The owner of a family company with a direct sales force of 64 salespeople asked us to review their selection process. They used the good old-fashioned “feel” in which they had great faith.
Recently, a non-executive director pointed out that there was a considerable difference in the sales performance within the sales force and therefore, he believed that the selection procedure was not discriminating well enough between those who could do a reasonable selling job and those who were the superior performers.
The company had tried several different incentives and motivational packages over several years with no noticeable effect on sales.
We were asked to research these issues. We reviewed the psychometric battery, the interview process, and the induction program. All were used professionally, so the selection process was deemed to be sound. The only potential problem we could see was that the tests were not actually assessing the right factors. They could identify moderate performers but do not appear to determine the high flyers.
We assessed the whole sales force using our own Sales Culture Orientation Questionnaire and discovered some startling results:
Superior performers all scored well above the average in:
This is the extent to which a person will set high targets for himself or herself. Then pursues the achievement of those targets with energy and single-minded determination. This person will work around obstacles, disappointments, and hardship seeing the end-goal as a prize worth working hard for.
Here an individual is wholly committed to the company, its management and products, and services. S/he acts as an ambassador for the company, cares about the company’s reputation and promotes brand loyalty.
Here an individual has a real sense of urgency. S/he is quick to do everything that is necessary to complete tasks, including working extremely hard and working long hours without complaint until essential tasks are completed.
Conversely, the moderate group scored significantly higher on:
This includes enjoying working in a group, being helpful and supportive of those in the group. Such people need others around them to feel good.
This includes enjoying being of service to others, willingly helping anyone who needs or asks for it. Such people have high standards of service and readily put themselves out for others.
People high on flexibility are very responsive and receptive to change. They enjoy novelty and let go of old ways of working and look for new challenges.
This brief comparison of the moderate and superior performing groups illustrates several things:
- To be valid, research into excellent performance requires objective assessment methods that include a range of relevant assessment factors for the role in question. Any old psychometric test will not do.
- Incentive and motivational packages can have some short-term effects, but over the medium term, enduring factors such as suitable attitudes and beliefs about the nature of sales work are what matter.
- The top sales performers were highly focused on the achievement of their targets. They drove themselves to do what is necessary, including working hard without complaint and always believing in the company and what it stood for.
It is important to stress; there is nothing wrong per se with qualities of teamwork, adaptability and giving service. What this case study illustrates is that in this sales role, in this organization, these qualities did not contribute to superior sales performance.
As a result of this research, the company used the SCOQ to recruit 10 new salespeople using a new selection template placing emphasis on achievement, company commitment, and action.
The business impact of this change was:
- Average sales for moderate performers was $150,000.
- Average sales for new recruits (using superior performer template) $200,000.
- Total incremental benefit $500,000.
An excellent result for a small investment.
For your FREE initial consultation on how we can make this service work for you call toll free (888) 384-9424.