In my last post I described our customer service test and the kinds of personality traits that it measures. People who have high levels of cooperativeness, patience, and personal diplomacy tend to be well suited for customer service roles. The use of personality tests is even more widespread, however, in helping select salespeople, because there’s a lot of research that shows that people with certain personality traits tend to be successful in sales roles across a wide range of industries. Most personality tests that are designed to help select salespeople look for outgoing, fairly aggressive people that tend to be competitve and highly motivated. This general profile of a stereotypical sales professional is probably not all that surprising. But what kinds of research underlies this type of “sales profiling?”
The sales aptitude test featured in HireSelect is called the Sales Achievement Predictor. The professors who created the test validated it in part by comparing the 15 personality traits it measures to job performance data for various samples of salespeople. The highest performing salespeople tended to be competitive, outgoing, highly motivated, assertive individuals. For example, in a sample of 156 real estate sales professionals whose test scores were compared to their job performance, the highest correlations were observed in the following traits: Achievement, Motivation, Initiative, Assertiveness, Competitveness, Goal-Orientation, and Extraversion (the correlations were .53, .43, .42, .38, .38, and .36, respectively.) Interestingly, low or even negative correlations were observed for Cooperativeness and Patience, suggesting that when it comes to sales being too patient or too cooperative can sometimes be a liability rather than an asset. We’ve conducted numerous case studies with our customers that essentially confirm these findings: the most successful salespeople tend to be competitive, assertive, and relatively impatient individuals–in short, nearly the opposite of the type of people who are best suited to customer service. To be sure, the type of personality that is best suited for a particular sales role can vary from one organziation to another, and from one industry to another, depending on the nature of the sales process and the sales culture in a given environment. But the basic building blocks of what personality traits you should look for in selecting sales people are remarkably consistent across all industries.
Click here to read more about our sales aptitude test.