Academic journal article Review of Business

Selecting That Successful Salesperson

Academic journal article Review of Business

Selecting That Successful Salesperson

Article excerpt

Selecting That Successful Salesperson


Selecting successful salespeople has been one of industry's greatest challenges. Millions of dollars have been spent on research to improve the recruitment and selection process, but still turnover in sales remains high and is a significant problem. While the selection process has been refined and improved in recent years, much of the research has been directed toward testing a specific method. The purpose of this article is to furnish the latest advancements in the identification and selection of salespeople and to provide insights toward selecting that successful salesperson.

Comparison of Selection Techniques

A comparison of the mean validity of coefficients of different measures that have been used to predict sales performance is presented in Table 1. The test scores for assessment centers, tests, and biographics (bio-data) indicate that they are the most effective techniques in the selection of salespeople. The most widely used technique, the interview, is rated as one of the least effective techniques. The strengths and weakness of these primary methods will be discussed followed by which techniques this author thinks should be implemented.

Personal Interviews

Studies investigating the use of interviews in personnel selection have generally had very disappointing results. Although the interview is the most widely used method in personnel selection, statistics have consistently concluded that interviews generally have insufficient reliability and validity for use in personnel selection[1,11]. In spite of this, a recent study reported that interviewers are simply unwilling to give up personal interviews as a selection technique, even when data overwhelmingly shows that there are more effective prediction devices[6].

The problem with the interview is that it is so misused and abused as a selection technique. It is used by everyone from the experienced who used it effectively to the very inexperienced individual who talks too much, does not listen, and asks the wrong questions. Additionally, research has shown that most interviewers usually make a decision in the first five minutes and then spend the rest of the interview searching for evidence to support their decision[14]. The continued use and popularity of the interview, however, has forced researchers to attempt to improve its effectiveness.

The patterned behavior description (BD) technique has produced some of the best results reported. The BD technique draws upon critical incidents from the interviewee's experience that might be predictive of future job behavior. Interviewers must ascertain how applicants reacted in specific situations described by critical incidents for the position the interviewees are seeking. Through tracking a set of interviewers, it was found that those who used the standard interview technique only predicted why people performed at different levels eight percent of the time. However, interviewers trained in BD techniques predicted job performance at a 48 percent rate[6].

Another technique being implemented to improve the interviewing process is the utilization of trained, certified interviewers. Jeffrey Daum, working with the J.C. Penney Company, developed a system to provide an in-depth job analysis, standardize selection methods, and trained interviewers. After two and one-half years, the certified interviewers exhibited 45 percent less turnover for new hires than non-certified interviewers[4].

Several suggestions that could possibly bolster the interview process include the use of an interview guide, interviewer training, familiarity with job requirements, evaluation of interpersonal skills during the interview, allowing the applicant plenty of time to talk to avoid rapid first impressions, and directing attention to the purpose of the interview whether it is to seek out certain attributes or to be used as a preliminary screening device[2]. …

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