So, you need to hire salespeople. The reason is simple. You must have an effective sales team, or you have no business. Yes, your residuals may carry you for a while, but that is like coasting. You can’t tackle any new hills without an energetic sales team. And you can’t coast for that long, either.

So you hire to grow or replace salespeople. Or both. Like many business leaders, you start looking for a sales hiring assessment.

Looking for a sales hiring assessment

Pre-hire assessments are popular these days, and there are many — literally hundreds (some say thousands). Perhaps you have tried a few for sales positions, with varying degrees of success. Maybe you feel you got burned. It might be that you could not find enough applicants that could pass them with sufficient positive scores to give you any confidence.

More likely than not, you just use one or more assessments to give you a general idea about a candidate’s personality and potential for blending in with the team. Perhaps you look for a score that indicates good customer service potential, or maybe some extraversion trait markers — if the position calls for face-to-face prospecting and outside sales.

But likely you do not get that deep into the details. You probably depend on a lot of other things like resumes, screening applications, references, and some sort of interview, perhaps with the entire team. And then you hire — or not, and watch to see what happens.

But — What outcome do you want? Have you stopped to think about this?

What are you really looking for in a sales assessment?

  1. Do you mostly want a tool to gauge personality style? Are you looking for a place to start a conversation about “likes” and “dislikes”?
  2. Is its purpose to give you a starting place for the “What do you want to be doing ten years from now” conversation?
  3. Is the idea to give the applicant a nice and encouraging personality review and a “feel-good” experience as you try and sell the job to her?
  4. Are you trying to determine how this candidate would fit in with the current team?
  5. Are you hoping to screen out misfits and negative thinkers, as well as egomaniacs and pathological liars?

All of these are legitimate uses of a personality profile in hiring — really for any position — whether sales-oriented or not.

But, consider this: according to current law and EEOC regulations, if an assessment is used to make a hiring decision, then it must be the best-available assessment to predict a good fit and future success for that position. Otherwise, it is not fair to the applicant and could be legally questioned or even challenged in court.

In a recent case against Target department stores re: their pre-employment testing, the EEOC clarified its stance: “Any pre-employment test must be related to the job and the skills necessary for doing the job and consistent with business necessity.”  (A good breakdown of the regulations can be found here.)

So, let’s make a new list of desired outcomes for a sales hire pre-employment assessment.

Here is what we should be looking for:

  1. We need an assessment that gauges skills and traits needed to perform a specific sales job.
  2. We need an assessment that has a high predictability (statistically-derived) score for sales success, as proven by research.
  3. We need an assessment that has been benchmarked and scientifically studied for sales success predictability in our own industry (or in our own company, with larger firms).
  4. We need an assessment that cannot be faked, and where we can spot posers and “wanna-be” salespeople, who lack the needed skills.
  5. We need an assessment that can predict a good fit to the details of what is needed in the position, beyond basic sales skills (a tall order).
  6. We need an assessment that tees up the questionable areas and fits in with a layered interview system which can truly assess character and emotional intelligence, as well as sales drive.
  7. We need an assessment that can pinpoint probable stress areas the candidate will experience in the sales position (and with the sales team) so that we can prepare effective onboarding and coaching in advance to help them grow through their experience with us.
  8. We need an overarching assessment, which will help not only with hiring, but with onboarding, team-building and success coaching, throughout the rep’s history with us.

This list could be a game-changer

This is a great list of outcomes to look for.  It almost seems like a dream list, but like many dream lists, it may seem only a dream and not real.

But there are assessments and hiring systems like that out there. Some are well-proven.  And we have the stories to tell of how they have helped transform sales teams, cultures, and even entire businesses.

This article is the first of a series, in which I will be looking at a number of the various sales-hire assessments out there. We will look at their strong points and their weak points. We will also say a little about their cost, what comes with them, and how long it takes to go through the process. There is a wide variance, both in quality, predictability and validity, effort required and actual outcomes.

Of course, we will also review our very own CTS Sales Profile and Learning Style Survey.  And we will compare.

Stay tuned!

(Part 2 of this series, Sales-Hire Assessments – Part 2: Why SALES is Hard to Hire for, has now been published — at this link.)


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