The Sales Conversation CEO's & Sales VP's Must Have with HR

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 02, 2014 @ 08:06 AM

HR heroHR Directors love our sales candidate assessments because when they finally learn to select the right salespeople, their job becomes easier and they become heroes!

Promises of great success would lead you to believe that this is not a difficult sale, but it doesn't always go that smoothly.  

Today, there are two classes of HR Directors working at companies.  The first class is made up of great ones who have a seat at the executive table, understand the business issues that need to be solved, and strategize with the leadership team to integrate appropriate and effective solutions to help the company grow.  HR Directors in the second class are administrators of recruiting, compensation and benefits and they justify their existence by getting in the way, defending their turf, taking tactical rather than strategic approaches and staying with what they are familiar.   

Once in a while, an HR Director from the second class knows so much more than me about assessments that they take it upon themselves to make sure I know how smart they are.  They make sure that I'm aware of the letters that appear after their names, their experience with assessments, they dig their heels in with anti-assessment or anti-OMG (Objective Management Group) biases, and then they ask all of the wrong questions.  When HR Directors are more interested in how the assessment works and how it could be so accurate than problem solving and learning whether or not it will help them select great salespeople for their company, it's a pretty good clue that we are heading up the creek instead of getting down to their challenges.  Sometimes, these HR Directors need to take OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment themselves in an attempt to somehow disprove its accuracy and predictive ability.

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Recently, I had one of those extremely productive, uplifting conversations.  This particular class 2 HR Director wanted to take our assessment as well as the one her company was currently using.  The other assessment was a personality test disguised as a sales assessment.  Even more ironic, it was the assessment that wasn't working, as only 11% of the salespeople who were selected with it were hitting their numbers and 40% had failed and turned over.

I had to laugh when I was told that our assessment was "correct in not recommending" her for the sales position at her company, but "the other assessment was a more accurate description" of her.

Of course it more accurately described her - it's a personality assessment, not a sales assessment, so it described what she is like and she was able to relate to the description of herself.

OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment does not describe a personality or a person or a type.  It answers business questions that are far more important, like:

Will this candidate succeed in this particular sales position, selling these particular products or services, into this particular market, calling on this particular decision-maker, in this size company, against this kind of competition, at these price points, in a sales cycle of this length, with this level of difficulty and resistance, these challenges, and your expectations?

Which information is more useful when determining which candidates to interview - the kind of personality they have, or whether they will succeed in the role?

When HR Directors don't understand business and the challenges of selling, they can much more easily relate to a known (albeit useless) personality assessment for the purpose of pre-employment testing.  This is why it is so important for CEO's and sales VP's to work with HR and help them understand why the sales role is so completely different than every other role in the company.  Help them understand that while the information from personality assessments is nice to have, the accurate, predictive findings of a reliable sales-specific assessment like OMG's is a must have to get sales selection right.

I'll be hosting a free webinar this Thursday, June 5, 2014, at 11 AM Eastern time.  I will discuss the Magic of the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment.  Register here

Image Copyright: hjalmeida / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, HR Director, Pre Employment Tests, sales selection, personality test

Is the "Lack of Commitment to Sales Success" Finding Predictive?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 06, 2013 @ 23:05 PM

over and outSo you have your sales force evaluated and in addition to learning why you are getting the results you are getting, and what you can do to significantly improve those results, you are suprised by some of the individual findings on some of your salespeople.  One of the findings that generates the most push-back is Lack of Commitment to sales success.

We could hear any of the following comments as push-back to this finding:

  • our best salesperson,
  • nobody tries harder,
  • works longer hours than anyone,
  • been here for years,
  • landed our biggest customer,
  • an up-and-comer and/or
  • we really like her.
The list could go on and on, but none of the rebuttals actually addresses commitment - one's willingness to do whatever it takes (ethically of course) to achieve sales success.  For the record, I believe that this particular finding is 100% accurate.
One such example of this occurred last fall, when after a sales force evaluation, one rep's results showed that she lacked commitment.  Their sales manager spoke with her and was cautious, but optimistic that she was committed.  A month or so later, he spoke with her a second time, pointed out a few concerns of his, and after listening to her responses, came away from the meeting feeling more optimistic, but still cautious.  
Today the sales manager - a terrific guy and very effective sales manager - sent me a note saying that this rep is getting married and leaving the company - and sales - to spend more time working in her church ministry.
Sometimes, it takes several months to see what we only can measure, but it always shows up sooner or later.
That's the danger in moving forward with salespeople who lack commitment.  The proof might not be as dramatic as in the example above, but there will always be proof, like:
  • lack of improvement from training,
  • lack of improvement from coaching,
  • inability to change their thinking,
  • inability to change their behaviors,
  • inability to embrace a new sales process,
  • inability to embrace a new sales methodology,
  • inability to embrace a company's new policies,
  • inability to become engaged in a company's new culture and/or
  • many more.
It's one thing to learn that one of your existing salespeople is not committed to their own sales success.  It's another to learn that a sales candidate lacks commitment.  Why would anyone fight that finding?  You're not invested in that candidate and there are other qualified candidates out there; so why would any manager insist on hiring someone with a lack of commitment to sales success?  
The simple answer is that employers fall in love - not in a romantic way as much as a hopeful way - with the wrong candidates all the time.  Sometimes they fall in love because of their:
  • personality,
  • energy,
  • experience,
  • expertise,
  • sense of humor,
  • book of business,
  • previous employers and/or
  • good looks.
Whatever the reason, if they lack Commitment to sales success, they should not, under any circumstances, consider that candidate for a sales position at their company.  Unless of course you like wasting time and starting over.
This is Dave saying over and out.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales candidates, sales assessments, sales test, personality test, objective management group

What Sales Leaders Don't Know About Ego and Empathy

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 11, 2010 @ 21:05 PM

In the past week, three people had discussions with me about recruiting salespeople and suggested that the difference between successful and unsuccessful salespeople is that effective salespeople have empathy and ego.

These people probably use personality and behavioral styles assessments too.  Those assessments, always poorly adapted for sales, feature empathy and ego.  There are three things you must know when it comes to salespeople and their empathy and ego.

  1. The findings mean nothing when reported in a personality or behavioral styles assessment
  2. Lousy salespeople have empathy and ego too
  3. Empathy and Ego are only assets in the right quantity.

This article will focus on #3. 

Empathy and Ego are both a lot like food - you can't have too much of it or it will make you sick.  And if you don't have enough of it you'll be weak. They are really best plotted on bell curves, not bar graphs!

Let's take empathy.  Salespeople who don't have enough empathy won't be able to relate to the problems they are attempting to find and won't be able to help prospects feel comfortable sharing their frustrations and fears.  In other words, lack of empathy will compromise the listening and questioning competency.  Yet, salespeople with too much empathy will not only relate to the problems they can solve, but they will be empathetic to every stall, put-off, objection, excuse and sob story they hear too.  Here is where an ideal level of empathy can be seen on the bell curve.

Bell Curve

Ego is a very similar story.  Salespeople who don't have enough ego lack confidence and are easily intimidated. As a result, they have difficulty developing strong relationships, showing their expertise, garnering respect and developing credibility.  Yet, salespeople with too much ego appear to be cocky, arrogant, self-centered ass-holes who don't understand that selling is all about their prospects, not them.  I can't tell you how many salespeople each week are forced to hear me say, "John, it's not about you."  Here is where an ideal level of ego is plotted on the bell curve.

Bell  Curve

So there you have it.  If you read it on a personality or behavioral styles assessment, just know that the empathy and ego were measured in a social, not a business or sales context.  That makes it inaccurate and nonpredictive. Many ineffective salespeople have empathy and ego.  Too much empathy and ego is just as bad as not enough.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales recruiting, sales management functions, empathy, ego, sales assessments, personality test

Case History - How Not to Hire Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 02, 2010 @ 11:04 AM

A company wants to hire 5000 salespeople - but why?

2000 drop out before completing training, and another 2000 drop out during the first 90 days in the field. Another 500 drop out during the first 6 months, and at the end of the year they only have 500 of the original 5000 standing.  What would it be worth to them from a cost, time, resources and practicality standpoint for us to simply identify, in advance, the final 500, before anyone is hired?

Can we do that?  Yes.

Are they likely to do that?  No.

Why?  Because that's the way it's always been done in their industry.  The Status Quo prevents improved outcomes and nobody wants to make a change that might not work.  Well what about the way they're doing it now?  Does anybody really believe that it works the way it is?  They do!

Let's take a closer look at why their turnover - at 90% the first year - is so high?  Let's look at how they select salespeople since that's one of the things that we could change.

They use a behavioral styles assessment.  They're OK, but (obviously!!) not predictive of sales success.

This particular assessment is marketed as a sales assessment but it's the same old story.  Behavioral Styles assessment that uses some sales terminology and marketing but under the hood it's a behavioral styles assessment.  Here are some examples:

The Assessment reports "Prospecting Ability" but they can't actually measure that.  They can only measure how extroverted, social and persistent the individual is - in a social context!  It has nothing to do with prospecting ability!

The Assessment reports "Closing Style/Ability" but they can't actually measure that.  They can only measure assertiveness and sensitivity to rejection - in  a social context!  It has nothing to do with closing ability!

The Assessment report "Commitment to Sales" but they can't actually measure that.  They can only measure self-esteem and how favorable the individual is to a sales profession.  It has nothing to do with Commitment to Sales!

And on and on and on it goes...

What would you do?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Candidate, Behavioral Styles Test, Sales Recruiting Process, personality test, objective management group

Sales Assessment Comparison - Objective Management Group versus Devine

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 14, 2009 @ 13:09 PM

It's not often that we get to compare the assessment results of an individual that took our assessment and another.  Why?  Because most companies don't use multiple assessments that report on similar findings.  Notice that I said "report on" and not "look at".  While other assessments report on findings similar to ours, they don't look at or measure the same information to draw their conclusions.  That's why the reports I received today make for such an enjoyable comparison.

The candidate was assessed by Objective Management Group AND Devine, a company that produces behavioral styles assessments that are marketed and sold as sales assessments.  Because their questions are not asked in a sales context, they get findings that, while likely accurate in social situations, are usually out of context, and  less accurate for sales.  That is why, as is often the case, the results between ours and behavioral styles assessments are contradictory.

Below, you'll see how this candidate scored on ten of the key findings for each assessment:

OMG Finding
Devine Finding
Conflicting Finding
Strong Desire
Questionable - Ambition & Drive
Conflicting Finding
Strong Responsibility
Questionable - Accepts Responsibility
Conflicting Finding
Strong Outlook
Questionable Outlook
Conflicting Finding
Is Trainable
Questionable - Challenge/Growth/Change
Similar Finding
Gets Emotionally Involved
Questionable Emotionally Objective
Conflicting Finding
74% Hunter Skills
Poor Sales Prospecting
Conflicting Finding
Decision Maker
Poor - Resists Think it Overs
Similar Finding
Some Need for ApprovalPoor - Lacks Need for Approval
Similar Finding
75% Ambassador Skills
Excellent Relationship Effectiveness
Conflicting Finding
Ineffective Selling System
Excellent Process Orientation


Seven out of ten findings shown here are in conflict.  Knowing that our accuracy is legendary (95% predictive validity), which assessment would you rather base your decision on?

There are two more findings that you should know about:

OMG also measures commitment - the candidate's commitment was weak and the finding was Lacks Commitment.  Behavioral styles assessments can't measure commitment to sales success.

OMG's recommendation was "not hirable".  Devine's recommendation was "Good Overall Job Fit".  Now which assessment would you rather base your decision on?

If you want to read more about the difference between assessments that were built for sales versus those that were adapted - and not too effectively - for sales, here are three on the subject:

This was the first in the series.

Then came this follow up with more detail.

Then came this article after certain PHD's had their world rocked.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Candidate, sales evaluation, Devine, personality test

10 Lessons From the Sales Candidate Who Smelled Like He Peed on Himself

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jul 03, 2009 @ 05:07 AM

It was quite the claim.  I remember telling my client that the next candidate we were to interview was the best sounding candidate I had ever spoken with on the phone. Robert, the sales manager, went to the lobby to get the candidate and returned, an ashen look on his face.  Ray, the candidate, followed Robert into the conference room and suddenly, I had the same ashen look on my face.  It seemed that the best candidate I had ever spoken with by phone was, well, a bum!

They say you make an impression in the first 5 seconds and if the first impression was horrible, it was a huge understatement.  Here are just some of the things we noticed:

  • he had a paper bag with a bottle in it
  • his white shirt had yellowed
  • he was completely wrinkled - not a wrinkled face, but a suit that was wrinkled so bad it could only have occurred from sleeping in it - on a park bench - on multiple nights
  • he stunk - not like Yankees stink or Red Sox stink, but as if he had urinated on himself
  • his hair had not been combed - or washed - for days, maybe weeks
  • his clothes didn't fit

The funny thing was that when we began to interview him, if you just closed your eyes, you would have heard the most pleasing, helpful, nurturing, lucid, quick, humorous, effective, competent salesperson you could imagine.  And since this was an inside sales position...

Even that was a beyond a stretch.  You couldn't even support the logic for Ray working from home - away from the other salespeople who could find him offensive because, well, he probably didn't have a home.

So outside of this being a great true story, there are some lessons from it.

  1. It doesn't matter how good the candidate's resume, track record, assessment results and phone interview are.  There is a reason for a face to face interview and that must go well too.
  2. The purpose for a sales recruiting process is to filter candidates out - not the other way around
  3. It doesn't matter how much confidence you have in your interviewing, recruiting, and selection skills.  You will still be wrong about people
  4. Your gut instinct has its place.  Recruiting and selection isn't the place to rely on it.
  5. Your eyes can't be fooled.  Or can they?  What if Ray was just plain ugly instead of repulsive and homeless?  What if he was disabled?  What if he had a disease?
  6. Candidates might not be as good as advertised but rarely will they be better than advertised
  7. There is a reason for sequenced, multiple steps in the process. Never deviate or take short cuts.
  8. Just because the earlier steps in the process did not effectively filter out Ray, you shouldn't assume that the process is flawed because of one miss.  Always practice what works most of the time, not what worked or didn't work once.
  9. Be warned about making compromises.  Would you have hired Ray, a great salesperson, if everything was normal - except for the bottle in the bag (could it have been orange juice?), or except for the hair (just a bad hair day), or except for the shirt (the others were at the cleaners), or except for the size of the clothes (lost a ton of weight and still losing)?
  10. Never hire anyone that smells like he peed on himself.
(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, sales candidates, Sales Recruiting Process, sales assessment test, sales selection, personality test, hire salespeople

Sales Experts Disagree on Right Way to Train Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 15, 2009 @ 05:05 AM

I was involved in a nearly week long, on line discussion with about a half dozen other sales experts in the Top Sales Experts Group at LinkedIn that to date has included about 41 volleys.  The original question, raised by the UK publisher of, asked whether there was a right way or a wrong way to train salespeople.  While there was some agreement on some points, there was much disagreement on many points.

Most of the agreement centered around secondary factors such as multiple sales roles in larger companies and the fact that some of those roles required that only certain steps of the selling process be utilized.  There was agreement around the importance of the right trainer, an adult learning model, alignment of systems, processes, strategies and selection, and the role of sales management.  But, when you look closely, the areas where there was agreement only support or influence the training of salespeople - but they are not the actual training.

The major area of disagreement were over methodology. What a surprise!

One faction supports consultative selling (my Book and popular methodology, Baseline Selling, is aligned with consultative selling), while the other supports a buyer facilitation model (they call it customer-centric) which is based on trust.  Now, I'm all for trust.  You must have trust!  Trust is an essential component of Baseline Selling.  But the buyer-facilitation fanatics (very few compared with supporters of the consultative model) insist that you can't develop trust/credibility when salespeople start asking questions to uncover compelling reasons.   If I had to describe the ineffective selling methods that most of my clients used before I was brought in to help, it would be so closely aligned with the buyer facilitation model that you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference.  And if the buyer facilitation model was so effective, why does the significant change in pipeline and revenue come from the changeover to a more consultative model?

I'm sure we'll hear about it in the comments.

I respect others' opinions on methodology - these people are experts in selling and they believe in what they are doing and saying.  All good. It makes for interesting discussion. It's much like the nutrition community. One expert says low fat, low protein, lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables is the way to healthy eating. Another expert says you are fat because you are eating grains and carbohydrates so you need to eat lots of healthy protein - grass fed red meat and avoid grains and carbs. And others still say a balanced diet of all the basic food groups, yada, yada, yada.

The other major area of disagreement was over sales assessments - an area where I am the established expert. When it comes to sales assessments, I can't believe how misinformed even some of the sales experts are about this subject.  Some believe they aren't accurate, others believe they are illegal, some believe that the choices in assessments are limited to $7 tests, and many have been fooled by the marketing of personality and behavioral styles assessments.  If you are among those who don't know, haven't cared, haven't looked or haven't used the right assessment for your sales force and for sales selection, simply read this series of articles. It isn't that complicated!  While personality and behavioral styles assessments are very much apples to apples, oranges don't have worm holes.  Evaluate your sales force with the orange of the assessment industry, Objective Management Group's sales force evaluation and hire salespeople using their proprietary process and Sales Candidate Assessment and you can't go wrong.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales trainers, sales tests, sales assessments, personality test, personality assessment

Personality Assessments - They Still Don't Get it

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 @ 12:02 PM

On the heels of these three articles:

The following email was recently forwarded to me.  As you read it, look at the descriptors which the client references in the personality assessments.  They're not sales descriptors, so in essence, we have another example of an assessment which claims to be measuring one thing, but actually is measuring another:

"The reports I got from OMG on candidate [name omitted on purpose] are radically different from those I received from CPQ in Bradenton, FL and from (PXT for cognition and Interests; PSI for personality and behavior).  Both CPQ and rate him highly on topics such as Prospecting Skills (industriousness/energy, persistence, enterprising, drive) Closing skills (assertiveness, decisiveness, persistence), Internal vs. External Motivation (manageability, accommodation, independence, self-reliance),Occupational Interests, Selling Style (cognition and sociability) and Team Player (Sociability, Attitude, Accommodation, People Service, and Competitiveness).

OMG rates [his name] poorly on most of these same topics. The bottom line is that two scientifically reliable and valid tools are consistent with our face-to-face experiences in 4-5 interviews with [his name] and/or me. This afternoon [another name] is going to interview with [his name] and [another name]. If those interviews go well I intend to hire young [his name]."

You should have been able to see from that email just how disconnected the descriptors are from sales!  Here was my response:

"Of course they're different!

Prospecting - Personality and Behavioral assessments can't really be predictive on prospecting because they don't actually measure prospecting.  Look at the descriptors below (above in this post) for prospecting.  None of those have any influence on either will they prospect (vs. call reluctance) or will they be effective (skills).

Closing - Personality and Behavioral assessments can't really be predictive on closing because they actually don't measure closing in a sales context.  Look at the descriptors below (above in this post) for closing - assertiveness and decisiveness aren't measured in the context of selling or buying, just in general.  It's quite different from what happens in a buyer-seller context.  It's the same for persistence - theirs is a general finding, not sales-specific. 

Motivation - Personality and Behavioral assessments can't really be accurate on motivation because they don't actually measure motivation in a sales context.  Many people who work for your company are motivated, driven employees, but they may not have any desire to sell.  Motivation for sales must be measured in a sales context. 

Bottom Line - You already fell in love with the candidates and will default to whichever assessment supports your belief.  Our sales-specific assessments are the most accurate predictors of sales success on the planet and they've been scientifically measured and validated too. But we've gone the extra mile and conducted Predictive Validity - how predictive the assessment is of job performance, not just Construct Validity (whether the assessment actually measures what it sets out to measure)."

The nice thing about this email thread is that it allows you to read specific examples of how these assessments fool you into thinking they're relevant.  Do you get it now?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales evaluation, Management Assessment, personality test, personality assessment

Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 28, 2009 @ 09:01 AM

Yesterday, I met with a long-time client who, in his previous company, used OMG's Assessments to identify what needed to change in order to double revenue from $30 million to $60 million.  In his new company, which is already about 12x that size, he wants to double revenue again.  He said, "I just wasted two years with the _____ Assessment."  The assessment to which he referred was a personality assessment marketed as a sales assessment.  It could have referred to any personality or behavioral-styles assessment.

Many people are not going to like this article.  I am about to expose the findings in personality-based and behavioral-based assessments which companies have been marketing as sales assessments for the last dozen years.

First, you'll need to read this piece, Personality Assessments for Sales - The Definitive Case Study.  Really, you need to read it first!

There isn't a tremendous difference between personality assessments and behavioral-styles assessments.  Popular behavioral-styles assessments, like the various versions of DISC, produce findings along four dimensions (categories) while some personality assessments, like those using the PF16 as their underlying instrument, can measure traits in as many as sixteen dimensions.

But Personality Assessments and Behavioral-Styles assessments are not predictive of sales performance.  They don't conduct Predictive Validity studies, as we do, because their assessments don't predict.  Instead, they conduct Construct Validity studies which only show to what extent an assessment measures a specific trait and not the traits about which you want to know, but the traits which they actually can measure.

Here's the problem.  Their marketing material usually says something like, "Salespeople must be able to Prospect, Question, Manage Objections and Close.  They must have Product Knowledge.  They must be accountable, have drive, be self-starters and be coachable."  You read those words and say, "Yes, yes. That is exactly what we need."  And the masquerade goes on.

As I wrote in the other article, personality-based sales assessments don't really measure what you need to know.  Instead, they report on what they can actually measure.  In the table below, I'll list some of the most common "findings" in personality and behavioral-styles tests (which are marketed as sales assessments), describe what is really being measured and compare those to what Objective Management Group (OMG) measures and reports.

 Finding  Measures  OMG Finding What OMG Actually Measures
Drive or achievement General need
to achieve 
Desire  How important it is to achieve success in sales  
Resilience  General ability
to cope with
Sales DNA  The sales specific scenarios that will be problematic and the individual's ability to handle them 
Rejection   How the individual
reacts to
generally not
being accepted or
not having their
ideas accepted
Rejection  Proof  The impact that getting hung up on or getting a 'no' will have when they close have and how long it may take to recover. 
Emotions   emotional
Ability to Control Emotions  the likelihood that when a salesperson is caught off guard or in an uncomfortable situation they will panic and lose control of the sales call 
Sociable  how comfortable
they feel and how
appropriately they
behave in social
Bonding and
How quickly they develop relationships with their Prospects  
Confidence  whether they
are a confident
Supportive Beliefs  The sales specific beliefs that support or sabotage their sales outcomes 
Coachable   whether they
are open to new
Will to Sell  whether they have the incentive to improve their sales competencies 

These are just some of the most common findings.  Since OMG's Assessments are so sales-specific, there are literally dozens of findings covering everything which can possibly happen in sales including, but not limited, to prospecting, closing, qualifying, account management, farming, use of the sales process, ability to handle stalls, put-offs, objections, working remotely, growth potential, development needs and more.  What's most important to understand about assessments is that:


  • The personality tests' questions are asked in the context of social settings, not sales settings, so none of the findings are sales-specific.
  • Because personality assessments' findings are not sales-specific, they are not predictive.
  • Personality assessments are generally one-size-fits-all, without regard to your market, its challenges, your competition, your pricing, the resistance your salespeople will face, your compensation plan and how specific selling strengths and weaknesses will impact those conditions.
  • Assessments of your existing salespeople should be useful for development.  If you don't have sales-specific findings, you're only developing them as people, not salespeople.
  • How is OMG different?  Assessments are only a minor part of an effective sales force evaluation.  The most important part is to be able to learn:
    • What impact sales management is having on the salespeople,
    • Whether you've been hiring the right people,
    • Whether your sales force can execute your strategies,
    • Whether your systems and processes support the sales force,
    • How effective is your sales management,
    • If you can develop more of a sales culture,
    • Whether the salespeople can make a transition such as account manager types to hunters and closers; presenters and quoters to consultative sales types; transactional sale to a solution sale, etc.,
    • Who can be developed?,
    • If you're attempting to down-size or right-sales the sales force, who are the individuals with the abilities to help you do more with less?,
    • How much better can they get?,
    • What it will take?,
    • What would be the ROI on development,
    • Why you get the specific results you get,
    • What's the quality of your pipeline?,
    • Etc.
  • When used for Hiring and Selection, an assessment must be an accurate predictor of sales success for a particular sales role in your particular company, calling on your particular market, with its particular challenges and competition.  A personality assessment won't consistently identify the people who will succeed, but OMG's Assessment will, with its 95% Predictive Validity.  We can differentiate between Hirable (they meet our criteria and yours), Hirable - Ideal (they're hirable and will ramp up more quickly than normal), and Hirable - Perfect (they're hirable, ideal and meet additional customized criteria which match up with your most effective producers).

in summary, whether you're using a personality assessment, behavioral-styles assessment, psychological assessment, or psychometric (describes all of the above) assessment, it's the marketing that's sales-specific, not the findings.  Use them at your own risk.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan 

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Sales Candidate, sales evaluation, caliper, sales profile, 16PF, Trimetric, MySalesAssessment,, SalesAssessmentTesting,,, personality test, personality assessment, DISC

Personality Assessments for Sales - The Definitive Case Study

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 14, 2009 @ 10:01 AM

Nearly two years ago, we began development of an exciting new way to evaluate Executive Management Teams.  We brainstormed, conducted surveys, performed research and identified 16 qualities which CEO's wanted their Executive Managers to possess, along with 9 Styles crucial to a Management Team's ability to grow their companies.  These Qualities and Styles are not presented in any other assessment on the market today.

Over a period of eighteen months, a team of PHD's, whose primary expertise is in testing, worked with us to map the formulas, measures and research of a very well-researched, personality instrument (the basis for many familiar personality tests) to our new Management Assessment.  When we were ready to have a small test group take the assessment, the results of round one were not impressive.  The scores were very inconsistent with the findings which we wanted to present.  I was extremely disappointed with our progress.

The project was escalated to two PHD's with even more expertise.  After six more months of understanding the findings which we wanted to provide and the formulas which they had in their "vault", the second round of testing yielded results which were no closer than in the first round.  We were failing to get accurate results, running out of patience and running out of time.

I've had many occasions to speak and write about how personality tests, behavioral-styles tests and psychometric tests (which are all very similar) differ from Objective Management Group's Sales Force Evaluations and Assessments.  As a matter of fact, you can read four such articles right here:

I always have said that personality tests, although they contain several elements which are important for sales, weren't built to predict sales success and, even when modified, can't go wide enough or deep enough to predict likely challenges or diagnose why salespeople get the results they get.  As a result, they cannot be used as development tools and they're very risky and inconsistent as hiring tools.

So, how did we come to go down this path where we were going to use a personality assessment as the instrument behind our new Management Assessment?  After all, weren't we being hypocritical?

We were convinced by a PHD/testing expert that the research existed to map to our findings.

Well, the research does exist, except their findings aren't the same as what we wanted to provide.  As with a sales assessment, they're identifying findings which they can measure (like emotional steadiness) and saying that they can provide a score for that.  Well, they can, except like nearly all findings from personality tests, the findings were out of context.  The questions have nothing to do with selling or managing, and someone, who might control their emotions quite well socially, might not be equally effective in a sales or business setting.  This example holds true over nearly every finding and the questions which they target to drive those findings.  And so, the findings which show up in most personality assessments are not necessarily what you need to know.  They are simply what these assessments are capable of measuring!

So back to the story.

We realized that we had gotten away from one of our core competencies - our ability to identify the right questions to uncover the data which would provide accurate, predictive, job-specific findings.  So, we wrote the questions, resumed the beta and went about the engineering required to complete the development of this very powerful, very different assessment.  As I reviewed the descriptors (the specific traits which we would "measure" to reveal our findings), I realized that over the last several months, the PHD's at the personality testing company had gradually and subtly modified the descriptors enough so that we too would report what they were capable of measuring, rather than what we wanted to measure.

Believe it or not, our in-house team was able to accomplish in about one week of intensive work, what the team of PHD's couldn't complete in the last year and a half!  Test answers in our third round appeared to be coming in exactly where they should have been and all questions were accurately driving the desired findings.  Exciting stuff!

So now, when I explain why a personality assessment (which wasn't built for sales), isn't predictive or sales-specific enough (even when modified for sales), I can now say that we have an eighteen-month research project which details, demonstrates and proves, once and for all, that a personality assessment doesn't measure much more than the various dimensions of personality or predict much more than some basic human behaviors.  They just don't measure the concrete, job-specific skills, competencies, capabilities and behaviors which we really need to understand about a salesperson's, sales manager's or Executive Manager's abilities.

Final Word - stay tuned for the March launch of what will be the most useful assessment to date for your Executive Management Team.  I think you'll love it as much as I do.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales evaluation, Management Assessment, personality test, personality assessment

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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 medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine 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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