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


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 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 I get 85% of what I get from the Caliper, for 15% of the cost”. Certainly, some Caliper users have chosen to switch to On the other hand what others have done who just do not feel comfortable making a complete switch is to use both. 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 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 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 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 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

sales personality

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 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 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. 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 clients go here: testimonials.