The 3 Biggest Mistakes Salespeople Make and How to Avoid Hiring For Them

3biggestmistakessalessurvey of 138 B2B customers across industries found the biggest mistakes salespeople make include: not listening to customers’ needs (18%), not following up (17%), and being pushy, aggressive, or disrespectful (12%).

Let’s identify how these complaints may have resulted from poor hiring practices.

#1 Not listening to their needs:

Salespeople who lack good listening skills also tend to lack empathy (i.e., the ability to see the situation from the buyer’s perspective), an important facet of emotional intelligence (Petrides & Furnham, 2001). Research has shown that sales reps higher in emotional intelligence have higher total sales revenue (Jennings & Palmer, 2007).

#2 Not following up:

A failure to follow up properly with clients may be due to a lack of persistence and dependability, which are behaviors that make up the personality trait of conscientiousness. A meta-analysis of 129 studies found conscientiousness to be one of the most important predictors of sales performance (Vinchur, Schippmann, Switzer, & Roth, 1998).

#3 Being pushy, aggressive, or disrespectful:

The pushy and aggressive sales rep archetype is increasingly unwelcome in today’s marketplace of insight selling. Salespeople with these tendencies are likely to be – counterintuitively – too extraverted. A recent study by Wharton Professor Grant (2013) found that extraversion has a positive relationship with sales productivity only up to a certain point. Beyond that point sales started to suffer, probably because the sales rep was perceived as being too pushy. The lesson here: No one likes dealing with an overbearing jerk.

The most interesting thing about these 3 mistakes is that they are all personality characteristics that can be easily tested for when recruiting a new salesperson. Many sales hiring tools today offer the functionality of psychometric assessment pre-hire, so you can avoid mistake makers before they’re even on your payroll.

If your hiring process doesn’t include a valid and reliable assessment of these traits, you could be unknowingly costing yourself time and your company money.

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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