Positions: Salesperson and Sales Manager

Background

The aim of the research was to determine the traits that make Salespersons and Sales Managers successful at the multi national firm and to determine the relative accuracy of the system to predict success based upon the "job template" that incorporates those traits. The multi national firm provided 25 profiles of current Sales Managers and 69 profiles for current Salespersons. The current employees were from three countries: Australia, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. Each job was analyzed separately and each country was analyzed separately. The sales managers showed very little difference between countries and therefore only one template was finalized for the Sales Managers for all three countries. Although there were many similarities for the Salespersons in the three countries, there were sufficient differences to warrant creating a template for Salespersons for each country. Therefore, there were four templates created, one for Sales Managers in the three countries, and three for Salespersons (one for each of the three countries).

This case study compares the performance of the employees with the results of the Harrison Assessments' profile. All the employees in the sample were rated according to job performance by supervisors, using the performance ratings model below. The profiles of the employees were then analyzed in relationship to performance in order to determine the factors that relate to success in the Salesperson and Sales Manager positions. In addition, the jobs were analyzed in order to assess the traits that were required for this position. The job analysis undertaken by managers described the roles of Salespersons and Sales Managers. Traits corresponding to the job analysis were given special attention when analyzing the traits that relate to performance. However, all 130 traits in the Harrison Assessments' system were analyzed in relationship to performance.

Performance scoring

Each employee was given a rating by his/her supervisor. The rating was based upon a scale between 0 and 100 according to the following:

90-100
Excellent to Best
80-89
Very Good
70-79
Average to Good
60-69
Below average
40-59
Poor
0-39
Extremely poor

The Harrison Assessments' template methodology

The template methodology formulates the traits that correlate with success for a particular position into "traits to have" as well as "traits to avoid". The template is then used to measure future applicants and serve as a developmental guide for current employees. The template is formatted as a table showing how employees (or applicants) score against each of the required traits. The table includes a "bottom line" job suitability score between zero and one hundred that represents the individual's level of "total suitability" for a particular position. (It can also be shown as a bar graph indicating how well an individual person meets each of the job requirements.) A score of one hundred represents a person who is completely suitable for that position. Assuming the person is eligible for a position (has the education, experience and technical skills), a suitability score of 75 or greater represents a person who has a good probability of performing effectively in that position. A score of 74 or less represents a person who is considered to be unlikely to perform well in that position.

Accuracy level of results

The results showed a very high predictive accuracy (96%) and a strong correlation between the Harrison Assessments' suitability score and the actual job performance for Sales Managers. The results also showed a high predictive accuracy (91%) and a strong correlation between the Harrison Assessments' suitability score and the actual job performance for Salespersons. This indicates that the templates include a fairly comprehensive set of traits related to suitability for this position.

Predictive accuracy

A prediction is considered accurate if one or more of the following conditions are met:

a) The suitability score is 75 or greater and the performance score is 75 or greater

b) The suitability score is less than 75 and the performance score is less than 75.

c) The suitability score is within 6 points of the performance score.

The logic behind this definition is that, if the suitability score were 75 or above and the person were eligible for the position, it would indicate a prediction that the person would probably succeed in the position. If the suitability score were less than 75 and the person was moderately eligible (not highly eligible) for the position then this would indicate a prediction of below average performance. Also, if the suitability score were within 6 points of the performance score it would indicate a very close prediction and thus should also be considered accurate. The suitability score for each person appears on the template in the far right-hand column of the table.

From the research sample, 55 of the 67 Salespersons (82%) showed a correlation between the Harrison Assessments' suitability score and performance to be accurate, according to the definition above.

Variation between performance rating and predictive suitability score

Sales Managers 3 countries
Salespersons Australia
Salespersons Philippines
Salespersons Hong Kong
Salespersons 3 countries
24/25 = 96%
31/35 = 89%
11/12 = 92%
21/22 = 95%
63/69 = 91%

The results show that the template developed is able to predict job success with a high level of accuracy. The sample size was sufficient to gain fairly reliable results, especially considering the close approximation to previous research. However, it is recommended that records of profiles and performance ratings be kept in order to refine this template at a future date.

Traits required for success for Sales Managers

The research indicates that the success factors for this position include:

• Takes Initiative
• The tendency to plan ahead
• The tendency to be diplomatic
• The willingness to take risks
• The desire to have a stable (long term) career
• The tendency to be helpful
• The tendency to be outgoing or extroverted
• The willingness to adapt to changing circumstances (Flexible)
• The desire to benefit others or society
• The enjoyment of persuading or influencing others
• The enjoyment of making presentations to groups
• The tendency to collaborate with others
• The willingness to make decisions
• The tendency to analyze problems
• The tendency to be optimistic
• An interest in business or finance

The research indicates that there are also factors that will hinder success in this position. These include:

• Being overly skeptical
• Being defensive or having the attitude "I'm OK and don't need to improve".
• Being overly dominating or self-centered
• Being blindly optimistic
• Being precise but slow
• Being self-sacrificing or overly compliant
• The tendency to avoid a challenge
• The tendency to lack frankness
• The tendency to be dogmatic
• The tendency to be disorganized
• The tendency to be authoritarian or overly controlling of decisions
• The lack of interpersonal skills
• A lack of interest in writing or language

Traits required for success for Salespersons

The research indicates that the success factors for this position are very similar for all three countries (approximately 90% similar). However there were some cultural or organizational differences. Thus, three different templates were designed in order to enhance the accuracy of the templates. The respective differences were included in the three templates. Most of the traits were the same for the three countries, however, the weighting of the traits were adjusted according to reflect the differences. After each trait below, I have indicated a short definition and noted the differences between countries related to that trait. In some cases, I have also speculated on the reasons for the differences. In general, the traits are listed in order of importance.

Takes Initiative -The tendency to take initiative

This trait was essential for all three countries. High scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful for all three countries. This is a standard trait related to sales and is typically the most important trait for this type of position.

Persistence -The tendency to persist despite unforeseen obstacles

This trait was important for all three countries, but most important in the Philippines. High scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful for all three countries. This is also a typical trait for sales.

Influencing - The enjoyment of persuading or influencing others

High scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful in Australia and the Philippines. However in Hong Kong only low scorers tended to be poorer performers. This is typical trait for sales.

Warmth/Empathy - Expressing warmth or empathy

In Hong Kong, high scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful. In Australia, moderate scorers performed better with very high scorers performing OK but low scorers performing less effectively. In the Philippines, only low scorers tended to perform less effectively. All of these patterns are found in different sales positions and the different emphasis is most likely related to cultural differences. In Australia for example, being too warm interferes with closing a sale.

Enthusiastic - Having enthusiasm for one's goals

In Australia, high scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful. In Hong Kong and the Philippines, only low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a lack of enthusiasm was a barrier to success. All of these patterns are found in different sales positions and the different emphasis is most likely related to cultural differences.

Certain - A sense of self-certainty

In Australia, moderate scorers performed better with very high scorers performing OK, but low scorers performing less effectively. In Hong Kong and the Philippines, only low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a lack of self-certainty was a barrier to success. All of these patterns are found in different sales positions and the different emphasis is most likely related to cultural differences.

Self-acceptance - The tendency to accept oneself

In Australia, high scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful. In the Philippines and Hong Kong, only low scorers tended to perform less effectively. These patterns are typically found in different sales positions and the different emphasis is most likely related to cultural differences. For example, self-acceptance is considered more socially acceptable in Australia than in Asia and thus "the higher the better".

Relaxed - The tendency to be at ease

In Australia, high scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful. In the Philippines and Hong Kong, only extremely low scorers tended to perform less effectively. In Asia, being extremely tense tended to interfere with sales success. In Australia, being easy-going may be more culturally valued.

Enlists Cooperation -The willingness to enlist the co-operation of others

In Australia, high scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful. In the Philippines there was no relationship with this trait. In Hong Kong, only extremely low scorers tended to perform less effectively.

Systematic - The tendency to logically assess a sequence of steps

In Australia, and the Philippines, only extremely low scorers tended to perform less effectively. In Hong Kong, high scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful. However, those with higher scores, tended to perform only slightly better.

Traits that interfere with success for Salespersons

Assertive - lacking - The tendency to be hesitant in putting forward one's own needs

In Australia, moderate to high scorers performed better with higher scorers performing OK, but low scorers performing less effectively. This indicates that being fairly assertive is effective, being overly assertive is less effective and lacking assertiveness is least effective. A lack of assertiveness is typically related to having difficulty closing sales. In the Philippines and Hong Kong, only low scorers tended to perform less effectively. Assertiveness tends to be less acceptable in Asia, so this result was not surprising.

Wants high Pay - low - The tendency to be unmotivated by a chance to earn high pay

In the Philippines, high scorers tended to be more successful. In Australia, only low scorers tended to perform less effectively. There was no relationship with success in Hong Kong for this trait. It is difficult to see cultural differences as the cause in this case and I suspect there may be differences in the way the salespeople are motivated by management. If there are differences in remuneration structures, this could also cause this difference.

Wants Recognition - low - The disinterest in receiving recognition

In the Philippines, high scorers tended to be more successful. In Australia and Hong Kong, only low scorers tended to perform less effectively. Although this may be related to cultural difference, I suspect that the management in the Philippines may be taking greater advantage of motivational factors related to recognition and pay.

Helpful - low - A lack of helpfulness

In Hong Kong, high scorers tended to be more successful and low scorers tended to be less successful. In the Philippines and Australia, only extremely low scorers tended to perform less effectively.

Diplomatic - low - The tendency to lack tactfulness

In all three countries only low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a lack of diplomacy interfered with success in this position. Even moderately low scores tended to interfere with success.

Outgoing - low - The tendency to be introverted or hesitant in meeting new people

In all three countries only low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a lack of outgoingness interfered with success in this position. Even moderately low scores tended to interfere with success.

Creative - low - A disinterest in thinking of new ways of doing things

In all three countries only low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a lack of creative thinking interfered with success in this position. Even moderately low scores tended to interfere with success.

Optimistic - low - The tendency to be pessimistic

In all three countries only low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that pessimism interfered with success in this position. Even moderately low scores tended to interfere with success.

Precise - low - The tendency to ignore details or resist detailed work

In all three countries only extremely low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that an extreme dislike of precision tasks tended to interfere with success in this position.

Handles Autonomy - low - The tendency to have difficulty working without supervision

In Australia and the Philippines only low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a difficulty with autonomy interfered with success in this position. However, there was no relationship to success for this trait in Hong Kong.

Self-Improving - low - A disinterest in bettering oneself

In Hong Kong and the Philippines only low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a lack of diplomacy interfered with success in this position. Even moderately low scores tended to interfere with success. However in Australia, only very low scores tended to perform less effectively. I suspect this is related to a cultural difference in that Self-Improvement scores tend to be a little higher in Asia.

Analytical - low - A disinterest in analyzing problems

In all three countries only very low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a lack of analytical thinking interfered with success in this position.

Flexible - low - The tendency to resist changes and lack adaptability

In Hong Kong, only low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a moderate lack of adaptability interfered with success in this position. In the Philippines, only very low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that a strong lack of adaptability interfered with success in this position. In Australia only extremely low scorers tended to perform less effectively indicating that an extreme lack of adaptability interfered with success in this position. This could be a result of cultural difference, or it could be a result of different working conditions.

Wants Frankness - The tendency to insist that others are direct or straightforward

This trait when extreme seemed to interfere with success in Hong Kong. I included it in the Philippine template even though there were no instances in that sample. I did not include it in the Australian template as was no relationship to a lack of success in that country.

Blunt - The tendency to be frank without diplomacy

In all three countries even a little bluntness tended to interfere with success and as the bluntness increased, there was a greater interference.

Self-Sacrificing - The tendency to be helpful while sacrificing one's own needs

In Australia and the Philippines, being very self-sacrificing tended to interfere with success and as the self-sacrificing became more extreme, there was a greater interference. In Hong Kong, even a little tendency to be self-sacrificing tended to interfere with success and as the self-sacrificing increased, there was a greater interference.

Skeptical - The tendency to focus on the potential difficulties rather than possibilities

In all three countries being very skeptical tended to interfere with success and as the skepticism became more extreme, there was a greater interference.

These traits are formulated in the Harrison Assessments' software in four templates. These templates will enable a high prediction level of success for this position. Although this sample showed an accuracy level of 96% for the sales managers and 91% for the salespersons, it is estimated that it will predict success with approximately 85% accuracy for a larger sample size.

Included in this report are the Screening against a template report and the Harrison Assessments' template table for each of the four templates (one set for the Sales managers and one set for each country for the Salespersons). The Screening against a template reports show how the current employees score against the template for that position. The total suitability score is found in the furthest right-hand column and the performance score is found in the next column to the left. The employee names are listed in the far left-hand column and the traits are listed across the top. The cells to the right of the names correspond to the points that the individual received for that trait. The Harrison Assessments' template table shows how the traits are weighted. The names of the traits are listed in the left-hand column. The possible Harrison Assessments' scores (2-10) are listed across the top. The cells indicate the number of points the person will receive (or lose) if he/she has that score of that trait.