How the Correlation Between Restaurants and Covid 19 Applies to Sales Assessments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 17, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

wearing masks

Do you hate meetings as much as I do?

They're the worst.  But I have one weekly meeting that's always uplifting and productive.

I'm talking about my weekly meeting with John Pattison, COO of Objective Management Group (OMG). He happened to mention a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pointing to the correlation between people who recently dined at a restaurant and later tested positive for Covid-19.  Of course the media was doing its best to spread misinformation as the article titles below suggest:

The report actually included facts they didn't share in their titles, like:

  • It was not known whether they dined inside or outside
  • It did not say that they contracted Covid-19 at the restaurant or because they ate at a restaurant


John pointed out that this is a clear case of correlation, but not causation.  In other words, there is no proof that eating at restaurants caused anyone to contract the virus.  He said there could be many reasons why people eating at restaurants also have higher rates of infection.  For example, people who don’t like to wear masks might be more likely to eat at restaurants.  Assuming that is true, the cause is more likely to be a lack of mask wearing, not eating in the restaurant.  

But does it really matter whether this is causation?  Is there that big of a difference?  Is correlation enough?  It depends on what you are trying to show.  Let's take sales assessments for example.

All assessments produce a number of findings and scores, most in the context of personality or behavioral styles.  When used to assess salespeople, they can make a case that there is a correlation between a finding like drive, and sales success.  Correlation, not causation.   Why?  because drive does not cause sales success.  There are lots of people with drive who were epic failures at selling!

Personality and behavioral styles assessments are not sales specific, even when their publishers refer to them as sales assessments.  They were not built to measure sales competencies, but instead attempt to correlate personality and behavioral findings to sales.  None of the assessments in this category are sales specific, they don't measure actual sales competencies, and there is no causation. The information they provide is simply nice to know, but unfortunately, not predictive of sales success.  

OMG's sales assessment was built for sales, is used only for sales, measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies, has 280 sales-specific findings and is extremely predictive of sales success.  For an assessment to have predictive validity though, its findings must correlate to on the job performance.  There's that correlation word again.  Since there only needs to be correlation, does that mean that causation isn't important?  Causation is not required, but it is vitally important.  

For example, one of the differences between sales producers and sales imposters is the difference between whether they can sell versus whether they will sell.  Can vs. Will. Who needs another salesperson whose best sales call is the one where they convince you to hire them?  You want salespeople who will find and close new business.  There is causation between Will to Sell and sales success.

Of course there are other examples.  A candidate who scores high in OMG's Consultative Seller competency and Value Seller competency will perform successfully in a complex sales environment.  There is causation. 

A candidate who scores high in the Hunter competency will succeed in a cold-calling sales environment.  Causation.

Here's another way of looking at correlation and causation.  Someone who scores well in a personality assessment will generally do quite well at developing, building and maintaining relationships.  It's a one-way correlation.  Why?  Because someone who is good at developing, building and maintaining relationships is not necessarily a good salesperson.  There is no causation.

Back to my meeting with John.  While we were meeting, Guy Kawasaki's twitter post appeared.

The OMG Sales Candidate Assessment is a really great cake but John and I agreed that despite a visual dashboard that tells the story of the candidate and effectively illustrates the scores for all 21 Sales Core Competencies, it has dog poop for frosting compared to the look we believe we can create.  We agreed to reimagine the dashboard and how we visually show each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies throughout the report so that we have the sweetest, most beautiful looking frosting ever spread on an assessment.  Stay tuned for an all-new look to the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment coming in early 2021.  In the meantime, it would be malpractice to hire salespeople without taking advantage of the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet.

Images copyright 123RF and 123 RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, recruiting salespeople, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, Correlation, personality assessments, personality test, coronavirus, covid-19, causation

The Sales Assessment Client Who Didn't Renew after All These Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 05, 2012 @ 10:03 AM

correllationHe has been a client of Objective Management Group (OMG) for over 20 years.  He had a license to use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments and, as most clients do, had renewed it each year.  When we met for breakfast recently, he told me that he had a new VP of Sales and would not be renewing his license this year.  I was surprised for two reasons:  

  1. OMG clients nearly ALWAYS renew their candidate assessment licenses unless they are hiring just one or two salespeople, after which time they are done - they find who they are looking for and then they are finished hiring.  Companies that hire salespeople on an ongoing basis always renew their licenses because the salespeople they hire with our assessments are much more effective.
  2. He told me that the reason for not renewing was that the assessment did not correlate with their performance.  Seriously?  Our top-rated, highly-predictive assessment didn't predict success and failure?  "Send me the names and the outcomes".
I reviewed everything he sent me.  He gave me their names along with their scores for the OMG Assessment , Predictive Index Assessment, Industry Knowledge, Industry Experience, Group Interview and Performance Results.  Each score was rated on a 1-3 scale with 3 being the best.
They hired seventeen salespeople in the past five years.  I ran a simple face-value correlation analysis: How predictive was each score - at face value - at predicting the performance outcome?  Here are the results:
Step Face Value Correlation
OMG Sales Candidate Assessment 68%
Predictive Index 50%
Group Interview 54%
Industry Knowledge 38%
Industry Experience 38%

Face value correlation alone isn't enough. At OMG we have a mantra that we expect our clients to follow.  A candidate that is "Not Recommended" should never be hired.  A "Recommended" candidate can easily become a "No" based on their phone interview, whether their experience meets your requirements, and how well they perform during a face-to-face interview.  "Recommended" is not a license to automatically hire without further due diligence.  It is simply a recommendation that the candidate belongs in the pool of candidates that move to the next step.  This client was hiring candidates that were not recommended!

I reviewed the seven assessments that did not correlate at face value.  Two of the five met performance expectations and four were recommended by the OMG assessment, but with warnings and conditions.  In the table below, the scores in columns two and three are how the client conducted the scoring, not how OMG scores its assessments.  The client's scale is beneath the table.  Here are the findings:

ID OMG Score Performance Comments
1  3  1 Candidate's Assessment showed that while she had strong DNA, she is an excuse maker, isn't motivated by money, and had zero skills other than top-of-the-funnel skills and had will prospect as a weakness. It was there in black and white that while she met the criteria,  Salesperson #1 would not build a pipeline or move opportunities along!
2  3  2 Assessment was nearly identical to Salesperson #1 but with additional skills that went beyond top of the funnel.
 3  1 Assessment showed that he lacked direction - no goals, plan, tracking and would be unable to work independently.  He was assigned a remote territory!
 3  1.5 Assessment also showed will prospect as a weakness and not money motivated and 7 of the 10 skills we identified were top of the funnel skills.  Like Salesperson #1, Salesperson #3 would not build a pipeline or move opportunities along!
 2  1.5 Salesperson #5 was assessed twice - the first time not hirable, the second time with a huge red flag saying less than ideal. 
 3 Salesperson #6 had the lowest group interview score, industry experience score, and the lowest overall score of any candidate.  That correlated with the assessment's finding showing his inability to develop rapport early in the process. 
 1.5 Salesperson #7 met expectations only because of how likeable she was and her high scores in food service, and industry experience - she had a following.  She would have been more successful, but as the assessment showed, she wasn't a hunter, made excuses, wasn't money-motivated, and had zero selling skills other than her top-of-the-funnel skills.
3 - Exceeded    2 - Meets    1 - Failed

Conclusions: Inclusive of our recommendations not to hire, and the warnings and skill gaps associated with recommended candidates, the assessments accurately predicted the results in 16 of 17 cases between 2006 and 2010 - a batting average of 96%.  In the 17th case, Salesperson #6, the client failed to follow his own hiring process and would not have hired the individual based on his non-OMG scores.

The client assessed 2,500 candidates over this time period.  As a result, they were saved from having to speak with at least 2,300 candidates.  If they spent just five minutes reviewing 2300 resumes (191 hours) and ten minutes on the phone with one third of the candidates (126 hours), the assessment saved them 317 hours (two business months) of manual filtering.  If they value their time at $100 an hour, the license more than paid for itself in the value of time saved over five years ($41,700).

Monday morning quarterbacking is easy if you take the time to do it.  I chose to take the time.  This client is probably similar to many clients who either don't read the warnings, or don't factor the warnings into the decision-making process for bringing a salesperson on board. The warnings were certainly incorporated into the development plan or accountability requirements for success.

Message to Clients and Would-Be Clients of OMG:  Our assessments are incredibly predictive, but you need to pay attention to more than a single finding, recommendation or score!  Every assessment tells a story and if you take the time to read the story on the candidates who are recommended, you'll be able to determine whether your current sales management resources are up to the task at hand for borderline candidates:

  • How much hand-holding will they need?
  • Will they fill the pipeline on their own?
  • Will they be able to move opportunities through the process?
  • Will they be able to generate urgency?
  • Will they qualify thoroughly?
  • Will they be able to close?
  • Will they self-start?
  • Can they work independently?
  • Will they take short cuts?
  • Will they be ineffective because of weaknesses?
  • How long will it take them to ramp up?
  • Will they stick?
It's all there - it's all accurate - it's all predictive - one just has to read it!

Topics: sales assessment, omg, kurlan, Validation, Correlation, sales candidate assessment

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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