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Thought For The Day

Recruiting Superior Sales Talent Step 2: Testing

© The Gulas Group 2010

No organization in professional sports today will pay a star athlete to play professional sports without a rigorous test. Why do most professional sales organizations  by pass testing and use past performance prerequisite for hiring super stars in today's complex sales environment? The answer is that most sales test are just not sales tests which results in a very low predicative validity. This means if you can follow the tests suggestions you will not get the consistent results you hoped for. Yes these tests are marketed as sales tests but that is the furthest from what they do. Before I explain; let's put this in perspective.

Recently I wrote an article which outlined the five steps in recruiting a sales superstar ranked in order of importance. The five steps in order of importance are Identify, Test, Qualify, Search and Interview. If you do not do this correctly you risk wasting as much or more than $150,000.00 per bad sales candidate you hire. While "Searching" for a candidate may be the actual second step you perform "Testing" the candidate is second only in importance to "Indentifying" the right candidate. In "Testing" a candidate you have to rely on two variables. These variables are when will you test and second choosing the correct test to use.

As stated earlier tests that are marketed as sales tests are not true indicators of whether the candidate will and can sell. A better way to explain this, is can the sales candidate consistently execute a salesprocess? Let me try this one more time, can the sales candidate manage a sales pipeline that is actually a true forecast and not a lists of hopes, prayers, wishes and dreams? If you choose a behavioral, personality, psychological, aptitude based test the answer is no. Notice I did not say not to use these tests for certain situations. I said if you want a test with a predictive indicator of sales success you would be best to choose a test that can predict sales success after you hire the candidate. Choose a test with very high predictive validity. That is, if 95% of those recommended by a sales specific assessment and subsequently hired are considered successful by their employers. And 75% of those not recommended but hired anyway, fail then you have picked the right test.

Here is a great way to explain the issue you need to be aware of. If you choose any behavioral, personality, psychological, aptitude, based tests mentioned above you may find out that the behavioral scientist say the top 5 % of sales people have the following common characteristics. They enjoy selling, they prospect consistently, and they have a strong outlook. Did you also realize the bottom 5% of unsuccessful salespeople have these same characteristics too? There are many more characteristics just like this that the bottom 5% of sales people have such as having written goals and comfortable talking about personal finances.

When choosing the right type of sales test make absolutely certain the predictive validity is available for your inspection.

Next question to ask in order to maximizing pre testing of sales candidates is when do you test? Clients of mine have actually wanted to wait till after they read hundreds of resumes and then interview the candidate before testing the candidate. Think about that for a moment. This is like saying I have so much time, energy and effort that spending more time reading resumes and meeting with candidates makes more sense than only placing hirable candidates into my recruiting pipeline. I do not recommend my candidates to do that and will discourage them to the best of my ability. Here is what I recommend. Determine the number of salespeople you wish to hire per year then purchase a recruiting license that allows you to test as many candidates as necessary for one fee until you receive a pool of hirable candidates to spend time with.

Use a predictive sales test as your first filter in determining who makes your candidate recruiting pipeline. You can even set the system up so that the candidate reads the ad and is electronically directed to take the test before any time at all is spent researching or talking to the candidate. Think of the time, energy and effort saved by not going though hundreds of resumes to cull out one or two perspective candidates. And the best is yet to come when you do talk to the candidate you will know about them than they even know about themselves. In addition after you hire the right candidate you can put together an objective ramp up plan that takes into consideration strengths, skills, hidden weakness and negative beliefs that may hinder their sale success .
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