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.

Why Sales Personality Tests are Better than Sales Interviews as a Sales Talent Indicator

 

 

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The process of evaluating sales aptitude in job candidates could in some ways be compared to a small construction project like building a garage. To complete either project you will need to employ a variety of tools that each perform a specific function necessary to the project’s success. Where the comparison ends though is when you have two tools whose functions overlap. When building a garage it is not a problem to discard one of your hammers, drills or saws. When evaluating sales aptitude, the typical face-to-face interview and sales personality tests are in many respects, tools with overlapping functions. In this case though, it is best to use both, while being cognizant of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. In this way, by working in tandem each becomes a better tool in it’s own right.

Common sales hiring tools for vetting candidates
  • Resume sorting and analysis
  • Telephone interviews
  • Face-to-Face Interviews
  • Sales psychometric testing
  • Role playing/simulations
  • Reference checks
  • Background checks

It is quite likely that you use most, or perhaps even all, of the above sales hiring tools to one degree or another. If you are like the majority of hiring managers the results of the face-to-face interview(s) receive the greatest weight.

Most common areas for sales candidate evaluation
  • Education
  • Intelligence and ability to learn
  • Appearance and demeanor
  • Industry experience and knowledge
  • Product knowledge
  • Sales experience and training
  • Specific sales skills (presentation, communication)
  • Specific competencies (computer, software, contact management)
  • Personality traits/characteristics (self-motivation, energy level, ability to work independently, results-oriented)

Of this list, the single most important factor that hiring managers are trying to evaluate accurately is the candidate’s personality traits and characteristics. This is borne out not only by our many conversations with these hiring managers but also by numerous surveys. This is further confirmed by hundreds of published papers by experts in the field as well as by numerous HBR articles on this topic.

What is the issue?

The problem is that hiring managers are using interviews to evaluate personality traits and characteristics. This is a big and potentially very costly problem. Why? Because as we shall see, interviews are one of the least effective tools for measuring sales personality traits-the most important factor in determining sales success.

Accurately identifying sales personality in interviews is impossible?

There are so many authoritative articles and studies about face-to-face interviews and their lack of effectiveness as hiring tools that I won’t even bother trying to list them. The intent of this article is not meant to go over this well covered and well-researched topic yet again. Instead, our focus is specific to why trying to evaluate sales personality traits in interviews is very risky.   Here is why:

1.Role-playing by the applicant

Candidates today, have access to so much information via specific sources like Linkedin and Facebook, let alone general research via Google that they know in great detail about you, your company and what type of person you are trying to hire. In addition to knowing what you are looking for, these same sources are a terrific resource for job candidates to learn how best to ‘market’ themselves. Even if the candidate was not sourced via a recruiter, who probably coached them, given the tools at the candidate’s disposal, they might just as well have been. This is not new, as candidates have always tried to portray themselves in a way that matches what the interviewer is looking for. It is just that today they are far more sophisticated in their ability to pull it off. Please understand, I am not in any way suggesting they lack honesty or scruples, it is merely the fact that they want the job, so from their perspective they are ‘polishing the apple’ or ‘putting their best foot forward’.   Where it becomes a serious problem for you is when the personality traits they are trying to portray are very different from their real or natural personality traits. This is important because people can play convincing roles for short periods of time (interviews), whereas over time (once hired and on the job) they revert back to what is natural to them. As one common example let us suppose you are attempting to hire a rather assertive sales type (eg. a sales hunter or sales closer style). It is entirely possible, and actually quite common, for a non-assertive person to portray the style you seek. This is particularly the case if you are interviewing a non-assertive but highly sociable type. Your interview experience with this person convinces you that you have a winner so you hire the person. Months later, to your regret, you realize you were fooled. I cannot tell you the number of times even very experienced hiring managers have recounted to me variations of this scenario. The candidate’s role-playing will fool you!

2.Mis-identifying Personality Traits

An equally costly but different way of being fooled by applicants is the mis-identification of personality traits. This happens when the personality trait you think you are seeing in the candidate is actually a very different trait. There are numerous examples of this but a common one occurs with candidates who are extremely personable but not very assertive nor self-motivated. The problem is that high sociability looks like high assertiveness, but it definitely is not. As the interviewer sifting through this maze this can be a real problem since these candidates intuitively know what you want to hear and can be very adept at appealing to your ‘hot buttons’. Now, some sales roles that do not need a lot of assertiveness can be quite a good fit for these types. However, the problem is that if you are interviewing for a role that requires assertiveness along with the sociability (which is usually the case), you will live to regret hiring this kind of candidate.

3.Candidates that could be great but who you reject

People with a high level of extroversion are ‘in their own arena’ when being interviewed. This is the reason why these types can fool you. Conversely sales types who are more reserved, introverted and controlled in style do not interview very well. If you are interviewing quite a number of candidates who happen to be extroverts these introverts by comparison, will not come off very well. Their ‘poor performance’ in the interview can be a classic example of where interview performance has absolutely nothing to do with predicting sales success. Of course there are introverts that you should hire and introverts that you should not. Interviews are not a hiring tool that can discern the difference.

Why a Sales Personality Test is better?

One of the fundamental reasons for using a sales personality test is to avoid being fooled in job interviews. For this reason when you use sales personality tests none of these three costly issues should re-occur. Utilizing the sales test early in the process makes your interviews more effective by arming you with a deep understanding of the candidate’s strengths, weaknesses and possible red flags, many of which would not have been apparent via face-to-face interviewing alone. Conducting an interview without incorporating sales personality tests means you are operating ‘blind’ and therefore the sales candidate has you at a serious disadvantage. By using a sales test in tandem with the interview you will have the advantage. Isn’t this the way it should be? After all, hiring mistakes are very costly.

I do hope this article has been helpful. I invite your questions and comments. Should you be interested in our services please visit us here-SalesTestOnline.com for a free demonstration.

Measuring and Testing for Soft Skills

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According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, ‘employers are increasingly looking for workers with strong soft skills…but many employers say it has gotten harder to find those applicants as the labor market tightens.’ This is just one of many articles and studies highlighting this issue.

The WSJ article was based on a study by LinkedIn’s team of economic researchers who analyzed 2.3 million LinkedIn profiles in order to determine the soft skills that were most sought after by employers. At the top of the list were communication, teamwork, social skills and interpersonal communication.

These findings are certainly consistent with other surveys, articles and studies.  Lists of the most sought after soft skills usually distill down to the 8 areas listed below.

Eight most sought after soft skills
  1. Communication
  2. Teamwork
  3. Interpersonal and Social Style
  4. Decision Making
  5. Organization
  6. Self-Motivation
  7. Problem Solving
  8. Leadership

In many of the articles detailing the importance of soft skills and the difficulty of finding people who possess them it is clear that employers will readily hire applicants with strong soft skills but weak technical skills. In a study of 700 HR Managers and professionals, 93% felt that technical skills are easier to teach than soft skills.

Psychometric tests for recruitment

If you have problems finding people with the right soft skills, the solution is to use an online psychometric test for your recruitment. Why would an online psychometric test solve the problem? To understand why, it helps to start by examining the actual term ‘soft skills’. The use of the word ‘skills’ is highly misleading since it strongly implies that they can be taught. In fact, most of what are referred to as ‘soft skills’ are not skills at all but are actually personality traits or characteristics, which are of course inherent or natural to the person. Most of the ‘soft skills’ listed above are readily identifiable by introducing a short psychometric assessment into your recruitment process. Candidates would complete it online and you would receive a comprehensive report outlining strengths, weaknesses and how they compare to your requirements.

Tests do identify soft skills but interviews do not

Extensive research has shown that interviews are notoriously bad for evaluating the ‘soft skills’ of job candidates. There are several reasons for this but what it comes down to is that job candidates are able to fool you during interviews since they know what you want to see and hear. Since we are, as has been shown, actually trying to determine the natural or inherent traits and characteristics of the candidate rather than being fooled by the false image that they portray in the interview, the only practical and efficient way to do this is to have them complete an online test that measures soft skills. This is especially so, given how accurate (over 90%) and effective tests are at drilling down to the traits necessary for success.

Online psychometric tests today are very easy to use since administering a test is as simple as sending the candidate a link. The candidate’s test results describing their soft skills are available for viewing by you instantly. Considering the many benefits of using an online psychometric test for recruitment, their cost, typically $30-60, is a small price to pay when you consider the cost of a making a hiring mistake.

Conclusion

Today there is no practical reason to lament the lack of soft skills in job candidates. What is necessary is to understand that it is not skills that you need to identify but personality traits and characteristics. With this in mind you can focus your interviewing process around identifying the most critical traits accurately, efficiently and economically. Incorporating an online psychometric assessment test into your recruiting process will do this. If you have any comments or feedback please let us know. If you would like to learn more about our services, and perhaps to have a complimentary demonstration please visit us here.

Sales Testing Accuracy

 

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Unsolicited Testimonial about our Sales Test

Below is an unsolicited testimonial from a client who has used our sales assessment test for almost five years.  For anyone who is skeptical about the accuracy of our sales test this should provide comfort.

PS. I have to say that the Rating is not that important to me on our Ejecutivo de Ventas profile.  I go into the text.  For every candidate I read them their results to see their reaction, to learn who they are (I don’t review before the interview – I want to see if the person in front of me matches the results I am reading), and see if I like the mix.  Then after reading them their results I ask every person how accurate the results are on a scale of 0-100%.  I have not had any one person (after more than 300 interviews) say that the results are lower than 75%.  Many people say that the results are 90%, 95%, and 98% accurate.  This alone is a testimonial as to how well you guys have created the test.  Thank you.  (And feel free to use this when promoting STOL to other companies.)