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

pexels-photo-251287

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’

main-qimg-f925aa0b0b696693ec1647cbb0de22a2

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

images

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

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 2.28.11 PM

Screen Shot 2017-01-10 at 2.31.09 PM

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.