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
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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.

Author: David Pearce

David Pearce is the President of Established in 1986, is North America's #1 provider of sales personality tests. has over 1400 satisfied customers (97% re-order rate) who use our sales test to measure the suitability of sales candidates and sales employees. is customized to your unique criteria, fully automated, instantaneous, extremely accurate and very economical.

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