To manage an inside sales team to success, you not only have to recruit the right talent, but also utilize that talent effectively. Because of strong competition for hiring SDRs and inside sales reps, managers are often forced to hire reps without a storied career full of proven victories. In fact, many SDRs are being hired right out college. So in order to recruit the right sales talent, some organizations are finding that personality tests are a great way to predict which reps might have what it takes to hit their numbers.
While there isn’t a single personality type that is predictive of success, there are a variety of popular personality assessment tests that can help managers gauge how a rep will fit in with their particular sales culture. Though controversial, proponents of these personality assessment tests often believe that they can be useful during the hiring process. For example, a rep with an aggressive/alpha personality type might be perfect for one company’s sales culture but be miserable at another company—I’ve seen it happen. Personality tests can also help managers gauge how to best manage individual reps. And perhaps most importantly, sales personality assessment tests can be used to identify reps’ potential for leadership.
If you’re interested in taking a more data-driven approach to sales recruitment, check out this list of 7 awesome personality tests that can help you predict reps’ potential for success and how they can best fit into your organization. In an effort to be unbiased, when possible, I’ve linked to an article in favor of and critiquing each assessment test, when possible.
The Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (or 16PF for short) was devised in the mid 20th century by British psychologist Raymond Cattell. It purports to identify and assess 16 personality traits possessed by all of us in varying degrees. By answering 164 different questions, the test seeks to predict how well prospective reps might complete tasks or handle high stress situations (common in sales). This test differs from certain other personality (such as Myers-Briggs) by focusing directly on how individuals might react to specific work situations.
The first on our list of popular personality tests is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Though not specific to sales, The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most widely used personality assessment. The test seeks to sort test takers based on the 16 personality archetypes devised famous psychologist Carl Jung. The test proposes to sort individuals based on four variables: introvert/extrovert, intuitive/sensing, rational/emotional, perceptive/judgmental. I don’t think this test can predict a rep’s potential for success. One might think that extroverts make better salespeople than introverts. But some of the best salespeople I’ve met are actually strategic introverts with good social skills. Where I think the true value of this test lies is in its ability to help leaders do a better job of managing employees. As an example, say you’re managing two reps. One is idealistic, emotionally-driven and the other is pragmatic and rational. Speaking from experience, I can say that each rep will require a different style of management to succeed. Understanding this can help managers do a better job of inspiring their entire team to succeed.
On the flip side, here is a well-argued criticism of the Myers-Briggs.
For more than half a century, businesses have used the Caliper Profile Assessment Test to identify 25 traits that relate to job performance. This test, which can be taken online of via paper, purports to provide clear, objective information on an individual’s strengths, limitations, motivations and potential. Caliper consultants are available to work with businesses to ensure that tests are correctly interpreted.
The DiSC (which stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) is a leading assessment tool that measures employees’ personality and behavior style. While no personality style is inherently indicative of success in sales, this test can help predict whether a rep will be a good culture fit. As I mentioned before, many sales environments seek out reps with dominant, alpha personalities. While there other companies seek out reps that are collaborative and accommodating. Like the Myers-Briggs, this test can also be used to help managers do a better job of managing reps with divergent personality types.
The Grit assessment tool was devised by Dr. Angela Duckworth from University of Pennsylvania. According to Dr. Duckworth, grit can be defined as “sticking with things over the very long term until you master them.” This test seems more useful as a hiring tool for organizations looking for long-term employees, since it can potentially identify sales reps that are “marathon runners” instead of “sprinters.”
The test is recommended by several top sales leaders including The Bridge Group’s Trish Bertuzzi and Quota Factory’s Pete Gracey.
Here’s an article by Alfie Kohn criticizing the Grit test.
Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in the bestselling 2001 management book Now, Discover Your Strengths. In the book StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup has unveiled an expanded and improved version of the popular assessment test. In addition to the assessment test, the book reveals hundreds of strategies to help apply various strengths. While it’s not sales-specific, this test can potentially help managers identify how reps’ core strengths can best be put to work in a sales organization.
Objective Management Group (OMG) is a sales assessment company that offers several sales-specific assesments for specific roles including sales reps, managers and directors/VPs. While some of the other tests listed here are applicable to but not specific to sales, I’ve included the OMG because it is 100% focused on assessing sales reps. OMG’s assessment services may come at a higher price point, but seem to offer more sales-specific granularity than some other assessment tests out there.
An article in Huffington Post praising the test.
While I didn’t find any articles directly criticizing OMG’s test, if you’ve had personal experience with it, feel free to share in the comments section!
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