Guest blog post – Improving sales performance through personality profiling

Though startup founders are frequently touted as the best salespeople for a company – with unrivaled product knowledge, passion and motivation – a growing business often requires a growing sales team. But how can a startup founder or owner of a small-medium sized business ensure they hire sales professionals that can achieve top-notch results?

Doug Ward of Express Employment Professionals shares his thoughts on talent assessment frameworks, like The Leading Dimensions Profile, that can be beneficial when hiring new sales staff.



True to the Parteo Principle (the 80-20 rule), 80% of an organization’s sales will, in all likelihood, be generated by 20% of the sales reps. An effective way to harness some of that savvy embodied in the top performers is through the use of personality profiling as benchmarked against the elite top quintile.

For decades, Meyers Briggs and DiSC assessments have dominated the psyche-profiling field; however, in the past few years more complex models have been developed to measure ever-changing theories. Managers, trainers and organizational development professionals have often struggled to find a measurement framework that offers scientific rigor while remaining an easily understood tool for practical, effective use by line staff in any organization.

At Express Employment Professionals, we use The Leading Dimensions Profile (“LDP”) which offers such a framework for talent assessment, employee intra-organizational communication, team building, sales call coaching, and to facilitate employee engagement.

The LDP is based upon a two-factor, 10-dimension framework, and uses two primary psychological factors (Achievement Drive and Relational Drive) to describe one’s personal style. In addition, the LDP measures 10 behavioral dimensions that help to explain how the person most likely carries out his/her style.

Validated by a database of over 15,000 completed questionnaires the LPD proves to be a valuable tool for coaching for sales success.

The table below shows the 10 traits measured by the LDP and the ideal score range attributable to high performing sales professionals:

LPD Traits and Ideal Score Ranges for Successful Sales Professionals
LPD Trait Ideal Score for Successful Sales Professionals
Achievement Drive Higher
Relational Drive Moderate
Work Intensity (Accomplishing Goals) Higher
Assertiveness Higher
Uncertainty Avoidance Lower / Moderate
Adaptability Higher
Perception (Decision Making) Higher
Status Motivation (Competing) Higher
Affiliation (Working Together) Lower
Consideration (Helping Others) Lower
Openness Moderate
Self-Protection Lower


The ranges for some of these attributes first appear to be counter intuitive. They are however, benchmarked against top performing sales professionals, scientifically validated, used on three continents and has been featured in a peer reviewed scientific research project. The findings show that individuals who were identified by the LDP to be a “right fit” generated up to 2.5 times the production of non-fit individuals.

One would first think that a higher score range for Affiliation would be consistent with better sales performance. It’s lonely at the top and in sales. The activities of top sales performers are mostly that of an individual contributor, hitting the metrics and making sales presentations to prospects.

As a recruiter, I’ve placed a lot of sales people and have witnessed the impact that top performing sales professionals can have on the success of a company – large or small.

Three years ago I was engaged by a client to recruit a Vice President of Sales and Customer Service. When the successful candidate started, he presented a five year plan to increase overall company sales by 31.5%. The owners proceeded to ask me what this guy is even thinking. A couple of months ago I was meeting with one of those owners who was delighted to report that the 31.5% increase was in fact achieved in a three year period.

So, for large and small businesses alike, attention paid to personality traits and even investment in assessment frameworks like the LPD can be extremely valuable in hiring decisions – notably for sales staff.


Doug Ward is with the Specialized Recruiting Group of Express Employment Professionals, a generous partner of Innovation Factory. Doug’s focus is on C-suite engagements where the performance of each executive or manager has a significant impact on organizational outcomes.


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