Sales can be a competitive and stressful field, so hiring the right person can be a critical determinant of success.
However, when it comes to what personality traits predict this success, some don’t match the “sales-y” stereotypes.
We crunched the numbers on REAL client data, and some of the personality traits that spell disaster may surprise you.
Here are the five most notable traits we found that you might want to avoid when making your next sales hire…
- Sociability: The show “Mad Men” would lead you to believe that sales is about wining and dining. With all that schmoozing, a bubbly extrovert seems the perfect fit. However, the data is more mixed. Research finds a rather small relationship between extroversion and sales success. While the social assertiveness component of extroversion may be beneficial, our data suggests the sociability component may get in the way. Chit chat may break the ice, but it doesn’t seal the deal.
- Confidence in Others: Both parties in a sales relationship are looking to gain something, but they are also competing. One person’s profit comes out of another person’s savings. So while being friendly and trusting (what Psychologists call “Agreeableness”) is beneficial for customer service workers, it’s less predictive of sales success. A more cynical person will better navigate this competitive space.
- Sincerity: On a similar note, there is a competitive advantage to taking strategic advantage of opportunity. As much as we might personally appreciate dealing with a sincere, up-front sales person, research suggests individuals with more Machiavellian approach can find advantage in sales.
- Outer Attention: Individuals higher in “outer attention” are more attuned to the needs and desires of others, and try to adjust to meet others’ needs. While this is generally a positive interpersonal quality, in the competitive sales context, it can be a disadvantage.
- Broad Thinking: “Broad thinkers” don’t like to get bogged down in details, they like to look at the “big picture”. While that can be beneficial in leaders, our data suggests it is not nearly as beneficial in the sales force. Nailing down the details of the current sale is more important than a big picture focus.
What’s the take-away?
Personality isn’t everything in job performance, but it can have a significant effect (especially in less structured work environments). A good hiring manager picks the right person for the right position. In the case of sales, these five personality traits in particular predict possible unexpected issues given a candidate who would otherwise look like that “right person” for a sales force role. Cangrade’s pre-hiring assessments can help you identify which candidates have the personality most conducive to building an effective sales team.