When hiring salespeople, look for candidates with 'grit'
- High-performing inside sales professionals are likely to have held mid-level leadership positions, such as VP, treasurer, manger or secretary, in college, according to a new benchmark study by predictive hiring firm Koru Inc. and AA-ISP, an international association.
- The study based its assessments on seven traits that predict success in inside sales careers: grit, rigor, impact, teamwork, curiosity, ownership and polish. Researchers rated performance for three inside sales positions: business development representatives (BDRs), account executives (AEs) and sales managers (SMs).
- Top-performing BDRs combine grit and analysis with a well-rounded academic experience; top-performing AEs excel in teamwork and have had experience in project management; and SMs have a combination of grit and impact with an emphasis on teamwork. Researchers recommend that employers look beyond traditional skills and attributes associated with sales and previous sales experience, such as grit, rigor and teamwork, in recruiting.
Job candidates don't have to be an exact fit for a given position. Recruiters, after all, don't want to make costly hiring mistakes. But looking for, say, an IT professional with good interpersonal skills, might be a better choice than a tech professional charged with staff training who's not patient, interactive or a good communicator — essential managerial traits.
Examples like those cited in Koru's study are big reason why soft skills, or "non-cognitive" skills are in high demand and proving to be valuable for long-term personal and career success. Self-motivation, concentration, confidence, delegation, organization and intuition all fall into that category.
This trend has been amplified by the predictions of labor market observers. Automation, in its many forms, is expected to replace thousands if not millions of jobs in the foreseeable future. Terms like "emotional labour" have gained credence has a safeguard for human workers' employment prospects, regardless of their area of expertise. Expect corporate training programs to mirror the increased need for soft skills.