Selling Power Hit and Then Miss the Mark on Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 @ 09:11 AM

selling powerThis must be the week for big names laying big eggs.  The problem stems from the fact that people who are not experts on sales, selling, sales organizations and salespeople, are weighing in with opinions that are either based on unrelated science (general behavior versus sales behavior) or faulty analysis.  So yesterday it was the Harvard Business Review article and today it's a Selling Power article.

They pointed to three qualities that are highly predictive indicators of a top sales performer.  Let's see how their claims (using data from personality assessments) stack up against real sales science (using Objective Management Group's data from sales specific assessments).

They said the 3 highly predictive qualities are:

  1. Able to Connect - they actually measure empathy.  The problem is that there are TWO kinds of empathy.  Measuring empathy alone (personality test) is NOT predictive.  Being able to distinguish between good empathy (relating to the problems the salesperson can solve) and bad empathy (relating to their stalls, put-offs and objections) IS predictive.  But predictive of what?  In the end, it is only predictive of whether salespeople can identify problems representing sales opportunities, and whether they are likely to be vulnerable to every stall, put-off and objection that comes their way.  It's two data points, but not the entire story and therefore, not predictive of overall performance.  As a matter of fact, a related finding, and even more predictive of whether salespeople will accept stalls and put-offs, is how trusting they are of what prospects promise - whether they take prospects at their word or approach them with a degree of skepticism.  Those who are most trusting, don't even recognize the stalls and put-offs and as a result, don't even get to the point where they have the option to change a prospect's opinion.
  2. Driven to Persuade Others - This is my favorite.  Driven and persuasion are both social findings.  First we'll tackle Driven.  Everyone on your company's executive team is Driven, but they aren't all driven to succeed at selling.  You'll get false positives on Driven until it snows in the Caribbean.  Our version of that is sales specific and it's called Desire for Success in Sales.  And while it is one of the two most important findings in our assessment, it is not a measurement of effectiveness. While the absence of Desire would prevent a candidate from being recommended, the existence of Desire is not predictive of success, only a willingness to change (improve).  Persuasion, when measured in a social context, is a meaningless finding because in that context, there is a missing variable.  Money.  And money, or the need to get someone else to part with it, is a deal changer.  The Personality Test's use of Persuasion is  a finding out of context and additionally, it is not a measurement of a sales skill.

  3. Able to Deal with Rejection - They got this one right.  But it's only partially predictive of a single selling activity, and that is cold-calling.  But the Personality Test measures rejection in a social context, not in a sales context.  So is getting turned down for a date the same as having a prospect say, "not interested"?  Is having your idea rejected the same as getting hung up on?  The personality test measures the fear of rejection while we measure the impact of rejection - specifically, whether the salesperson will recover quickly enough to continue making their calls.  Our Rejection finding is a single data point out of three that predicts whether a salesperson will consistently prospect for new business.

Understand the difference between our highly predictive, sales specific assessment verus the personality and behavioral styles assessments.  Recogize that their marketing is complete with sales lingo to make you think it is an assessment for sales when the reality is that it has been modified (same assessment but names of the findings have been changed for sales) for sales. You should also recognize the limitations of what personality and behavioral styles assessments can actually measure when the context for their questions is social rather than business.  Findings taken from a social context are not predictive of sales success.  For more informatoin about the difference between personality assessments, behavioral styles assessments and our highly predictive, sales specific assessments, read these articles.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, caliper, selling power magazine, personality assessments, sales assessments

The Sales Assessment that Dave Kurlan Developed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 08, 2010 @ 21:02 PM

I am often asked how I can write so many articles.  I have a few answers for that:

  • Compared to the demands of writing my two books, Mindless Selling and Baseline Selling, writing a couple of paragraphs every day is a piece of cake;
  • From my unique vantage point as a thought leader in two industries - the Sales Development Industry and the Assessment Industry, there is more article material than I will ever have time to write about;
  • I usually choose topics that are bothering me at that particular moment in time.

This is my 600th article since the inception of the Understanding the Sales Force Blog 4 years ago.  It seems that around every 66 articles or so I write an article to explain how inferior all of those other assessments are when it comes to the sales force.  The last time I made an attempt like this was four months and 115 articles ago.  So it basically comes down to a formula where I provide 65 articles with great content, and in return, you read about how our Sales Assessments blow the lid off of any other assessment you place along side them.

I have already written a series of articles on the subject of how assessments compare.

Let me begin with some questions.

If you sell high end business services and your salespeople earn in excess of $250,000 annually, would you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria that they use to hire salespeople that sell long-distance telephone services to anyone who will listen?

If you have a complex technical product with a long sales cycle, would you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria used to hire life insurance salespeople who call on married couples?

If you require your salespeople to call on C-Level executives, would you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria used to hire office supply salespeople who spend all day calling on administrators?

If you are hiring hunters, do you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria used to hire account managers?

And if you are hiring A players, do you want to use the same hiring and selection criteria used to hire office workers?

When I write this type of article, I don't usually get into everything that makes our assessment so much better.  Today I made an exception and got a bit more aggressive.

This is what is available when it comes to assessments:

Personality Assessments - they identify personality traits - these are never role specific and the questions are asked in a social context therefore the findings are not necessarily applicable to a sales environment.  As a result, personality assessments are not predictive and are ineffective as a sales selection, development or coaching tool.

Behavioral Styles Assessments - behavioral tendencies, much like traits above, but can also include cultural needs and wants to identify fit and management requirements. Questions are asked in a social context therefore the findings are not necessarily applicable to a sales environment.  As a result, these assessments are not predictive either and are ineffective as a sales selection, development or coaching tool.

Both of the above assessment types are marketed by their various companies as sales assessments but the only thing about them that is actually sales specific is the language used in their marketing material. See the next category.

Sales Assessments -  there are so many of these now that I can't keep up with them anymore but nearly everyone of them, despite the literature, web sites and white papers they produce, are based on an underlying personality or behavioral styles instrument. They are not accurate or predictive within the sales context no matter what their marketing claims.

Sales Aptitude Assessments - Think knowledge, not ability.  In other words, you know how a computer works but you can't build one.  You know what it takes to play winning, professional sports, but you aren't able to actually perform at that level.  The aptitude test measures what salespeople know about selling, not what they're actually capable of accomplishing.

Objective Management Group - We invented and pioneered the space.  Before OMG came along, nobody ever talked about evaluating a sales force.  Our accuracy is legendary yet we are never content with our world-class, industry leading sales force assessments.  Our sales force evaluations go so wide and deep that we can answer any question that you can imagine about the performance - past, present or future - of a sales force.  Our sales candidate assessments are so predictive that the statistics are nearly unbelievable.  Check this out:

When clients hire candidates that we don't recommend (silly clients), 75% of those salespeople fail inside of six months.

When clients hire candidates that we do recommend (smart clients), 92% of those salespeople rise to the top half of their sales force within the first 12 months.

How do we do it?  Our assessments are not based on somebody else's personality or behavioral styles instrument and they aren't modified to make them appear sales specific.  We built ours from the ground up - purposely for sales - and we continue to expand, evolve and refine it today - 20 years later.  It's a work in progress and that's one of the reasons that it's so good.  We are always working to make it even better.  It wasn't designed using antiquated test publishing guidelines, and it wasn't intended for use in schools or the military. Instead, it was designed by a very successful sales expert who happened to be a great sales diagnostician and researcher. How do I know?  I used to be that guy! 

Our data on salespeople and the 8,500 sales forces that have used our assessments provides us with rich sources of information to identify trends and make comparisons.  We recognize true success markers and reliable failure indicators.  We can sort by industry,  role or finding.  Simply put, we know what it takes for a salesperson to succeed in sales and you know what it takes for a salesperson to succeed in your business (and if you don't we can help you figure it out!).  When we combine the two sets of criteria and adjust for difficulty (complexity times resistance), we will either not recommend a candidate, or provide one of four recommendations:

  1. Hirable - Less Than Ideal
  2. Hirable
  3. Hirable with Ideal Ramp Up Skills
  4. Hirable Perfect

Watch out for all of the assessments that pretend to provide sales findings but report only what they can actually measure.  See examples here.

Questions?

Leave a comment and I'll answer it.

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

 

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales testing, caliper, predictive index, chally, sales evaluations, sales assessments

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 

Click me

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

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,700 Articles

About Dave

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.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Individual Blog -  Silver

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver


Top Sales Awards 2018 - Assessment Tool -  Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

2018 Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs Widget

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader