Many of the sales managers we speak to have told us in no uncertain terms: it’s getting harder and harder to retain great sales talent. One of the best ways to retain talent is to hire the right candidates to begin with. But that’s easier said than done.
Because of the strong competition to hire SDRs and inside sales reps, managers are often forced to hire inexperienced sales reps without a proven track record. In fact, many SDRs are hired directly out of college. So how can companies know which reps, especially inexperience ones, have what it takes to succeed?
Some organizations find that personality tests are a great way to recruit reps and predict which ones might have what it takes to hit their numbers.
While there isn’t a single personality type that indicates if a rep will be a success, there are a variety of popular personality assessment tests that can help managers gauge how a well a rep will perform in a particular role.
Though sometimes controversial, proponents of personality assessment tests believe that they offer a valuable way to choose the candidate that can best succeed within a particular culture. For example, a rep with an aggressive/alpha personality type might be perfect for one company’s sales culture but be miserable at another company.
Even more importantly, personality tests can also help managers gauge how to best manage individual reps. After all, one of the biggest reasons reps leave jobs is because they’re not getting the right coaching or have the right sales tools to succeed.
Looking to take a data-driven approach to sales recruitment? We’ve assembled a list of some awesome personality tests that can help you predict reps’ potential for success, and how they can best fit into your organization. In an effort to be unbiased, when possible, I’ve linked an article in favor of and critiquing each assessment test.
The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (or 16PF for short) was devised in the mid 20th century by British psychologist Raymond Cattell. It purports to identify and assess 16 personality traits possessed by all of us in varying degrees. Users answer 164 questions and the test seeks to predict how well prospective reps might complete tasks or handle high stress situations (common in sales). This test differs from certain other personality (such as Myers-Briggs) since it focuses directly on how individuals might react to specific work situations.
Academic critique of the 16PF.
You may be familiar with this one, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a very popular personality test. Though not specific to sales, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most widely used assessments. The test seeks to sort test takers into one of the 16 personality archetypes devised famous psychologist Carl Jung. The test attempts to sort individuals based on four variables: introvert/extrovert, intuitive/sensing, rational/emotional, perceptive/judgmental. This test may not be able to predict a rep’s potential for success. One might think that extroverts make better salespeople than introverts. But some of the best salespeople are actually strategic introverts with excellent social skills. The true value of this test lies is in its ability to help leaders better manage employees. As an example, say you lead two reps. One is idealistic, emotionally-driven and the other is pragmatic and rational. Each rep will require a different style of management to succeed. Understanding this can help managers do a better job of inspiring their entire team to succeed.
On the flip side, here is a criticism of the Myers-Briggs.
The Sales Genomix Test measures 140 sales attributes and distinguishes among 14 sales roles including sales management. The test was designed with the understanding that different sales jobs require different talent sets. What could lead a candidate to succeed in one sales role could lead to them struggling in a different role. The test boasts that it draws upon 20 years of field research among 500,000 sales professionals.
For more than half a century, businesses have used the Caliper Profile Assessment Test to identify 25 traits that relate to job performance. This test, which can be taken online or on paper, purports to provide clear, objective information on an individual’s strengths, limitations, motivations and potential. Caliper consultants are also available to work with businesses to ensure that tests are correctly interpreted.
The DiSC (which stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) is a leading assessment tool that measures employees’ personality and behavior style. While no personality style is inherently indicative of success in sales, this test can help predict whether a rep will be a good culture fit. As I mentioned before, many sales environments seek out reps with dominant, alpha personalities. While there other companies seek out reps that are collaborative and accommodating. Like the Myers-Briggs, this test can also be used to help manage reps with divergent personality types.
Check out an article from Hubspot in favor of the DiSC test.
And here’s a criticism of the DiSC test.
The Grit assessment tool was devised by Dr. Angela Duckworth from University of Pennsylvania. According to Dr. Duckworth, grit can be defined as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” This test seems more useful as a hiring tool for organizations looking for long-term employees, since it can potentially identify sales reps that are “marathon runners” instead of “sprinters.” It is also a short and relatively easy to administer test.
The test is recommended by several top sales leaders including The Bridge Group’s Trish Bertuzzi and Quota Factory’s Pete Gracey.
Here’s an article by Alfie Kohn criticizing the Grit test.
Objective Management Group (OMG) is a sales assessment company that offers several sales-specific assessments for roles including sales reps, managers and directors/VPs. While some of the other tests listed here are applicable to but not specific to sales, the OMG is included because it is 100% focused on assessing sales reps. OMG’s assessment services may come at a higher price point, but seem to offer more sales-specific granularity than some other assessment tests out there.
An article in Huffington Post praising the test
Here are some independent reviews from G2.
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Jesse WestDirector of Lifecycle MarketingRevenue.io
Jesse Davis West is Director of Lifecycle Marketing at Revenue.io, focusing on improving the experience and maximizing the lifetime value for customers across their entire journey. Drawing on 11 years of B2B marketing experience, Jesse is passionate about communication, branding and strategic marketing. He also plays a mean lead guitar and can throw down at karaoke.