A salesperson helps customers to select the product or service that best meets their needs. To assist with the sale, they provide knowledge about the different options and may give a demonstration of a product in action. They are on hand to answer any questions and guide the sales process from welcoming the customer to securing the final transaction.
In this article, we review the responsibilities of a salesperson, look at the soft skills and abilities needed to be successful in the role, and explore the most suitable online tests to use in the sales recruitment process.
Pre-employment testing assists the recruitment team in making the informed, objective, and effective hiring decisions, by efficiently providing valuable insight. In this way, they ensure the strongest candidate, one who will rapidly take on and thrive in the role, is selected for the position.
What should a salesperson be able to do?
A salesperson works to increase the sales of a company by listening to and discovering a customer's needs, presenting the different buying options, and helping customers consider these by providing specifications and their expertise on the items on sale.
They may be responsible for selling products or services but, regardless of the type of sales they help orchestrate, salespeople must have detailed knowledge and an ability to connect with customers.
Building a rapid rapport with customers depends upon good communication and interpersonal skills. Salespeople must be able to welcome customers and assist them in a friendly and helpful manner, without becoming overbearing.
They also need to be able to process sales transactions and deal with returns and refunds, as well as assist with stock management and presentation.
Salespeople often work as part of a department team, so they must be able to work well alongside others.
A salesperson's tasks include:
- Greeting customers and making them feel welcome
- Answering any specific questions about the product, service, store, or company
- Making accurate recommendations based on customer information
- Explaining product use, operation, and care to customers
- Performing product demonstrations
- Carrying out sales transactions, processing returns, and handling complaints
- Assisting with stock deliveries and stock taking
- Estimating costs for quotes (if selling this type of product/service)
- Creating stock displays, rearranging the stock, and ensuring the sales environment is clean and tidy
- Processing special requests and ordering in stock from other locations
- Updating stock and sales records
Skills to look for in a salesperson
A salesperson must possess certain key skills to be successful in their role. When hiring a salesperson, we recommend testing for the following skills:
Oral communication: salespeople need to communicate clearly and effectively with customers. They must be able to judge the correct tone of voice and body language and make a customer feel at ease, whilst imparting useful product information. The ability to convey lots of detailed information in an easy-to-understand and engaging manner is important as, if customers feel overwhelmed or bored, they won't commit to a purchase.
Interpersonal skills: building a rapport with customers goes beyond communication, to interpersonal skills - as does working effectively within a team. Strong interpersonal skills are key when working in a public-facing environment and dealing with customer queries throughout the day.
Attention to detail: an eye for detail is helpful when arranging sales displays, which must show products and their best to attract customers. Attention to detail is also useful when listening to a customer's needs, as it means the individual will be able to more accurately match the customer with a product or service by picking up on small details and using the insight these provide.
Software skills: salespeople need to have some familiarity with basic software, as they may be required to carry out transactions on the tills, update stock and sales records and create and print sale labels.
Useful abilities for a salesperson
To fulfill their responsibilities, salespeople need to have the necessary abilities to complement their skills. Employees working in sales benefit from the following abilities:
Problem-solving: matching a customer with the right product or service for them is an exercise in problem-solving. You first uncover the puzzle - aka. the needs of the customer - and then proceed to solve it, by showing the customer different options until you find the one that solves their need. A good problem-solving ability equates to greater customer satisfaction and faster sales.
Problem sensitivity and social perceptiveness: being able to connect with how a customer feels and what they want assists a salesperson in presenting a customer with the product or service that is the best fit for them. This perceptiveness helps them to understand customer perspectives and values, which directly impact their purchase decisions.
Flexibility and adaptability: if a customer is not happy with a product or doesn't feel the items they have been shown are suitable, a good salesperson can rethink, adapt their approach, and find something more aligned with the customer's needs and desires. In sales, the ability to recognize the need to adapt the sales strategy - and to do this quickly - is key, or the customer will leave to make their purchase elsewhere.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a salesperson?
Pre-employment testing isn't only to assess aptitude and knowledge, it can also be usefully employed to assess a candidate's soft skills. When recruiting a salesperson, soft skills are valuable indicators of potential.
Adding the soft skills tests below to your hiring process will help to confirm your candidate pool has what it takes to be effective in sales:
Communication: salespeople need to be excellent communicators, as their role involves engaging and conversing with customers to secure well-matched sales. They must be able to communicate appropriately with diverse audiences and know how to hold useful conversations with customers of all ages and backgrounds.
A communications skills test gives candidates fictional scenarios and asks how they would react. Strong empathy and good etiquette can be evidenced through proportionate, professional responses to the outlined situations.
Interpersonal skills: interpersonal skills are essential for building customer relationships and ensuring good teamwork. As we've already mentioned, they are a key part of being an engaging and effective salesperson. An interpersonal skills test presents candidates with a selection of hypothetical scenarios and asks them to choose the most effective way to deal with the outlined situation from a multiple-choice list. The test touches upon empathy, emotional awareness, and conflict management, all useful skills when working with people.
Teamwork: if a salesperson will need to work closely alongside other sales staff, a teamwork test may be beneficial. This test presents invented team working scenarios, along with a series of multiple-choice questions about the situations depicted. Candidates are required to select the answer that best describes how they would deal with the scenario, should it arise, giving an idea of how well they work alongside others and handle the issues that may arise.
Adaptability: salespeople often need to adapt their sales strategies to secure successful sales. An adaptability test explores the ability to manage situations and pivot by, once again, presenting prospective employees with a series of hypothetical scenarios. This time the test asks them to select the course of action that would be the closest to their own. When dealing with the public, the ability to manage unexpected situations is very useful.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a salesperson?
To ensure your prospective employees are well-rounded, assess for aptitude as well as soft skills. Together, these insights will help you to select a candidate with great potential for sales.
For recruiting a salesperson, the following aptitude tests may be beneficial:
Verbal reasoning: though the role of a salesperson doesn't rely upon the written word, a verbal reasoning test helps to assess the understanding of words, phrases, and meaning that applies to the conversation. Salespeople must be able to rapidly absorb what customers are saying and use this information to make accurate sales recommendations.
A verbal reasoning test explores the ability to understand and interpret written passages by presenting a series of related statements and asking them to indicate if each is 'true', 'false', or if they 'cannot say' from the content of the passage. The timed nature of the test means it assesses the ability to absorb information and its implications rapidly - exactly what salespeople are required to do when determining which products best meet their customers' needs.
Logical reasoning: a salesperson needs to be able to listen carefully and then think logically to help customers solve their problems - in the form of a well-matched product. A logical reasoning test assesses lateral thinking and problem-solving - both useful for working in sales.
The test involves looking at patterns, which will feature symbols and shapes as well as involve elements such as rotation, transformation, translation, and mirroring. Candidates must analyze the patterns presented, deduce the rule(s) governing them, and select the correct next figure in the sequence.
Error checking: attention to detail is a good skill to have, whether when listening to customer needs, maintaining the store environment, managing stock, or processing transactions. In an error-checking test, candidates are presented with two sets of data and asked to highlight discrepancies.
Our recommended test battery for a salesperson
Pre-employment assessments are the most effective and efficient way to gain valuable insight into the aptitude and soft skills possessed by your talent pool. With the data collected, you can ensure you are making objective hiring decisions and recruiting the most capable candidate for your sales role.
As a base, your sales recruitment process should incorporate the following assessments:
Communication: as mentioned above, good communication is essential in a customer-facing role, such as that of a salesperson. Strong communication will help a salesperson to connect with their customers, discover their needs and preferences, recommend suitable products, and close a sale.
Interpersonal skills: interpersonal skills are a vital part of communicating and engaging with both customers and colleagues in an appropriate and emotionally aware manner. Test for these skills to ensure your new hires are up to the task.
Verbal reasoning: a verbal reasoning test effectively recreates the information processing and deduction that needs to take place when a salesperson gathers information from a customer about their needs. Use this test to assess whether your candidates can absorb new information and rapidly determine its implications.
Adaptability: working with the public, the ability to adapt and change tack is useful. Use an adaptability test to assess whether your prospective employees have the flexibility and situational awareness needed to work in sales.
Logical reasoning: logical reasoning questions are a great way of assessing lateral thinking and problem-solving - key skills for a salesperson. Add this test to your online testing round to ensure these abilities are present in your shortlisted candidates.
Our sales associate testing guide can provide more information on adding pre-employment skills and aptitude tests to your recruitment process.