How Not To Hire The Worst Salespeople

What do people hate about salespeople?

A new survey by the American Management Association found the biggest mistakes salespeople make include:

  1. Being too pushy (24%)
  2. Not taking “no” for an answer (23%)
  3. Not listening (18%)

Let’s see what the data tell us on how not to hire salespeople who use these ineffective tactics.

Sales mistake #1: Being too pushy

Extraversion – being assertive, enthusiastic, and social – is considered a necessary trait for sales. But salespeople can be too extraverted, which ends up hurting their performance. Research has found that it’s the middle of the pack, the so-called ambiverts, that tend to be most successful in sales. These ambiverts combine the best of both worlds: persuasive go-getters who know when it’s time to talk and ask questions and when it’s time to listen to the buyers’ needs.

Sales mistake #2: Not taking “no” for an answer

Persistence is another trait that’s considered essential in sales. But what prospects and customers think is too persistent is probably not what salespeople think is. For example, data analyzed by InsightSquared found that even 8+ attempts to connect with a prospect can arguably be worth it.

The key here might be hiring salespeople who can challenge the buyer’s preconceptions and provide value through insight, as well as adapt their sales presentation to address the buyer’s true objection.

Sales mistake #3: Not listening

Empathy – the ability to listen and understand the buyer’s perspective – is another foundational trait for sales. Research has found that salespeople with the best social skills (and high intelligence) tend to becomes the ones that are perceived as “trusted advisors” by their customers.

The takeaways

There are countless recommendations on the traits you should look for to hire the best salespeople. I’ll add to the pile and tell you that assessing extraversion, persistence, and empathy in salespeople is a good start.

But what matters isn’t just what you measure but how you measure it: use objective data when hiring to avoid making a big mistake yourself.

What are you doing to avoid hiring the worst salespeople? Let me know in the comments or tweet @recruit_smarter.

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min