The Myth of the Natural Born Sales Wonder

When I researched the field of using personality inventories to determine future sales success potential, I found the following flaws in their application and interpretation:

1. Personality researchers assume that people are predisposed to sales and that there exists an 'ideal' sales personality. From experience alone you will know people of widely different personalities in sales who are both successful and unsuccessful. Indeed many unsuccessful salespeople join other companies and become successful, whilst successful salespeople leave to further their careers elsewhere only to subsequently become unsuccessful.

In many of the sales forces I examined I continually came across inconsistencies in personality amongst the top 20% of performers. In particular, most of the personality profiles would lead you to believe that successful salespeople are confident and goal orientated. My own findings showed that top salespeople are generally less confident internally and certainly more insecure that their lower performing colleagues. This is borne out by top performers in other fields. Insecurity appears to come with the territory of high performance. Perhaps it's the uncertainty of not knowing how long this high performance level can last? Yet, when I attempted to apply this factor into a personality inventory I found the same low correlations as exist in all other inventories.

In addition my own research clearly established that each company has its own 'personality'. In some cases, getting on with the boss's assistant and his/her favoured henchmen is a greater contributory factor to longevity of employment than a supposed sales personality. This leads me to the next point.

2. Hardly any company buying personality inventories conducts sufficient internal research in order to validate the instrument they are using. When I conducted my own research I applied an instrument to a) all existing salespeople in the company b) all applicants, and c) all new joiners, over a 24-month period. I also attempted to keep in touch with applicants who were unsuccessful in their application.

I drew up a profile of unsuccessful and successful internal salespeople and divided these between new starters and existing staff. I examined the profiles of applicants who were offered a job and those that were rejected. I monitored the sales results of all salespeople against these profiles over a two-year period. Lastly I compared these results with demographic data to look for significant correlations. After two years the profiles of successful and unsuccessful salespeople were close enough to be identical. I also examined in detail all of the inventories on the market and found the same low correlations.

One of the biggest problems is that companies have no way of knowing whether those they have rejected would have been successful or not

3. All purveyors of personality inventories warn against using the results in isolation, stressing that they must be seen as part of a total process. In all cases where personality inventories were being used as part of a selection process I observed a disproportionate credence being placed on the results of the inventory. Sales managers have a tendency to believe in instruments which are seen to be academically accredited, and which absolve them from making incorrect selection decisions. It should be said however, that in processes where the only mechanism for deciding future potential is an interview, managers were generally wrong in 50% of cases. Even so, despite the guidance to avoid 'gut-feeling' on interviews, I found that 'gut-feeling' proved more intuitive at pre-guessing success than any inventory.

4. The greatest problem with personality inventories is that the candidate completes them themselves. I recall a quote from John Hillier (Chair of NCVQ) who said ? 'I can convince myself that I am in control of my weight provided I do not go anywhere near the scales'. The tendency to either lie or exaggerate is strong in salespeople wishing to make their biggest sale ? employment. Most inventories contain a few questions, which they say are 'lie detectors'. Once again, I found that many salespeople know which these questions are and therefore learn to avoid making exaggerated claims about their ability in the questionnaire, only to save that exaggeration for the interview. Many managers when interviewing, lack the skills to explore these exaggerated claims.

5. A question - if these inventories work, why have they not reduced labour turnover and failure, and increased success? They haven't.

6. An observation ? some of the best salespeople I have ever met are those selling personality inventories!

Frank Salisbury is a highly experience motivational speaker, and inspiring business coach, particularly to the sales profession. Frank is recognised as a leading authority in the field of sales - including sales process design, sales performance, and sales coaching.

He strongly believes that whether we work in the public or private sector; whether our organisation is commercial or non-commercial; that we are all in sales. His favourite quote, which has become his maxim, is from Robert Louis Stevenson ? 'Everything in live is selling'. He has spoken at numerous conferences and seminars where his style has received popular acclaim for a speaker with a passion for life, and achievement.

He is Managing Director of Business & Training Solutions Ltd ? a sales consultancy based in Ireland and the UK. He can be contacted at 28 Rye Close, Banbury, Oxfordshire. 0044 (0)1295250247

Selling More Effectively as a Trusted Sales Professional - Thirteen Tips

Do you want to sell more successfully using an honorable and straightforward approach? Read these... Read More

7 Keys to Turning Cold Calls Into Warm Calls

Let's face it when it comes to cold calling many of us fear being rejected.... Read More

As They Approcah the Finish Line... The Winner Is?

Recently, right before I was about to deliver a motivational speech at a sales conference,... Read More

How to Sell to the Devils Advocate

There is a car commercial running were a husband is sitting in a car with... Read More

3 Steps to Immediately Improve Sales

Want to increase sales within your company? It's not as hard to do as some... Read More

Sales Language: Whats Wrong with But?

Language is one of the most important tools you have to influence someone. The most... Read More

10 Boundless Ways To Anchor Down More Sales

1. Multiply your marketing and advertising efforts on the Internet. You can accomplish this... Read More

Get More Clients Now!

Although David has been a graphic designer for a decade, he's only been a business... Read More

The Power of Confidence

My experience has taught me that people want to buy from sales people who are... Read More

Resistance Training for Sales People

What was the quickest rejection you ever got? 2 minutes into your call? 1 minute?... Read More

Boost Your Sales With These Proven Responses

When five years ago I was faced with having to sell my services for the... Read More

Getting Them to Buy: The Two Most Important Pieces to the Sales Pitch

Why are some sales pitches more persuasive than others? Are the salespeople just naturally more... Read More

Anticipating the Audiences Reaction

Obviously, you can not know all of the things that will set off an individual... Read More

TheTop 10 Reasons Why Salespeople Get Outsold

In my business, it has been an interesting and very busy two quarters. I've worked... Read More

Visual Science of Selling

Statistics state that 55% of people judgments are made based on what is seen visually,... Read More

Your Business Approach Can Make or Break a Business Deal

Every sales presentation should start with the approach, or introduction. Your approach should be a... Read More

Mortgage Leads Are Like a Box of Chocolates

Mortgage leads are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to... Read More

How To Write A Solution - Savvy Sales Letter to To Get Clients

Too many sales letters are shaped into paper airplanes and flown into trash cans because... Read More

Selling Yourself - Its Not About You

I recently found myself suffering from a lousy cold; all the coughing, snuffling and sneezing... Read More

Really WINNING Over Customers

Three qualities are needed to sell anything in life. They are:1. STRENGTH.2. EMOTION.3. CONFIDENCE.If you... Read More

Build Rapport by Mirroring

Traditionally, salespeople look for something in the office that begs a question. For example, "Is... Read More

Busting Your Assumptions: Effective Probing Techniques for Sales Professionals

Do you find yourself making these kinds of assumptions?- "I lost the sale because my... Read More

Reaching Goals in Direct Sales

From surveys and experience, we've noticed many setting excellent goals for their business. We've also... Read More

Stop Selling! for the Million Dollar Contract

During the introduction of the "Stop Selling!" philosophy, we typically use the example of buying... Read More

Top 10 Secrets to Fully Embrace Sales and Exceed Your Goals Forever!

1.- REMAIN VERY CLIENT FOCUSED! Not Company focused. Your clients are what is to be... Read More

How One Simple Concept Can Increase Your Sales

We all want to belong. As humans we feel the need to fit in somewhere,... Read More

Sales: The Secrets Of Super Salesmanship Exposed

Most people tremble when they hear the word "sales".This explains why most businesses fail.No matter... Read More

Are You a Sales Professional?

Many sellers like to describe themselves as professionals, but what is it that makes a... Read More

Growing Sales Through Creating Connections

Your mission as a business owner is to develop a marketing strategy which offers... Read More

Sales Marketing: 10 Explosive Strategies To Amplify Your Sales

Marketing is a skill. Once you master it, you can succeed in promoting any product... Read More

Reaching Goals in Direct Sales

From surveys and experience, we've noticed many setting excellent goals for their business. We've also... Read More

Direct Sales and the Use of Clipboards

Do you ever feel that when you are doing direct sales you find yourself not... Read More

How A Dancing Horse Can Increase Your Sales

"Yeah right!" I thought to myself as I started to turn off the TV after... Read More

Closing The Sale

Several weeks ago I asked my Newsletter subscribers to send me their biggest sales challenges.... Read More

Are You Risking The Relationship for the Sale -- And Then Losing the Sale Anyway?

Losing a sale can be disheartening, especially if you lose it for reasons you aren't... Read More

7 Sales Techniques To Differentiate You From The Competition

You have a choice. You can stand out or blend in with your competitive landscape.... Read More

Equal Chance of Winning The Sale? Bah!

Are you going to win this deal? With just less than 3 weeks left in... Read More

Get Over Your Resistance to Sales

I have found that there are two best ways to eliminate your fear or resistance... Read More

How to Boost Your Sales Letter Conversion Rate

Emotion and reason mix very well together to make excellent sales techniques. Expert copywriters, while... Read More

The Choice between Yes and Yes: A Psychological Revelation

Three year old Kara was throwing a tantrum. She didn't want to go to bed,... Read More

The Business of Closing the Sale Without Killing It

You must be able to coordinate your sales talk to service whatever step in the... Read More

Secrets to Getting in Front of Your Best Prospects

As a salesperson, your ultimate goal, of course, is to make that sale. But the... Read More

Separating Yourself from the Crowd (Part One of Two)

Warren Buffet says that insurance is a commodity and price is the main factor in... Read More

Unleash Your Inner Sales Superstar & Win More Business Right Now!

It's a rainy afternoon on a typical mid week afternoon and the telesales team isn't... Read More

Yikes - My Feet Hurt! 8 Tips for Trade Show Exhibitors

Yikes - My Feet Hurt!Concrete. Tiles. Cheap carpet. Walking, walking. Standing, standing. Talking, talking. Walking,... Read More

Dont Close Your Eyes Or Let Deaf Ears Fall Upon You

To listen to your customer is important, and to hear your customer is critical. But,... Read More

In Sales - Heres News You Can Use

Here's an idea on how to make reading the daily newspaper a source for new... Read More

How To Win Business By Networking

In sales we do tend to become focused upon our own little worlds. Our company,... Read More

Essential Training Skills for Managers

Today's manager lives in a world where change has attained Mach speeds. What holds good... Read More

Using the Consultative Approach to Gaining Sales

What do we mean by a consultative approach?When you hear the word "salesman", it usually... Read More