Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 28, 2009 @ 09:01 AM

Yesterday, I met with a long-time client who, in his previous company, used OMG's Assessments to identify what needed to change in order to double revenue from $30 million to $60 million.  In his new company, which is already about 12x that size, he wants to double revenue again.  He said, "I just wasted two years with the _____ Assessment."  The assessment to which he referred was a personality assessment marketed as a sales assessment.  It could have referred to any personality or behavioral-styles assessment.

Many people are not going to like this article.  I am about to expose the findings in personality-based and behavioral-based assessments which companies have been marketing as sales assessments for the last dozen years.

First, you'll need to read this piece, Personality Assessments for Sales - The Definitive Case Study.  Really, you need to read it first!

There isn't a tremendous difference between personality assessments and behavioral-styles assessments.  Popular behavioral-styles assessments, like the various versions of DISC, produce findings along four dimensions (categories) while some personality assessments, like those using the PF16 as their underlying instrument, can measure traits in as many as sixteen dimensions.

But Personality Assessments and Behavioral-Styles assessments are not predictive of sales performance.  They don't conduct Predictive Validity studies, as we do, because their assessments don't predict.  Instead, they conduct Construct Validity studies which only show to what extent an assessment measures a specific trait and not the traits about which you want to know, but the traits which they actually can measure.

Here's the problem.  Their marketing material usually says something like, "Salespeople must be able to Prospect, Question, Manage Objections and Close.  They must have Product Knowledge.  They must be accountable, have drive, be self-starters and be coachable."  You read those words and say, "Yes, yes. That is exactly what we need."  And the masquerade goes on.

As I wrote in the other article, personality-based sales assessments don't really measure what you need to know.  Instead, they report on what they can actually measure.  In the table below, I'll list some of the most common "findings" in personality and behavioral-styles tests (which are marketed as sales assessments), describe what is really being measured and compare those to what Objective Management Group (OMG) measures and reports.

 Finding  Measures  OMG Finding What OMG Actually Measures
Drive or achievement General need
to achieve 
Desire  How important it is to achieve success in sales  
Resilience  General ability
to cope with
adversity 
Bravery  The sales specific scenarios that will be problematic and the individual's ability to handle them 
Rejection   How the individual
reacts to
generally not
being accepted or
not having their
ideas accepted
 
Difficulty Recovering from Rejection   The impact that getting hung up on or getting a 'no' will have when they close have and how long it may take to recover. 
Emotions   emotional
steadiness 
Ability to Control Emotions  the likelihood that when a salesperson is caught off guard or in an uncomfortable situation they will panic and lose control of the sales call 
Sociable  how comfortable
they feel and how
appropriately they
behave in social
situations  
Bonding and
Rapport   
How quickly they develop relationships with their Prospects  
Confidence  whether they
are a confident
person  
Record
Collection 
The sales specific beliefs that support or sabotage their sales outcomes 
Coachable   whether they
are open to new
ideas 
Trainable  whether they have the incentive to improve their sales competencies 

These are just some of the most common findings.  Since OMG's Assessments are so sales-specific, there are literally dozens of findings covering everything which can possibly happen in sales including, but not limited, to prospecting, closing, qualifying, account management, farming, use of the sales process, ability to handle stalls, put-offs, objections, working remotely, growth potential, development needs and more.  What's most important to understand about assessments is that:

 

  • The personality tests' questions are asked in the context of social settings, not sales settings, so none of the findings are sales-specific.
  • Because personality assessments' findings are not sales-specific, they are not predictive.
  • Personality assessments are generally one-size-fits-all, without regard to your market, its challenges, your competition, your pricing, the resistance your salespeople will face, your compensation plan and how specific selling strengths and weaknesses will impact those conditions.
  • Assessments of your existing salespeople should be useful for development.  If you don't have sales-specific findings, you're only developing them as people, not salespeople.
  • How is OMG different?  Assessments are only a minor part of an effective sales force evaluation.  The most important part is to be able to learn:
    • What impact sales management is having on the salespeople,
    • Whether you've been hiring the right people,
    • Whether your sales force can execute your strategies,
    • Whether your systems and processes support the sales force,
    • How effective is your sales management,
    • If you can develop more of a sales culture,
    • Whether the salespeople can make a transition such as account manager types to hunters and closers; presenters and quoters to consultative sales types; transactional sale to a solution sale, etc.,
    • Who can be developed?,
    • If you're attempting to down-size or right-sales the sales force, who are the individuals with the abilities to help you do more with less?,
    • How much better can they get?,
    • What it will take?,
    • What would be the ROI on development,
    • Why you get the specific results you get,
    • What's the quality of your pipeline?,
    • Etc.
  • When used for Hiring and Selection, an assessment must be an accurate predictor of sales success for a particular sales role in your particular company, calling on your particular market, with its particular challenges and competition.  A personality assessment won't consistently identify the people who will succeed, but OMG's Assessment will, with its 95% Predictive Validity.  We can differentiate between Hirable (they meet our criteria and yours), Hirable - Ideal (they're hirable and will ramp up more quickly than normal), and Hirable - Perfect (they're hirable, ideal and meet additional customized criteria which match up with your most effective producers).

in summary, whether you're using a personality assessment, behavioral-styles assessment, psychological assessment, or psychometric (describes all of the above) assessment, it's the marketing that's sales-specific, not the findings.  Use them at your own risk.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan 

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Sales Candidate, sales evaluation, caliper, sales profile, dave kurlan sales force profile, 16PF, Trimetric, MySalesAssessment, SalesAssessment.com, SalesAssessmentTesting, SalesForceAssessments.com, SalesTestOnLine.com.com, personality test, personality assessment, DISC

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

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