Sales Aptitude Testing – Sales is Sales is Sales-NOT!


Many pithy sayings and expressions, even those that have very old origins, are often very insightful and helpful despite seeming very simple. In just a few words one is able to ‘hit the nail on the head’ about a topic and ‘get right to the bottom line’ (you see, I just used two of them).

Even though some of these sayings can be very truthful and helpful, some are just plain wrong and downright unhelpful. Perhaps you are thinking ‘who cares’ or ‘so what’.   But what if the saying reflects thinking that is fundamentally misguided and wrong? What if that wrongheaded view of things results in expensive business mistakes like hiring poor sales people? If that was happening in your business it wouldn’t be ‘who cares’ or ‘so what’ you would be thinking, it would be more like WTF.

When I hear a hiring manager say, ‘sales is sales is sales’ or phrases with a similar meaning my ‘sales testing radar’ goes on high alert. Why? Because if it is indicative of the hiring manager’s view of the sales role(s) in his company then that is a potential problem.

The problem is that this simplistic and generalized view of the role of sales belies a fundamental ignorance of the fact that sales roles do differ dramatically and, as a result, so do the necessary traits, motivational drives and personality requirements. This is true not only between businesses but also very often within the very same company, selling the very same things to the very same customers. Examples of this abound. If your hiring managers are not acutely aware of how the personality traits for one sales role differ from another then sales hiring mistakes are sure to follow!

Every hiring manager can clearly spell out the necessary education, experience, product knowledge and technical skills for his/her sales roles. The reality though is that these things are down the list of importance because they are readily identified and easily taught and are very rarely the reason why sales people fail. Sales people invariably fail because their personality traits and motivational style is a bad match for the sales role at hand. When you consider how much this contributes to sales success it surprises me how seldom I encounter a hiring manager who can clearly and succinctly articulate the ‘style’ of sales person he or she is attempting to hire.

I liken this inability to describe the personality and motivational requirements of the role to a casting director who auditions actors while having no clear sense of what he is looking for. Put another way, if you don’t know precisely what you are looking for, you won’t really know when you see it, nor can you objectively and consistently evaluate the talents of the candidates you are vetting.

The results are pretty predicable. With high hopes, new sales people are hired who are in fact a bad match for the role.  When their performance inevitably lags, management wastes money and time trying to rectify the problem with training. Eventually when this shows little effect and all concerned are unhappy with the situation, the sales person leaves or is let go. Then the same process begins anew.

While the above scenario may be predictable it can easily be avoided by using a sales aptitude test. Here at we conduct a thorough analysis of your sales roles in order to clearly understand the necessary traits for success. We call these your Target Profiles. In our long experience and in our many studies of successful sales people for organizations all over the world, they are proven to be highly predictive of success.

Trying to build a team of successful sales people is a complex, difficult and expensive task. Why make it any more of a challenge than it has to be? Given what is at stake, it just makes sense to work with a clear ‘roadmap’ to the sales people you need to hire. In the words of the immortal Yogi Berra, ‘If you don’t know where you’re going you might wind up someplace else.’


Author: David Pearce

David Pearce is the President of Established in 1986, is North America's #1 provider of sales personality tests. has over 1400 satisfied customers (97% re-order rate) who use our sales test to measure the suitability of sales candidates and sales employees. is customized to your unique criteria, fully automated, instantaneous, extremely accurate and very economical.

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