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Key Traits of Highly Successful Retail Sales Associates

March 20, 2013

helpwantedHelp Wanted:

“Now hiring friendly, outgoing and enthusiastic people who enjoy working with customers and creating high customer service levels.  If you like being rewarded for doing things the right way, strive to achieve high standard of accomplishment and want to be part of a valued team, apply here.”

Picture this—You’ve written your ad, successfully gathered resumes of qualified candidates who appeared friendly, outgoing and enthusiastic during the interview process.  You’ve narrowed the group down to 3 who have a good attitude, good communication skills, some professional knowledge, and have passed the reference and background checks.

  • How do you know they aren’t faking it?
  • How do you know they will close sales at 25% consistently?
  • How do you know they will be reliable?
  • How do you know they will believe and uphold your Vision and Values?

Adding employee testing to the hiring process provides additional objective information that should reinforce  and be consistent with the information you have already compiled for the candidate—or not.  Any inconsistencies are a huge red flag that require further due diligence.

For the Retail Sales Associate position, the tests we recommend are The Insure Survey, Sales Plus, and Johnston Index from The Hiring Suite.

The Sales Plus Retail Selling test measures three key traits and three key skills for retail sales performers and compares candidate scores to those of top sales performers across all types of retail sales.  This test is scientifically designed to detect untruthful responses and provides a Distortion scale which measures the truthfulness of the responses.

The Insure Survey measures integrity, reliability, work ethic, and attitudes toward substance abuse and also has a Distortion Scale.

The Johnston Index measures basic learned skills in Problem Solving, Math, Vocabulary, and Spelling.

In reviewing the candidate’s scores in each measured trait, skill, and aptitude, the scales should be prioritized in order of importance to the position.

For example, in order of importance, the Sales Plus benchmarks for a Retail Sales Associate are:

  1.  Sales Skills 18 – 23
  2. Customer Sensitivity 19 – 23
  3. Organization 17 – 23
  4. Motivation 15 –  20
  5. Competitiveness  12 – 22
  6. Marketing Knowledge 14 – 27

The scores for the Insure Survey and Johnston Index scores should be high, or at least, average.

We have conducted several studies for different clients to create benchmarks based on the Sales Plus scores of the top performing Sales Associates in that organization.  The advantage of customizing the profiles to each individual job description and company is that it will reflect the job description and the company culture and values.  Because High Performers come in a spectrum, there is no one score that is perfect. Each Top Performer is a combination of the mix of scores within the benchmarks and will be more successful in some job environments than others.


Using a tested profile like the one above, makes it quick and easy for owners and managers to determine if a candidate will be successful in your company.

The Hiring Solutions Employee Testing program will help you screen out candidates who don’t fit your job description or company culture.  Our customized programs will take you from hiring one new employee to training a whole department or company using validated assessments to provide in-depth, accurate information about personality traits, behavioral style, integrity, work ethic, substance abuse issues, aptitude, and outside and retail sales skills.

Contact Hiring Solutions today to see how we can help you solve all your HR problems! Visit our website for more information!

Maryanne Preston
Hiring Solutions, Inc. 
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