Is It Time to Hire an HSP Sales Rep?

BY Kathy Crosett
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In many sales jobs, being detail-​oriented is synonymous with success. Does that mean you should hire a highly-​sensitive person (HSP) as a sales rep the next time you need to fill a position? Harvey Deutschendorf explains what you need to know in his Fast Company article.

Defining an HSP

Analysts love to classify people and things into categories. That way, they can compare and contrast one group with another. Classifying individuals as highly sensitive people is one way to point to differences in human responses to various stimuli. For example, when some people hear a loud noise, it barely registers with them. When HSPs hear the same noise, they may jump and complain that their ears hurt. Research suggests up to 20% of humans fall into the HSP category. Let’s take a look at how an HSP sales rep can positively impact your organization and how you can spot these individuals during the hiring process.

What HSPs Bring to the Sales Process

While many of us think of successful sales reps as being outgoing and gregarious individuals, "HSPs are very caring, empathetic, and emotionally responsive to the needs of others," Deutschendorf points out. During the sales process, prospects will quickly pick up on whether a rep seems to actually care about their business problems. Sales pros who don’t appear to be listening during the discovery process won’t be perceived as empathetic and may be dismissed by prospects.

When an HSP pitches a prospect, they’ll notice details that other reps miss. Has the prospect suddenly stopped paying attention once they hear the price of your solution? Is the prospect checking their phone when your rep describes the conversion from their legacy product to your solution? These negative signals serve as a warning — it’s time to pivot the current approach to one that’s more appealing. HSPs who can operate in this way contribute to the success of your organization.

How to Hire an HSP Sales Rep

So how do you hire an HSP into your sales organization? You can start by using a comprehensive sales competency assessment. These types of assessments measure how well a candidate understands general sales skills like discovery and closing. But they go well beyond standard assessments. Sales competency assessment results give you a glimpse into how a person behaves in the workplace and what motivates them.

For example, the assessment may indicate that the candidate will need more training if they’re going to be tasked with identifying the right target buyer. A low score in this area isn’t a show stopper. It’s not terribly difficult to help a rep develop this area. With proper coaching, they can learn to learn to study the market to determine details like whether the prospect generally fits the ideal customer profile.

A more important hiring determination may rest on a candidate's workplace tendencies and styles. Candidates who achieve high scores when it comes to tracking details and possessing empathy may deserve a second look.

The down side may be that HSPs react slowly to change. They’ll feel the impact of a reorganization more intensely than their co-​workers. These team members may also struggle to keep up in an agile environment. As a result, you may spend more time coaching them than you'd planned.

As you interview candidates for your open position, think about how you prefer to work and consider the general vibe of the team. An HSP sales rep may be exactly what you need.