Conducted by research firm Aberdeen Group, Measure Twice, Sell Even More: Understanding the Role of Assessments in Sales Management compares best-in-class with under-performing firms, examining the impact of pre-hire sales assessments.
According to the findings, assessment users report 37% more first-year reps achieving targets compared with 'non-adopters’.
The research shows that 42% of best-in-class companies, 27% of ‘industry average firms’, and 15% of ‘laggards’ make use of assessments - drawing a clear correlation between their use and sales performance.
Perhaps more significant though are the evidence-based findings that using assessments can identify the correct types of role within the company for prospective candidates.
In the study, Best-in-Class firms were 14% more likely than under-performers (57% vs. 50%) to indicate that 'tribal knowledge' is formally collected and shared when new salespeople join the team.
Aberdeen Group mentions the ‘millennial-aged’ salesperson – someone comfortable with sharing and trading knowledge. This person is also social-media savvy – identifying new leads through social platforms.
There’s another tie-in here with the role of assessments. The study finds that users have the chance to 'profile their external and internal applicants more thoroughly around their likelihood to consume and share tribal wisdom.'
The example given is a ‘plays well with others’ assessment. A candidate with a low score on this type of assessment could be a better fit for a field sales role – away from the team environment. This, possibly, is one reason why firms using assessments see a higher success rate in a candidates’ first year. Less time is spent defining their role and place within the wider structure, and consequently they have a better chance of hitting the ground running.
Of course, as the study points out, these role types could spot that a candidate is simply not a fit at all.
Despite this clear benefit, it may not be felt by some of the firms surveyed. Only 62% said that they actually have defined competencies for each sales role in the first place.
This number rises to 78% among the Best-in-Class, who recognise the obvious difference between the skills necessary for success in the various selling positions they typically offer to candidates.
Finally, the study identifies that one of the inherent difficulties in recruiting and interviewing sales professionals is that they have a natural ability to spin, and sell themselves.
Using assessments, the group says, can help prevent situations wherein a candidate might be able to land an ill-fitting sales position.
The full report is available to download here.