March 17, 2015

learn-how-sales-training-exercises-improve-the-interview-processSales is a hands-on job. Some candidates may not seem to be the most clever or extroverted, but put them on the sales floor and an hour before lunch they have met their daily quota.

Identifying those high-producing individuals is difficult.

Failing to do so can lead to excessive turnover rates and decreased team morale, not to mention a substantial financial loss with every bad hire.

So how do you ensure that your sales candidates hit the mark every time?

Sales employment screening during the interview process allows employers to see candidates in action before making a final decision.

This goes beyond the traditional hiring process and gives hiring managers an opportunity to see if your sales candidates are as good in reality as they appear on paper.

 

Overarching Benefits of Pre-Employment Exercises

Sales employment screenings are great for both the company and the applicant. They provide valuable information and streamline the hiring process.

Here are some additional benefits of implementing pre-employment exercises:

  • Provide Insight

    sales-insightEmployers who understand the aptitude of a potential candidate can make important decisions about placement and fit. They provide hiring managers with an intangible feeling, which is also crucial to appropriate placement at a company.

  • Provide Metrics

    sales-metricsToday, humans measure everything from online activity to sales patterns and service adoption rates. Quantitative data helps us make informed decisions that are not based on gut feelings, biases and other outside factors. Metrics for hiring improve the chance of hiring a long-term employee rather than someone who will be out the door in a few months.

  • Safeguard the Future

    safeguard-your-companyEmployees who are not proper fits for the job may have an adverse effect on the company. At best, a poorly suited employee may be negligent, and at worst, he could destroy work dynamics, cause physical harm, or raise unsubstantiated legal claims to take advantage of his or her place.

  • Save Time

    save-time-inverviewing-sales-candidatesSome pre-employment sales tests can help employers choose the best and most qualified candidates to bring in for a formal interview process. They save unnecessary time and labor by not forcing hiring managers to take an excessive number of applicants through the interview process.

  • Allow Candidates to Scope Out an Employer

    sales-candidates-can-evaluate-employersPre-employment exercises also provide candidates with more company interaction. Each layer of communication between the initial application and the final negotiations help candidates evaluate their own fit within a company’s culture.

 

Types of Pre-Employment Exercises

So what exactly do these exercises include?

Companies looking for highly qualified candidates can use sales employment screenings as part of an overarching hiring strategy to quickly highlight the prospects worthy of further evaluation.

To create a comprehensive strategy, an employer must evaluate the qualities that matter the most for their company culture. Some sales reps may require a high level of technical competency while others merely need a go-getter attitude and personality to seal the deal.

Here are some of the most common pre-employment exercises that have been proven effective to find the right salesperson for your team:

  • Competency Testing

    These tests focus on learned knowledge and skills in the salesforce. The tests normally focus on aptitude and real-world application skills for highly technical industries.

    For instance, some salespeople who are responsible for selling software targeted at helping executives develop high-level strategies will need to demonstrate understanding for basic to mid-level and be able to answer additional questions that may arise.

  • Role Playing

    Role-playing, one-on-one and in groups, provides employers with insight into how a potential sales representative will behave in a showroom or on the phone.

    Common scenarios for sales individuals may include telephone and in-person interactions, handling a disgruntled customer and engaging in a meaningful conversation that caters to the needs of the consumer.

    A sale today is more complex than ever before. Successful pre-employment exercises recognize that the nurturing stage of the sales cycle is longer and may require a unique, innovative approach. These scenarios will demonstrate a candidate’s tact and finesse in the field.

  • Online Sales Assessment

    It is easy for someone to fake exuberance and a work ethic for a day or even a week, but a well-developed sales assessment can determine whether or not a candidate will have the ability to meet long-term sales goals.

    There are three innate personality traits your sales assessment should be measuring: Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism. These three traits are proven to indicate the long-term success of a sales candidate.

    Scoring ranges from “likely to succeed” to “no inherent aptitude for sales,” and can be used in conjunction with other pre-employment exercises to determine how likely your sales prospect will be able to thrive in your company.

  • In-Tray Exercise

    Sales candidates need to be able to handle themselves effectively in a business environment as well as on the sales floor.

    In-tray exercises present prospects with information in the form of documents, correspondence and messages. The administrator will ask the prospect to look at the work load and make decisions about each item. Some pieces may need to be marked actionable and others may be tabled.

    The prospect must choose the most acceptable action for each task. From that information, hiring managers will see ingrained work ethic and a person’s ability to prioritize.

 

There are other forms of pre-employment exercises, including company-specific tests, written skills and other forms of sample assignments.

Consider testing for location-based information and other general knowledge that may be pertinent to a position. Even a luncheon can be considered a pre-employment exercise and show hiring managers the important aspects of a candidate’s personality and culture fit.

 

Other Considerations for Pre-Employment Exercises

Do not overburden your prospects with test after test. Candidates who are great fits for your company may choose another less intimidating process, and that will hurt your hiring strategy.

Choose one or two solutions that are effective for your specific sales needs. Market your testing in a positive light and keep your testing methods practical but thorough.

 

What exercises do you use during your interview process that help you filter out the A-players from the pretenders?