Jan 25, 2010

Matt at Work: The Sales Test

Day 86

At my last place of employment one of the things that I was in charge of handling was the quarterly Sales Testing for everyone in the company. The attitude of our CEO was that everyone that works for his company should be salesman too. I can agree with that to a point, obviously if you work for a company you should have some BASIC sales knowledge about it but what these guys wanted was far beyond that.

My old boss suggested the idea of doing sales testing with those employees that have direct communication with our clients, more importantly it was for the Technical Support Department since they were around 24/7 and the Sales Department was only in the office during normal business hours. They needed to be trained on basic sales issues. That small great idea quickly turned into a major nightmare. Now we had to give the test to everyone in the company each quarter. Even those that never speak to clients had to take this test and this was not your average test either, these were hard questions. When my old boss quit and my department was split, I had to write the test as well as administer it. I made what I thought was a decent test and sent it to our CEO for approval but it was "too easy" so I had to make up questions, questions that I RARELY got from clients. Once the test was approved (which took weeks) I had to give the test out every quarter within at least two weeks. That in itself was difficult considering I had to yank people off the phone (along with me, the only one in the Sales Department) and I had to work with people who worked a completely different schedule as mine.

I know a lot of people within the office were not fans of taking the Sales Test and thought it was a waste of time. They had to take the test and pass it with at least 95% correct and this test was 80 questions long! And then I had to meet with each one that failed and reviewed it with them and then schedule another retest. It was a major undertaking and my CEO and his puppy VP would nag me to death about getting it done. As a company we had other bigger problems. We barely had enough staff to handle Technical Support and now I had to take them off the phones. I personally don't think that this was serving our clients effectively. Sure, it was important but not as important as other things.

We set a goal on when this will be completed (well, I didn't set a goal, that goal was set for me) and I got everyone to take it and pass except for one of the techs. She was scheduled a couple of times but she was needed more in Tech Support than taking some test that she will forget later on. So get this... Management asked why she didn't take the test and I told them why thinking that they would understand. But since I worked in Bizarro World I was told that she needed to take the test NOW! I had one ready and said she could take it anytime. Well, come to find out she is heading to Idaho Falls on her time off. SO HE CALLS HER ON THE PHONE AND GIVES HER THE TEST ORALLY! Seriously. As she was driving. They actually called her while she was driving to Idaho just so she could take the test. Just so was say we accomplished the goal. Even though at the time we were seriously struggling with keeping employees and serving our own clients.

In all honestly, if my CEO and his puppy ever found out how I gave out the tests they probably would have fired me. I made every effort to make sure they passed. I would openly discuss any questions and help them get the answer. I'm sure they would have freaked out knowing I did that. But I did it because what they were expected in knowing was fairly ridiculous. I remember when I was testing one certain individual I got his test back and he had written on the back, "If I don't pass this test you can kiss my ass."


At times I do miss some of the things about my last job but then I remember things like this and I am so glad I am no longer there.


  1. I find myself saying "Wow!" Every time I read your posts about this place.

  2. I didn't realize you worked in the Sales Department.... of Hell.... lol- crazy!!

  3. I can't believe what jerks you were working for. Calling someone who was on their way out of town to take a stupid test orally? Really? I'm glad you're not there anymore!