More Sales Assessment Imposters Exposed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 29, 2012 @ 06:05 AM

When I call a sales assessment an imposter, I am usually referring to a personality or a behavioral styles assessment that has been adapted for sales.  The adaptation is usually quite spectacluar with their marketing as the assessments always sound like they were built for sales.  When they rename some findings on their reports to appear more sales-specific, the adaptation is complete.  However, the actual assessments remain essentially the same.  The questions that people are asked and the internal analyses remain unchanged, but the assessment company swaps some of the findings for personal traits and behaviors that have been traditionally associated with selling.  These traits and behaviors are uncovered by asking questions in social settings rather than business or sales settings.  As a result, the translations to sales are often inaccurate, meaning that the findings are not predictive of sales performance.  If you want to read more about the difference between personality and behavioral styles assessments compared to OMG's sales-specific assessments, you can find many examples here.

Last week, I received an email promoting one such assessment.  This was their headline:

headlineThey provided five examples and because two were companies that increased sales, we are led to believe that this company's predictive assessments are for sales roles.  When you visit their website, you learn that they have assessments for nearly every role in nearly every industry.  For the offerings to be this broad, only a personality assessment could be this flexible.  And while the information in personality assessments can be helpful, they have absolutely no correlation to sales, sales success, or sales performance.

Upon further investigation, the site provided these options for sales (emphasis on retail and B2C):

drop downIf you choose Sales Engineers, they recommend two of their assessments - neither of which has anything to do with selling:

recommendation

For those of you who employ Sales Engineers, the two assessments listed above can help you determine how effective they could be at problem-solving, but not engineering or sales.

If you choose Financial Services Sales Agents or some of the other options provided, they recommend this personality assessment:

Recommendation

Apparently, they believe that the personality traits required for customer service are the same as those required for sales success.  If that was true, then you would be able to move your entire customer service team into sales roles, not only with success, but without push back.  You already know that your customer service people have no interest whatsoever in selling!

Assessments can have a huge impact on selection, diagnosis and development of the sales organization.  However, if you choose the wrong assessments - imposters - you won't receive any of the powerful intelligence or predictive benefits that OMG provides its users.  

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Candidate, Personality Tests, predictive

Another Sales Assessment Takes on OMG - What Does it Reveal?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 04, 2012 @ 08:04 AM

comparisonToday, we have another rare opportunity to compare a personality assessment, masquerading as a sales assessment, to OMG's sales-specific assessment.  A candidate took the test with which the recruiter was familiar, Sales Achievement Predictor (SalesAP), while the client asked the candidate to take OMG's assessment.

I later received an email asking if I could explain why OMG's assessment said "Not Recommended" and the SalesAP said "Highly Recommended".  In general terms, SalesAP, like all personality assessments, makes assumptions about its sales findings. 

  • SalesAP states that the candidate had the ability to make cold calls, but how do they know that?  The candidate had Initiative and Extroversion as findings, so they incorrectly assume that translates to cold calling.  But that isn't necessarily so.  OMG found that the candidate also had strong Need for Approval and Difficulty Recovering from Rejection - two conditions that actually hinder cold calling.
  • SalesAP states that the candidate had the ability to close, but how do they know that?  The candidate has Competitiveness and Goal Orientation as findings, so they incorrectly assume that translates to closing.  But that isn't necessarily so.  OMG found that the candidate has only 11% of the attributes of the Consultative selling skill set and 11% of the attributes of the Closer skill set.  In addition, he had 4, out of a possible 5, Major Weaknesses with a High (bad) Severity - all factors that inhibit effective closing.
  • SalesAP states that the candidate had a Strong Disposition to Selling, but how do they know that?  I believe it's simply a sum of the first two findings!  OMG found that while the candidate Enjoys Selling, he had a very low Sales Posturing Score, so he'll struggle making good first impressions.
  • What SalesAP is completely unable to identify are specific selling skills that are relevent to the sales specific role that this salesperson would fill.  OMG found that this candidate would be unable to Sell Value, a requirement for a company that has either a complex sale or products that are priced higher than the competition.
This personality test, and others like it, simply look at ranges of scores and if the scores are similar with those of successful salespeople, they assume that this person will be successful too.  But unsuccessful salespeople regularly score high in these dimensions too!  Personality tests are great when you simply want to know more about an individual.  However, when it comes to salespeople, there are three things that personality tests are not:
  1. Role-specific,
  2. Sales-specific, and
  3. Predictive of sales performance.
It's not practical to use personality tests as a sole hiring or development tool, but it's fine to use them as a complimentary tool, as long as you completely ignore the recommendations.  Why?  Personality tests can only report on what they can measure and they can only measure the responses to their questions.  Unfortunately, the questions are asked in social settings, rather than sales settings, and the findings have very little relevance to sales.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Candidate, Personality Tests, predictive

The Latest Fiction for the Sales Force - No More Hunters and Farmers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 @ 10:09 AM

Today I received an email from Selling Power promoting their latest webinar, The Hunter/Farmer Paradigm is Dead

In 2007 we had to deal with writers proclaiming that sales and the sales force were dead.  The reality of all of that talk was that the people writing about it weren't close enough to sales to know what they were talking about.  Companies with transactional sales don't need salespeople selling their transactional items, but they do need salespeople persuading companies to choose them in the first place.  Then the transactions can be placed via Internet or an inside sales group. That's about the only scenario where the "dead" proclamation even comes close to being accurate.  

Companies selling complex products, design engineered, custom, capital intensive, and higher priced than competition absolutely need salespeople to find opportunities, develop the need, provide value, qualify the opportunity, present the right solution and close the business.  Companies that are underdogs, those that sell professional services, and those with a story to tell absolutely need salespeople.

And today we have more attention grabbing headlines.  While it is Selling Power that is hosting this promotional webinar, it's actually a sales training company that is conducting it.  They go on to say that, "today's economy demands that you leverage all of your available sales talent by helping your sales reps both farm and hunt productively."

That's fine in theory.  It's optimal.  But the reality is that Objective Management Group has statistics from evaluating 450,000 salespeople and it's just not possible.  Here are the facts:

You want all of your salespeople to find new business but 24% of them will never be able to do that.  All of the training that they can provide won't change those people.  They'll have new words and will learn new skills but they still won't actually do it.

You want all of your salespeople to farm but some of them will never be able to do that either.  22% of them can't be trained.  And 45% of them will not close.  Again, they can train them until they're blue in the face but aside from the new words they'll learn, nothing will change for that group of salespeople.

So in a perfect world, where we can be anything we want to be, athletes aren't wired to be scientists, artists aren't wired to be software programmers, and ballet dancers aren't wired to be weight lifters.  Some salespeople aren't wired to prospect - they should be account managers - and some people aren't wired to close - they should be account managers too!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, closing, prospecting, Action Selling, Personality Tests, sales evaluations, sales tests, sales assessments, objective management group, selling power

180 and 360 Degree Assessments on the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 03, 2009 @ 22:06 PM

There are not a lot of companies that undertake 180 degree or 360 degree assessments of the sales force and that's a good thing because there are so many limitations.

The 180 - The salesperson or sales manager does a self-rating on the predetermined competencies and attributes and the individual's boss conducts the same ratings.

The 360 - The sales manager does a self-rating on the predetermined competencies and attributes and both the sales manager's boss and the salespeople that report to the sales manager conduct the same ratings.

So the 180 and the 360 are nearly the same except for the number of people and the vertical depth.

What are the limitations?

  • The assessment is only as strong as the competencies and attributes that have been identified.  Most of these assessments miss more competencies than they include;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to completely understand each competency and attribute;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to know the difference between good and bad in each competency and attribute;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to observe the individual's use of these competencies and attributes in the field;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to honestly score the individual;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's use of the entire range of potential scores.  In other words, if the assessment uses a 1-5 scale, and the scorer uses the entire range of 1-5, there is reason to believe the scores are useful.  On the other hand, if the scorer uses only 4's as the lowest score and 5's as the highest score, it yields little, if any, usefulness.

So even the most thoughtful and comprehensive 180's and 360's are very subjective and have major limitations.  At best, they identify very strong and very weak performers.  At worst, they are a waste of time.

My question is, why would a company bother to go through this time consuming, inaccurate process when there is a very accurate, very predictive, sales specific, time-tested, proven, validated sales force evaluation that can be implemented, analyzed and reviewed, quickly and easily for far less money?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, Sales Force, Personality Tests, sales evaluations, sales tests, sales assessments

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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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