Assertiveness is Key for a Successful Sales Representative

Picture in your mind a highly effective sales candidate; it could be one presently working with you at your company who is finding consistent success, or one you imagine could fill an open position. Chances are that assertiveness is among their top qualities.

Sales representative

A good amount of assertiveness implies a secure sense of self while in the role or position; the candidate recognizes which prospects to give energy to, has an understanding of urgency on a call, but also knows when to pull back and when to give potential clients some breathing room.

To know when and how to put just the right amount of pressure also requires employees to have a highly developed sense of awareness.

Aggressive vs. passive sales rep

When employees working in sales are overly passive in their calls or overly aggressive, it should register as a red flag. Someone who behaves like a shark with clients might have a can-do or winning attitude, but if they’re scaring prospects away, becoming impatient with them, guilting them into submission or offending them, the potential relationships they could have with their clients sour. Furthermore, it speaks truthfully to the employee’s confidence level; when someone tries to assert their dominance in this way, it might mean that they fear being out of control on the call, that they don’t fully trust themselves or the process, and that they’re only concerned with short-sighted wins.

Where aggressiveness starts fires, burns bridges and often requires someone else to come in and do damage control. On the other hand, passivity leaves a barren land, without bridges, and with little for clients to feel connected to. It doesn’t leave them feeling compelled to pursue conversations further, and if the window of opportunity closes, it becomes that much harder to continue engaging them.

The most obvious sign of passivity is failing to follow up. Not everyone a sales person calls will be available right away; however, they must do their due diligence and leave messages, ask when a better time would be to connect, and keep to the schedule the client on the other line has agreed to.

How to teach assertiveness

It’s challenging sometimes to gauge an employee’s level of assertiveness before they’ve started working for your company, like when they they’re first applying for a job. But there are many tools that employers can use to vet prospective hires besides a simple interview.

The best way to get started is by visiting blogs. Need any recommendations? Visit the Sales Test Online Blog to see the full suite of tools available that employers can use to test for assertiveness – like the sales personality tests available through their site. They only take prospective applicants ten minutes to complete, and instantly tell you how their level of assertiveness compares against the target profile developed by the sales entity for your company, showing you plainly how much assertiveness is expected from the position.


In order to find success in sales, employees must have good intuition, strong social skills, empathy, self confidence and the right amount of drive – this will determine how assertive they are at work. Don’t wait to find out months or years after the fact that you made a hiring mistake; test for these qualities before you even invite them to meet with you.


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