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“Drive” Comes in Many Forms

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By now, you know that we would never recommend hiring anyone as a salesperson that did not have a high level of Drive, as verified by a sales aptitude test and a behavioral interview. sales-drive-comes-in-many-forms-personalities-1

These objective assessment tools that accurately assess the Drive within a candidate are necessary because unfortunately, it is easy to fake Drive over the short term.

Evaluating a person’s attitude and personality can reveal what kind of salesperson someone might potentially be.

However, stereotyping based on a first impression of someone can often produce inaccurate results.

For instance, the president of a fraternity, while perhaps a charismatic and budding leader, may be so naturally charming that he did not need Drive to make him a success in the social world. However, hiring him based on his personality alone, and attributing that to Drive, will cause problems later down the road when he is floundering in the sales world and the actual qualities of Drive are found to be lacking in him.

In fact, instead of the charismatic president, it may very well be the young, quiet man cleaning dishes in the fraternity kitchen, as one of his three jobs as he pays his way through college, is the man you are looking for. He may have the intensity and Drive required to be an outstanding producer over time.

The truth is, Drive comes in many forms.

One of the biggest mistakes a sales manager can make is assuming that their entire sales team has the same type of personality. Another fatal mistake is assuming that one type of personality will lead a company to success.

Although there seems to be a general spectrum of personality traits that tend to produce the best salespeople, the most important trait being Drive, understanding that there are different ways to close a sale is essential.

Believing that only highly outspoken and exuberant people will succeed as salespeople is to leave out an entire group of people with other strong personality traits that can also succeed in sales.


The Core Trait: Drive

Having the three non-teachable personality traits of Drive can propel any type of person into a successful sales career. Drive is made up of Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism. A candidate displaying all of these personality traits on a sales aptitude test will allow you to avoid wasting your time and money on other candidates that do not have Drive.

By administering a sales aptitude test to your candidates before the interview process, you will achieve one main goal: determining which candidates, regardless of their other traits and previous experience, exhibit the qualities of Drive.

High-Drive candidates will have an intense desire to achieve excellence (Need for Achievement), will want to be number one amongst all peers and win the customer over every time (Competitiveness) and have the certainty that their success will always reign supreme (Optimism).


Additional Traits of a Successful Salesperson

road to improving sales success

There are several types of personalities that your sales team might have, besides the dominant and outgoing personality one might stereotype as characterizing a successful salesperson. In fact, many of these personalities demonstrate high levels of Drive.

The key though, amongst all of these personality traits, is that a high level of Drive must exist and can even outweigh the other traits. That is what makes a good salesperson and why administering a sales aptitude test to your potential candidates is such an important part of the sales hiring process.

Let’s take a look at some of the top personality traits quality salespeople demonstrate:

  1. Empathy

Empathy is a crucial trait to have when dealing with people on a daily basis. Being able to understand another person’s feelings, while not necessarily agreeing with them, is what being an empathetic person means.

Empathy is important because it allows the salesperson to see through the customer’s eyes. In doing so, the salesperson can identify the customer’s needs and make a sale based on those needs.

This quiet undertone of Competitiveness is Drive in action. The salesperson wants to win the customer over but in a subtle, understanding way. He also desires to meet the challenge of understanding a view he may not share while gaining a sale in the process.

An empathetic salesperson will feel Optimistic in his understanding of the customer’s views and know that the solution is to convince the customer to buy from him.

A good salesperson with empathy will have the ability to sense the customer’s reactions and feelings and then redirect accordingly to secure a sale. There will exist a real interaction between the salesperson and customer when empathy is shared. An interaction where the fluidity of the situation is not lost on a planned out sales approach.

Empathetic salespeople will be refreshing to the customer. They will be open-minded individuals that are understanding of other people’s views and will be able to place themselves in similar situations to pinpoint a solution for the customer in the form of a sale. They will listen intently to what the customer is asking for and then provide it.

Having the ability to identify with customers makes them feel at ease and comfortable with what your salespeople are selling. Understanding their concerns and gaining their trust will lead to long-lasting and healthy relationships with each customer.

If your sales candidates cannot listen and observe the customer on a deep level, they will not be able to experience what the customer is feeling and make an appropriate and individualized sale based solely on that customer’s needs. With empathy your sales candidates will adapt their sales approach accordingly and win the customer over.

  1. Modesty

Many people believe that those with high levels of Drive are naturally pushy. Although with some salespeople this may be true, this is not always the case.

The Harvard Business Review found that 91% of top salespeople had medium to high scores of humility and modesty on personality tests. This study also showed that those who are “full of bravado” often alienate and push away more customers than they win over.

If your top salesperson lacks modesty, and rubs success in the faces of the rest of your sales team, jealousy and hostility will often creep in, damage the team and spill over into customer interactions.

Good salespeople will put their customers and even sales team first so that a sale will be secured. This form of Competitiveness seems counterintuitive but will actually gain more sales in the long run. They will not boast or gloat about big sales that were secured as they know that overconfidence has the potential to not only kill one’s own attitude and lead to a decrease in sales, but affect the rest of the team as well.

A modest salesperson will feel Optimistic inside that success will come no matter the praise or recognition that is given for previous successes. They will revel in the idea of being the quiet underdog that actually supersedes all of the other salespeople.

Success speaks for itself. Working together as a team and letting success run its natural course is the better way of competing to win the customer over and is far more effective than trying to be the head honcho.

  1. Persuasiveness

sales-persuasivenessYour salesperson’s ability to communicate effectively and persuade customers to follow his lead is essential in the world of sales.

Not to be confused with manipulating a customer to do something he/she is uncomfortable with, rather, the art of persuasion is convincing someone to do what is in his/her best interest while benefitting yourself in the process. This does not include overly aggressive or eager sales pitches, a stereotype often linked to salespeople with persuasive personalities. No, being persuasive is much more than that.

Your salespeople must first understand the problem their customer faces and come prepared with adequate solutions in the form of sales. Persuasive salespeople can then provide a convincing solution in a context that shows the customer your solution is beneficial.

A good salesperson will expect resistance at first and welcome this challenge as the Drive within prepares him to win the customer over. A persuasive salesperson enjoys negotiating. Someone with a persuasive personality can easily move though the sale cycle from start to finish while overcoming an obstacle the customer may throw at him.

  1. Problem-Solving

Sales skills are really just problem-solving skills.

A good salesperson will focus not on selling to a customer, but instead on simply solving a customer’s problem and remain Optimistic the sale will result in the end. Effective selling is all about identifying problems a customer is facing now or may face in the future, and creating solutions that are beneficial, cost-effective and convenient for the customer.

Having the leadership and Drive to seek out solutions and solve customer dilemmas is what will make a great salesperson stand out from the rest of the team. When facing the challenge of solving a customer’s problem a salesperson must: clearly identify the problem, analyze it, develop multiple solutions with variations and anticipate the customer’s potential reactions to these solutions.

Quick thinking and problem-solving skills are what it takes to make it in the industry of sales, especially complex solutions sales. There is no way of knowing which way a sale cycle will direct itself while interacting with a customer so being able to problem-solve and present the customer with an agreeable solution is one of the most effective skills in a salesperson’s arsenal.



As you can see, Drive comes in many forms. There is no one personality that defines a good salesperson but rather a mixture of traits that develop within a person. Although sometimes hard to see at first, traits such as empathy and modesty, those you may not attribute to success in the field of sales, can actually be what makes up a person’s Drive.

But make no mistake, those high in Drive cannot live any other way. That is why it is so important to use a sales aptitude test, such as The DriveTest™, in your regular hiring process. With the right kind of personality testing, you will be able to determine who has the Drive necessary to move to the next step of the sales hiring process.


Sales Hiring Simplified!

Hire top-performing salespeople with The DriveTest®. Get started now with one free test.

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