As a Sales Management Training consultant I’ve seen companies make some costly mistakes in regard to sales. How do I know? In 1998 as a pioneer for converting a reactive customer service team of a Fortune 500 conglomerate to proactive sales force, I made similar mistakes. Mistakes ranging from placing reactive people into proactive roles to using personality tests to aid in hiring “sales reps” from the competition only to discover they were unproductive “sales refugees”. Failure was evident. We began to lose market share fast and had to make changes – we did.

We uncovered a secret that changed our way of thinking about sales and sales management that still causes many companies to struggle today. Instead of wasting energy on the actual sales results, we shifted our focus and energy to the activities that led to the desired sales results. We maintained a maniacal focus on the Science of Selling.

We also discovered the behaviors which influenced the Art of Selling that ultimately Reduced Turnover, Improved Sales Results, Improved Customer and Associate Satisfaction. What I am going to share with you is proven to be efficient and effective as it has converted multi-million dollar business units of Fortune 500 companies from worst to first in 6 months and is quickly finding its way to some prominent sales cultures.

I must warn you, the methodology behind our system interrupts the conventional wisdom and the status quo. We intend to change the current sales paradigm. How?

It’s simple…

Hiring Sales Representatives has always been a challenge because you never knew what you were getting until after the candidate is hired. Often, bad hiring decisions have led to higher training and turnover costs. In addition, there are significant costs associated with poor sales productivity.

Recent studies show the costs of a poor performing sales representative are over $100,000/year.*

As stated previously, we adopted the use of “Personality Tests” containing numerous predictive indicators to assist the decision making in the selection of sales representatives. Unfortunately, this only added to our overall costs because they did not work. Why? Here is what we learned:

There is no proven correlation between personality and sales productivity

A person’s personality has no bearing on how they will perform in a sales role. Theoretically, personality tests may identify if someone has the skill, however if they lack the desire, what’s the point? Far too often Sales Managers are perplexed when a person with supposed promise, based on the personality results, falls short of expectations. As a result more money goes into areas that are not cost effective to train (Motivational Speakers, Tapes, etc.). Another false positive of personality tests, we found that the questions are often predictable and easily manipulated by the very people the tests tell you to hire.

*Victor Wesley Report August 2006
I was fortunate to have worked with Dr. Dave Barnett, who has a Ph.D in Behavioral Science and has done some astounding work in his 30+ years of sales research. He co-authored Earning What You’re Worth The Psychology of Sales Call Reluctance and in his research we found out that 80% of Sales Reps fail because of poor contact initiation. There are behavioral or emotional barriers that prevent Sales Reps from initiating contact with customers or prospects. The successful Sales Reps are the ones who are comfortable and consistent at initiating contact.

So what does this mean?
High performance sales results are behavior driven not personality driven. Yet based on a 2006 survey we conducted of companies with Gross Sales over $50 million, it is estimated that 83% of them use a personality based selection system when selecting Sales Reps. Additional research showed, of the 83% who use personality tests 98% expressed dissatisfaction in their Sales Results and Turnover Rates.

Essentially 83% of these companies are setup to fail in areas such as Sales Results, Training Costs, Turnover, etc. because they are using the incorrect indicators. It’s like trying to take a road trip in London, using a map of the United States. What’s the use?

Our cutting edge system is rooted in Dr. Dave’s 30 years of research. It starts with a 30 minute online assessment built on the 21 behaviors proven to impact sales productivity through the Art and Science of Selling. Additionally, the assessment includes self-validating tools to alert the end users if a candidate tries to manipulate the data. The data is transformed into a valuable electronic (2 pages), easy to read, sales intelligence report.

In validated studies, we have found the system to be over 90% accurate in predicting sales behavior within the initial 6 months of joining your organization.

You’ll know a candidate’s selling potential (High, Average, Low) within 6 months of joining your organization –
Before You Hire Them

Imagine having this intelligence as you interview, negotiate compensation and discuss payouts – it’s a powerful tool!

In addition to being a Selection Tool, our systematic process, also has built-in Management and Development tools as well. Would it be helpful to know how a person’s selling style impacts your customers? The business? How should the Sales Rep be managed? Again, imagine having this intelligence before they were hired.

In regard to development, we knew within seconds of completing the assessment, if a candidate had specific behavioral of emotional barriers in using the 6 different contact approaches for sales – Telephone, Networking, Speaking to High Net Worth People, Referrals, Presenting and Canvassing. If a particular business unit required more Telephone sales we selected only the new recruits that met initial criteria and were strong, based on the assessment results, in using the Telephone. For existing sales Reps we were able to identify the key areas for customized training

Does it really work?
In one instance we worked with a $20B+ business unit of a company. The unit was notorious for poor performance and no one could truly understand why. In our assessment we recognized and recommended 50% of Management and 40% of the Sales Reps be replaced. Why? Based on their actual assessments and research the Unit struggled in areas of motivation, execution and securing business. The Division Head agreed. As they reloaded, the new recruits needed to meet certain hiring criteria - they needed to score highly in 3 basic behaviors that were not cost effective to train:

Strong Sales Initiative
Strong Goal Focus

In 6 months we were able to:
• Convert the Unit from worst to first
• Reduce employee turnover
• Increase Employee and Associate Satisfaction

The unit is a $60B unit today.

Since then we have customized the system to:

1. Accept and screen resumes electronically
2. Administer the appropriate online assessment
3. Forward only Pre-Qualified Candidates based on the hiring criteria established

The Benefits to the Administrators are:
• Improved sales results by hiring top performing sales people
• Reducing the hiring process to a fraction of the standard time
• Decreasing turnover costs as the right people are being hired

Having a system to assist you in selecting top performing salespeople, manage the behavioral art and science of selling, and lastly develop a maniacal focus on execution – Sales is Simple.

Select, Manage, and Develop Smarter. This changes everything!

Rod McKinnis has helped improve the sales results of many prestigious companies in various sales environments. To learn more, visit

Author's Bio: 

Rod McKinnis, founder of The Mckinnis Consulting Group, is the authority in Sales Management Training. To learn more about accelerating your sales results and reducing your hiring costs visit

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