Personality Tests, Sales Candidate Selection - How Tests Measure Up

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 @ 08:06 AM

sales assessmentA recent article in Columbus Business First discussed background checks and use of personality tests.  The most important line in the article read, "Personality often is the best insight into whether a person is a good cultural fit for a specific company."

Notice that they didn't say that personality is the best insight into whether a person will succeed in sales.  That's because it isn't.  Never was.  Never will be.

Despite that, article after article points to the advantage of personality tests as a sales pre-employment tool.  And most personality assessments now claim to be able to help you eliminate sales hiring mistakes too.  The reality though is that almost every available "sales assessment" is a marketing-modified version of a personality assessment.  By marketing-modified, I mean that the actual findings are the exact same findings you will see on their standard personality test, but the names or labels of the findings have been modified to sound as if they are sales findings.  As with costumes, you only need to take off the mask and you'll see what's underneath.  No exceptions.  No apologies.

Personality tests aren't predictive either.  Oh, they say that they are?  Then why is their validation of choice "construct validity" rather than "predictive validity"?

There is only one original, sales-specific assessment that collects, measures, and provides true sales findings and its predictive validity is incomparable.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has been perfecting sales selection for 23 years and you can't beat these two statistics:

  • 75% of Candidates, who are not recommended but get hired anyway, fail within 6 months.
  • 92% of Candidates, who are recommended and hired, rise to the top half of their sales forces within 12 months.

Are you using the right assessment?

The right assessment is only part of the solution to developing consistency with your sales hiring and selection.  You also need a best-practices, sales recruiting process.  You can see how your existing process rates by using our free tool, the Sales Recruiting Process Grader.

And of course, sales management plays a part in your hiring process too.  They're responsible for on-boarding, messaging, coaching, accountability, direction, guidance and support.  If they don't perform any one or more of those functions effectively, even a strong salesperson can fail.

Finally, no process is stronger than its weakest link.  In the sales recruiting process, that weakness could be your job posting.  Most companies get that part completely wrong, attracting the wrong salespeople into the candidate pool and if you don't have the right candidates in the pool, the process, assessment and sales management become non-factors.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, omg, Personality Tests, sales aptitude tests, sales tests, sales assessment tests, sales assessments

The Latest Fiction for the Sales Force - No More Hunters and Farmers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 @ 10:09 AM

Today I received an email from Selling Power promoting their latest webinar, The Hunter/Farmer Paradigm is Dead

In 2007 we had to deal with writers proclaiming that sales and the sales force were dead.  The reality of all of that talk was that the people writing about it weren't close enough to sales to know what they were talking about.  Companies with transactional sales don't need salespeople selling their transactional items, but they do need salespeople persuading companies to choose them in the first place.  Then the transactions can be placed via Internet or an inside sales group. That's about the only scenario where the "dead" proclamation even comes close to being accurate.  

Companies selling complex products, design engineered, custom, capital intensive, and higher priced than competition absolutely need salespeople to find opportunities, develop the need, provide value, qualify the opportunity, present the right solution and close the business.  Companies that are underdogs, those that sell professional services, and those with a story to tell absolutely need salespeople.

And today we have more attention grabbing headlines.  While it is Selling Power that is hosting this promotional webinar, it's actually a sales training company that is conducting it.  They go on to say that, "today's economy demands that you leverage all of your available sales talent by helping your sales reps both farm and hunt productively."

That's fine in theory.  It's optimal.  But the reality is that Objective Management Group has statistics from evaluating 450,000 salespeople and it's just not possible.  Here are the facts:

You want all of your salespeople to find new business but 24% of them will never be able to do that.  All of the training that they can provide won't change those people.  They'll have new words and will learn new skills but they still won't actually do it.

You want all of your salespeople to farm but some of them will never be able to do that either.  22% of them can't be trained.  And 45% of them will not close.  Again, they can train them until they're blue in the face but aside from the new words they'll learn, nothing will change for that group of salespeople.

So in a perfect world, where we can be anything we want to be, athletes aren't wired to be scientists, artists aren't wired to be software programmers, and ballet dancers aren't wired to be weight lifters.  Some salespeople aren't wired to prospect - they should be account managers - and some people aren't wired to close - they should be account managers too!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, closing, prospecting, Action Selling, Personality Tests, sales evaluations, sales tests, sales assessments, objective management group, selling power

Sales Prospecting on Steroids

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 @ 06:09 AM

With all of the articles written about sales and cold calls being dead (I usually write the counter arguments to that.  How would you find new business if the only thing you could rely on was a lead?) it was a breath of fresh air when Michael Strickland, my guest on this week's edition of Meet the Sales Experts, spoke about prospecting on steroids.  His five tips for sales success in today's economy are:

  1. Review your prospecting strategy - prospecting on steroids - redouble everyone's efforts
  2. Have a signature communication - own a channel - communicate your value proposition
  3. Leverage technology - CRM - to identify and manage opportunities
  4. Have a web presence - make sure people can find you by Googling you
  5. Identify all of the weaknesses in the sales organization - fix them.

Michael, the former banker, turned banking consultant, turned sales consultant, turned Vistage chair also spoke about how executive teams and sales teams spend 97% of their time planning and only 3% of their time doing.  He strongly suggested reversing those percentages.

"Action conquers fear.  Make a strategic decision to grow."  That was his comment when asked about the fear that has paralyzed so many businesses, causing them to wait and see what happens, rather than do something about their slumping sales force and revenue. 

Listen to the showContact Michael Strickland.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, grow sales, sales management, prospecting, cold calling, fear of failure, sales evaluations, steroids, sales tests, michael strickland, identify weaknesses, sales assessments

180 and 360 Degree Assessments on the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 03, 2009 @ 22:06 PM

There are not a lot of companies that undertake 180 degree or 360 degree assessments of the sales force and that's a good thing because there are so many limitations.

The 180 - The salesperson or sales manager does a self-rating on the predetermined competencies and attributes and the individual's boss conducts the same ratings.

The 360 - The sales manager does a self-rating on the predetermined competencies and attributes and both the sales manager's boss and the salespeople that report to the sales manager conduct the same ratings.

So the 180 and the 360 are nearly the same except for the number of people and the vertical depth.

What are the limitations?

  • The assessment is only as strong as the competencies and attributes that have been identified.  Most of these assessments miss more competencies than they include;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to completely understand each competency and attribute;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to know the difference between good and bad in each competency and attribute;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to observe the individual's use of these competencies and attributes in the field;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to honestly score the individual;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's use of the entire range of potential scores.  In other words, if the assessment uses a 1-5 scale, and the scorer uses the entire range of 1-5, there is reason to believe the scores are useful.  On the other hand, if the scorer uses only 4's as the lowest score and 5's as the highest score, it yields little, if any, usefulness.

So even the most thoughtful and comprehensive 180's and 360's are very subjective and have major limitations.  At best, they identify very strong and very weak performers.  At worst, they are a waste of time.

My question is, why would a company bother to go through this time consuming, inaccurate process when there is a very accurate, very predictive, sales specific, time-tested, proven, validated sales force evaluation that can be implemented, analyzed and reviewed, quickly and easily for far less money?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, Sales Force, Personality Tests, sales evaluations, sales tests, sales assessments

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

Topgrading Pros, Cons and Sales Assessments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Feb 22, 2009 @ 23:02 PM

Somehow, I got thrown into the middle of an internet disagreement between Brad Smart, author of Topgrading, and Bob Corlett, a blogger who calls himself The Staffing Adviser.

The best way to follow this interesting blogersation on two separate websites is on Jonathan Davis' blog, An Insider's Guide to Recruiting on the American Workforce web site.

I think very highly of Topgrading.  The Proprietary Recruiting Process (STAR) that we help companies build and develop for hiring top salespeople is very compatible with Topgrading.  One of the differences in our two approaches is that Brad didn't suggest incorporating assessments, including our world-class highly predictive sales assessments, into the Topgrading process.  So naturally, our process includes the assessment.

Verne Harnish, Founder and CEO of Gazelles, is a big Topgrading fan.  He's also a big fan of OMG's Assessments, so much so that we've partnered with Gazelles International and developed a Gazelles version of our Sales Force Evaluation.  In this version, all of our insights are delivered in the jargon of Rockefeller Habits.  I love this version!

So when it comes to recruiting salespeople, what can we learn from all of the back and forth and pros and cons and structure versus gut and discipline versus experience?

I can tell you this.  If you hire the right salespeople in the first place, you'll save time, money, aggravation, and reverse flat or declining revenue.  If you hire the right salespeople you'll motivate the rest of your team. If you hire the right salespeople you'll raise the bar.  If you hire the right salespeople you'll grow revenue.  And to hire the right salespeople you need an effective process,  a predictive sales specific assessment, sales managers that have been trained to interview salespeople, and an effective, comprehensive, 90 Day On Boarding Process.  Without them, you're back to hoping for the best and as we know by now, hope is not a strategy.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, topgrading, sales tests, sales assessments, Sales Advice, 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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