Sales hiring continues to evolve thanks to new emerging technologies such as predictive analytics that can predict and quantify actual sales performance pre-hire. Historically, individual sales leaders had to rely on gut feel and intuition in order to understand what traits and attributes contributed to selling success on their teams. With modern tools now combining both new and well-proven technologies, sales leaders and recruiters can move away from generalized lists of what makes a successful salesperson to a hyper-localized, job and company-specific list of the attributes driving sales success. When combined with data insights, a company can now predict pre-hire exactly how someone will perform.
Traits of top salespeople

Jonathan Whistman & Brandon Kinsey

Kinsey Management, a PerceptionPredict Certified Partner

Most organizations understand that sales are critical to their success. The right salespeople generate revenue, boost company morale, land valuable customers and contracts and forge key partnerships. Whether you are selling a product or service, having the right salespeople is crucial to success and ultimately to survival.

Sales hiring continues to evolve thanks to new emerging technologies such as predictive analytics that can predict and quantify actual sales performance pre-hire. Historically, individual sales leaders had to rely on gut feel and intuition in order to understand what traits and attributes contributed to selling success on their teams. With modern tools now combining both new and well-proven technologies, sales leaders and recruiters can move away from generalized lists of what makes a successful salesperson to a hyper-localized, job and company-specific list of the attributes driving sales success.  When combined with data insights, a company can now predict pre-hire exactly how someone will perform.  Sometimes the data shows that what the company thought created success was actually something that limited success.

Let’s look at the top traits identified for a field salesperson for one of our clients. While this list will be informative and show what’s possible, keep in mind that the Performance Fingerprint driving sales results is unique to every company and every role.  What is driving success for this client might not be the magic ingredient you should be looking for. As you read this list, imagine what it would do for your success if you knew unequivocally what critical factors are responsible for the success of your sales team.

1. Job Involvement

A great sales rep is intimately entwined with their job.  Type A Personality is an overt style of behavior characterized by intense striving for achievement, easily provoked impatience, competitiveness, time urgency and overcommitment to a vocation. Job Involvement, as a component of Type A Personality, measures the psychological degree to which a salesperson possesses a singular focus on their sales role rather than other areas of their life. This does not mean they lack life balance but rather that their role is of preeminent importance to them; and this focus is a significant contributor to their success.

2. Equity Perception

The belief in equity theory is that people value fair treatment and that this motivates them to maintain fairness in their relationships with co-workers and the company. Equity Perception measures individuals’ preferences for equity (fairness) by comparing the effort individuals put into a sales role with the outcomes they achieve in exchange. The structure of equity is based on the ratio of inputs or contributions made by the sales rep for the company with their outputs. A sales rep wants to feel that their contribution and work performance are being fairly rewarded. If there’s a disconnect, they can develop hostility towards the company resulting in a drop in performance. Both the person who gets ‘too much’ and the person who gets ‘too little’ can feel distressed.

3. Hope

Positive Psychological Capital (PsyCap) is the positive and developmental state of an individual. It has a positive impact on attitude, behavior and sales performance. PsyCap comprises four positive components: Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism (HERO). Hope reflects an individual’s perception of his or her capacity to clearly conceptualize goals, develop strategies to reach those goals, and initiate and sustain the motivation to achieve them. While each HERO component stands on its own merits, when they’re all present and linked together simultaneously they can provide insight into individual satisfaction and potential for improved sales performance.

4. Performance Indifference

Self Awareness is a measure of our tendency to pay attention to our emotions, attitudes and behavior. It involves the capacity for introspection of our competence and evaluation of our capabilities and personal effectiveness. It includes the ability be reflective and accountable and to seek out sources of informed criticism; and to value, reflect and respond to them appropriately. Performance Indifference measures the degree to which an individual accurately detects gaps in their personal behaviors, traits and progress towards their goals. Research shows that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident and creative. We make more sound decisions, build stronger relationships and communicate more effectively.

5. Social Boldness

Extraversion is an element of the five-factor personality model, and is characterized by an external orientation towards people and things. Extraverts are relatively outgoing, gregarious, sociable and openly expressive; and have the tendency to seek stimulation in the company of others and be talkative. Social Boldness is a component of Extraversion and measures the tendency to fearlessly seek attention in social situations, regardless of risks or criticism.

6. Self-Handicapping

Have you ever noticed anyone (maybe even yourself) saying something prior to commencing a task (like hitting a golf ball across water) that suggests they’re not as good as they’d like to be at an activity and have sometimes fallen short before? Self-Handicapping is a measure of the extent to which an individual may anticipate failing a task, prompting the creation of impediments to performing and succeeding in the performance of it. It provides individuals with an opportunity to externalize (or excuse) their failure while internalizing (accepting credit for) their success.

7. Interpersonal Versatility

Versatility is the ability to adapt to different types of people, and to monitor and manage the tension that is a natural part of every human interaction. Interpersonal Versatility reflects the effort a person makes to succeed in creating productive relationships,
the skill shown in that effort, and the approval they earn as a result of it. Versatility is not simply the ability to get along with others. Rather, it’s dealing with others in such a way that people come away from social encounters feeling better about themselves. In another words, a truly versatile relationship increases the effectiveness and productivity of both parties. High versatility can translate into people feeling comfortable and/or impressed with our behavior.

8. Success Motivation

Enterprising Mindset is a capability to completely focus on opportunities and take action as fast as possible. It comprises purposeful, active behavior in making things happen, having ideas and acting on them to take advantage of opportunities, and bring about change. Enterprising sales reps use initiative to seek out demanding tasks that produce the rewards of achievement. They seek out new business, develop new ideas and
explore new areas with energy, motivation and drive. Success Motivation is one component of Enterprising Mindset that measures the extent to which an enterprising rep is highly motivated, energetic, and has the capacity for hard work. Sales reps high in Success Motivation are busy, driven, dynamic and highly committed to getting things done. Their high motivation levels are characterized by a high need for achievement and autonomy, manifesting as a desire to lead, shape and complete projects, and achieve quota.

9. Adaptive Selling

Measuring an individual’s capacity for Adaptive Selling examines the extent to which they’re capable of deploying a custom or tailored approach to selling that takes into account the type of customer, the sales situation and the feedback they receive. Adaptive Selling encompasses the practice of altering one’s sales approach and behaviors during customer interactions based on perceived information about the nature of the engagement.

10. Self-confidence

Self-confidence is an attitude about skills and abilities that enables salespeople to accept and trust themselves, and have a sense of control in sales situations. Self-confident individuals understand their strengths and weakness, have a constructive view of themselves, and set achievable expectations and goals. Self-confidence measures the extent of an individual’s trust in their ability, capacity and judgment; and their belief that they can successfully face day to day sales challenges and demands.

How We Help You Hire The Best Salespeople And Avoid The Liabilities

PredictionPredict utilizes predictive analytics to help companies build high-performing sales teams that can transform your organization. Our talent and data-science driven modules accurately predict the performance of sales hires based on the exact Performance Fingerprint of the job you are hiring for so you know what you’re getting BEFORE you hire them.

PredictionPredict offers valuable insights both pre-hire and post-hire. Our sales assessment software ensures you hire the best salespeople possible, thanks to scientific research and data-driven insights. Counterintuitively, we also place a strong focus on identifying people who are not a good performance fit for your roles.

It is no longer necessary (or useful) to google, “What are the top 10 traits of a salesperson?”, because you can now discover what these traits are for your own sales roles by utilizing your company’s history and data to uncover what it is you should be looking for.

If you are a leader responsible for driving sales performance, join modern companies such as UiPathCrowdStrike, Mercedes-Benz and others in the pursuit of sales excellence.

Hire Top Performing Sales Reps With PerceptionPredict

PerceptionPredict Performance Fingerprints capture the “sales DNA” necessary for success in specific roles. They utilize predictive analytics to determine how individuals will perform before they are hired or promoted. This is invaluable to recruiters and hiring managers trying to understand how many “units” a sales candidate can sell if they’re hired.

Performance Fingerprints are customized sales performance predictions that predict the actual KPIs relevant to your sales job roles. Sales candidates complete a bespoke process in less than twenty minutes that predicts actual performance results for your sales roles.

Book a demo here to find out more about how PerceptionPredict Performance Fingerprints.

Brandon Kinsey

Brandon Kinsey

Brandon’s experience lies in coaching, leadership, team building, and strategic planning. With a social science and leadership background, Brandon has over 19 years of experience coaching individuals and teams. He has a proven track record in driving sales and bottom-line results through relationships, team building and project management execution. Brandon is passionate about empowering leaders with the playbook to uniquely build their teams.

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