The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Sales Reps Recruiting: Looking for the Right Personality Traits

    by Chuck Smith / February 9, 2015

    Chuck_SmithBy Chuck Smith, President of New Hire

    It’s a never-ending debate and a never-ending topic of interest. Who are the best Sales Reps and what characteristics do they share?

    I believe that “pleasant persistence” should be a key behavior characteristic in the Sales Reps we hire. How do I define this trait? It is a willingness to engage in repeated interactions with many, many people in a way that communicates that the Sales Rep simultaneously values the prospect’s time and values the product/service the Sales Rep is selling.

    This stance contradicts certain conventional wisdom. Many people believe that the best sales people are aggressive and extroverted, often called “Hunters” who eat what they kill. This makes the prospect “game!”

    A recent Harvard Business Review blog post adds some data to the debate: Seven Personality Traits of Top Salespeople – Steve W. Martin – Harvard Business Review. The result? Modesty and Conscientiousness are the two behavior traits most highly correlated to success in sales.

    What do you think of this result?

    Now, everyone has their favorite behavior/personality assessments. (Meyers-Brigg, DISC, Devine, Caliper… the list goes on and on) I’ve been exposed to many and find them valuable when used appropriately. Notice that I didn’t mention the Objective Management Group’s Candidate Screener. It is NOT only a behavior profile, but measures sales skills as well (and we highly recommend its use!)

    Here’s what I consider an appropriate use of behavior assessments. Use them to:

    - understand the behavior requirement of the particular position for which you are recruiting
    - integrate the identified behaviors into your job description
    - assess candidates against the benchmarked behaviors
    - engage candidates in a conversation about the behaviors you require
    - determine whether or not the candidate models the required behaviors during the entire recruiting process
    - say “No” to candidates who don’t match your required profile

    Please note that I did not recommend that you use your assessment of choice as a “knockout.” Behavior assessments are NOT math tests. They are not 100% accurate and are best used as guide during the recruiting process.


    New Hire will be one of the sponsors for this year's 2015 Sales Coaching Summit. To learn more about this annual event focused on leadership and catalytic coaching click here.

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    Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith

    Chuck is a sought-after speaker on issues of talent acquisition, recruiting and hiring best practices with more than 20 years of experience under his belt. When not running his business, you’ll find him in Hyde Park playing Ultimate Frisbee with his friends and family.

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