Sales is unlike any other job in business, because rejection is ubiquitous.
Accountants do not get rejected each day, even if we do not like their numbers.
Writers do not get rejected by their words.
And, for the most part, though people who work in the same office day in and day out may argue, they are not exposed to the constant stream of invalidation that salespeople experience as a natural part of their jobs.
Rejection is naturally difficult to handle. In the most basic sense, it is the feedback that lets us know that we have done something wrong or that our efforts are unwanted.
In nature, rejection commonly indicates that an animal is not a viable member of a pack or as a mate. For humans, rejection commonly affects the way a person feels about him or herself. It could breed emotions of shame, resentment, guilt and affect our sense of self-worth.
Successful salespeople look at rejection differently.
They do not take it personally. They do not dwell on it. Most importantly, rejection does not faze them when it comes to their next call because surely the next one will be successful.
They need to have an unyielding sense of optimism that works to their advantage . . . an optimism that is deep set and founded in an inherent sense of self-worth. These individuals may face rejection frequently, and yet they still persevere.
What Happens When You Hire a Salesperson Without Optimism?
Are you stuck with salespeople whose pessimism shows every day?
A pessimistic salesperson will start to lose motivation quickly when a few rejections come in.
He will see many leads as futile tasks if they do not show immediate signs of interest in the product, letting many potential clients slip through the cracks.
He will also start to avoid approaching new leads, already convinced that he will be turned down yet again.
Not only can this be dangerous for your company’s sales goals, it can also impact the rest of your team. Pessimism, just like optimism, can be contagious.
If you have someone who is either not interested in or capable of being a successful salesperson, then you may find that the rest of your team starts to underperform or lose some of their natural tendency towards optimism.
Optimism – An Inherent Trait
It would be nice if this attitude could be taught, but no matter how “rah-rah” the sales trainer or motivational speaker is, optimism is an innate characteristic we are born with and developed at a young age. By the time we set out down a career path, we either have it or we don’t.
Research overwhelmingly shows that without built-in optimism, we have very little chance of becoming a high-performing salesperson. The rejection quotient is just too tough to handle over time.
It has been said that sales is very similar to the game of baseball. In baseball, you can get one hit every three and a half times at bat, striking out the other times, and still be in the Hall of Fame. It is that hard to hit a baseball thrown by professional pitchers. The sales ratio may be more like one in ten, so the innate fortitude and attitude to roll with those other nine punches is critical.
Obviously, the characteristic of optimism can be easily faked in a few interviews, so hiring managers need to use stronger diagnostics and ask specific questions to coax out the truth. It is undoubtedly worth the effort, because without the non-teachable trait of optimism, salespeople will let you down over the long-term.
Find Optimism Up-Front with a Personality Test for Salespeople
So how can you truly identify this elusive trait?
Rather than relying on a gut-instinct that may be manipulated by a good personality, many sales recruiters are starting to look into scientific methods to find optimism in candidates before they ever reach the in-person interview stage.
One of the most important features to look for in a sales personality test is its use of a psychologically-proven method of Forced-Choice formatting, which allows candidates to choose which among a series of statements is most, and which is least like them. The line of questioning should be presented in a positive context to make different choices appear equally advantageous. This ensures that candidates feel comfortable choosing the answer that is truly aligned with their personality.
Ultimately, you will need a personality assessment that can confidently identify the candidate’s Drive score, measuring the levels of key inherent traits of successful salespeople: Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism. Together, these three unteachable traits are the best indicator of long-term sales producers.
While you can use the personality test for salespeople at any point in the hiring process (or with your existing sales team), many recruiters and managers choose to use it to weed out candidates from the very start. Implementing the test in the beginning of the sales hiring process weeds out uninterested candidates and those who are least likely to perform well in a sales environment.
By screening for Optimism, along with Need for Achievement and Competitiveness, you will identify sales candidates who are willing to work every day to make sure that their performance is improving over time.
Take Advantage of Multi-Faceted Solutions
People who exhibit high-Drive and who fit into your work environment well will not only help your team become more successful, they can help create a fun work atmosphere for everyone.
Keep your team going strong by investing in a proven sales testing program to vet your candidates before they ever get to the interview process. You will find that a team that is structured properly moves in a more interconnected manner towards success.
Tools like The DriveTest™ can help you get to that point while avoiding the frustration of poor performers and those who do not have the optimism to work in a strong sales role.
Combined with a comprehensive behavioral interview process, you can start to build a team that will benefit your company now and into the future.