It is shocking how many smart companies are sold old assessment products that haven’t been current in their industry for decades. Assessments are not like fine wine. They don’t get better with age. What they do is keep those companies from using better and more accurate information.
Assessments are “blind products,” meaning that few people have the technical knowledge about psychometrics to recognize outdated item formats when they see them. They don’t know the limitations of older products or the improvements that are available today. To make it worse, the older and outdated products are often more expensive than the newer generations.
The most common of these are well known simply because they have been around since the 1940’s and earlier. Psychometrics and psychology are sciences that have advanced just as other sciences. Imagine using a telephone from just twenty years ago, or a television, computer or even golf clubs. Those differences are obvious.
The way to recognize an outdated assessment instrument is to look at the the way the questions are asked and answered. Two of the oldest formats are:
• Adjective checklists - The participant is asked to check the words that best describe them.
• Most - Least - The participant is presented with sets of three or four words or phrases. They are asked to select the word or phrase that Most describes them and the word or phrase that Least describes them.
Both of these formats have serious flaws in terms of producing accurate and reliable information. While they are interesting for individuals, the information is woefully inadequate for business applications. Despite this fact, such things are promoted and marketed vigorously to unsuspecting business owners and HR professionals.
For decades, sales managers and sales recruiters used a simple model of hunters & farmers to sort out potential salespeople. The general concept was that hunters could go out and find sales prospects, and then the hunters could close the sales. Once that was done, the hunters would go out after another one. Farmers did not do that. Instead, they worked with existing customers, the ones that the hunters had brought in. The farmers built a relationship with the customer. The concept was that the farmers would develop additional sales through the relationship. This led to some assumptions:
• If the person was not a hunter, then they could be a farmer.
• Hunting & farming required quite different strengths and abilities.
A similar model could be used in baseball with infielders & outfielders...or could it? In baseball, there are clear similarities with infielders & outfielders, but there are important differences with each position. Even the equipment used is different. Only the game is the same.
Today, BestWork DATA enables sales managers to take a deeper look at the specific job behaviors that are necessary for hunters & farmers within the classic model. Hunters must engage and qualify prospects. Then they must present their solution, handle any stalls or objections, and persuade the prospect to make a buying decision. Farmers must identify and engage prospects for additiional products or services within an existing customer. Then they must present their solution, handle any stalls or objections, and persuade the prospect to make a buying decision. The two roles are essentially the same, with the primary difference being the accessibility of the internal prospects within the existing customers and the inherent credibility that comes with being an established vendor. Both of these roles require the same set of hard-wired strengths and abilities with the primary difference being a slightly less intense level for some farmer situations.
There are many factors that may impact these roles, such as the product and solutions offered, the competitive environment, sales strategies and more. Regardless of those variances, the basic foundational behavioral traits are the first place to look when applying the hunter & farmer model.