Magazine article Marketing

Multiple Answers for Marketer

Magazine article Marketing

Multiple Answers for Marketer

Article excerpt

SST offers US-style solutions to computer sales and marketing problems. Multiple question papers probe firms strengths and weaknesses. Helen Kay reports on a consultancy whose skills are in much demand

Your client has just signed the contract and it is noon. What do you next? Take him out to lunch to cement the relationship, rush back to your office to arrange counter signatures, take your sales team out to celebrate, or start selling additional services. Circle only one of the above responses.

The answer is, return immediately to the office to formalise the contract. But many people opt for lunch with the client instead, says Tony Davis, managing director of SST International.

His Harrow-based company has been running training courses for computer sales and marketing personnel since 1977. In 1990, however, he struck on the bright idea of producing a rigorous multiple choice test for salespeople. "The saturation of the market, together with the toll taken by the recession, means the computer industry must focus more sharply on its marketing methods," he observes.

Drawing on his own experience of the business, he and two colleagues devised a nine-page list of multiple-choice questions, which they called the Sales Capability Test. It takes an hour to complete and it covers 11 key criteria, ranging from negotiation skills to territory management.

It aims to assist recruitment, to test salesforce skills, identify training requirements and measure training effectiveness. Since launching the test last January (1992), SST International has netted such big names as McDonnell Douglas, Hoskyns, Digital Research and Coopers and Lybrand.

The accolades came almost as swiftly. At JBA (UK) Ltd, one of the largest IBM agents in the country, most of the sales and marketing staff took the test. Ken Clayton, training manager, reports "real benefits in using it, both as a tool for identifying training requirements and as a way of coaching our people".

Another satisfied customer was Welcome Software Technology, a project management company specialising in software for complex tasks like the construction of oil refineries. Bambos Georgiou, the managing director, professes himself "a hardened cynic". But, he says, "The test is well thought out and extremely probing."

Such glowing endorsements are somewhat surprising, given the UK's traditional hostility to multiple-choice assessment. …

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