Formal Application of Sales Force Recruits

Most of the companies ask candidates to fill the application form. This can be an online application available on the company’s website. The formal appli­cation form serves as a central record for all pertinent information collected during the selection process. The application forms are usually filled out by the applicant and by an interviewer who records the applicant’s responses. The completed formal application amounts to a standardized written inter­view, since most of the information that it contains could be obtained through personal interviews. Sometimes, sections are reserved for later recording of the results of such selection steps as reference and credit checks, testing, and physical examination. Ideally each company should prepare its own formal application form, since no two companies have the same information require­ments. Certain items of information are always relevant to selection decisions, and these are assembled on the application form. Included are present job, dependents, education, employment status, time with last employer, mem­bership in organizations, previous positions, records of earnings, reasons for leaving last job, net worth, living expenses, and length of job-hunting period.

Final decisions, as to the items to include on the form, should be based upon analysis of the existing sales force. The total profile, rather than any single item, determines the predictive value of personal history items. Considered singly, few items have value as selection factors, but individuals possessing all the personal history requirements are those most likely to succeed. However, many potentially successful sales people do not possess all the requirements. One company found that most of its best salespeople were hired between the ages of thirty and thirty-five years, yet there were some as young as twenty one and as old as fifty-two. The sig­nificance of each personal factor is relative, not absolute. Although thirty to thirty-five may be the preferred age range, applicants outside this age range should receive consideration (since other factors may more than off­set the fact that they are outside the desired age range).

Some firms with large sales forces establish objective measures for personal history items. A maximum possible score is assigned for each item, and the points assigned to a particular individual depend upon prox­imity to the ideal. In one firm fifteen personal history items are used as selection factors, at a maximum value of 10 points each. The maximum score is 150 points, and the cutoff is 100. Successful salespersons in this company all scored over 100 when hired, and the company automatically disqualifies all applicants with scores under 100. The life insurance compa­nies pioneered objective personal history scoring. Their sales forces were sufficiently large to permit establishment of trustworthy standards. The distortion of scores tends to increase in inverse proportion to the size of the sales force used for setting the standards.

Source: Richard R. Still, Edward W. Cundliff, Normal A. P Govoni, Sandeep Puri (2017), Sales and Distribution Management: Decisions, Strategies, and Cases, Pearson; Sixth edition.

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