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Does your new sales hire seem like a completely different person than the one you interviewed? Many companies use psychometric assessments when evaluating candidates for their sales team to avoid exactly this situation. These pre-employment tests, or sales assessments, provide them with measurable insights about candidates that can’t otherwise be uncovered through your-run-of-the-mill sales interview and resumes.

Psychometric assessments allow employers to set benchmarks for general behavioural traits such as assertiveness, attitude, and objective judgment, as well as for critical sales behaviours such as prospecting, building relationships, and closing that are critical to their hiring decision. Comparing a candidate’s profile to that of the identified benchmark allows for consistency and objectivity in the hiring process, eventually providing a roadmap to developing a team’s strengths and identifying opportunities for improvement. However, are there potential pitfalls when implementing sales assessments as well? Let’s investigate.

Why Should You Use Sales Assessments?

Finding the right people for the right positions is critical. Research shows that approximately 51% of employed workers are either actively seeking or open to a new job, as a result of any number of problems including a poor match with the position or culture, unrealistic demands, or differences with managers. A recent report showed that 36% executives surveyed felt the top factor leading to a failed hire is a poor skills match, followed by unclear performance objectives. In total, the average cost of a bad hiring decision can vary from 25% - 200% of annual compensation, making pre-screening a vital part of the hiring process.

1. Workplace Culture
Combining certain personality types on a sales team may hinder your productivity.  Managers can use assessments to determine if character differences in your potential hire and your existing team will cause conflict. Assessments can help managers hire the best fit for the group and the position.

2. The Extended Resume
Resumes are inherently biased – the candidate can choose to report what they want an employer to know, and omit or embellish the rest. Sales assessments go beyond what is presented on the resume, looking a key qualities of the candidate that may impact their job performance.

3. The Interview Guide
An interview can only tell you so much, if you’re asking the exact same questions to every candidate. Instead, you can use the results of a psychometric assessment to customize the questions that you ask during an interview to dig deeper on potential areas of concern. CPSA’s Profile Sales Assessment provides the employer with an interview guide that will maximize the information you’re able to reap from the interview.
 
4. Skill-Matching
Think of your sales reps like a sports team. Would you want a football team made up of solely quarterbacks? The same idea goes for when you are building a winning sales team. When hiring, assess your needs and identify the gaps in your team, so that you can hire the individual with the strengths you are currently lacking. If you continue to hire the same type of employee, you will end up with a team of quarterbacks, rather than a team stocked with all the players for each of the key positions.

5. Examine Your Team
Look at your most successful sales rep. What character traits or attributes make them an effective seller? By evaluating and understanding what makes your top performers shine, you’ll be able to duplicate your success with other candidates. Use the results of previous top performers to create a benchmark of where future applicants should fit.

The Drawbacks of Sales Assessments

While employee assessments can be beneficial during the hiring process, as we have identified above, they do come with their own set of negatives to consider, especially if they are not used properly.

The results of an employee assessment test, depending on its variety, typically focus on the needs of the company, while omitting those of the individual candidate, which may lead to dissatisfaction on the part of the hired candidate. Sales assessment tests are only as good as the person interpreting the results. Many assessments require the eye of a skilled professional to ensure they are read appropriately and used to their fullest potential. Often, assessments are used as the main factor behind a hiring decision, when instead they should not contribute to more than 20% of the hiring decision.

In addition, many assessment tests base their questions off the candidate’s view of him or herself, both personally and in the role they are interviewing for. If the candidate is not self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses, the results can return skewed. Be sure to use an assessment that has a distortion score, so you can measure consistency and biases in responses.

Are They Worth The Investment?

After weighing the positives and negatives of sales assessments during the hiring process, psychometric assessments have been proven to reduce turnover and increase the quality of hires.  Research shows that in a one year period approximately 1 in 8 new hires will leave the job due to poor match with the position or culture, unrealistic demands, or differences with managers, while the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal up to 30% of the first year’s potential earnings. With such a diverse pool of applicants, it is important that sales managers have the ability to break down the candidate’s characteristics, so that they can build a top-performing sales team comprised of reps with a variety of strengths. With tools like sales assessments, organizations can select the right candidate for their team, increase productivity, and distinguish who has a true aptitude for the role. Overall, assessments provide an objective context within which to make educated hiring decisions

Click here to read the CPSA’s Sales Debate #1 – Can You Build Relationships Via Email?
Click here to read the CPSA’s Sales Debate #2 – Do Email Attachments Engage Prospects?

About the Canadian Professional Sales Association
Since 1874, we’ve been developing and serving sales professionals by providing programs, benefits, and resources that help you sell more, and sell smarter.
Contact us today at MemberServices@cpsa.com or 1-888-267-2772 to see how we can help you and your team reach new heights in sales success.

Copyright ©2015 by The Canadian Professional Sales Association
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