How Sales Assessment Tests Predict Candidate Success

BY Kathy Crosett
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Sales managers are looking for a sales assessment test that can predict sales candidate success. What a difference a month makes. Our economy went from overdrive to a crawl in a few weeks because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Businesses are working new strategies to survive and sales managers need the latest tools to recruit and hire the best candidates for their open positions. Instead of beating the bushes to find good candidates like you were last month, you may be inundated with applications from people who are desperate for a job. As a hiring sales manager, you don’t want just any candidate, you want the best candidate. You also want a professional who scores high on the coachability index.

A sales assessment test can predict candidate success from the beginning of the application process. The U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) recently reviewed the impact of using standardized assessments when federal agencies sought to improve their hiring outcomes. At several federal agencies, the hiring process was changed to include sending a link to an assessment after the initial review of a resume indicated that a potential candidate possessed the proper qualifications for a position. During a multiyear study period, researchers detected that over 40% of these candidates didn’t take the assessment. They concluded the assessment served as an initial screening tool, one that saved recruiters time and money by weeding out folks who weren’t serious about the position.

Sales managers can gain much more than that by having their top candidates take a comprehensive assessment that is specifically designed to predict candidate success. These kinds of sales assessments are superior because they measure many aspects of an individual’s job-​related behavior, motivation, where they land on a coachability index, and tendencies. 

Sales Tendencies

Sales professionals should possess certain tendencies if they are going to succeed in connecting with prospects and clients throughout the selling cycle. Not every candidate must score well in every sales competency when taking an assessment. But if you’re seeking a hunter, you want a person who excels at discovery. When you’re trying to hire a mid-​funnel specialist who can guide leads to the next level, an expert email communicator can make all the difference. Make sure the assessment you’re using measures the tendencies you need in your sales department.

Work Tendencies

Does your dream employee exist? Your chances of hiring one improve when you match the job and the organizational culture to an individual’s tendencies and motivations. A sales assessment test that analyzes an individual’s work tendencies will tell you, for example, if they are willing to hustle. In some business environments, especially in a high-​tech selling situation, you might need a good collaborator. The dream employee in this case will work with internal sales engineers and prospects.

Some sales managers might be willing to hire an inexperienced candidate who has the right work tendencies. Is it worth the risk? In this case, you should look for individuals who score well on a coachability index. Sales reps who are just starting their careers can become outstanding employees if they are willing to take direction and suggestions from their managers.

Behavioral Tendencies

Individuals react to specific situations they encounter in unique ways. Behavioralists have developed several systems to categorize these behaviors. They can then measure how closely an individual’s behavior matches other people’s behaviors in similar situations. A good sales assessment should give you insight into where your top candidates fall in these ranges of proactive and reactive behaviors. The DISC system, developed by William Marston, groups behaviors into four basic categories. One of these categories, D for dominance, reflects how people respond to problems or challenges. People who react positively and strongly when they encounter a challenge typically perform well as sales managers. They’re not afraid to engage and they will work until a situation is resolved.

Motivational Tendencies

As you consider who you want to hire for your open position, the sales assessment test you use should dig deep into what motivates candidates. Why do they want to work at all? And more specifically, why do they want to work for you and for your organization? 

Is your top candidate motivated economically? Are they interested in making more money? Great. You’ll know how to put together a good compensation package to get them to accept your offer.

But financial compensation is often an end goal. Once you understand an individual’s philosophy and attitude and their underlying motivators, you’ll be able to determine if they’ll be successful at sales. Some sales assessment tests measure motivators such as sacrifice. Individuals who score low on this motivator may not make great sales reps, because they don’t really want to help others in all cases. Similarly, some folks are willing to give others the shirt off their back. If they’re working for you, they might make too many concessions to prospects. You’ll want to be careful about hiring a person who scores too high on the sacrifice motivator.

Predict Sales Candidate Success

For too long, sales managers have used unreliable predictors of sales candidate success and they have have ignored the coachability index. They turned to resumes, references, and interviews to make their hiring decisions. While these factors can inform hiring decisions, sales managers can now access comprehensive sales assessment tests with easy to understand results that will help them evaluate the complete candidate.