Do you test sales applicants?
Sales staff tend to be among the most important representatives of every business, as they often kick off the relationships their firms have with prospects and clientele. At the same time, sales staff and managers are not always tested for their skills prior to being hired, nor are they given training courses in every organization.
Here are some stats to consider:
- Sales Hacker reported that one study pegged the average turnover rate of sales staff to be 25 percent annually, making it the position with among the highest churn of all.
- Salesforce contributor Jason Jordan explained that a strong coaching process that involves well-trained managers in the department has been found to improve closing rates from 25 percent to 37 percent.
- Winmo strongly suggests leveraging tests that evaluate an applicant’s sales skills and proficiency before making a hire, as this will help to ensure that each individual chosen is likely to perform well in the company and stay for longer periods of time.
With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the skills that sales applicants should possess – and human resources professionals should test for – in the modern workplace.
“Communication skills are vital for sales staff.”
Less common, but critical skills
Inc. magazine contributing editor Geoffrey James recently listed some of the skills that sales staff do not often possess, but need to succeed in the current marketplace. For example, the author stated that the ability to identify accounts and prospects who are no longer clients and re-spark the relationship can be invaluable, while communication skills as they specifically relate to email are also vital today.
James went on to state that, because of the sheer breadth of communication tools in use by sales professionals today, these individuals also need to be able to draw the connection between those initial contacts and an in-person meeting. Failure to do so could end up causing the company to miss out on valuable prospects down the road. Finally, he explained that sales staff should be able to tell when one of their contacts are getting close to wanting to make a purchase, and have the skills necessary to close the deal.
These are not necessarily the easiest skills to evaluate in an interview or just by reading an application. As a result, companies need to have a testing protocol in place that leverages tools capable of scoring an applicant in these areas.
Recruitment best practices
Entrepreneur magazine contributor Danny Wong explained that the fight to reduce churn in the sales department begins in the recruitment and onboarding processes of each business. For example, he argued that the screening stage that takes place before an applicant is interviewed should be intensive, looking for a range of signs that a candidate will either be a good fit or potential risk to the company.
In this regard, the author stated that all companies should have a unique approach to their sales recruitment and screening procedures, specifically looking for traits, skills and characteristics that have been shared by successful staff members in the past. However, their approach needs to be informed and consistent to better measure success rates over time. Wong also pointed out that there needs to be a strong strategy in place that ensures the interviewer is asking the right questions.
Once a sales skills assessment has been conducted, the interviewer will likely have more to work with, and can ask more guided questions per each individual applicant.