Sales Tips

Hiring the Right Salesperson

Going through the hiring process from the candidate and the hiring manager’s point of view is not all that different. Each side should have the same objective; convince the other this is the right match. Is there a way to increase the odds for a win-win situation? This article addresses this question.

Anyone can hire and anyone can hire poorly. The key is to hire the right person the first time. Hiring the wrong person is costly for a company, but what the hiring company fails to realize is this is also highly damaging to the candidate’s reputation as well. Hiring the right sales person should not be predicated strictly on their ability to meet and exceed quota. WHAT? Yep, you read it right, that’s exactly what I wrote.

I didn’t say that trait was not important or not high on the list. Managers get myopic when they see a high performer and don’t see the bigger picture. Let me explain with this scenario. interviewYou have two candidates interviewing for the same position, and their performance at their last position employer was 80% and 140% respectfully. Which one do you hire? Managers with myopic vision hire the over-quota performer and six months later, you find this person truly is a rock star, but with one BIG drawback. He/she does not follow the rules, disrupts team continuity and has undermined your team allowing resentment to set in which is allowing total sales to drastically fall. WOW! Not the result you had in mind when you hired this cannon is it?

Given this scenario, which candidate would be the better hire? The answer is: You don’t know. Certainly this hire is producing as you had hoped, but at a very high expense to the team and company. The passed-over candidate maybe looking pretty good right about now, but then again you had no guarantee of success if you had hire them.

This brings us to the core of this article, Personality-Trait testing. I opposed these until I saw how costly a bad hire could become, and not just in revenue; they can be destructive to the entire sales team. Companies are beginning to understand the value of having a candidate tested, especially when it relates to the cost of hiring an employee that does not work out.

These type of tests are not expensive, so you could do these on your own and send one to targeted employers in a job search as they could give you a competitive edge. The caveat to doing this is if it came back showing you in a negative light, you might not want to share with a potential employer. Additionally, if it is truthful, ignoring it won’t make you a better salesperson.

Personality and trait analysis testing isn’t new, but in the present economy, they are becoming a valuable tool. analyzeI do caution companies and managers to think sensibly when analyzing the results. These are simply another tool to use in evaluating talent. If you perceive these as the deciding factor, then maybe hiring isn’t your biggest problem.

I will end with a great quote from
Casey Stengel–Finding good players is easy. Getting them to play as a team is another story.

Make sense? Let me know by commenting. It’s how we all learn!

If you find this article of value please comment. Have a Twitter account? I would be most appreciative if you would retweet this at the top of the article!

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

5 replies on “Hiring the Right Salesperson”

Ed – nice article and point well taken. Years ago the insurance companies did a massive study to find out what characteristics were common among all LONG TERM successful salespeople.

The two characteristics that came back were Ego (you have described that salesperson above) and Empathy (the ability to understand what makes the client ‘tick’ and respond positively to that). I am told that neither of the traits can be screen in a personality test. Oh well.

Having taken numerous tests as you described, I am always amazed how “spot-on” they really are. I like you suggestion about presenting them as a part of your credentials.

Take care. I will send you an invitation to join my LinkedIn network.

Best regards,

Paul Gregory
Denver, Colorado

Great article.

Having read it, I was reminded of something reported in the press “86% of interviewers think CV’s and application forms are not wholly truthful and 59% of employers say they have to withdraw job offers after receiving poor references about successful applicants” – source The Guardian, July 2006.

We now undertake and recommend early verbal referencing of candidates which can be so much better than other alternatives.

I am in total agreement with you. My firm, Edwards Executive Search, utilizes a battery of personality assessments (in addition to behavioral interviewing) that results in addiitonal information regarding a candidates personal competencies and organizational (cultural) fit. Our process has been so effective that we offer a two year replacement guarantee which we have never had to employ. Our placed executives are the optimal fit for our clients. It’s nice to see that others are in agreement.
Debra Young, PHR
Edwards Executive Search


Great article, thanks for posting it.
In addition to personality testing, job fit is the key to the future success of a candidate in a position. When an employee matches the job; they have the cognitive abilities needed to assimilate information at the speed necessary for that job, they have the correct personality traits whereby they can interact and deal with the environment of the job, and when they have an interest in their work. Then they will learn faster, perform at higher level, and stay much longer.

Harley Groff
Vice President of Sales
Profiles International Inc.

[…] company what a revolving door of personnel does for company reputation. I wrote an article, “Hiring the Right Salesperson” where I mentioned the cost associated with hiring the wrong person. Think about how costly it is to […]

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