Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

Employee screening is a multi-billion dollar industry built on the promise of finding the perfect employees for your business. But for sales, pre-screening is really a shot in the dark – there isn’t just one type of person that will become a successful sales rep. Some reps who demonstrate the perfect traits in the interview don’t work out, and other reps with seemingly bad traits will surprisingly become your top performers.

The truth is that testing and screening candidates beforehand is much less important than how you onboard and train your newest hires for the job. Don’t waste all your time searching fruitlessly for the “The Perfect Sales Rep” – focus instead on creating a powerful sales onboarding process to help your newest team members succeed.

No Guarantee of Success

While background checks and references will always be valuable tools for sales hiring, aptitude tests and personality profiling have also become widely adopted in recent years. Unfortunately for sales managers, these tests have been unable to accurately predict long-term sales success consistently and repeatedly. For every large company that has implemented a hiring process using Wonderlic tests or Briggs Myers personality assessments, there have been very different results elsewhere. Aptitude tests are great for helping you weed out the bottom 60% of candidates, but there is no correlation between positive scores and the chance a sales rep will make it past the first year. The qualities you look for in the final interview stages should be about more than just a standardized test.

Focus on Learning

No matter what other skills they have, the people you hire should be willing to learn and be driven to improve themselves. Not every person has the innate skills to sell, but there are many people that can learn to sell effectively with the right training. Instead of looking for the perfect person to hire, try to create the best possible onboarding process for your new sales reps. You want to solidify a repeatable and scalable onboarding process that should be able to take any new college graduate with no sales experience and mold them into a great sales rep. It should also be able to take an experienced rep and help them quickly and effectively learn to sell your product. Think of yourself as a sales professor – you should create a series of exercises, meetings, group classes and more to help teach your reps how to make cold calls, overcome objections, and eventually, close deals.

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The Tools for Success

As part of the onboarding process, you want to arm your sales reps with the tools they need to sell effectively. When your newest reps start, you should hand them a detailed sales playbook on the very first day. This playbook should include everything they will need to know – including talk tracks, competitive comparisons, buyer personas and pricing information. Part of the onboarding process should include them learning these important facts, since they’ll be communicating this information daily to prospects. With the right combination of hands-on sales training, product information, systems training, and process explanation, your reps will learn the best practices for selling your product.

Companies are spending millions of dollars on pre-screening new hires, but no one has found a perfect solution. Instead of focusing too much on hiring the “right” people, focus on how you train and onboard your reps to help them succeed. With the right tools and training, even the lowest scoring rep could surprise you with their ability to succeed.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Kim

    While there is no guarantee that a candidate that performed well on the pre-employment sales assessment test will live up to the test predictions, I have found them to be a good indicator of success. Screening tests like that can help filter out candidates with low drive, which is really key in sales. These assessments can also help with building sales teams, as you get a better indication of which personality types will likely work best together and compliment each other.

    Of course, an aptitude test isn’t the only tool you should use during the interview process – having well-crafted interview questions should also be able to help determine the candidate’s current sales tactics, coachability, and whether or not they would be a good fit culturally.

  • Cara Hogan

    Thanks for your thoughtful response, Kim. I agree that assessment tests can help you identify the top echelon of candidates, but unfortunately there has been no research that confirms a direct correlation between test results and sales performance. But I also agree that you can do both – use assessment tools and create your own interview process to find the best candidates.

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