Increase Your Odds of a Successful Sales Hire by 368%

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 06, 2017 @ 16:11 PM

 

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A Harvard Business Review study proved that using pre-employment assessments increased the probability of a successful hire from 13% to 72%.

I read that exact statement in a marketing promo for a search company and as they hoped, it got my attention. I thought the premise would make for a good article. I began by searching Google for the source of that quote and low and behold, I couldn't locate it. I can't say for sure that the study doesn't exist or the percentages aren't correct but I could not find a single thing that correlated to that quote.

Of course it makes sense that no such statistic exists because with assessments making that much of a difference, it would be a no-brainer for every company to use them and on what planet are the chances of success only 13%?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has an extremely accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment with very impressive statistics. Until seeing the statistics above, I hadn't attempted to use OMG's existing success stats in that fashion. We know that 75% of the candidates who are not recommended by OMG, but hired anyway, fail inside of 6 months. We know that 92% of the candidates who are recommended and later hired rise to the top half of the sales force within 12 months. If we use those two related statistics we would get a probability increase of 368% (25% to 92%). But in this case, we have already been told that the likelihood of success for the candidate that was not recommended was only 25%.

Instead, what if we take the two generic rates of success in hiring salespeople? The first says that 50% of all salespeople hired will turnover. That doesn't mean that the other 50% will succeed, only that they won't turnover! In the case of 50% turnover compared with 92% success, that's an 84% improvement. The second rate of success tells us that based on around 50% of all salespeople hitting their quotas for the last several years, half of the people who don't turnover will succeed. That's 25% - still double our fake 13%. Compared with a 92% success rate, that's a 368% improvement.

The latest data out of OMG shows that 5% of all salespeople are elite (Sales Quotient over 140) and the next 11% are strong (Sales Quotient over 129). Those two groups represent only 16% of all salespeople, down from 23% just 2 years ago. If only 16% of all salespeople are any good, you will need a better way to identify them when their resume and/or online application hits your screen and you better know who they are before you decide to interview anyone. That's where an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment comes into play. OMG's is very customizable and with its accuracy and predictive quality, you'll save a lot of time and money by identifying the candidates who will succeed very early in your sales recruiting process.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, accurate sales assessment

Can Preventing Hiring Bias Benefit the Sales Hiring Process?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 @ 18:08 PM

hiring-bias.jpgImage Copyright iStock Images

Sometimes things which at first sound really good turn out to be not all that great.  Take the recent eclipse for example - can you say overrated?  Much ado about nothing?

Ken Leeser, a regular reader, suggested that I check out this article on eliminating bias from hiring.  That sounded like it would be a really good thing until I considered this.

You're hiring and you need to identify the ideal salesperson for a particular sales role and you need someone to sell enterprise solutions to the C-Suite.  Aside from all of the other requirements, you'll need to find someone who has done this before.  But if you don't have access to employment history, you have no idea what they've sold and who they've sold it to so you can't determine if they have done this before.  And since you won't be able to guess how old they might be you won't know if they are mature enough to call on the C-Suite.  In order to be efficient in your selection process you'll need to apply some hiring bias!

How about if you need to identify candidates to sell nylon stockings to convenience stores, supermarkets and department stores.  Ideally, you would probably prefer a woman for this role but if names are hidden to prevent hiring bias, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time interviewing older men.  In order to be efficient in your selection process you'll need to apply some hiring bias!

How about if you need to identify candidates for a BDR/SDR top of the funnel role?  In this case you would probably not care whether your candidates were male or female but since most of the people in these roles are recent college graduates, you would want to see how recently they graduated from college.  But if that information is hidden to prevent hiring bias, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time interviewing experienced salespeople who would have no interest in a role like this.

What if you need to identify candidates to sell rock crushers or some other heavy duty equipment that requires physical strength to push, pull or drag the equipment around at demos?  In this case you would probably prefer to hire a younger male who is in excellent physical condition.  Not being able to view prior employment and having experience hidden to prevent hiring bias would make it impossible to identify people who might fit the description of what you would need, causing you to waste everyone's time.

What if you need to identify a salesperson who is physically located in the territory you need represented?  An address, hidden to prevent hiring bias, would prevent you from filtering on the appropriate candidates, causing you and your candidates to waste a tremendous amount of time.

The concept of preventing hiring bias is a good one but when it comes to hiring salespeople I have bias against it.

At the same time, if this is where the world is heading, it's another great reason to use Objective Management Group's (OMG) predictive sales candidate assessments.  Using these up front early in the recruiting process allows you to identify those who will succeed in the given role, eliminating a tremendous amount of the time you would otherwise be wasting.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, sales assessments, hiring bias

Has the Sales Profile of an A Player Changed Dramatically?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 03, 2016 @ 12:02 PM

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Recently, a number of readers asked me to review two articles which they thought were right up my alley.  Apparently they thirst for one of my specialties - poking holes in articles that are just plain wrong about hiring salespeople.  It's not that I enjoy ripping articles apart, it's just that I don't have any tolerance for authors who either don't know what they are talking about, don't have any science backing them up, or use examples that can't be replicated across industries, markets and geographies.  Shall we dig in?

We'll begin with an article from Sales Benchmark Index which in itself is a surprise because Greg Alexander and his team typically write great articles that are usually challenge-proof. If Dan Perry were more specific, and cited the particular assessments and tools to which his theory applied, then The Myth of the Ideal Hiring Profile would be fine as is.  Instead, he used a broad brush leaving readers to believe that all assessments are outdated.  Most personality and behavioral styles assessments were never designed to be used for sales selection, but not wanting to ignore an opportunity, these mostly old social instruments were adapted by using sales-like labels for their findings.  But make no mistake; the findings are still the same age-old social findings that have no connection to business or sales and therefore, are not predictive of sales success.  Clearly, these profiles are all useless and outdated for the specific role of sales selection.  But not all assessments are outdated or adapted for sales.

That brings us to his other point; that the profile for an A player has changed dramatically in the past 12 months.  I could agree with a statement that said sales has changed dramatically in the past 8 years, but really in the last 12 months?  Here are 25 Ways it has changed...  In sales, A players (the elite 6%) have only needed to add some social selling skills and use of tools to their repertoire.  They already bring to the table the selling package required to succeed in sales in 2016 and beyond.  They build relationships, follow a milestone-centric sales process, use a consultative approach, ask the tough questions, qualify thoroughly and get business and accounts closed.  The group of salespeople that has changed the most are B players, who needed to close their skill and Sales DNA gaps.  You can suggest that C's have had the most changes to make, but the thing with C's is that what they most need to change, they actually change the least.  That's why they are C's!

Finally, if you want to use a sales assessment/selection tool that was designed for sales, is more accurate and predictive than any other assessment on the planet, is customizable for any modern sales role, and evolves as selling evolves, then you'll want to become one of the 11,000 companies that rely on Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments.

 

Moving on to my favorite target, Harvard Business Review, I have to challenge Frank Cespedes again.  I last challenged Frank and HBR in November of 2015 with the very popular article, How Wrong is the Harvard Business Article on How to Hire Salespeople.  Their current collaboration, Hiring Star Salespeople Isn't the Way to Grow, was a very interesting read. The article wasn't really about hiring stars as much as it was about how to scale a SaaS business and I was in agreement with most of that.  My issue - and it's the same issue that I had with the November article - is that the authors insist that hiring salespeople should be based on their ability to complete the tasks they have identified.  

Selling is not task-oriented as much as it is milestone-oriented and that's when we are discussing sales process.  The real magic in selling is when the sales process is integrated with the sales methodology - the consultative approach required for the conversation to flow seamlessly from stage to stage and milestone to milestone.  While there are tasks involved during a sales cycle: following, calling, sending, showing, providing, sharing, explaining, etc., a salesperson's ability to execute on those tasks is dependent upon their underlying selling skills and Sales DNA.  Tasks are an oversimplification of the art and science required to be successful in selling. And whether you want to scale, grow at a moderate pace, or maintain your revenue, your salespeople - both new and veterans alike - must be able to execute consistently and effectively in their roles.  How can you determine whether sales candidates have what it takes?  Once again, I urge you to check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  How can you determine whether your existing salespeople can execute your plan and what is required to develop their capabilities?  Check out the OMG Sales Force Evaluation

Topics: Dave Kurlan, harvard business review, hiring salespeople, HBR, sales benchmark index, sales assessments, objective management group, frank cespedes, sales a players, greg alexander

Is Benchmarking or Perfect Fit Analysis More Predictive for Selecting Great Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 07, 2015 @ 05:10 AM

Last week, I published a case history on a company that we nicknamed, BigBrains. Many readers emailed asking if we could perform this analysis for them (yes, in most cases) and whether this would be considered benchmarking (no). In this article, I will actually show you the difference between benchmarking and the Perfect Fit Analysis that we use as proof to clients and to customize Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments. We use the Perfect Fit Analysis to achieve our legendary accuracy when predicting who will and won't succeed in each sales role at each client's company. First, you absolutely must go back and read Part 1 so that you can see how we arrived at a predictive accuracy rate of 83% (on selecting college graduates that would succeed as Sales Development Reps) at BigBrains. While that's actually less accurate than our norm, when it comes to doing it with college grads, I think it's truly amazing! Now, let's compare that result to what happens when benchmarking is utilized.

Benchmarking is the method of choice for assessment companies that produce traditional personality and behavioral styles assessments. Those generic, non-role-specific assessments were never designed for sales, are not really for sales today, and only their marketing makes you think they can be used for sales selection. The only things they ever changed in all of those assessments are the names of the findings. They still measure personality traits and behavioral styles, still ask the same questions that have been asked for decades and those questions are still rooted in a social context, not sales or business. The limitations, as a result of their assessments being non-specific to sales, requires that you test your top performers so that they can look for common traits. Their theory is that after finding commonalities among your top performers, you can look for new salespeople with the same traits and they should perform well.  

Really? Let's try that with BigBrains! Had we benchmarked the BigBrains top performers, we would have started with around 100 findings and scores and narrowed them down to these findings that were common to their top performers. As you can see, all greens (strengths) and all reds (weaknesses), but clearly complete commonality!

I have always known that benchmarking doesn't work for sales, so just for kicks, let's see how their bottom performers scored when we used the exact same findings...

As you can see, (I apologize for being unable to get the columns to align perfectly) the bottom performers have nearly identical strengths and weaknesses to the top performers.  And that is the very reason why, despite the decades long practice of benchmarking top performers, personality and behavioral styles assessments consistently fail to be predictive of sales performance. I've been saying this for 25 years! The problem with looking at only the top performers, and then looking for common personality traits, is that inevitably, the bottom performers will have the same attributes as those you identify in the top performers. Benchmarking to predict sales success will nearly always produce a false positive. As Rocky LaGrone says, "It's like identifying the tallest midget!"

Now let's take a look at how those same findings - which will not be effective for identifying top performers - compare with the findings we actually used as the final criteria for the perfect fit analysis.

Finding

Used in Benchmark
of Top Performers 
and %
of Top Performers with Finding

% of Bottom Performers 
with that Finding

Finding Used in our Final 
Perfect Fit Analysis

Longevity Likely or Highly Likely Yes  - 100% as Strength 50% Yes
Strong Desire for Success in Sales Yes - 100% as Strength 75% Yes w/score >82
Takes Responsibility for Sales Results Yes - 100% as Strength 75% No
Enjoys Selling Yes - 100% as Strength 83% No
Highly Motivated for Sales Yes - 100% as Strength 100% No
Supportive Selling Beliefs  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Supportive Buy Cycle  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No

Comfortable Having a
Financial Conversation

Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >32
Rejection Proof Yes - 100% as Strength 83% No
Sales DNA  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >62
Closer Competency Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >32
Farmer Competency Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Sales Posturing Yes - 100%  as Strength 33%  Yes w/score >47
Coachable Yes - 100% as Strength 100% No
Competition Resistant Yes - 100% as Weakness 100% No
High Ticket Seller Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Doesn't Need Prospects to Like Them No n/a Yes w/score >74
Controls Emotions on Sales Calls No n/a Yes w/score >77
Hunter Competency No n/a Yes w/score >66
Consultative Seller Competency No n/a Yes w/score >55
Qualifier Competency No n/a Yes w/score >39
Account Manager Competency No n/a Yes w/score >40
Figure it Out Factor (Will Ramp up Quickly) No n/a Yes w/score >55
Sales Skills % No n/a Yes w/score >41
Sales Strengths % No n/a Yes w/score >54
Sales Weaknesses % No n/a Yes w/score <50

As you can see, most of the findings, that were common to the top performers, were either not used at all or they were modified to be used with a cutoff score. Our Perfect Fit Analysis looks for the findings, scores and cutoffs that differentiate the tops from the bottoms; therefore, we don't accidentally identify findings that bottom performers are likely to have as well. In addition to that is the fact that all of our findings are sales-specific! There is not a single behavioral style or personality trait in the list. You could argue that the need to be liked and controlling emotions are personality traits or behavioral styles, but we aren't asking the questions in a social context - purely in the context of sales calls and meetings - so even those two findings are specific to how they affect salespeople when they are actually selling.

So OMG already has the most predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet, has earned the Gold Medal for Top Sales Assessment for 4 consecutive years, and we can prove it out for every selling role, calling on every level of decision maker, against every type of competition, at any price point, with any sales cycle, with any form of price sensitivity, with any level of resistance, at every company, and in more than 200 industries. And to make sure that it's as predictive as can be, we can conduct a Perfect Fit Analysis too.

Why would you allow the least bit of uncertainty to creep into your sales selection process if you can be both certain and confident when using OMG? Click here to check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments and see how much time and money we can save you and your company.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, Sales Benchmarking, sales selection, OMG Assessment

Sales Selection Case History - The Fix for This Insanity Works 99% of the Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 01, 2015 @ 21:10 PM

If you had a crystal ball to predict whether or not your next sales candidate would succeed in a difficult selling role at your company, wouldn't you want to use it?  Heck, you would want to look into that thing even if it wasn't a difficult selling role.  But what if you were recruiting kids right out of college?  What would you do then?  Would you just recruit a whole bunch of kids and keep the ones who didn't quit?  Would you hire three times more than you needed and just keep the ones who were successful?  Would you just hire anyone who looked and sounded good and go from there?  What if you could use the crystal ball?  Could that even work with college grads?  Recently, we had an opportunity to study and answer that very question and the results will surprise you!

One company, we'll call them BigBrains, was hiring recent college graduates for an inside sales role where they would schedule appointments for the salespeople.  Lots of calls, a few conversations, and then convert those calls to meetings.  Some companies call these people BDR's, others call them SDR's, some call it Top of the Funnel, and others say it's Inside/Outbound.  Whatever you want to call it, I'm sure we can agree that it is very challenging, there is high turnover, and success is hard to come by.

They turned to Objective Management Group (OMG) and with BigBrains being as smart as they are, didn't believe the great results that others were achieving using OMG to help with sales selection would apply to them because they are different.  They target college kids and they are different.  Did I mention that they are different?  

I hate it when we have to prove over and over again that our sales candidate assessments are truly as accurate and predictive as all of our case studies, white papers, testimonials, awards and validations clearly state.  After all, OMG has legendary predictive accuracy and it's backed by science.  After assessing nearly one million salespeople over the past 25 years, the statistics show that of the candidates that are not recommended, but who brilliant executives hire in spite of that, 75% of them fail within 6 months.  And of the candidates that are recommended and are hired by other, not quite so brilliant executives, 92% of them rise to the top half of their sales force within a year.

So we offered to prove it to BigBrains.  We invited their top 5 and bottom 5 reps to take our sales candidate assessment and then we produced a comparison analysis as proof of concept for BigBrains.  From among our nearly 100 scores and findings, we identified 16 that clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms and when we set the overall cutoff at 69%, 5 of their top 6 would have been recommended and 5 of their bottom 6 would not have been recommended.  For BigBrains, we had an overall predictive accuracy of 83% -  on predicting whether or not recent college graduates would succeed in this difficult SDR role.  In the image below, you can see the scores and findings for each salesperson.  Also note all of the green for the top performers and all of the red for their bottom performers.  Note that most of their bottom performers scored OK on the Hunter competency - the primary competency required for success in a BDR Role.  That's why, if we look at hunting skills alone, we will be fooled half the time.  Why is the closer competency used?  One reason is that they are closing for appointments and meetings.  But the other reason we used it is that the attributes within that competency are clear differentiators between their tops and their bottoms. 

But BigBrains didn't react the way most companies do.  Despite typically high turnover, they felt that OMG was unable to properly tune the assessment for their purposes.  What is normally a no-brainer for just about every company we talk with, caused just the opposite reaction at BigBrains.  They didn't think it would work on the college kids they targeted. 

But didn't we just prove that it would?  Doesn't our 83% trump their 33% 100 times out of 100?  I guess not.  Maybe the math works only 99 out of 100 times.  

Do you believe that they didn't act because they didn't believe the results?  Or that they didn't believe the results could be duplicated?  Or that it was too big of an investment?  Or that they feared something else?

Let's begin with the investment.  It wasn't much of an investment.  We would have saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars that they were paying college kids to fail.  We would have saved them thousands of hours that they were wasting on reviewing resumes, and phoning and interviewing the wrong candidates.  It was going to cost them significantly less than one entry level salary while at the same time, assessing thousands of candidates. It couldn't have been the money.  

Let's tackle whether or not it was duplicable.  Well, we already have a great track record for predictive accuracy and that was proven to be accurate again with their top 5 and bottom 5. So it couldn't have been whether or not it was duplicable.  And they had to believe the results - it was on their very own people.

No.  It was none of those reasons.

They were afraid that we would reject 90% of their candidates.  That's right.  They believed that the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment would recommend not moving foward with 90% of those kids.  Think about it...  Isn't that actually the point - to not move forward with those who we already know won't be able to succeed and/or won't stick around?  But the big executives at BigBrains believed that a 90% rejection rate would mean they would have to find more candidates and that might be too difficult.  Their recruiters would have to work harder.  Their recruiters might feel badly that their candidates didn't make the cut.

So their solution?  The very definition of insanity - just keep doing what they've been doing right along.  While only one third of their recruits might survive and succeed, at least that's the devil they know.  Can you imagine the expense, wasted time, frustration and stupidity of that model?  Continue to Part 2 - the follow-up article on Benchmarking BigBrains!

Their loss can be your gain though.  Just because BigBrains doesn't get it, doesn't mean you need to follow in their footsteps.  You can begin using the same accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments that 10,000 other companies use.  Learn more here.

I wrote a follow-up to this article on the Benchmarking we did at BigBrains.  You'll be even more amazed by what we learned with this exercise!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, objective management, sales selection

Why You Must Hire Salespeople Right Now

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 04, 2015 @ 17:06 PM

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Forbes conducted a survey of Fortune 500 CEO's and 82% of them said they would be hiring more people within 2 years.  Why should that be important to you?  

To answer that question, let's talk about your KPI's, or Key Performance Indicators.  The reason KPI's are more important than all of your other metrics is because they are, or should be, forward-looking indicators, rather than lagging indicators.  In the consulting and training work that I have done over the past 30 years, I have always viewed the Fortune 500 and their respective strategies as another set of KPI's.  We all remember the economic crash that hit in November of 2008.  But two years earlier, I was training salespeople that sold to Fortune 500's when, all of a sudden, out of the blue, this unexpected feedback began coming to me.

Many salespeople began reporting that there were major delays getting purchase orders on business that had already closed, all the result of spending freezes. In September of 2006, more than 2 years before the collapse actually occurred, I wrote this article about Selling in the Upcoming Recession. The behavior of the Fortune 500, two years prior to the collapse, was a major leading indicator.

When I hear that 82% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are planning to hire more people, I sense confidence, expansion, revenue growth and the need for increased capacity at all levels. And if companies are planning to grow, then that sure as heck shouldn't be limited to the Fortune 500.  

If you want to grow along with the Fortune 500, you'll need to hire salespeople. I know. You don't need any, there aren't any good ones out there, the last 11 times you tried, they failed, and it's too risky. I've heard all of the excuses. So let's dissect them one by one.

You've struggled to hire good salespeople - That means you keep doing the same thing, stupid, and getting the same results.  You need a better sales recruiting process and a very predictive sales selection tool.

Your territories are full - Is that like when the bases are full? You need a heavy hitter to come to the plate and clear the bases. In other words, any time a great salesperson comes along, you should hire that individual and find a spot, especially when it allows you to jettison an underperformer.  How do you know it's a great salesperson? Don't forget that very predictive sales selection tool!

There aren't any good salespeople out there - I don't know if I would agree that there aren't ANY, but there are certainly a lot fewer good salespeople who are actively looking. So what can you do? With a good sales recruiting process, you'll learn to write a job posting that attracts those who are out there, and find the passive job seekers too.

It's not the right time - it's too risky -  It is never risky to hire a good salesperson. Even the worst of the good salespeople bring you something, certainly enough to to pay for themselves. But good salespeople are not expenses.  They are investments, profit centers, and your economic engine! How do you mitigate the risk? You should know the answer if you've been paying attention. Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments! You can learn more and/or subscribe here.

Let's be like birds and take advantage of the lift they get when they fly behind the lead bird. Let the Fortune 500 lead the way so that we can get behind them and have an easier time of it.

Hire some good salespeople now and let the growth begin!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, sales test, predictive sales test, fortune 500

Top 5 Keys to Select and Hire Great Salespeople in 2015

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 08, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

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Copyright: swingvoodoo / 123RF Stock Photo

I'm always amused when an email comes through with a message that says something like, "Maybe we should target candidates that aren't recommended" or "Why do so many candidates lack Commitment?" or "Your assessments are only recommending 1 out of every 5 candidates!" or "The questions don't fit the role!" or "Thanks for saving us so much time - we would have hired some of these losers last year!"

I can usually determine, just from the comment of the email, exactly who, by title, must have sent it to us.  Here are some funny examples:

If it's a comment about how few candidates are being recommended, then the message is probably from an internal or external recruiter. 

All but the savviest of recruiters hate Objective Management Group (OMG) because we make their jobs more difficult.  Their job is to find great sales or sales management candidates and OMG only recommends those who are most likely to succeed in the role so, from their perspective, we are "knocking out" too many of their "awesome" candidates.  We do help them succeed at their jobs, but they must deliver more candidates than before to achieve that success.

A comment about how much time we have saved them is usually from the HR Director or VP.  Those Individuals easily recognize how good the recommended candidates are and really appreciate how much time they saved by not having to engage with undesirable candidates.  We make their jobs much easier!

When we read a comment about the assessment questions not fitting a sales role, the email is definitely from a candidate that is either a fish out of water, very inexperienced, or very misguided about professional selling.  Good salespeople never have a problem with fit or context.

Sarcastic comments, like the one above about targeting 'not recommended' candidates, usually come from frustrated CEOs that haven't met with enough good candidates.  Of course, it's easy to place the blame on OMG for quality of candidates because, well, who are they going to blame, their own people?  The quality of the candidates is directly related to the effectiveness of their job posting, where they placed their ads, and how well those postings are working.  OMG assessment recommendations essentially become the feedback on the quality of their sales candidate pool.

Testimonials often come from Sales VPs or Directors that have begun to hire great salespeople.  They recognize how good the candidates have been, they have made their first hires, and the new salepeople that OMG recommended have gotten off to great starts.

Depending on their roles and whether or not achieving their goals has become easier or more difficult, everyone has a different context and perspective of the exact same instrument.

As of this writing, there are some indisputable conditions that everyone must contend with:

  • There is a shortage of good candidates, but they do exist.
  • The more difficult the role and the more capable and expert the salesperson must be, the harder it will be to find "the one".
  • It is taking between 60-90 days to complete the hiring process.
  • The best job sites depend on a combination of geography and the desired capabilities of the salespeople you are hoping to hire.
    • The best candidate, who I personally interviewed in the past 30 days, was sourced from Craigslist.
    • The best overall candidates for a specific geography, that I interviewed in the past 90 days, were sourced from Indeed.
    • The best overall candidates for a non-specific geography, that I interviewed in the past 90 days, were from LinkedIn.
    • The best overall value for sourcing candidates was from ZipRecruiter.
  • You may conduct 5-minute phone interviews with ONLY the candidates that were recommended for the role by the OMG Assessment.
  • You may interview only the best of those candidates from the phone interviews.

Managing your own expectations is key to making this process work.  You must exercise:

  • Patience.  You may have to repeat the process several times to find who you are looking for.
  • No Compromises. If you compromise, you'll be starting all over again in 6 months.
  • Discipline.  Never consider a candidate that is not recommended by the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment regardless of fit.  
  • No Exceptions.  Exceptions compromise the integrity of the sales recruiting process.
  • Speed. Once you have identified a desirable candidate, act swiftly or you will lose that candidate!  I interviewed a great candidate at 2PM on Thursday and recommended him to my client at 3 PM.  At 5:45 PM I received a call and learned that my client had already contacted, met with, interviewed the candidate, and presented a job offer that the candidate accepted.

Finding, selecting, hiring and onboarding great salespeople is more difficult than at any time in the past 20 years.  The only thing that will make it easier is something for which you absolutely won't want to be wishing - a huge economic downturn.  As long as the economy is growing and things are going relatively well, we can deal with it being more difficult to hire.  After all, what good is a glut of candidates if you can't afford to hire them?

Finally, don't forget about EEOC Guidelines.  if you are using OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments, current guidelines require you to assess all of your candidates.  Clients simply purchase a flat-fee license for unlimited use and send the link to every candidate that submits a resume.  Easy!  You're EEOC compliant.

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Want to hear more?  Listen to this BizTalkRadio interview of me talking about getting sales selection right.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, sales test, personality test, interviewing salespeople

2 Biggest Mistakes Companies Make with Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 24, 2014 @ 05:02 AM

previewDo you prefer to see movies when the previews are awesome or dull?

Do you get more excited about your entree after a delicious or unspectacular appetizer?

Are you more likely to buy a car after an exciting test drive or one that left you unimpressed?

If you are using our sales recruiting process (STAR), then your sales candidates receive an email after submitting a resume.  They are informed about the five steps of the process and instructed to complete an online application and the OMG sales assessment.  When the online application is not included, about 35% of the candidates take the assessment.  When the online application is included in the process, the assessment rate jumps to better than 50%.

At this point in the process, the candidate is the appetizer, movie trailer, and test drive - all rolled into one.  If they don't complete the application and assessment, then why do sales managers and HR managers try so hard to get them to do it?  Haven't these candidates already shown you all you need to know about their follow-through, follow-up, attention to detail, ability to work a sales process, ability to take direction, and commitment to the result?  These candidates might even be thinking, "Not if I have to work this hard..."

Sales managers and sales leaders repeat another big mistake during the first interview when they prematurely sell the sales opportunity to the candidates.  Why aren't they challenging the candidates about their capabilities and fit instead?  Selling the job to the candidate positions you as the seller rather than the buyer, placing you in a position of weakness rather than strength.  That makes it much more difficult to land the candidate you want, for the role you have in mind, and with your ideal compensation plan.

The consultative approach required for sales is the same approach that you should be using in the interview.

If you are interested in learning about OMG's Sales Candidate Analyzer, a free tool that is included when you use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment, I'll be leading a webinar this Wednesday, February 26 at 11:00 AM ET.

WEBINAR - How to Get the Most from OMG's Sales Candidate Analyzer Tool
February 26, 11 AM ET
Register 

PLEASE HELP ME OUT!  I am completing a study of the functionality of today's sales force.  Would you be nice enough to take 5 minutes and complete the questionnaire for me?  I would really appreciate it.  I'll be publishing the results of this study in an upcoming White Paper.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, objective management group

What Google Might Know about Hiring Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sat, Jun 22, 2013 @ 09:06 AM

no brainerThe NY Times posted a story on June 20 about Google, their recruiting efforts, and big data.  The story really doesn't reveal that much, but there is an interesting quote (that I will get to shortly) that is relevent to hiring salespeople.  When we help companies get the sales selection piece right, there are several components that we tweak.  We help them get the following things right:

  1. Sequence of Steps
  2. The Posting - The entire sales recruiting process is only as good as its weakest link.  Most companies get the posting completely wrong and get wrong candidates into the candidate pool.  Then, what happens after this step is applied to the wrong candidates!
  3. Sourcing - see my explanation for #2
  4. Applicant Tracking
  5. Sales Candidate Assessment - There are two keys to this piece.  The first is the use of the right assessment.  The second is that the assessment be used this early in the process to disqualify all candidates who will not succeed in the particular role, at your company, calling into your marketplace, and your ideal decision-maker, against your competition, with your price points, and particular challenges.
  6. Short Phone Interview - Make sure that recommended candidates have the right experiences and sound good.
  7. Face-to-Face or Video Interview - Challenge the candidate and make sure they own what is on their resume as opposed to them being the author of a piece of fiction.
  8. Final Interview - Sell the opportunity.
  9. Offer
  10. On-Boarding
It typically takes a day or two to help clients integrate and apply this process to their business.  Clients love it because it not only results in consistently hiring much better sales talent, but it saves a tremendous amount of time and money too.  The value of getting it right?  Priceless.

You can use this free tool to
grade your sales recruiting process

Clients usually agree with all of the above.  One part, that they often disagree with, is that too many clients require that their salespeople have a college degree and that's where the NY Times and Google article comes in.  I don't have anything against college graduates, but I have never seen a correlation between higher education and sales success.  While many successful salespeople have college degrees, salespeople don't succeed because of their education.  We learn from the NY Times article that Google has not seen any correlation between education and success at Google, arguing that success in school requires a different set of skills.

I was not a particularly good student and did not finish college.  Most of the skills I have needed to write, type, speak, communicate, persuade and sell, research, manage, lead, use technology, build, create, opine, listen, question, and think outside the box; to stand-out and be analytical, practical, memorable, animated, dynamic, entrepreneurial and entertaining, to talk the language of business and CEO's, are not things that were taught in college.  I learned most of what I needed to know in high-school, from books, coaches and mentors, and mostly, on the street by taking risks, trial-and-error and early on, making mostly errors.  

In my not so humble opinion, if you want to put an educational requirement on sales candidates, it should be that they are street-smart rather than degreed.  Here are two exaggerated examples:
  • Educated - "Where is the documentation for this?  Show me where to go for that?  How does this information apply?  I'll need some time to learn and assimilate this.  I should be ready to begin visiting customers, to learn about them, next month.  When I understand a little more about why they buy from us, I'll start to make some business development calls."  
  • Street Smart - "Thanks.  I'll figure it out.  When can I start selling?"

This is truly a no-brainer.  Which salesperson would you prefer to be on boarding right now?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, sales assessment test, objective management group

Latest Research on Personality Assessments for Sales Selection

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 15, 2013 @ 10:04 AM

ambivertTwo articles caught my attention today.

The first, 10 Traits of Successful Salespeople, was typical of the misinformation that often passes for must-read information:

  • The data came from commission-only insurance salespeople in just one company, so it has limited application in other industries.  
  • The author says that some of the most successful salespeople share 10 personality traits, but doesn't say how many were in the study or how many shared the 10 traits!
  • Because all of the salespeople worked for the same company, they reported to that one company's sales management team, further skewing the results.
  • The author incorrectly classified the 10 traits as personality traits, but some of them are actually behavioral styles.  When styles and traits are combined, they become qualities.
  • Using Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on 650,000 salespeople for reference, we know that just as many unsuccessful salespeople share those 10 qualities as successful salespeople.  That's why only some and not most of the successful people shared the traits!
  • Even when salespeople possess all 10 qualities, there are still dozens of reasons why they still may not succeed.  OMG identifies weaknesses on its Sales Candidate Assessments that predict why someone who has all the greatest personality traits could be expected to fail.   OMG's top 4 are:
    • Lack of Commitment toward sales success;
    • Lack of Desire for sales success (different from Drive in that Desire in this context is sales specific);
    • Poor Outlook; 
    • Excuse Making.  A sales candidate with either the Lack of Desire or the Lack of Commitment would neutralize all 10 traits the article referred to!
  • OMG's next 7 would be: 
    • Non-Supportive Buy Cycle (the way the candidate buys does not support the sales cycle); 
    • Need for Approval (their need to be liked outweighs their need to sell); 
    • Discomfort Talking about Money; 
    • Becoming Emotional; 
    • Difficulty Recovering from Rejection;
    • Too Trusting;
    • Self-Limiting Beliefs.  

Any combination of 3 or more would certainly neutralize all 10 of the traits referred to in the article.

The second article appeared on the same site and was called Busting the Personality Myth about Salespeople.  This article is not as far off the path as the first article, but it's still full of misinformation.  It's claim, that ambiverts are more successful than extroverts and introverts, may be or may not be true.  There were only 300 salespeople in the study and data was collected for only a 3 month period.  We weren't told what they were selling, who they were selling it to, what the cost was, or the type of competition they faced.  Even if the data is sound,  you would not be smart to go recruit and select ambiverts!  I guarantee that 74% of them will suck at sales too!

It is becoming more and more difficult to separate opinions, experiences and musings from appropriately collected, time-tested, sales-specific, trans-industry data.  That's probably why OMG has earned the Gold Medal for Top Sales Assessment Tool from TopSalesWorld for two years running.

For more on the differences between Assessments and which ones are the most predictive, see this series of articles.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, omg, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, personality assessments, sales assessment tests, sales selection, sales assessments, objective management group

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About Dave

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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