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.

Sales Interview Effectiveness:New York Times Article, ‘The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews’

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Below is a link to a really great article in The New York Times called ‘The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews’.  The article is by Jason Dana, an assistant professor of management and marketing at the Yale School of Business. The findings Professor Dana writes about in this article offer compelling evidence that hiring managers need to consider when looking at their sales hiring practices. Most important, without explicitly saying so, he makes a very strong case for using a sales test instead of, or at the very least in combination with, the sales interview.  Here is a link to the article.

For anyone who is also interested, here is our own article about the effectiveness of sales interviews that we published on this topic.

I hope you find one or both helpful.

 

 

 

 

Sales Personality Tests-Six Reasons Why SalesTestOnline is better than the Predictive Index

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Often, in my conversations with prospects that are considering implementing a sales personality test, they have remarked at the similarities of The Predictive Index to SalesTestOnline.com. This has happened frequently enough that I thought I would dedicate a post to the subject in order to spell out both the similarities and differences.

This article will demonstrate that, while first impressions make it seem that The Predictive Index and SalesTestOnline.com are very similar, a little exploration past these first impressions will reveal clear and important differences.   Not only are these important differences, it is these very differences that I believe you will see that make our system far superior to the Predictive Index as a sales personality test.

Full disclosure: For 3 years in the early 1980’s I worked for what was then the largest Predictive Index licensee in the world. Because of this I am very familiar with the PI’s strengths but also it’s shortcomings.

Similarities of Predictive Index and SalesTestOnline.com
1.The Testing Instruments

First impressions are usually made of our system when one takes or administers our test. This cursory experience is all that most people actually experience about either of our respective systems.   To them the system is the test, when in reality the test is really just the device that gathers information about the test taker. Nevertheless, as tests and testing experiences go, they are virtually identical. Both The Predictive Index and SalesTestOnline.com use free choice adjective checklists. Both tests are untimed and have two screens (originally two sides of a paper and pencil test) each with lists of about 100 adjectives. The first screen asks the test taker to ‘check off the words that describe how others expect you to act’ and the second screen asks the test taker to ‘check off the words that really do describe you’. It is no great surprise why we are seen as being the same.

2.Personality Trait Drive Scales

While many of the folks who compare us to PI are doing so based solely on their experience of having taken or given our sales test, in some instances we have the opportunity to speak with trained Predictive Index analysts. Their knowledge of course, goes deeper since they would have completed the analyst training and therefore would have access to the results of the PI test. Their training would have made them familiar with the PI graphs and how to interpret them. This is the second area where the PI and SalesTestOnline.com are similar. In the two images below you will see both an example of a Predictive Index scoring sheet and the trait drives section from one of our reports. Even though we identify these trait drives somewhat differently they are essentially the following same 6 trait drives:

  • Assertiveness
  • Sociability
  • Patience
  • Dependence
  • Emotional Control
  • Stamina

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It is the combination of where the person scores on these various trait drives that creates the PI pattern that Predictive Index analysts are trained to interpret and of course it is the combination of these trait drives that enables us to describe the individual’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of specific aspects of sales eg. closing, prospecting, response to incentives as well as how they fit the specific sales role at hand.

The two aspects described above-the testing experience and the trait drive scoring, are clearly similar. Below however I will describe the critical differences and explain why the PI does not even come close to SalesTestOnline.com as a sales test or otherwise.

Differences Between PI and SalesTestOnline.com
Inaccuracy Due to Poor Analyst Skill

In order to understand why the differences between SalesTestOnline.com and The Predictive Index are so huge even though the instruments themselves are the same it is important to think of the test and the interpretation of the test results as two separate pieces. What do I mean by this? To understand, you need to realize that at the heart of the PI program, is their certified analyst training. This training, which was originally two weeks long, was reduced to one week in the 1970’s but is now compressed into a total of only 14 hours over two days. The sole purpose of the training is to teach people how to interpret the graphs and therefore how to describe the motivational style of test takers. At the end of the training the interpretive skill of the analysts tends to be highly varied. Not only this but when analysts return to work where they are expected to use their training, some are very busy doing interpretations and therefore improve their skill while others might use it only occasionally. If you have any doubt about this inaccuracy in the interpretations put the identical PI pattern in the hands of three different analysts and ask them each to prepare their own interpretation. Despite the fact that the PI test itself is very accurate you will see that the interpretations are dramatically different. The poor skill of ‘trained’ PI analysts and the resulting inconsistency and inaccuracy in their interpretations of test results is the Achilles heel of the PI program.

Misunderstanding the Requirements of the Role

Sadly, another area where The Predictive Index goes off the rails at the hands of ‘Certified Analysts’ relates to their lack of skill when they are bench-marking. The purpose of this is to identify the ideal PI patterns for the role. Test takers would then be compared to these benchmark patterns in terms of their fit or match. This is great in theory, but in practice it doesn’t really work as planned. The main reason for this, is that PI analysts often have a strong bias toward certain patterns. In other words they ‘like’ certain PI patterns more than others. These are typically the high A, high B, low C, low D patterns. This bias skews their ability to conduct an objective analysis of the behavioral requirements of the position. Among the other factors that detract from their objectivity in this area is simply the narrowness of their experience. Those analysts who have broad experience in analyzing jobs learn that there are great variances that often exist in the traits of the most successful people in those roles.

Other PI Analyst Issues

There are numerous other issues that result from poor analyst interpretation. A common one is for the analyst, whose training is intended to equip them with the skill to not only interpret the results but to describe what this means in terms that are relevant to the role. In other words, their interpretation and feedback needs to be job specific rather than just the general traits of the person who was tested. Unfortunately this skill, which takes considerable time and practice to develop, is not something that very many PI analysts possess. Because of this, when asked to evaluate an applicant or employee, most analysts will just copy or refer to one of the 16 standard pattern classifications that they learned about from their training manual.

The actual PI test is very accurate and in the hands of skilled analysts it can be a great tool. Unfortunately skilled analysts are all too few. The above issues seriously detract from the accuracy hiring managers need to rely on when using this type of sales psychometric test in the hiring process.

Cost

Even without the issues described above, PI is very costly when looked at on a per evaluation basis. The yearly retainer costs a minimum of nearly $5000 US plus the cost of training at least 2 analysts at a minimum of $1500 US each. These are the costs for clients with the fewest number of employees. Larger clients will pay a substantially higher yearly retainer fee and will be required to train many more analysts. And of course when trained analysts leave your company their replacements will require training. I believe that if many PI clients calculated their actual cost per evaluation they would be unpleasantly surprised.

Six Reasons why SalesTestOnline.com is Better
Same Test and Same Factors Measured

Our sales test uses the very same psychometric methodology as the Predictive Index. The testing experience is just as quick and painless and we measure the same temperament and motivational aspects of the candidate.

Accurate and Consistent Results

We’ve removed the inaccuracy and inconsistency caused by poor analyst skill.  Our system is automated so your test results are always accurate, precise and true.

Test Results are Thorough, Concise and Job Specific

When used as a personality sales test, here is the report you instantly receive. As you can see, not only do you receive measures of the same trait drive scales as the PI but you receive much more such as prospecting, closing and a job suitability rating. Just like the PI you may use our psychometric testing system for all roles within your organization. Here is a sample of our non-sales report.

Customized to your requirements

Another reason we are better is our Job Profiling system. We have analyzed tens of thousands of jobs so our knowledge and skills ensure that you are targeting the correct sales personality for each role.

Expert Support

We are available if you need guidance, have questions or just need a sounding board. Over the years we have worked with numerous PI analysts and we can ‘speak your language’ in order to make our assistance even more effective.

Lower Cost

Here is a link to our pricing. When you purchase a block of tests everything is included, with no time limit to use them. Do the math yourself and you’ll see that our system can offer any size company significant savings.

Conclusion

If you like The Predictive Index you will love SalesTestOnline.com. Our service is superior but less costly. We have a 30 year track record with over 1400 businesses and we enjoy a 97% re-order rate. If you are considering a change or you just want to see what other options are available to you I suggest you try a complementary demonstration by visiting our web site. On the other hand if you have questions about our service or this article, or just to discuss your needs I would enjoy hearing from you.

Sales Personality Test: Hunter Farmer Hybrids

maxresdefaultAny discussion of the personality of sales people very quickly comes around to the well-used terms of Sales Hunters and Sales Farmers. Because of the widespread reference to these two sales person personality types I have previously devoted entire articles to each. There are many other sales person personalities, and while I normally avoid these labels, I do find it interesting that there is a scarcity of names for some of the many other styles.

I wanted to write about a style that could best be called a Hunter-Farmer Hybrid. Admittedly, this is not an elegant handle, but it is an appropriate name given the strengths and weaknesses of sales people with this sales personality style.

As is often the case when I attempt to describe sales person personality, it is useful to refer to the 4 main trait drive scales below.

Assertiveness – Need for control, competitiveness, need to win, ego drive.

Sociability – Need for interaction with others, empathy and persuasiveness, extroversion.

Patience – Need for stability and predictability, comfort with repetition and routine.

Dependence – Need for rules, structure, guidelines, approval, security and clearly defined direction.

The Sales Hunter

Sales Hunters, of course, are high on assertiveness, high on sociability, low on patience and low on dependence.   This combination of traits is why they can absorb rejection while prospecting and why they are very risk oriented, independent, resistant to rules and impatient with a sense of urgency.

The Sales Farmer

Sales Farmers, on the other hand, are low on assertiveness, high on sociability, low on patience and high on dependence. This trait combination is why they tend to be warm and helpful but not pushy. They meet and relate to others readily, tend to stay within the guidelines and follow direction, are good at follow up activities, and tend to be organized. As well, they are team players that are eager to help others.

The Hunter-Farmer Hybrid

On two of the trait drive scales, Sociability and Patience, the Hunter-Farmer Hybrid is the same as the others. Like the others ‘hybrids’ are very outgoing, empathetic, people oriented and persuasive. As well, ‘hybrids’ have a sense of urgency, need variety and a fast paced working environment.

It is on the other two trait drive scales, Assertiveness and Dependence that the Hunter-Farmer Hybrid is different from both Hunters and Farmers. On these two scales ‘hybrids’ are a blending of the two styles and therefore have a mid-range level of Assertiveness and a mid-range level of Dependence. When we take these four trait drives together it means that the ‘hybrid’ can be very effective in sales roles that combine the requirements of both sales hunting and sales farming. Put another way they are ‘quite well suited’ to both sales hunting and sales farming while not necessarily being ‘perfectly suited’ to either. Some examples of roles for which they are suited:

  • Roles requiring the rep to not only open accounts but also to service and maintain those accounts.
  • Sales hunting roles requiring a lot of follow up and attention to detail in order to close the sale.
  • Sales hunting roles where very high assertiveness is not really necessary.
  • Sales hunting roles with a long selling cycle.
  • Technically oriented sales roles.
  • Farmer sales roles where a little more assertiveness would assist with up-selling, cross-selling and getting deeper into the account.
  • Many account management sales roles.

There are in fact many different types of sales roles to which these ‘hybrid’ types are highly suited. This has long been the case since there have always been a high percentage of sales roles that needed this type of ‘dual’ focus on what are, in sales personality terms, contradictory demands.

Hybrids in Sales Hunter Roles

Today, even clearly defined sales roles that require a pure business development focus have evolved in ways that necessitate a style more aligned with that of these ‘hybrids’ rather than that of the pure ‘hunter’ style. For example, the requirement to use contact management software and other common sales tools and technologies can in many ways be very demotivating to the highly independent nature and big egos of pure sales hunters, whereas ‘hybrids’ are very comfortable with this kind of ‘structure’. The requirements of social selling are just another example of the same issue.

Still another factor that has changed the traditional hunter role in favor of ‘hybrids’ has to do with the way prospects now interact with sales people during the sales process. The high assertiveness of sales hunters can now actually be a detriment when interacting with some prospects, and the hunter’s impatient frustration at having to keep following up in order to get a decision can mean they give up on the prospect too early, therefore losing out on sales that the hybrid will get simply by ‘hanging in there’ longer.

What to Consider when hiring Hunter Farmer Hybrids
  1. Like many very outgoing types they create the impression that they are more assertive than they are. Be conscious of this in relation to how assertive one needs to be in your sales role.
  2. Much like sales farmers, when they are new to a role, ‘hybrids’ tend to prefer to be given clear support and direction and then once familiar they prefer a far greater degree of latitude.
  3. Like the typical sales farmer they have a fairly strong streak of altruism in what motivates them. Being recognized for their contribution to the success of their team will be an effective motivator.
  4. Like sales hunters they are motivated by incentives (bonus, commission) yet they also have quite a strong fear of failure so guarantees that minimize the risks will be effective.
Conclusion

I do hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions about hunter farmer hybrids or would like to learn more about SalesTestOnline.com I would appreciate hearing from you and would be pleased to discuss your specific challenges.