Why You Really Need a Sales Assessment Right Now

What is a Sales Assessment?

A sales assessment is test or questionnaire that a sales candidate completes as a part of a job application process. Employers use the sales assessment results to determine how well a sales candidate’s selling capacities align with the specific requirements of a unique sales job.

Sales assessments are also use for analyzing incumbents to ascertain any performance problems, opportunities for development, or as a resource for promotion. In addition, a sales assessment can also be used to benchmark successful sales reps to create a template for hiring other top performers.

A personality test is not a sales assessment. In order to truly determine the viability of a sales candidate, you need an in-depth evaluation of your candidate’s talent. Let’s explore what a real sales assessment is and why you desperately need one.

For example, if you need a sales rep to fill a hunter sales job, then the sales assessment should tell you their level of fit or alignment with that job. The closer the fit or better the alignment between the candidates’ markers on their sales assessment and the requirements of the sales job, the higher the probability that they will be successful.

Many organizations use a personality test as their sales assessment. This is insufficient to determine a candidate’s true ability to sell. It can reveal their personality style – how they sell. It reveals their level of introversion or extroversion – the level of energy they possess to do the job and interact with others. Personality tests are a great tool, but they simply do not provide you with enough information to make a well-informed hiring decision. You need more data. It’s like trying to complete a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle… with only 200 pieces. You won’t get a clear picture. You need more information. Before we look at that information, let’s dispel a common myth.

Why Sales Skill Assessments Don’t Work

A sales skills test measures a sales reps understanding of the basic sales process. This includes but is not limited to prospecting, qualifying the buyer, uncovering the buyer’s needs, making a presentation, handling objections, presenting price, and closing the sale. The myth is that a selling skills test is critical to assessing a sales candidate. It’s not. The reason is that it’s not really a selling skills test. It’s a sales knowledge test. And just because a candidate knows the answers to a sales skills test (they know what to do in a sales process), does not mean they can or will sell in a real selling situation. Don’t believe me? Go train the bookkeepers in your accounting office how to sell. Even if every one of them received a perfect score on the selling skills test, I guarantee you they would not make good hunters. Why? They’re not wired for selling – even though you trained them on the knowledge to sell. Again, you must measure more. So, let’s examine the additional pieces of information that you need.

Your Sales Assessment Needs to Measure Motivation

Motivation refers to the drivers of a person’s desires. An artist is driven by aesthetics. A college professor by knowledge. A manager by authority. A non-profit activist by altruism. You get the picture. Therefore, you need to measure the motivations of your sales candidates to determine if they desire what your job rewards. If they do, you’re a step closer to selecting a great sales rep. The less they desire your rewards, they less motivated they will be to function at a high level in that job. People need to do what they love to get the most out of them.

Many sales rep jobs offer some form of commission in addition to the salary. Others do not. They simply offer a commission on what the rep sells without a salary – straight commission. Therefore, a sales rep’s motivation for making money over and above a salary is critical if that’s the way you’ve structure your compensation plan.

Let’s say you offer a salary plus commission. If the sales rep achieves their sales goal, and they end the year with 90% salary and 10% commission, then their motivation for making money is not much higher than average person in a non-sales role. They only stretch for 10% of their total income. The other 90% is a guaranteed salary. But if, at the end of the year, their salary equals 30% of their total income and 70% is commission, then they need to be highly motivated by making money to possibly succeed. If not, they can become self-satisfied with much lower sales, because they are already receiving a salary.

There are a number of motivations to consider when hiring a sales rep based upon your job’s reward structure such as: the level of autonomy the sales rep has in decision making; if they must nurture accounts post sale or if they turn the new account over to an account manager; transactional sales versus consultative sale; and the type of industry you’re in and the types of industries they will sell in to.

Bottom line, you need to discover what motivates your sales candidate with a motivation-based sales assessment. Without measuring this critical component, you can be left with an unmotivated sales rep that fails to meet your expectations.

The Crown Jewel of the Sales Assessment

You must discover how your sales candidate thinks. Decision making leads to outcomes – good or bad. Let’s look at this from an outcomes perspective. You expect your sales rep to sell your products and services to a target market, within a geographic region, at a certain price point, at a specific margin, at a designated sales volume, within a definite timeframe. If those are the outcomes that determine success (goal achievement), then your sales rep must make many decisions day by day and moment by moment to achieve those outcomes.

Therefore, you really need to know how they think before you hire them.

How well do they make decisions? Are they a self-starter? What is their level of self-confidence? Are they a strategic thinker? Can they solve a problem for a buyer? Will they follow directions? Are they coachable? Do they struggle with handling objections, rejection or negotiation?

You can hire a sales candidate with a Type-A personality, but that does not guarantee they have the motivation or the decision-making capacity to meet your expectations. This is also why a personality test alone is insufficient for your hiring process. You must measure more.

Benchmark Success

Using a sales assessment over time helps you determine the gold standard of success. Your top performers will have specific characteristics that drive their success. You can measure that with a good sales assessment.

Each sales role requires a specific type of sales rep to match the requirements of the job to be successful. Therefore, each sales role needs a benchmark.

What are the motivational drivers for each sales role? What are the personality traits required? What are the thinking patterns and cognitive capacities required for success? Using a robust sales assessment that measures sales personality, sales motivation, and sales mentality gives you an in-depth view of your candidate that a personality test alone cannot. Over time or with a sufficient sample size, defining a benchmark becomes easy to develop. From that you can use it as a template for hiring new sales reps who have the right capacities to meet and exceed their sales quotas within their unique sales jobs.