Is 28 Years Long Enough for a Sales Assessment Trial ?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 19, 2022 @ 07:09 AM

long-time

The Sony PlayStation, Gorilla Glue, Aquafina, and The George Forman Grill were all introduced in 1994.  You've heard of those but have you heard of Vamp Nail Polish or KoronaPay?  They were also introduced in 1994.

Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessment was also introduced in 1994 and while 35,000 or so companies are raving fans, that represents less than 1% of the potential B2B market.  As successful as OMG is, and as legendary as our sales candidate assessment is, the reality is that relative to the potential size of the market, hardly anyone uses it.

Isn't 28 years long enough for us to prove ourselves?  

Clearly OMG is not for everyone. Companies that sell at the lowest price, companies that are the brand leaders, and companies that have a transactional sale don't need to hire good salespeople because their salespeople are order-takers.  But what about everyone else?

After consistently proving its legendary predictive accuracy making it a no-brainer to use OMG, there are five possible reasons why companies didn't use OMG  to assess their sales candidates over the past 28 years:

  1. They perceive OMG to be an inferior assessment.  I have never heard anyone say that and none of our partners have ever heard anyone say that but maybe some people feel this way and keep their thoughts to themselves.  In this day and age?  Are you kidding me?

    Based on all of the awards OMG has earned, its raving fans, and strong renewal rate, I don't believe this is ever the reason.

  2. Sales Leaders and sometimes even HR Directors, believe their gut instinct, experience, skills and expertise can out-perform OMG.  While the science disproves this, it is a common reason as to why companies don't use OMG to hire salespeople.  Even worse, some Sales Leaders feel that if they have to rely on a tool to hire salespeople it will make them appear weak.  It's an ego problem. 

    One Sales Leader had turned over 50% of his sales team and the other 50% were underperforming.  He had failed to hit forecast for 4 consecutive quarters but instead of blaming it on sales selection and/or training and coaching, he was blaming the company's pricing model and didn't believe salespeople could succeed with the current pricing.  While the right salespeople would perform fine with their pricing model, he didn't know how to identify the right salespeople and wasn't willing to spend money on an assessment that would effectively do that.

  3. "Legal" doesn't allow for the use of assessments.  Legal as a reason (LaaR) only occurs in large companies, and because the market is flooded with personality assessments that are not role specific or predictive.  Disgruntled candidates, who are not selected, could potentially blame their failure to land a job on a personality assessment, leaving companies potentially vulnerable to a law suit.  On the other hand, a role-specific assessment, like OMG, creates no such liability for a company so this line of thinking is very difficult to understand.  It's worth noting that Legal doesn't even get involved until either the CEO, HR Director and/or Sales Leader decides to utilize OMG. 

    One company was having trouble hiring 300 salespeople.  They had already hired 500 salespeople but 350 had quickly turned over and only 150 were actually selling for them.  They had a huge problem getting sales selection right so they gave OMG the verbal go-ahead but Legal put the kibosh on it.  The ill-conceived fear of a law suit outweighed the fact that their revenue generating car had its gears in reverse.  I think the weak CEO should have been fired for allowing legal to override his decision-making.

  4. HR is married to another assessment and feels it would be too difficult to learn a new assessment.  As Dave Mantel pointed out, HR is measured on their cost per hire and time to hire; not on sales performance. Unfortunately, these HR professionals believe selecting the most accurate and predictive sales assessment is not as important as their level of comfort, even if it will make their job easier.

    Why use a personality assessment to determine if they have the sales capabilities required to succeed in a particular sales role at the company?  As Aaron Prickel of Lushin & Associates put it, "You wouldn't give your son a pregnancy test to determine if he's using drugs!"   

  5. A Sales Candidate Assessment is not in the budget.  So?

    One company was paying their two worst salespeople a $60,000 base salary and those two salespeople were at 50% of quota.  In addition to the $120,000 the company was throwing out the window on two losers, they were failing to generate $1 million in revenue!  They needed to hire salespeople this year and only had to spend $7,500 with OMG to hire 6 ideal salespeople.  Somehow, they didn't have $7,500 to spend, but were OK throwing $120,000 out the window and accepting a $1 million short-fall.  Math does not seem to be a strong suit at this company.

Circling back to how the article began, isn't 28 years of helping companies improve their sales selection effectiveness a long enough trial to prove to the masses that OMG is a game changer for sales?  Consider these statistics:

Do you see it?  44% more salespeople achieve quota at companies that use OMG compared to companies that use another assessment, and 80% better than companies that don't use an assessment.  And sales attrition is 75% lower at companies that use OMG compared with companies that use another assessment and 237% lower than companies that don't use an assessment.  So much for gut instinct, experience, expertise and skills.

And this?  When a company hires a sales candidate that OMG doesn't recommend, 75% of those salespeople fail within 90 days.  When a company hires a sales candidate that OMG does recommend, 92% of those salespeople rise to the top half of their sales teams within 12 months.  So much for legal, ego, budgets, and comfort level.

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies, each with an average of 8 attributes, and OMG measures every single one of them.  Depending on the role, some attributes and competencies are more important than others.

Put science to work and rely on it to hire your next group of salespeople.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, sales hiring test, sales assessments, OMG Assessment

The Science of Sales Selection vs. the Marketing of Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 07:08 AM

Today I received this email from an OMG (Objective Management Group) Partner after he asked me to run an analysis on a company's top and bottom performers.

He wrote, "After all these years, this is still amazing to me. Thanks Dave, my conversation is Monday and we are getting next steps in place.  Appreciate the help."

So why is that such a big deal?

This is someone who has been an OMG Partner for nearly two decades, is one of OMG's most successful partners, and knows our accuracy and sales-specific findings inside and out.  And he was still surprised at just how accurate the analysis was.  Check out the detailed and revealing graphic below!

 

I started with more than 100 sales-specific findings and narrowed them down to the 18 findings and scores that clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms.  A mistake made by behavioral scientists and sellers of personality and behavioral styles assessments is that they only look at top performers and identify common traits.   They fail to realize that the bottom performers have the same personality traits and behavioral styles as the top performers and none of those traits or styles are predictive of sales performance.

In this company, the bottom performers scored just as well as the top performers on some sales-specific findings.  To accurately identify salespeople that are totally perfect for a role, we must understand the differences between both groups, not the commonalities within one group.

The salespeople in the top 7 rows are their top performers and the salespeople in the bottom 9 rows are their bottom performers.  After I identified the findings, scores and cutoffs that we would use, I color-coded them so that you could clearly see the differences - a sea of green on top and a sea of red on the bottom.

Next, in the last column on the right, I calculated the percentage criteria that each salesperson met and set the cutoff to 67%.  

Using these criteria, we would have recommended 6 of their 7 top performers and only 1 of their 9 bottom performers.  We would have been correct on 14 out of 16, or 88% which comes within a few percentage points of our usual predictive accuracy of 92%.

This is scientific sales selection.  It's a necessary part of an overall scientific approach to sales and the sales force.

What drives me crazy are the marketing people who are writing about sales despite their complete lack of understanding about B2B sales.  They spin their messages to get business executives to think that the only thing that matters today is social selling, email, inbound marketing, and content. They hope that if they make inbound marketing sound easy enough by providing their tools and applications then businesses will buy their services and hire them.  For instance, today I read that we no longer need sales process (untrue), a consultative approach to selling is dead (untrue), and all sales forces need to be completely restructured (generally untrue).  That's just today!  And in the past 2 months, I have read that salespeople are now obsolete (untrue), prospects have completed 57% of their buying process before they meet with salespeople (the number is inaccurate) and people are no longer buying value (untrue).

There is no science backing up these claims, just a group of inbound marketers and an inside sales industry trying to convince you that sales today is is only about inbound and inside.  It is true that low-price, low-cost, high-demand commodities that everyone wants - think B2C and subscriptions - are being sold almost exclusively via online marketing. But even some of those companies, like Hubspot, the King of Inbound, have large inside sales forces following a structured sales process and taking a consultative approach.

I've said this before, but it should be repeated.  If you are not the price leader, market leader, or brand leader;  if you have a new product, new technology, or a story to tell; if you have a long sales cycle, provide custom products, or have a design cycle; or if you are the underdog; you need salespeople, you need a custom, formal, structured, milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process, a consultative approach and skills that salespeople who came 10 years before you didn't have.  It's a fact.  And you can't let Inbound Marketers, Social Sellers or Inside Sales gurus tell you otherwise.  Don't get me wrong.  There is a place for inbound, social selling and inside sales in all of these companies.  They are complimentary pieces, not replacements.  After all, you wouldn't replace a Quarterback with a Kicker - the Kicker is an important complimentary piece to a football team.  

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales candidates, inside sales, inbound, sales hiring test, social selling, objective management group

All-Time Top Kurlan Sales Article

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 10:12 AM

sales force evaluation,sales test,dave kurlan,sales candidate assessments,OMG,sales assessements,sales hiring test,sales hiring assessment,objective managementAs promised for today, I'm revealing the single article, from among my former 999 blog articles which my readers voted "best", to be my 1,000th post.  It's not my personal favorite, it's not the most well-written, it's not the most viewed, it's not the most entertaining, it's not the most insightful or the most linked to.  But from among the 15 for which you could vote, this was your choice:

Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments

(originally posted on January 28, 2009) 

Yesterday, I met with a longtime 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 twelve times 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.  He could have referred to any personality or behavioral styles assessment.

Many people are not going to like this article.  I'm about to expose the findings in personality-based and behavioral-based assessments which assessment 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 engine or 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 necessarily the traits which you want to know about, but the traits which they can actually measure.

So 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 is 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 that 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
adversity
Bravery 
The sales-specific scenarios which will be problematic and the individual's ability to handle them
Rejection  
How the individual
reacts to
not being accepted or
not having their
ideas accepted 
Difficulty Recovering from Rejection  
The impact that "getting hung up on" or "getting a no" will have when they close and how long it may take to recover
Emotions  
Emotional
steadiness 
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
situations  
Bonding and
Rapport   
How quickly they develop relationships with their prospects
Confidence 
Whether they
are a confident
person  
Record 
Collection 
The sales-specific beliefs which support or sabotage their sales outcomes 
Coachable  
Whether they
are open to new
ideas 
Trainable 
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 and work remotely, growth potential, development needs and more.  What's most important to understand about assessments is that: 

  • The questions in the personality tests are asked in the context of social settings, not sales settings, so none of the findings are sales-specific.
  • Because the findings in personality assessments are not sales-specific, they're not predictive.
  • Personality assessments are generally one-size-fits-all, without regard to your market, its challenges, your competition, your pricing, the resistance which 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.
    • Whether sales management is effective.
    • 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 downsize or rightsize the sales force, which individuals actually have the ability 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 do you get the specific results which you get?
    • What is 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, while OMG's assessment, with its 95% Predictive Validity, will.  We can differentiate between Recommended (they meet our criteria and yours); Recommended - Ideal (they are recomended and they will ramp up more quickly than normal); and Recommended - Perfect (they are recommended ideal and they 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.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, omg, objective management, sales assessements, sales hiring test, sales hiring assessment, sales candidate assessments, sales test

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