top of page

Some thoughts on hiring new sales candidates that will become top producers

One of my clients, a CEO of a communications business, recently asked me to compare his company’s current applicant tracking system (ATS) to a new system that has a different user interface. An applicant tracking system is a tool used to automate the recruiting process. These systems are available to fit small and larger budgets. It is a useful recruiting tool. If you want a detailed definition, click here. After making my recommendation to select the new ATS, I found some functionality of the system that I wanted to study, and I thought I’d share a summary of my conclusions for those of you looking for some advice on sales recruiting.

You should know I am certified in “Sales Talent Acquisition Routine” or STAR, by management consulting firm, OMG and have been quite active advising my clients and helping them find and onboard new sales candidates. As a result of my background, I decided to study the functionality that interested me the most. This article will focus on the sales candidate assessments. I will write about the other 2 criteria that I studied and listed below sometime in the next few days.

  1. ATS and job site use of sales candidate assessments – used to separate qualified and unqualified candidates

  2. Candidate Telephone Screening Services – Some of the services provide candidate screening that is driven by an automated call and recording, and others are supported by real people

  3. Onboarding services for new sales hires – There wasn’t much detail on this, but I found it interesting, since an onboarding program for new sales personnel produces a high ROI.

A sales candidate assessment is a screening tool used to identify strong sales candidates for hire

Some simple sales assessments create scores and identify sales candidates to review. More powerful sales assessments will identify effective salespeople and recommend these specific sales candidates for hire. Powerful stuff. The assessments are typically sent via email to a sales candidate when they apply at a job site, a company website or through some other source. The sales candidate is scored based upon the answers to the questions and whatever scoring criteria the assessment manager uses. Candidates with the highest scores are the most desirable recruits.

Salespeople have unique characteristics that require unique evaluative criteria to determine job success

As we know, sales professionals are different from all other employees. They are the only people with a number hanging over their head (sales target), and their compensation is based upon performance. Most people cannot make a good living as salespeople. Effective salespeople are a different breed from other employees. Responsible sales recruiters should perform as much due diligence as possible to insure that a new sales hire will have a successful career. The economic impact of a successful sales hire vs a bad hire is substantial. According to management consulting firm, OMG, the wrong salespeople are hired 77% of the time. That is rough.

The stereotype that refers to a “born salesperson” is incorrect.

An introvert can be very effective. A warm outgoing personality does not guarantee sales success. It might be useful at social gatherings, but it doesn’t indicate that a person is motivated, can handle rejection and possesses many other important traits for sales success. Productive salespeople require competencies that are unique to the profession. Dave Kurlan, of OMG, wrote an article on his blog titled, “The Top 8 Requirements for Becoming a Great Salesperson.” These same requirements are necessary for sales managers. I recommend that any person who sells, recruits salespeople or manages salespeople will gain some valuable knowledge from this short blog article.

This is what I learned about free sales candidate assessments promoted by job sites

I learned that most job sites and ATS’ offer recruiters a free service that sends a sales candidate assessment to any sales candidate that applies to the applicable job. The purpose of the assessment is to screen out unfavorable sales candidates and recommend favorable sales candidates to the recruiter or some other entity for a phone screen. From my research only, I believe the ATS’ typically utilize services provided by the job sites (,, CareerBuilder, and others) templates.

I read the assessment questions. I also read the resumes for some candidates who were approved for sales interviews and identified several candidate applications that should have been withheld. I did not find the questions on the two systems that I reviewed as relevant as a tool to identify qualified sales candidates. Remember; sales people require specific competencies, different from other employee jobs, for success. The detail from my research is too lengthy to include in this article, but I’d be glad to explain it to anybody interested. Contact me if you want detail.

sales candidate under stress

This is why you should not send out ineffective sales assessments (other than they don’t work)

  1. You will lose time and time is money –

  • It takes several days for the sales candidate to read, react, and return a completed sales assessment. Unless you are confident the sales assessment is a productive tool, it makes more sense to immediately review resumes and contact the sales candidate for a phone screen as soon as possible. Any delay creates more risk that a great sales candidate will find a job with another company. The market is hot for good salespeople. Good salespeople are not only good at finding customers, they are good at finding jobs.

  • If the sales assessment recommends the wrong sales candidate, the employer must spend time reviewing unqualified resumes. That time is an added cost. If the company uses an employee or contracts with another party to telephone screen unqualified, but recommended candidates, then more time was wasted, or money was wasted paying for someone else’s time.

  1. Lost Opportunity - If the sales assessment uses the wrong criteria and misses favorable candidates, the employer misses out on some strong contributors, which could be a huge lost opportunity.

  2. The recruiter may fall for the “Born Salesperson Myth” - If a sales candidate is recommended, has a solid resume and a magnetic personality, the recruiter may believe that this person is a winning sales candidate. These magnetic people can talk their way through an interview with the less experienced recruiters and can easily find a good reference, even if they are weak. This is a common and very expensive mistake. When you hire someone who fails, you lose money on training costs and time spent on management, plus the lost opportunity cost of hiring that individual vs hiring a top producer. An effective sales candidate assessment would reject the born salesperson unless that person has the necessary competencies.

My recommendation

I recommend that you do not use any “free” or “fee based” sales candidate assessments to recruit salespeople without understanding how the sales assessment relates to sales success. The purpose of a sales candidate assessment should be to help select people who will become top producers in your company. There are lots of these sales assessments available. The most powerful sales candidate assessments can help a company increase sales dramatically and lower recruiting costs, so take this recommendation seriously. If you are willing to pay a small amount of money for a substantial productivity improvement, then use an effective one.

OMG offers a sales candidate assessment that has been ranked #1 for 8 consecutive years.

It measures 21 sales core competencies that include the top 8 requirements for becoming a successful salesperson. OMG creates a score that identifies and recommends sales candidates who have the competencies to become top producers. I took the test as part of my due diligence. Fortunately, I did well on it. Phew! After reviewing and understanding the assessment, my first thought was, “how did I miss this incredible tool during all those years that I was running sales organizations?" I would have used them. It would have made my sales team more successful and saved the company a lot of money on recruiting and training costs. I was sold.

Fortunately, OMG selected me to be one of their fewer than 200 partners worldwide to represent them. I am honored to offer the most effective sales candidate recruiting tool in the industry.

92% of sales candidates recommended by OMG’s assessment and hired reach the top 50% of the salesforce within 12 months.

That is an amazing statistic! This data is derived from the more than 10,000 companies that have had success with OMG’s sales candidate assessment. That is a high sample size and validates that solid 92% success rate.

To understand why it is so exceptional, read the article The Top 8 Requirements for Becoming a Successful Salesperson.” You will learn about sales DNA (Love that name) and The Will to Sell and other important criteria.

If you want to learn more about how the sales candidate assessment works, select the link.

Request a free trial, and use it on a sales candidate. If you use the assessment on yourself, make sure you select “o” years' sales experience if you don’t have any sales experience.

I’d love to hear from anyone who checks these links or wants to discuss anything about this article. Feel free to contact me, book a meeting, or email me. Thanks for reading.

Next article, I will give some tips on finding sales candidates, which will include telephone sales candidate screening. Thanks for reading. Please send me any comments.

Please read my other posts to the right of this article.

Feel free to share this article with anyone.


bottom of page