Do you need a hunter outside salesperson or more of an inside salesperson?
Someone who leads with making a friend and developing a relationship based on emotions or someone who factually solves a problem?
In order to identify the right person for your sales team it is essential to answer these two questions.
Among the most important personality strengths is tenacity, or grit, which include traits such as persistence, initiative, forward-thinking and problem-solving tendencies, competitiveness, and a desire to fight for a desired outcome. And it is essential in a hunter-oriented sales role.
Gritty people, often called "Type A" people, develop relationships, but those relationships are based on the solutions they provide through their products and services. Millions of dollars are spent every year attempting to teach salespeople how to be more tenacious. But people either have that attribute or they don't.
Besides taking a personality assessment how can you tell if a candidate has tenacity or grit?
One way is to see how comfortable a candidate is with confrontation.
Toward the end of an interview, tell the candidate, "Based on what I have heard from you so far, it doesn't seem like you have what it takes to make it as a salesperson in our company. Do you have any questions before we end the interview?"
Try it, then watch how they react. Do they get sheepish and acquiesce? Or do they lean in and make the case that you are wrong in your assumption? In other words, do they put up a fight?
Another important personality construct is extroversion. Extroverts typically have a strong social ability, and are good at reading social cues, empathizing, friendliness, and being smooth with words. You need it if the sale is intangible. You don't if your product is tangible, and the sale is more solution oriented.
Extroverts develop relationships through emotions, feelings, and being your "buddy."
Determining whether someone is extroverted or not is among the easiest constructs to determine without a personality assessment.
In an interview it shows up as likability and saying the right things. It can also show up as painting pictures with words rather than giving direct answers.
Now that we have outlined two important traits in identifying the right salespeople it's important to share how they relate to one another. Please note: Only a highly valid personality assessment can accurately determine the power of each of these constructs.
We are going to assume in the first two examples that the candidate is both tenacious and extraverted. If this is the case, one typically wins against the other.
Tenacity/Grit over Extroversion
The right combo for the best hunter consultative salesperson is someone whose tenacity/grit is more pronounced than extroversion. Finding a solution is more important than making a friend. They tend to be more comfortable with confrontation and typically have no inhibition asking for the sale.
Extroversion over Tenacity/Grit
The right combo for the best hunter relationship salesperson is someone whose extroversion is more pronounced than their tenacity/grit. Making the prospective buyer know, like and trust them is the priority, but they still have enough tenacity/grit to ask for the business.
These types of salespeople are not good at consultative sales, but they tend to get in front of more prospects. They like making friends figuring everyone they meet will either buy from them or know someone who could.
Low Tenacity/Grit and High Extroversion
This is the prototypical inside salesperson. There is not much initiative here nor true closing ability. This person is typically a good listener and knows how to put people at ease. Retail sales is a common successful venture for this combo. But truly, this person is simply masterful at low-key friend-making.
So, for example, if your brand always gets to make a pitch and all you need is a low-pressure representative to simply connect well and make a friend with prospects, this combo could be ideal.
But be forewarned. Since there is little or no grit here, pushing for the sale beyond making a friend is typically not in their "wheelhouse."
High Tenacity/Grit and Low Extroversion
This is a bulldog. They simply will the sale to happen. They are highly consultative, but typically not good at making a friend or coming across as all that likable.
However, this combo can be good at dealing with prospects who are also tenacious. Tenacious people want to win, and they can't stand wasting time talking to long-winded salespeople. So those who are solely tenacious understand this and sell by cutting out all the fluff and bullet point the return on investment.
Low Tenacity/grit/Grit and Low Extroversion
Very rarely is this combo good at sales or even attracted to sales positions.
If they are in a sales role, it is most often some form of inside, technical sale or a script-based telemarketing position.
As the adage goes, "Nothing happens until you make a sale." But sales aren't going to happen if you have salespeople in the wrong roles.
While there are other aspects of personality that are also important to ensure sales success like warmth, pace, and attention to detail, the two we just covered are the variables that tend to drive sales the most.
Doug is a personality expert and advisor to more than 500 founders and CEOs worldwide. If you'd like to find out (for free) if your sales team has Tenacity/Grit and Extroversion in the right places, you can learn more at WHOmattersthemost.com.