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.)

Use our Sales Personality Tests to Benchmark your best Sales People

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One of the lesser-known uses of our sales personality tests is the ability to ascertain the common personality traits among your top sales people. By identifying their shared personality trait drives, benchmarks can be created. In turn these benchmarks (we actually call them Target Profiles) can be used to compare sales candidates against, when you are hiring.

The benefits of conducting this kind of analysis and using the results when hiring, are immense. Here are a few:

  1. Working with a clear understanding of the role

A very common reason for bad sales hires is not having a clear and articulate insight into the requirements of the sales role. Without this clarity one is operating similarly to a casting director who conducts auditions with no specific part in mind.

  1. All new hires will have high potential

You would be fooling yourself to think every candidate who matches your benchmarks is going to be a sales success. Sales personality tests will definitely tell you if the candidate can do the job but this does not guarantee that they will do the job. Nevertheless, hiring without using sales personality tests means certain candidates who lack this potential get hired merely because they looked good when interviewed. Hiring sales people whom you’ve determined possess at least the potential for success allows you to operate with the comfort that you are not wasting your scarce resources trying ‘to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’.

  1. A streamlined hiring process

By devoting your energies to the high potential candidates you will save valuable time and you can devote extra effort to vetting these high potential candidates even more carefully. You will interview fewer, but better candidates, and not waste time interviewing the marginal ones.

  1. New hires will get up to speed much faster

Hiring candidates who you know have the potential means you will have a clear understanding of how to work with them from day one. Areas such as strengths, weaknesses, how to train and motivate, will not require a learning curve since you will be managing sales personalities with which you are highly familiar and about whom you have a thorough understanding.

What are the steps?

  1. Identify your top performers

The first step is to identify the top performers to use as the benchmarks. In doing this it is important to only use those top sales people who are successful in the way you would like new people to do the job. Anomalies should be excluded. As an example, if you are trying to hire new people to be good sales hunters your current best hunters should be the ones you test. If though, you have veteran sales people on your staff that hit their numbers via re-orders/renewals, it is possible that they should be excluded since they are not ‘hunting’. Conversely, a less experienced sales person who is obviously doing the job in the way you desire but whose numbers may not yet reflect it, should probably be included.

  1. Rank and test

Once you have decided who to test you may immediately go ahead and do so simply by emailing each person the testing instructions. You will also need to provide us with a ranked list with their names. How many you decide to test can vary but as a general rule the larger the sampling the better, as the inevitable outliers and anomalies become more obvious and are less likely to cloud the picture. The top performing 20% is usually a reasonable number. We also suggest that you provide us with any information about the role such as a job description, our completed Job Profile Form, copies of ads, or even any comments you may wish to send us about what would be the ‘ideal’ person for the role. These additional items let us look beyond the statistics found in the test results and help us to better understand our findings.

  1. Analysis and discussion

Our real work begins once your top performers have taken the test.   We look at their results to determine the common trait drives of the group. Not only do we look at the entire group but typically we also analyze the ‘best of the best’ and other sub-groups to see if this demonstrates a strengthening of the trends. We also analyze and break out the traits of the ‘outliers’ since this also provides valuable information. None of this is done in isolation since we would already have looked at the job description, your comments/feedback and the completed Job Profile form. It is sometimes necessary to have a discussion with you about the test results in order to square them with your description of the role.

  1. Set the Target Profiles and adjust as required

Once we enter the settings and set your Target Profiles, all test takers will have a score (eg. 80-100% Excellent, 0-19% Very Poor) on their test results that rates them for closeness to your Target Profiles. It is sometimes necessary to adjust or tweak the Target Profiles at this point, which of course can be done quite readily. It is worth noting that adjustments to Target Profiles can be performed at any future point should the requirements of the role change.

Considerations

  1. Different sales personalities can be equally effective

An important point to bear in mind is that all sales roles have more than one Target Profile (benchmark) against which sales test takers are compared. This is to reflect the fact that, while an analysis of the top performers in any particular sales role will identify clear trends, this does not mean you should expect them to be identical. Take a simple example of a group who are all very assertive and all very independent. When we look beyond these traits we find that while many are extroverts a very large minority are introverts. The Target Profiles we set would need to allow for this, to reflect the fact that in terms of introversion vs. extroversion (in our example) test takers of either style are highly suitable for the role and therefore their Suitability Rating needs to reflect this. This is one very simplified example. For each role we set up to three Target Profiles in order allow for these differences while maintaining the clear trends.

  1. Playing the odds and outliers

Different styles aside, there will be sales people among your top performers who are ‘outliers’ in most aspects relative to the rest of the group. In my experience the fact that the ‘outlier sales person’ is a top sales performer can sometimes be hard for some clients to wrap their head around. Their typical response is to put forth the ‘if I had used your sales test when he applied I would not have hired him’ argument. My counter to this is that my perspective is a little different since I have profiled thousands of sales roles and that in my experience intentionally hiring more of the ‘outlier’ style will result in serious grief. Proving a negative can be almost impossible but I will usually use the approach that hiring against the Target Profiles is like playing the odds. Hiring sales people who fit the Target Profiles does not guarantee success, as some candidates will still fail. Conversely there will be some people who defy the odds and succeed. Nevertheless, if one were to hire 10 sales people who fit the benchmarks and 10 sales people who were opposite to the benchmarks the success/failure rates would become brutally obvious.

  1. Sample size

Some of our smaller clients express concerns about sample size. While a bigger sample is usually better a small sample is never a stumbling block. Since we have profiled so many roles over the years our knowledge of these other roles and how they compare to your role solves this issue. In this situation the Job Profile Form, job description and your feedback as to what you require in the role becomes very helpful and useful.

Conclusion

Using sales personality tests when hiring will enable you to be much more accurate about who to add to your sales team and will dramatically cut down on costly hiring mistakes. Using the sales test results of your top performers to create Target Profiles (benchmarks) takes the accuracy of your hiring to a whole other level.

If you are interested in learning more about bench-marking your top performers, or simply have comments or questions, please let me know.