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5 Qualities To Look For When Hiring Sales Staff

Every single area of a business is essential to contributing to the overall picture; this much most business owners can agree on. However, there is one particular area of business that could perhaps be considered the first amongst equals: the sales department.

It is not stretching reality to suggest that the performance of your sales department can make or break your company. Even if every other area of your company is running perfectly – bills are paid on time by the accounts team, your customer service team deal with any complaints in record time, and your IT staff maintain your business systems and network so well that downtime is almost unheard of – then without a matching strong performance in sales, your company will likely flounder.

Given the above, it is obvious that business owners such as yourself have to be absolutely confident that they have the right sales staff in place – which places all the more onus on ensuring that your sales staff recruitment techniques are top notch. In an effort to assist you with this goal, below, we’ve assembled a list of five qualities for which you will want to keep an eye out when considering candidates for any sales vacancy your company may have in future…

#1 – A calm attitude

In pop culture, salespeople are often characterized as “go-getters” – big personalities who will do whatever it takes to clinch a sale; a stereotype that was popularised by The Apprentice and TV shows of a similar nature. However, the ability to remain calm is actually far more important in a salesperson; you need your staff to be able to think quickly under pressure, so that they can correct course when a potential sale appears to be going in the wrong direction, or maximize a sales opportunity that appears to be going very well.

#2 – Problem-solving

As briefly touched on above, sales staff have to be able to rescue a sale that seems to be going south. In addition to remaining calm, your sales staff will therefore also need to be expert problem solvers. They need to be able to pinpoint why a sale is struggling and, most importantly of all, how it can be rescued from that point on. There are a number of ways to assess problem-solving abilities during the interview; if a candidate performs well in a high-pressure situation like an interview, you can be confident they will do the same when working for your company.

#3 – Competitiveness

Some people thrive on competition; others find it to be overwhelming and counterproductive – and when hiring sales staff, you definitely need to find individuals that fit into the former category. Working in sales is inherently competitive, especially if you offer performance incentives. There’s no obvious way to check if someone is competitive, so it’s usually best to just directly ask the question – you should be able to tell from the tone of the candidate’s voice if they genuinely find competition exciting and energizing, or if they are simply saying they are competitive as they think that’s what you want to hear.

#4 – Experience with the systems you rely on

Selling is often referred to as an “art”; something that relies on the personality of the individual and their innate ability to connect with customers in order to persuade them to buy. However, while historically sales may have relied primarily on the power of the personality of individual salespeople, modern selling is very different indeed. Nowadays, selling is far more streamlined and data-driven, so ask candidates if they have experience using your company’s sales automation CRM and similar important systems. The more familiar a candidate is with the systems you rely on to achieve results, the more likely they are to hit the ground running if you do hire them.

#5 – Humility

A surprise inclusion, given that any sales candidate will almost certainly be trying to “sell” themselves during the recruitment process, but one that is nevertheless important. Humility is an important trait; sales staff have to be able to understand their own failings, so that these can be addressed in the future. Try asking a candidate what their biggest weakness is, and pay close attention to candidates who list a genuine weakness – not a classic “weakness that could actually be a virtue”, such as perfectionism. If a candidate is willing to admit that they are not perfect, then they are more likely to be able to constantly examine their sales approach and make tweaks if something isn’t working – much to the benefit of your company.

In conclusion

Pixabay – CC0 Licence

The performance of your sales staff is critical to the health of your business, and hopefully, focusing on hiring employees with the qualities described above will allow you to hire new members to your sales team – and subsequently catapult your company to greater success in future.

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Finding The Best Talent For Your Firm

While some careers can often hire straight from graduation or someone with good experience in whatever field, some businesses need extremely qualified talent to try and gain the ranks they need. If you fail to do this, you can experience a true brain drain in your firm, and that’s particularly true if you’ve recently encountered a brain drain due to some aggressive head-hunting from a competitor.

While it’s always important to train the staff in your firm and provide a path upward, it’s also essential to fill out certain ranks immediately that you can’t afford to wait for. The good news is that it is possible to find talent and hire them in a timely manner. But it must be conducted in a way that’s cohesive, hopeful, and extremely clear. You must also ensure you are up to the task of offering an excellent workplace for said people because high skilled employees are often quite discerning on where they work and the lifestyle they lead. This is even truer if you expect them to move to attend your premises.

Let us consider what that all might look like:

Understand Your Needs

While top talent can often be self-justifying in terms of why you’d want them at your firm, if you hire them and apply them to jobs they aren’t specialized in, they’re likely not going to stick around for some time. This is why it’s often absolutely essential to understand your needs and exactly what you hope to bring to the table. With this in mind, you will be more confident with who you choose, how you market yourselves towards them, and how you tailor a package to best help their decision.

Use An Employee Referrals Program

Employee referrals not only allow for the most tailored employees to visit your firm and consider working there, but voices that you trust can also recommend employees to your ranks. This dual approach can help you not only find those who might wish to work for your firm, but to tailor the package to their liking as far as you are able, and potentially give a more detailed recruitment listing to those interested.


Sometimes, the only method of bringing the best talent to your firm is to ensure that you’re at the cutting edge of your product development, or that you wish to make more of a name for yourself in the industry. Setting lofty goals can often bring in people who love a challenge and wish to be part of something much more interesting than their previous workplace.

Keep Trying

Top talent doesn’t fall in your lap. In some countries and industries, there can be a real lack of highly skilled specialists. This is why it’s essential to keep trying and to keep positive. Using methods such as tailoring a presentation why someone might wish to jump to your firm, prepping headhunters and keeping a lookout for the inside industry scoop can also help you know where to begin.

With these tips, your firm is sure to be staffed appropriately.

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The Stunning Laziness of Companies Who are Still Making Employees Take Personality Tests

Want to know a secret? Personality tests in the workplace are overrated.

Data backs up this idea. According to a study by Michigan State professor Frederick Morgeson, “there was a near zero correlation between personality tests and job success rates- 0.03 to 0.15.” Research shows that personality tests just aren’t very good at predicting workplace success.

There’s a stunning amount of laziness from companies who use these tests as the primary way to evaluate employees. Here are several practical reasons that illustrate why these tests aren’t effectual.

Applicants Don’t Give the Right Answers

One of the major problems with personality tests is that employees don’t give truthful answers. Employees tell employers what they want to hear because they fear they’ll be discriminated against otherwise. This perhaps happens nowhere more than the introvert/extrovert questions. Peruse this quote from the Hoffeld Group, “traditional sales wisdom claims the best salespeople are extroverts.” The idea is that extroverts are better in managerial positions and sales positions. If an employee feels like they may be removed from consideration because of their personality, then some of them will lie on the test. All of them won’t, of course, but some will.

This problem is compounded by the fact that it’s relatively easy for employees to answer in the way employers prefer. Timothy Horrigan from La Weekly says, “In theory, you can design personality tests to detect cheaters. But most tests aren’t sophisticated enough to do so reliably.” This leads to an excess of bad data, and you know what statisticians say about bad data- garbage in, garbage out.

Personality Tests Promote a Lack of Diversity

Another problem with personality tests is that when they do work, they limit personality diversity in the workplace. Take a look at the four sections of the Myers-Briggs: introvert/extrovert, intuitive/sensing, thinking/feeling, judging/perceiving. The point of the test is that certain characteristics are desirable for a position, and other characteristics are undesirable. For instance, you may believe you want “thinkers” in your engineering job, or “sensors” as park rangers.

However, there are some problems with this approach. The elephant in the room is that prominent stars constantly rise to success despite having the “wrong” personality. For example, you would think a CEO needs to be extroverted, but there are plenty of success stories that prove otherwise: Bill Gates, Marissa Mayer, Warren Buffett, Guy Kawasaki, Mark Zuckerberg, and many others. These people have to meet-and-greet almost every day of their lives. They don’t just do it; they excel. However, it doesn’t mean they eventually changed into extroverts.

Guy Kawasaki said on Twitter,

“You may find this hard to believe, but I am an introvert. I have a ‘role’ to play, but I’m fundamentally a loner.”

If someone loves their career, they can embrace (and excel) at aspects of it they don’t have a natural aptitude for. There’s another rumination here too. People who master abilities that don’t come naturally to them have an alternative perspective on these abilities. An unusual perspective may make it easier to teach, perform, or even enhance the aforementioned skill. This is why diversity is so important in the workplace.

The Financial Cost of Personality Tests

Personality tests have a laundry list of problems, but one of their most practical concerns is their cost. Of course, there are free personality tests online. Yet, the problem is quality. The previously mentioned LA Weekly article by Timothy Horrigan notes that test-taking is a game of lying by test-taker and counter-detection efforts by the test-issuer. Using free tests to screen candidates is like pitching to the opposing baseball team with your non-dominant hand. You’re at an extreme disadvantage, and it’s unlikely you’ll get the results that you want. As a result, employers often pay for personality tests. These examinations aren’t cheap.

According to Career Trend, the typical test costs anywhere from $100 to $5,000 per person. There’s a lot of variation in those numbers. Obviously, the more expensive the test, the more accurate it should be, and the better the measures are against cheaters. However, $5,000 is a lot of capital- unless you’re Apple or something. Imagine paying this, not for every candidate that you hire, but for every candidate you interview. That would get expensive fairly quickly. Even a number toward the lower-end of the spectrum, say $1,000, is stretching a point for many businesses. Also, the less you spend, the less confidence you have in the test.

Of course, this helps explain why companies put significant stock in personality tests. They have a significant financial cost. If you are spending big money on the tests, then you certainly want to them to influence your hiring decisions. Otherwise, why would you spend money on them in the first place? This is the catch-22 of using personality tests for hiring.

Final Thoughts About Personality Tests in the Workplace

The idea of personality tests not working for business owners is incredibly counterintuitive. You’d think they would work well. Tests are an important way of examining people for work and school. Students must take the SAT to get into college, and lawyers must pass the bar exam to obtain their license. It was once thought a personality test, even though it is a subjective exam, could be as robust as these other tests, examining employees with machine-like accuracy. Although personality tests have minor uses, they’ve never come close to that lofty billing.

Do you agree? Share your thoughts about personality tests in the comments below.


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