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Sales Assessments – frequently asked questions: answers by Mark Blezard

What types of sales assessments are there?

Broadly speaking, there are three types of assessments: 1) Sales skills (hard, trainable skills) 2) Psychometric analysis (behaviour assessment)

3) 360 assessments, which are largely an evaluation method via anonymous feedback

Some assessments mix skills and psychometric analysis together.

Which type of sales assessment is best?

This really depends upon what you want to get out of an assessment programme, so it is important you know what type of assessment you are using. If you are embarking on a sales training drive, assessment of selling skills will prove more useful than psychometric analysis. The most important first step is to be clear what you want to achieve from such a programme and then find the right tool to do this.

I have some resistance to participation amongst a few of my sales team. What should I do?

Candidate preparation is essential. We recommend you make it clear that a true assessment is not a test that they can fail but a tool to help management help them progress their career. If you are running a psychometric tool, perhaps suggest it is to help pair them up with the right mentor. In all cases, make it clear that it is about you learning how best to help them become more effective.

Should I share the results with my executives?

Absolutely. It is essential that you give each sales executive access to the results in a one-2-one meeting. This is personal data, so not only do they have the right to it, this is a perfect opportunity to build trust and management relationships.

What if a top performer scores poorly?

This is not uncommon and can often be a result of a senior executive forgetting the basics from previous training whilst managing a group of key, lucrative accounts. But think of this: if they are a top performer with a matching commission bonus, how much more could they be earning if they had a quick refresher course? There are usually some parts of the assessment where they will have scored well, so stress these and the ‘great news’ that we can probably boost your earnings soon.

Are there some assessment tools which are better than others?

When choosing a provider, assessment validation is essential. A bad assessment tool is often more dangerous than no assessment programme at all. Validation is a simple task. Choose three members of your sales team at opposite ends of whatever ‘spectrum’ you are assessing. So for sales skills, for example, choose someone you know who is up to speed with skills, then someone new to the career, and finally someone in the middle of the scale. Your reports should match known quantities, otherwise find an alternative system.

Do I need any special training to run an assessment programme?

This really depends upon the assessment tool you choose. Ordinarily, no, but make sure you fully understand how to read the reports in advance. If a report is not easy to decipher, it may not be the appropriate one to use.

How often should I run assessments?

Run them whenever you recruit sales executives, because this is an essential part of ensuring you only hire the best available. For assessing sales skills, do them probably once per year in line with ‘skills fade’ and/or your sales training cycle.

How do I pass a sales assessment?

There are no right or wrong answers when taking a sales assessment, only your honest feedback. If you try and cheat or ‘game’ the assessment, you will probably be found out!

Sales assessments by Mark Blezard
A sample few pages from Sales Skills Audit's Core Skills

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