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My experience over the past sixteen years suggests that sales and recruiting managers don’t have the time to read all the background and support material needed to fully interpret and utilize the SPQ*GOLD Questionnaire to its full advantage. While many have expressed a desire to do this, they also explain that there are only so many hours in the day in which to get things done.
Accordingly, this interpretation guide has been prepared to give our clients the essential information they need to make the best use of the SPQ*GOLD Questionnaire. Every attempt has been made to keep this a bare-bones document with nothing included that isn’t absolutely necessary.
Before You Hire
Stuff You Need To Know
Guidelines For Test Administration
Guidelines For Test Interpretation
Deciphering The Test Results
How Much? How Soon? What Cost?
A Must Read Document !
This manual summarizes more than 650 pages of
theoretical constructs, research abstracts, background
documentation, statistical analyses and validation studies
and presents only that information which is absolutely necessary
to properly administer and interpret the
Sales Performance Questionnaire
SELECTED DETAILS YOU NEED TO KNOW
What does SPQ stand for?
S ales P reference Q uestionnaire
What does the designation *GOLD stand for?
*GOLD is a part of the trademarked name and indicates that it is the most
recent and most up-to-date version of the questionnaire.
What is Sales Call Reluctance?
Sales Call Reluctance is the hesitation to initiate
contact with prospective buyers in sufficient numbers
to support production and performance goals.
Who developed the SPQ*GOLD questionnaire?
Two internationally recognized behavioral psychologists, George Dudley
and Shannon Goodson.
Is the SPQ*GOLD questionnaire valid?
SPQ*GOLD has been the subject of more than 700 research studies
over the past 25 years and has always been found to meet or exceed
all the accepted statistical criteria for determining validity and reliability. 1
How many variables does the SPQ*GOLD questionnaire measure?
Does SPQ*GOLD ever make mistakes?
Anything designed by human beings is vulnerable to error. And, as with
any test, all measurements are inexact. Nonetheless, SPQ*GOLD is the
most reliable sales performance questionnaire on the market today.
The critical variable here is not the reliability of the test but the manner in
which the assessment is administered and its purpose explained to the
person taking the test.
An Absolute Truth: Disregarding the directions when
responding to the questionnaire will
most definitely produce erroneous
Please do the following when requesting that a candidate complete the SPQ*GOLD Questionnaire:
1) Avoid calling the SPQ*GOLD assessment a test. This sets up a
pass / fail atmosphere and may affect the test results. Instead,
refer to the SPQ*GOLD as a questionnaire.
2) Tell the candidate that they will be receiving, via email, all the infor-
mation and instructions needed to complete the SPQ*GOLD Ques-
3) Please ask the candidate to carefully read all the instructions on
their email attachments and those on the On-line Questionnaire
before starting the assessment.
4) If the candidate has questions about why they are being asked to com-
plete the SPQ*GOLD Questionnaire, tell them that it will help you to
better understand their qualifications for a position on your sales staff.
5) If you like, you may review the following with the candidate:
The questionnaire consists of straightforward questions.
The questionnaire assesses career-related preferences.
The candidate should find the questionnaire to be interesting
as it relates to being successful in sales.
None of the questions are offensive or intentionally personal.
It should take about 45 to 50 minutes to complete the question-
naire, however, there is no time limit.
6) Last, point out that the candidate will be asked to send an email “Reply
Memo” when they have completed and submitted their answers for scoring.
Subj. Line: An Important Memo From (Your Name & Company)
(First Name): The two attachments will give you all the information needed to complete the SPQ Questionnaire. Thank you for taking the time to provide us with this infor- mation.
Regards, (Your Initials)
Attachment One: (Cover Letter Doc.)
(Name, Company / Location) asked me to email the information needed to access, open and complete the SPQ Questionnaire online. The next attachment provides the internet ADDRESS, the USERNAME, your PERSONAL PASSWORD and all the INSTRUCTIONS needed to complete the task. Please follow the instructions carefully. I think you’ll find this exercise to be very interesting. If you have any questions or problems, send an email or give me a call. Finally, let me know, via a REPLY memo, when you’ve completed the task and submitted your answers. Thanks.
A. Walden Ends, Ph.D.
Attachment Two: (Password Doc.)
Connect to the internet using Internet Explorer and go to http://www.psychscore.us
Click on Take A Test Now (Located In The Center)
When the dialog box appears enter the Username and your Password as follows:
Need Help? Call Humanagerial Systems 281.424.4171
When the SPQ*GOLD Online Questionnaire screen appears, carefully read the Introduction
and the Instructions. Then, complete the Checklist items. When the Checklist is complete,
“click” the Begin The Questionnaire button to continue.
When you reach the end of the questionnaire and are satisfied with your answers, click the
Submit button. Your responses can not be scored until the Submit button is clicked.
A Thank You screen will appear to let you know that your responses have been received.
7) Last, please send an email Reply indicating the time and date the questionnaire was submitted.
There is no right or wrong place to begin your interpretation of the test results. However, we recommend that you begin at the bottom of the Test Results Summary, with The Attitude Filters, and work upward to the Brake and Accelerator scores.
The Summary Report presents four clusters of data. From the bottom up:
Cluster 1 . . .
Cluster 2 . . .
Cluster 3 . . .
Cluster 4 . . .
What are the Call Reluctance Imposters?
Not everyone who has difficulty prospecting is call reluctant.
Some people do not initiate contact with prospects
because they don’t have the energy required to do so.
Some people do not see prospecting as an important
activity related to meeting their career goals.
Some people are too busy trying to satisfy numerous
competing demands, all of which are vying for their time
People who don’t prospect for these reasons are called imposters. Their
behavior looks like call reluctance but it is not. By definition, one is not
call reluctant if they don’t want to do or can’t do what needs to be done.
A False Positive. A small group of people don’t prospect because they
lack training and the necessary sales skills to do so. Their behavior
looks like sales call reluctance, but in fact, is the result of ignorance. If
proper coaching and training are given and the reluctance to prospect
goes away, the person, then, is not a sales imposter.
How does SPQ*GOLD test for Imposters?
Sales Imposters are identified by four scales: Motivation,
Goal Level, Goal Diffusion and Problem Solving.
What does the Motivation scale measure?
The Motivation scale is a measurement of the amount of
physical energy a person brings to a career in sales.
Is Motivation the same as enthusiasm?
Motivation, as measured by the SPQ*GOLD test, is not
the same thing as enthusiasm, desire and inspiration.
Measured by SPQ*GOLD, motivation is physical,
What does a low Motivation score indicate?
The lower the Motivation score, the more likely it is
that the individual’s vitality is being drained by physical
problems such as chronic illness, improper diet, not
enough exercise or too much alcohol or drugs.
How is the Motivation score interpreted?
What does the Goal Level scale measure and why is it important?
Goal Level is best thought of as one’s goal focus.
Low Goal Level (goal focus) scores indicate the
absence of clearly defined, meaningful career goals.
How is the Goal Level score interpreted?
What does it mean if someone scores low on Goal Level but high on
Two explanations are reasonable:
The person has the energy (motivation) to do the job but lacks
a clear sense of direction in terms of where they are going. This
has been described as “All Dressed Up But Nowhere To Go.”
The test’s author, George Dudley, also defines this pattern as
“apathetic career disgust.” People with a high Motivation but
a low score on Goal Level know what to do and they have the
energy to get the job done. But, they are angry because former
sales managers have sent them charging off in too many differ-
ent directions, none of which were proven successful. With one
marketing plan last month and another one this month, they
eventually just fold their arms in disgust and do nothing! The
fault rests with the sales manager, not the candidate.
When this situation is present, additional discussion should be conducted
with the candidate to determine the causal factors behind these test scores.
What is Goal Diffusion?
Goal Diffusion is a sense of confusion in regard to what activities (goals) are most important. Typically, Goal Diffusion is found among people who are “too busy” to prospect and do what’s necessary to be successful in sales.
The energy available for prospecting in goal diffused people is being
dispersed across too many goals, all of which are simultaneously
competing for the available time and attention.
Occasionally, Goal Diffusion is caused by serious demands made
upon a person because of a loved-one with a critical illness, caring
for aging or infirm parents, a severely handicapped child, a pending
divorce, or other major personal challenges. In most cases, this is
usually a relatively short-term situation and should be discussed with
the candidate in order to fully understand the cause and/or to learn
what it is with which they are having to cope.
Bottom-line: highly goal diffused people rarely achieve
their performance goals.
How is the Goal Diffusion score interpreted?
What does the Problem Solving scale measure?
The Problem Solving scale measures the ability of the individual to
focus their attention and intelligence on completing frustrating, pro-cedural tasks. In practice, this skill relates to managing complex pro-blems and the ability to listen to the needs and wants of the prospect.
What does a low Problem Solving score indicate?
Problem Solving scores less than 21 indicate distract-
ibility or a lack of interest in thinking through complex
problems and issues.
The Problem Solving score can also be used to validate
assumptions relating to other scales measured by the
SPQ*GOLD. (See the discussion related to Response Consistency)
How do I know if a score on the SPQ*GOLD is acceptable, questionable or un-acceptable?
The Test Results Summary presents the test scores in three columns,
labeled Green, Yellow and Red.
Green scores are “acceptable” and most desirable.
Yellow scores are “questionable” and should be compared with
the Contrast Norm shown in the column on the far right.
Red scores are “unacceptable” and least desirable.
Like a traffic signal, green means “GO” indicating that the score falls within
a range that should cause no problem for an individual in achieving success
in a sales career.
Yellow indicates areas where caution is needed. Scores that are identified
as yellow may or may not cause problems in a sales career and should be evaluated very carefully. The Contrast Norm, shown in the far right column,
is the best guide for determining if a “yellow score” is a potential problem.
Red scores mean “STOP” and take a serious look at this variable before
making any hiring or training decision.
Note: Depending on the industry or the product sold, a red score
may not be of any great consequence, but it should be
examined nonetheless. 2
What does the Contrast Norm represent?
The Contrast Norm represents the mean (average score) for a
large group of people, in a similar occupational group, who have
taken the SPQ*GOLD test. To determine whether a candidate’s
scores are higher, about the same, or lower than others in the
same occupation, simply compare their scores with the Contrast
Norms shown in the far right-hand column on the Test Results
2 For example, if the product or service is not typically sold to friends or family members, a red
score on the Separationist or the Unemancipated variables may be of little consequence.
What are the Attitude Filters, why are they important and why is this the recommended place to start interpreting the test results?
The Attitude Filters indicate HOW the candidate took the test and whether the test results can be trusted. The Attitude Filters answer these questions:
Did the candidate follow the instructions?
Was the candidate honest and candid when
responding to the test questions?
Did the candidate unnecessarily exaggerate their
answers when responding the test questions?
What does the Response Consistency scale measure?
Response Consistency measures the degree of care and attention
What is an acceptable Response Consistency score?
A score of 50 or more is preferred in order to be assured
that the test results are accurate and reliable.
A score between 26 and 49 indicates that test results may
A score less than 26 indicates that the test results are not
What does a “low” Response Consistency score mean?
Response Consistency scores of 25 or less can mean:
The person had little interest in completing the test,
The test-taker was distracted while completing the test,
The person had difficulty following instructions,
The candidate ignored the instructions,
The individual harbored a non-conscious apprehension
that the test results might be harmful to their candidacy.
Again, it is essential that the test instructions be followed as given in order
to obtain accurate and reliable test results.
How can I know if a “low” Response Consistency score indicates non-attention?
If the Problem Solving score is 60 or more, you can be
assured that the respondent paid attention to the test, but
did not provide consistent answers.
What should happen if the Response Consistency score is below 26 and
the Problem Solving score is 20 or less?
Low Response Consistency and Problem Solving scores
indicate that the test results can not be trusted and other
sources of information should be used.
If it is determined that the instructions were not followed, you
may wish to re-test.
What does the Hedging score measure?
The Hedging score indicates the extent to which non-committal,
non-disclosing and/or “safe” answers were given to the test items.
How is the Hedging score to be interpreted?
What does the Impression Management score measure?
The Impression Management score measures the amount of effort that
was given to managing and to controlling the impression made in the test
answers. Impression Management scores that are greater then 76 indic-
ate that the person is prone to over-managing impression-making to the
point of embellishment or exaggeration.
How is the Impression Management score to be interpreted?
What does a 0 Impression Management score mean?
An Impression Management score of zero indicates a
(1) tends to be overly self-critical,
(2) lacks work experience, or
has a very strong desire to appear
qualified for your sales position.
1 A Technical Manual is available providing detailed summaries of the statistical and measurement
research that has been done related to the SPQ*GOLD questionnaire.
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