How to Test for Functional Sales and Marketing Competencies

Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. Companies are merging these departments more frequently because the success of one depends so highly on the other.

Sales and marketing are interlocking systems. Sales makes contact with potential clients and pitches products and services using the leads, metrics, and brand identity created by marketing. By hiring people talented in the skills essential for both sales and marketing (communication, persuasion, vision, etc.), sales and marketing departments can work more cohesively and effectively for their companies.

The question then is how do you measure competencies essential for both sales and marketing success? Let’s start by looking at key traits ideal candidates have before examining the best way to test for them.

Top Functional Competencies for Sales and Marketing

Before we move into the top competencies for sales and marketing, consider this question about essential skills posed by Doris Zahner, VP of Assessment for CAE:

You are asked to write an email to a colleague summarising the results of a project that you are working on. Does it matter what field you are in, in order to successfully accomplish this task? Would you use similar skills (removing the context of what you are reporting) to report the effect of an invasive species in the Caribbean Sea as you would on the results of the first quarter returns for a financial institution?

Whether you are a branding expert developing new packaging for products or a salesperson in correspondence with a prospect, sales and marketing professionals are trying to get people to see the value in the products they are promoting.

The functional competencies below are essential for sales and marketing professionals alike, and will be applied on a daily basis by your sales and marketing hires.


Whether pitching a client or creating an ad, sales and marketing talent must be  able to communicate with their audience. Communication is key for sales and marketing pros as they learn prospect/client desires, pain points, and prevailing criteria for customers of your company.

A well known truism is that a good (salesperson/marketer) sells benefits, not features. resent the right benefits to an audience, an employee must first ask insightful questions and then actively listen to the answer. We emphasize listening  because it’s one of the most commonly overlooked elements of strong communication.

There are a lot of people out there with the gift of gab, but the salesperson who can ask good questions, listen intently, and respond accordingly has a leg up on all of them.

Similarly, the process of creating a promotional asset involves multiple iterations of critiques and notes, and this back-and-forth requires marketers with the attentiveness, patience, and active engagement needed to successfully collaborate with internal and external  talent and stakeholders.

Whether creating a sales brochure addressing concerns in your industry or leveraging this asset in a sale, strong communication is required for sales and marketing success.  

Time Management

Both sales and marketing professionals are engaged in a perpetual race against the clock.

Sales executives are continuously under deadlines for monthly/quarterly quotas, as well as daily requirements for logged calls, new prospects, and other markable measures of productivity.

By the same turn, marketing professionals are often under stringent deadlines to reach new levels of inbound lead generation. Some of their responsibilities include, creation of assets for the sales team and support of the revenue/branding/positioning goals of the sales team and company.

For salespeople and marketers, being able to manage workflow and task timelines is an essential skill for productivity and efficiency, and is required for success in either discipline.

Decision Making

Oftentimes in the worlds of advertising and marketing, plans change. A client will reschedule a meeting,  balk at a previously agreed-upon sale, or decide to drastically reconfigure an ongoing marketing campaign.

The ability to think on your feet and be versatile in the face of changing plans is essential for sales and marketing professionals. To test for these decision-making abilities, add time constraints to your interviews and evaluations that are similar to the expectations new hires must meet while working for you.

Demonstrating Product/Brand Benefits

A good sales or marketing professional can articulate how your products or services will benefit your clients and customers and why you are the only person that can deliver them.

Sales and marketing talent must be walking compendiums of product knowledge in order to demonstrate the benefits that your customers are looking for, and you should always seek benefits-focused individuals for these roles. Talent needs to know more thanwhat your product does; they need tounderstand why your product gives your customers an advantage or relieves their pain points. This deep level of understanding is essential to connecting with your customers. It  requires research, empathy, and critical thinking on the part of candidates.

Learning Agility

Learning agility refers to the speed with which a candidate can learn, retain and apply new information.

New techniques and tools for both sales and marketing are constantly in development, and the people you hire must be quick learners as well as experts in established tools and techniques. Additionally, the nature of sales and marketing requires rapid learning of specific information about new products being sold or developed by your company.

Testing for Functional Competencies for Sales and Marketing

Now that we’ve covered functional competencies for sales and marketing talent, the next step is testing for these traits. Here are some of the most effective methods for identifying and measuring sales and marketing talent.

Skill Assessment Tests

As an employer, it is essential for you to identify high competency levels in the previously listed skills as you look to find better quality hires.

SkillMetric assessments use authentic, real-world scenarios to measure how potential marketing and sales employees solve problems and approach the types of challenges they will face in their future roles, allowing you to objectively measure their skills and potential.

Performance-based critical-thinking assessments such as SkillMetric reveal whether a candidate has skills that are predictive of current and potential performance levels. SkillMetric assessments hosted on Authess analyze actions taken by candidates and employees, and can compare performance to exemplar benchmarks.

Tested in this way, sales and marketing talent are given practice navigating authentic scenarios they will be exposed to on the job, and you are given insight into their current performance levels and potential.

Trial Contracts

After a candidate has performed well ion a test, it can be helpful to hire them as a contract worker to see their skills in action before either party commits to a long-term arrangement.

This way, you can be sure that your hire is going to excel in sales or marketing at your company, while giving both parties the option to test the fit of this arrangement. By beginning with a trial contract, you can get a sense of a new hire’s fitness and skill level while they evaluate the experience of working for your company.

By utilizing skill-based assessment tools like SkillMetric, you increase your ability to accurately identify sales and marketing talent. Research has shown, time and again, that skill-based assessments like those provided through Authess are consistently more effective than standard workplace assessment tests (CAE).

Schedule a demo here to see how Authess identifies sales and marketing core competencies that you need in your employees.