Study reveals what hiring managers are looking for in sales job candidates

Workers in low-wage jobs sometimes have few options for moving up the ladder. Many better jobs require education and experience that are almost impossible to get if you’re struggling to make ends meet.

That doesn’t mean you can’t move up. It just means it can be more difficult.

One of the jobs that does offer this opportunity is sales. According to a recently released report, sales occupations are among the types of jobs that facilitate the transition out of low-paying jobs, alongside administrative support jobs, and truck driving jobs.

The study authors write that sales positions offer relatively high promise for people moving up the job ladder, and state that this “underscores the importance of cultivating strong ‘people skills’ (e.g., communication, presentation, motivation, organization) that are often needed for success in sales occupations.”

Meanwhile, a separate report released this week by Plum reveals the attributes Canadian hiring managers are looking for in applicants for sales roles.

The year-long study found that the most sought-after attributes by sales hiring managers include industriousness, orderliness, and stability. The study also found that “although most sales professionals demonstrate highly assertive personalities, exactly 0% of sales hiring managers rank assertiveness as a top priority for sales job applicants.”

The findings are based on data from 15,421 real-world sales job applicants and over 100 companies across North America.

Here’s what the report had to say about the top three attributes:

Industriousness, rated the most important trait by 44% of hiring managers, describes a candidate who maintains high standards, aspires to challenge goals and is willing to put forth the extra effort.

“A high score in industriousness indicates that a sales professional has the drive to meet or exceed sales targets, can persevere to overcome objections, and is motivated to continuously improve their sales process. Although industriousness was among the top traits desired by sales hiring managers, only 20% of sales job candidates are highly industrious.”

Orderliness rated the second most important trait, describes a candidate who acts deliberately, is focused on quality, and prefers to be organized and have a plan.

“A high score in orderliness indicates that a sales professional can be meticulous with funnel management and sales operations processes, is thorough and detail-oriented with customer needs, and is organized when presenting to prospects. Just 14% of sales job applicants demonstrate a high degree of orderliness.”

Stability, the third most important attribute, describes someone who is calm under pressure, even-tempered, and resistant to the effects of unexpected changes.

“A high score in stability indicates that a sales professional can thrive in fast-paced, high-pressure sales environments is able to maintain composure when handling tough objections, and is even-tempered in difficult prospect interactions. Just 19% of sales job applicants demonstrated a high degree of stability.”

Meanwhile, the most common attributes demonstrated by sales job seekers were experiential disposition, industriousness, and assertiveness.

Experiential disposition, the most common attribute of sales candidates describes someone who seeks out new experiences, adapts to changes, and is tolerant of differences between new people.

“A high score in experiential disposition indicates that sales job candidates are likely to thrive in sales environments that offer new challenges.”

Industriousness, demonstrated by 31% of sales job candidates, describes one who maintains high standards, aspires to challenging goals, and is willing to put forth extra effort.

“A high score in industriousness indicates that a sales job candidate aspires to high sales targets and does not give up when roadblocks emerge.”

Assertiveness describes someone who voices opinions, is comfortable being the center of attention, and gives direction to others.

“A high score in assertiveness indicates that sales job candidates aren’t afraid to provide evidence to back up their point and voice counterpoints to objections.”

So, the majority of sales job candidates displayed only one of the most desired attributes (industriousness). Also, sales job candidates actually scored lowest in orderliness and stability, the other two of the top three most sought-after attributes.

The takeaway from this is that job seekers looking for sales roles might want to cultivate the industrious, orderly, and stable aspects of their personalities and find ways to demonstrate these in application materials.

See also: The software and tech skills most often listed in job postings across industries

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