Sales Testing – Bitter Truth #2

 images-2   Sales Tests Don’t Always Provide an Easy Answer

One of the reasons why a sales test helps you to hire high potential sales people has a lot to do with the fact that the process of evaluating candidates is simplified and distilled down to its most essential factors.

Does this mean that by using the sales test the answer to the question of who to hire becomes easy or at least easier? For the most part yes this is true. Using a sales test will bring clarity to your hiring decisions that will be absent otherwise. But not always!

Sales tests do work and do perform their intended functions. But being the specialized tools that they are, they can only provide insights into the areas that they are designed to measure. Of course people are complicated creatures. You should therefore expect that at certain times the results of the sales test just will not seem to make sense when viewed alongside the other pieces of information that you have gathered about the candidate or who you seem to be seeing in the interview.

These seeming contradictions can take quite a number of different forms. Below are just a few examples.

1.The sales test identifies red flags around the candidate’s motivational style such as disorganization or job turnover that do not show up because they are negated by factors that the sales test does not measure such as education and skills.

2.The flip side to the example above is the candidate who is identified by the sales test as having high potential from the perspective of motivational style yet lacks any of the necessary skills and experience.

3.Role-playing by candidates is common and often sets up a contradiction between the sales test results and what you see in the interview. The very reserved person playing the role of an extrovert and the amiable but non-assertive person trying to appear more assertive are typical examples. In these, and other instances of this, you will get a highly mixed picture of the candidate that will seem to contradict the results of the sales test.

4.The candidate whose test results say he is weak at prospecting yet has a great track record of developing new business. In most instances this is due to having developed new business via other means than true prospecting.

5.The candidate who is described as a high maintenance type who requires a lot of support, direction and guidance yet whose references say he works in a very independent manner. In these instances the candidate usually has worked in the position or industry long enough that the structure that is described as necessary is there via familiarity and experience.

6.This one is very common when interviewing for sales hunters: the extremely outgoing candidate who knows exactly what to say in the interview. They are very outgoing but lack the assertiveness of real hunters. You think you are seeing the tip of the iceberg but if you hire them you will soon discover you saw the whole iceberg.

I could give you several dozen examples like the 6 above where the results of the sales test are actually highly accurate but, due to factors separate from the test results, your instinct tells you that the sales test is wrong.

Here at we’ve been testing sales people for over 30 years and I have to tell you that some of our most loyal clients are those who were initially very skeptical and therefore went against our recommendations. There is an admittedly perverse satisfaction in having a client call you up and say ‘you know that guy who you tested 6 months ago who you told us that we should not hire? Well it turns out you were right and I let him go last week’.

In a previous article I wrote that one of the major but un-measureable benefits of a sales test is not as a selection tool but actually as a rejection tool. The point is that a huge benefit can be found in the fact that the sales test causes you to avoid hiring people that you otherwise might have hired if you had not used the sales test.

People are complex. Using a sales test will mostly make your life as a hiring manager easier but at times things do get a little more complicated. When faced with unanswered questions or contradictory information about a candidate you are being given a clear signal to proceed with caution. Rather than going full speed ahead, take your time or even stop the process in order to just make sure.

Have you ever looked back on a hiring decision and wished that you had stopped and thought about it a little longer?

Sales Testing – Bitter Truth #1

Sales Testing Bitter TruthI’ve heard the phrase ‘if it can’t be measured it does not exist’ more than a few times. It usually comes out of the mouth of a number cruncher/analytical type with whom I am discussing our sales tests and who is trying to come up with some hard numbers to justify in his mind, why he should proceed. Today, while doing research for this article I searched this phrase on Google and learned about something known as the ‘McNamara Fallacy’ described below. If you are patient enough to have read this far you might be asking yourself what the hell all of this has to do with testing sales people. Please hang in just a little longer because it will all tie together momentarily. At least I hope so!

McNamara Fallacy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The McNamara fallacy (also known as quantitative fallacy[1]), named for Robert McNamara, the United States Secretary of Defense from 1961 to 1968, involves making a decision based solely on quantitative observations (or metrics) and ignoring all others. The reason given is often that these other observations cannot be proven.

The first step is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which can’t be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can’t be measured easily really isn’t important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can’t be easily measured really doesn’t exist. This is suicide.

— Daniel Yankelovich “Corporate Priorities: A continuing study of the new demands on business.” (1972)

The connection between implementing sales testing and the McNamara Fallacy relates to the natural, and frankly quite logical, desire of decision makers to base their decision on measureable financial considerations or other hard data. Please understand, I would never suggest that you should purchase ours or any other sales test purely out of the goodness of your heart. Business decisions must make financial sense. When it comes to implementing a sales test there are numerous benefits of sales tests that are quite readily quantified. As well, there are tools such as our cost of failure calculator that provide a very accurate picture of the costs related to the downside of bad hires. But the truth is that a huge financial benefit of using a sales test cannot actually be measured, so according to the ‘if it can’t be measured it does not exist’ folks, any financial gains that accrue from this benefit are non-existent.

A Powerful Rejection Tool

The huge benefit to which I refer is that using the sales test means you have avoided hiring people that you otherwise might have hired if you had not used the sales test. We don’t talk about this much because we usually talk about the more ‘positive’ benefits, such as for example increased sales, lower job turnover and savings of time. In effect, we have tended to present the sales test as a selection tool when in reality it is an extremely powerful rejection tool.

If you could have avoided your last bad hire by using a sales test how much would that have saved you?

Sales Assessment Tests – Is SalesTestOnline Predictive of Sales Success?

images-4If you are thinking about introducing a sales assessment test into your hiring process there are many items, both large and small that must be considered. Here, in this article you will find a checklist for selecting a sales test.

Before any other consideration though, it makes sense to see if the sales assessment is predictive of sales success i.e. can it identify top performers?  If a sales assessment test does not do this, then how can you, as a hiring manager possibly rely on it?  Four recent studies of the effectiveness of our sales assessment clearly show that is an extremely powerful tool for identifying top sales talent and is therefore highly predictive of sales success.

First off by way of explanation, test results contain a Suitability Rating (eg 80-100% Excellent) score that compares the person being tested to the specific needs of that particular sales role. A higher score means the candidate is a close match to the Target Profiles that we have established for the position through analysis. Therefore, a high Suitability Rating = high potential for success.

By studying the test results of the top performers we are looking for a correlation between their performance and their Suitability Ratings. If a high percentage of these top performers are identified as having high potential via their Suitability Rating then our sales test is predictive of success.  In all four studies below, the number of top performers who were ranked either Excellent or Good was very high.

Company number one is a large timeshare developer and sales organization. They hire closers who work on straight commission. They have approximately 1000 sales closers. The top 57 were tested. 68.5% scored either Excellent or Good.

19.5% or 11 people scored Excellent

49% or 28 people scored Good

17.5% or 10 people scored Fair

10.5% or 6 people scored Poor

3.5% or 2 scored Very Poor

Company number two is a global research and consulting organization. They hire Business Development Executives, ‘hunters’ to obtain appointments with C-level executives in Fortune 500 companies. They have between 250-300 BDE’s in this population. We tested their 12 top hunters. 75% scored either Excellent or Good.

25% or 3 people scored Excellent

50% or 6 people scored Good

8% or 1 person scored Fair

17% or 2 people scored Poor

0% or 0 scored Very Poor

Company number three is the leading online marketplace for home services in the world. They hire sales consultants to contact home service contractors in order to have them join their marketplace. Sales are performed on the phone and the position is highly incentive-oriented. They have several hundred people in this role. The following is our analysis of their top 15, the best of the best. 80% scored either Excellent or Good.

26.67% or 4 people scored Excellent

53.33% or 8 people scored Good

20% or 3 people scored Fair

0% or 0 people scored Poor

0% or 0 scored Very Poor

Company number four is an award winning automotive dealer with 18 locations selling numerous brands. They have approximately 150 sales associates. Our analysis focused on the top 23 in this role.  73% scored either Excellent or Good.

17% or 4 people scored Excellent

56% or 13 people scored Good

13% or 3 people scored Fair

13% or 3 people scored Poor

0% or 0 scored Very Poor

Having a Suitability Rating system with this degree of accuracy on sales candidates means you will know prior to hiring, whether the candidate has potential because in essence, the score tells you how they compare to the success traits of your top performers. How much grief, time and expense would a highly predictive Suitability Rating such as the examples above save you and your organization?

If you are interested in learning more about our sales assessment tests and perhaps in having us perform a study of your top performers I would enjoy hearing from you.

Sales Assessment Testing: You Don’t Really Want to Hire a Patient Sales Person Do You?

getting-directions-495Today I read another article by a sales guru offering highly misleading advice about the ‘traits’ of successful sales people. This particular article, like many others of this genre, was offering advice regarding what ‘traits’ managers should see as desirable when evaluating sales candidates. The writer covered a number of areas having nothing to do with traits so it is entirely possible that these other parts of his article offered good counsel. It is with his wrongheaded advice about the traits that I have a problem. I find this type of misleading advice about ‘sales traits’ and ‘sales personality’ not only quite common but also rather aggravating. To me, it has the feel of observing someone offering street directions to a lost tourist that you know fully well are complete b*******t. So, just as I would feel compelled to interfere and set the lost tourist on the correct path, please do not view this post as a rant. Instead my intention is to provide some clarity and precision to the discussion about traits and style of personality that is required for certain aspects of sales.

In this instance the writer was making the case that ideal sales people are ‘patient’ personalities because of the long selling cycles in the business with which he was familiar. Also, that patience is a necessary trait in order to continue following up with prospects who today are less willing to engage with reps and therefore ignore their efforts to contact them via email, social media and voicemail. His premise is that since it takes a long time to get the sale, top reps need to be patient enough to wait for the sale to come.

To many of you on first hearing this, it probably sounds like it makes sense, so what is the problem? The problem is that it reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the core traits necessary for specific sales behaviors. In this case what is clearly misunderstood is the actual traits necessary to hang in for a long sales cycle and to generate engagement from prospects via continual follow up.


Let me start by describing the actual Patience trait drive. Patience can be thought of as the motivational need for stability and predictability. One can also view it as the need for routine, maintenance of the status quo, passiveness and comfort with repetition, steadiness, and a predictable pace. It will impact a sales person’s sense of urgency, deadline orientation, and individual initiative. As well it impacts work pace, multi-tasking, response to change/routine, and response to sameness/variety. You could also see it as reactive-ness vs. pro-activeness.

High Levels of Patience

High levels of this factor mean that the person is very patient, passive, reactive, unhurried, relaxed, calm, deliberate, tolerant, amiable, likes routine/familiarity, likes stability of repetition, dislikes change.

Low Levels of Patience

Low levels of this factor mean that the individual is very impatient (does not have much patience), is restless and pro-active, thrives on change/variety, has nervous energy, deadline oriented, a multi-tasker, is bored by routine and repetition.

The issue then is, if you do hire a sales person with a high level of patience, you have basically hired a passive and reactive person who is certainly good at waiting for things to happen-a ‘passive order taker’. In all my years of talking to managers about the traits they want in sales people I have never had one say they want to hire a ‘passive order taker’. Quite the contrary, almost invariably they will say they want to hire a pro-active self-starter with a sense of urgency-an impatient sales person.

So how do we square this seeming contradiction that sales takes a long time and yet the sales person needs to be impatient? It is true that individual trait drives such as patience will give you insight into the sales person’s on the job behaviours. It is however more accurate to look at all of his or her traits together as a combination. Traits working together tend to emphasize or soften each other and often combine with each other, resulting in whole new sets of behaviours. In this case what we actually require is for the sales person to be impatient and pro-active, as this will ensure he or she has a sense of urgency and will demonstrate the required initiative. This alone is not enough however because the person must also have other trait drives that make them quite dependent on structure in their work such as systems, procedures and guidelines. Individuals with this need for structure also tend to be quite detailed. The final trait drive necessary is a good level of emotional control.   In other words, someone who is disciplined enough to stay with things and to maintain a consistency in their activities. So, in combination they need to have a sense of urgency along with a real need to work a specific plan or set of procedures along with a sense of discipline.

Having tested hundreds of thousands of sales people over the last 30+ years I can assure you that this combination of traits is what you will find in a very high proportion of sales people in these long cycle sales roles.

The point of this article is not to contradict or challenge another’s ideas. Instead my goal is to demonstrate the need to better understand what motivates the people you hire and intend to hire.

In order to be able to define and identify the differences in people you need to use hiring tools that lessen your reliance on gut feel and imprecise definitions of the motivational traits of sales candidates. When these tools are used as part of your hiring regime you will operate with a far more advanced understanding of what traits the job requires. Furthermore, mirroring your better understanding of the job, you will operate with a far more objective, clear and precise understanding of what truly makes the candidate tick.   This is precisely why you should use a sales assessment test such as ours in your hiring. We would be pleased to hear from you if you would like to learn more.

Sales Personality and Job Turnover: Watch out for This Combination of Traits

credit-union-employee-turnoverIt is the rare sales organization whose management is not concerned about sales staff retention. Today, any manager who does not realize that job turnover is very costly on many levels probably has his head in the sand, to put it politely. No surprise then, that when prospective clients open up and talk about the specific issues and problems concerning them, reducing unwanted turnover is often a high priority.

Sales staff turnover and its reasons, causes and impact is a big and highly complex topic. There are literally thousands of articles, studies and papers on this subject by a wide variety of experts and respected authorities. Our goal with this article is not to go down this well traveled road yet again. Instead what I will describe are the traits of certain individuals and why those traits give them a far higher turnover propensity.

Forewarned is forearmed according to the old saying. Since these specific combinations of ‘job-hopping’ traits are readily identifiable in sales candidates, you will see that you do have the opportunity to proactively lower turnover right at the source of much of the problem.

Will this put a stop to job turnover? No, but you can definitely alleviate much of it. As noted earlier, there are many reasons why a particular sales organization has a turnover issue: poor compensation, bad products/services, incompetent management etc.  The list is long. The core reasons for the turnover we will be addressing here can be traced directly to the personality traits of the sales people themselves. You will also see that there is a quandary in this because much of what makes these sales people prone to higher turnover, also makes them potentially very effective hunters and closers. The point of this article is to define, clarify and untangle the candidate’s traits. It is hoped that hiring managers can then make better hiring choices by understanding that the risk of turnover can be very different between two outwardly equal candidates.

To illustrate the issue let us look at the trait drives of two high potential ‘sales hunters’ below. I am purposely using the traits of sales hunters because it is in these sales environments where hunters are hired, that this combination of ‘turnover traits’ is most often found.

Examples #1 and #2 show exactly the same trait drives in 4 of the 5 areas that are displayed. Assertiveness is high, sociability is high, patience is low and dependence is low. It is this combination of 4 trait-drives that results in very high potential to be effective at making new contacts, having a sense of urgency and thriving in free wheeling independent sales environments with an emphasis on commissions and other individual incentives. They both have this high potential but what we will show you is that the one critical trait drive where they differ-emotional control, creates a far greater likelihood of job turnover in the one who’s emotional control is low (#2). As well as increasing the potential for job turnover, it tends to make these individuals rather scattered and disorganized. If you have ever had to hire and manage a team of sales hunters you will be very familiar with these issues.

Example #1
Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.30.15 PMExample #2
Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.31.53 PM
Emotional Control

What is meant by the term ’emotional control’? It is the balance between logic and emotions in the manner one makes decisions-“the head vs. the gut”. It can have a strong influence on a person’s work focus, organization and attention to detail. As well, it impacts their decision-making style, how consistent they are and of course, turnover propensity (job hopping).

Middle Range

When one is in the mid-range on this factor it means that the person thinks about and considers the consequences of their actions prior to taking those actions. Their decision-making tends to be governed by a nice balance between logic and emotions and therefore, they are logical enough to think things through prior to acting yet still spontaneous enough to act quite quickly.


When one has a high level of this factor it means that the person tends to be extremely logical in their manner of decision-making. These individuals tend to over analyze to the point of procrastination or ‘analysis-paralysis’.


Individuals with the low level of Emotional Control that we are discussing here tend to be very gut-level, spontaneous and impulsive. Their decisions are often arrived at without properly thinking through all the implications. These individuals are highly prone to job turnover.

Traits in Combination

It is true that a sales person’s strengths, weaknesses and sales style have much to do with that person’s individual trait-drives. In fact, it is far more accurate to think of the traits in terms of how they combine with each other. The reason for this is because working together the traits tend sometimes to emphasize, or in other cases to soften, the individual traits and very often will combine with each other to result in whole new sets of behaviors.

Hunters with Mid Range Emotional Control

Traits are like two-edged swords, so what we think of as ‘strengths’ also tells us about the person’s ‘weaknesses’. Describing hunters with mid range emotional control from this perspective would mean we would say the following: They have very large egos and do not like being managed, they are very impatient, possessing a lot of nervous energy and with a great need for change and variety. As well, they are extremely independent with a dislike for details, rules and procedures and hence they are not afraid to go over the line to achieve their goals. Risk oriented and venturesome they will have little hesitation when it comes to trying new things, procedures or taking a chance on a new company or sales role.

Hunters with Low Emotional Control

If the above is describing a hunter with nicely balanced emotional control, what you need to understand is that when you add low emotional control to the mix you are amplifying and emphasizing the negative aspects of their traits. They therefore become extremely scattered, disorganized and lacking focus. They are a bit like loose cannons with regards to rules and being managed. They can be quite inconsistent and can be very impulsive and prone to make overly quick decisions that they later regret. This pronounced impulsiveness in combination with their impatience, poor manageability and oversized ego equals very high turnover propensity.

High Turnover is Not Inevitable

As mentioned earlier in this post, many of the issues, and much of what of I am describing, will sound quite familiar to you if you have hired and managed hunter sales types. It would be a big mistake though to believe that this kind of turnover is inevitable and therefore unavoidable. Hiring hunters AND controlling this kind of turnover is completely doable as long as you can go deeper than the interview because on the surface there is really no way to tell the difference. This is where we can help you. When you use you will see the difference very clearly and can avoid these common and very expensive hiring mistakes.

Sales Aptitude-PBS Video about Sales

Why Everyone Should Know How to Sell

This short video from PBS NewsHour is great.  Carlos Watson makes a great case for why we all need to know how to sell.  As he says many of those outside of the sales profession think of sales as a dirty word and of sales people as being rather sleazy. This attitude to sales as a profession seems to get in the way of their acquiring what Carlos believes is a critical skill-the ability to ‘sell’ ones ideas.  Carlos does a great job of showing how having this skill is critical to success in any role, business or otherwise.  From a corporate perspective our recent article highlights the many benefits to businesses of utilizing sales testing for non-sales employees.

Sales Assessment Tests: SalesTestOnline is Better than The Caliper for Identifying Top Sales Talent-Here’s Why


The Caliper Profile is quite possibly the most widely used assessment test in North America. They have a great reputation, having been in business for approximately 50 years and boasting many Fortune 500 companies and even a number of professional sports teams as clients. They test candidates for a variety of roles, including sales candidates in numerous industries.   They have earned a great reputation and when I encounter any of their current or former clients they consistently speak very highly of the Caliper Test.

Below though are two caveats to the mostly positive comments:

  1. The high cost to use the Caliper Test, which ranges from $200-$300 per candidate.
  2. The very long testing time of 60-120 minutes, which can be inconvenient and therefore often makes it very difficult to get candidates to sit for the test.

Given the extremely high cost of hiring a sales failure one would not normally think of the cost of the testing itself as a barrier, but of course budgets are budgets. The result is that even though clients are generally satisfied with the Caliper they tend to be highly selective and in many cases overly selective, about which candidates they give it to in order to not waste money. Of course the second issue is that once they do find a candidate that they deem to be ‘test worthy’ they realize that getting the candidate to actually take the test can be very difficult; frequently finding that the candidates for whom they really have an interest will not agree to take it. Even when these top candidates do actually agree to take the Caliper they are often frustrated by how dauntingly long it is and therefore fail to complete it. This is not really all that surprising when you consider that many of the best sales people just do not have much time since they are busy selling. Furthermore their personalities are such that taking a 1-2 hour test is for them, like sitting still for root canal.

So, as good as the Caliper test is when utilized, it’s high cost and inconvenience restrict it’s use to just a very few candidates who often are asked to complete it as almost a formality at the end of the hiring process. This approach to utilizing assessments might make sense if you are hiring for a senior management role or if hiring a sales rep is something you do very rarely. This is the type of hiring process one might have used 20 years ago but today it makes little sense and frankly it puts your organization at a serious disadvantage in the competition for top sales talent.

Today, when in the hiring process one uses sales assessments, is completely opposite to when in the process they were used previously. Today, it is critical to quickly evaluate sales candidates very early in the hiring cycle rather than very late. This way you can determine right away if the candidate is worth pursuing and of course you can do so ahead of your competition for sales talent. Naturally this means that you will be testing far more candidates and doing so with far less pre-qualification. It is pretty obvious then that using an expensive and lengthy sales test in this more ‘top of the funnel’ approach is just not realistic from the perspective of both efficiency and economics.

In this ‘top of the funnel’ approach your sales assessment test must be very economical, easy to administer, easy to complete by candidates and it must clearly, quickly and accurately identify the high potential sales candidates. Conducting the sales assessment test early offers several benefits in addition to those mentioned above:

  • By casting a wider net you will identify high potential sales talent that may not have otherwise caught your attention
  • Testing early identifies red flag areas to address quickly
  • Valuable interview time can be devoted solely to high potential candidates
  • Both face-to-face and phone interviews become far more effective due to the information uncovered
  • Saving Money

Are we suggesting you should compromise accuracy? Does this mean that if you currently use the Caliper that you need to give it up? The answer to both these questions is no. In terms of accuracy is considered to be over 90% accurate and the test results correlate to a very high degree with Caliper; in the words of one long time Caliper user “with I get 85% of what I get from the Caliper, for 15% of the cost”. Certainly, some Caliper users have chosen to switch to On the other hand what others have done who just do not feel comfortable making a complete switch is to use both. is used at the top of the funnel as described above and Caliper is used with the final few.

Finally, while this article is addressing as a superior tool vs Caliper for identifying top sales talent, many of the issues described also apply to other expensive and cumbersome sales assessment tests. Whether you use the Caliper or one of these other sales tests we invite you to visit us at in order to learn more. I would be very pleased to talk to you personally in order to learn about your specific needs. If you are interested I would be happy to arrange a no obligation demonstration of our system.

5 Reasons to Use a Sales Assessment Test That You Might Not Have Considered

imagesThe decision to use a sales assessment test is more often than not instigated by a negative experience. Typically we are contacted by hiring managers that are fed up with being burned by sales candidates who interview well but cannot actually sell. At other times retention and job turnover is the big issue that causes them to seek us out. Accurately identifying sales potential and lowering turnover are without doubt at the top of the list when it comes to why one uses There are however quite a few other very valuable benefits that you may not have considered. Here are just a few:

Ensuring the success of less than ideal candidates

If the talent pool you have to choose from is very weak you’ll inevitably have to hire less than ideal candidates. This is increasingly an issue in tight job markets and has always been the case for those businesses whose sales roles are unappealing to many, such as those who hire for straight commission sales environments. Used in this scenario, a sales assessment provides an understanding about how to train, manage and motivate the new rep. Rather than waiting for months to pass by in order to act on your observations, the in depth results of a sales assessment test are available to you even prior to onboarding. Most sales failures in these situations occur in the first 30-60 days. By starting off with a thorough understanding of the new hire you can give them the best shot at some early success. Early successes tend to spur the new rep on thereby increasing their chances of further success.

A More Efficient Hiring Process

Unlike the expensive paper and pencil tests of ‘ancient times’, inexpensive web based sales tests can be administered to most or all applicants before you need to interview or even speak to the candidate. This means that you can devote your precious face to face interview time to only those candidates whose test results have shown they have high potential. Even your interviews and reference checks will be more efficient because you can focus your questioning and probing on areas that the sales test has uncovered.

Time Savings

Using a sales assessment test will save you a great deal of time in a number of different ways. First and most obviously, hiring high potential sales people means you will avoid the massive amount of time that is wasted when trying to motivate and develop a rep who was basically a bad hire. For those reps you do hire who are a good fit, the sales assessment spells out how to manage, motivate and train the person, effectively shortening the time it takes to get them up to speed. As mentioned above, using sales assessments means the hiring process is far more efficient and will speed up the time it takes to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’. This is particularly critical since it gives you a time advantage over your competitors who are also trying to hire the top reps.

Lower Training Costs

No one should question whether the time and money devoted to training new reps makes good business sense, however most would agree that trying to ‘make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ is a recipe for failure and therefore a bad bet. This is especially true today when manager’s time is stretched to the limit and training budgets are constrained. Isn’t it just logical and sensible to start off with the right ‘sales material’ before you start to develop that person? If you are going to expend time, effort and money you will get a far greater return by focusing these valuable resources on a rep that is the right fit in the first place.

Higher Sales and Higher Profits

You probably thought of this one but I mention it here because this is THE fundamental reason to use a sales assessment test. It is really a very simple equation: the right person in your sales role = higher sales = higher profits!

Sales Person Assessment-If sales roles differ why does our sales test stay the same?

13One of the most fundamental aspects of an effective sales personality test is it’s flexibility to allow for the fact that sales roles can and do differ dramatically. The old adage that ‘sales is sales’, was and always will be wrong. Anyone who doubts this merely has to think about the differences between selling in a B2C role vs a B2B environment. Even within a single company, when selling the same products to the very same customers, some sales roles need sales hunters and some need sales farmers. The widespread use of these labels to describe different sales personalities is, in my opinion, evidence of a more nuanced view in the minds of sales leadership of what it takes to succeed in sales.

These differences in sales roles and the resulting need for different combinations of personality traits is the reason that is customized to your specific needs. This is one of the key reasons why it works so well. When a sales person takes our test, rather than the hiring manager receiving something vague about the candidate being ‘typical of successful sales people within your industry’ or similarly useless verbiage, our system provides a rating of how close the sales person is to the needs of that specific role. Obviously this type of specific rating is far more useful to the hiring manager when he/she is evaluating numerous candidates.

Quite often when we discuss this critical customization feature of our service the prospective client assumes that the test will differ from role to role. In fact our sales test stays the same no matter what role the candidate is being considered for. The following explains this and the reasons why it makes perfect sense.

In order to understand why our test remains the same even for different roles, one must first understand the aspect of the candidate that is measured.   When selecting sales people you can for example quite easily measure certain things about the candidate’s experience, education, training and familiarity with your business or industry.   As well there are many ways to identify the candidate’s sales skills and their relevance to the role for which you are recruiting. Not only are all of these factors readily identifiable, but for the most part, if a candidate is lacking in these areas they can be taught.

Experienced sales recruiters and sales hiring managers know that sales people rarely fail due a lack of skills, product knowledge and the factors mentioned above. Failure in sales is almost always because the sales candidate lacks the necessary personality traits for the role, such as drive, sense of urgency and natural self-motivation. This is what they want and need to uncover in sales candidates and this is what our test identifies.

The reason our test does not change from role to role is because we are always attempting to identify the personality traits and motivational style of the person. The test could be likened to the ‘camera that takes the picture’ because it is able to clearly and accurately identify these personality and motivational aspects of the candidate. Of course when looking at the candidate’s test results we look at them in relation to how they match what the role requires.  Knowing what the role requires, we are able to accurately attach a Suitability Rating to the candidates’ test results. As mentioned above, this is not some ‘general sales fit score’. This is a score that is directly related to the requirements of the position and provides a sense of how much potential they have for success in that role.

In our many studies of client sales teams over the years these Suitability Rating scores have proven to be highly predictive of the success of sales candidates. In a recent example, we looked at the test results of the top 100 most successful reps in a sales force of about 1000. This particular sales force hires very strong closers. 72% of these top performers scored Excellent or Good on their Suitability Rating score, conclusively proving that an Excellent or Good Rating is highly predictive of success.

Learn More about our Sales Personality Test

If you wish to discuss your specific sales hiring challenges or would like to learn more about the process and benefits of our customization feature I would enjoy hearing from you.

Sales Personality-The Killer Combination of Trait Drives shared by Top Sales Hunters

sales personality

Businesses have used our sales personality test since 1986. A quick look at our web site will show that a key to the success of our service is that it is customized to the specifics of each sales role. Why? Because we’ve learned that sales roles differ considerably and therefore appropriate people for those roles can differ significantly.

That said, in the course of testing literally millions of sales candidates for an amazingly varied clientele, it is certainly the case that many of them are trying to hire sales hunters. Our service ensures they hire true hunters rather than the candidates who ‘interview well but can’t sell’. We also provide an understanding of how to manage them on a daily basis. All this to say that, after having tested so many sales people we have observed some obvious similarities in the very best sales hunters. I thought I would share our observations.

Discussing sales personalities using labels such as ‘sales hunter’ or ‘sales farmer’ unfortunately tends to feed a common misconception that I would like to dispel. Specifically, that all sales people who fall into one of these categories possess all of the same traits. It is true that some things can be common to all within that group, however other differences are typically present. Take a look at any group of successful sales hunters and you will find that even though they are all successful they can tend to get the job done in somewhat different ways. Because of this, some managers who mistakenly focus on the differences rather than being aware of the similarities, operate as if there is no rhyme or reason to why these reps are successful. On the surface it may seem quite random but when one goes below the surface by using a sales personality assessment it becomes quite obvious that there are common threads that are readily identifiable and that explain what makes a great sales hunter.

The two trait drives that are shared by all top sales hunters are firstly, a high level of Assertiveness and secondly a high level of Sociability. Just to be sure we are on the same page with our definitions, here are short descriptions of each of these trait drives.


Assertiveness refers to a need for control, competitiveness, self-motivation, drive, dominance, ego and the need to make ones own decisions and to be in charge. Therefore, when we say that they have a high level of this trait drive it means they are authoritative types who can be assertive in putting forth their ideas, they are dominant in the sense of wanting to be in charge and have a real need to control their own destiny and to make their own decisions. Tending to thrive on competition, they are motivated by being measured, whether against others or against goals. Their competitiveness and large ego means they have a very strong sense of self worth and a need to win. As well, they tend to think big with little concern about risk and will be highly motivated by, and responsive to, commission and incentive based compensation.


Sociability refers to the need for social interaction and the stimulation of that interaction. It is introversion vs. extroversion or an outward (people) orientation vs. an inward (task) orientation. Please note that this is not a measure of friendliness, rather, it refers to empathy level and persuasiveness and how one communicates and responds to others. Therefore, when we say that they have a high level of this trait drive it means they tend to be very extroverted and people oriented. Their tendency is to be very stimulated by lots of social interaction. Their natural empathy and ability to quickly relate to others means they are very persuasive in their communication with a natural ability to identify the listener’s ‘hot buttons’.

Just to be very clear, while it is true that top sales hunters are high on both of these two trait drives, the emphasis is always on one trait drive or the other. What I mean is that some have high sociability but higher assertiveness (see example #1) while others have high assertiveness but higher sociability (see example #2).

Example #1

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Example #2

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An Iron Fist in a Velvet Glove

What makes this the killer combination for prospecting? We often use the term ‘iron fist in a velvet glove’ to describe this trait pair, which hints at why it is so effective for new business development. The high sociability and need for interaction means the person has the natural warmth and empathy to quickly relate to and establish rapport with new contacts. When doing so they have an innate ability to find and push the prospects hot buttons and are very adept at painting clear verbal pictures when communicating. They are naturally very persuasive in their interactions. Of course it is more than just the fact that they are very persuasive. It is the fact they are also very assertive, which means they are not just sociable but they are ‘sociable with a purpose’. Their assertiveness means that in the daily grind of prospecting they possess the ‘thickness of skin’ to absorb the rejection that is a natural part of the job. The traits work together such that they can apply considerable pressure (‘pushiness’ for want of a better word) in such a way that the prospect does not feel the full extent of that pressure. It is their assertiveness that enables them to feel comfortable asking for the order, an appointment or to get a commitment from the customer.

Learn More

If you hire sales hunters we would enjoy learning about your specific challenges. Besides some of the insights we have touched on above we would be pleased to share our insights regarding the unique issues associated with interviewing, hiring and managing these sales personalities. Feel free to reach out to me directly at 416-691-3661 or visit our website.