Harvard Business Review Blog Post Gets Salespeople Wrong

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 09, 2011 @ 07:08 AM

The Blog at the Harvard Business Review recently ran this article about the top seven personality traits of successful salespeople.  Thanks to Peter for sending this along to me.

Regular readers know how much I cringe when anyone attempts to suggest that personality tests are or could be predictive of sales performance.  If you haven't read it before, read this series of articles and especially this article along with its embedded links that expose the truth about using personality assessments for sales.

Back to Harvard's Blog.  Is their article any different from others I have debunked?  No!  They make the same mistakes.  They lead people to believe that if they identify someone who is modest, conscientous, achievement oriented, not very self-conscious, curious, not very gregarious and who doesn't get discouraged, they will have a top salesperson.  Surely, they can't be serious!

The biggest problem with this particular article wasn't even the personality assessment.  It was the qualification for top performers.  In most companies, the top performers are some of the weakest salespeople on the planet!  These are the people who have inherited the biggest and best accounts, who manage the sweetest territories, or who have simply rested on their laurels.  Isn't it more likely that this article simply looked at some of the common traits of an effective account manager?

Personality assessments are wonderful.  Just don't use them to determine whether a salesperson will succeed in your particular sales role!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, HBR, harvard, preditive of sales performance, personality assessment

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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