Why Spock Would Hire The Best Salespeople

Logic vs. intuition. Brains vs. heart. It’s a classic showdown. When it comes to hiring salespeople, which should you use?


As a company that uses predictive analytics to help people hire salespeople, we have an obvious preference here at Ideal.

But let’s take a look at what the research tells us we should be using to hire the best salespeople.

Data or intuition?

In general, people tend to make decisions in a similar way across situations and over time. A recent study by Wood and Highhouse examined the quality of people’s decisions resulting from their preferred decision making style. The study involved 315 people and 168 of their peers.

They looked at 5 different decision making styles:

  • Rational: emphasizing logic, using facts, assessing alternatives
  • Intuitive: going with your gut, making decisions that “feel right”
  • Dependent: consulting others and asking for their advice first
  • Avoidant: postponing decisions until the last minute
  • Spontaneous: impulsive, making decisions as quickly as possible

The quality of people’s decisions was assessed using 2 metrics:

  • How satisfied the person was with his or her decisions
  • How good their decisions were considered to be by their peers

The Results

Both a rational and an intuitive decision making styles were positively related to self-rated decision quality.

But only the rational decision making style was significantly related to peer ratings of decision quality. 


These results are consistent with prior research that found rational decision makers were more satisfied with their jobs (Crossley & Highhouse, 2005) and less likely to make errors in judgments (Denes-Raj & Epstein, 1994).

The researchers conclude, “We suspect that a rational decision style is effective in all aspects of everyday life.”

The Takeaways

If you want to be happy with the decisions you make, research suggests you can use either your logic or your intuition. But if you want to make decisions that are respected by your colleagues, the winner is using your logic and data.

Why are decisions made using our intuition considered inferior by others? It’s likely because these decisions become contaminated by the subjective biases we all fall victim to.

We need to stop thinking of hiring as an art and treat it like the science that it is. Your improved sales hiring outcomes – and bottom line – will thank you.

And Spock? He’d approve.


What data do you use when hiring salespeople? Let me know in the comments.

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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