Sales Testing – Bitter Truth #4

images-3Sales Tests Can’t Identify Certain Critical Factors

In my conversations with clients about the results of our sales assessment tests, they are usually looking for answers or at least some guidance. I do my very best to address their questions and to help them to understand the pros and cons of the results we are discussing. Our clients are savvy and pragmatic so they know that what we offer is a tool and is not the be all and end all answer. At the end of many of these conversations I find myself using the phrase, ‘people are complicated creatures, thank goodness’.

When I use this phrase I’m not being flippant, nor am I trying to brush off questions or concerns about a candidate. I use it to express something that both the client and I are always cognizant of; that people are often very hard to figure out and that when it comes to hiring sales people there are no easy answers. The process of evaluating sales candidates has been sliced and diced for so long that there are tools purporting to measure almost everything. Despite this, there are certain critical contributors to sales success that just cannot be measured by any tool or test. At least none of which I am aware. While by no means a definitive list, I have highlighted a few below.


How important is this in a sales person? I would venture to say that it snookers many other things including both hard and soft skills. Can it be taught? I don’t think so! Will it help the rep in their dealings with prospects and customers? I would say without a doubt it will. Even though a candidate might be better ‘on paper’ they may not seem all that likeable or may rub you the wrong way when you meet face to face. It might just be a chemistry thing between you and the candidate. Then again, maybe not. Perhaps the way they come across to you is the way they will come across to your customers. In my opinion, likeability is important. You know it when you see it and experience it but no tool can measure it or define it.

Passion for the Business

Talking about ‘passion’ for one’s work is way over done. Realistically, there are a lot of very successful people doing very well selling products and services about which they can’t possibly be ‘passionate’. They are probably getting other things from the role such as money, freedom, or prestige. In my opinion if you find yourself considering a candidate who has an obvious love or passion for your business they are definitely worth serious consideration, even if they are lacking in other key aspects such as skills, experience and test results. A sales person with shortcomings in these other areas can ultimately be very successful because their enthusiasm can cover up a lot of sins (weaknesses).

Work Ethic

This is one of those things that can be articulated in various ways but basically, to use a brief dictionary definition, it is ‘the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous and worthy of reward’. When it comes to sales the old saying that success is the result of 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration really does hold true. There are lots and lots of examples of sales people who have overcome all sorts of shortcomings and obstacles. Like the example above, a sales person with a great work ethic is definitely worth hiring even though ‘on paper’ he or she would seem to be a weak candidate. I am not aware of any test or instrument that can identify this, but if you see it hire it!

Candidate Perception

Sales people who see the role as an opportunity to advance their career will be highly motivated to succeed. Conversely, a sales person whose perception of the role is that it is a step down or even a move sideways will likely fail even if they are highly qualified. Hiring over qualified candidates very often leads to failure when the candidate leaves after finding the ‘role they were really looking for’. This is a common issue during recessions or periods of high unemployment. A less qualified candidate who perceives an opportunity will more likely demonstrate a ‘hunger’ for success. You won’t find a test or instrument that will measure this but you should always do your best to see the role from the perspective of the candidate.

In your experience, what other critical things can’t be measured by a sales assessment test?

Thanks for visiting the Blog. I would enjoy hearing from you with your comments and to learn about your challenges with regards to hiring sales people.

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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