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How Assessments Can Improve Sales Performance Predictability

09:48 08 March in Research Hub

Sales leaders know that successful selling is a science. But when it comes to hiring and managing your sales team, it seems that there isn’t much science to help your company improve the performance of every salesperson and your team’s overall performance.

That’s where talent assessments come in. Talent assessments can help sales leaders understand which salespeople can excel in their role. By choosing the right assessment, you can help your sales employees improve their performance and also find out whether a new sales hire has what it takes to meet their targets before you extend the job offer.

Benefits of Assessments for Sales Teams

If you want an elite sales team, using the right talent assessment will save your time and increase the likelihood of high performance. Assessments measure a baseline of an individual’s personality, behavior, skills, tendencies, preferences, and more. And you can quickly and effectively solve problems with your team’s performance by giving an assessment to:

    • Understand your current employees’ baseline qualities, characteristics, knowledge, and abilities
    • Gain insight into individual employees’ areas of improvement or suitability for their role
    • Create an action plan to improve an individual’s weaknesses
    • Evaluate job candidates to ensure new hires will be successful salespeople in your organization
    • Help new hires get up-to-speed
    • Improve your team’s overall performance by improving every employee’s performance.


Types of Assessments to Consider for Your Sales Employees or Candidates

There are many types of talent assessments —and it’s important to choose the right one. After all, a carpenter wouldn’t use a saw to tighten a bolt, and your company shouldn’t use an assessment that isn’t purpose-built for evaluating salespeople.

You want to make sure you’re measuring your salespeople against the most impactful skills they’ll need to be successful in the role. And an assessment is only as good as the qualities it measures.

Here are some of the most common types of assessments on the market and the pros and cons of each type for helping your sales team.

Personality Assessments

Personality assessments provide insight on an individual’s interpersonal behavior and communication preferences. Most personality assessments, such as Myers Briggs (MBTI), DiSC, Hogan, and Predictive Index are derived from one of four academic frameworks. These are: Jungian Personality Theory, Marston’s Personality Styles, Eysenck’s PEN, or the Big 5 Factors. Generally, personality tests are designed to measure emotional behavior and not on job performance.


Another common use is as a team bonding and development tool. Employees often enjoy learning more about themselves and their coworkers’ strengths and preferences. They can be a fun way to help teams work together and communicate better, armed with information about what makes themselves and their coworkers tick.


While some employers use personality assessments to evaluate prospective employees in the hiring process, personality assessments are not reliably predictive of job performance for most candidates. Some people are also concerned that personality tests may detect disabilities or otherwise present obstacles for candidates with disabilities in the hiring process.

While personality assessments are interesting tools that can help employers, employees, and teams understand a person’s strengths and weaknesses, they’re not specifically designed for sales roles—or for any particular profession. Personality assessments can’t assess whether an employee or candidate has what it takes to succeed in sales because there is no magic personality type for being great at sales. Sales success has more to do with behaviors in sales-specific contexts, and personality assessments are designed to evaluate a person’s tendencies in a general manner.

Cognitive Ability Assessment

Cognitive ability tests measure general cognitive ability, assessing an individual’s thinking and reasoning skills for solving work-related problems and acquiring new knowledge. These tests differ in the types of content they present but commonly measure:

  • Verbal skills
  • Mathematical abilities
  • Abstract/spatial reasoning.

Cognitive ability tests are often multiple-choice, with some providers offering more modern “gamified” assessments that feel like playing a game rather than taking a test. Some big names in the field are Wonderlic, with the well-known Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test, as well as Criteria, Talogy, and Pearson.


Cognitive assessments can be high predictors of job performance — but they are not geared toward particular jobs.


The most significant drawback for sales leaders is that cognitive tests are not designed to measure sales performance. Intellectual ability is often a contributing factor in successful selling, but not the dominant contributor. If it were the dominant factor, the best salespeople would just be the candidates with the highest college test scores.

Cognitive ability tests typically run the highest risk of adverse impact and statistical bias out of any other type of assessment. This gives many employers and job candidates cause for concern as these assessments need to be used with considerably more caution.

Another downside is that job candidates might not understand why they are being asked to take a cognitive ability test if it doesn’t seem relevant to their role—and it might feel like taking the SAT again. This could cause a negative impression of the prospective employer and make a candidate want to look elsewhere.

Biodata Assessments

Biodata assessments revolve around a person’s past experiences, some of which are related to work, while some may ask about life experience in general. These multiple choice tests aim to be as objective as possible and don’t assess critical reasoning or self-reflection, as some tests do. While there are providers of off-the-shelf biodata tests, the most effective bio data tests are purpose built for a company and role. As such, most organizations work with consultants to create custom assessments, or develop their own in-house.


Biodata assessments are thought to be more objective than other assessment types, such as cognitive ability tests. They can be tailored to a specific organization or role to better measure how an individual’s past performance might impact their future actions and potential.


Biodata assessments need to be carefully calibrated for a specific job and role. For example, a company ideally would use two distinct bio data tests for an outbound selling role vs key account management role. Creating and maintaining these tests are time intensive.

Since biodata tests typically ask about more than job-related content, it might not be clear to candidates why they are being asked to take these assessments or what benefit they serve in the hiring process. Developing an assessment tailored to your organization can also require a significant investment in time and resources.

Skills Assessments

Want to target your employees’ most essential skills? You’ll want to look for a test that’s made just for their job type or function. Skills assessments measure skills, knowledge, and abilities required for performance on the job. You can find tests that measure computer literacy, language fluency, mathematical ability, programming, selling, and more. Often administered using a “situational judgment test” (SJT) format, skills assessment tests present test-takers with a hypothetical situation and they must select the best way for the protagonist to respond.

Some of the most popular companies offering skills assessments are PSI, TestGorilla, and Objective Management Group. PSI and TestGorilla offer catalogs of various skills-based assessments for a variety of roles, while Objective Management Group specializes in skills assessments for sales professionals.


Skills assessments are suitable for measuring current employees as well as job candidates. These tests provide valuable insights for assessing where employees currently stand with job-related skills and areas for targeted improvement. Likewise, skills assessments give employers an accurate understanding of a candidate’s readiness for a role and give a sense of what it might take to get a candidate performing on the job at a high level, if they aren’t already there. Skills assessments accurately predict job performance, and they’re typically well-received by candidates, as they are clearly job-related at face value.


Because skills assessments are meant to directly measure skills an employee needs in their role, a skills assessment is only as good as it’s accuracy and relevance for a particular role or job function. It’s important that the skills assessment you use is up-to-date and created by credible experts in the job’s particular field.

What You Should Look for in a Sales Team Assessment

While personality assessments, cognitive ability tests, biodata tests, and skills assessments all have advantages and disadvantages for measuring your sales employees, no matter which assessment you choose, you’ll want to make sure you’re measuring the qualities, skills, and behaviors that actually matter for sales success.

Below is a checklist of the most essential areas for an individual employee’s sales success. Use this as a guide for evaluating whether an assessment is right for your sales organization. Look for assessments that speak to your employees’ specific sales skills in the following areas.

For each salesperson, a reliable test will evaluate:

  1. What are their prospecting capabilities?
  2. Are they able to meet with the actual decision maker and is there anything that could interfere with that?
  3. What is the quality of their business relationships?
  4. Are they able to take a consultative approach to a sales opportunity and uncover compelling reasons to buy?
  5. Are they able to quantify the opportunity and be the value rather than selling on price?
  6. Are they able to thoroughly qualify an opportunity?
  7. Can they present the right content to the right people at the appropriate point in time?
  8. Can they close business on a timely basis?
  9. Are they able to follow a staged, milestone-centric sales process?
  10. Can they leverage CRM, social selling, and video proficiency for sales success?
  11. Are they able to ask questions, push back, and challenge conventional thinking without needing to be liked by others?
  12. Are they able to stay in the moment and use active listening skills?
  13. Do they have beliefs about sales that support or sabotage ideal sales outcomes?
  14. Does the way they make major purchasing decisions support ideal sales outcomes?
  15. Are they comfortable having in-depth discussions about money and finances with prospects?
  16. How well do they recover from rejection?
  17. How badly do they want to achieve greater sales success?
  18. How committed are they to do whatever it takes to achieve greater sales success?
  19. How do they feel about themselves and their career outlook in sales?
  20. Do they take responsibility for results or rationalize and make excuses?
  21. How motivated are they to achieve sales success?

Objective Management Group’s sales assessments target these key selling skills to evaluate current and prospective employees. Rooted in selling skills, these assessments combine the most relevant aspects of personality, cognitive ability, and biodata tests within the context of the sales profession so that every question provides actionable data for on-the-job improvement.