Fierce competition from banking and non-banking institutions has created a new priority for bank management: selecting and developing successful sales people. We need to evaluate the sales selection and training program adopted by a national bank. An assessment center was used to identify internal candidates demonstrating sales potential.
Those individuals who were selected through the assessment were subsequently trained in a structured sales training program. Individuals who successfully completed both the assessment and training were assigned to loan sales positions. Thirty-six trainees successfully completed both aspects of the program and comprised the test group for this study.
The selection assessment center, a series of sales simulation exercises, included roleplays of sales encounters and a sales presentation. An assessment rating was assigned to each candidate based on performance in the assessment center. The six-month training program included classes in sales skills, product knowledge and credit skills as well as on-the-job training. A training rating was assigned to each trainee based on performance in the training program. Follow-up productivity data, based on loan sales volume, was used to evaluate the success of the combined selection and training program.
Productivity comparisons were drawn between the 36 test group subjects, who were selected through an assessment center and trained in the sales program, with a comparison group, the remaining salesforce of 421, who were neither assessed nor trained in this program. The productivity of the test group was also investigated to determine if assessment ratings and training ratings would, each independently, be significantly related to productivity.
Test group subjects significantly outperformed the comparison group on all productivity measures. Results from the study suggest that, in combination, assessment center selection and structured sales training provide a good means of identifying and developing successful sales people. Assessment center ratings achieved in the center were directly related to subsequent productivity. The finding suggests that assessment centers, primarily used for managerial selection, can be effectively applied to the selection of sales candidates. Training ratings were unrelated to productivity.
The training ratings do not appear to sufficiently differentiate amongst individual performers. However, training does appear to contribute to effective performance; as a group, those who were trained outperformed the non-trained group.