Sales Management Corner-Common Sense Rule #3

Assess The Assessments And The Sales Position

Let’s face it, assessments are not perfect regardless of what the companies selling them tell you. They are merely a guideline and should be considered part of the hiring process. They give you a sense for the strengths and weaknesses of the salespeople.

I believe that it is critical to take a hard look at what the sales position requires. Here is a short list of some things to consider:

  1. How long is the sales cycle?
  2. Does the territory require 100% hunting or a combination of hunting and farming?
  3. Is the product or service heavy into technical knowledge?
  4. Does the sale require aggressive closing?
  5. Does the sale require a senior salesperson or can a less experienced rep handle it?
  6. Are there certain skill sets that the sale requires?
  7. Does the “sales culture” of the company require a certain type of salesperson?

Several years ago I was consulting with a company that required hiring a new salesperson. This was an interesting position to fill because it required a blend of hunting, deep customer needs analysis, and aggressiveness. I found the perfect rep who succeeded beyond even my expectations. He is still with the company and doing very well.

A sales position will have small nuances that many sales managers will miss. Does a telemarketing salesperson care whether they’re strapped to a headset 8 hours a day? Will a salesperson who has never traveled be able to handle a new position where he or she has to travel 40% of the time? Will a rep with poor interpersonal skills adjust to a sales position that requires deft handling of complex prospect personalities? It is one thing to run assessments and match the results with job descriptions; it is another thing to understand the nuances of a job and then determine whether a rep can handle it or whether they want to handle it.

And if this isn’t enough to make sales managers reach for the shrink hot line here is a story that will make you crazy. A client of mine put a prospective salesperson through one assessment that said he had zero closing skills. The same client gave the same rep a different test and that one indicated that the rep closed too hard! Given all the data it is still a must to personally analyze the job and the rep in order to get the best match.

The Final Thought: “Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience? Thomas J Watson




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