When we book a vacation, we select where we will stay and what we will do while thinking about it from different perspectives – recreation, environment, dining, distance, time of year, length, etc. We do the same thing when we select the clothes we wear or the car we drive. But when we select a salesperson, we sometimes focus on filling a spot, how the candidate looks and sounds, and our need to find someone fast to keep cash flowing. We then hurry along the recruiting process, and we miss important selection dimensions which make a big and profitable difference on the best fit for the role. 

To meet this challenge, we select someone by evaluating their potential through 3 main frames of reference – all together they provide a holistic decision and a higher chance of achieving a faster ramp-up to minimum production and lowering turnover. 

These are: Conscientiousness • Intelligence • Personality


Let’s start with Conscientiousness and break it down into 3 parts – Character • Attitudes • Motivation 

Now remember this … Recruit CHARACTER First! Character is the summation of values and beliefs operating through a person and upon the world around them. Character builds the reputation of a company or a person. Sales culture shaping begins with the character of people allowed to join the team – their values and beliefs. It continues in their coaching. 

Do you know the character traits in a salesperson that are non-negotiable when hiring a rep? These 4 character traits must be present before you will select someone for a sales position:

  1. Honesty
  2. Hard Work Ethic
  3. Personal Responsibility
  4. Concern for Others

These 4 character traits are non-negotiable. Lots of negative impact to a sales culture and the company occur when these are not present in a salesperson or a sales force.  If they are present, customer referrals and repeat business increase, a company’s reputation and brand in the marketplace increases in value, and overall sales for the long-term rise to amazing heights.

That’s recruiting character first, now for the second part of conscientiousness.

Two Attitudes that Make a Difference

Values and beliefs decide our attitudes toward sales and toward the products we sell. Some people value financial products and how they help other people. Others value water filtration products, cars, wireless devices, security products, etc. When assessing candidates, we want to make sure that they value our products or services and believe in their customer benefits. We also want to make sure they value being a professional salesperson. 

Finally, to make sure conscientiousness is high in the salespeople we employ we will interview them to discover the strength of Their Motivation Center? Salespeople must want to perform well, so hire people who have one of these two motivations toward sales goal achievement: 

  1. Find someone who must earn a certain amount of money beyond what your minimum sales standard will provide. 
  2. Find someone who loves to compete and must perform in the top 25% of your existing reps. 

Character, attitudes and motivations produce people who are not lazy, irresponsible, dishonest or selfish.  They create conscientious or industrious salespeople, and conscientiousness has been researched as having the greatest predictability for job performance next to intelligence.

Intelligence or General Mental Ability

Some sales positions require a certain level of mental ability to handle the math, verbal, and problem-solving required for success. They sometimes require a person to pass testing like in the insurance field. Other positions require the understanding of complex systems.  No matter the position, a high general mental ability (GMA) always produces faster learners, and as jobs become more complex, it is an absolute necessity.

There are many tests for this on the market including the Learning Style Survey portion of the CTS Sales Profile. GMA is the second most important dimension in a candidate, and it is important to understand that science shows this factor as having the highest validity in any job for learning fast and doing well.  While it is important, it is still the second most important selection for recruiting great salespeople.


Having the right personality traits for a job helps to lower stress, increase sales performance and decrease turnover. That’s because hard-wired tendencies exist within people that help them do things with less stress and greater intuition. While training can develop habits to overcome a natural predisposition, some people are born to sell what you sell with greater ease than others. They will also gain skills in a shorter time frame and will find greater enjoyment doing sales tasks. It’s the same in sports: from quarterback candidates to defensive linemen; catchers or shortstops. People are naturally gifted. 

In different types of sales positions, success requires certain sales skills and competencies. Sales, like all professions, requires the ability to do certain tasks well. These tasks vary depending upon market and company requirements, but the basic ones are: 

  1. Find leads (network, social media, etc.)
  2. Prospect leads for appointments (set them)
  3. Hold appointments (multiple skills)
  4. Present to decision maker(s)
  5. Ask for the business
  6. Follow up and ask for referrals

So, what do the profiles of excellent salespeople look like in your industry? Are there some common characteristics among these people? 

How high is their drive to reach deadlines? Are they motivated on achieving an end result (sale) in a short time frame? 

Will they keep key activity levels high or is strategic thinking and well-planned sales calls more important? 

What technical analysis is necessary? 

How socially driven are they? Do they have a high need for recognition and attention? Will they find leads and prospect well? Will they network well? 

How socially confident are they? How assertive can they be when expressing themselves, asking sensitive questions, or asking people to make a decision? 

Does the sales role require an independent, entrepreneurial spirit, or a participative, teaming personality? 

Is optimism important, or customer service? 

Do they promote (sell) themselves, the company, and products and services by stressing benefits and embellishing the sizzle of these things? 

Can they: 

  1. Handle rejection?
  2. Set appointments?
  3. Adapt to different personalities?
  4. Listen?
  5. Ask people to make a decision?

Personality makes a big difference.  My oldest son is a nuclear engineer. He is not a salesperson. He will not be a salesperson. My middle son is a sales rep, movie producer and writer. My youngest son is a hands on carpenter, painter and tiler.  Their personality traits more naturally gravitate to these differing work positions.

To Sum It All Up

It’s important to recruit conscientiousness first followed by the necessary level of intelligence. Then, we look for the personality traits aligned with the positions.

These three areas are most important for recruiting great salespeople. When selecting salespeople for your company, you may make tradeoffs in any of these three, but never allow people without conscientiousness or high character to work for your company. Look for Industrious, hard-working, and honest people with the motivation and desire to prospect for new customers. People who will make sure that your clients are served well will always create stronger sales teams and highly thought of companies.

Now, select people with care, and if we can help you with the processes, tools, and skills to recruit the best people, please call us.


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