Sales Resources .

Sales leadership & management

To Test or Not to Test?

Written by

David Hoath

Many Sales people are recruited and managed by non-sales people.  Not surprisingly mistakes are sometimes made in the recruitment process. 

More often, a non-sales person thinks that “all salespeople are the same” and then fails to understand why the appointment hasn’t worked.

Ask any Salesperson or Sales Manager and they will tell you: all sales people are NOT the same.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  Think, for a moment, about the characteristics of a highly skilled Salesperson selling technically complex, high capital solutions into the Pharmaceutical, Medical or Scientific world.  Compare that to the low cost, high volume format and approach of everyday consumables to, say, the retail community or even to the public. 

Ordinarily, the former is a long, complex and high value transaction with the need for the Salesperson to be highly skilled and technically adept.  The latter, is about a Salesperson who is not averse to making 10, 20 or even more sales ‘calls’ or presentations in a single day.  The differences are palpable and obvious.  Yet, apparently, “all sales people are the same”

We also no longer resort to the over simplistic descriptors of “Hunter Gatherers’ versus “Farmers”.  That, too, is rather last century!

As someone who has over the years employed hundreds of sales people believe me when I say that I have made many mistakes in employing the wrong person. Like many of you I have been let down by the ‘like employs like’, the halo effect, I have overlooked some concerns to take a risk or by going on the strength of the CV or that gushing reference. However, and it is a big however when I started utilising Psychoanalysis as part of the process (not to rely on but as part of the decision making) my mistakes reduced considerably.  

The role of Psychoanalysis is now commonplace – it manifests itself mainly in Psychometric Testing or Behavioural analysis.  My preferred and one of the most common form of this is ‘DISC’ profiling.  This simple, quick and cheap testing process will accurately define the key characteristics of any person taking the test with astounding accuracy and then highlight through those traits the propensities to be a square peg in a square hole or not.  

Put simply, the type of personality that is most suited to business development, opening the opportunity and indeed closing the deal is in fact the diametrically opposite personality type from the customer service or after sales specialist.  And yet, time and time again you see Employers expecting Sales personnel to be ‘all things to all people’.  This is neither reasonable nor sensible.  

Psychoanalysis and the understanding of the individual have never been more important – and not only as a means of assuring role and culture fit.  It is absolutely demonstrable that the most successful Sales people the world over has been categorically matched with the most appropriate personality traits that the role demands. 

On this basis, there are at least 12 known, understood and measurable Sales ‘types’ based on personality traits.

These include the Solution Architect (CD), the Distant Expert (SCD) and the Careful Specialist (SC) – just three types from one quadrant of the Psychoanalytical spectrum for example.

How well do your Salespeople measure up against this?  Is it conceivable that an understanding of the nuances of your Salespeople and some adjustments to their role and responsibilities could lift performance and outcomes?

Whether a Salesperson is being recruited by another Sales Professional or not, real clarity of role outcomes, behaviours and types of sales activity must be differentiated and put to the fore.

In sporting parlance: are you looking for a Prop Forward or a Full Back – both are critically important, both key contributors to a successful outcome and both possess differentiated skills and make-ups.  But both are required and are rarely interchangeable.

Consider this: making a mistake in appointing the wrong Salesperson will lower revenue outcomes, perhaps damage customer relationships and your brand or even create a toxic culture amongst workmates.  Worse still, the average cost to NZ business for every employee that leaves (whether through their own choice or yours) is $48,000*.

The correct appointment and role fit will have completely the opposite effect and will improve productivity, efficacy and outcomes.  More importantly, it takes the guesswork out of recruitment and lowers attrition overall.

To test or not to test? I know what my answer to that is!

* Research published by NZ Institute of Personnel Directors 2016

About Indicator

Indicator provides expert training and consulting for sales leaders and CEOs who want to transform their capability, performance and impact in the market – for their teams and organisations.

We bring together like-minded people and industry leaders through consultation, training courses and the Sales Syndicate – the monthly programme designed specifically for sales managers and sales leaders.