Sales Aptitude Testing – 5 Ways a Sales Test Can Really Help You in this Tight Job Market

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If you are currently hiring, or planning to hire sales people, you are no doubt well aware of how tight the job market is. In fact, as this recent New York Times Article explains, the unemployment rate, which was recently at 4.1 percent is presently at a 17 year low. Furthermore, since the economy is forecast to continue to strengthen, employers should expect it to become even harder to hire suitable talent for the foreseeable future. It may seem counter-intuitive to some but now is a perfect time to incorporate a sales aptitude test into your hiring regime.

It is true that some managers might view using a sales aptitude test in the current job market as an additional and unnecessary barrier to hiring the best sales talent. If, rather than viewing the sales aptitude test as a barrier, you instead view the sales test as a tool to speed up the vetting process and widen the ‘net’ it will be clear that your sales recruiting will definitely gain a valuable edge. Below I have listed five areas where a sales test will pay big benefits.

Faster Vetting Process

Despite the basic point of the old adage about ‘hiring slow and firing fast’, speeding up the vetting process does not have to mean a lessening of candidate quality. Obviously anything you can do that helps you connect with the high potential applicants faster and earlier in the process is a benefit. This is one reason why many companies now use a sales test at the beginning of the hiring process. By front-loading the administration of the sales test, you will quickly and efficiently identify the high potential candidates prior to your competitors. You are then able to expedite these top candidates through to the next hiring step such as a phone screen and face-to-face interview.

Always Be Recruiting

Hiring experts will invariably advise you that recruiting top sales people should be an ongoing and continuous process rather than something that you do only when you actually need to fill a role. These experts suggest keeping your eyes and ears open for sales people that you meet in your daily business and personal life. It could be a sales person who is selling something either to you personally or for your business. By having an economical sales aptitude test at your disposal whenever you need it you can very easily evaluate these passive candidates in a very non-committal manner by having them agree to take a sales test.

Less Than Ideal Candidates

Despite your efforts to maintain the same hiring standards, it is inevitable that in a tighter job market you will have to hire sales people that you otherwise might not have. Candidates whose qualifications are less than ideal are not all the same. A sales aptitude test will give you valuable insight into the candidate’s specific strengths and weaknesses.   It may be the case for example that one candidate’s shortcomings are easier to contend with and to work around than another candidate’s. The information that the sales test uncovers can be very valuable in this scenario.

 Casting a Wider Net

Most managers continue to try and hire sales people from their own industry in the mistaken belief that product and industry knowledge are critical.   On the contrary, all the available evidence indicates that sales people very rarely fail because of these factors. This is because industry and product knowledge can be taught. In fact, sales success mostly has to do with how the sales person’s personality fits the role. This being the case, one of the benefits of a sales aptitude test is your ability to evaluate sales candidates from other industries. Essentially you are casting a wider net in order to identify suitable candidates. For example, if you are looking for hunter type sales people it might make sense to identify successful hunters in other industries or businesses. If they are shown to have the potential from this perspective you may be able teach them about your products or services.

Getting Them And Keeping Them

It is true that you choose sales candidates but it is also true, especially now, that candidates choose you. The insights gained by using a sales aptitude test give you a thorough understanding of the candidate’s specific motivational drives and ‘hot buttons’. This ‘under the hood’ understanding of the candidate is invaluable in shaping how you present the role and what your company and management team brings to the equation. If the candidate is worth hiring isn’t it worth this extra effort to know how to give it your best shot?

If you are interested in learning more about the many benefits of sales aptitude testing or just to share your unique sales hiring challenges I would be pleased to hear from you.

Sales Assessment Testing – View it as Your Backup Parachute!

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First of all, you could give me 5 back up parachutes and I would still not jump out of an airplane! Unlike the brave souls who get their thrills from skydiving I remain perfectly content to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. Recently though while watching a skydiving demonstration from the safety of good old terra firma, it crossed my mind that using a sales assessment test can be likened to packing a back up parachute. Okay I have to admit it is a big stretch when you compare the failure of a parachute with a failed sales hire but I really needed a good visual image to go along with this article.

Seriously though, when interviewing and hiring sales people, a lot can go wrong in your efforts to understand the candidate and hence to make the right decision.  Given the financial consequences of a bad sales hire isn’t it just sensible to use a sales test in order to provide additional peace of mind and to ‘just make sure’? Here are five ways a sales assessment test will do just that.

Improved Reference Checking

Most reference checking is useless because it is basically just a verification of facts-dates, positions etc. Having access to the results of a sales assessment can make your reference checking much more effective. Why? Because when you talk to the reference you have the ability to exhibit a far greater understanding of the applicant. When you exhibit insights about the candidate and frame these insights around job activities the reference is more likely to open up and give you useful and job relevant feedback.

Better Interviews

The same insights that make you better at reference checking will definitely improve your interviews. Firstly, you can, if you wish, restrict your interviews to only the most qualified candidates by using the sale assessment early on. This means you can have fewer but more comprehensive interviews. Secondly, by having the sales assessment results at hand you can zero in on any red flags. In essence the sales assessment results will put you firmly back in control of the interview.

Uncover Concerns

A sales assessment provides insights into areas that are just not apparent to even the best interviewer. Whether these concerns are ‘deal breakers’ or not, just having the information helps.

Confirming What You Know

For better or worse sometimes a sales assessment confirms what you already think and feel about the candidate. If your negative view is confirmed at least you can feel comfortable that you have done what you can to make sure. If your positive impressions are confirmed the sales assessment results will lend some objectivity to your positive impressions.

Shorter Ramp Up

The results of a sales assessment can be particularly useful with new sales employees even just as the catalyst for starting an open and frank dialogue. Better communication will usually mean a better working relationship. Furthermore, the results will be particularly useful in understanding how to manage, train and motivate the new hire.

Conclusion

When you contrast the financial costs to make a bad sales hire against the many benefits of using a sales assessment test, hiring a sales person without using one makes about as much sense as jumping out of airplane with no back up chute. You wouldn’t do that, would you?