Many companies believe experience to be a critical measure of a candidate’s aptitude for a role in sales. Yet, hiring a candidate with industry experience is not without its potential drawbacks: they may be inflexible, unwilling to accept feedback or possess a host of inefficient work habits they’ve inherited elsewhere. Even if none of this turns out to be the case, experience should not serve as the sole measure of a candidate’s aptitude for a position in sales.

The truth is, the right personality and soft skills are far more predictive of candidate’s success in sales than their level of industry experience. Many companies use sales personality tests to evaluate a candidate’s key personality traits and work habits, as well as determine which sales role a candidate is suited best.

This approach has proven to be highly reliable at predicting success.  The test evaluates a candidate’s level of assertiveness, self-motivation, sociability, patience, and stamina, as well as their potential for prospecting and closing. It may be of benefit for you to contact a leading sales test provider to learn more about the benefits of sales assessment testing and how you can incorporate it into your recruitment process.

The Pros Of Hiring “Green” Candidates:

A company willing to hire inexperienced candidates can stand to benefit considerably from the decision, because:

  • An inexperienced candidate will likely show more eagerness and flexibility than candidates with many years in the industry, making them quicker at adapting to the processes and strategies of your company.
  • They are also more likely to incorporate your company’s best practices into their daily job performance, simply because it’s easier to build good habits than break bad ones.
  • Their outsider’s perspective prompts them to ask questions you may not have considered and can allow you to see your company more objectively.
  • They are more likely to innovate than veteran salespeople.
  • The fact that so many organizations pass on inexperienced candidates presents an undervalued and largely untapped pool of potential talent.

The Cons:

The main drawbacks of hiring inexperienced candidates for a sales job are:

  • An absence of industry references makes an inexperienced candidate seem less predictable and more of a risk than an experienced candidate.
  • Potential uncertainty about whether they will make an adequate effort to learn and adapt to the role.
  • The bigger time and labor investment of training a candidate “from the ground up.”

Doing The Math:

Industry experience alone is not an adequate predictor of a candidate’s success in a sales role. Effective sales recruiting should primarily focus on screening candidates for key personality traits and work tendencies. The right hard skills and competencies in a candidate are certainly an advantage, but the right personality traits and soft skills are essential because they cannot be taught or learned in training.

A candidate with the right personality for a sales role is worth the investment of time and labor it takes to train them to become a great salesperson. Given the proper training, inexperienced candidates who possess the right personality traits are really just great sales talent in the making.