Sales Selection Experiment - a Must Read Case Study

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

mba students sellingThis kind of story doesn't happen every day.

One of Objective Management Group's (OMG) most successful partners had an opportunity to work with young business leaders that had never sold.  They were assessed with OMG's tools, and assembled into 5 teams, all selling the exact same product.  They had to go door-to-door, sell an overpriced luxury item, in the same market, over a 3-day period.

5 people were placed on each team based on the following carefully selected scores from OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment:

  • 1 team had the best Sales DNA.  Sales DNA is a score that represents the power of the selling strengths possessed by an individual.  In this case they chose the 5 students with the best scores -  and teamed them up.
  • 1 team had the strongest overall Desire and Commitment for success in sales.  Desire is how badly one wants to succeed in sales while commitment is their willingness to do what it takes to succeed in sales.  In this case, they chose 5 students with the best scores for Desire and Commitment and teamed them up.
  • The other 3 teams had lower Sales DNA and Desire/Commitment scores that were very similar to each other.
  • Our partners provided two identical coaching sessions for each team.  The team with lowest overall commitment missed one of their coaching sessions.

OMG weighs the various findings in its Sales Candidate Assessments to predict success in a given role, market or segment, considering competition, price points and industry challenges.  Strong Desire and Commitment are must haves.  A Sales DNA score that meets the minimum required for a particular level of difficulty is another must have.  Let's see how these teams performed in their 3-day experiment, given the way the teams were assembled.

The team with the strongest Desire and Commitment made thee times the number of attempts (doorbells rung) than any other team.  One of the members of this team made 700 attempts all by himself!  This team tied for first place in most sales made.  They weren't very good at selling, they converted a smaller percentage of opportunities, but their Desire and Commitment helped them persevere.  Read more about Desire and Commitment herehere, here, here and here.

The team with the best Sales DNA converted the highest percentage of opportunities, but after hitting their quota, they quit.  They only made 800 attempts.  Not surprising to us, as a byproduct of their low severity, they also had the best scores for Value Seller and Comfort Talking about Money, supporting their effort to sell the high-priced product.

There are several conclusions that can be shared from this experiment:

  • Desire and Commitment are really important, but those two findings, by themselves, only measure the importance and effort that will go into selling success.  They aren't predictive of effectiveness.
  • Sales DNA is very predictive of effectiveness, but without other complimentary strengths and skills, it isn't enough on its own to drive performance
  • Desire, Commitment and Sales DNA are ALL very accurate predictors of certain sales accomplishments, but overall performance is a byproduct of all of the findings and scores from OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

This case study is a great example for those who think that Desire and Commitment are enough, for those who think that strong salespeople will succeed, even without Desire or Commitment, and for those who wonder how OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments can be so predictive.  The beauty of it is that we were able to isolate the relative effectiveness of individual findings, something we haven't been able to do since the mid 80's!  Just as important, we were able to neutralize the effect of good versus bad sales management and coaching.  There simply wasn't any sales management, and the coaching they received was consistent.  Finally, we were able to remove the impact of territories, product lines, and competition.

I am not suggesting that when you select the right salespeople, sales management is unnecessary.  It's quite the opposite.  You NEED great sales managers to select great salespeople and coach them to their potential.  The students in the experiment were awful at selling.  We simply looked at the various degrees of awful and, as always, the key scores were predictive of what they are supposed to predict.  You can read more about predictive assessments here.  And you can read more about sales management here and sales coaching here. Watch this 2-minute video on sales coaching here.  If you can't see the video, click here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, objective management group, sales case study, predictive sales assessments, students in sales

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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