August 17, 2015

Great companies have great people working for them, but it can seem daunting to fill up a sales roster without paying a fortune in sign-up bonuses, salary, and perks to attract top talent. And hiring based on simple job interviews can be very hit or miss.

For years, I searched for a way to skew the odds in favor of hiring managers, and I found it some time ago. It’s called the Craft Personality Questionnaire, which is an employment aptitude assessment. After seeing the results of this test early on, I decided to make it part of our core offerings to our sales training and consulting clients — that is how strongly I felt about the results.

In fact, although I am a sales trainer by nature, I recommend that the first step in building a new sales team or fixing an existing one be aptitude testing rather than a sales course.

Here is how I recommend a company implement an employment aptitude assessment in order to hire the best salespeople.

Step One: Test your existing people.

Your employees might find the prospect of going through an employment aptitude assessment worrisome. So before the program starts, have a sit down with your people and explain what you are doing.

  • Assure everyone on your staff that you are not laying anyone off; you are simply doing an assessment of the current strengths and weaknesses of the team.
  • Emphasize to each employee that answering the questions honestly is the only way to avoid the test results portraying them inaccurately — and there are no “right” or “wrong” answers.

Step Two: Test your new applicants

The first step here is to develop screening criteria to eliminate most unsuitable candidates before they reach the testing stage. This saves considerable time and expense.

  • Examine resumes, references, social media, and do a face to face interview first.
  • Test only those that pass the muster thus far.
  • Do not charge applicants the employment aptitude assessment testing fee. This is illegal in many jurisdictions and is in extremely poor taste. Consider it a cost of doing business, and test only the best prospects.

Step Three: Assign new applicants and re-assign existing personnel based on the test results and personal consultation.

Using test results, determine who are the strongest candidates for each category of position (outside sales, inside sales, support, managers, etc.) and confirm your findings with the individuals themselves to ensure buy-in.

  • Re-assignment can be traumatic, especially if it is to a position with less esteem or pay. You might consider holding current salaries for those being demoted for a certain period of time or some other tactic to lessen the burden for those having difficulty with the process.

Step Four: Coach everyone based on test results

Now that everyone is in the best possible position, use the employment aptitude assessment results to improve any identified areas of weakness in your staff through regular coaching.

Developing an employment aptitude assessment program is becoming increasingly necessary to put the right people “in the right seats on the bus.” Don’t skimp on this — or you may find out too late that the price you pay for hiring the wrong people is losing a substantial amount of business.