Sales Assessment Findings - Another Preview of the Interview

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 02, 2012 @ 23:10 PM

business relationshipsJohn Musser, an OMG Partner in Atlanta, recently shared an observation with me.  He found that when his clients didn't care for a candidate who was recommended by our Sales Candidate Assessment, he was able to correlate his client's perception to a single finding: Won't Develop Relationships Quickly.

A number of clients misinterpret this finding, thinking it means that the candidate won't develop relationships at all.  But it's not that they won't develop relationships, it's that it won't happen quickly during the first meeting.  When the client is left feeling indifferent, it's often because the candidate wasn't successful at making a connection in that first interview.

There are two ways in which one could look at this:

  1. Knowing that the candidate is a bit slow to warm up, cut him some slack, bring him back for a second interview, give him another chance and overlook his performance from the first interview.
  2. Know that what you see is what you'll get and his inability to quickly develop a relationship will prevent him from making prospects comfortable enough to answer the types of good, tough, timely questions which are the hallmark of effective consultative selling.
Obviously, you'll want to follow option #2.
 
Observing assessment findings manifested during an interview is a very common occurance, but it's more likely to occur when a candidate has some of the following findings:
 
Finding What You'll See
Tendency to Become Emotional Defensiveness, panic, louder volume,
rash, sweat, etc.
Need for Approval Saying what you want to hear, fear of 
pushing back, fear of tough questions, trying to make friends
Too Trusting Optimistic when you give the candidate a put-off like, 
"We'll be back to you next week." 
Uncomfortable Talking About Money Stuttering, lack of confidence when asked about earnings history
 

Of course there are many more, but this gives you a sense of it.  If you would like to see more examples or read more, click for some assessment case histories.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales management, Sales Candidate, sales interview, sales assessment findings, sales assessment test

Compromises in Sales Candidate Assessments Compromise Revenue

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 18, 2012 @ 20:09 PM

compromiseWhen I first began to evangelize the importance of sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments in the early 90's, no other assessment company was focused on the sales force or developing a sales-specific (built for, rather than modified for, the sales force) assessment.  22 years later, my message has been so well-received that it spawned a sales assessment industry.  Most of the so-called sales assessments are from companies and individuals which have modified or created derivative works, based on existing assessments to make them appear to be sales-specific.

Experience has demonstrated that there are three areas where companies tend to compromise with sales candidate assessments and those compromises always lead to revenue shortages:

1. Compromising Assessment Choice  -  Other than the sales-specific assessments developed by Objective Management Group (OMG), assessments generally fall into the categories of personality tests (like Caliper), behavioral styles assessments (like DISC) or sales aptitude tests.  Personality tests and behavioral styles assessments are not predictive of sales performance and, as much as their marketers would suggest otherwise, the only things that are sales-specific are their marketing materials and the names of some of their findings.  They report on what they measure and they measure what they collect which are answers to questions asked in a social context rather than sales context.  Sales aptitude tests measure only what an individual knows about transactional (not consultative) selling, but not how they are likely to perform.  The compromise takes place if a company chooses an assessment for one of the following five reasons:

    • Familiarity - A company has successfully used a personality test or behavioral styles assessment to better understand their employees.  While it seems to make sense to expand its use to sales selection, these assessments do not accurately predict performance or success in a sales role.
    • Faulty Assumptions - An executive receives a referral from someone who has used personality or behavioral styles assessments and recommends them, incorrectly assuming that they would be equally effective for sales selection.
    • Misled - A company chooses a sales aptitude assessment because the name implies fit and alignment when it only measures interest, knowledge and awareness.
    • Price - An assessment may cost less, but the savings are dwarfed by the cost of a hiring mistake.
    • Comfort - An executive may be more familiar with a particular assessment, but knowing the assessment language, buzzwords or reporting format doesn't magically make that assessment more accurate or predictive.

2. Compromising Assessment Timing - Assuming that you've selected the best assessment for sales selection (OMG's highly-accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment), it must be used at an optimal point in the sales recruiting/interviewing/hiring process - the first step.  When a resumes arrives, candidates should receive a reply with instructions to take the assessment.  The completed assessment quickly eliminates those candidates whose sales capabilities don't meet the customized requirements for the role.  These include criteria based on the difficulty of the sale, length of the sales cycle, title of the decision-maker, price point, competition, locale, management supervision, average sale price and more.  The Compromise takes place when a company doesn't wish to purchase a license for unlimited use and chooses to pay-per-use instead.  With pay-per-use, the company can't assess every candidate and they waste tremendous amounts of valuable time on unnecessary interviews and misguided inclusion.  This nearly always results in the wrong candidates advancing through to the interview, the wrong candidates being chosen to take an assessment, and findings of "not recommended" being the rule rather than the exception.

3. Compromising Assessment Use - Assuming that you're assessing everyone in the first step with the best sales-specific assessment available, the manner in how you use it is important too.  Your assessment is configured to recommend only those candidates who will succeed in the role as described above.  The proper way to use the assessment is to conduct a short phone interview with only "recommended" candidates, assuring that they sound great and meet the required experience.  Only the best of those you've called should receive an interview.  The Compromise takes place when an executive does one or more of the following six bad things:

    • Interview even though a candidate was "not recommended".
    • Automatically hire because the candidate was "recommended".
    • Interview prior to the assessment, leading to the executive falling in love with that candidate, usually "not recommended" after being subsequently assessed.
    • Use the assessment only as a data point, ignoring the recommendation.
    • Lower the assessment standards and criteria to allow more candidates to be recommended.
    • Make exceptions.

Obviously, there is more to the successful use of a sales candidate assessment than the actual assessment and candidate selections.  Many companies get it wrong at every step.  The companies which do get it right get very consistent results.  By following the process and not making exceptions they always get top-notch salespeople, leading to revenue increases.

Want to learn more?  I'll be discussing What's Preventing Your Sales Force From Over-Achieving in an SMMConnect Webinar on Wednesday, September 26, at 1:00 PM ET.  Learn more here.

You can try OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments with a 72-hour Free Trial.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Candidate, Personality Tests, sales aptitude test, predictive, behavioral styles assessment

When are Salespeople Too Old to Sell Effectively? 10 Conditions

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 27, 2012 @ 09:06 AM

the beach boysFirst, let's acknowledge that EEOC guidelines in the US demand that you not discriminate against candidates based on age (40 and older), gender (non-males), race (non-Caucasians) or disability (Americans with Disability Act).  This article isn't about that, but I wanted to make sure that I put that out there before going any further.

Last night, we attended a concert in Boston.  On stage, 5 guys in their 70's, backed up by a younger show band, played and sang the songs made popular by a group of teenagers about 50 years ago.  When we closed our eyes, they pulled it off.  They sounded the same, perhaps better than the teenagers!  With eyes open, they demonstrated the same energy and showed that they really enjoyed performing and recreating that sound.  The only things different - and I mean the only things - were the wrinkles and sags on their faces and bags under their eyes.

I'm referring to the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Reunion Concert and it was a terrific show.

When it's time to recruit salespeople, clients have often told me that they want a "less mature, more energetic, and fit" salesperson - code for "younger".

Like the Beach Boys, who can still pull it off with ease, salespeople can still pull it off with ease as they age, well into their 70's, as long as the following ten conditions exist:

  1. They have the same energy.
  2. They have the same work ethic.
  3. They retain the same motivation and urgency to succeed.
  4. They continue to enjoy selling.
  5. They have adapted to the changes of the past 5-10 years, including selling consultatively, using technology and working harder.
  6. They are fine being held accountable to a potentially younger sales manager/sales leader.
  7. They interviewed well.
  8. They are still quick on their feet.
  9. The OMG Sales Candidate Assessment has recommended them.
  10. They have prior success doing what you need them to do.
The interesting thing about this list of conditions is that it's not age-specific and should be used with all salespeople.  If they can still generate new revenue for your business, why would you care if their skin is wrinkled?  If the choice is between a performer with wrinkles and a smooth-skinned pretender, the choice should be a no-brainer.  Watch this video on Sales Recruiting Best Practices.
Best Practices for Sales Recruiting Process and Tools

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales management, sales competency, sales candidates, sales assessments, beach boys, eeoc guidelines

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

How Many Sales Candidate Assessments Does it Take?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 09, 2012 @ 14:02 PM

Today, I was asked how many sales candidate assessments are required in order to hire one salesperson.

Great question.

Let's make an assumption that your postings on various job sites draw 200 resumes and 34% of those candidates take the assessment.  So you have 68 assessments completed and of those, somewhere between 25% and 50% of those candidates are recommended, giving us a pool of 17-34 candidates.  You talk to those candidates by phone and invite the 6 best candidates for interviews.  You like 2 of them, offer one a job and he accepts.  68 Assessments.

But what happens if, for one reason or another, you don't like any of the best candidates?  What happens if the candidates, whom you like don't, accept your job offer?  What happens if your requirements are such that significantly less than 25% of the candidates are recommended post assessment?

You begin the process a second time and may have to assess an additional 68 candidates.

The ratios are different for everyone, depending on geography, requirements, compensation, travel and experience.  But the bottom line is that if you are using the assessment properly, as your primary filter in the first step of the sales recruiting process, you will assess a great number of candidates before you settle on the one.  And of course, if you are hiring 10 or 100 or 1000, you'll need to assess an appropriately larger number of candidates along the way.

Why wouldn't you just wait until the end of the process to assess the candidates?  Three reasons:

  1. You would be out of EEOC compliance.  If you use an assessment, all candidates must be assessed.
  2. The best sales candidates would not make it to the end of a process which didn't begin with assessments.  You would have disqualified them for not having a pretty resume, not coming from your industry, not having certain experiences or some other irrelevent reasons.
  3. You would have wasted an incredible amount of time and money talking with, interviewing and assessing the wrong candidates.
Clients learn a solid, time-tested, proven, proprietary process called STAR and it works brilliantly every time.  Combine that with the Gold Medal winner for best Sales Assessment Tool and you have a turnkey solution that identifies winning salespeople like the Dominican Republic turns out baseball players.  Best practices exist for a reason.  The challenge is to use them, even when your tendency is to do what you have always done.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales candidates, omg, sales assessments

5,000 Reasons to Hire Salespeople Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 @ 22:01 PM

imposterEarlier today we (Objective Management Group) held our annual Rockefeller Habits strategy meeting.  At one point the management team was reviewing year over year growth to pinpoint where last year's growth came from.  The segment of our business that survived the recession was our Sales Force Evaluation.  Companies that had money they could part with wanted to work on sales and we own the Sales Force Evaluation market.  The segment of our business that was hit hardest by the recession was our Sales Candidate Assessment License.  There isn't much need for a license if a company isn't going to hire anyone new!

We knew that with the significant improvement in the economy, the license business should have been up and we learned that OMG's Registrations were active and in use to hire for more than 5,000 active sales job (custom) configurations.  That's not 5,000 salespeople being hired, it's 5,000 job descriptions where each company could be hiring anywhere from 1 - 100 salespeople or more.

At the same time, it has suddenly become far more difficult to find quality candidates.  Fewer resumes are flowing through to hiring managers and a higher percentage are from candidates that simply don't have what it takes.  How do I know?  The percentage of recommended candidates compared to those who aren't recommended has changed dramatically in the past 4 months.

The good news is that companies are extremely optimistic right now, they are hiring salespeople in large numbers and they should be!

The bad news is that it will take longer, be more difficult to find the right people, and if you don't use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments early in the process you will waste a tremendous amount of time and money interviewing and hiring imposters. If you don't get started hiring salespeople now the pickings will be even slimmer as spring approaches.

OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment was named the Gold Medal winner for Top Sales Assessment Tool of 2011.  Would you like to experience the tool yourself?  Take advantage of our 72-hour free trial by clicking here.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales candidates, omg, sales selection

The Difference Between Sales Commitment and Desire

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Nov 18, 2011 @ 12:11 PM

differences

The Difference Between Sales Commitment and Desire

I was explaining this difference to a client today and the two findings, which we were comparing, were striking in their contrast.

The candidate in question scored 100 (off the charts) on Desire (how badly he wants to succeed in sales); yet, as low as he was high - 16 - on Commitment - his willingness to do what it takes to succeed in sales. So as you might expect, the client asked, "How can he score so high in Desire but so low in Commitment?"

Great question.

I'll explain it in exactly the same fashion I explained it to him.

Let's take my 9-year-old son. He desperately (the equivalent of strong desire) wants an iPhone. But he hasn't been able to do the things he must do in order to get it. What things? Let's just leave it at normal kid behaviors that everyone wants from their kids at that age. As much as he wants that darn phone, he isn't Committed enough to pick up his dirty clothes from the floor, eat a fruit or vegetable, or go to bed when it's time. Like I said, normal 9-year-old stuff.

Salespeople with strong Desire, but weak Commitment, want to be successful, want to win awards, get paid big commissions, garner recognition and be the best, but they won't do the things that are uncomfortable or difficult for them. Those things entail anything from prospecting, to having the tough conversations about money and budget, to challenging prospects or pushing back at appropriate times, to qualifying, asking about competition, and asking personal questions.

With all of the new rules for business, changes to the way businesses buy, the resistance to spending money, the economic challenge never far away, and the competitive landscape being more difficult than ever, a salesperson without strong Commitment is simply unable to overcome these challenges.

I have posted many extremely popular "difference between" articles, so we have another series on our hands.  Scroll down for more articles:

The Other Rejection - How Salespeople Struggle to Cope

Basketball and the Difference Between Sales Studs and Sales Duds

Sales Strategy and Tactics - Thoughts from the Super Bowl

The Difference Between Sales Process and Methodology

The Difference Between Sales Commitment and Work Ethic

The Anatomy of the Million Dollar Producer Compared with the $650K Producer

The Difference Between Sales Fantasies and Reality

What Sales Leaders Don't Know about Empathy and Ego

The Difference Between Sales Process and Sales Methodology

The Difference Between Sales Benchmarking and How OMG Assesses Sales Candidates

Who are Better Salespeople - Men or Women?

The Difference Between Coaching and Mentoring

12 Differences Between Your Salespeople and Sales Candidates

Case Study - One Difference Between Good Sales Hires and Bad

The Difference Between Good and Bad Sales Hires

The Difference Between Good and Bad Salespeople

The Difference Between Salespeople and Account Managers

The Difference Between Consultative Selling and Consultants

The Difference Between Selling to Negotiators and Price Shoppers

The Difference Between Over Achievers and Under Achievers

The Difference Between Sales Commitment and Motivation

The Difference Between Good and Bad Sales Coaching

The Ultimate Comparison Top Salespeople versus Salespeople that Fail

Super Bowl 49: Salespeople That Win vs Lose

Difference Between a Good Sales Email vs. Bad

What Committed Salespeople Do Differently

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales performance, sales candidates, sales force evaluations, sales selection, sales assessments

Will This Sales Candidate Really Fail If We Hire Him?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 @ 22:10 PM

This week I called the type of candidate that traditional HR professionals love - his resume was formatted, there were no typos, his background was exactly what my client craved - but the assessment wasn't so impressed with him; he was a borderline candidate at best.  Normally this candidate would not have received a call from me but because he was a good fit, I was looking for a needle in a haystack candidate (again) and was on the cusp, there was no downside to a 3-minute call.

What a disaster!  He didn't engage me ("Hi"), couldn't articulate how his experience met the description in the job posting ("I did all of that"), failed to string a complete sentence together ("Mine was more money") and didn't provide a single example, detail or explanation.  He also failed to ask a single question.  And he was on the cusp.  Weak salespeople don't sound that bad so why didn't the assessment tell me about this issue?

It turns out that while the major findings we typically focus on were acceptable, there was one finding - The Sales Posturing Index - that was the lowest I had ever seen.  On a scale to 100, "Fred" scored 20! 

SalesPosturingWhile Fred was confident enough, he had no clue how poorly he came across, how awful his first impression was, and how badly he presented himself.  Most obvious during the 3-minute call were the following Posturing Qualities that he didn't possess: "Develops Relationships Early", "Consultative Skill Set", "Sales Optimism", "Sales Empathy", "Sales Assertiveness", "Goal Oriented", and "Controls Emotions".

As always, this assessment is very predictive and you only need to believe in it?

Which side of the cusp was the candidate on?

Dashboard

When it says Not Recommended, you really need to believe the science behind the recommendation - if you dare to hire one of these candidates 75% of them will fail inside of 6 months.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, Sales Candidate, accurate sales assessment, predictive sales assessment, sales selection

The Sales Interview - When One Candidate is Actually Two?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 @ 12:09 PM

sales candidate showing mixed signalsSuppose you are interviewing a candidate and there is a whole lot to like.  On the other hand, you observe and hear some things that you don't like.  

Suppose you have a great first interview with a candidate but you interview the same person, who seems to be a completely different candidate in the second interview?  

What if you conducted the great first interview and the person who conducted the second interview did not feel the same way as you did?  

What if someone else conducted a great first interview and you did not feel the same way as the other person?

You can overlook what you like and discount the candidate.  

You can overlook what you don't like and hire the candidate - a compromise.  

Or you can play best 2 out of 3.

Call the candidate - it has to be spontaneous to catch him/her off guard - and explain what you liked.  Then tell the candidate that there were several things that concerned you, explain what those things are, and shut up.

Allow the candidate address the issues.  If it was a crucial gap in expertise you will obviously have to find another candidate.  If it is a question as to how hungry, skilled, capable, personable, presentable or connected the candidate might be, provide them with an opportunity to change your mind.  If they say, "Yeah, you're right", or "I understand", the no's have it.  If they push back, attempt to change your mind, explain a misunderstanding, correct a fact or otherwise attempt to resurrect your perception of them, ask them to "prove it".  

You should pay more attention to HOW they respond (whether they apologize, keep their cool, provide a simple, concise explanation, are credible; or whether they make excuses, become defensive, stutter, become uncomfortable, etc.), than what they say.

It's best 2 out of 3 so whether they duplicate the favorable or unfavorable impression, it's the final impression that counts.

********************************************************************

Education: 

Learn how to use LinkedIn like a CIA Agent for identyfing and connecting with prospects at  LinkedIn Like a CIA Agent!

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Candidate, sales interview

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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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