Top 10 Reasons Not to Test Your Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 05, 2020 @ 06:10 AM


Testing.  Testing 1234.  Testing.  Check, check, check. How do I sound?  Testing 12345.  

Anyone who has conducted or listened to a sound check should be familiar with those words.  More testing = better audio.

If you're feeling ill, get tested.  That was the mantra for COVID-19.  But lots of people were getting tested.  In the USA, 345 out of every 1,000 people had been tested as of the end of September 2020.  

Those aren't the only two examples of testing being an obvious no-brainer.  Doctors test our vital signs - temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, blood and for some, EKG, and prostrate.  More thorough testing = more healthy.

Testing is not only normal, it's expected.

So why in the world is it so difficult to get Sales Leaders and HR professionals to test sales candidates?

We hear everything, including this week's top 10 reasons for not assessing:

  • "I hire using my gut feel"
  • "HR is not comfortable using assessments"
  • "We don't want to be bound by the recommendation"
  • "We don't want to spend the money"
  • "We don't want to change our hiring process" 
  • "We don't want to inconvenience our recruiters"
  • "What if I get a false positive?"
  • "Legal won't go for it".  
  • "Turnover is baked into our process". Consider this internal note from today: "[He] has a potential client who hires 150 reps/week with 300% turnover! Wanted to know how to price that 7,000 hire license. I suggested we take a different approach and determine the real cause of the turnover problem and then look at how many they really need to hire."  Anytime I read that turnover is greater than 100%, that's an example of baked-in turnover.
  • We don't believe in assessments". Consider this email I received today: "Nice to e-meet you.  [He] sings [OMG's] praises, but up front you should know that I have always been somewhat skeptical of Myers Briggs or personality profiling type exercises, so I'm the one you have to convince."  Bad experiences with assessments that weren't designed for sales creates biases.

These excuses are total BS.  Consider the following 4 facts:

  • Average sales turnover is now 34% and in some industries and companies it is much higher.  source
  • The average cost of sales turnover is 1.5 times compensation.  If average sales compensation is $95,000 that's a cost of $142,000.  source.
  • Fewer than 50% of salespeople will hit quota this year.  Do you think that's because of the pandemic?  Think again.  It's been that way for years!  source
  • Average ramp-up time is 5 months.  This varies wildly across industries but here's a formula to calculate what yours should be:  Length of Learning Curve + Length of Sales Cycle + 30 Days to transition.  If you have a six month sales cycle and it takes 3 months before a salesperson can have an intelligent conversation with a prospect, the ramp-up time - the time it takes for business to begin closing - is 10 months!

Let's be conservative and say that for every ten salespeople, the average company turns over 3 per year at $142,000 each.  The $426,000 cost is nothing compared to these other three problems:

  1. The distraction of having to hire 3 more salespeople
  2. The disruption in the territory or vertical,
  3. The lost opportunity of having an under-performer representing you.

Consider 8 more facts:

  1. Companies that use Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales candidate assessments have average turnover rates of just 8%.  That's 425% better than average.
  2. Companies that use Objective Management Group's sales candidate assessments have quota attainment of 88%.  That's 205% better than average.
  3. When companies hire salespeople that were not recommended by OMG, 75% of them fail within 6 months.
  4. When companies hire (after doing their due diligence) salespeople that were recommended 92% rise to the top half of the company's sales force
  5. OMG has been voted the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the World for 9 consecutive years
  6. OMG is customizable, incredibly accurate and predictive of sales success right down to the sales role for which you are hiring
  7. OMG has assessed 2,306,313 salespeople in - companies.
  8. OMG lowers recruiting costs and saves time - it's not expensive.  Depending on the number of hires and the size of the candidate pool, assessments could cost as little as $8 each!

You would think that these 8 facts would thoroughly and completely rule over the top 10 reasons for not assessing. But every minute of the day, seven days a week they don't.  People are stubborn. They don't know what they don't know while believing that they know everything.

This is my call to action.   Grab a sampleTry it for freeRegister to begin using OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, hiring, recruiting, assessment, omg, sales test, personality test

Data Shows That Only 14% are Qualified for the Easiest Selling Roles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 15, 2018 @ 06:11 AM


Lays Potato Chips.  Movie Theater Popcorn.  Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.  BBQ Ribs.  Fudge Brownies.  Rolos (a personal favorite from years ago).  All junk food which, after having the first one, you just can't stop there. You must have more.  Lays even had that as a slogan back in the late 60's - "Bet you can't eat just one."  Back then I couldn't stop at one.

Last week I wrote an article that said companies are hiring the wrong salespeople 77% of the time.  It was very popular and there was a great discussion on LinkedIn but similar to the junk food, you couldn't read that one article and move to another subject.  You need to have some more.

That article was filled with data to illustrate the differences between good salespeople versus those who actually get hired most of the time.  It was ugly and there were questions about the 77% like, "Where does that come from?"

Some of the supporting data came from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study.  Some of it came from Objective Management Group's evaluations and assessments of 1.8 million salespeople.  And I'm going to show you some data that most people never get to see.  Take a look at these wild numbers!

In the first graph, you can see the overall recommendation rate from 2014 through mid-November of 2018 from OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  


While the overall rate varies by no more than 4 percentage points over the past 5 years, from a low of 37% to a high of 41% the overall rate is very deceiving.

OMG has 5 levels of difficulty and the criteria for a recommendation becomes more rigorous as the difficulty of the role increases.  There are as many as 11 second-level customizations that could cause a candidate to be not recommended if their sales DNA doesn't support a required selling activity.  And there is a third-level  of customization that can override the criteria and customizations above to alter a recommendation.

Between the sliding scale and two additional levels of customization, it's very impressive that the overall rate hasn't varied by more than 4% over the past 5 years.  Let's review the recommendation rates for all 5 difficulty levels.


The first two columns on the left show the overall recommendation rates that appeared in the graph above.  The overall rates are the averages across all ten columns for each year.  There are 2 types of recommendations - recommended (continue with the interview process) and worthy of consideration (continue if there aren't enough candidates that were recommended) - for each difficulty level.  So that's 10 ratios to track per year.  These are some of the ratios that stand out for me:

  • Notice the low recommendation rates for the last three years for the roles with the least difficulty (columns 3-4).  You would think that it should be like the 2014 rate when 47% or nearly half of the candidates for those easy roles were recommended.  Why is it so different now?  One possible reason is that in the past 4 years, thousands of BDR (top of the funnel) roles were filled with recent college graduates and a much smaller percentage of them qualify for any sales role than experienced salespeople.  It's not their lack of skills; it's their unsuitable Sales DNA and/or their unsuitable Desire and Commitment for sales success.  
  • The recommended rate for the most difficult roles has increased by 5% over the past 5 years and the biggest increase has occurred in 2018.  With our help, companies have become more effective at targeting the caliber of salespeople that are required to perform in the most difficult roles.  Their candidate pool is filled with many more top tier candidates than you would expect given the overall shortage of salespeople and the even more acute lack of great salespeople.
  • Most companies seek salespeople for roles of moderate difficulty yet only 19% of the candidates are recommended. When the company lacks the required number of recommended candidates, they dip into the bucket of worthies, thereby doubling the size of the candidate pool from which they can interview.  The problem is that with sales candidates in such short supply, companies who aren't using OMG's sales candidate assessments are actually hiring the other 60% who, as you should be aware by now, are all weak, score in the lowest 50 percentile, and under the best of circumstances, will not hit quota.

Most companies are unhappy that half of their salespeople suck but to a certain extent, they have accepted it as fact - the new normal.  They look at the recommendation rates shown above and rationalize their situation by saying to themselves, "There aren't many candidates out there and most of them won't be recommended anyway so we'll just keep doing what we've always done."  The definition of stupidity.

Sure, it takes patience and discipline to attract, assess, interview, select and on board salespeople who will succeed in their roles.  But patience and discipline aren't strangers to finance, manufacturing, operations, marketing, R & D, engineering, design, fulfillment, quality control, IT, IS, or most of the other functions and departments in a successful business.  So isn't it time that we stop fooling ourselves and continuing to believe that sales is different and we have to accept the hand we are dealt?  That thinking causes executives to have Cause a Rationalization for Aggravating Performance.  CRAP.  You can read more about CRAP in sales. More importantly, you can have access to the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet.  Named Top Sales Assessment Tool for 7 consecutive years, you can be as confident about the salespeople you select as all of our clients are.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, hiring, Sales Candidate, sales assessment tests, sales assessment tool

Before Your Company Hires a Sales Leader...

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 @ 09:01 AM

mistakeEveryone has a plan.

Some plans are better than others because they contain all or most of the necessary steps and sequence them in an appropriate order.  Most plans have gaps where steps should be and the sequence doesn't lend itself to success.

One area where we see this occur repeatedly is when companies are about to hire a Sales VP or Director AND they want to evaluate their sales force too.  For some reason, many choose to delay the evaluation until after the VP is in place when in reality, the evaluation should be used to help them select the new sales VP.

Sales VP's aren't like stretchy clothing where one size fits all.  You must be able to choose a VP based on the needs of the organization.  Some of those needs are well known but others, not so much.  Take the quality of the sales managers that would report up to the VP, as well as the salespeople who report to those managers.  Do the sales managers need to be developed?  If so, what kind of help will they need?  Do any or all of the sales managers need to be replaced?  If so, what kind of experiences and skill sets are required?  What about the salespeople?  What caliber are they, where are the skill gaps, how many need to be replaced, what are their capabilities and what types of weaknesses are holding the organization back?  Knowing the answers to these questions in advance help companies specify and select a Sales VP that has the experiences and skill sets to deal with all that is known.

The company has two choices:  

  1. Hire a Sales VP without regard for what the VP will inherit and whether or not the VP has the skill sets and experiences to take on what the unknown.  Let the new VP take 12-18 months to observe and understand the issues and create a plan of action.     Or
  2. Evaluate the Sales Force, and inside of 30 days, discover all of the unknown issues that need to be addressed, the people that need to be replaced, the development that needs to take place, the gaps in skills, systems and processes, and use that to specify exactly what a new Sales VP must be equipped to deal with upon arrival.
With option 1, the company wastes 1-2 years and might still have made a mistake hiring the new Sales VP.
With option 2, the company uses the information from a sales force evaluation to make an intelligent hiring decision and provides the new Sales VP with the equivalent of 18 months worth of observation - only much deeper and wider than he could ever learn on his own - on his very first day.
All of this logic applies to a smaller company that needs to hire a Sales Manager.
Which makes more sense to you?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, hiring, sales VP, Sales Director, candidate, sales assessments

Can Sales Candidate Assessments Drive Results?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 13, 2011 @ 11:05 AM

driveThat's the claim made by one assessment company - that their sales assessments drive results.  Well, do they?  The obvious answer is "No, they don't."

They claimed that salespeople who scored highest on their assessments had 69% higher close rates.  That's impressive, right?  But their assessment didn't drive the results. Those salespeople drove the results.  Their assessment simply indicated that those salespeople would be more successful.  That is what an assessment is supposed to do!  They could just as easily said, "Our assessments do what they're supposed to do!"

So let's take a closer look at a 69% higher close.  It means that if the salespeople with a lower score close 1 of every 10 opportunities, then the strong salespeople, who scored highest on the assessment, will close 69% more of their 10 opportunities, or 1.69.  It's not nearly as impressive as it sounds, is it?  

So how do their claims compare with Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments?

We'll start with the easy statistics.

1. 92% of the sales candidates we recommend that are also hired rise to the top half of their sales forces within one year.

2. 75% of the sales candidates we don't recommend, that are hired anyway, fail within the first six months.

Now, let's dive a bit deeper.

One study across multiple industries with clients who use Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessments had the following highlights after two years:

  • Managers were able to recognize how much stronger the candidates were as early as the first interview;
  • New salespeople ramped up and built leverageable pipelines much more quickly than salespeople who were hired using other methods;
  • The quality of their pipelines were significantly better than salespeople who were already in place;
  • Conversion ratios varied depending upon industry but the salespeople hired using OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment averaged a 2x improvement.  That's not twice the ratio of salespeople with lower scores, those who shouldn't be hired. No,  it's twice the ratio of the veteran salespeople who were already succeeding!
  • The revenue generated by these salespeople was a 3x improvement!  Not only were they closing twice as many opportunities, but the opportunities were significantly larger!

Does OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment drive results?  No.  The people it recommends do.  One reason for its success and highly predictive nature is how our complimentary customization allows the client and OMG to finely tune the criteria to fit the industry, business, role, market, decision maker, competition, pricing, sales cycle, sales management, expectations and impact of your brand.

Can any other sales assessment really come close to OMG's accuracy and Predictive Validity?  Not yet.  And since we continue to add breakthrough predictors of success rather than sit on our laurels, it's not likely that anyone ever will.  At least not on my watch!

I'll be hosting a Webinar on Wednesday, May 18, at 1 PM ET, where I will walk end-users through the latest enhancements to our Sales Candidate Assessment.  You can register to attend at no cost by clicking here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, hiring, sales candidates, omg, DDI assessment, sales assessments, objective management group

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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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