10 years ago
January 4, 2015

How to Prevent Recruiting the Wrong Sales Person

In this article, we’ll tell you five ways to avoid recruiting the wrong sales person and pick up a truly excellent candidate.

Rhys Metler

Recruiting the right sales person can be a challenging task for even the best of managers. Sales is equal parts art and science, and an excellent pedigree can turn out to mean nothing when you put a fresh recruit on the phone with prospects. Fortunately, there are key traits you can look for to help you spot the best candidates and filter out anyone wrong for the position. In this article, we’ll tell you five ways to avoid recruiting the wrong sales person and pick up a truly excellent candidate.

Personality Traits to Look For

A few years ago, the study was conducted at Harvard, which analyzed thousands of top sales people to find the traits most associated with success in the business. It came up with seven personality traits that correlate strongly with success in sales–traits you want to keep an eye out for. Now, not every recruit needs to hit all of these, but if they hit none? They might be in the wrong business.

  • Humble. This might be a surprise, but the aggressive, arrogant sales person stereotype has little to do with what works in the real world. An overwhelming majority of top salespeople score high in humility and modesty. Humble salespeople work well with others and get the job done without letting their ego or desire to shine undermine the endeavor.
  • Conscientious. The best sales person is one with a strong sense of duty and responsibility. You don’t want to hire someone who pushes the blame on others and doesn’t take their job seriously–this may be the single most important trait to look for, as a conscientious sales person will make an effort to improve on their failings where another may not.
  • Achievement Oriented. An individual who measures their performance and maintains their focus when pursuing goals will always make for a better sales person than one who cares little for such self-analysis. An achievement-oriented sales person will find out what they need to know and who they need to talk to, and then efficiently work to accomplish those tasks with a zeal others lack.
  • Curious. Sales is an ever-changing art, and the best sales person is one with the intellectual curiosity to continue learning, continue innovating, and never, ever, fall behind their peers. Knowledge of products, customer problems, and unique approaches to the industry also make for superior salespeople, so curiosity benefits your team on multiple levels. A sales person without that drive to learn may start out well, but will quickly fall behind their curious peers.
  • Hard to Discourage. This is an obvious one; the best workers in any field are those who take their failures, learn from them, and push on. Failure is inevitable, so avoid recruits that crumble when that failure comes.
  • Not Self-Conscious. Sales people can’t afford to be easily embarrassed or bashful. In fact, less than five percent of top sales people score as highly self-conscious–it’s simply too great a hurdle to overcome, barring genius-level talent in other areas.
  • Not Overly Gregariousness. This might come as a surprise, but a sales person who is overly friendly can’t establish the dominance they need to close deals reliably. That’s not to say you want to hire jerks–rather, you want people who are not critically dependent on the friendship of strangers. A sales person who rolls over for every customer can’t do his job effectively.

Trust Your Instincts

Don’t get too caught up in ‘ideal candidates’. Instincts aren’t always a reliable tool in hiring, but a sales person is a different sort of hire. In essence, all job interviews are ‘selling yourself’. Your instincts telling you to hire a plumber may not be useful, because selling isn’t his job–but if your instincts tell you to ‘buy’ a sales person, then he or she can probably sell just as well to other people.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.