Sitting across the table, the CEO looked me in the eye and said, “My dad wasted a lot of money on assessments trying to find people who could sell. In our business, what I’ve learned is that about 2% of the people you hire can really sell. The rest can’t. The only way to really know is to put them on commission and see who performs.”

My dad wasted a lot of money on assessments
trying to hire people who could sell…

If you agree with him, then stop reading and click on to another website. But before you go, consider what would happen if we made other decisions that way.

For instance, what if your travel agent said, “Only 2% of airplanes can really fly. The rest of them end up crashing. The only way to know is to get on the airplane and take off.”

Or how about this from your stock broker, “Only 2% of investments really pay off. The only way to find them is to invest in everything and see which ones go up and which ones fail.”

The fact is, there are characteristics that correlate statistically with sales success (regardless of industry or product). Start looking for these three, and quit hiring people who can’t sell.


Dr. Brené Brown argues that you can’t avoid the shame of failure, but you can develop resilience. Resilience is based on believing an internal set of truths about yourself that cannot be displaced by external voices. That internal bedrock allows you to get back up after failure and rejection. Sales is filled with rejection, and the resilient sales person is able to bounce back more quickly and stay positive. Hire salespeople who already possess the trait of resilience and watch the results start happening.


In one company I visited last year, the sales manager was still accompanying the “new” sales guy a year after he had been hired. Self-reliant people don’t necessarily have every answer or every skill, but they don’t sit around and wait when they get stuck or bogged down. Hire for self-reliance and quit burning calories on salespeople who can’t perform without assistance.

High Energy

Einstein said Energy equals Mass times the Speed of Light squared (E=MC2). In sales people, Energy equals Enthusiasm, Hard Work, and Visible Effort. If your salespeople don’t bring their own high energy to the equation, you’ll have to be smarter than Einstein to get their Mass up to Speed. There is no substitute for high energy. Hire for high energy and stop wasting time and money trying to motivate your sales team to get moving.

Hiring to Predict Sales Success

How can you know which job applicant has these qualities, and predict success? Everyone puts their best foot forward in an interview, so you can’t always tell if a candidate really has specific traits or not. [For better results, try asking behavior-based questions like, “Tell me about a time when you experienced failure and had to pick yourself up and try again.”]

But there is another way to predict success, and it’s backed up by the facts.

The SalesMax pre-employment assessment identifies and measures eight characteristics linked to success in sales (the three presented above, plus five more). In scientifically validated tests, SalesMax predicted 80% of poor performers before they were hired. Candidates with top scores on the instrument sold 121% compared to the average salesperson, and sold 250% more than those with low scores. What would happen if your sales revenue went up 21%?

If you’d like to check out SalesMax,
click to request a sample or a demo.



SalesMax is an EEOC compliant pre-screening assessment that measures job applicants for eight characteristics linked to success in sales. Use SalesMax to put the odds in your favor and raise your percentage of successful hires.

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Dr. Shero believes that leadership can be learned and that the best organizations intentionally develop leadership at every level. Leaders have the privilege of influencing other human lives for the better. That's why Phillip cares so much about learning to lead well and helping others do the same.

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