Build Your Sales Team Using Personality Assessments

BY Tim Londergan
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I once worked for a general sales manager who employed a peculiar litmus test for hiring team members. He would only hire candidates with personality traits resembling the kids he hung out with in high school! In doing so, he reasoned he would gather a crew that, if not familiar, was, at least, one he could get along with. Given the hiring practices of the period, when candidates were plentiful and jobs were scarce, it may have seemed a suitable solution to team building.

Well, it turns out that assembling a sales team that approximates the “cool crowd” from days of our youth is not the best way to comprise a winning lineup. In fact, research has found that teams constructed of a diversity of personality types outperform those that contain similar traits. On the other hand, my sales manager’s belief that using personality assessments as a consideration for hiring was spot-on.

Using personality assessments supports team success

Think of your most recent hire. Of all the characteristics you consider during the hiring process, which one do you give the most weight to? It may be skills, knowledge, experience, or other subjective or industry-​related criteria. Similarly, you may believe that each position requires the candidate possess a particular set of skills or cognitive ability. Regardless of your chosen method, using personality assessments can pre-​qualify, disqualify or help to rank competing candidates to complement your team and streamline your hiring process.

There are plenty of personality profiling tools

Today, there is an abundance of personality tests available. These assessments help people understand themselves and those around them for any number of purposes or intent. In fact, using personality assessments and strength finders has become commonplace. 

Personality assessments are used to establish workplace profiles, marital compatibility, leadership development, and team building, plus countless other applications. Heather Harper provides a brief history and a concise overview in a recently updated ranking of personality tests. Separately, she authored an article, “How To Use The Science of Personality When Building an Effective Team”, that identifies five traits that capture the most important aspects of personality. This collection of traits, known to psychologists as the Big‑5 Model, is an organization of personality traits in terms of five basic dimensions:

  1. Extraversion
  2. Agreeableness
  3. Contentiousness
  4. Neuroticism
  5. Openness to experience

It’s evident that each dimension can contribute a degree of influence on the team. Subsequently, these facets are nuanced and will each possess their own inherent strengths and weaknesses. The author cautions that it is important to recognize that one personality type is not particularly better than another. However, by using personality assessments, a savvy hiring manager can strategically develop a team with complementary personality traits.

Mix and match personalities to create your best team

Now, we have assessments that go beyond personality and take psychometric details into account. Using these assessments, you don't have to guess at how a candidate will perform in your company. You can build a selling dream team to produce the proper measure of push and pull. In an ideal world, your team would have extroverts to lead the tasks, agreeable employees to reduce conflict, conscientious members to produce quality work, and emotionally stable individuals to keep calm and carry on.

Keep in mind, the team’s personality configuration can be influenced by the type of work, the external pressure from clients and suppliers, and the physical work environment, be it remote or in-​person. Using personality and psychometric assessments to guide hiring, coaching and incentivizing will enable you to create a cohesive team that outperforms your competition.

Photo by Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash