Successfully reported this slideshow.
This eBook covers:
How to determine if your existing talent is capable of executing future growth Essential features of effective sales hiring assessments Why personality assessments alone are inadequate How to identify who you should choose as your next sales manager
SELECTING & DEVELOPING
SALES TALENT WITH
2© Sales Performance International, Inc
TABLE OF CONTENTS
SELECTING & DEVELOPING SALES
TALENT WITH EMPLOYEE ASSESSMENTS
01: CURRENT SALES TALENT VS. FUTURE GROWTH
CanYourExisting Sales Talent ExecuteYourFuture Growth Strategy?
02: THE THREE ESSENTIAL FEATURES OF TOP-
NOTCH SALES HIRING ASSESSMENTS
Elements Of Effective SellerAssessment
03: THE PERSONALITY TRAP
Why Personality Assessments Alone Are Inadequate ForSales Hiring
04: TOP PRODUCER OR NATURAL COACH
Who ShouldYou Choose asYourNext Sales Manager?
3© Sales Performance International, Inc
CURRENT SALES TALENT
VS. FUTURE GROWTH
CAN YOUR EXISTING SALES TALENT EXECUTE YOUR
FUTURE GROWTH STRATEGY?
By Dave Christofaro, Talent Analytics Practice Leader, SPI
To say that markets are changing rapidly in response to many forces is an
understatement. For example, we described in our recent book, The Collaborative
Sale, how buyer behavior is changing dramatically as a result of easy access
to information, increased globalization, the rise of Millennials in business, the
shortening time of competitive advantage, and other factors.
New disruptive competitors, backed by deep-pocketed venture capitalists,
can pop up overnight. Take the example of HR software start-up Zenefits, which
recently announced that it had just raised a whopping $500 million in VC funding –
giving them a total valuation of $4.5 billion. Zenefits is bent on disrupting this sleepy
and regulated industry, just as Uber disrupted the taxicab trade.
As a sales leader, you know that you need to constantly evolve in the face
of these kinds of dramatic changes, or you will be left in the dust. As you adapt your
sales strategy to align with your changing corporate strategy, have you also adapted
your sales talent strategy to follow suit? In other words, is the team that got you to
your current state also able to fulfill your new growth strategy?
DEFINING SALES TALENT
We have observed that most sales organizations struggle to define
what “good” and “great” salespeople should look like. They typically default to the
characteristics of people who have succeeded in the past. This is not, altogether,
a bad idea. However, as your business requirements change, your sales roles and
the definition of excellence in these roles are also likely to change – and in the face
of dramatic business changes, your previous definitions, based on what worked
before, may quickly become dead wrong.
For example, we have a client in the software industry that grew primarily
through acquisition. Acquired entities operated autonomously and were usually
left alone, as long as they made their respective growth and profitability numbers.
Although the profile of top performers varied somewhat across divisions, many of
their sellers were strong product specialists who excelled by really knowing their
product and by positioning features and benefits to technical buyers.
like conditions in the VC market, good acquisitions became much more costly. Our
direction, and then decided to transition from growth through acquisition to organic
growth. Slowly but surely, they started to integrate divisions under a common go-
to-market strategy that focused on selling a comprehensive enterprise solution to
Some previous top-performers continued to deliver good sales results,
expertise to help them understand why. We started by developing a competency
model for their future-state C-level solution seller and supporting roles. While each
model will be unique for every organization, we leveraged our competency library
and pre-existing profiles as a starting point, and then refined it iteratively to develop
a valid competency map.
We then identified the target proficiency levels for each competency in
4© Sales Performance International, Inc
each role. We used a proficiency level scale from 1 to 4, with 4 being the top. Not
everybody needs to be level 4. One may only need to be level 3 in a competency
in order to perform a role sufficiently. Then, we assessed each incumbent to
determine their proficiencies and identified gaps to close.
Once we gathered the data, our industrial and organizational psychologists
crunched through the statistics to build performance models. This enabled them to
determine which competencies make the most impact on sales results and isolate
the behaviors of top performers – the critical sales competencies. Out of more
than fifty sales competencies, we identified the four most critical ones, enabling our
client to focus on what mattered the most.
By identifying the critical sales competencies and proficiency levels for
the roles necessary to support the new strategy, our client was able to take the
guesswork out of their hiring decisions. It also enabled them to provide tailored
coaching for the individual and development to current salespeople, based on their
true needs. They now have a much more systematic way of ensuring that their sales
talent is able to deliver on their new business strategy.
ENSURING STRATEGY AND SALES TALENT ALIGNMENT
When you make significant changes to your sales strategy, it is important
to define your new sales roles clearly and to develop accurate competency models
for these roles. The bigger the strategic shift, the more likely the model of a top
performer will be different from what it was before. Assessing your team against
a competency model that is aligned with your new strategy will help you determine
where people need help to make the transition successfully, and give you a
benchmark for hiring new talent into these roles.
Has your sales strategy changed recently? Download a free white paper
about ensuring you have the sales talent to fulfill your new sales objectives and
goals, or to register for a free webinar on how sales talent analytics enables you to
align your sales team with your company strategy.
5© Sales Performance International, Inc
THE THREE ESSENTIAL
FEATURES OF TOP-NOTCH
SALES HIRING ASSESSMENTS
ELEMENTS OF EFFECTIVE SELLER ASSESSMENT
By Dave Christofaro, Talent Analytics Practice Leader, Sales Performance International
At this moment, an online search for “sales hiring assessment” delivers
over 46 million hits. But here’s a dirty little secret: most of these assessments don’t
significantly improve the accuracy and quality of new hires. Statistical analysis of
generic assessments indicates that they can only improve the likelihood of hiring
the right sales candidate to a maximum of around 50 percent - which means that
you will likely be wrong more than half the time, at best. In other words, most sales
hiring assessments provide about as much certainty as rolling dice.
You can ensure that you select the right sales hiring assessment by
following a few simple guidelines:
1. Use assessments that measure KSAs
The most common type of assessment is a personality assessment.
However, every serious research study on assessments show that
personality scores have almost nothing to do with job knowledge, skills and
abilities (KSAs). The performance of sales candidates who bring success
in the shortest amount of time is based far more on KSA’s than their
personality. Personality can be useful for evaluating a candidate’s cultural
fit within an organization, but be sure to also include knowledge tests,
as well as behavioral interview guides and/or role-plays/simulations for
demonstrations of skills and abilities.
2. Don’t use “off-the-shelf” assessments – tailor them to improve PV
In the world of assessments, validity refers to how well a test or assessment
actually measures what it intends to measure. Predictive validity (PV)
is how accurately an assessment predicts future success and it varies
by assessment type. “Off-the-shelf” assessments that have not been
tailored to the specifics of a job role have the lowest PV. (Schmidt and
Hunter, The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology:
Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings.)
6© Sales Performance International, Inc
3. Place heavy emphasis on behavioral-based assessments
Behavioral-based assessments are probably the best type for helping
hiring managers drill deep into a sales candidate’s skills and abilities. In sales
hiring, structured behavioral interview guides and role-plays or simulations
are commonly-used examples of behavioral-based assessments.
Remember, the candidate sitting across the table is a salesperson, so they
the wheat from the chaff by having the candidate demonstrate their skills
and abilities, rather than just talk about them.
The increasing use of pre-hire assessments for sales candidates is undeniable.
However, don’t trust every assessment tool on the market. Be wise when deciding
on what assessments to use. With an improved and more well-informed approach,
you can reduce chances of hiring the wrong person to less than 15 percent – and
your sales team’s performance will be dramatically better in a much shorter time.
Download a free white paper that describes the value of sales hiring assessment,
and how you can use this to develop tailored performance development programs
for your own organization.
7© Sales Performance International, Inc
THE PERSONALITY TRAP
WHY PERSONALITY ASSESSMENTS ALONE ARE
INADEQUATE FOR SALES HIRING
By Dave Christofaro, Talent Analytics Practice Leader, Sales Performance International
Personality assessments, such as DISC or Meyers-Briggs, have an
understandable appeal. They are well-known and generally inexpensive. However,
according to research by I/O Psychology expert, Dr. Frank Schmidt, the predictive
quality, or validity, of personality assessments for selecting productive sales hires is
far inferior to other assessment methods.
As the graph below shows, personality tests ranked near the bottom of predicting
success in a job, and other assessments methods scored much higher. This is
consistent with our research and experience working with our own clients.
Even in sales, personality alone rarely correlates to success in a job. Using an
inexpensive but also ineffective tool comes at a high cost—the increased chance
of making a bad hire. Research data proves that using personality assessments as
the primary assessment during hiring results in bad hire rates as high as 50 percent.
Let that soak in… 1 out of every 2 new sales reps could be the wrong fit for your
The subjective nature of personality assessments in hiring also places hiring
organizations that use them at risk of violating Equal Employment Opportunity
using personality assessments for hiring. Needless to say, to depend so heavily on a
questionable tool could lead to costly mistakes and potential legal action.
IT’S ALL IN THE KSAS
Personality tests simply don’t provide hiring managers enough relevant information
about the candidate’s ability to succeed in the job. It only gives one dimension
when you need to be looking at the whole person. Knowledge and behavior are also
extremely vital components for identifying productive sales hires.
According to research by Schmidt and Hunter, the factors that ultimately drive
performance and effectiveness are knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA). The
success rate of hiring the right person with assessments that measure KSA,
combined with a structured interview process, is about 70 percent. This is more
than three times better than when using personality assessments alone. Again, this
is consistent with our own research and client experience.
Rather than using personality tests alone, you should use an assessment that
measures the traits that correlate to success in a sales role. This means…
8© Sales Performance International, Inc
1. Creating competency models for each role to identify the competencies
that drive success and the corresponding proficiency levels.
2. Evaluating candidates, relative to these standards, with a multi- measure
assessment that measures these competencies.
3. Adopting a uniform hiring process to consistently evaluate candidates,
and training your hiring managers in behavioral event interviewing skills to
uncover the right information to make the best decisions.
This approach doesn’t just help you make better hires. It enables consistent
evaluation of candidates against established standards, which reduces bias in your
So, stop wasting resources on personality assessments and risking a bad hire. Save
yourself the headache in the long run and look towards things that are more reliable
and accurate. Wave goodbye to the personality approach and say hello to KSAs.
Download our Checklist of Effective Sales Hiring Tests to help you make the best
9© Sales Performance International, Inc
TOP PRODUCER OR
WHO SHOULD YOU CHOOSE AS YOUR NEXT SALES
Sales leaders face a challenging dilemma when promoting or hiring a
sales manager. You’ve probably heard warnings about simply putting the best
salespeople into management - it doesn’t always work well. Wayne Gretzky was the
greatest hockey player of all time, but not the best coach. The same was true for
Isiah Thomas, Pete Rose, Bart Starr and Diego Maradona in their respective sports.
But, if you don’t always promote an elite performer, who do you select? Do you
promote an average seller? Or, hire an outsider who isn’t familiar with the nuances
of your business? It’s a difficult decision - and one that can make or break the
performance of a sales team.
It’s hard to know the answer until you understand each candidate at a deeper
level, and how they fit against an ideal profile of a good sales manager for your
organization. Picking the “best” candidate depends on how well you define what a
“good” sales manager looks like for your team, validate that definition, and apply the
model consistently in sales management selection and development.
To start identifying the traits you should consider, download our sales
management competency and attributes listing.
While we find a diversity of competencies and skills in the management ranks of
our clients, there are certain characteristics that all effective sales managers must
possess. These common characteristics include:
1. The discipline to manage systematically
The most effective sales managers use a systematic approach. They
establish a routine cadence for inspection and coaching, and conduct
pipeline and opportunity reviews regularly. Most of these managers are
former sellers who achieved their numbers consistently by developing,
perfecting, and executing sales with a high degree of discipline.
2. The desire to help others improve
Sales managers must also have the will to coach and develop others.
Notice that we say “will,” but not necessarily “skill.” Some competencies
can be more easily trained and learned than others. You can train managers
incoachingskills,butifthey arenot naturally inclinedto coach,thenthey will
not apply those skills effectively.
3. The courage to ask hard questions
Courage is another important trait that we see in effective sales managers.
They must have the courage to ask tough questions about opportunities
that may create discomfort with a “happy-eared” sales rep, or cause a rep
criteria. A good sales manager needs courage to confront challenges that
they encounter in the sales process. Courage is very difficult to train, since
developing the self-confidence to cope with risk and uncertainty comes
only with experience.
We’ve assembled a list of essential sales manager competencies and attributes to
consider when evaluating candidates on your team. Download this list to develop
your optimal sales management profile and make identification of your next
1 0© Sales Performance International, Inc
WHERE TO DOWNLOAD ASSETS?
01: FREE WHITE PAPER
Learn How Sales Talent Assessment Can Ensure That Your Team Is
Aligned With Your Changing Business Strategy.
02: FREE WHITE PAPER
Learn The Essential Elements Of An Effective Sales Hiring Assessment
03: FREE CHECKLIST
This Checklist Includes Sales Hiring Assessment Tools, And Improves Your
Chances Of Selecting The Right Sales Candidates By Three Time OrMore.
04: FREE CHECKLIST
Download This Useful List To Help You Identify Your Next Winning Sales
1 1© Sales Performance International, Inc
Sales Performance International (SPI) is a global sales performance improvement
firm. We help the world’s leading companies drive predictable revenue and
profitability growth by optimizing sales organization performance.
Founded in 1988, SPI has been the leader in helping global companies apply process
and methodologies to transition from selling products to marketing and selling
high-value, customer-focused solutions.
Our extensive sales performance expertise, deep industry knowledge, global
resources, and verified results uniquely position SPI as the go-to firm for
organizations seeking to gain a competitive edge by how they sell.
than 55 countries and 15 languages to achieve higher levels of sales effectiveness.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dave Christofaro is SPI’s Talent Analytics Practice Leader who
is focused on providing sales talent optimization services for
effective assessment of sales teams, and enabling improved
hiring of sales professionals.
James N. Touchstone is SPI’s Director of Learning and
Development, responsible for the creation and enhancement of
advanced sales methodology and skill enhancement programs.
He is also co-author of The Solution Selling Fieldbook.
UNITED STATES, HQ
6201 Fairview Road Ste 400
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA 28210
+1 704 227 6500
Corporate Village – Figueras Building
Da Vincilaan 11
B-1930 Zaventem, Belgium
+32 2 2525004
3 More London Riverside
London, SE1 2RE
+ 44 203 283 4090
East Century Building, No. 345
Xian Xia Road, Chang Ning District,
Shanghai 200336, China
+86 21 3257 7030
1200 McGill College
Montreal Quebec H3B 4G7
+1 514 904 0655