Latest Research on Personality Assessments for Sales Selection

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

ambivertTwo articles caught my attention today.

The first, 10 Traits of Successful Salespeople, was typical of the misinformation that often passes for must-read information:

  • The data came from commission-only insurance salespeople in just one company, so it has limited application in other industries.  
  • The author says that some of the most successful salespeople share 10 personality traits, but doesn't say how many were in the study or how many shared the 10 traits!
  • Because all of the salespeople worked for the same company, they reported to that one company's sales management team, further skewing the results.
  • The author incorrectly classified the 10 traits as personality traits, but some of them are actually behavioral styles.  When styles and traits are combined, they become qualities.
  • Using Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on salespeople for reference, we know that just as many unsuccessful salespeople share those 10 qualities as successful salespeople.  That's why only some and not most of the successful people shared the traits!
  • Even when salespeople possess all 10 qualities, there are still dozens of reasons why they still may not succeed.  OMG identifies weaknesses on its Sales Candidate Assessments that predict why someone who has all the greatest personality traits could be expected to fail.   OMG's top 4 are:
    • Lack of Commitment toward sales success;
    • Lack of Desire for sales success (different from Drive in that Desire in this context is sales specific);
    • Poor Outlook; 
    • Excuse Making.  A sales candidate with either the Lack of Desire or the Lack of Commitment would neutralize all 10 traits the article referred to!
  • OMG's next 7 would be: 
    • Non-Supportive Buy Cycle (the way the candidate buys does not support the sales cycle); 
    • Need for Approval (their need to be liked outweighs their need to sell); 
    • Discomfort Talking about Money; 
    • Becoming Emotional; 
    • Difficulty Recovering from Rejection;
    • Too Trusting;
    • Self-Limiting Beliefs.  

Any combination of 3 or more would certainly neutralize all 10 of the traits referred to in the article.

The second article appeared on the same site and was called Busting the Personality Myth about Salespeople.  This article is not as far off the path as the first article, but it's still full of misinformation.  It's claim, that ambiverts are more successful than extroverts and introverts, may be or may not be true.  There were only 300 salespeople in the study and data was collected for only a 3 month period.  We weren't told what they were selling, who they were selling it to, what the cost was, or the type of competition they faced.  Even if the data is sound,  you would not be smart to go recruit and select ambiverts!  I guarantee that 74% of them will suck at sales too!

It is becoming more and more difficult to separate opinions, experiences and musings from appropriately collected, time-tested, sales-specific, trans-industry data.  That's probably why OMG has earned the Gold Medal for Top Sales Assessment Tool from TopSalesWorld for two years running.

For more on the differences between Assessments and which ones are the most predictive, see this series of articles.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, omg, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, personality assessments, sales assessment tests, sales selection, sales assessments, objective management group

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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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