How to Use Assessments to Measure Candidate Motivation

BY Kathy Crosett
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The candidate who’s interviewing with you seems motivated. They’ve spent plenty of time researching your company and products. And they’ve impressed the interview panel with the presentation you asked them to give. Before you extend an offer, use assessments to measure candidate motivation. Otherwise, you'll travel down a familiar road — hired that great candidate and then found out a few months later that they weren't happy. And, neither were you.

Use Assessments to Measure Candidate Motivation

During the hiring process, stay focused on good decision-​making. Some executives will see a sales candidate who has big connections in the industry and want to hire them, thinking they’re buying a ready-​made list of leads. This strategy might not work out. These candidates could come into your organization like human wrecking balls. With an inflated sense of self, they’ll start ordering around long-​time staffers and not bothering to fit into the culture. Even if this person brings leads with them, the trouble they cause in your organization might not be worth the managerial headaches.

You can avoid this problem. Use assessments to measure candidate motivation. If the assessment results indicate a candidate values standing out and has a high need for control, they could prove challenging to manage. Worse than that, the manager who hires them may find that they are constantly cleaning up the interpersonal disasters this person causes.

Motivation is Not One-​Size-​Fits-​All Proposition

The Offer

Sales managers may be motivated by how much money they can earn. They’ll mistakenly believe they can motivate their top candidate the same way. They’ll spend a lot of time developing a package that includes superb compensation. If money isn’t the primary motivator for the candidate, the sales manager risks losing the candidate with the wrong kind of offer.

A good assessment system, like TeamTrait™, measures multiple motivational factors. Some candidates may score high on the knowledge motivator. They might value the opportunity to study the product they’re selling in-​depth. These folks will become the reps who will read the manual about how the product works and they’ll be able to explain specific features to everyone else. These individuals get excited about formal training and information. They won’t be easily impressed by someone who ‘goes with their gut.’ If you’ve got a candidate like this in your pipeline, you’ll want to broaden their compensation package by offering them the opportunity to have several days of formal training while on the job.

The Job

Maybe you’ve been hoping to fill the big need you have for a natural networker. The top of the funnel can be hard to manage. A good networker needs tons of energy. And maybe your candidate is assuring you that they can network like crazy. But do they understand how successful networking happens? Jeffrey Gitomer reminds sales professionals that, “From 9 to 5, people are busy working, not buying. Real salespeople make sales from 7 to 9 in the morning, and from five until seven or eight in the evening, and at breakfast and lunch.”

Keeping that advice in mind, you’re looking for a candidate who possesses initiative and hustle. These kinds of work tendencies can be revealed in a comprehensive sales assessment. If your top candidate scores low on these work tendencies but scores high on confidence and communication, you may want to avoid putting them in a networking position. Successful networkers will never give up. They won’t complain about working evenings because they know that’s when they’ll connect with more prospects. Steer your confident and communicative candidate in a position that lets them close deals. Their confidence and ability to talk with a wide range of people could help them succeed when objections surface. 

The Manager and Team

Does everyone in your department share similar work habits? In some sales organizations, the reps enjoy camaraderie and teamwork. Warren Kurzrock, in a post for Selling Power, reminds us that teamwork is one of six motivational categories for sales professionals. “These people may get satisfaction from team success, problem solving, contributing to a team member’s performance, being part of the number one district in the organization, or even playing a major role at a sales meeting.” 

If you ask your candidate what motivates them, they might tell you they want opportunity. Or they want to make a difference for the company’s bottom line. Are they telling you truth or are they saying what they think you want to hear? You can’t be certain. In reality, some people haven’t thought about what motivates them. If you want to know for sure, ask them to take an assessment designed to measure motivation. Currently, only 22% of organizations use motivational assessments. This finding comes from the Voice of the Sales Manager survey fielded by SalesFuel.

You might also be tempted to check out a candidate's resume to understand motivation. C. Lee Smith, President and CEO of SalesFuel states that "a resume indicates where they’ve been. Their mindset indicates where they are going.” Once you see a candidate’s mindset, revealed through the details available from a hiring assessment, you can place that individual on a team and with a manager who will optimize the organizational environment for that individual. Jim Rohn points out that understanding a rep’s philosophy allows managers to use appropriate tactics to motivate their reps.

To begin, a manager should place the new hire on a team that shares similar attributes. If the new hire values control and individualism, they may do well as a sole contributor. Otherwise, they may struggle to work as part of a close-​knit team. And, once the new hire begins to contribute, skilled managers should review the results of the sales assessments to determine how to best motivate the person. Instead of emphasizing that the rep must make more calls to improve the bottom line, the manager may point out that additional sales will allow the organization to contribute more to the non-​profit organization the rep feels passionate about. Without information from a comprehensive assessment, this process would be much harder.