Don’t Get Fooled by “The Pinball” Sales Rep Candidate

In this series, I identify a sales rep candidate who, when hired, fails to meet expectations. Like many other bogus candidates, they have one thing in common: they interview well.

You struggle to hire good salespeople but experience frustration when they fail to meet their sales goals. Here is another example of a type of sales candidate you’ll want to avoid…

The Pinball

This sales rep candidate literally bounces from one person to the next seeking validation from others because they have a low self-esteem. They cannot handle rejection, objections or negotiation.

What you see

Their personality style can be wide ranging from extrovert to introvert. In many cases, they are an outgoing and charming person. They are likeable and prefer to be around others with whom they can develop a relationship – customers, prospects, coworkers, associates, etc. They interview well and receive high marks from those who conduct the interviews.

What you assume

Because they interview well, it’s easy to conclude that the Pinball sales candidate is excellent at networking and developing relationships. You feel that they will work very well with customers and will “sell themselves” along with your products and services.


What you don’t see

They undervalue who they are. This puts them at a serious disadvantage when prospecting for new business, which requires emotional strength and persistence. They will warm up to people who are open and receptive to them. However, they quickly shy away from assertive personality styles or those that are quiet and reserved. Being emotionally needy, they require positive affirmation from the buyer.

What you actually get

The effects of a low self-esteem sales rep vary. They may provide plenty of office drama, wild mood swings, unpredictable behaviors, and emotional excuses for poor performance. They will either take the blame for everything and constantly say “I’m sorry”. In other cases, they won’t take responsibility for anything attempting to push the blame onto external factors because they cannot emotionally handle criticism.

Here are a few more “Pinball” behaviors:

  • Avoid conflict
  • People pleaser
  • Afraid of letting others down
  • Afraid of hurting someone’s feelings
  • Walk on egg shells around other
  • No boundaries

If they don’t receive affirmation, they won’t pursue the sales opportunity. They struggle to function in a selling situation with tension or even a negative comment exists.

Using an in-depth sales assessment tool can help you uncover these hidden attributes that contributes to a sales rep’s failure – despite the fact they appear to be an ideal candidate. Rethink your hiring process by doing a deep dive into each sales candidate.