Case Study on The Traits Related To Job Success For Global Sales Positions

Case Study on The Traits Related To Job Success For Global Sales Positions

Performance Benchmarking using Harrison Assessments

 Industrial Paint Multi-national Company: Finding The Sweet Spot of Success for Global Sales Position

Job Success


One of the world’s leading industrial paint companies with global offices in more than 30 countries embarked on a study to determine traits related to job success for their Global Sales position worldwide. Success traits for both the sales executive and sales manager positions were identified and the resultant findings provided the company with valuable insights into what made their sales personnel successful in the business that they are in.


The aim of the research was to determine traits related to job success for the Sales Executive and Sales Manager positions in the company.

The resultant Job Success Formula will be used for hiring and developing employees. Specific training programmes will be developed based on the identified traits for success for the positions to ensure training is focused and effective.

The study was based on a sample of 130 Sales Executives and 65 Sales Managers who completed the Harrison Assessments Questionnaire and were also rated according to their performance ratings in the job.

Job Success Formula

The Harrison Assessments includes a full range of 175 factors that includes personality, attitudes, motivations, interpersonal skills, work preferences, task preferences, work environment preferences and interests.

Approximately one third of the traits typically relate to performance for a specific job. The Job Success Formula is automatically generated from the Harrison System. It uses a highly sophisticated computer analysis to determine which traits relate to job success and formulate the related traits according to their relative importance and type of impact each has on performance. As a result, subtle behavioural issues that influence success are revealed.

Knowing how traits impact job success

There are 5 types of relationships the traits have in relationship to job performance:

  • Essential Traits -These have a direct correlation with performance. These traits are considered as “essential” traits in the Job Success Formula and are given an importance rating according to the level of performance.
  • Traits with low scores that hinder success – Poor performers have a higher incidence of low scores on this type of trait. This identifies traits that don’t require high scores for success but having low scores will hinder success.
  • Traits with high scores that hinder success – Poor performers have a higher incidence of high scores as compared to high performers on traits in this category. In this case, either the trait is a negative trait (negative behaviour), or in the case of a positive trait, a high score reflects an excessive amount of the trait.

Traits with high and low scores that hinder success – Poor performers have a higher incidence of either high or low scores on traits in this category. In other words, moderate scores are best and scores that are too high or too low will hinder success.

  • Traits that help success if very high (bonus traits) – Good performers have a higher incidence of very high scores but the trait otherwise does not have a strong correlation with performance and are not required for success. With this type of trait, bonus points are given for very high scores, but there is no penalty for moderate or low scores. These are called Bonus traits.

By analysing these different types of relationships with job success, we determined a mathematical model for the Job Success Formula that will predict job success. This process is unique to Harrison Assessments in the following ways:

  • A large number of traits (175) are used for the analysis. (Typically only 10 – 20 traits are used by other methods).
  • The traits include a wide range of suitability factors rather than personality factors only.
  • The Job Success Formula provides a total suitability score which is used as a prediction for job success.
  • Each trait is analysed for the exact type of relationship it has with success (if any).
  • Once determined, only the traits that have a relationship to job success are used. (In other assessments, all traits are used even if they don’t have a relationship with success, confusing the recruiters and reducing accuracy.)
  • An artificial intelligence technology is used to determine the exact best Job Success Formula. This provides a very detailed and accurate Job Success Formula which has a stronger correlation with job success.

Establishing the Performance Rating Model

The Sales Executives and Sales Managers were rated by their Supervising Managers according to a performance rating score of 1 to 5 taking into consideration the number of years they have been on the job, the market that they serve and overall performance

Rating                                    Performance

5                                           Ideal

4                                           Excellent

3                                           Good

2                                           Below Average

1                                           Poor

Results of the Job Success Formula Research

Of the 175 Harrison Assessments assessed traits, 53 traits showed a relationship with job success to the Sales Executive position. 55 traits showed a relationship with job success to the Sales Manager position.

The overall suitability score automatically generated from the Job Success Formula had a 0.65 correlation with performance for the Sales Executive group and 0.81 correlation with performance for the Sales Manager group.

This is considered a very strong correlation, especially when measuring suitability factors only. Note: this correlation did not consider resume data or any of the important eligibility information or the interview. This result indicates that job suitability is extremely important for the Sales positions.

Correlation explained

Correlation is a measure of the relationship between two sets of numbers. In this case, it is a measure of the relationship between the Harrison Suitability Assessment score and performance.

A perfect correlation coefficient would be indicated by a correlation of +1.0. In practical terms, a 1.0 correlation would indicate the ability to predict the exact performance. A zero correlation coefficient indicates that the two sets of numbers are completely unrelated. In that case, any prediction of an assessment score would be completely random and of no value.

Assessments that have a correlation coefficient of .2 are generally considered useful in that they give some insight to improve the hiring process. Assessments that achieve a correlation of .5 or greater

are rare and are considered to be very strong predictors of job success and extremely valuable in the hiring process. Although the Job Success Formula related to study will not perfectly predict performance, it will be of substantial value in hiring and developing employees.


The traits identified indicate that successful Sales Executives in the company perform sales activities that relate to collecting and analysing facts and data to determine best product to suit buyer’s needs. They are systematic and methodical in their approach. They adopt a relationship management selling approach with good listening skills to involve the buyer in the buying process. They have an open mind, take time to understand buyer’s needs and try their best to resolve issues or challenges in resistance to buying the product. They adopt an innovative approach and are always looking at new and more effective ways of doing things.

Essential Traits for Sales Executives

Systematic, Analytical, Handles Conflict, Teaching, Innovative, Enlists Cooperation, Tolerance of Evasiveness, Warmth/empathy, Collaborative, Open/reflective

The traits identified for the Sales Managers indicated that successful Sales Managers are those who are willing to accept decision-making responsibility while at the same time encouraging collaboration. Solve problems by being balanced in analytical and intuition. Communicate effectively by being balanced between frank and diplomatic. Work well in a structured environment, adhering to policies and procedures while at the same time working independently.

They are detail – oriented and analytical with numbers.

Essential Traits for Sales Managers

Authoritative Collaboration, Numerical, Wants Autonomy, Frank, Forthright Diplomacy, Intuitive, Analytical, Collaborative, Tolerance of Structure, Precise

The results of this study provided deep insight into the details of success factors for the Sales Executives and Sales Managers which presented two very different and yet complementing profiles of success for both positions.

This information is highly valuable for hiring decisions and provides essential information for developing the Sales team.

The detailed analysis of the most important traits combined with the detailed analysis of the levels of traits that hinder success can be invaluable knowledge for increasing performance.

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