"You, an account manager, are tasked with taking on a customer who has consistently given your business trouble and pushback. However, that customer is an industry force in your region — with the largest market share and tremendous growth potential. Previous account holders have struggled to build trust with the company and lost some business in recent years.
Still, your company believes there's an opportunity for a solid relationship and more business with the customer. How would you approach the customer to capitalize on that potential?"
If you're in the interview process for a sales role, you could have to answer a question like this, but it might not come up while you're interviewing face-to-face. You might be expected to figure it out on your own time — because sometimes, solid interview skills aren't enough to land you a sales role.
Some employers want some harder proof that you have the sales acumen and personality traits necessary to thrive in the position you're after. In those cases, you might be asked to complete something known by a sales assessment test — a tangible resource for gauging whether you have what it takes to deliver in the role you've applied for.
Here, we'll discuss the concept a bit further, review how one is typically structured, see the kinds of questions that might be on one, and go over some tips for how to pass one.
What is a sales assessment test?
A sales assessment test is a resource employers use to gauge sales candidates' professional demeanor and overall sales acumen. It's a test that typically covers bases related to aspects of sales roles like personality, communication, goal-setting, presentation, adaptability, teamwork, and research.
There are a few kinds of questions that land on most sales assessment tests.
Many companies that run sales assessment tests want to gauge how well sales candidates can handle tough situations as they arise. These businesses need to have a grip on the techniques prospective employees know how to leverage, the soundness of their judgment, and critical thinking skills. One way businesses can accomplish this is by presenting hypothetical scenarios to interviewees and having them explain how they'd approach them.
Sales assessment tests often include some kind of personality test. Employers want to know how smoothly candidates will fold into their operations. These sections include questions that address factors like how well prospective employees work within teams, their overall agreeableness, how they interact with management.
In some cases, employers just want to know how well an interviewee's brain works — they're looking for an understanding of a candidate's most basic cognitive skills. That means asking questions that cover some fundamental components that underlie sales efforts, including reading, basic mathematics, and attention to detail.
In your last role, how did your attitude and behavior help your team move towards a goal?
How do you balance nurturing current clients with developing new business?
Tell us about a time when one of your clients was unhappy and how you handled it.
How would you handle a short sales cycle versus a long sales cycle?
How long was your longest "losing streak" and what did you do to persevere through it and come out on top?
An eagerly awaited new album has been leaked several hours before its official release. Listeners are now able to download the album for free. How will this affect album sales?
How to Pass a Sales Assessment Test
Do your research.
There's a good chance a company's sales assessment test is going to feature questions and scenarios that are relevant to factors like its industry and scale. After all, working in medical device sales can be fundamentally different than selling for B2B SaaS.
Before you take your assessment, be sure to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the company in question, the nature of its industry, and any trends that stem from those elements. If you do, you'll have a much better picture of what you can expect from the test and offer more thoughtful, detailed answers.
Start it as soon as you can.
If you're given an assessment to take on your own time, try to be as prompt as possible. Start as soon as you find the time. You want to let the company you're interviewing with know you're enthusiastic about the prospect of working for it.
That said, being prompt isn't the same as being hasty. You still need to answer the assessment's questions thoroughly and thoughtfully. It's a gesture of good faith to start the assessment early, but it's a sign of disrespect to treat it like a race to the finish.
Answer subjective questions honestly.
Many assessments are going to feature questions that will help your potential employer get a pulse on your personality and how you'll fit the team dynamic. It can be tempting to try and tailor your answers to suit what you think the company wants to hear.
Going that road doesn't help anyone involved. The company you're interviewing for needs to know if you'll fit its culture and operations. If you try to deceive them with your answers, you might wind up working in a sales org that you just don't mesh with.
Everyone with a stake in the assessment is best off if you answer any personality questions honestly. After all, you want them to hire you — not some carefully crafted, artificial version of you who might not thrive in the role.
The prospect of a sales assessment test — like that of virtually any test — can be nerve-racking and imposing in its own right, but that doesn't have to be the case. If you take the time to properly prepare, answer its questions thoughtfully and honestly, and take it on in a timely fashion, you'll put yourself in an excellent position to deliver on this part of the interview process.
Originally published May 17, 2021 7:30:00 AM, updated March 22 2022