10 Skills Your New Sales Hires Need (Hint: it’s not all about personality)

Hiring sales representatives isn’t easy.

In fact, according to ManPower’s 10th Annual Talent Shortage Survey, the fourth-hardest job to hire for in 2015 was sales representative.

Many organizations searching for sales talent rely on personality-focused pre-hire assessments like DiSC, Meyers-Briggs, the Predictive Index and other similar assessments without questioning their true value. While the results of such tests are certainly telling of a candidate’s potential culture fit within an organization, personality tests alone cannot predict some of the most important things about a new hire – like how much revenue a potential sales candidate will bring in, or what his or her actual performance, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction will look like.

Sales candidates who achieve the greatest amount of success in the shortest amount of time are those who not only fit the personality profile for the role, but also possess the right combination of KSA’s (knowledge, skills, and abilities) for the job in the form of ten critical sales skills, discussed below.

To find the best fit, it’s important for organizations to use hiring assessment tools that are customized, focused on KSA’s, and require applicants to demonstrate proficiency in specific, sales-related competencies and duties.

Tailor Your Pre-Hire Assessments to Fit Your Sales Skills List

By tailoring the assessments you use to hire sales representatives, you can increase their predictive validity, and, consequently, increase your odds of making the right hire.

When it comes to talent acquisition software like hiring assessments, predictive validity indicates how well an assessment forecasts a candidate’s future success on the job. For an assessment to provide truly accurate evidence of predictive validity, it needs to be tailored to the specific role of the specific organization.

You can help your organization be more successful in increasing the predictive validity of an assessment by updating the job profile to reflect the sales abilities, skills, and behaviors necessary for success.

FurstPerson’s proven sales skills list identifies ten competencies that are the most predictive of a candidate’s acumen and potential for success. Those are:

  1. Composure
  2. Oral communication
  3. Sales aptitude
  4. Compliance
  5. Integrity
  6. Dependability
  7. Decision-making
  8. Listening
  9. Tact
  10. Self-confidence

Although most great salespeople naturally possess similar traits, out-of-the-box assessments that have not been tailored to your organization’s specific culture or the specific role in question will have far less predictive validity than those that are customized. After all, a salesperson for Xerox must demonstrate proficiency in different areas of knowledge and schools of thought than a salesperson for Google. Using generic assessments marginalizes the nuances that may be required for one type of sales role but not another.

Focus on Testing Sales Skills, Knowledge, and Abilities

Most good sales candidates have a knack for reading their interviewers well, and telling them what they know they want to hear. However, data-driven predictive software tools ensure that underqualified representatives won’t be able to bluff their way through interviews or complex sales scenarios and role-playing.

FurstPerson research demonstrates that conducting a sales job simulation in the form of a customer call can help identify hires who, once on the job, increase sales conversion rates by as much as 25%, overall sales performance by 27%, and revenue per call by 30%.

Behavioral assessments – those that include structured-behavior interview guys and role-plays or simulations – are the most efficient way for hiring managers to get an accurate picture of a sales candidate’s skills and abilities. Unlike a simple personality test, a job simulation tailored to a specific position has the ability to measure a wider spectrum of candidate KSA’s, including:

  • Multi-tasking ability
  • Data entry accuracy
  • Computer ability
  • Sales orientation
  • Service orientation

With the help of hiring assessment tools and role-playing, hiring managers can get true grasp of a sales candidate’s skills and abilities by having the candidate demonstrate them, as opposed to just talking about them.

Learn how assessments can help you improve your quality of hire by downloading our white paper below, or speak with one of our talent selection specialists for more information.