April 11, 2013

sales manager deciding whether to use sales test on candidate

Sales managers sometimes wonder whether candidates with years of sales experience need to be tested as part of the hiring process.

If a candidate has demonstrated success in a previous sales role, it can be tempting to forego a thorough vetting process, thinking he must be a sure thing.  However, as interviewers, it is our job to vet each candidate carefully, regardless of experience.

Here are two important considerations when recruiting an experienced sales candidate.

  1. How similar was the candidate’s product/sales cycle to yours?  Some salespeople have a track record of success with established products with short sales cycles.  If your product is similar in that regard, the candidate may do fine.  However, if your product is new and requires an evangelist, or has a long sales cycle, this candidate is entering unfamiliar territory.  If he is not high in optimism, a key element of Drive, he will be in trouble.
  2. Do the products/services the candidate represented in the past have strong brand recognition?  It can be tempting to recruit a salesperson with a track record of success at a large company.  But, we need to find out whether this success was because of his own hard work, or whether the brand was actually doing most of the heavy lifting.  If our product does not have the same degree of brand recognition, we need to make sure the candidate has the need for achievement, competitiveness and optimism necessary to produce for us

We can address both of these concerns, and many more, by vetting our candidates thoroughly, with careful testing and interviewing, before making a hiring decision.

It is not uncommon for companies new to testing to wonder why an experienced candidate scored lower than expected on Drive.  However, a candid follow-up conversation with the hiring manager often reveals one of the issues above.

In this case, the test has served its purpose… it has uncovered characteristics that may cause trouble going forward, and alerted us to proceed with extreme caution.


Dr. Christopher Croner and Richard Abraham are authors of “Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again” and developers of the proprietary and patented sales test, The DriveTest™, for Sales Candidates. For more information, click here.

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