What if you hire an angry Sales Manager?

Written by Annika Widen

Recruitment is not always easy. When you hire a manager you have to make sure that it is a person who can lead, take decisions, make the customers happy, but also the staff. Not always an easy decision. Instead of recruiting somebody you don't know, it can be simpler to promote a person from the personnel whose skills and personality you already know. Yet, this is not always an option.

When having the candidates taking tests, it can happen that a person turns out to be dominant. This can be ok, if we are seeking for a manager. But if we have the candidate take the SPQ*GOLD assessment and find that they suffer from the type of sales reluctance called "Oppostional Reflex" we'd better not hire them. This is one of the most difficult types to correct and it is contagious. People affected by Oppositional Reflex do not accept training, advice or instructions. If you look at them closely, you might see that they are just like kids banging on the door asking to be seen. But how do you see that during an interview? The candidate seems well prepared and self-confident. They might know everything about the product they are going to sell and about sales. Yet, a person with this issue can be so good at hiding the sales reluctance and then they can ruin the whole team...

I have had coaching sessions with members suffering from oppositional reflex. I clearly remember once that I was holding a coaching session for a Management in MI (Motivational Interviewing) when one of the managers, after having argued during the whole session, said that he had already taken this training. When I surprised, but interested said: "Oh, really? Where? I didn't know they had these training sessions here." the person mentioned another acronym. He hadn't even listened to what I was talking about or read my presentation while I was speaking, being too busy finding arguments against and questioning the methodology.

Oppositional Reflex is not a very common type of Sales Reluctance. Yet, it is important to make sure they do not affect our teams. People who suffer from this are often unable to succeed in sales but migrate to higher visibility. How do you recognize such a person? Here are some common attitudes:

  • Says "no" more frequently than "yes"
  • Wastes time searching for policy loopholes which would confer an advantage instead of concentrating on improving sales performance
  • Quick to find fault, slow to show approval
  • Defensive, argumentative
  • May speak with a soft, exaggerated gentleness to conceal impatient demanding nature.
  • Refuses to be considered average, in anything
  • Needs to be the focus of attention; the bride at every wedding
  • Criticizes more than compliments
  • Promptly questions the instructor's credentials, credibility


Do you recognize yourself? It must be hard. Do you think you have somebody in the team who suffers from this Sales Call Reluctance and you want to keep them? It is possible to "correct". Are you considering hiring a candidate who reflects the description above? Maybe you'd better reconsider.


Source: The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance by George W. Dudley and Shannon L. Goodson.