The 13 Fundamentals for Powerful Sales Assessments
There are lots of simple and easy to administer assessments on the market. but very few of them are validated for high-activity sales professionals. In addition, they are not customized for both recruiting and coaching. In other words, they are not helpful for the broader needs of creating sales cultures that win. While scientifically validated assessments do bring greater predictability to making good hiring decisions, please pay attention to these feature and benefits when purchasing them.
The assessments you choose for selecting sales professionals should:
- Be scientifically validated for the position. The process and cost of validation, if any, should be included in a proposal. Validation documentation should be provided. Many companies and individuals marketing personality profiles have not invested in validation studies to prove the predictive effectiveness of their profiles. Be sure that this has occurred for those profiles you choose to place in your selection process.
- Meet EEOC validity as a selection tool under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures. These federal laws prohibit discrimination in any term or condition of employment, including employment tests, on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age and gender.
- Include an accuracy index that catches those who try to leave an unrealistically favorable impression (high, moderate, invalid accuracy) and to reduce applicant faking. (source: Dr. Larry Craft) There are literally hundreds of personality questionnaires in the marketplace. Psychologists developed the great majority to use in a mental health (not employment) environment where faking was seldom a problem. A host of other personality tests were recently developed by marketing specialists who have very little knowledge of test validity or reliability. The test items are so transparent that any 'test-wise' applicant can see-through the questionnaire and respond in a way that generates the highest possible score. Very few of the existing personality tests have the sophistication and research required to reduce and measure applicant faking.
- Show a compatibility percentage (0-100%) match to the job position. This will, at a glance, help recruiting or hiring managers see which applicants are more closely matched in their personality traits to the those normally required for the competencies of the sales position.
- Show a high, moderate and low compatibility ranking to the job position. A high, moderate, and low compatibility cut for participants will provide the recruiting manager or job manager a quick look when working with large volumes of applicants. These should correlate with validation studies done on the job position.
- Show what personality trait scores cause a variation from a high compatibility match and the amount of difference graphically displayed verses the ideal range for the job position. Profiles scores derive from personality trait variation for job position norms usually present in high performing salespeople. These should be shown in the output along with which traits are out of norm.
- Display results on a one page summary chart for easy use and interpretation. A summary chart provides ease-of-use benefits for recruiting or hiring managers with lots of applicants. The ability to 'drill down' into details should be provided in the design of the one page summary chart.
- Show the selling style of the person based on the four (4) quadrant personality grid common in psychological literature. (example: persuasive, administrative, authoritative, participative or other similar names). This is included to help the sales candidate understand for what prospect of customer personality style(s) the sales candidate will have to "stretch" to improve selling or service rapport. Coaching tips for the candidate and the sales manager should be provided.
- Provide a measurement and prediction of a salesperson's cognitive learning style. Sales positions vary in the need to learn complex information and products during the ramp-up period. Sales managers know to challenge quick learners or to provide more instruction time and communication for candidates with different learning styles.
- List the recommended amount of coaching hours per month for each applicant. The profile output should provide the sales manager with the number of coaching hours predicted per applicant and new hire. This provide a realistic understanding of the coaching effort expected for each new hire.
- Provide coaching instructions to the manager for helping the candidate achieve at a high performance level. Provided with the number of coaching hours, a coaching report with specific tips and instructions will help the sales leader get a better start bringing the candidate to minimum performance standards.
- Be provided with simple, easy face-to-face, phone or online interpretation training for those administering the profile to applicants. The process and cost for training, if any, should be included in a proposal. While there are many sales assessment profiles marketed in America, very few sales managers or recruiting managers have been training to understand the results and how to accurately use these during the recruitment and coaching processes.
- Be administered online and have online access to results provided to the company administrator(s). In today's world of Internet connectivity, remote and/or virtual offices, personality profiles that are fully administered online meet important efficiency standards. Test taking provisions and profiling results should be made available through an internet interface.
The CTS SalesProfile meets the 13 criteria in this article, but make sure to use a validated assessment as only part of a best practice recruiting system for salespeople and not as a sole justification for hiring. Be sure to check for Character (conscientiousness), Attitudes (toward the sales role and your products) and Motivation (competition or income) with screening and structured interviews.
Place the profile you choose as the second phase of a recruiting funnel after initial screening steps and before structured interviews. When you do this, you will be screen out applicants before assessment testing and better prepare yourself with objective information for a candidate's interview. Screening, assessment testing and interviewing increase the predictability of a better selection process and help you improve retention and ramp up time to minimum production standards per recruit.
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