The Real Truth About Sales Tests
How do you know if that sales candidate you or your sales manager fell in love with is really the superstar you hope they are? Before you pin your hopes on your managers’ ability to screen, recruit, interview and hire…you should know how pre-employment testing can raise your success rate in hiring new salespeople.
The keys to pre-employment testing is to make sure you’re testing for the right things. Example: Do you want to hire salespeople who know how to sell? Or do you want to hire people who will sell? Understanding the difference can make or break your career as an executive. The right test will give you an accurate, honest assessment about your candidate and list them into the following four categories:
# 1. Can Sell and Will Sell: Know what to do and consistently execute in selling situations. Hire and train these and you’ll never need to worry about hitting budget.
#2. Can Sell but Won’t Sell: This is the most dangerous person to have on your team. They know what do in selling situations but don’t consistently execute. We keep giving them more time because “they’re just so good”. If you’ve got these on your team, find out quick if they’re fixable. If not, replace them.
#3. Cannot Sell But Will Sell: This person is the one that may pleasantly surprises you. They don’t look or act like they could sell their way out of a paper bag, but they sell anyway. Hire these, provide the right type of on-going training and you can guarantee superstar performance.
#4. Cannot and Won’t Sell: Hopefully you don’t have any of these. They’re easiest to spot and you should deal with them quickly and decisively. What’s the right type of test? There are so many sales pre-employment tests which fall into four types. Here are the characteristics and limitations of each.
Personality Tests: Determines personality type and stability. Cannot accurately predict whether or not people can or will sell. It also brings up old beliefs that an outgoing personality, a real “people person” will be a good salesperson. After doing this for years, that is not a predictor of strong sale ability at all.
Benchmark Tests: These are an analysis of your “best salesperson(s) and taking the “characteristics of this person to try to hire in their image. In my opinion it is the combination of each person that makes them successful or not and to try to mirror that is setting up for failure.
Sales Aptitude Tests: Assess what people know about selling. They won’t necessarily tell you whether or not someone will execute in a selling situation. There’s a huge gap between knowing and doing.
Internal beliefs Test: Measures strengths and hidden weaknesses that more accurately predict whether or not someone will sell. Measures guts, goals, selling system effectiveness, willingness to prospect, and their willingness to do whatever it takes even if it’s uncomfortable. If you want to know how someone will fit in your company’s culture or how to manage them, use a behavioral test. If you want to predict future sales performance, use an Internal belief test. When combined with a strong recruiting process, you can virtually eliminate bad sales force hires. Hold your managers accountable for their hiring mistakes. Sales training should come only when you have hired the right people.
Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton knew how to hold his managers accountable for their hiring recommendations. When his executives hired a candidate, Walton asked each to write a page outlining the candidate’s strengths and why they were hiring the candidate. In the event that employee ever needed to be fired, Walton required the manager to write a page explaining why. Then the manager had to travel to see Walton to personally explain the differences in the two memos. After one of these sessions, few managers repeated a hiring mistake.
There is nothing more important than hiring the right people. It should be an ongoing process. When you have a good strong group, then and only then should you spend time and money on training. You need the right ingredients to make a great meal even if the recipe is good, right!
Greta Schulz is the President of Schulz Business and author of "To Sell is Not to Sell" She has been in sales, sales management and training for over 25 years having begun her career right out of college when she was hired by the Xerox Corporation. Greta is also a syndicated columnist for several newspapers and specifically the American City Business Journals around the country.