Are you staring down the barrel of an upcoming sales assessment? Stress no more! This comprehensive guide arms both sales job candidates and recruiters with an in-depth look at sales assessments—what they are, how to crush them, and how to create effective assessments.
We’ll explore the various sales assessment formats, benefits for employers, preparation tips for candidates, best practices for design, sample questions, key resources, FAQs, and more. Time to demystify sales assessment testing!
What are Sales Assessments and Aptitude Tests?
Sales assessments and aptitude tests are specialized tools used by employers to evaluate candidates for sales roles. They go beyond basic interviews to provide deeper insight into a candidate’s abilities, skills, personality traits and likelihood of success in sales.
Definition and Purpose of Sales Assessments
A sales assessment is any type of standardized evaluation used to measure a candidate’s skills, knowledge and attributes relevant for success in sales roles. These assessments are usually administered as part of the interview process and supplement the insights gained from resumes and interviews.
The main purposes of sales assessments include:
- Evaluating both current skill levels and future potential for sales success.
- Determining how well a candidate’s personality and work-style fits the company culture and team environment.
- Identifying strengths and weaknesses to pinpoint areas for training and development.
- Providing unbiased data to compare candidates and make informed hiring decisions.
In short, sales assessments help interviewers go beyond subjective impressions to make data-driven hiring choices aimed at building the most capable sales team.
Types of Sales Aptitude Tests and Assessments
There are a wide variety of sales assessment tests companies can choose from to evaluate candidates:
Personality Tests – These assess personal traits and soft skills that indicate culture fit, work ethic, coachability and likelihood of hitting targets. Some common attributes tested include ambition, competitiveness, sociability, patience and dealing with rejection.
Cognitive Tests – Cognitive aptitude assessments measure abilities like numerical reasoning, verbal intelligence and logic that are useful in sales. They evaluate raw mental capabilities.
Roleplay Exercises – Roleplaying sales scenarios assesses how candidates apply selling skills in simulated real-world situations. This tests negotiation, objection handling and thinking on one’s feet.
Writing Samples – Requiring written email or prospecting letter samples gauges professional communication abilities critical for success in sales.
Case Studies – Case studies present a sales challenge and assess analytical thinking, problem solving and strategic planning abilities.
Presentations – Presentation exercises evaluate public speaking, storytelling and executive presence skills needed when pitching products or ideas.
Error Checking – Error checking tests specifically measure attention to detail by having candidates identify and correct mistakes in data sets under time pressure.
This variety allows employers to tailor assessments based on the required competencies for the specific sales role. The best tests evaluate both aptitude and attitude.
Why Companies Use Sales Assessments in the Hiring Process
There are several compelling reasons for companies to incorporate sales assessment testing into their hiring process:
Better Prediction of Future Success – Well-designed sales assessments are statistically proven to better predict on-the-job performance and likelihood of hitting targets than interviews alone. This enables more informed hiring decisions.
Evaluate Skills Interviews Alone Can’t – Interviews mostly assess soft skills and personality. Assessments directly measure quantifiable abilities and occupational competencies specific to sales success.
Remove Bias and Improve Fairness – Structured assessments introduce standardized data points that minimize subjective biases in hiring decisions. All candidates can be evaluated equally.
Early Screening of Poor Candidates – Assessments weed out candidates clearly lacking necessary attributes early on, improving hiring efficiency.
Benchmarking and Comparison – Scoring assessments provides objective data to numerically compare candidates and accurately identify top performers.
Identify Development Areas – Assessments pinpoint competency gaps and areas for training to set new hires up for success.
Align with Sales Best Practices – Sophisticated assessments incorporate industry research on top traits that drive sales excellence.
In short, sales assessments powerfully complement traditional hiring methods by generating data-driven insights into candidates that enable organizations to build higher caliber sales teams. The additional time investment pays dividends in more informed decisions, better training and reduced attrition.
Benefits of Sales Assessments for Employers
Using sales assessments and aptitude tests in the hiring process offers a number of benefits for employers looking to build elite sales teams.
Sales assessments provide insights beyond interviews and resumes to identify candidates with the highest likelihood of success. They enable data-driven hiring decisions instead of gut feelings.
Specifically, some key advantages of incorporating sales testing into recruitment include:
Evaluate Job-Related Skills Beyond the Interview
The interview process generally focuses on personality, past experience and other high-level assessments. Interviews alone make it difficult to objectively evaluate specific sales-related skills and cognitive abilities.
Sales assessments test occupational competencies and technical skills specifically tied to success on the job. This allows a detailed evaluation of each candidate’s relevant capabilities.
Some examples of job-related skills sales tests can measure:
- Persuasive Communication – Assessments like roleplays and presentations directly test a candidate’s ability to influence and persuade others. This skill is vital for closing deals.
- Listening – Exercises that measure listening comprehension demonstrate how well candidates absorb and understand prospects.
- Sales Process Understanding – Test knowledge of the sales process with targeted questions on steps like prospecting, developing leads, presenting, handling objections, and closing.
- Product Knowledge – Gauge expertise in the company’s offerings with questions about features, benefits, and use cases.
- Negotiation – Roleplays and simulations test negotiating tactics and ability to leverage concessions.
- Data Analysis – Numerical reasoning tests evaluate comfort working with data and analytics to inform sales decisions.
- Technology Proficiency – Assess skills in CRMs, sales enablement tools, or other relevant platforms with hands-on exercises.
Assessments that directly test these tangible sales competencies provide detailed insights far beyond impressions from interviews. This allows employers to build sales teams with the precise occupational abilities the role demands.
Gauge Personality Fit and Coachability
In addition to skills, assessments can provide invaluable data on intangible factors like workstyle, mindset, temperament and culture fit.
Sales roles require certain innate personality traits and soft skills in addition to trainable competencies. Testing for these helps ensure alignment.
Examples of personality factors sales assessments can screen for:
- Competitiveness – Does the candidate have the inner drive to compete and win deals away from rivals?
- Resilience – How well can they handle rejection and persevere through failures?
- Self-Motivation – Are they proactive and ambitious without requiring heavy management?
- Collaboration – How strong are their teamwork skills and ability to coordinate with others?
- Work Ethic – Do they have an innate workload capacity and willingness to go the extra mile?
- Coachability – How receptive are they to manager feedback and focused on continuous improvement?
- Ethics – Will they act with integrity representing the brand when stakes are high?
Assessing these inherent qualities is crucial. The ideal salesperson combines strong occupational competencies with an almost intrinsically motivated personality optimized for the demands of the work.
Filter Out Poor Candidates Earlier On
Sales assessments allow immediate disqualification of clearly unqualified candidates earlier in the hiring process before investing further time.
Candidates who score poorly on skills testing or exhibit major red flags in personality evaluations can be screened out after the assessment stage, rather than after more interviews.
For example, candidates unable to demonstrate sufficient persuasion skills during a roleplay exercise despite claiming sales experience can be filtered out right away.
This results in major time savings by focusing interview cycles only on promising contenders. The most inefficient outcome is rejecting a candidate late after they have completed all interviews.
Assessments provide data to narrow the field earlier.
Identify Training Needs and Development Areas
Even for promising candidates, sales assessments uncover strengths and weaknesses that identify areas for training and development.
Rather than generically onboarding all new hires, the gaps revealed by assessments allow tailoring personalized training programs from day one to build competencies.
For example, a candidate excelling in relationship-building but struggling with presenting capabilities would benefit from presentation skills coaching to become well-rounded.
As another example, someone with strong technical expertise but showing deficiencies handling objections would likely thrive after objection-handling workshops.
Assessments empower managers to adapt onboarding to capitalize on untapped potential in new team members. This accelerates their path to high performance.
Fairly Compare Candidates with Standardized Testing
Sales assessments allow apples-to-apples comparison between candidates by providing standardized data points.
While interviews generate subjective impressions that vary by interviewer, quantifiable test results provide objective scores to analyze.
For instance, roleplay exercises rated on a 1-10 scale by multiple assessors generate averages that can be contrasted to identify the most convincing candidate.
Likewise, numerical reasoning tests output pure quantitative scores instead of qualitative impressions that cannot be accurately compared.
This minimizes unconscious biases and improves fairness by basing decisions purely on performance data. When designed properly, assessments create a level playing field.
In nutshell, incorporating sales assessments into the hiring process generates invaluable insights into candidates that support better hiring decisions, focus development efforts, and build higher performing sales teams.
The upfront time investment pays long-term dividends if assessments are strategically leveraged. Sales leaders should consider assessments a crucial component of data-driven recruitment.
Tips for Candidates Taking Sales Assessments
If you’re a candidate undergoing sales assessment testing during an interview process, don’t panic! With the right approach, these evaluations can actually work in your favor.
Sales assessments enable you to demonstrate skills a basic interview doesn’t. Treat them as an opportunity to stand out, not something to dread.
Here are tips for candidates to successfully tackle sales assessments:
Research the Company and Role Thoroughly
First things first—get in-depth knowledge on the company, industry and specific sales position you’re applying for.
Familiarize yourself with the employer’s products, competitors, customers, sales process, tools, culture and ideal profile for the role.
With this context, you’ll be able to tailor your responses during assessments to demonstrate your understanding of their needs and show why you’re a great fit.
Review Sample Tests to Practice Skills
Many websites publish sample sales assessment tests and practice questions for the most common test formats: personality tests, cognitive tests, roleplays, etc.
Find tests closely matching assessments you might encounter and use them to hone your skills. For example:
- Take sample numerical reasoning tests to brush up your data interpretation capabilities. Time yourself to simulate real testing conditions.
- Do sample roleplays with a friend to polish your ability to respond smoothly under pressure. Ask them to provide feedback on areas of improvement.
- Take practice personality tests to ensure your responses are consistent and align with the target role and company.
Practice builds confidence and skills to shine when it counts.
Be Honest on Personality Questionnaires
Personality questionnaires are designed to determine if your natural workstyle and motivations fit the role.
Answer honestly rather than trying to game the test, even if some responses don’t portray you in the best light. Faking answers undermines the assessment and only hurts you.
Keep in mind many questionnaires have built-in validation checks that flag inconsistent responses.
Focus on conveying your passion for the role, capacity for hard work, desire to be coached, and ability to thrive in a team.
Show Enthusiasm by Starting Early
Once you receive an assessment, prioritize completing it as soon as possible.
Starting early, rather than waiting until the deadline, shows initiative and enthusiasm. Make responding quickly one less thing for the employer to potentially question.
That said, don’t sacrifice quality and focus just to finish fast. Take the time you need to provide thoughtful work. Rushing through and making mistakes looks worse than submitting it a day later.
Communicate Skills Not Demonstrated in Tests
Not all real-world sales competencies can be assessed through online tests alone.
In your follow up after the assessments, highlight relevant sales abilities, past achievements and expertise that traditional tests don’t capture. Provide a complete picture.
For example, if there wasn’t opportunity to exhibit product knowledge, mention your experience selling related offerings. Or if you didn’t get to fully display your presentation capabilities, cite a successful sales pitch instance.
Draw connections between your skills and the role.
Ask for Feedback Regardless of Outcome
Whatever the final hiring decision, ask the employer for feedback on your assessment performance either during your close-out interview or after via email.
Probe them for your strengths, areas for improvement, and main factors driving their decision whether to progress you or not.
The insights will enable you to finetune your approach and better focus your preparation for future sales assessment opportunities. With feedback, even rejection becomes progress.
In summary, view sales assessments as tools enabling you to prove yourself beyond just an interview. Embrace the opportunity rather than fearing it. Success requires diligent preparation, practice and transparency. With the right mindset and effort, assessment processes allow your capabilities to shine through.
Here is a summary of tips for candidates to excel in sales assessments:
Before the Assessment
- Thoroughly research the company, industry, product, role and competitors.
- Review sample tests and practice to strengthen relevant skills.
- Ensure your personality questionnaire responses align with the role and company culture.
During the Assessment
- Manage time effectively, especially for timed tests.
- Verbalize your reasoning during case studies or roleplays to showcase strategic thinking.
- Ask clarifying questions if any test instructions or scenarios are unclear before starting.
- Maintain a positive, enthusiastic attitude throughout the process.
After the Assessment
- Thank the interviewers and reiterate your interest in the role and company.
- Highlight sales abilities not fully demonstrated within the assessment format.
- Send a follow up email to request feedback on your performance.
- Leverage any feedback to improve your preparation for future roles.
With careful preparation and focus, sales assessment tests are an opportunity to raise your candidacy above others and land your dream sales job. View them in that frame to exude confidence instead of anxiety or frustration when tackling them. You’ve got this!
Creating Effective Sales Assessments
Crafting a sales assessment that thoroughly evaluates candidates in an unbiased, standardized way is both an art and a science.
Follow these best practices to create a sales assessment process that surfaces the most qualified candidates:
Align Tests with Required Skills and Abilities
The first step is identifying the key sales competencies and attributes required to successfully perform in the open role.
Conduct a job analysis by interviewing current top performers about necessary skills. Review the role description and speak with sales leaders to pinpoint must-have capabilities.
Some examples of common selling skills to assess for:
- Communication style and persuasiveness
- Product/industry knowledge
- Ability to qualify leads
- Needs identification
- Presentation and public speaking
- Closing techniques
- Customer service orientation
- Negotiation tactics
- Coachability and perseverance
Ensure your assessments test for both sales process proficiency as well as innate personality traits like drive, integrity, and emotional intelligence.
You can evaluate some competencies with multiple test formats. For example, communication skills can be measured via writing samples, a presentation exercise and personality tests.
Evaluate Communication, Presentation and Research
Because verbal, written and public speaking abilities are so integral to sales success, build assessments of each into your process:
Verbal Communication – Include a roleplay scenario where candidates must handle objections and persuade an interviewer acting as a prospect. Score them on active listening, framing benefits well and smooth pushback on objections.
Written Communication – Have candidates draft a sample prospecting email or LinkedIn outreach messaging selling your company. Assess persuasiveness, professionalism, grammar and ability to highlight value.
Research – Give candidates a custom research assignment tailored to your target market. Evaluate their ability to efficiently identify prospects online, synthesize findings into insights and plan strategic outreach.
Presentation – Ask candidates to present for 5-10 minutes on a sales topic of their choosing. Look for confident body language, preparation, storytelling ability and engaging speaking style.
Testing a mix of individual written, verbal, research and public speaking skills provides a comprehensive view of their communication toolkit.
Include Situational Judgment Scenarios
Situational judgment tests that present realistic sales challenges assess problem solving abilities, ethics, adaptability and handling uncertainty.
When creating scenarios, brainstorm examples of tricky situations sales reps might face, like:
- A long-time client accounts for a large share of revenue but is demanding unreasonable discounts.
- A prospect is interested but reluctant to switch from a competitor.
- A product defect emerges just as a big deal is set to close.
Ask candidates to explain in detail how they would handle each hypothetical dilemma. Look for creative solutions that show strategic thinking and align with company values.
Well-designed situational judgment tests mimic the ambiguity and complexity of the real sales world.
Test Personality Fit with Team and Company Culture
Include a validated personality questionnaire to measure intrinsically motivated traits and work preferences critical in sales:
- Competitiveness – Do they have the desire to compete and win?
- Resilience – How do they handle rejection and persevere through setbacks?
- Proactivity – Are they self-starters rather than waiting for direction?
- Collaborative Style – How strong are their teamwork instincts?
- Goal Orientation – Are they motivated to exceed targets?
- Coachability – Will they accept feedback and constantly improve?
Look for questionnaire results indicating a personality optimized for sales success and culture alignment.
Beware of candidates attempting to “game” their responses. Some questionnaires have built-in validations to detect inconsistent answers.
Use Numerical Reasoning to Gauge Analytical Skills
Sales roles require analyzing data to identify trends and inform decisions. Test this with numerical reasoning questions involving charts, graphs and tables.
Present figures displaying metrics like:
- Revenue over time
- Sales by region
- Performance by sales rep
Then ask interpreted questions like:
- Which region showed the most growth last year?
- Is total revenue increasing or decreasing?
- Who is the top performing sales rep?
This reveals how easily they interpret data and think analytically.
Time responses to add pressure and test their speed of processing.
Verify Attention to Detail with Error Checking
Sales is a detail-oriented job where small mistakes can wreck deals.
Error checking questions measure focus by having candidates spot inconsistencies. Give them two “almost identical” data sets and ask them to identify the differences. Test their eagle-eyed observation under a time crunch.
Confirm Motivation by Timeliness and Follow Up
Take note of how promptly candidates complete assessments and follow up on the process to evaluate drive and motivation.
Send a standardized email upon receiving their completed test with next steps and ask them to reply confirming receipt.
Track time from sending the assessment to receiving responses. Follow up if not received within 2-3 days.
Engaged, motivated candidates will respond quickly and ask questions. Slower responses or apathy could be red flags of lacking initiative.
In summary, align assessments to the exact sales competencies the role demands at your company. Utilize a combination of test types to evaluate multiple dimensions of candidates’ expertise, traits and work ethic.
Well-designed assessments incorporate data and best practices, not just subjective hunches, to surface top talent. Invest time refining your approach to reap long-term benefits in building an unstoppable sales team with assessments.
Sample Sales Assessment Test Questions
When creating your sales assessment, include a diverse mix of question types and topics to provide a comprehensive evaluation of candidates.
Here are examples of effective questions testing key sales competencies and attributes:
Communication Skills Questions
Communication is arguably the most important skill in sales. Assess critical verbal and written abilities with questions like:
- How would you handle a phone prospect who seems distracted and uninterested in your call? What tactics would you use to re-engage them?
- Imagine I’m an angry customer upset about a late delivery. Roleplay how you would actively listen, empathize, and resolve the situation.
- Tell me about a time you had to influence a prospect who was resistant to making a purchase. How did you persuasively position your product as the ideal solution?
- Draft a cold email sequence to an ideal prospect for our company’s offering. Include initial outreach, follow up messages, and a final call to action.
- Review this customer inquiry email and provide an effective response addressing all their questions and concerns.
- What strategies and best practices do you use for crafting compelling LinkedIn connection requests and messages?
Goal Setting and Motivation Questions
Drive and tenacity are integral for sales success. Uncover them with questions on goals, persistence and work ethic:
- On a scale of 1-10, how motivated are you to consistently exceed sales targets in this role? What examples demonstrate this motivation?
- Tell me about the most difficult sales quota you’ve had to achieve. What tactics did you use to ensure you hit the goal?
- Describe a time when you experienced a long losing streak and had trouble closing deals. How did you maintain persistence to eventually turn things around?
- What is the ideal volume of prospecting calls or emails you strive to complete in a day? How do you stay focused on consistent outreach?
Problem-Solving and Adaptability Questions
Sales requires quick thinking and turning challenges into opportunities:
- Your top prospect is interested in your product but can’t meet the price point. They ask for a 75% discount. How would you handle this objection?
- A long-time customer is threatening to leave for a competitor offering lower prices. How would you convince them to stay?
- You showed up to an important sales meeting only to learn the key decision maker called in sick. What steps would you take to still make it a worthwhile meeting?
- How do you adjust your approach when your existing sales tactics and pitches aren’t working and leads are cold?
Research and Qualification Questions
Testing their ability to create target lists, qualify prospects and synthesize research demonstrates crucial sales enablement skills:
- You’re starting outbound efforts targeting small construction firms. Explain how you’d research and segment a target list. What data points would you gather to identify promising leads?
- Imagine you’re staffing a big trade show booth. How would you qualify walk-up prospects before investing time in deeper discussions? What questions would you ask?
- During a prospect call, how do you determine if you’re speaking with the real decision maker versus someone unlikely to have purchasing power?
- Tell me about a time when you had to deeply research a prospect’s industry or company to understand their needs and tailor an effective sales approach.
Personality Fit and Culture Add Questions
Assess personality, motivations and workstyle preferences with questions like:
- On a scale of 1-10, how competitive are you, and how does this impact your approach to sales?
- Do you consider yourself more of an independent salesperson or someone who thrives collaborating with others?
- Tell me about a time when you had to be patient and keep your cool when a prospect was being unreasonable.
- Describe an instance where you received negative feedback from a manager. How did you respond?
- What activities do you do outside of work to reduce stress and maintain your mental health?
Analytical Reasoning Questions
Sales reps must analyze data to optimize:
Present a graph with sales pipeline data by stage and amount, then ask:
- Which stage has the largest volume of potential deals currently?
- Is total pipeline amount trending up or down from last month?
- If closed deals are worth 20% of prospects on average, how many prospects must be generated to hit our sales goal?
Follow Up and Troubleshooting Questions
Gauge follow through and attention to detail with questions like:
- You left a voicemail for a prospect last week but haven’t received a reply. What would your next steps be to follow up and get a response?
- A customer emailed with interest but upon calling, you got their voicemail and realized the number was incorrect. How would you get the right contact info and follow up?
- Imagine you notice a sharp decline in response rate to your outreach emails. What would you do to troubleshoot the cause of this drop?
In short, tailor your sales assessment questions to the exact competencies needed to perform well in the open role at your company.
Evaluate a balance of teachable skills and intrinsic traits to select top talent that aligns with your team culture. Avoid cliche, generic questions and get creative pulling from real examples of challenges faced.
Get strategic with assessments to take the guesswork out of hiring and confidently onboard sales stars.
Sales assessments and aptitude tests are invaluable for evaluating candidates beyond traditional interviews alone. Key learnings include:
- Sales assessments measure critical job-related skills, cognitive abilities, personality traits and motivations that drive performance.
- Personality tests, roleplays, writing samples, numerical reasoning and error checking are among the most common sales assessment formats.
- Benefits for employers include better prediction of on-the-job success, evaluating hard to screen skills, filtering candidates faster, identifying training needs and enabling unbiased comparisons.
- Candidates should thoroughly research the company and role, practice core skills, provide consistent and honest responses, complete tests promptly, highlight additional skills not demonstrated and always request feedback.
- Align assessments to required sales competencies for the role, test communication abilities, incorporate situational judgment scenarios, evaluate personality fit, confirm attention to detail and gauge motivation by responsiveness.
- Leverage existing practice tests, question banks and assessment builders to efficiently create tests tailored to your needs rather than starting from scratch.
Sales assessments empower employers to build higher caliber teams by introducing consistent, objective data points into the hiring process. Candidates should embrace assessments as opportunities to showcase their capabilities beyond interviews alone. With strategic design and preparation, assessments can transform sales recruiting to consistently land top talent.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most common sales assessment tests?
The most frequent sales assessment tests include personality tests, cognitive/aptitude tests, roleplay exercises, writing samples, presentation assessments, error checking tests, situational judgement tests and numerical reasoning tests.
What skills do sales assessments measure?
Sales assessments typically measure skills like communication, persuasion, negotiation, objection handling, relationship-building, qualification, research, competitor knowledge, product expertise, professionalism, analysis, attention to detail, problem-solving, adaptability, motivation and perseverance.
How should companies evaluate sales assessments?
Look for skills, aptitudes and traits aligned to the sales competencies required for success in the open role. Assess communication, cognitive abilities, solutions-focused thinking, leadership potential, competitiveness and other attributes integral for sales excellence.
What questions are on sales personality tests?
Sales personality tests ask about competitiveness, resilience, motivation, drive, work ethic, independence, teamwork, patience, composure, dealing with rejection, professionalism, integrity and other traits indicative of fit and potential.
How can candidates prepare for sales assessment testing?
Do research on the company, review sample tests to practice key skills, take mock tests to build confidence, ensure consistent responses, highlight complementary skills, start the assessment promptly, ask clarifying questions, and follow up for feedback regardless of outcome.
How long do sales assessment tests take?
Sales assessment tests typically take 1-2 hours total including questionnaires, skills tests and interviews debriefing performance. More comprehensive assessments can take up to 4-5 hours in some cases. Time limits for individual sections range from 10-45 minutes on average.
Can you fail a sales assessment test?
Yes, it is possible to fail certain sections like skills tests if you are unable to demonstrate the minimum required proficiency levels in skills like communication, analysis or roleplay scenarios. Most companies allow retaking failed portions once. Extensive failing reflects poorly on a candidate.
What’s the best way to prepare for a sales roleplay?
Practice with a colleague playing a prospect and provide feedback. Research typical objections. Highlight your listening and needs identification skills. Present persuasive reasons to buy. Be creative handling objections but stay professional. Apply your real-world experience. Stay calm under pressure.
Should you tell the truth on sales personality tests?
Absolutely. Trying to game personality test responses by answering how you think the employer wants can backfire through validation checks and result in a role not well-suited for you. Authentic responses build trust and increase the chance you’re matched properly.