Predicting Sales Performance

By Cindy Waxer

Increasing sales, productivity and profitability has as much to do with a company’s products and services as it does with having the right people in the right positions. While personality profiles, reference checks and effective interviewing can affect the success of hiring the right sales professionals, Jason Buma says that companies leave far too much to chance.

“Hiring a salesperson is like flipping a coin,” says Buma, vice-president of sales and marketing at Miller Heiman Inc.

Miller Heiman, a sales strategy consulting company, recently launched a solution that promises to improve a company’s odds of hiring the right people. Dubbed Predictive Sales Performance, this Web-based solution helps companies predict which candidates being considered for open sales positions will become top performers.

The solution was developed by The HR Chally Group and is backed by extensive research, including more than 70,000 extensive interviews of corporate clients’ customers and a database of assessment results and performance measures for more than 300,000 incumbents and candidates.

Predictive Sales Performance includes two primary assessment solutions – the Organizational Development Analysis, which identifies sales force strengths and weaknesses and evaluates a company’s talent pool for candidates for advancement; and the Pre-Employment Selection and Employee Career Development, which identifies the critical strengths and weaknesses each candidate brings to the table and measures candidates against a company’s specific job requirements.

According to Buma, by measuring candidates’ skills against the skills and behavior of top performers worldwide, these assessment tools together can predict “what candidates will do rather than what they can do” and, subsequently, greatly affect the quality of hire.

Buma adds, “Based on HR Chally research, the success of [hiring a salesperson] through effective interviewing and reference checks only increases by 7%. On average, Chally’s been able to increase success rates by 25% to 30% over chance. With the amount of money you put into a salesperson, I would sleep easier at night knowing that, as a sales manager, I had a better than 7% chance.”

Be that as it may, Buma warns that the Predictive Sales Performance solution is not intended to replace a company’s human resources department. Rather, by combining the gut instinct of a recruiter and the sophistication of such assessment tools, companies can help ensure that they hire the right sales professionals for the right positions.