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I recently had a meeting with an executive who asked himself the following question: how do I recruit the ideal salesperson?

As our discussion progressed, the conversation drifted on to the criteria required to be an ideal candidate. Often to find the perfect salesperson, one thinks of the following criteria: “a representative must have a lot of interpersonal skills because he or she must build friendly relationships with the potential customers he or she meets!” In fact, this was one of the points that the executive enthusiastically shared with me.

However, this trait isn’t predictive of your future representative’s success.

Debunking “I understand what people feel and I am very social!”

Whether or not you use personality tests within your company when hiring your sales force, you will surely check the social skills and the ability of candidates to connect and build relationships.

What does this indicator measure? It is a criterion that speaks of an individual’s empathy or rather his or her ability to identify with others or to feel another person’s emotions.

The problem is that empathy doesn’t indicate whether the candidate will be able to develop a relationship with potential clients quickly. You will be even less able to measure how quickly your candidate will establish this relationship. Indeed, although the majority of candidates can develop a relationship, only a small portion manage to do so fast – speed matters.

As far as empathy is concerned, it is beneficial at the beginning of the sales process, when the candidate is trying to understand the compelling reasons for buying. However, empathy can harm the candidate when trying to qualify the potential customer and close the sale. Empathy will make him or her vulnerable to objections, excuses and justifications from the potential client because the salesperson will be sympathetic to the prospective client’s motives.

Debunking ” I can convince prospects!”

Do you have confident representatives who say they can convince prospects? Do they assure you they will sell every time?

If you base yourself on this character trait, you run the risk that your sales rep won’t be producing much more than high hopes. Knowing how to convince is a personality trait, but it isn’t a sales competency. Instead, look for candidates who can identify potential customers’ problems and their compelling reasons for buying.

Debunking “the ability to deal with objections.”

Salespeople must be able to handle refusals, rejections and objections. These pushbacks are more likely to occur during prospecting and at closing.

What should you look for in candidates that would indicate they can cope with this common situation?

Following a “no,” will your representative continue to make prospecting calls or will he or she be physically or psychologically affected by the “defeat”?

While personality tests measure fear of rejection, the sales-specific assessments Prima Resource uses measures the impact of rejection. Knowing the effects of sales objections, refusals and rejections – in conjunction with other factors such as the need for approval and the willingness to prospect – allows us to predict whether representatives will be able to prospect consistently.

A sales-specific evaluation will also make it possible not only to detect the impact of active rejections (the prospect says “no” to the salesperson) but also that of passive rejections (the opportunity doesn’t call the salesperson back). Some salespeople are only vulnerable to this second type of rejection, which is just as limiting as active rejection.

This second type of rejection is more present with the increasing use of “social” sales tools.

Understanding the difference between a personality test and a sales-specific evaluation

Too often, in interviews, recruiters base their perception of candidates on their personality. However, hiring decisions shouldn’t be subjective. Only objective interviews can predict the sales performance of individuals.

The vocabulary usually used in personality tests adapted for sales suggests they’re an evaluation of salespeople’s performance, whereas, in reality, they have merely been modified to suit to the sales profession. Although they use sales terms, the skills and abilities analyzed are not explicitly related to this field.

These questions relate to society in general, and not sales specifically.

If you are currently wondering how to recruit the ideal salesperson and reduce your recruitment costs, check out our webinar on the topic.