Using a sales aptitude assessment to help you make the best hiring decisions possible is one of the most important steps in turning around an ailing sales division.
This is because natural talent is responsible for 50 percent of sales success, with the rest being training and education. You can have the best training program and coaches in the world, but if you are training and coaching the wrong people who lack natural talent, you won’t get far.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get the most from a sales aptitude assessment program in your company.
1. Take the test yourself.
Taking the test yourself is a great way to get familiar with it and gauge its accuracy and value.
2. Avoid disruption — work in stages.
While testing a whole sales staff at once might be feasible (see #6 below), you’ll likely want to make personnel changes in phases rather than all at once.
3. Use the results to actively coach better performance.
If the results for a team member show weaknesses, take advantage of this opportunity to coach for improvement. We call this Stretch to Success and it can lead to performance gain in the double digits.
4. Test everyone.
Rather than reserve the test solely for new applicants or existing sales people, test the sales managers and VP of Sales. Everyone has room to improve, and a sales aptitude assessment can break through to even those resistant to change or with high egos and status.
5. Buy in Bulk.
Most testing providers will offer a discount if you buy several tests at once. If you are planning to hire several dozen new salespeople, the savings can be quite substantial. This is even more true at the regional level, where hundreds of both new applicants and existing staff are slated to be tested over several months. If the testing provider does not advertise a bulk discount, you can probably negotiate one anyway.
Testing after some time, say after an individualized coaching or training program has been undertaken to “stretch” trouble spots towards better performance, confirms the effectiveness of your actions and reveals if there are still areas of improvement possible.
7. Never punish.
It is ill-advised to fire an existing employee based on their test results. First, if a test-taker has been less than honest when taking the test, it can skew scores. Tests are designed to catch this sort of thing, but sometimes one slips through. Second, it can make someone feel persecuted and cause litigation. It is better to counsel someone that a transfer or career change may be in their best interests, document the conversation (and the test) in the employee’s files, and only fire when repeated subpar performances occur. The test and employee file will back you up, but coordinate with your HR and legal teams to make sure.
Sales aptitude assessments are like peering into a crystal ball and seeing a candidate’s future. They help you predict who is likeliest to succeed, and you can then take this person and mold them into sales superstars with training and coaching.
The sky’s the limit!