Sales Assessment Testing: You Don’t Really Want to Hire a Patient Sales Person Do You?

getting-directions-495Today I read another article by a sales guru offering highly misleading advice about the ‘traits’ of successful sales people. This particular article, like many others of this genre, was offering advice regarding what ‘traits’ managers should see as desirable when evaluating sales candidates. The writer covered a number of areas having nothing to do with traits so it is entirely possible that these other parts of his article offered good counsel. It is with his wrongheaded advice about the traits that I have a problem. I find this type of misleading advice about ‘sales traits’ and ‘sales personality’ not only quite common but also rather aggravating. To me, it has the feel of observing someone offering street directions to a lost tourist that you know fully well are complete b*******t. So, just as I would feel compelled to interfere and set the lost tourist on the correct path, please do not view this post as a rant. Instead my intention is to provide some clarity and precision to the discussion about traits and style of personality that is required for certain aspects of sales.

In this instance the writer was making the case that ideal sales people are ‘patient’ personalities because of the long selling cycles in the business with which he was familiar. Also, that patience is a necessary trait in order to continue following up with prospects who today are less willing to engage with reps and therefore ignore their efforts to contact them via email, social media and voicemail. His premise is that since it takes a long time to get the sale, top reps need to be patient enough to wait for the sale to come.

To many of you on first hearing this, it probably sounds like it makes sense, so what is the problem? The problem is that it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the core traits necessary for specific sales behaviors. In this case what is clearly misunderstood is the actual traits necessary to hang in for a long sales cycle and to generate engagement from prospects via continual follow up.

Patience

Let me start by describing the actual Patience trait drive. Patience can be thought of as the motivational need for stability and predictability. One can also view it as the need for routine, maintenance of the status quo, passiveness and comfort with repetition, steadiness, and a predictable pace. It will impact a sales person’s sense of urgency, deadline orientation, and individual initiative. As well it impacts work pace, multi-tasking, response to change/routine, and response to sameness/variety. You could also see it as reactive-ness vs. pro-activeness.

High Levels of Patience

High levels of this factor mean that the person is very patient, passive, reactive, unhurried, relaxed, calm, deliberate, tolerant, amiable, likes routine/familiarity, likes stability of repetition, dislikes change.

Low Levels of Patience

Low levels of this factor mean that the individual is very impatient (does not have much patience), is restless and pro-active, thrives on change/variety, has nervous energy, deadline oriented, a multi-tasker, is bored by routine and repetition.

The issue then is, if you do hire a sales person with a high level of patience, you have basically hired a passive and reactive person who is certainly good at waiting for things to happen-a ‘passive order taker’. In all my years of talking to managers about the traits they want in sales people I have never had one say they want to hire a ‘passive order taker’. Quite the contrary, almost invariably they will say they want to hire a pro-active self-starter with a sense of urgency-an impatient sales person.

So how do we square this seeming contradiction that sales takes a long time and yet the sales person needs to be impatient? It is true that individual trait drives such as patience will give you insight into the sales person’s on the job behaviours. It is however more accurate to look at all of his or her traits together as a combination. Traits working together tend to emphasize or soften each other and often combine with each other, resulting in whole new sets of behaviours. In this case what we actually require is for the sales person to be impatient and pro-active, as this will ensure he or she has a sense of urgency and will demonstrate the required initiative. This alone is not enough however because the person must also have other trait drives that make them quite dependent on structure in their work such as systems, procedures and guidelines. Individuals with this need for structure also tend to be quite detailed. The final trait drive necessary is a good level of emotional control.   In other words, someone who is disciplined enough to stay with things and to maintain a consistency in their activities. So, in combination they need to have a sense of urgency along with a real need to work a specific plan or set of procedures along with a sense of discipline.

Having tested hundreds of thousands of sales people over the last 30+ years I can assure you that this combination of traits is what you will find in a very high proportion of sales people in these long cycle sales roles.

The point of this article is not to contradict or challenge another’s ideas. Instead my goal is to demonstrate the need to better understand what motivates the people you hire and intend to hire.

In order to be able to define and identify the differences in people you need to use hiring tools that lessen your reliance on gut feel and imprecise definitions of the motivational traits of sales candidates. When these tools are used as part of your hiring regime you will operate with a far more advanced understanding of what traits the job requires. Furthermore, mirroring your better understanding of the job, you will operate with a far more objective, clear and precise understanding of what truly makes the candidate tick.   This is precisely why you should use a sales assessment test such as ours in your hiring. We would be pleased to hear from you if you would like to learn more.

Sales Personality and Job Turnover: Watch out for This Combination of Traits

credit-union-employee-turnoverIt is the rare sales organization whose management is not concerned about sales staff retention. Today, any manager who does not realize that job turnover is very costly on many levels probably has his head in the sand, to put it politely. No surprise then, that when prospective SalesTestOnline.com clients open up and talk about the specific issues and problems concerning them, reducing unwanted turnover is often a high priority.

Sales staff turnover and its reasons, causes and impact is a big and highly complex topic. There are literally thousands of articles, studies and papers on this subject by a wide variety of experts and respected authorities. Our goal with this article is not to go down this well traveled road yet again. Instead what I will describe are the traits of certain individuals and why those traits give them a far higher turnover propensity.

Forewarned is forearmed according to the old saying. Since these specific combinations of ‘job-hopping’ traits are readily identifiable in sales candidates, you will see that you do have the opportunity to proactively lower turnover right at the source of much of the problem.

Will this put a stop to job turnover? No, but you can definitely alleviate much of it. As noted earlier, there are many reasons why a particular sales organization has a turnover issue: poor compensation, bad products/services, incompetent management etc.  The list is long. The core reasons for the turnover we will be addressing here can be traced directly to the personality traits of the sales people themselves. You will also see that there is a quandary in this because much of what makes these sales people prone to higher turnover, also makes them potentially very effective hunters and closers. The point of this article is to define, clarify and untangle the candidate’s traits. It is hoped that hiring managers can then make better hiring choices by understanding that the risk of turnover can be very different between two outwardly equal candidates.

To illustrate the issue let us look at the trait drives of two high potential ‘sales hunters’ below. I am purposely using the traits of sales hunters because it is in these sales environments where hunters are hired, that this combination of ‘turnover traits’ is most often found.

Examples #1 and #2 show exactly the same trait drives in 4 of the 5 areas that are displayed. Assertiveness is high, sociability is high, patience is low and dependence is low. It is this combination of 4 trait-drives that results in very high potential to be effective at making new contacts, having a sense of urgency and thriving in free wheeling independent sales environments with an emphasis on commissions and other individual incentives. They both have this high potential but what we will show you is that the one critical trait drive where they differ-emotional control, creates a far greater likelihood of job turnover in the one who’s emotional control is low (#2). As well as increasing the potential for job turnover, it tends to make these individuals rather scattered and disorganized. If you have ever had to hire and manage a team of sales hunters you will be very familiar with these issues.

Example #1
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Emotional Control

What is meant by the term ’emotional control’? It is the balance between logic and emotions in the manner one makes decisions-“the head vs. the gut”. It can have a strong influence on a person’s work focus, organization and attention to detail. As well, it impacts their decision-making style, how consistent they are and of course, turnover propensity (job hopping).

Middle Range

When one is in the mid-range on this factor it means that the person thinks about and considers the consequences of their actions prior to taking those actions. Their decision-making tends to be governed by a nice balance between logic and emotions and therefore, they are logical enough to think things through prior to acting yet still spontaneous enough to act quite quickly.

High

When one has a high level of this factor it means that the person tends to be extremely logical in their manner of decision-making. These individuals tend to over analyze to the point of procrastination or ‘analysis-paralysis’.

Low

Individuals with the low level of Emotional Control that we are discussing here tend to be very gut-level, spontaneous and impulsive. Their decisions are often arrived at without properly thinking through all the implications. These individuals are highly prone to job turnover.

Traits in Combination

It is true that a sales person’s strengths, weaknesses and sales style have much to do with that person’s individual trait-drives. In fact, it is far more accurate to think of the traits in terms of how they combine with each other. The reason for this is because working together the traits tend sometimes to emphasize, or in other cases to soften, the individual traits and very often will combine with each other to result in whole new sets of behaviors.

Hunters with Mid Range Emotional Control

Traits are like two-edged swords, so what we think of as ‘strengths’ also tells us about the person’s ‘weaknesses’. Describing hunters with mid range emotional control from this perspective would mean we would say the following: They have very large egos and do not like being managed, they are very impatient, possessing a lot of nervous energy and with a great need for change and variety. As well, they are extremely independent with a dislike for details, rules and procedures and hence they are not afraid to go over the line to achieve their goals. Risk oriented and venturesome they will have little hesitation when it comes to trying new things, procedures or taking a chance on a new company or sales role.

Hunters with Low Emotional Control

If the above is describing a hunter with nicely balanced emotional control, what you need to understand is that when you add low emotional control to the mix you are amplifying and emphasizing the negative aspects of their traits. They therefore become extremely scattered, disorganized and lacking focus. They are a bit like loose cannons with regards to rules and being managed. They can be quite inconsistent and can be very impulsive and prone to make overly quick decisions that they later regret. This pronounced impulsiveness in combination with their impatience, poor manageability and oversized ego equals very high turnover propensity.

High Turnover is Not Inevitable

As mentioned earlier in this post, many of the issues, and much of what of I am describing, will sound quite familiar to you if you have hired and managed hunter sales types. It would be a big mistake though to believe that this kind of turnover is inevitable and therefore unavoidable. Hiring hunters AND controlling this kind of turnover is completely doable as long as you can go deeper than the interview because on the surface there is really no way to tell the difference. This is where we can help you. When you use SalesTestOnline.com you will see the difference very clearly and can avoid these common and very expensive hiring mistakes.

Sales Aptitude-PBS Video about Sales

Why Everyone Should Know How to Sell

This short video from PBS NewsHour is great.  Carlos Watson makes a great case for why we all need to know how to sell.  As he says many of those outside of the sales profession think of sales as a dirty word and of sales people as being rather sleazy. This attitude to sales as a profession seems to get in the way of their acquiring what Carlos believes is a critical skill-the ability to ‘sell’ ones ideas.  Carlos does a great job of showing how having this skill is critical to success in any role, business or otherwise.  From a corporate perspective our recent article highlights the many benefits to businesses of utilizing sales testing for non-sales employees.

Sales Assessment Tests: SalesTestOnline is Better than The Caliper for Identifying Top Sales Talent-Here’s Why

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The Caliper Profile is quite possibly the most widely used assessment test in North America. They have a great reputation, having been in business for approximately 50 years and boasting many Fortune 500 companies and even a number of professional sports teams as clients. They test candidates for a variety of roles, including sales candidates in numerous industries.   They have earned a great reputation and when I encounter any of their current or former clients they consistently speak very highly of the Caliper Test.

Below though are two caveats to the mostly positive comments:

  1. The high cost to use the Caliper Test, which ranges from $200-$300 per candidate.
  2. The very long testing time of 60-120 minutes, which can be inconvenient and therefore often makes it very difficult to get candidates to sit for the test.

Given the extremely high cost of hiring a sales failure one would not normally think of the cost of the testing itself as a barrier, but of course budgets are budgets. The result is that even though clients are generally satisfied with the Caliper they tend to be highly selective and in many cases overly selective, about which candidates they give it to in order to not waste money. Of course the second issue is that once they do find a candidate that they deem to be ‘test worthy’ they realize that getting the candidate to actually take the test can be very difficult; frequently finding that the candidates for whom they really have an interest will not agree to take it. Even when these top candidates do actually agree to take the Caliper they are often frustrated by how dauntingly long it is and therefore fail to complete it. This is not really all that surprising when you consider that many of the best sales people just do not have much time since they are busy selling. Furthermore their personalities are such that taking a 1-2 hour test is for them, like sitting still for root canal.

So, as good as the Caliper test is when utilized, it’s high cost and inconvenience restrict it’s use to just a very few candidates who often are asked to complete it as almost a formality at the end of the hiring process. This approach to utilizing assessments might make sense if you are hiring for a senior management role or if hiring a sales rep is something you do very rarely. This is the type of hiring process one might have used 20 years ago but today it makes little sense and frankly it puts your organization at a serious disadvantage in the competition for top sales talent.

Today, when in the hiring process one uses sales assessments, is completely opposite to when in the process they were used previously. Today, it is critical to quickly evaluate sales candidates very early in the hiring cycle rather than very late. This way you can determine right away if the candidate is worth pursuing and of course you can do so ahead of your competition for sales talent. Naturally this means that you will be testing far more candidates and doing so with far less pre-qualification. It is pretty obvious then that using an expensive and lengthy sales test in this more ‘top of the funnel’ approach is just not realistic from the perspective of both efficiency and economics.

In this ‘top of the funnel’ approach your sales assessment test must be very economical, easy to administer, easy to complete by candidates and it must clearly, quickly and accurately identify the high potential sales candidates. Conducting the sales assessment test early offers several benefits in addition to those mentioned above:

  • By casting a wider net you will identify high potential sales talent that may not have otherwise caught your attention
  • Testing early identifies red flag areas to address quickly
  • Valuable interview time can be devoted solely to high potential candidates
  • Both face-to-face and phone interviews become far more effective due to the information uncovered
  • Saving Money

Are we suggesting you should compromise accuracy? Does this mean that if you currently use the Caliper that you need to give it up? The answer to both these questions is no. In terms of accuracy SalesTestOnline.com is considered to be over 90% accurate and the test results correlate to a very high degree with Caliper; in the words of one long time Caliper user “with SalesTestOnline.com I get 85% of what I get from the Caliper, for 15% of the cost”. Certainly, some Caliper users have chosen to switch to SalesTestOnline.com. On the other hand what others have done who just do not feel comfortable making a complete switch is to use both. SalesTestOnline.com is used at the top of the funnel as described above and Caliper is used with the final few.

Finally, while this article is addressing SalesTestOnline.com as a superior tool vs Caliper for identifying top sales talent, many of the issues described also apply to other expensive and cumbersome sales assessment tests. Whether you use the Caliper or one of these other sales tests we invite you to visit us at SalesTestOnline.com in order to learn more. I would be very pleased to talk to you personally in order to learn about your specific needs. If you are interested I would be happy to arrange a no obligation demonstration of our system.

5 Reasons to Use a Sales Assessment Test That You Might Not Have Considered

imagesThe decision to use a sales assessment test is more often than not instigated by a negative experience. Typically we are contacted by hiring managers that are fed up with being burned by sales candidates who interview well but cannot actually sell. At other times retention and job turnover is the big issue that causes them to seek us out. Accurately identifying sales potential and lowering turnover are without doubt at the top of the list when it comes to why one uses SalesTestOnline.com. There are however quite a few other very valuable benefits that you may not have considered. Here are just a few:

Ensuring the success of less than ideal candidates

If the talent pool you have to choose from is very weak you’ll inevitably have to hire less than ideal candidates. This is increasingly an issue in tight job markets and has always been the case for those businesses whose sales roles are unappealing to many, such as those who hire for straight commission sales environments. Used in this scenario, a sales assessment provides an understanding about how to train, manage and motivate the new rep. Rather than waiting for months to pass by in order to act on your observations, the in depth results of a sales assessment test are available to you even prior to onboarding. Most sales failures in these situations occur in the first 30-60 days. By starting off with a thorough understanding of the new hire you can give them the best shot at some early success. Early successes tend to spur the new rep on thereby increasing their chances of further success.

A More Efficient Hiring Process

Unlike the expensive paper and pencil tests of ‘ancient times’, inexpensive web based sales tests can be administered to most or all applicants before you need to interview or even speak to the candidate. This means that you can devote your precious face to face interview time to only those candidates whose test results have shown they have high potential. Even your interviews and reference checks will be more efficient because you can focus your questioning and probing on areas that the sales test has uncovered.

Time Savings

Using a sales assessment test will save you a great deal of time in a number of different ways. First and most obviously, hiring high potential sales people means you will avoid the massive amount of time that is wasted when trying to motivate and develop a rep who was basically a bad hire. For those reps you do hire who are a good fit, the sales assessment spells out how to manage, motivate and train the person, effectively shortening the time it takes to get them up to speed. As mentioned above, using sales assessments means the hiring process is far more efficient and will speed up the time it takes to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’. This is particularly critical since it gives you a time advantage over your competitors who are also trying to hire the top reps.

Lower Training Costs

No one should question whether the time and money devoted to training new reps makes good business sense, however most would agree that trying to ‘make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ is a recipe for failure and therefore a bad bet. This is especially true today when manager’s time is stretched to the limit and training budgets are constrained. Isn’t it just logical and sensible to start off with the right ‘sales material’ before you start to develop that person? If you are going to expend time, effort and money you will get a far greater return by focusing these valuable resources on a rep that is the right fit in the first place.

Higher Sales and Higher Profits

You probably thought of this one but I mention it here because this is THE fundamental reason to use a sales assessment test. It is really a very simple equation: the right person in your sales role = higher sales = higher profits!

Sales Person Assessment-If sales roles differ why does our sales test stay the same?

13One of the most fundamental aspects of an effective sales personality test is it’s flexibility to allow for the fact that sales roles can and do differ dramatically. The old adage that ‘sales is sales’, was and always will be wrong. Anyone who doubts this merely has to think about the differences between selling in a B2C role vs a B2B environment. Even within a single company, when selling the same products to the very same customers, some sales roles need sales hunters and some need sales farmers. The widespread use of these labels to describe different sales personalities is, in my opinion, evidence of a more nuanced view in the minds of sales leadership of what it takes to succeed in sales.

These differences in sales roles and the resulting need for different combinations of personality traits is the reason that SalesTestOnline.com is customized to your specific needs. This is one of the key reasons why it works so well. When a sales person takes our test, rather than the hiring manager receiving something vague about the candidate being ‘typical of successful sales people within your industry’ or similarly useless verbiage, our system provides a rating of how close the sales person is to the needs of that specific role. Obviously this type of specific rating is far more useful to the hiring manager when he/she is evaluating numerous candidates.

Quite often when we discuss this critical customization feature of our service the prospective client assumes that the test will differ from role to role. In fact our sales test stays the same no matter what role the candidate is being considered for. The following explains this and the reasons why it makes perfect sense.

In order to understand why our test remains the same even for different roles, one must first understand the aspect of the candidate that is measured.   When selecting sales people you can for example quite easily measure certain things about the candidate’s experience, education, training and familiarity with your business or industry.   As well there are many ways to identify the candidate’s sales skills and their relevance to the role for which you are recruiting. Not only are all of these factors readily identifiable, but for the most part, if a candidate is lacking in these areas they can be taught.

Experienced sales recruiters and sales hiring managers know that sales people rarely fail due a lack of skills, product knowledge and the factors mentioned above. Failure in sales is almost always because the sales candidate lacks the necessary personality traits for the role, such as drive, sense of urgency and natural self-motivation. This is what they want and need to uncover in sales candidates and this is what our test identifies.

The reason our test does not change from role to role is because we are always attempting to identify the personality traits and motivational style of the person. The test could be likened to the ‘camera that takes the picture’ because it is able to clearly and accurately identify these personality and motivational aspects of the candidate. Of course when looking at the candidate’s test results we look at them in relation to how they match what the role requires.  Knowing what the role requires, we are able to accurately attach a Suitability Rating to the candidates’ test results. As mentioned above, this is not some ‘general sales fit score’. This is a score that is directly related to the requirements of the position and provides a sense of how much potential they have for success in that role.

In our many studies of client sales teams over the years these Suitability Rating scores have proven to be highly predictive of the success of sales candidates. In a recent example, we looked at the test results of the top 100 most successful reps in a sales force of about 1000. This particular sales force hires very strong closers. 72% of these top performers scored Excellent or Good on their Suitability Rating score, conclusively proving that an Excellent or Good Rating is highly predictive of success.

Learn More about our Sales Personality Test

If you wish to discuss your specific sales hiring challenges or would like to learn more about the process and benefits of our customization feature I would enjoy hearing from you.

Sales Personality-The Killer Combination of Trait Drives shared by Top Sales Hunters

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Businesses have used our sales personality test since 1986. A quick look at our web site will show that a key to the success of our service is that it is customized to the specifics of each sales role. Why? Because we’ve learned that sales roles differ considerably and therefore appropriate people for those roles can differ significantly.

That said, in the course of testing literally millions of sales candidates for an amazingly varied clientele, it is certainly the case that many of them are trying to hire sales hunters. Our service ensures they hire true hunters rather than the candidates who ‘interview well but can’t sell’. We also provide an understanding of how to manage them on a daily basis. All this to say that, after having tested so many sales people we have observed some obvious similarities in the very best sales hunters. I thought I would share our observations.

Discussing sales personalities using labels such as ‘sales hunter’ or ‘sales farmer’ unfortunately tends to feed a common misconception that I would like to dispel. Specifically, that all sales people who fall into one of these categories possess all of the same traits. It is true that some things can be common to all within that group, however other differences are typically present. Take a look at any group of successful sales hunters and you will find that even though they are all successful they can tend to get the job done in somewhat different ways. Because of this, some managers who mistakenly focus on the differences rather than being aware of the similarities, operate as if there is no rhyme or reason to why these reps are successful. On the surface it may seem quite random but when one goes below the surface by using a sales personality assessment it becomes quite obvious that there are common threads that are readily identifiable and that explain what makes a great sales hunter.

The two trait drives that are shared by all top sales hunters are firstly, a high level of Assertiveness and secondly a high level of Sociability. Just to be sure we are on the same page with our definitions, here are short descriptions of each of these trait drives.

Assertiveness

Assertiveness refers to a need for control, competitiveness, self-motivation, drive, dominance, ego and the need to make ones own decisions and to be in charge. Therefore, when we say that they have a high level of this trait drive it means they are authoritative types who can be assertive in putting forth their ideas, they are dominant in the sense of wanting to be in charge and have a real need to control their own destiny and to make their own decisions. Tending to thrive on competition, they are motivated by being measured, whether against others or against goals. Their competitiveness and large ego means they have a very strong sense of self worth and a need to win. As well, they tend to think big with little concern about risk and will be highly motivated by, and responsive to, commission and incentive based compensation.

Sociability

Sociability refers to the need for social interaction and the stimulation of that interaction. It is introversion vs. extroversion or an outward (people) orientation vs. an inward (task) orientation. Please note that this is not a measure of friendliness, rather, it refers to empathy level and persuasiveness and how one communicates and responds to others. Therefore, when we say that they have a high level of this trait drive it means they tend to be very extroverted and people oriented. Their tendency is to be very stimulated by lots of social interaction. Their natural empathy and ability to quickly relate to others means they are very persuasive in their communication with a natural ability to identify the listener’s ‘hot buttons’.

Just to be very clear, while it is true that top sales hunters are high on both of these two trait drives, the emphasis is always on one trait drive or the other. What I mean is that some have high sociability but higher assertiveness (see example #1) while others have high assertiveness but higher sociability (see example #2).

Example #1

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Example #2

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An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

What makes this the killer combination for prospecting? We often use the term ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ to describe this trait pair, which hints at why it is so effective for new business development. The high sociability and need for interaction means the person has the natural warmth and empathy to quickly relate to and establish rapport with new contacts. When doing so they have an innate ability to find and push the prospects hot buttons and are very adept at painting clear verbal pictures when communicating. They are naturally very persuasive in their interactions. Of course it is more than just the fact that they are very persuasive. It is the fact they are also very assertive, which means they are not just sociable but they are ‘sociable with a purpose’. Their assertiveness means that in the daily grind of prospecting they possess the ‘thickness of skin’ to absorb the rejection that is a natural part of the job. The traits work together such that they can apply considerable pressure (‘pushiness’ for want of a better word) in such a way that the prospect does not feel the full extent of that pressure. It is their assertiveness that enables them to feel comfortable asking for the order, an appointment or to get a commitment from the customer.

Learn More

If you hire sales hunters we would enjoy learning about your specific challenges. Besides some of the insights we have touched on above we would be pleased to share our insights regarding the unique issues associated with interviewing, hiring and managing these sales personalities. Feel free to reach out to me directly at 416-691-3661 or visit our website.

SalesTestOnline.com Unsolicited Testimonial

5.15.13-300-resize-380x300This morning on Linkedin we received the following unsolicited customer testimonial about the accuracy of our sales assessment test :

Jim Gillespie This is an absolutely unsolicited testimonial – in fact, they’ll find out about it when they read this comment: When we first looked at David’s product, we tested it on some of our current staff. The results were incredible. We felt we were looking at written mirror images of the test takers. More so, the results outlined why they were viable candidates – or not – for sales. We have found over the past 10 years or so that SalesTestOnline works exceedingly well at identifying the traits that a candidate has and whether they can be successful hires.

To read more testimonials from other satisfied SalesTestOnline.com clients go here: SalesTestOnline.com testimonials.

 

 

 

 

 

Sales Psychometric Testing and Non-Sales Employees

images-2Does it make sense to have candidates for non-sales roles complete a psychometric sales test as part of the hiring process? If these employees are not actually ‘selling’ how will you benefit by having them complete a sales evaluation? What can you learn from the results? Depending on the role for which you are hiring, the insights gained by using a psychometric sales test can prove very beneficial and highly profitable.

Despite our name , we have for our entire 30 years in business offered psychometric testing for non-sales roles. Here is a sample of non-sales test results, which as you see is not addressing sales criteria. The intended focus of this article however is about gaining insight into the person from a sales perspective.

Type of psychometric sales test to use

If you plan to conduct sales assessments for non-sales candidates, it is imperative that the right kind of sales psychometric assessment be used. Since the intention is to evaluate candidates who are not actually sales people nor who are intending to become sales people, the sales test used must be designed to measure personality traits and the underlying temperament and motivational style-the inherent or natural aspects of the person. Psychometric sales instruments that measure skills, sales competency or the typical learned aspects of sales will be of little or no benefit.

For which non-sales roles should psychometric sales tests be considered?

Any customer-facing role should at least be considered. Roles where there are opportunities to cross-sell, upgrade or strengthen the relationship with the customer are excellent choices. Other roles for serious consideration are where a positive customer experience is the goal, even if the tangible or non-tangible benefits are not easily quantified. Just a few of many examples:

  • Call Center Employees
  • Pre-sales Engineers
  • Financial Institution Service Reps
  • Customer Service Reps
  • Membership Service Reps
  • Order Desk Employees
  • Technical Support
  • Sales Support
  • Client Service Reps
  • Estimators and Designers
What kind of information can be obtained?

The results of the sales test will reveal a wealth of information. Some of it will obviously not be relevant to the situation, for example, sales prospecting and closing. On the other hand there will be much information, even unrelated to sales that will be of benefit in gaining insight into the candidate’s overall fit for the role. From a sales perspective however, the configuration and levels of the candidate’s trait drives such as, Assertiveness, Sociability, Patience and Dependence will provide a strong sense of potential ‘sales style’ for possible development. Among the areas that you will gain insight into are the following:

  • Communication style
  • Social warmth and friendliness
  • Ability to empathize and relate to customer concerns/problems
  • Persuasiveness and ability to convince
  • Creating trust
  • Initiative and sense of urgency
  • Effective communication of technical information
  • Helpfulness
  • General sense of urgency
  • Response to incentives
  • Potential for up-selling/cross-selling
  • Potential to learn and benefit from basic sales techniques
Conclusion

Acquiring new customers is very expensive. This is why it makes great sense to ensure that customer-facing employees are very effective in their interactions so that they can effectively up-sell, cross sell and resell. At the very least these employees should have an interactive and communication style that does not turn off and therefore potentially lose your valuable customers. Sales psychometric testing costs a pittance. Isn’t it worth the investment?

I invite your comments about this article and would be pleased to address any questions. If you are interested in finding out more about having candidates or employees complete a sales person psychometric assessment please visit us here: SalesTestOnline.com

Use a Sales Personality Test to Increase Sales

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If you’ve interviewed and hired sales people you’ve no doubt experienced the frustration and disappointment of hiring a sales person who interviewed like a winner but once hired, turned out to be a complete and utter failure.

Many hiring managers are so weary of this and have experienced it often enough that they’ve resigned themselves to viewing the hiring process as a coin toss.

This cynical view of sales person selection is not only completely unwarranted but it’s also extremely unfortunate when you consider the cost of a hiring failure, which the Harvard Business Review pegs at between $75,000 and $300,000.

If you’re not using a sales personality test in your sales selection process you need to immediately and seriously consider using one. Trying to hire sales people without this vital sales hiring tool is like flying blind and puts you at a very serious and costly disadvantage.

This is why today many companies that hire top sales talent have reduced the chances of hiring a sales failure by integrating sales assessment tests into their hiring process. According to another HBR article, “76% of organizations with more than 100 employees use tests for external hiring”.

Perhaps you should too, because if you are not currently using a sales test you are most likely relying far too heavily on face-to-face interviews. This is a huge and costly mistake and is a root cause of failed hires because face-to-face interviews are notoriously bad tools for choosing sales people. Consider the following:

In a Forbes Leadership Forum article about the shortcomings of interviews as predictors of success, Professor Don Moore of the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley writes: “Hundreds of studies reveal the profound limitations of the traditional interview. Interviews favor manipulative candidates, or ones who know how to make a positive impression even in a brief interview…but those aren’t always the best job performers. We all know of instances in which a poised, charming job candidate turned out to be a disaster. Traditional job interviews are simply not very good at selecting the best candidates (and) are a poor predictor of subsequent performance”. Professor Moore continues: “Managers are consistently overconfident in their ability to identify the best candidates using a job interview. We cling to the fanciful notion that we can perfectly predict future job performance, despite overwhelming evidence against it”.

How Sales Candidates Fool you?

The problem of being fooled by sales candidates is by no means a new issue. It is in fact a reason why the first sales personality tests were developed more than 60 years ago. The reason why they continue in widespread use, is firstly that they work. The second reason is that candidates are even more adept at playing the role today due, not only to their access to information about you and your company, but also tools that assist them to market their ‘brand’. As an interviewer the odds have never been in your favor but now you don’t really stand a chance.

Being fooled by sales candidates comes in various forms but the most common are the three described below.

Being fooled by the candidate’s act

This can take different forms but it occurs when candidates adjust their style (eg. raising their assertiveness level, or portraying a greater level of extroversion) during the interview based on what they believe you are looking for. Candidates fool even the most experienced interviewers when they do this because it is quite easy to pull off this ‘act’ for short periods of time. A very common example is when sales recruiters are hiring hunter or closer types. It is very common in this situation for a non-assertive yet very sociable candidate to dramatically bump up their ‘seeming’ assertiveness during your interview with them. Of course what typically happens is you hire them because they interview really well and then months later you discover, to your regret, that you were fooled by their act. A very costly mistake that you could have avoided by having had the candidate take a sales personality test.

Mis-identifying the candidate’s personality traits

Unlike the issue above where the candidate plays a role that serves to fool you, in this case the candidate is not playing a role at all but merely acting naturally. You get fooled because the trait you are seeing creates the impression that it is something entirely different. There are also many examples of this but a common one occurs with candidates who are extremely sociable and extroverted yet are lacking in assertiveness and self-motivation. The reason you get fooled by this, is because, in short doses high sociability looks like high assertiveness but definitely is not. If you did in fact want to hire a sales person with high assertiveness you will regret this very costly hiring error.

Rejecting certain candidates who do not interview well

Unlike the two examples above where the candidates appear better than they are, in this example these candidates appear worse. A great example of this is the sales candidate who is quite introverted and reserved but who also possesses a great degree of drive and self-motivation. Because these candidates are somewhat ill at ease in interviews they do not always come off very well and can be seen as aloof, cold and even a little brusque, and for this reason you can easily reject them from the selection process. This is a great shame and potentially a very expensive hiring error because they are often highly successful in more technically oriented sales roles as this article about introverts in sales demonstrates.

How will a Sales Personality Test solve this issue?

Sales personality tests solve this problem because they cut through the role and get right to the core of who the candidate really is. You no longer get fooled, and the process is now tilted back in your favor because you now thoroughly understand the candidate’s true motivational style. This is critical information for you to have at this stage because once the person is hired and settled into the role it is this personality that you will be dealing with.

Armed with this critical information you will immediately know whether the candidate has potential and whether you should proceed to the next step. You will also possess great insight into the candidate’s specific strengths, weaknesses and any potential red flag areas. These additional insights mean you can be very specific and targeted with your questioning and other vetting methods. Many managers who use sales personality tests refer to them as their ‘secret weapon’.

The Benefits

1.You will increase sales because the sales people you hire will all start out with high potential for success.

2.You will save massive amounts of time because you will know from the moment a new sales person starts, how to manage and motivate them.

3.You will save further time because you will no longer need to waste your efforts attempting to make a bad hire succeed.

4.Your entire hiring process will be more effective since you can spend your time vetting only those with high potential.

5.You will save further money and time and enhance your company’s brand by avoiding a revolving door in your sales department.

Investment required for these Benefits

The benefits described above can be yours for a tiny cost, no matter the size of your sales team. The cost of our sales person test, varies from just a couple of dollars for high volume clients to around thirty dollars for even quite small companies who do only occasional sales testing. Sales test costs are here.

Learn More

If you are interested in learning more I would enjoy hearing from you and would be very pleased to discuss your specific sales hiring challenges and if you are interested, to arrange a complementary demonstration of our service.