To Hire Top Salespeople Use Pre-hire Assessment Tests

Don’t Rely on Gut Instinct in Hiring New Salespeople

Top performing salespeople win the raceAll companies know strong sales require a great sales team. Yet most companies still wing it when it comes to selecting sales staff. Many rely on the gut-intuition of sales managers to select candidates. When folks base important decisions on just their gut, they often get crappy results.  In sales staff selection, this means companies wind up hiring under-performing salespeople who flame out quickly. To hire top salespeople, you need the right system.

It’s a brutally competitive environment for most companies. If your company is better than your competitors, in selecting sales staff, you can smash your competition.

Why Companies Don’t Do Better In Salesperson Selection

HR Daily Advisor reports that hiring the wrong salesperson in a high tech company can cost the company $2 million+ per year. The cost is in wasted training, salary benefits and lost sales.  You not only lose money, if the person is really bad, you may damage your reputation with potential customers for years to come.

If folks know it’s important to hire right and expensive to hire wrong, why don’t they do a better job? Well, hiring the right way is hard and most folks don’t even know how to do it right.

The Right Way to Hire Top Salespeople

First: Determine How Success Is Defined In Your Environment

Before you can predict performance, you must define it.  You must understand what it takes your salespeople to be successful in your sales environment.

Best practices for defining success include conducting a job analysis where you look at your top and bottom performers. Staff-selection experts commonly refer to this as a “benchmark.” With a job analysis, you identify the most important factors of your sales job.

For example, you conduct a job analysis and determine that high sales performers are high in persistence and low sales performers are low in persistence. In this case, an assessment test that measures persistence is a good choice for your business.

If you need help with sales job analysis, please contact us. We have strong expertise in this area.

Second: Select the Sales Test(s) That Measures Traits Important to Your Success

After identifying characteristics of high and low performers, you should seek out sales tests measuring those characteristics. Ultimately, you want to use pre-hiring test(s) that help you find people matching the characteristics of your top performers.

Make sure you use tests specifically designed to predict performance in sales.  Avoid using tests solely designed to measure employee performance or for other employee development purposes.

For example, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a widely used personality test. The developers of MBTI state that they did not design this tool to use in hiring or to predict employee performance.

To get a full sense of sales candidates, you will need to use multiple methods to assess their skills and motivation.  We recommend using pre-hire tests to assess:

(1) General personal and/or motivational characteristics

(2) Sales specific skills and abilities

When you select your test(s), make sure the tests provide:

  • “Predictive Validation” (accurately predict success) and
  • “Predictive Reliability” (produces stable and consistent results).

For a deeper explanation on validity, reliability and the legal issues related to testing, request a copy of our upcoming comprehensive white paper, The Key Mistakes Companies Make in Using Assessment Tests to Hire Salespeople.

Our white paper will also provide an evaluation of the top sales assessment tests on the market today.

Third: Use a Pre-Hire Test(s) on All Applicants Before You Interview Them

Test all applicants and only interview those applicants that test well for the characteristics you need for success. Individuals are notoriously bad in making personnel decisions based on interviews. Test applicants to determine whom to interview. This way you minimize personal bias and maximize the likelihood that you hire top salespeople.

You might ask, “isn’t this expensive and time-consuming?”

Pre-interview testing isn’t expensive, especially when you look at the thousands you spend on a bad hire vs. a few dollars on an assessment. Furthermore, a few testing platforms base their fees on job openings and not the number of applicants you test. A couple of test providers we recommend charge clients a single fee to test all applicants for the open job

To see an overview of tests and review our recommendations, request a copy of our upcoming white paper: The Key Mistakes Companies Make in Using Assessment Tests to Hire Salespeople.

Pre-hire testing will reduce the time needed for the hiring process because you only talk to the candidates that can perform well.

Next Steps in Hiring Top Performing Salespeople

After your applicants take pre-hire tests, you would conduct a phone interview and as the last step conduct a structured in-person interview.  We’ll discuss the interview process in a later post

For more information on pre-hire testing, request our white paper or contact us with any questions.

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