And, there is no function in a company where poor performance has a bigger impact that it does in Sales!
If "the 80/20 rule" (where 20% of salespeople produce 80% of sales) accurately describes sales performance in your company (even though the actual ratio may be 70/30, 60/40, 90/10, or even 95/5), don't feel bad. You have a lot of company! Plus, research has shown there are valid reasons for these sales performance differences.
Research Finding #1
In their book, Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton report that great managers and average managers have different expectations for their employees. According to Buckingham and Clifton:AVERAGE managers assume that "each person can learn to be competent in almost anything." GREAT Mangers assume that "each person's talents are ENDURING and UNIQUE."
If anyone can learn to be competent in anything, then anyone should be able to learn how to sell, right? This seems to be the position taken by most sales books, CDs, and training programs. The unspoken promise is that if someone invests the time, effort, and money required to learn the skills they teach, the student will (eventually) succeed in sales.
Unfortunately, there are countless examples of salespeople who fail
Think about the salespeople you know personally. How many of them are struggling to make their quotas? Why are they struggling?
What if everyone CANNOT become proficient in sales? What if success in sales requires a unique set of talents?
Herb Greenberg, Harold Weinstein and Patrick Sweeney report this very conclusion in their book, How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer. After comparing the results of hundreds of thousands of assessments with actual sales performance measurements, they reached these startling conclusions:
"55% of the people earning their living in sales should be doing something else" and "another 20% to 25% have what it takes to sell, but they should be selling something else."
Why aren't these poor sales performers "weeded out" during the recruiting process?
A key reason why companies suffer from 80/20 sales performance is their hiring decisions are based entirely on SUBJECTIVE information. Consider the following:
According to Lou Adler, author of Hire With Your Head:
"More errors are made during the first 30 minutes of an interview than at any other time. Emotions, biases, perceptions, stereotypes, and first impressions are powerful human forces that profoundly affect individual judgment."
We're NOT suggesting that subjective information is useless
Subjective information is a valid and valuable component of any "people decision". We believe this so strongly that we provide a FREE special report that will help you improve the quality of the subjective information you gather during your recruiting process.
With that said, if decisions based solely on subjective information produce an undesirable result 80 percent of the time (remember the 80/20 rule?), doesn't it make sense to consider adding quality OBJECTIVE information to the mix?
One change that makes a big difference in sales recruiting success is specialized sales assessment tests that capture specific, OBJECTIVE information about salespeople and sales job candidates.
We're NOT referring to personality, behavioral, or communication style assessments. These types of assessments can be useful for personal development. However, they don't gather enough information to accurately predict whether or not an individual can succeed in sales.
What are the chances that narrowly focused assessments that take just 15 to 30 minutes to complete will be able to identify whether an individual has the talents required to succeed in ALL of these areas?
An individual can have every talent required to achieve top sales performance. However, if they don't ENJOY the activities involved in selling, chances are they won't perform very well for very long.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You hire a salesperson that looks and sounds great. They seem to have all of the talent in the world. They hit the ground running and generate impressive results during their first few months on the job. However, over time their performance starts to decline, and no one can figure out why. Far too often the reason is they don't LIKE selling.
I have to admit I was hesitant when we first got together. The concept of assessments felt like reading tea leaves. However, you have really opened my eyes to the value they can provide.
Your assessments have certainly made an impact in our sales process from a hiring perspective. Since we started working with you, our monthly sales run rate has nearly doubled. I can't assign a specific percentage of that sales growth to our work together, but I know it has been an important factor.
During the internet bubble, everyone was winning. Anyone who was in sales back then has a resume that looks great. This makes it hard to flush out the people who can really do the services value sell. You have helped us find these people, and avoid others that we might have hired in the past who would have been mistakes.
Our company has worked with a lot of consultants in the past, and paid thousands of dollars in consulting fees. You are the only consultant who has really made a difference in our business.
I'm looking forward to expanding our use of assessments beyond sales, marketing and recruiting, and into the technical and management aspects of our business.
I wanted to tell you how pleased I am with your company's sales assessment tests. As you know, I was skeptical at first. However, the initial pilot project and results from the dozens of candidates we have assessed during the past six months have clearly demonstrated how uncannily accurate the tests are. They have saved me a lot of time by helping me identify truly qualified sales job candidates. Plus, for the first time we have an accurate picture of what a top sales performer looks like.
I have gone against the tests on occasion and hired someone based upon a "gut feeling", but none of those hires have worked out. It is clear that my gut instinct (from 20 years of experience) is not as accurate as your tests! It's not a surprise your tests have now become the de facto standard for all of our sales offices.
Thank you for your help!
Corporate Technologies, LLC
New Hope, MN
What makes these sales assessment tests so effective are the customized benchmarks we develop for your company's sales position(s). Here is the process we follow to develop customized benchmarks:
Once a preliminary custom benchmark has been developed, other individuals can be assessed and their scores compared against the benchmark. If an individual's scores are a close match to the benchmark, their talents are similar to those of the top sales performers whose scores were used to create the benchmark. If these talents are developed through training and experience, these individuals are much more likely to become top sales performers than people whose sales assessment test scores are NOT a close match to the benchmark.
We have assessed thousands of salespeople and compiled the results into several composite top sales performer benchmarks. While these benchmarks will not be as accurate as custom benchmarks that have been constructed using your own company's top sales performer assessment test results, they provide a very effective starting point.
They can help in two specific ways. First, they can help you determine which of these salespeople SHOULD be in sales. If an individual doesn't have the talents required for success in your particular sales job, there may be other roles in your company where their talents and interests can be applied to mutual benefit. If there aren't any such positions available, the kindest thing you can do is let them go.
How can firing someone be kind? Because it is NO fun to struggle in a job that is a poor fit! If you share sales assessment test results with these individuals, they can gain insights into their strongest talents and interests. The sooner they can move into roles that are compatible with their talents and interests, the sooner they will reap the benefits of improved productivity, motivation, and job satisfaction.
The second way our sales assessment tests can help struggling salespeople is by identifying each individual's unique training needs. If you identify a salesperson's unique training needs, and you supply targeted training and coaching to address these needs, you can dramatically improve his or her performance in a relatively short period of time.
Consider the following (hypothetical) example:
Two salespeople, Beth and Bill, work for the same company. Beth is reluctant to ask for orders. Bill is sensitive to rejection, which limits his prospecting effectiveness. If both of these salespeople complete the same sales skills training course, how much improvement in sales performance should their company expect to see?
The answer is little or none. Why? Because Beth and Bill have completely different training needs that will NOT be addressed by basic sales skills training.
Beth would benefit the most from attending an assertiveness training class. She also needs coaching to help her recognize that failing to ask for orders denies her customers valuable solutions to costly business problems.
Bill needs to learn to not take rejection personally. He could also benefit from training that teaches positive thinking and other motivational techniques.
Unfortunately, unless each salesperson's unique training needs are identified, and targeted training is supplied to address each individual's specific needs, there isn't much reason to expect their sales performance to improve!
What's the price for these assessments?
Quantity-based pricing begins at $290 per person assessed and declines as quantities increase. What you receive for your investment is:
How significant is the difference in performance between your company's top sales performers, middle performers, and bottom performers? For many of our clients the difference in performance between top sales performers and middle performers is (at minimum) hundreds of thousands of dollars per year PER PERSON. The difference in performance between top sales performers and bottom performers can be more than $1 million per year PER PERSON.
When you compare these differences in production to the cost of a sales assessment test bundle, it becomes clear that sales assessment tests provide an inexpensive solution to a very expensive problem. Factor in the expense reduction from reducing turnover, and your sales assessment test ROI becomes even more compelling!
ROI is critically important. That's why we have a dedicated an entire page on our website to the topic. Click the following link if you would like to learn more about how to calculate the return on investment (ROI) for sales assessment tests.
Thanks to technology, it is really easy for us to work together, regardless of where in North America your company is located.
Here is an outline of the sales assessment process:
What's the next step?
Would you like to learn more about specialized sales assessment tests? If you would, we'd like to invite you to schedule a no-obligation demonstration. During your telephone appointment we will:
If you would like to take advantage of our no-obligation demonstration, please contact us. We will respond within 24 hours.