How to Assess Sales Candidates - Sales Skills Assessment | The Sales Connection

How to Assess Sales Candidates - Sales Skills Assessment | The Sales Connection

Discover how to assess sales candidates with this guide. Get insight on sales assessment, sales skills assessment, sales assessment testing and more!

Kayvon Kay
Kayvon Kay

January 3, 2023

People in room having a meeting

The Best Guide to Sales Assessment for Your Sales Representatives

If you're hiring sales representatives, it's critical to get your sales assessments right because it takes an average of 3.2 months for a sales representative to achieve full productivity. That's wasted months and lost sales if they end up being a bad hire.

But how do you filter out the candidates who are good at interviews but bad at sales?

How do you find sales reps who will help you double and triple your revenue?

We’ll explore that in this article, including sample sales assessment questions. 

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What Are Assessment Questions in Sales?

Assessment questions for a sales role reveal whether or not a candidate possesses the qualities they'll need to make a high-performing sales rep, such as coachability, sales drive, persistence, and confidence.

Example Sales Assessment Questions

Here are examples of sales skills assessment test questions:

  • How would you deal with a short sales cycle as opposed to a long one? The candidate should indicate that they'd commit to regular, long-term follow-up with a long sales cycle.
  • How long was your longest “losing streak,” and how did you keep yourself motivated? Every sales rep has losing streaks, and you want a candidate who's honest enough to admit to theirs.
  • How did you help other sales reps at your last job achieve their goals? If they don't have an answer for how they helped their last team, they likely only look out for themselves — and may even sabotage other sales reps to boost their numbers by comparison.
  • Which of these personality traits do you consider your strongest and weakest: coachability, leadership, time management, teamwork, organization, adaptability, or conflict resolution? You want a candidate who admits to at least one weak trait — if they can't admit imperfection, they likely wouldn't be coachable as your employee.
  • In addition to money, what motivates you as a sales rep? Look for an answer that indicates an ethical drive, such as people the rep will help by getting them a product or service they need.

How Do You Evaluate Sales Skills?

To evaluate sales skills, you must run the sales candidates through a multi-phase assessment. This assessment should include parts at home, over the phone, and in-person or on a video call. Later in this article, we cover how to assess candidates for their communication, goal-setting, and presentation skills.

The Importance of a Sales Assessment Test

Sales assessment testing is crucial for filtering out unqualified candidates who cannot meet the sales performance you expect. At The Sales Connection, we’ve hired and trained thousands of sales reps. We’ve seen how many unqualified candidates apply for sales roles — and how vital a sales assessment is to filter them out.

A lot of time and money goes into onboarding and training sales reps, and sales managers don't want to put that into representatives who are not a fit for the company. A bad hire can impact your profits, client relationships, and sales team morale.

Communication Skills Assessment

Communication skills are essential for sales reps to build prospect relationships, which they need to close deals. Two communication types are crucial for a sales rep: written and verbal. Let's explore them both.

Written Communication Assessment

Most sales reps use email to communicate at least part of their business. So you should test a candidate's skill at writing clear messages and look for any warning signs in their communication style.

Test: Examine how your candidate responds when you send them emails (but don't say you're assessing them).

What you should look for: A candidate will likely email you in the same style they'd email a prospect. So evaluate their communication skills as if you were their customer. You want prompt, polite responses and a friendly and professional tone.

Warning signs: A candidate who doesn't communicate clearly, takes a long time to reply, or has grammatical mistakes in their writing isn't a good fit.

Verbal Communication Assessment

Verbal communication over the phone and in meetings is essential to closing deals, so you need to assess whether a candidate is confident and effective at communicating on the phone.

Test: Your initial phone call with the candidate is them giving you a demo of themselves. Don't be afraid to ask a few challenging questions. After all, most sales prospects won't be afraid to, and you want to see how a candidate responds.

What you should look for: A candidate should project confidence, exceptional listening skills, and the capability to tolerate silence (since nervously filling in silence, especially at the end of a sales meeting, can kill the close).

Warning signs: Candidates should be able to sell themselves — the "product" they know best. If a candidate sounds nervous selling themself, don't put them on the phones with the prospects you spend so much money to acquire.

Goal-Setting Skills Assessment

Goal-setting is critical to achieving sales success, and you want sales reps who can set goals in multiple areas: activity, growth, and closing deals. Below are some sample goals-setting assessment questions you can ask to screen for candidates who are proactive and goal-oriented:

  • What’s an example of a goal you achieved? What did you do to achieve it? Look for a SMART goal: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
  • Describe a time you failed to meet a sales goal. How did you respond to that failure? What did you learn from the experience? You want a candidate who exhibits the capacity for introspection and learning from their mistakes.
  • How would you react if your job training isn’t going well? You want proactive candidates committed to their own success and willing to speak up if their training isn't working for them.
  • What do you do if you finish your work and sales calls for the day, and there’s still time left? Look for someone who has the drive to create their own opportunities. For example, if they've finished their daily calls, that's a perfect time for them to go on LinkedIn and cultivate prospects.
  • How would you react if the quarter was about to end and you were short of your sales goal? Look for drive and the willingness to put in extra hours to meet their quota.

Look for candidates whose answers indicate they're proactive and optimistic about achieving goals. You want people who show initiative and creativity.

Candidates who seem passive about meeting sales goals or can't develop ideas independently are likely not a fit.

Presentation Skills Assessment

A mock pitch is an excellent way to assess a candidate’s presentation skills. You can evaluate two types of presentation skills: prepared and spontaneous.

Assessing Prepared Presentation Skills

Choose a product or service for the candidate to pitch. Schedule the presentation ahead of time so the candidate has a few days and so you can see how well they research and prepare.

Mock pitches should show a candidate's presentation skills and confidence in speaking in front of people.

If the candidate doesn't seem excited about the product or well-prepared, this indicates they're not interested enough in your role to put the time in to prepare.

Assessing Spontaneous Presentation Skills

Of course, a sales rep can be 100% prepared for a pitch and know your product inside and out — only for a prospect to throw them a curveball. Here’s how to test a candidate’s ability to think on their feet.

Ask the sales candidate to imagine that their computer suddenly died and they couldn’t use their pitch deck. How do they proceed with the presentation? If the candidate can’t adapt, they probably won’t be able to when working for you, either.

How Do You Pass a Sales Test?

If you’re taking a sales ability assessment for a new role, it’s critical to prepare yourself. So let’s go over some of the basics you need to know.

Personality Tests

Organizations conduct sales personality tests to determine how well you're likely to fit into the company, team, and role. Many companies customize personality tests for their own use, which makes it challenging to prepare. Additionally, there aren't always right or wrong answers to aptitude tests. However, there are answers that hiring managers will be looking for to see if you share the company's values.

When taking a sales personality test, read each question carefully, take your time, and be honest.

Numerical Reasoning Tests

Salespeople need basic math skills, so many companies test those skills. They'll most likely show you graphs, tables, and charts and ask you to answer timed questions relating to the content they contain. 

Make sure to brush up on your math skills before a sales assessment training. That way, you'll be prepared and confident under the test pressure.

Verbal Reasoning Tests

To close a sale over the phone, you need excellent communication skills, which is why companies will likely test your verbal-reasoning ability.

How Do I Pass an Assessment Test at Work?

Assessments measure competence, drive, ambition, work ethic, and emotional intelligence. If you’ll be taking a sales assessment test on the job, your employer wants to see that you know the product inside and out. Go back to the training materials you got when you started the job and review them with a fresh eye. 

Go through your prepared presentation with a fine-tooth comb and look for improvements. 

Imagine what you’ll say if you’re doing a roleplay and the assessor throws you a curveball.

Pick a Sales Assessment That Aligns With Your Company’s Needs

The sales assessment tests you use should help you determine whether or not a candidate shows up to their calls with conviction and — most importantly — whether they can close the sale.

That’s where The Sales Connection’s values and decision-making assessment can help. We use scientific, evidence-based processes to remove interviewer biases and gut-based decisions. Our systems are repeatable and customizable to your business, so your sales team can grow quickly.

Learn more about our "Sales DNA Profiler," which filters out 98.7% of sales talent, leaving you with the top 1.3% to grow your revenue.

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Kayvon Kay

Kayvon Kay

Kayvon has over two decades of experience working with high-level closers and perfecting his sales methodologies. He has earned the title of Canada’s #1 pharmaceutical sales representative and continues to share his expertise as a keynote speaker and through his multi-million-dollar coaching program.

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