Sales Skills Assessment: Evaluating Your Team’s Performance
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Before building a successful sales team, it’s important to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your potential hires through a comprehensive sales skills assessment.
A sales assessment test can be a useful part of the recruitment process for sales organizations looking to hire new sales representatives.
Sales managers tasked with creating and administering sales skill assessments may find it difficult to know where to begin.
Let’s take a deeper look at this sales training and recruiting tool and how it can improve a company’s hiring process.
A sales skills test shows a sales manager how well a sales candidate fits in the sales position for which they are interviewing.
The hiring team tests the sales candidate’s ability in various areas common to the sales industry. Depending on the specifics of their business, hiring managers may show interest in different aspects of sales.
So, one skills assessment may focus on role-playing potential customer phone calls. Another may include writing samples or conducting research.
Why would a sales company make use of sales assessment questions during the interview process?
Companies want to ensure that the sales reps they hire are top performers with the skills, personality traits, and abilities they claim.
This is a standard practice to test the salesperson. After all, would you hire a wedding cake baker without sampling a few bites?
Sales assessments help to identify if candidates exaggerate on their resumes or during interviews. Therefore, it can also be an indicator of how well the sales rep thinks on their feet.
There is a benefit to running this test on candidates who claim no sales experience at all. It can evaluate what skills they already possess and what must be taught.
Sales leaders that are designing an assessment test should approach the task with forethought and care.
If the assessment is too simple, it may create the risk of selecting a sales representative to add to the sales team that isn’t a great fit.
If the sales assessment is too difficult, it may cause a hiring manager to overlook a candidate that would be a top performer.
Sales assessment tests can take many forms, and the one a sales manager selects will ultimately depend on the skills they want to track.
Whatever the format, the ultimate goal is to get a better understanding of candidates. Sales assessment questions can give insight into candidates’ personalities.
Assessment tests can be tailor-written for specific sales roles to determine where an applicant would best succeed at the sales company.
Consider some common formats that may be encountered during the interview process. These may be individual questions or form the bulk of the test.
The majority of sales representatives use email for communication with clients. Companies will want to ensure that they test a potential employee’s ability to write clear and concise messages in this medium.
A hiring manager can start by observing any communication the candidate has had with them by email.
Is the tone overly casual? Do they respond promptly and with courtesy? Are there easily addressed grammatical errors?
These are red flags because a sales rep should be taking every opportunity to make a great first impression.
One method of testing this skill is to ask candidates to craft an email detailing how they would reach out to prospects for a cold call at their previous sales role.
Good verbal communication must be present too. Thereforem sales reps need to be comfortable on the phone to add a personal touch and build closer relationships with current clients.
It could mean the difference between having the ability to close a deal and losing out on reaching sales goals.
A good test of this ability would be a mock sales call. The interviewer can assume a common buyer persona and ask the candidate to sell a product or service to them.
Red flags with a verbal assessment include shakiness and a lack of confidence. A salesperson must be ready to answer tough questions, handle objections, and endure silence smoothly.
As a further step in the evaluation process, consider a question or scenario that the candidate can take home and complete with a little more forethought.
This is an area where sales leaders can focus on the specific skill set they need for a particular role in their sales team.
For example, if a company is hiring an inside sales representative who will primarily be searching for prospects from new business clients, devise a test that will highlight the necessary skills.
The skills assessment may instruct them to consider a product they have sold before and:
The interviewer will want to pay special attention to detail. Red flags here include missing items or shallow responses that indicate a lack of drive to complete something started.
Ultimately, skills assessment questions should assess skills. What kinds of skills? Take a look at several categories of skills that can be revealed through an effective assessment.
Clear communication is key to selling. Candidates who cannot communicate will not have great success at building relationships with potential clients and will fall behind in sales.
A large part of the sales process is bound up with a salesperson having listening skills. When a person lacks this ability, they demonstrate that they will struggle with selling.
Candidates should be ready to write and speak in such a way that they show they want to keep the lines of communication open, not just sell products to the customer.
Communication skills involve emotional intelligence, an effort to make a connection, and working to keep the customer engaged.
Some sales team positions may require specific technical skills. In addition, this could be true if the product or services a company sells are highly technical or the rep will be answering in-depth questions on the product line.
Sales skills questions may serve to show if a person has prior knowledge of an industry and evaluate their proficiency.
While a lack of knowledge may not be a deal-breaker for some businesses, it could indicate what kind of training will be needed during onboarding.
Another skill type that may be identified through a skills assessment is being goal-oriented. Candidates’ responses should highlight the fact that they are working toward set goals and are motivated to reach them.
A person who shows they can be proactive about meeting sales quotas will be better than one who displays the attitude of “I’ll do my best.”
Some sales leaders just want to test the general intellectual abilities of those they hire. These all-around skills can ensure that a sales representative won’t struggle after being hired.
Cognitive skills could include things like:
Another kind of skill that is displayed through a skill assessment is soft skills. These skills may not directly relate to the world of selling, but they can support it.
Good candidates will show they will make great additions to a business unit by displaying kindness and respect.
They should engender a spirit of persistence because selling often leads to a negative response from prospects.
The sales representative should have the ability to keep moving forward and not get bogged down in the “No.”
Organization and the ability to manage time well are two skills that give insight into how successful a rep will be in a sales position.
A lot of duties will cross their desk and they need to be able to handle them all and prioritize well.
Don’t forget that assessments are not just for prospective additions to the company. A business team thrives on continued professional development with each person working toward personal improvement.
Encourage sales team members to perform a self-assessment by using some of the same skills assessments that are used in the interview process.
This may present areas of their personality that they can focus on to become more complete sales professionals.
A sales skills assessment test can be an effective tool for finding salespeople to fill a sales role. Likewise, they allow the salesperson to prove what they have written on their resume.
The recruiter/employer should look for specific skills in the ideal candidate, regardless of the chosen format, whether it is written, verbal, or a take-home project for more in-depth work.
With effective assessments in place, hiring salespeople becomes a less stressful process and can lead to a more complete and competent team.