Sales Testing – Are Your Sales Recruiters Working in Harmony?


What do I mean by this question?

In this recent article, I wrote about the very expensive hiring mistakes that occur when sales hiring managers lack a clear understanding of the specific personality traits and motivational drives for the sales roles for which they are hiring.

I am not going to go over the same ground again except to reiterate that, while any hiring manager is fully capable of spelling out the required education, experience, product knowledge and technical skills, we all know that weakness in these areas is rarely the reason sales people fail. Failure happens in sales almost always due to the candidate having a bad match for the role’s required personality traits and motivational style. Yet, despite how critical to sales success this information is I still find very few hiring managers who are able to clearly and succinctly articulate what specific traits they are looking for.

When a hiring manager is not able to accurately describe and define the required traits it is a problem. What is a bigger and potentially more expensive problem is when you have a team of hiring managers recruiting and hiring for the same position but who have perceptions of the role that are all over the map and possibly contradictory to each other. Lots of sales failures and high turnover will result from this.

Can’t happen in your organization? Hopefully not, but don’t be so sure. In my experience it is far more common than you might think.

Here’s a little exercise that is easy to do, fun and potentially very revealing. Below is a list of descriptive traits. Try to use ones that you know are relevant to the position.  Make a list and a table as I have done below.* Have each of your hiring managers complete this questionnaire independently of each other and then have them returned to you.

Instructions: Rate the following descriptors as to importance for success in this sales role:

Not Very         Somewhat       Highly
  1. Independent
  2. Team-player
  3. Incentive-oriented
  4. Service-oriented
  5. Detailed
  6. Entrepreneurial
  7. Impatient
  8. Analytical
  9. Persistent
  10. Competitive

*I’m just using these 10 to illustrate but add as many as you like.

What you are looking for is firstly, a consistency in the answers, which would mean that your hiring managers are more or less in sync with regards to what type of candidates they are trying to hire. Secondly, the general perception of the role should be in keeping with those traits that are found among your most successful current sales people in that role. In other words, a view that is not only widely shared but one that is focused on identifying the traits that you know have a proven connection to success.

What you are likely to find is, not only quite a disparity in the answers, but also perceptions of the role that, while consistent between the hiring managers, are nevertheless off the mark when compared to the current successes.


Hiring successful sales people is a complex process that, depending on how it goes can be either very costly or very profitable. I like to think of it as a two-sided equation with the sales role on one side and the candidate on the other that you are trying to match to the role. A lot of time, energy and money is devoted to sourcing, identifying and vetting sales candidates. It has been my experience here at that what often gets lost in the shuffle is the value and importance of analyzing the role itself.

If you have any questions about this article I would be pleased to hear from you. Perhaps I could explain the customization feature of our service and the many benefits of testing your top performers.

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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