Employment Testing Blog & Updates

Shifts in Desired Sales Skills

Posted by EmployTest on Wed, Nov 18, 2015 @ 04:02 PM

One of the most common requests we receive for behavioral tests are our assessments for sales skills.   There is an enormous range of job positions that require sales skills.  At the most basic level, there are the floor clerks at the retail stores.  Here at EmployTest we have account representatives who are tasked with offering our products and developing relationships, primarily by phone. Then consider the high end, technical sales pros who are recommending multi-million dollar solutions.  And there are countless levels between those three examples, each one requiring a different level of relationship-building skills, industry knowledge and core sales abilities (prospecting, qualifying, etc). 

It can be a complex task for a company to identify the exact attributes that are needed for their sales roles.  Those attributes will even be different across the different sales roles in the company.  This recent article in the Harvard Business Review talks about how the desired skills in sales people have evolved over the past 15 years, as evidenced by the job profiles.  Before the year 2000, developing leads and qualifying prospects was mentioned in three times as many job profiles as they were in the past few years (2010-2014).  Currently, the emphasis in the profiles seems to be more on the "ability to prioritize tasks" and "follow the overall strategy" of the company.  These competencies were mentioned only half as much, if at all, prior to 2000 but now they are now higher in priority.

It's not to say that prospecting and qualifying leads is no longer important, but their relative importance may be less than the other items mentioned.  Or it's possible that it's automatically assumed that those competencies already exist and therefore not needed to be listed in the profile.  It's critical for your HR team to continually monitor the sales roles at your company to ensure you are measuring not only the most accurate attributes for your various jobs, but to also be aware of what's being currently requested in the employment marketplace.

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