More on Push Back from Sales Assessments

Yesterday’s post generated a number of emails – mostly good.  But one particular question that was raised deserves a post of its own.  The reader asked, “why are your assessments so black and white?” and “why isn’t more attention paid to the strengths and skills?” and “why can’t they be like other assessments which take more of a neutral position?”

All great questions and I’ll answer them one at a time.

Why are Your Assessments so Black and White? We start with an inventory of strengths that either support selling or sabotage selling.  We also have an inventory of skills that people either have developed or not yet developed.  So when an individual has a strength or a skill, we let them know.  When they lack an important strength (a weakness) or skill (a likely problem) we let them know.  There really isn’t such a thing as, “they sometimes seek approval and they sometimes don’t seek approval” because that would mean that they do in fact have Need for Approval.  Most of these strengths and skills fall into the either you have them or you don’t category.

Why don’t the assessments pay more attention to the strengths and skills? Funny thing is, they do.  Of course, one must have the strengths to read an assessment where most of the content addresses the strengths.  We have now assessed more than 340,000 salespeople. One of the disappointing statistics we have shows that only 26% of those people are strong salespeople, so, in 3 out of 4 assessments, weaknesses and likely problems get more attention than strengths and skills.

Why aren’t your assessments more like other assessments which take more of a neutral position? The other assessments that people are familiar with are typically personality tests or behavioral styles tests.  There aren’t strong styles and weak styles; just different styles.  There aren’t strong personalities and weak personalities; just different personalities.  So when those assessments explain your make-up, the statements are very neutral.  Most behavioral styles assessments explain the various ways one’s behavior is affected by internal and external events, such as, when that happens you’ll probably react this way.  Most personality tests explain the various ways you’ll interact with others.  Again, there is no right or wrong, just your way compared with other ways.

When it comes to understanding OMG’s Assessment relative to you or someone who reports to, we start with an ideal and compare everyone to that ideal.  In other words, an exceptional salesperson has these sales core competencies which are all specific to sales success.  Which do you currently have and which are currently showing up as weaknesses and getting in the way?  The purpose is to provide a road map and show that if these 6 weaknesses are overcome and these 8 skills are developed, then you’ll be an exceptional salesperson too.  The problem begins when salespeople and their managers are too close to the situation and aren’t able to clearly and objectively recognize the weaknesses and limitations.  Instead of simply embracing the findings they agree with, and working on those, they become defensive and focus all of their attention on the finding or two they don’t agree with. That is when you’ll see attempts to discredit the assessment and the rest of the findings.

This is where the push back originates and if not quickly and effectively addressed by management, it sets the stage for undermining the entire evaluation process. Your people won’t change as you had hoped, won’t step up, won’t be able to execute the company’s new strategies, won’t be able to overcome the resistance from the worsening economy, and just won’t be able to do what’s required any more effectively than they can today.

Here’s the good news.  This negativity comes from only about 30% of a sales force but it’s sometimes the most influential 30%. If you let them evangelize their negativity it will spread to the remaining 70% who were just fine with their assessment results. An interesting aside, most of the people who react this way will probably have either “Excuse Making”, “Becomes Emotionally Involved”, “Has Difficulty Recovering From Rejection” or “Lacks Commitment” among their many weaknesses.

Be the leader you need to be, take charge, stop the push back and lead the change.

(c) 2008 Dave Kurlan