Sales Assessment Test – How Does a 10 Minute Test Reveal So Much?

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I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the disbelief and amazement people express when seeing how much information our test is able to uncover.   I have to admit that even now, after more than 30 years in business I still get a real kick out of this. Typical comments all follow a similar theme: ‘Your test only took me 10 minutes to complete, how can it possibly tell you so much about me?’ This is usually followed by a discussion of the science behind the test and by my offering reassurance that it’s definitely not just smoke and mirrors.

For most people the process of taking the test for themselves or giving it to a known employee followed by seeing the accuracy of the results is very convincing. This is particularly so, since we have no hesitation about taking them ‘under the hood’ to explain things, as well as to answer their various questions. Even if they were initially skeptical, this is usually enough to bring them around.

So, since the skepticism is really just a symptom of a credibility concern I wanted to cover two things. Firstly without getting into the technical weeds of how our test works I wanted to explain it somewhat, and to provide a little background and history. Secondly, since there are numerous well known and respected testing organizations that use the very same type of psychometric methodology, I am providing links to their websites so you can do further research if you wish.

SalesTestOnline.com Instrument

Our test, which when introduced in 1986, consisted of two printed pages, is now presented on two screens. After logging in, test takers are given an instruction and based on how they respond to that instruction, check off their choices from about 100 adjectives. Following this, they go to the second screen and are given a different instruction and are asked to make their choices on this screen also.

Testing Methodology

We cannot take credit for inventing the testing methodology that we use in our test. Instead, like almost all of the dozens of tests that use an adjective based system, our psychometric test developers created the test, using as their foundation, the previous research of some of the most eminent names in Industrial Psychology.   That research, which dates back nearly a century shows that people with similar traits tend to respond to visual symbols in a manner that is similar and consistent. In the case of our test and the others mentioned below the symbols used are adjectives.

Origins of the Research

Rather than attempt to summarize the origins of the research behind our testing methodology I have listed below various links to information about the psychology and the psychologists who did the original research. And of course the following pages have still further links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Jung

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymond_Cattell

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Leon_Thurstone

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prescott_Lecky

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Moulton_Marston

Adjective Based Tests

Below I have listed links to ‘adjective based commercial’ tests. Their familiarity to those in the business world varies widely.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activity_vector_analysis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eysenck_Personality_Questionnaire

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keirsey_Temperament_Sorter

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Multiphasic_Personality_Inventory

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers–Briggs_Type_Indicator

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16PF_Questionnaire

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor-Johnson_Temperament_Analysis

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DISC_assessment

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newcastle_Personality_Assessor

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roger_Birkman – The_Birkman_Method

On this page you will also find a link to a listing of many others and further links to other information about testing:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tests

Conclusion

While we did not invent the testing methodology that we use in our sales assessment test it is based on extensive psychological research with a long history and an impressive reputation.   Given the number of test instruments that are based on this same psychometric methodology it is not an exaggeration to say that literally millions of businesses worldwide are using it as part of their hiring regime.

Sales Testing – Bitter Truth #5

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 You’re a Lousy Judge of Character*

*but you’ll be a good one when you use a sales test

After I wrote that title about being a bad judge of character I thought about softening it but then I had a change of heart. After all, this article is about a bitter truth so in that context being told right off the bat that you are a lousy judge of character does seem to fit. If it is any consolation it is not meant as a personal slight but a comment on a flawed process.

If your job entails interviewing and hiring sales candidates then obviously a core requirement of your job is to learn about, and to understand, what makes those candidates tick. Sure, you can verify facts like education, skills and experience, but that’s not what I’m talking about. If you’ve been hiring sales people for any length of time at all you already know that while important, these things rarely have much to do with sales success.

No, what you need to judge is their character; motivational traits, drive, sense of urgency and myriad other personality aspects of the candidate that ultimately determine how they match the requirements of the role. It is this that inevitably determines their sales success or failure.

Are you still with me?   If so, then you are also painfully aware that relying on face-to-face interviews with sales candidates in order to obtain an accurate measure of this is much easier said than done. Why is that?

The overriding reason is that interviews are just not an effective way to evaluate job candidates, especially candidates for sales roles.   This is not just my opinion. This has been the topic of many research studies and articles by numerous highly respected experts. This New York Times article by Jason Dana, Professor of Management and Marketing at Yale School of Business explains this issue very nicely: The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews.

Management’s use of interviews as a selection tool is so entrenched in our hiring methods, systems and procedures that, despite all the evidence demonstrating that interviews are a waste of time, it is simply not realistic to think that you or anyone else is going to stop conducting them. So if as I suspect, you will continue to interview sales people, all the while operating in the knowledge that the process itself is fatally flawed, the question is what, if anything, do you intend to do about it?

You certainly have the option of maintaining the status quo in the mindset that ‘it is what it is’. You have to admit though, that if you were stuck with a ‘flawed process’ in any other area of your business, and particularly one with such costly implications, that you wouldn’t waste a minute before getting to work trying to find a way to fix it or work around it.

On the other hand, adding a highly accurate and proven sales assessment test such as SalesTestOnline.com is fast, easy and very economical. The sales assessment will cut through the typical role-playing at which candidates are so effective and that would normally fool you. Instead, you’ll operate with a clear and precise picture of the real person behind the façade.   Not only will you have a full picture of the candidate’s critical sales abilities, (ie. prospecting, closing, sense of urgency) but you’ll also have a very full understanding of strengths and weaknesses and other red flags. More than just leveling the ‘interview playing field’, you will find yourself back in command of the situation.

In other words, if you use our sales assessment test when interviewing sales people you will become a very good judge of character. Isn’t that how you see yourself?

Sales Personality Test – You Can Teach a Hunter to Farm But You Can’t Teach a Farmer to Hunt – Here’s Why!

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‘You can teach a hunter to farm but you can’t teach a farmer to hunt’ is an expression I’ve heard many times over the years. Like a lot of old expressions, whether in the ‘world of sales’ or in everyday life they often contain a lot of truth. Hiring managers who’ve used this phrase have usually come to believe it through hard earned experience and their fair share of hiring mistakes. The sales assessment testing we have conducted with hunters and farmers over the years definitely bears out their view. Rather than just accept this expression I wanted to add some of the ‘why’.

Not wanting to go over the previously traveled territory I covered in this article about Hunters and Farmers, I will very briefly summarize their key trait similarities and differences. The two styles differ in both their levels of assertiveness and of dependence. Hunters having high assertiveness while farmers have low. Hunters have low dependence while farmers have high. The similarities are that both tend to be very extroverted and both tend to possess a sense of urgency.

Just to be clear, it is rarely a good idea to have contradictory criteria in any sales role. This previous article about sales testing covers this subject. The essence of the article being, that traits can be likened to two-edged swords. This means that the person’s traits, or sets of traits, that create certain sales strengths also create corresponding sales weaknesses. It normally follows then, that one should make sure that the sales role and the sales person being hired for that role are completely in sync. Unfortunately this is not always possible, so this article is meant to shed some light on a fairly common sales hiring dilemma.

Why you can’t teach a farmer to hunt

The reason you cannot teach a farmer to hunt and why if you do try, you are setting every one up for failure, boils down to the simple fact that the change of personality required to pull this off is so dramatic that it is virtually impossible to achieve.

Changing or adjusting one’s traits to successfully perform one’s job is achievable only if the change/adjustment required is relatively minor. In fact, a slight alteration in one’s style for work is actually quite common and can be pretty positive. When the change becomes too great however, as is the situation we are addressing here, then it is a recipe for disaster. Specifically, the expectation is that the person will elevate their level of assertiveness from very low to very high and simultaneously lower their high level of dependence to very low.   Either one or the other of these adjustments is a very tall order; successfully making them both will just not happen. Naysayers and others who disagree with the above will bring up training, sales tracking software and other tools as a remedy. These will very likely make a bad situation less bad, but the heart of the problem is that you are fighting a losing battle because the issue is not skill, nor anything else that might be taught. The fundamental issue is a very poor personality fit.

Why you can teach a hunter to farm

The overriding reason why it is more realistic to teach a hunter to farm is really quite simple. Firstly, the degree of change required in the hunter’s personality traits is more limited and therefore a more realistic change. Secondly, the available sales tools and necessary skills that need to be taught for these more service-oriented activities are more likely to actually work. There is another practical reason as well; in most instances management’s primary need is for the rep to open accounts (hunt) and as those accounts are opened, to service and maintain them (farm). In other words, the key sales activity at the very least initially, is to develop new business.

Conclusion

If you need to hire a hunter but you also need him to farm, here are a few quick suggestions. First of all, put in place tools and procedures that while helping the rep, do not make him feel controlled nor require too much of his time, otherwise he will be quite demotivated. When ‘selling’ the idea of these tools to the rep and any training you need to provide him, always relate the benefits to what’s in it for him i.e. money, opportunity and independence. If the rep buys into the connection between the farming activities and his individual success, then this will be highly motivating and the rep will be far more likely to succeed.

I hope this has been helpful and I would invite your thoughts and comments. I would especially enjoy hearing from you to discuss your challenges regarding sales hunters and farmers and would be pleased to share some of what we at SalesTestOnline.com have learned over the past 3 decades.