all that likeable or may rub you the wrong way when you meet face to face. It might just be a chemistry thing between you and the candidate. Then again, maybe not. Perhaps the way they come across to you is the way they will come across to your customers. In my opinion, likeability is important. You know it when you see it and experience it but no tool can measure it or define it.

Passion for the Business

Talking about ‘passion’ for one’s work is way over done. Realistically, there are a lot of very successful people doing very well selling products and services about which they can’t possibly be ‘passionate’. They are probably getting other things from the role such as money, freedom, or prestige. In my opinion if you find yourself considering a candidate who has an obvious love or passion for your business they are definitely worth serious consideration, even if they are lacking in other key aspects such as skills, experience and test results. A sales person with shortcomings in these other areas can ultimately be very successful because their enthusiasm can cover up a lot of sins (weaknesses).

Work Ethic

This is one of those things that can be articulated in various ways but basically, to use a brief dictionary definition, it is ‘the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous and worthy of reward’. When it comes to sales the old saying that success is the result of 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration really does hold true. There are lots and lots of examples of sales people who have overcome all sorts of shortcomings and obstacles. Like the example above, a sales person with a great work ethic is definitely worth hiring even though ‘on paper’ he or she would seem to be a weak candidate. I am not aware of any test or instrument that can identify this, but if you see it hire it!

Candidate Perception

Sales people who see the role as an opportunity to advance their career will be highly motivated to succeed. Conversely, a sales person whose perception of the role is that it is a step down or even a move sideways will likely fail even if they are highly qualified. Hiring over qualified candidates very often leads to failure when the candidate leaves after finding the ‘role they were really looking for’. This is a common issue during recessions or periods of high unemployment. A less qualified candidate who perceives an opportunity will more likely demonstrate a ‘hunger’ for success. You won’t find a test or instrument that will measure this but you should always do your best to see the role from the perspective of the candidate.

In your experience, what other critical things can’t be measured by a sales assessment test?

Thanks for visiting the Blog. I would enjoy hearing from you with your comments and to learn about your challenges with regards to hiring sales people.

Sales Testing – Bitter Truth #3

images You can’t have it both ways!

As my mother used to say, (this sounds best with a Scottish accent) ‘Ye cannie have yer cake and eat it too’. Meaning of course that you can’t have it both ways. This phrase is definitely worth keeping in mind when you are considering the personalities of sales people.

More to the point a sales person’s core personality traits can be likened to double-edged swords. This is relevant because personality trait drives have both a favourable and an unfavourable side. This is the source of not only their sales strengths but also their weaknesses.

Many hiring managers simply do not understand this. I find this very surprising since it accounts for so many of the frustrations, issues and problems that managers mention when discussing their sales people. It is even more surprising given the fact that management’s most basic responsibility is to understand how to motivate people.

Even a cursory understanding of motivational trait drives and specifically the core temperament and motivational drives of their own sales people would be a huge help for many in sales management. Unfortunately, with no objective understanding of this, they are left to their own devices. Which means that when it comes to managing and motivating sales people they are seriously hindered.

If these managers were to begin using a sales personality test they would be amazed at how much more effective they are. I’m sure many would be asking themselves why they ever expected to do their jobs without one. There are few other areas in business with such high financial stakes, where management operates with so little in the way of objective insight.

I typically have my first ‘two-edged sword conversation’ with clients when I am learning about the requirements of their sales role(s). One thing I usually do is to ask them to describe in their words the ‘ideal’ person. Almost always I am given a list of traits as long as my arm. The length of the list is not the problem. The problem is that, without knowing it, they have created a laundry list of ‘necessary’ traits that are completely contradictory. By contradictory I mean they just can’t possibly exist within the same person. There are dozens and dozens of examples. A few common ones are listed below.

  1. Hunters and closers have naturally very large egos and are very independent. These traits mean they are weak with details and de-motivated by rules and procedures. That said, it is pretty common for hiring managers to expect them to work under tight controls and to devote much of their time to reporting and other details.
  2. Another example with hunters and closers is for the hiring manager to be overly concerned with job turnover. While controlling unnecessary turnover is a good thing the nature of these very venturesome types is that they will always have a relatively strong tendency to move from job to job. It is just part of their nature, so allow for it.
  3. The misguided belief that one can hire a sales person who is both a great sales hunter and a great sales farmer. Motivationally these styles have in many ways completely opposite personality trait requirements. You really need to decide what the focus of the position truly is and hire for that.
  4. The expectation that highly independent sales people will be great team players. Great team players are usually anything but independent.
  5. The belief that somehow a sales person can have both a great deal of ‘patience’ but also a sense of urgency. A sense of urgency is really just another way of saying impatient. One can’t be both patient and impatient simultaneously.
  6. There are unique challenges to hiring telephone sales people.  Management typically needs sales reps to have a sense of urgency and be rather proactive, yet of course, sit in one place and make calls in a rather routine fashion. What many managers don’t understand is that proactive people with a sense of urgency have an abundance of nervous energy and need great variety in their work activities. The last thing they are matched for is a role that requires them to sit in one place and perform a repetitive activity. This contradictory requirement is a key contributor to the notoriously high turnover rates in telephone sales.

Realistically, all sales roles have some of these contradictory requirements. In many instances they are rather minor. It becomes a big problem when these contradictions are quite pronounced. In this situation such as example #3 above you really need to make the decision as to what is most imperative about the role and hire for that. In some other cases like the example in #6 you really just have to live with the situation. In this instance hiring sales people to fit the routine nature of the role would mean hiring passive order takers rather than true sales people. I doubt you would want to do that.

It would be a mistake to think that using will mean that these contradictions will be completely eliminated. By using our knowledge of sales roles and sales personalities we can make you aware of them so that perhaps you can rethink the role and/or the type of person for that role. When that is not possible just having insight into the situation will make you a far better manager.

Are you trying to have it both ways with your sales people?  If so, we would enjoy hearing from you. Perhaps you might benefit from our 3 decades of experience.

Sales Assessment Tests – 5 Reasons Why Might Not Be For You

This is not for you.

The first thing I want to get straight is that we want your business. If, in your wisdom, you choose to become a client I give you my personal commitment to deliver the best service possible.

Now that I have made that statement let me be brutally frank. Our service is not for everybody. There, I’ve said it, no b******t and no beating around the bush. We are all hyper busy these days. In the interest of respecting your time I thought I would make very clear some of the reasons why might not be a good choice for you.

  1. We are the wrong choice if you are looking for a sales test that identifies learned aspects of the candidate such as sales skills, product knowledge or industry knowledge. These things can be readily indentified in applicants and are teachable. Furthermore, research shows that sales people rarely fail because they lack in these areas. measures the underlying temperament and motivational style of the candidate. This will usually determine success or failure.
  1. If you equate a long test with ‘comprehensiveness’ or you believe a short test is easily ‘manipulated’ by sales candidates then we are definitely not a good fit. One of the most attractive features of our system is our quick and painless yet very accurate test that typically takes about 10 minutes to complete. But that might not be a feature you feel comfortable with.
  1. In the same vein as point #2, if you equate a very long report on the candidate as more desirable then the brevity and bluntness of our reports will not appeal to you. Our test results are about 3 pages long and are written in a very blunt style for ultimate clarity of message. You might be more comfortable with some of the sales test reports of our competitors that run to over 20 pages and have lots of lines and graphs and ambiguous statements.
  1. Feeling uncomfortable about buying your tests in blocks in order to keep your per test costs low is another area that might give you discomfort. We offer our testing in prepaid blocks and do not offer single assessments. This is very efficient for us and actually saves you quite a bit on a per report basis. In order to alleviate the ‘pain’ of this your tests never expire and you can use them to test people for various roles.
  1. If you are under the impression that our sales assessment is some sort of magic bullet that will solve all of your sales hiring needs, then sorry but we will probably rain on your parade. You can expect us to tell you in no uncertain terms that our test is a hiring tool and not the be all and end all. People are complex creatures so you should plan on using it for what it is and clearly understand what it is not.

I hope I have not given you the impression that we do not wish to hear from you just because some or even all of these items apply to you. Nothing could be further from the truth. I would very much enjoy a frank conversation with you about your sales hiring plans, goals and particularly your challenges. We’ve been doing this for over 30 years. I am happy to share any of our insights if you are interested.

Sales Assessment Tests – Improving the Odds


I’ve heard a lot of managers describe the process of hiring sales people as little more than a ‘crapshoot’. I have never really bought into this view but it does speak to the fact that hiring sales people does have risks. The financial stakes are also really high. Probably far higher than most of us would ever feel comfortable risking in a real game of chance. If you think I am exaggerating just think about the tremendous financial rewards of hiring a winning sales person vs. the huge losses associated with hiring a sales failure.

As a hiring manager you are expected to make a single critical decision about someone you know very little about. If you are right your company will profit handsomely. If your decision is wrong it will cost your company dearly. I don’t know about you but when it is put in writing in this way it sure takes on the feel and aura of gambling.

Faced with a complex and high stakes decision such as this how do you approach it? Do you take your chances, hope for the best and let the chips fall where they may? Perhaps you see yourself in the role of ‘handicapper’ who analyzes every little detail in order to eliminate all the risks? More likely you are somewhere in the middle, having learned from experience that you can’t know everything about sales candidates. You do though, perform your due diligence as best you can with what tools you have.

If you would like to give your sales hiring a valuable edge in order to improve your odds of hiring winners our sales assessment test is a quick and economical solution. How would this work? Used initially to test a sampling of your top performers, we would analyze their test results and identify the traits that they have in common. From this we establish the benchmarks (we actually call them Target Profiles) against which all future sales candidates are compared and rated. The sales candidates who get a high rating (we call this a Suitability Rating) have very high potential for success since they share the traits of your proven sales winners. When you hire these high potential sales candidates you have dramatically improved the odds that they will also be successful.

Will you eliminate failures? No. Will everyone be a top performer? Again, no. Will you improve the odds? Yes! Will you hire more sales winners? You can bet on it!

If you think you are ready to take a chance on using a sales assessment test to improve your hiring odds I would enjoy hearing from you.

Sales Testing – Bitter Truth #2

 images-2   Sales Tests Don’t Always Provide an Easy Answer

One of the reasons why a sales test helps you to hire high potential sales people has a lot to do with the fact that the process of evaluating candidates is simplified and distilled down to its most essential factors.

Does this mean that by using the sales test the answer to the question of who to hire becomes easy or at least easier? For the most part yes this is true. Using a sales test will bring clarity to your hiring decisions that will be absent otherwise. But not always!

Sales tests do work and do perform their intended functions. But being the specialized tools that they are, they can only provide insights into the areas that they are designed to measure. Of course people are complicated creatures. You should therefore expect that at certain times the results of the sales test just will not seem to make sense when viewed alongside the other pieces of information that you have gathered about the candidate or who you seem to be seeing in the interview.

These seeming contradictions can take quite a number of different forms. Below are just a few examples.

1.The sales test identifies red flags around the candidate’s motivational style such as disorganization or job turnover that do not show up because they are negated by factors that the sales test does not measure such as education and skills.

2.The flip side to the example above is the candidate who is identified by the sales test as having high potential from the perspective of motivational style yet lacks any of the necessary skills and experience.

3.Role-playing by candidates is common and often sets up a contradiction between the sales test results and what you see in the interview. The very reserved person playing the role of an extrovert and the amiable but non-assertive person trying to appear more assertive are typical examples. In these, and other instances of this, you will get a highly mixed picture of the candidate that will seem to contradict the results of the sales test.

4.The candidate whose test results say he is weak at prospecting yet has a great track record of developing new business. In most instances this is due to having developed new business via other means than true prospecting.

5.The candidate who is described as a high maintenance type who requires a lot of support, direction and guidance yet whose references say he works in a very independent manner. In these instances the candidate usually has worked in the position or industry long enough that the structure that is described as necessary is there via familiarity and experience.

6.This one is very common when interviewing for sales hunters: the extremely outgoing candidate who knows exactly what to say in the interview. They are very outgoing but lack the assertiveness of real hunters. You think you are seeing the tip of the iceberg but if you hire them you will soon discover you saw the whole iceberg.

I could give you several dozen examples like the 6 above where the results of the sales test are actually highly accurate but, due to factors separate from the test results, your instinct tells you that the sales test is wrong.

Here at we’ve been testing sales people for over 30 years and I have to tell you that some of our most loyal clients are those who were initially very skeptical and therefore went against our recommendations. There is an admittedly perverse satisfaction in having a client call you up and say ‘you know that guy who you tested 6 months ago who you told us that we should not hire? Well it turns out you were right and I let him go last week’.

In a previous article I wrote that one of the major but un-measureable benefits of a sales test is not as a selection tool but actually as a rejection tool. The point is that a huge benefit can be found in the fact that the sales test causes you to avoid hiring people that you otherwise might have hired if you had not used the sales test.

People are complex. Using a sales test will mostly make your life as a hiring manager easier but at times things do get a little more complicated. When faced with unanswered questions or contradictory information about a candidate you are being given a clear signal to proceed with caution. Rather than going full speed ahead, take your time or even stop the process in order to just make sure.

Have you ever looked back on a hiring decision and wished that you had stopped and thought about it a little longer?

Sales Testing – Bitter Truth #1

Sales Testing Bitter TruthI’ve heard the phrase ‘if it can’t be measured it does not exist’ more than a few times. It usually comes out of the mouth of a number cruncher/analytical type with whom I am discussing our sales tests and who is trying to come up with some hard numbers to justify in his mind, why he should proceed. Today, while doing research for this article I searched this phrase on Google and learned about something known as the ‘McNamara Fallacy’ described below. If you are patient enough to have read this far you might be asking yourself what the hell all of this has to do with testing sales people. Please hang in just a little longer because it will all tie together momentarily. At least I hope so!

McNamara Fallacy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The McNamara fallacy (also known as quantitative fallacy[1]), named for Robert McNamara, the United States Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1968, involves making a decision based solely on quantitative observations (or metrics) and ignoring all others. The reason given is often that these other observations cannot be proven.

The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.

— Daniel Yankelovich “Corporate Priorities: A continuing study of the new demands on business.” (1972)

The connection between implementing sales testing and the McNamara Fallacy relates to the natural, and frankly quite logical, desire of decision makers to base their decision on measureable financial considerations or other hard data. Please understand, I would never suggest that you should purchase ours or any other sales test purely out of the goodness of your heart. Business decisions must make financial sense. When it comes to implementing a sales test there are numerous benefits of sales tests that are quite readily quantified. As well, there are tools such as our cost of failure calculator that provide a very accurate picture of the costs related to the downside of bad hires. But the truth is that a huge financial benefit of using a sales test cannot actually be measured, so according to the ‘if it can’t be measured it does not exist’ folks, any financial gains that accrue from this benefit are non-existent.

A Powerful Rejection Tool

The huge benefit to which I refer is that using the sales test means you have avoided hiring people that you otherwise might have hired if you had not used the sales test. We don’t talk about this much because we usually talk about the more ‘positive’ benefits, such as for example increased sales, lower job turnover and savings of time. In effect, we have tended to present the sales test as a selection tool when in reality it is an extremely powerful rejection tool.

If you could have avoided your last bad hire by using a sales test how much would that have saved you?

Sales Assessment Tests – Is SalesTestOnline Predictive of Sales Success?

images-4If you are thinking about introducing a sales assessment test into your hiring process there are many items, both large and small that must be considered. Here, in this article you will find a checklist for selecting a sales test.

Before any other consideration though, it makes sense to see if the sales assessment is predictive of sales success i.e. can it identify top performers?  If a sales assessment test does not do this, then how can you, as a hiring manager possibly rely on it?  Four recent studies of the effectiveness of our sales assessment clearly show that is an extremely powerful tool for identifying top sales talent and is therefore highly predictive of sales success.

First off by way of explanation, test results contain a Suitability Rating (eg 80-100% Excellent) score that compares the person being tested to the specific needs of that particular sales role. A higher score means the candidate is a close match to the Target Profiles that we have established for the position through analysis. Therefore, a high Suitability Rating = high potential for success.

By studying the test results of the top performers we are looking for a correlation between their performance and their Suitability Ratings. If a high percentage of these top performers are identified as having high potential via their Suitability Rating then our sales test is predictive of success.  In all four studies below, the number of top performers who were ranked either Excellent or Good was very high.

Company number one is a large timeshare developer and sales organization. They hire closers who work on straight commission. They have approximately 1000 sales closers. The top 57 were tested. 68.5% scored either Excellent or Good.

19.5% or 11 people scored Excellent

49% or 28 people scored Good

17.5% or 10 people scored Fair

10.5% or 6 people scored Poor

3.5% or 2 scored Very Poor

Company number two is a global research and consulting organization. They hire Business Development Executives, ‘hunters’ to obtain appointments with C-level executives in Fortune 500 companies. They have between 250-300 BDE’s in this population. We tested their 12 top hunters. 75% scored either Excellent or Good.

25% or 3 people scored Excellent

50% or 6 people scored Good

8% or 1 person scored Fair

17% or 2 people scored Poor

0% or 0 scored Very Poor

Company number three is the leading online marketplace for home services in the world. They hire sales consultants to contact home service contractors in order to have them join their marketplace. Sales are performed on the phone and the position is highly incentive-oriented. They have several hundred people in this role. The following is our analysis of their top 15, the best of the best. 80% scored either Excellent or Good.

26.67% or 4 people scored Excellent

53.33% or 8 people scored Good

20% or 3 people scored Fair

0% or 0 people scored Poor

0% or 0 scored Very Poor

Company number four is an award winning automotive dealer with 18 locations selling numerous brands. They have approximately 150 sales associates. Our analysis focused on the top 23 in this role.  73% scored either Excellent or Good.

17% or 4 people scored Excellent

56% or 13 people scored Good

13% or 3 people scored Fair

13% or 3 people scored Poor

0% or 0 scored Very Poor

Having a Suitability Rating system with this degree of accuracy on sales candidates means you will know prior to hiring, whether the candidate has potential because in essence, the score tells you how they compare to the success traits of your top performers. How much grief, time and expense would a highly predictive Suitability Rating such as the examples above save you and your organization?

If you are interested in learning more about our sales assessment tests and perhaps in having us perform a study of your top performers I would enjoy hearing from you.

Sales Assessment Testing: You Don’t Really Want to Hire a Patient Sales Person Do You?

getting-directions-495Today I read another article by a sales guru offering highly misleading advice about the ‘traits’ of successful sales people. This particular article, like many others of this genre, was offering advice regarding what ‘traits’ managers should see as desirable when evaluating sales candidates. The writer covered a number of areas having nothing to do with traits so it is entirely possible that these other parts of his article offered good counsel. It is with his wrongheaded advice about the traits that I have a problem. I find this type of misleading advice about ‘sales traits’ and ‘sales personality’ not only quite common but also rather aggravating. To me, it has the feel of observing someone offering street directions to a lost tourist that you know fully well are complete b*******t. So, just as I would feel compelled to interfere and set the lost tourist on the correct path, please do not view this post as a rant. Instead my intention is to provide some clarity and precision to the discussion about traits and style of personality that is required for certain aspects of sales.

In this instance the writer was making the case that ideal sales people are ‘patient’ personalities because of the long selling cycles in the business with which he was familiar. Also, that patience is a necessary trait in order to continue following up with prospects who today are less willing to engage with reps and therefore ignore their efforts to contact them via email, social media and voicemail. His premise is that since it takes a long time to get the sale, top reps need to be patient enough to wait for the sale to come.

To many of you on first hearing this, it probably sounds like it makes sense, so what is the problem? The problem is that it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the core traits necessary for specific sales behaviors. In this case what is clearly misunderstood is the actual traits necessary to hang in for a long sales cycle and to generate engagement from prospects via continual follow up.


Let me start by describing the actual Patience trait drive. Patience can be thought of as the motivational need for stability and predictability. One can also view it as the need for routine, maintenance of the status quo, passiveness and comfort with repetition, steadiness, and a predictable pace. It will impact a sales person’s sense of urgency, deadline orientation, and individual initiative. As well it impacts work pace, multi-tasking, response to change/routine, and response to sameness/variety. You could also see it as reactive-ness vs. pro-activeness.

High Levels of Patience

High levels of this factor mean that the person is very patient, passive, reactive, unhurried, relaxed, calm, deliberate, tolerant, amiable, likes routine/familiarity, likes stability of repetition, dislikes change.

Low Levels of Patience

Low levels of this factor mean that the individual is very impatient (does not have much patience), is restless and pro-active, thrives on change/variety, has nervous energy, deadline oriented, a multi-tasker, is bored by routine and repetition.

The issue then is, if you do hire a sales person with a high level of patience, you have basically hired a passive and reactive person who is certainly good at waiting for things to happen-a ‘passive order taker’. In all my years of talking to managers about the traits they want in sales people I have never had one say they want to hire a ‘passive order taker’. Quite the contrary, almost invariably they will say they want to hire a pro-active self-starter with a sense of urgency-an impatient sales person.

So how do we square this seeming contradiction that sales takes a long time and yet the sales person needs to be impatient? It is true that individual trait drives such as patience will give you insight into the sales person’s on the job behaviours. It is however more accurate to look at all of his or her traits together as a combination. Traits working together tend to emphasize or soften each other and often combine with each other, resulting in whole new sets of behaviours. In this case what we actually require is for the sales person to be impatient and pro-active, as this will ensure he or she has a sense of urgency and will demonstrate the required initiative. This alone is not enough however because the person must also have other trait drives that make them quite dependent on structure in their work such as systems, procedures and guidelines. Individuals with this need for structure also tend to be quite detailed. The final trait drive necessary is a good level of emotional control.   In other words, someone who is disciplined enough to stay with things and to maintain a consistency in their activities. So, in combination they need to have a sense of urgency along with a real need to work a specific plan or set of procedures along with a sense of discipline.

Having tested hundreds of thousands of sales people over the last 30+ years I can assure you that this combination of traits is what you will find in a very high proportion of sales people in these long cycle sales roles.

The point of this article is not to contradict or challenge another’s ideas. Instead my goal is to demonstrate the need to better understand what motivates the people you hire and intend to hire.

In order to be able to define and identify the differences in people you need to use hiring tools that lessen your reliance on gut feel and imprecise definitions of the motivational traits of sales candidates. When these tools are used as part of your hiring regime you will operate with a far more advanced understanding of what traits the job requires. Furthermore, mirroring your better understanding of the job, you will operate with a far more objective, clear and precise understanding of what truly makes the candidate tick.   This is precisely why you should use a sales assessment test such as ours in your hiring. We would be pleased to hear from you if you would like to learn more.

Sales Personality and Job Turnover: Watch out for This Combination of Traits

credit-union-employee-turnoverIt is the rare sales organization whose management is not concerned about sales staff retention. Today, any manager who does not realize that job turnover is very costly on many levels probably has his head in the sand, to put it politely. No surprise then, that when prospective clients open up and talk about the specific issues and problems concerning them, reducing unwanted turnover is often a high priority.

Sales staff turnover and its reasons, causes and impact is a big and highly complex topic. There are literally thousands of articles, studies and papers on this subject by a wide variety of experts and respected authorities. Our goal with this article is not to go down this well traveled road yet again. Instead what I will describe are the traits of certain individuals and why those traits give them a far higher turnover propensity.

Forewarned is forearmed according to the old saying. Since these specific combinations of ‘job-hopping’ traits are readily identifiable in sales candidates, you will see that you do have the opportunity to proactively lower turnover right at the source of much of the problem.

Will this put a stop to job turnover? No, but you can definitely alleviate much of it. As noted earlier, there are many reasons why a particular sales organization has a turnover issue: poor compensation, bad products/services, incompetent management etc.  The list is long. The core reasons for the turnover we will be addressing here can be traced directly to the personality traits of the sales people themselves. You will also see that there is a quandary in this because much of what makes these sales people prone to higher turnover, also makes them potentially very effective hunters and closers. The point of this article is to define, clarify and untangle the candidate’s traits. It is hoped that hiring managers can then make better hiring choices by understanding that the risk of turnover can be very different between two outwardly equal candidates.

To illustrate the issue let us look at the trait drives of two high potential ‘sales hunters’ below. I am purposely using the traits of sales hunters because it is in these sales environments where hunters are hired, that this combination of ‘turnover traits’ is most often found.

Examples #1 and #2 show exactly the same trait drives in 4 of the 5 areas that are displayed. Assertiveness is high, sociability is high, patience is low and dependence is low. It is this combination of 4 trait-drives that results in very high potential to be effective at making new contacts, having a sense of urgency and thriving in free wheeling independent sales environments with an emphasis on commissions and other individual incentives. They both have this high potential but what we will show you is that the one critical trait drive where they differ-emotional control, creates a far greater likelihood of job turnover in the one who’s emotional control is low (#2). As well as increasing the potential for job turnover, it tends to make these individuals rather scattered and disorganized. If you have ever had to hire and manage a team of sales hunters you will be very familiar with these issues.

Example #1
Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.30.15 PMExample #2
Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.31.53 PM
Emotional Control

What is meant by the term ’emotional control’? It is the balance between logic and emotions in the manner one makes decisions-“the head vs. the gut”. It can have a strong influence on a person’s work focus, organization and attention to detail. As well, it impacts their decision-making style, how consistent they are and of course, turnover propensity (job hopping).

Middle Range

When one is in the mid-range on this factor it means that the person thinks about and considers the consequences of their actions prior to taking those actions. Their decision-making tends to be governed by a nice balance between logic and emotions and therefore, they are logical enough to think things through prior to acting yet still spontaneous enough to act quite quickly.


When one has a high level of this factor it means that the person tends to be extremely logical in their manner of decision-making. These individuals tend to over analyze to the point of procrastination or ‘analysis-paralysis’.


Individuals with the low level of Emotional Control that we are discussing here tend to be very gut-level, spontaneous and impulsive. Their decisions are often arrived at without properly thinking through all the implications. These individuals are highly prone to job turnover.

Traits in Combination

It is true that a sales person’s strengths, weaknesses and sales style have much to do with that person’s individual trait-drives. In fact, it is far more accurate to think of the traits in terms of how they combine with each other. The reason for this is because working together the traits tend sometimes to emphasize, or in other cases to soften, the individual traits and very often will combine with each other to result in whole new sets of behaviors.

Hunters with Mid Range Emotional Control

Traits are like two-edged swords, so what we think of as ‘strengths’ also tells us about the person’s ‘weaknesses’. Describing hunters with mid range emotional control from this perspective would mean we would say the following: They have very large egos and do not like being managed, they are very impatient, possessing a lot of nervous energy and with a great need for change and variety. As well, they are extremely independent with a dislike for details, rules and procedures and hence they are not afraid to go over the line to achieve their goals. Risk oriented and venturesome they will have little hesitation when it comes to trying new things, procedures or taking a chance on a new company or sales role.

Hunters with Low Emotional Control

If the above is describing a hunter with nicely balanced emotional control, what you need to understand is that when you add low emotional control to the mix you are amplifying and emphasizing the negative aspects of their traits. They therefore become extremely scattered, disorganized and lacking focus. They are a bit like loose cannons with regards to rules and being managed. They can be quite inconsistent and can be very impulsive and prone to make overly quick decisions that they later regret. This pronounced impulsiveness in combination with their impatience, poor manageability and oversized ego equals very high turnover propensity.

High Turnover is Not Inevitable

As mentioned earlier in this post, many of the issues, and much of what of I am describing, will sound quite familiar to you if you have hired and managed hunter sales types. It would be a big mistake though to believe that this kind of turnover is inevitable and therefore unavoidable. Hiring hunters AND controlling this kind of turnover is completely doable as long as you can go deeper than the interview because on the surface there is really no way to tell the difference. This is where we can help you. When you use you will see the difference very clearly and can avoid these common and very expensive hiring mistakes.

Sales Aptitude-PBS Video about Sales

Why Everyone Should Know How to Sell

This short video from PBS NewsHour is great.  Carlos Watson makes a great case for why we all need to know how to sell.  As he says many of those outside of the sales profession think of sales as a dirty word and of sales people as being rather sleazy. This attitude to sales as a profession seems to get in the way of their acquiring what Carlos believes is a critical skill-the ability to ‘sell’ ones ideas.  Carlos does a great job of showing how having this skill is critical to success in any role, business or otherwise.  From a corporate perspective our recent article highlights the many benefits to businesses of utilizing sales testing for non-sales employees.