As 2019 rapidly approaches, we are still discussing bias in the recruitment process. It’s an important topic that will continue to spark conversation well into the future — not because of ill-meaning recruiters, but because of lingering unconscious and trained biases.
You may be aware of these biases — and you’re not alone. In fact, the majority of recruiters (57 percent) surveyed for Jobvite’s “2017 Recruiter Nation Report” said implicit bias is a real problem within the American workforce. However, most recruiters also said they have no goals in place to increase diversity.
In sales, biases often extend beyond issues of race and gender. A bundle of stereotypical traits are associated with sales personnel, and these traits influence many recruiting and hiring decisions in the field. These stereotypes push many highly qualified candidates out of the process far too early, leaving recruiters with a limited talent pool and the sales field with a bad reputation.
In the theatrical world, this type of hiring is called “typecasting” — that is, casting certain people for the same kinds of roles over and over again simply because of their appearance, demeanor, accent, or other factors.
In the hiring process, typecasting appears in the form of hiring only candidates with a particular personality or demeanor for certain roles, such as hiring only outgoing, obviously self-motivated personalities for sales role. However, many people without this personality type would also make for successful sales pros — if only they were given a chance. Additionally, some candidates with these stereotypical traits won’t be hitting the top of the sales leaderboard anytime soon.
Here’s how you can stop limiting yourself and start thinking outside the box when recruiting sales talent:
Don’t Underestimate Introverts
Sales roles require impeccable conversational and relationship skills. In fact, recruiters across fields highly value conversational skills, with 92 percent of those surveyed by Jobvite saying they are “the most important factor [in] determining whether a candidate is a ‘cultural fit.’”
Often, people confuse conversational skills with upbeat, outgoing, and extraverted personalities. To recruit the best people for your sales roles, you must break out of this stereotype. Introverted personality types can be skilled conversationalists as well!
While introverts aren’t as outwardly excited as extraverts, they are highly capable of having meaningful, productive conversations with clients. Look for hidden rock star potential in candidates who seem more laid-back than your traditional sales reps.
To assess candidates’ conversation skills, have them perform “job auditions” where they engage with various customer challenges. Use these auditions to determine how each candidate relates to customers. You may be surprised by the introverted personality’s ability to empathize and their desire to solve clients’ most complicated problems.
Determine Motivational Alignment
From job hoppers to the inexperienced, it’s easy to judge certain candidates “unmotivated” and toss them out early on in the process. However, motivation comes in all shapes and sizes for successful sales representatives.
For example, some are motivated most by their passions. This type of personality is the ideal sales hire, especially if their passion is helping clients reach their goals or creating honest relationships. Unfortunately, you might accidentally take their search for a passion-driven career to be a sign of low motivation!
When looking for your next sales pro, start by first identifying the top motivators of successful sales reps already within your company or clients’ organizations. Passion for products, problem-solving for clients, order, and strong internal teamwork are all common drivers. Then, see how each candidate’s motivations align with the organization’s. This can be done using personality assessments or by looking into candidates’ previous jobs, volunteer work, and hobbies.
Look to the Future, Not the Past
Sometimes, work history needs to take a backseat during the later stages of the hiring process. Candidates who’ve hit their sales goals continuously for five years or landed impressive new accounts simply may not excel in the same way on your team.
On the same note, many sale reps join teams that don’t fit their personality types well, which results in them underperforming against their potential. This doesn’t make them incapable of excelling in your open role. In reality, if they’re the perfect fit for your team’s particular dynamic, they could be your next top rep.
Assess the company’s future: What type of clients do you have? Does the company plan to grow? Is the sales team full of new or experienced reps? Is your sales team focused specifically on selling, or do they have a hand in other roles? Use these questions to create a personality checklist. Ask candidates about what made them excel or what was a challenge for them in former roles. Allow their answers to guide you in understanding what their future will look like as part of your sales team.