In the world of sales, talent acquisition and salesperson’s skills development are vital components of success. It’s no secret that the right salespeople can make all the difference in achieving and surpassing your revenue goals. To ensure your team has the best chance to meet or exceed its potential, it’s incredibly important to accurately assess both candidates for hire and your current salespeople. Determining which assessment can accurately predict a salesperson’s success has been an ongoing debate for decades. The debate centers around using a personality-based assessment versus a skills-based assessment.
While both assessment types have their merits, hiring managers must understand the distinct differences between both types of assessments and how they can be used to optimize their sales team’s performance.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the differences between personality-based assessments and skills-based assessments, why both types can be helpful, and why focusing on skill sets is the ultimate differentiator.
Personality-Based Assessments vs. Skills-Based Assessments
The entire assessment industry was created for one reason. To determine whether or not the personality type of the assessment taker “qualifies” them for the right position in a school or in the military. Yes. Assessments were created for schools and the Armed Forces. Guess what they weren’t created for? To determine someone’s effectiveness in sales or sales leadership! Personality-based assessments evaluate an individual’s inherent traits, such as extroversion, openness, conscientiousness, assertiveness, patience, etc. These assessments typically rely on self-reported questionnaires to gauge how well someone’s personality aligns with the ideal salesperson archetype. Like being extroverted, likable, and having low patience.
However, there is no “salesperson” personality! Assessment companies will tell you that and they’ll use antiquated assumptions and incomplete data to perpetuate this misguided assertion. The myth that salespeople need to be charismatic, engaging, and extroverted is just that, a myth. Science clearly shows that people who display the qualities of both introverts and extroverts sell the most. The introverted, patient salesperson is often the better listener, problem solver, and asks deeper questions. They focus more on solving their prospects’ problems than needing to be liked, which makes them a more effective trusted advisor. Doesn’t that sound like a better salesperson? I’m not trying to influence you in one way or another, I’m simply pointing out there’s not a perfect personality for a salesperson.
Personality assessments can still be effective tools and they can provide real value. They help assess team dynamics, they give you a deeper understanding of how to approach someone, and they’ll reveal emotional and behavioral patterns that allow you to better relate to them. However, they should never be used to predict sales success, ever. They don’t do that. They can’t do that. They won’t do that. Correlation is not causation.
For that reason, you should never use a personality assessment itself to predict sales success. A better way would be to combine the findings of a skills-based assessment first, then include the findings of a personality-based assessment. Skills-based assessments measure an individual’s abilities in specific sales tasks and competencies, such as prospecting, negotiation, and closing. These assessments provide concrete data on a salesperson’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing for targeted training and development.
By focusing on specific sales competencies, these assessments enable organizations to develop targeted training programs that address skill gaps and enhance overall performance. They also provide a more objective and reliable measure of a salesperson’s potential for success, as opposed to relying solely on personality traits.
Why Skills Development Should Be the Focus
While both personality-based assessments and skills-based assessments are valuable tools for sales organizations, the focus should be on skills development first. The reason is simple: skills are teachable and can be improved with the right training and coaching. By concentrating on skill development, organizations can create a more adaptable, resilient sales team that’s capable of overcoming challenges and consistently achieving revenue targets.
Skills-based assessments provide actionable insights that can be used to avoid hiring mistakes and to develop customized training programs tailored to each individual’s needs. There are some key benefits to this approach:
Identifying High-Potential Candidates
While personality-based assessments can help you gauge a candidate’s fit within your sales team, skills-based assessments provide concrete evidence of their ability to perform in a sales role. By prioritizing skills-based assessments, you can identify high-potential candidates who possess the necessary skills to succeed in your organization.
Targeted Training and Development
Skills-based assessments provide valuable insights into each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to create targeted training programs that address specific skill gaps. This ensures that your sales team receives the support they need to excel in their roles and deliver outstanding results.
Improved Hiring Decisions
Hiring the right salespeople is essential to the success of your business. One bad sales hire can have significant financial and reputational repercussions for an organization. Studies show the average bad sales hire will cost a company $1.3M. The sales team is responsible for generating revenue, and hiring the wrong salespeople can be devastating for your company in several ways.
Firstly, a wrong sales hire can harm your brand’s reputation. If your new salesperson lacks the necessary skills or has a poor work ethic, they may be unable to close deals, which can lead to lost opportunities and damage to your company’s reputation in the market. This negative impression can spread quickly, causing irreparable harm to your company’s image, and ultimately leading to a loss of revenue.
Secondly, a wrong sales hire can also be costly. Not only does it cost time and money to hire and train sales staff, but a wrong hire can also be expensive in terms of lost revenue. If a salesperson is unable to meet their targets or fails to generate sufficient revenue, your company will be paying their salary without reaping any benefits in return. This situation can be especially problematic if your company is on a tight budget, as every hire must be a worthwhile investment.
Thirdly, the cost of not ramping up your salespeople fast enough can be devastating. New sales hires, on average, take ten months to achieve full productivity. Slow ramp-up time leads to fewer deals, missed opportunities, and decreased revenue generation, particularly when the salesperson underperforms or leaves the company prematurely.
Lastly, a wrong sales hire can also disrupt team dynamics. The sales team is often a tight-knit group, and a poorly chosen member can cause friction and resentment. This can lead to decreased productivity and motivation, as well as higher staff turnover rates, which can further harm your company’s bottom line.
Conclusion for Skills Development
In conclusion, the power of skills-based assessments in sales cannot be overstated. By utilizing a comprehensive approach to hiring and training, organizations can build a strong and adaptable sales team that consistently meets and exceeds revenue targets. Skills-based assessments, when used in conjunction with personality assessments, can help identify high-potential candidates, facilitate targeted training and development, and improve hiring decisions. By focusing on skills development, sales organizations can create a foundation for success, minimize the costly consequences of bad sales hires, and drive sustainable growth. All the data and all the science show that personality assessments do not predict sales success and that is why most sales hires do not work out. A shift to skills-based assessments married with tailored training will solve this problem and unlock the full potential of your sales team.
At The Sales Collective, our team of experts has a wealth of knowledge and decades of experience helping companies of all types and sizes become more effective. Many of our clients have seen dramatic increases in the success of new hires, after implementing these changes, and we’d be happy to share more when the time is right. If you’d like more information, please visit us at: TheSalesCollective.com.