Sales Testing – Bitter Truth #2

 images-2   Sales Tests Don’t Always Provide an Easy Answer

One of the reasons why a sales test helps you to hire high potential sales people has a lot to do with the fact that the process of evaluating candidates is simplified and distilled down to its most essential factors.

Does this mean that by using the sales test the answer to the question of who to hire becomes easy or at least easier? For the most part yes this is true. Using a sales test will bring clarity to your hiring decisions that will be absent otherwise. But not always!

Sales tests do work and do perform their intended functions. But being the specialized tools that they are, they can only provide insights into the areas that they are designed to measure. Of course people are complicated creatures. You should therefore expect that at certain times the results of the sales test just will not seem to make sense when viewed alongside the other pieces of information that you have gathered about the candidate or who you seem to be seeing in the interview.

These seeming contradictions can take quite a number of different forms. Below are just a few examples.

1.The sales test identifies red flags around the candidate’s motivational style such as disorganization or job turnover that do not show up because they are negated by factors that the sales test does not measure such as education and skills.

2.The flip side to the example above is the candidate who is identified by the sales test as having high potential from the perspective of motivational style yet lacks any of the necessary skills and experience.

3.Role-playing by candidates is common and often sets up a contradiction between the sales test results and what you see in the interview. The very reserved person playing the role of an extrovert and the amiable but non-assertive person trying to appear more assertive are typical examples. In these, and other instances of this, you will get a highly mixed picture of the candidate that will seem to contradict the results of the sales test.

4.The candidate whose test results say he is weak at prospecting yet has a great track record of developing new business. In most instances this is due to having developed new business via other means than true prospecting.

5.The candidate who is described as a high maintenance type who requires a lot of support, direction and guidance yet whose references say he works in a very independent manner. In these instances the candidate usually has worked in the position or industry long enough that the structure that is described as necessary is there via familiarity and experience.

6.This one is very common when interviewing for sales hunters: the extremely outgoing candidate who knows exactly what to say in the interview. They are very outgoing but lack the assertiveness of real hunters. You think you are seeing the tip of the iceberg but if you hire them you will soon discover you saw the whole iceberg.

I could give you several dozen examples like the 6 above where the results of the sales test are actually highly accurate but, due to factors separate from the test results, your instinct tells you that the sales test is wrong.

Here at we’ve been testing sales people for over 30 years and I have to tell you that some of our most loyal clients are those who were initially very skeptical and therefore went against our recommendations. There is an admittedly perverse satisfaction in having a client call you up and say ‘you know that guy who you tested 6 months ago who you told us that we should not hire? Well it turns out you were right and I let him go last week’.

In a previous article I wrote that one of the major but un-measureable benefits of a sales test is not as a selection tool but actually as a rejection tool. The point is that a huge benefit can be found in the fact that the sales test causes you to avoid hiring people that you otherwise might have hired if you had not used the sales test.

People are complex. Using a sales test will mostly make your life as a hiring manager easier but at times things do get a little more complicated. When faced with unanswered questions or contradictory information about a candidate you are being given a clear signal to proceed with caution. Rather than going full speed ahead, take your time or even stop the process in order to just make sure.

Have you ever looked back on a hiring decision and wished that you had stopped and thought about it a little longer?

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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