Sales assessment tests: What to expect + effective preparation tips
You’re applying for a sales job and part of the hiring process involves having you do a sales assessment test.
You want to become part of this sales team, and questions immediately start rushing through your head. How do I prepare for this? What’s the format like? What if I fail or get a low score? Do I still stand a chance of being employed?
Although it may seem intimidating, a sales assessment test is really nothing to be worried about. Instead, spend time practicing and getting familiar with the test so you can show your best self to the employer.
Not sure where to start? In this post, we will show you how to best prepare for and ace the sales assessment test.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What is a sales assessment test
- Why do companies conduct sales assessments
- Types of assessment questions
- How to pass a sales assessment test successfully
- Sample sales assessment test questions
What is a sales assessment test?
A sales assessment test is a standardized way for sales hiring managers and sales recruiters to evaluate sales skills. Candidates taking the test are required to demonstrate the various traits and reasoning required to succeed in a sales role, such as adaptability, numerical proficiency, teamwork, goal-setting, and ambition.
Today, many companies are using sales assessment tests to make the right hires. Even though they require time and effort to set up, employers realize the benefit of investing more time upfront in recruiting the right people than hiring too fast and ending up with misfits.
Companies typically rely on third-party assessment providers to conduct the test. Common sales assessment providers include Gallup, TestGorilla, Caliper, SalesFuel, Brainbench, and Practice Aptitude Tests.
Here are some sales assessment questions (we’ll share a long list of them later) to give you an idea of what to expect in the test:
1. Skill is more important than attitude.
2. The key element to succeeding in sales is:
B. Presenting benefits of your offer in the most appealing way
C. Asking prospects to buy early and often, always going for the close.
3. The best sales people are:
B. assertive, confident and charismatic
C. disciplined, competent, highly knowledgeable
4. Moving the sales conversation forward fast matters more than making the prospect feel comfortable with the process.
5. You're selling website design services, and a prospect tells you that the last agency they worked with wasn't able to get it right. How would you respond?
B. I can tell, looking at your website there's so much that could be executed much better, and we're the right team to help you with that. Let's start working on this together?
C. What about the work they delivered wasn't right?
Why do companies conduct sales assessments?
Sales assessments serve a number of purposes meant to improve a company’s sales hiring. Here are some of benefits of using a sales skills assessment test:
- Get an additional data point to the classic sales interview. Employers using sales assessments can objectively screen and compare candidates on essential sales competencies that might not become apparent through a traditional interview. After all, standard job interview questions rarely go beyond gauging applicants for charisma, confidence, inquire about their past sales performance, or examine subject-matter expertise.
- Determine if a candidate is a good fit for a particular sales position. For instance, if a company is hiring for an SDR position, it can evaluate the sales assessment test results to determine whether the applicant can hold a conversation and have a good tolerance for sales rejections. Taking this approach will lead to better employee-role fit, improving the likelihood of long-term sales staff retention.
- Learn which client a candidate is best suited for. Does the applicant have excellent problem-solving skills? If so, the employer can consider utilizing them for clients currently facing issues in their business. Additionally, companies can use sales assessments to determine the industry a candidate is best suited for. The test can be tailored to feature scenarios and questions specific to factors like the client’s business model and industry.
Types of assessment questions
Potential employers want to ensure that their new hires will have all the right skills, experience, and personality to fit in with the organization and get the job done right.
Let’s look at some common assessment questions, as well as an example question or exercise. We’ll also explain what a good and bad answer might look like.
Keep in mind that sales assessment questions will vary from company to company—instead of memorizing each example, it’s best to look at the “bigger picture” behind the questions and what they’re aimed at accomplishing.
When assessing your sales skills, employers might look at things like your competence in communication, objection handling, qualifying, closing, goal setting, pitching & presentation, reaching decision-makers, and performing research.
Example Exercise: Write a cold email to a decision-maker of a SaaS company with 200+ employees to pitch a marketing tool. The estimated deal value is $20k annually.
Good answer: Ensure it’s well-written, succinct, and clearly structured. Speak the language of the prospect and address a common pain point. Only include one clear call-to-action (CTA).
Bad answer: Long-winded, too much information about your own company and yourself, no clear or multiple CTAs, contains attachments.
Hypothetical sales scenarios
Employers might present you with hypothetical sales scenarios to evaluate your situational judgments and decision-making skills in the moment.
Example Question: You’ve been negotiating a contract with a potential customer for two months. They’ve expressed strong interest and discussions are going well. But all of a sudden, they say they’re not interested. How do you handle this?
Good answer: Be clear and specific about the steps and actions you would take. Explain why you would take those steps and what the potential outcomes of those steps might be.
Bad answer: Unclear and vague, too aggressive or too passive in your hypothetical plan, failure to show a meaningful and strategic thought process, failure to be resourceful and even creative.
Sales personality test or self-assessment
Your personality is important—for making sales as well as fitting in with the team.
Example Question: Which of these personality traits are your strongest and weakest? Teamwork, leadership, organization, coach-ability and adaptability, time management, conflict resolution.
Good answer: Be honest. Elaborate on your strengths and give examples of past scenarios where those strengths have shined in the workplace. With each weakness, describe how you’re working to resolve it.
Bad answer: Bragging, lying, sneakily turning weaknesses into strengths.
In addition to sales-specific skills and knowledge, you’ll need to show cognitive abilities during the interview process, like command of the English language and basic math and analytical skills. These may come in the form of a test similar to the SAT we took in high school, or as a few isolated questions. For more examples, see this helpful guide.
Example Exercise: Review these performance data spreadsheets and identify the key trends that you find.
Good answer: Show your ability to look at the data from a high-level perspective, as well as a more granular perspective. Think about what’s meaningful to the company’s bottom line and to your sales role.
Bad answer: Fails to perform basic analysis or to find consequential considerations — or fails to answer the question at all.
Technical skills and industry-specific knowledge
Potential employers will likely ask if you’re familiar with the tools the company uses, like customer relationship management (CRM) platforms or outreach tools. In some fields, domain knowledge is critical, especially in fields like pharmaceutical or medical device sales where there is typically a rigorous training process, and hiring decisions come with higher training and onboarding costs.
Example Question (for a pharmaceutical role): How do you research pharmaceutical products?
Good answer: Show that you’re fully informed and involved in industry news and resources. List specific sources — and be sure they’re reputable and well-respected in the industry. Explain what types of information you look for during your research phase and why.
Bad answer: Unclear and vague, failure to list specific sources, failure to show that you’re actively involved in the industry and that you value learning and factual perspectives.
How to pass a sales assessment test successfully
To nail your test, all it takes is some preparation and a positive mindset.
And, as far as preparation goes: Congrats! The simple fact that you're reading this is already proof that you're preparing.
Here are some key tips for making sure you pass (with flying colors, hopefully).
Do your research
Take at least an hour to deep-dive and gather as much information as you can.
Start by researching the company. Learn about its size, services, current clients and ideal customer profile, recent news, competitors, and anything else you can find.
Then, “zoom out” a bit. Look at the company’s industry and market. What’s the current state? Are there any notable trends?
Learn about any common industry lingo or terminology, as well as some of the tools and resources that are commonly used.
This research will come in handy during the assessment, where you’ll be able to showcase your knowledge and willingness to learn.
Brush up on your skills
It never hurts to refresh your memory on areas you think you might need.
For example, has it been a while since your cognitive aptitude has been tested? Try searching online for a practice test you can take at home and studying the answers you got wrong.
Or if you want to be better prepared for hypothetical sales scenario questions, explore those more.
Even if you don’t explicitly use this new information during your assessment, you’ll feel more confident in your ability to perform well.
Be honest and intuitive
Don't try to give the answers that you think they want to hear or think is theoretically correct. Instead, give the answers that you believe to be true.
This is particularly important during a self-assessment. Choose the answer that best represents how you would behave in real life.
As you move through, avoid dwelling on any question for too long—pick what feels right first. Sometimes when facing a multiple-choice question, you might find that more than one answer seems correct. In those cases, just pick the one that you think is most important.
Especially in remote sales, you can often complete the sales assessment test at your own convenience. Our best advice: don't delay.
Schedule an hour or two as soon as possible and get it out of the way. Hiring managers are often taking note of this, and they’ll likely factor in how much time it takes you to move through the process and complete the questionnaire. After all, the best sales reps typically have a get it done sooner rather than later attitude.
Sample sales assessment test questions
Keep in mind that there's no universal assessment tool, and different sales organizations structure their questionnaires differently. The purpose of this section is simply to give you an idea of the kinds of questions that sales leaders often use to assess skill sets of prospective sales talent.
1. You're in the middle of a product demo to a group of core stakeholders. One of them cuts in and asks a question about a very specific use case, that isn't really an important factor in the buying decision. How would you handle this?
- Answer the question to show that you are competent and that your solution can indeed be applied to that use case. Then proceed with your demo.
- Answer the question to show that you are competent and that your solution can indeed be applied to that use case. Then ask the person if they have any further questions.
- Tell them: "That's a great question and I'm happy to address that later in the presentation."
- Ask others in the room: "Does anyone else think this is an important point to address right now? Otherwise let's stay focused on top priority items."
- Politely tell the prospect that this isn't the time and place to address this question, and proceed where they interrupted you.
- Ask them: "Why does this matter to you?"
2. When was the last time you had an unusually long losing streak? How long did it last? How did you stay engaged, and what turned things around for you? Was there anything you wish you would have done differently, or you would do differently the next time? What have you learned from that experience?
3. You're selling a highly specific CMS solution and the prospect tells you that high customizability without having to hire expensive developers is important to them. You tell them your system is a great fit for that, and they respond by saying: "There's no CMS that claims they're hard to use, everyone claims great usability." How do you respond?
- I'm a bit surprised that at this point in the conversation you don't trust my words. I've answered all your questions and presented all the information you asked for honestly and never given you a reason to doubt me. Where is this coming from?
- That's a valid concern. You're currently on Xtacy CMS, and I can share case studies of companies like yours that made the switch from Xtacy to our CMS and were able to customize it better to their own needs while also reducing their reliability on expensive dev hours.
- If we would establish that our CMS actually is highly customizable without the need for hiring expensive developers, would you be ready to buy? Or are there other concerns we'd have to address first?
4. The ability to handle objections is the most important skill for sales professionals.
5. Making the prospect feel understood is more important than being confident at any point in the sales conversation.
6. Which of the following would you not do:
- On a discovery call a prospect says he's willing to schedule a call for a product demo with you, together with another decision maker. You ask them to pick a time in the calendar right away, but they say they'll need to talk with they other person first. You say you understand, ask when they'll be able to get back to you, and that you appreciate their time.
- On a discovery call a prospect says he's willing to schedule a call for a product demo with you, together with another decision maker. You give the more supporting information, to make sure that the prospect will be even more interested in the demo.
- On a discovery call a prospect says he's willing to schedule a call for a product demo with you, together with another decision maker. You ask them to pick a time in the calendar right away, but they say they'll need to talk with they other person first. You insist on scheduling an appointment right now, and tell them that if that doesn't work, they can always reschedule.
7. During a sales call, you encounter an objection that you've not heard before, and don't know how to answer. You tell the prospect: "I don't know how to respond to this, but I promise you I'll get back to you with the answer. Assuming I can address this satisfactory, is there anything else that we'd have to cover before you'd make a buying decision?" After the call, you:
- Go through your sales training and internal documentation to find the answer first.
- Ask your sales manager first.
- Ask your peers first.
- Brainstorm the best possible response first, then ask your manager and present them with your best response, and ask for feedback.
Now when you look at these questions, you'll find that some questions to have clearcut right and wrong answers. But typically, questionnaires are structured in a way where there's no universally "correct" answer. Instead, the questions are designed to indicate whether you will naturally fit into the overall selling style of the company or not.
A bit of preparation goes a long way
Now more than ever, organizations are laser-focused on finding the right team members for their sales roles—and they’re using sales assessments as critical tools to make sure they’re identifying top performers.
While a sales assessment can certainly seem intimidating, you’ll likely find that it wasn’t as tough as you thought it would be.
Just remember the tips you’ve learned in this article, and put in some time upfront so that you feel prepared and confident.
Once you do this, you’ll be able to approach your assessment as a way to showcase your strengths and prove you’re the right person for the job.
Looking for more helpful info and tips? Download our sales resource collection!