Sales Personality-The Killer Combination of Trait Drives shared by Top Sales Hunters

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Businesses have used our sales personality test since 1986. A quick look at our web site will show that a key to the success of our service is that it is customized to the specifics of each sales role. Why? Because we’ve learned that sales roles differ considerably and therefore appropriate people for those roles can differ significantly.

That said, in the course of testing literally millions of sales candidates for an amazingly varied clientele, it is certainly the case that many of them are trying to hire sales hunters. Our service ensures they hire true hunters rather than the candidates who ‘interview well but can’t sell’. We also provide an understanding of how to manage them on a daily basis. All this to say that, after having tested so many sales people we have observed some obvious similarities in the very best sales hunters. I thought I would share our observations.

Discussing sales personalities using labels such as ‘sales hunter’ or ‘sales farmer’ unfortunately tends to feed a common misconception that I would like to dispel. Specifically, that all sales people who fall into one of these categories possess all of the same traits. It is true that some things can be common to all within that group, however other differences are typically present. Take a look at any group of successful sales hunters and you will find that even though they are all successful they can tend to get the job done in somewhat different ways. Because of this, some managers who mistakenly focus on the differences rather than being aware of the similarities, operate as if there is no rhyme or reason to why these reps are successful. On the surface it may seem quite random but when one goes below the surface by using a sales personality assessment it becomes quite obvious that there are common threads that are readily identifiable and that explain what makes a great sales hunter.

The two trait drives that are shared by all top sales hunters are firstly, a high level of Assertiveness and secondly a high level of Sociability. Just to be sure we are on the same page with our definitions, here are short descriptions of each of these trait drives.

Assertiveness

Assertiveness refers to a need for control, competitiveness, self-motivation, drive, dominance, ego and the need to make ones own decisions and to be in charge. Therefore, when we say that they have a high level of this trait drive it means they are authoritative types who can be assertive in putting forth their ideas, they are dominant in the sense of wanting to be in charge and have a real need to control their own destiny and to make their own decisions. Tending to thrive on competition, they are motivated by being measured, whether against others or against goals. Their competitiveness and large ego means they have a very strong sense of self worth and a need to win. As well, they tend to think big with little concern about risk and will be highly motivated by, and responsive to, commission and incentive based compensation.

Sociability

Sociability refers to the need for social interaction and the stimulation of that interaction. It is introversion vs. extroversion or an outward (people) orientation vs. an inward (task) orientation. Please note that this is not a measure of friendliness, rather, it refers to empathy level and persuasiveness and how one communicates and responds to others. Therefore, when we say that they have a high level of this trait drive it means they tend to be very extroverted and people oriented. Their tendency is to be very stimulated by lots of social interaction. Their natural empathy and ability to quickly relate to others means they are very persuasive in their communication with a natural ability to identify the listener’s ‘hot buttons’.

Just to be very clear, while it is true that top sales hunters are high on both of these two trait drives, the emphasis is always on one trait drive or the other. What I mean is that some have high sociability but higher assertiveness (see example #1) while others have high assertiveness but higher sociability (see example #2).

Example #1

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Example #2

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An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

What makes this the killer combination for prospecting? We often use the term ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ to describe this trait pair, which hints at why it is so effective for new business development. The high sociability and need for interaction means the person has the natural warmth and empathy to quickly relate to and establish rapport with new contacts. When doing so they have an innate ability to find and push the prospects hot buttons and are very adept at painting clear verbal pictures when communicating. They are naturally very persuasive in their interactions. Of course it is more than just the fact that they are very persuasive. It is the fact they are also very assertive, which means they are not just sociable but they are ‘sociable with a purpose’. Their assertiveness means that in the daily grind of prospecting they possess the ‘thickness of skin’ to absorb the rejection that is a natural part of the job. The traits work together such that they can apply considerable pressure (‘pushiness’ for want of a better word) in such a way that the prospect does not feel the full extent of that pressure. It is their assertiveness that enables them to feel comfortable asking for the order, an appointment or to get a commitment from the customer.

Learn More

If you hire sales hunters we would enjoy learning about your specific challenges. Besides some of the insights we have touched on above we would be pleased to share our insights regarding the unique issues associated with interviewing, hiring and managing these sales personalities. Feel free to reach out to me directly at 416-691-3661 or visit our website.

SalesTestOnline.com Unsolicited Testimonial

5.15.13-300-resize-380x300This morning on Linkedin we received the following unsolicited customer testimonial about the accuracy of our sales assessment test :

Jim Gillespie This is an absolutely unsolicited testimonial – in fact, they’ll find out about it when they read this comment: When we first looked at David’s product, we tested it on some of our current staff. The results were incredible. We felt we were looking at written mirror images of the test takers. More so, the results outlined why they were viable candidates – or not – for sales. We have found over the past 10 years or so that SalesTestOnline works exceedingly well at identifying the traits that a candidate has and whether they can be successful hires.

To read more testimonials from other satisfied SalesTestOnline.com clients go here: SalesTestOnline.com testimonials.

 

 

 

 

 

Sales Psychometric Testing and Non-Sales Employees

images-2Does it make sense to have candidates for non-sales roles complete a psychometric sales test as part of the hiring process? If these employees are not actually ‘selling’ how will you benefit by having them complete a sales evaluation? What can you learn from the results? Depending on the role for which you are hiring, the insights gained by using a psychometric sales test can prove very beneficial and highly profitable.

Despite our name , we have for our entire 30 years in business offered psychometric testing for non-sales roles. Here is a sample of non-sales test results, which as you see is not addressing sales criteria. The intended focus of this article however is about gaining insight into the person from a sales perspective.

Type of psychometric sales test to use

If you plan to conduct sales assessments for non-sales candidates, it is imperative that the right kind of sales psychometric assessment be used. Since the intention is to evaluate candidates who are not actually sales people nor who are intending to become sales people, the sales test used must be designed to measure personality traits and the underlying temperament and motivational style-the inherent or natural aspects of the person. Psychometric sales instruments that measure skills, sales competency or the typical learned aspects of sales will be of little or no benefit.

For which non-sales roles should psychometric sales tests be considered?

Any customer-facing role should at least be considered. Roles where there are opportunities to cross-sell, upgrade or strengthen the relationship with the customer are excellent choices. Other roles for serious consideration are where a positive customer experience is the goal, even if the tangible or non-tangible benefits are not easily quantified. Just a few of many examples:

  • Call Center Employees
  • Pre-sales Engineers
  • Financial Institution Service Reps
  • Customer Service Reps
  • Membership Service Reps
  • Order Desk Employees
  • Technical Support
  • Sales Support
  • Client Service Reps
  • Estimators and Designers
What kind of information can be obtained?

The results of the sales test will reveal a wealth of information. Some of it will obviously not be relevant to the situation, for example, sales prospecting and closing. On the other hand there will be much information, even unrelated to sales that will be of benefit in gaining insight into the candidate’s overall fit for the role. From a sales perspective however, the configuration and levels of the candidate’s trait drives such as, Assertiveness, Sociability, Patience and Dependence will provide a strong sense of potential ‘sales style’ for possible development. Among the areas that you will gain insight into are the following:

  • Communication style
  • Social warmth and friendliness
  • Ability to empathize and relate to customer concerns/problems
  • Persuasiveness and ability to convince
  • Creating trust
  • Initiative and sense of urgency
  • Effective communication of technical information
  • Helpfulness
  • General sense of urgency
  • Response to incentives
  • Potential for up-selling/cross-selling
  • Potential to learn and benefit from basic sales techniques
Conclusion

Acquiring new customers is very expensive. This is why it makes great sense to ensure that customer-facing employees are very effective in their interactions so that they can effectively up-sell, cross sell and resell. At the very least these employees should have an interactive and communication style that does not turn off and therefore potentially lose your valuable customers. Sales psychometric testing costs a pittance. Isn’t it worth the investment?

I invite your comments about this article and would be pleased to address any questions. If you are interested in finding out more about having candidates or employees complete a sales person psychometric assessment please visit us here: SalesTestOnline.com

Use a Sales Personality Test to Increase Sales

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If you’ve interviewed and hired sales people you’ve no doubt experienced the frustration and disappointment of hiring a sales person who interviewed like a winner but once hired, turned out to be a complete and utter failure.

Many hiring managers are so weary of this and have experienced it often enough that they’ve resigned themselves to viewing the hiring process as a coin toss.

This cynical view of sales person selection is not only completely unwarranted but it’s also extremely unfortunate when you consider the cost of a hiring failure, which the Harvard Business Review pegs at between $75,000 and $300,000.

If you’re not using a sales personality test in your sales selection process you need to immediately and seriously consider using one. Trying to hire sales people without this vital sales hiring tool is like flying blind and puts you at a very serious and costly disadvantage.

This is why today many companies that hire top sales talent have reduced the chances of hiring a sales failure by integrating sales assessment tests into their hiring process. According to another HBR article, “76% of organizations with more than 100 employees use tests for external hiring”.

Perhaps you should too, because if you are not currently using a sales test you are most likely relying far too heavily on face-to-face interviews. This is a huge and costly mistake and is a root cause of failed hires because face-to-face interviews are notoriously bad tools for choosing sales people. Consider the following:

In a Forbes Leadership Forum article about the shortcomings of interviews as predictors of success, Professor Don Moore of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley writes: “Hundreds of studies reveal the profound limitations of the traditional interview. Interviews favor manipulative candidates, or ones who know how to make a positive impression even in a brief interview…but those aren’t always the best job performers. We all know of instances in which a poised, charming job candidate turned out to be a disaster. Traditional job interviews are simply not very good at selecting the best candidates (and) are a poor predictor of subsequent performance”. Professor Moore continues: “Managers are consistently overconfident in their ability to identify the best candidates using a job interview. We cling to the fanciful notion that we can perfectly predict future job performance, despite overwhelming evidence against it”.

How Sales Candidates Fool you?

The problem of being fooled by sales candidates is by no means a new issue. It is in fact a reason why the first sales personality tests were developed more than 60 years ago. The reason why they continue in widespread use, is firstly that they work. The second reason is that candidates are even more adept at playing the role today due, not only to their access to information about you and your company, but also tools that assist them to market their ‘brand’. As an interviewer the odds have never been in your favor but now you don’t really stand a chance.

Being fooled by sales candidates comes in various forms but the most common are the three described below.

Being fooled by the candidate’s act

This can take different forms but it occurs when candidates adjust their style (eg. raising their assertiveness level, or portraying a greater level of extroversion) during the interview based on what they believe you are looking for. Candidates fool even the most experienced interviewers when they do this because it is quite easy to pull off this ‘act’ for short periods of time. A very common example is when sales recruiters are hiring hunter or closer types. It is very common in this situation for a non-assertive yet very sociable candidate to dramatically bump up their ‘seeming’ assertiveness during your interview with them. Of course what typically happens is you hire them because they interview really well and then months later you discover, to your regret, that you were fooled by their act. A very costly mistake that you could have avoided by having had the candidate take a sales personality test.

Mis-identifying the candidate’s personality traits

Unlike the issue above where the candidate plays a role that serves to fool you, in this case the candidate is not playing a role at all but merely acting naturally. You get fooled because the trait you are seeing creates the impression that it is something entirely different. There are also many examples of this but a common one occurs with candidates who are extremely sociable and extroverted yet are lacking in assertiveness and self-motivation. The reason you get fooled by this, is because, in short doses high sociability looks like high assertiveness but definitely is not. If you did in fact want to hire a sales person with high assertiveness you will regret this very costly hiring error.

Rejecting certain candidates who do not interview well

Unlike the two examples above where the candidates appear better than they are, in this example these candidates appear worse. A great example of this is the sales candidate who is quite introverted and reserved but who also possesses a great degree of drive and self-motivation. Because these candidates are somewhat ill at ease in interviews they do not always come off very well and can be seen as aloof, cold and even a little brusque, and for this reason you can easily reject them from the selection process. This is a great shame and potentially a very expensive hiring error because they are often highly successful in more technically oriented sales roles as this article about introverts in sales demonstrates.

How will a Sales Personality Test solve this issue?

Sales personality tests solve this problem because they cut through the role and get right to the core of who the candidate really is. You no longer get fooled, and the process is now tilted back in your favor because you now thoroughly understand the candidate’s true motivational style. This is critical information for you to have at this stage because once the person is hired and settled into the role it is this personality that you will be dealing with.

Armed with this critical information you will immediately know whether the candidate has potential and whether you should proceed to the next step. You will also possess great insight into the candidate’s specific strengths, weaknesses and any potential red flag areas. These additional insights mean you can be very specific and targeted with your questioning and other vetting methods. Many managers who use sales personality tests refer to them as their ‘secret weapon’.

The Benefits

1.You will increase sales because the sales people you hire will all start out with high potential for success.

2.You will save massive amounts of time because you will know from the moment a new sales person starts, how to manage and motivate them.

3.You will save further time because you will no longer need to waste your efforts attempting to make a bad hire succeed.

4.Your entire hiring process will be more effective since you can spend your time vetting only those with high potential.

5.You will save further money and time and enhance your company’s brand by avoiding a revolving door in your sales department.

Investment required for these Benefits

The benefits described above can be yours for a tiny cost, no matter the size of your sales team. The cost of our sales person test, varies from just a couple of dollars for high volume clients to around thirty dollars for even quite small companies who do only occasional sales testing. Sales test costs are here.

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more I would enjoy hearing from you and would be very pleased to discuss your specific sales hiring challenges and if you are interested, to arrange a complementary demonstration of our service.

Sales Interview Effectiveness:New York Times Article, ‘The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews’

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Below is a link to a really great article in The New York Times called ‘The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews’.  The article is by Jason Dana, an assistant professor of management and marketing at the Yale School of Business. The findings Professor Dana writes about in this article offer compelling evidence that hiring managers need to consider when looking at their sales hiring practices. Most important, without explicitly saying so, he makes a very strong case for using a sales test instead of, or at the very least in combination with, the sales interview.  Here is a link to the article.

For anyone who is also interested, here is our own article about the effectiveness of sales interviews that we published on this topic.

I hope you find one or both helpful.