Don't Make Assumptions About Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 @ 14:03 PM

I have previously shared many instances of sales candidate assessments coming to life with their email, voice mails and interview antics following the taking of our assessment.  While the following email is another example of that, it is an even better example of what happens when a skeptical client finally realizes it:

The client wrote:

"...You'll recall I questioned the criteria we were screening for, and asked you if I had missed the mark, principally because we received a "no" recommendation on [the] rep one of our partners was considering hiring.  ...His e-mail note to me is a terrific example of what one should never do, particularly when irritated. It gives me newfound credence in the validity of your test, and sound evidence that with this guy they probably got it right.  The test said he has trouble controlling his emotions. I felt this was an odd evaluation based on the fact that this guy is a former Army Ranger, and ought to be disciplined and controlled. The test said he didn't take rejection well. I don't believe anyone takes it well, but I figured a 17 year sales professional had probably learned to deal with it. The test said he was prone to inappropriate follow ups with prospects. His e-mail to me is about as inappropriate as any I have ever seen. Finally the test said the candidate isn't as strong as he thinks he is. I concur. I am copying his e-mail here:"

Next came the candidate's email:

"I answered a survey for you at least three to four weeks ago and received no further information. Is your follow up usually this unprofessional and non existent or is this just an aberration?  If you have the courage to call you know how to reach me."

So the candidate's tendency to become emotional was triggered by the rejection he felt.  While his follow up was, in fact, inappropriate, the finding of "Inappropriate Follow Up" really refers to getting into chase mode because the candidate didn't close when the closing opportunity presented itself or attempted to close too early.

The more important lessons come from the two assumptions made by the client:

  • Trained military men don't become emotional - Sure they learn to take orders and dodge bullets without reacting.  However, when things go wrong, they are as vulnerable to becoming as emotional as anyone else. 
  • Veteran salespeople don't feel rejection.  If all it took to develop the ability to quickly recover from rejection was time on the job, the insurance companies and copier companies, industries that historically choose young people for their new salespeople, would hire veteran salespeople instead.
  • We shouldn't make any assumptions about any salespeople other than those that appear in black and white on Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessment.  If we do, we are very likely to make a hiring mistake.
  • Track record is not a likely indicator of success in sales unless you are duplicating all of the candidate's prior conditions including existing customers, target customer by title, external competition, internal competition, pricing policy, resistance to overcome, economy, industry, product quality, sales management, and company reputation.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, sales evaluation, sales interview, sales test

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six 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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