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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Online sales test -- another review

In January, 2008, I posted this reference to

This image is from the website of
Some years ago, I posted a question on the now-defunct Google Answers service, inviting researchers to help me find an inexpensive test to evaluate potential sales candidates. Other services were charging $100 or more per test -- and the tests were cumbersome things. Clearly, if the test is too expensive, we won't be able to afford to administer it widely, and thus would have to screen out candidates who might otherwise qualify.

I ended up using This Toronto-based service has delivered the goods. The electronic test is so simple it almost appears dumb (and hardly worth the actual cost per test of about $35.00; purchased in blocks). But the report and rating system the test uses is crystal clear -- and the results are instant. We send the test results to all candidates who complete it. It is the perfect 'brush off' to people we don't want to hire (its the test, not us!), and is a great motivator for those we want. And, while the test has not been 100 per cent foolproof, we've found virtually total success if the score is 8 out of 10 or higher on "prospecting" and "closing" and low on "need for direction.
A few weeks ago, Chase and I decided to review our sales test practices to satisfy ourselves that the test we had been using is indeed the best. We surveyed the market, and discovered, in addition to the incredibly complex and (in my opinion overpriced) complex psychological profile tests out there, another test which, on the surface, appeared to be less expensive than We decided to compare the tests to each other, using ourselves, current employees and new sales candidates in the evaluation.

Right from the start, however, I knew the alternative test had some real problems. It took 20 minutes to complete and, most disturbingly, asked questions which anyone with a brain could 'game' to give the presumably correct answer. I could not see how this test could measure anything except whether someone had years of experience in sales, with lots of "training courses" and knows how to speak the language of corporate-speak.

Notably, Chase (our top producing representative) and I achieved perfect 10/10 ratings in the key indicators on Now I don't claim perfection in real life (you just need to read earlier posters to know this) but a person who has the drive to start and maintain a business for two decades, even if he is not a stereotypical salesperson, has to be somewhat effective at selling.

Chase posted the comparisons between the other sales test and on his blog. Then the fun began.

The representative of the competing test sent a sabre-rattling email using legal-type words saying it is against that sales test's policies to allow any comparison with competing products.

We of course removed all references to the other test and I am not naming it here (I really don't want to spend time with my lawyers).

After this abortive experiment, I ] sent an email to Dave Pearce, president of

Pearce told me his company has about 1,400 clients and they indicate to him the test has about 90 per cent validity. He can't formally measure the success rate of individual clients, but the high-reorder rate is an indication that his test meets the needs of businesses and organizations seeking a reliable option.

He says about 75 to 100 of his clients are within the architectural, engineering and construction community. Most business is within the U.S. with some in Canada ( is based in Toronto), but the company has clients world-wide.

These range from small businesses who purchase the simple pack of five tests for $350.00, to a few large organizations who pay $20,000 for an unlimited licence.

So we're sticking with I think you should, too.

Editor's note: In January 2008, when I wrote the original posting, we received no compensation from for the endorsement. We have just established an affiliate marketing agreement, but you should note that I was ready to recommend this test without any compensation or reward 18 months ago.

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