This is blog post #2 on choosing sales-hire assessments. Check out our first post here: “What Outcome do you want from a sales-hire assessment?

One problem with pre-hire assessments is that many recruiters, as well as many HR professionals, believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach. They believe that a generic assessment, such as a Meiers-Briggs, a Keirsey, or a DiSC Profile will work across the board, for all positions. Admittedly, these tests can help with communications and teamwork, if properly interpreted. BUT — do these tests help you, as an employer, predict success for a potential SALES candidate? Not very much.

It takes a different kind of test to get sales-success predictability.

In order to understand this, we need to take a hard look at what sales is really like.

Sales is a hard job. Here is why.

  1. It is mission-critical to most businesses. Cash flow is the blood of a company. Like the heart, SALES must keep pumping. In sales, you cannot just “work steady and do what is needed at the moment.” You have to push, and you must have drive. Most of all, you must push yourself — constantly.
  2. Sales is a public job. You are in front of the public (even in retail or call center sales).You constantly interact with people you don’t know. It soon becomes evident to all whether or not you can convince customers to buy your products and support your company. Your results become visible to your co-workers, your bosses, clients, sometimes even to an entire community. Your productivity (or lack of it) is transparent to your family. Most of all, YOU know whether you are succeeding or not, and you have to live with that every day.
  3. As a salesperson, you are a catalyst. You are a prime mover in other people’s lives. You can lead them to expand their horizons and create new opportunities. You can help them make progress towards their goals. Peter Drucker used to say: “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” In Sales, YOU are on point. You must be a self-starter.
  4. Human nature being what it is, many will resist the salesperson’s efforts to move them to action or to convince them of a benefit. Sometimes they will reject the personality of the salesperson. Even if they do not, a “NO” often FEELS like a rejection. To succeed in sales, a rep must handle the rejection, shake it off and move on QUICKLY to the next opportunity.
  5. Contrary to what many think, the best salespeople are highly disciplined. Sales is not all “sparkle,” personality, “gift of gab” or the ability to schmooze or dress to the Nines. That may play a part, but the most important daily sales activities are the ability to set and achieve personal goals, keep clear records, make endless calls to usually-busy prospects, set and keep appointments, do good interviews, listen well, press closing points to slow-deciders — and then reload and do it all over again the next day.
  6. Sales can be stressful, especially for certain personality types. Along with that (or because of that) there is often personal BURNOUT. Many good people simply cannot take the demands, the stress, the pressure, and above all, the insecurity of working and living on commission.
  7. Successful salespeople are often the highest-paid group of non-management employees in a company. Sometimes they are better paid than most management — if they are productive. It is a high-risk, high-reward job. That leads us to a final, critical point:
  8. Sales-hire mistakes are extremely costly to a business. When turnover costs are totaled, including the cost of sourcing and hiring, the cost of training and coaching, the first months’ draw and salary, lost customer relationships due to poor performance, and other factors, a single bad sales hire costs over $100,000 in most cases. On top of that, with every rep lost, there is a hit to morale and the culture of the entire sales team.

Put all of this together and think about it. That sales hire could easily cost your business $150K if it is bad — or it could help your business gain millions over time if it is really good.

Recruiting and hiring productive salespeople should be like recruiting for the Navy Seals, or the Green Berets, or the NFL or WNBA. Those organizations spend great amounts of time and money in attracting and selecting the very best. They expend a lot of effort with some very specific and difficult testing programs to make sure they have the right people in place with the right mission-critical jobs. A lot is riding on their shoulders.

Sales is Mission-Critical.

Sales is also mission-critical. Your business requires the same kind of effort, and the very best in a specific sales recruiting system. It requires proven and scientifically-validated sales assessments which help pinpoint the traits needed for the list above.

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