Living Sales Excellence - Dennis Connelly's Blog

What Do Partisan Politics Have in Common With Hiring Salespeople?

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

sales recruitingWelcome to a non-election year!  Isn’t it nice?  While last year is still fresh in our minds, I’d like to call your attention to that political noise once again.  Emory University did a study of partisan-political thought proving that we are not easily knocked out of our belief systems.  No surprise there.  More interesting about the findings is that once we believe something, our bias can run so deep that we’re unaware of our logical mind often disengaging when contradictory evidence is presented to us.  They could actually see this in brain scans.  Don’t we see this whenever we try to convince someone who just doesn’t seem to want to get it?  And how often are we that very person?

We get so much satisfaction, and as the study revealed, even pleasure from what supports our beliefs that we’ll actually construct evidence if necessary.  Our emotions overwhelm our ability to think rationally.  On the brain scans, the reasoning area of the brain goes dark in these circumstances.

Okay, here’s another one.  When we are distracted, it’s hard to stay focused.  Again, no surprise.  But see if you can pass this selective attention test.  Go to this site and click on the arrow to start the video.  Do not read below as you will see the answer.  Read the question and see if you can do it.  It’s a lot harder than you think.  Millions have already tried this and perhaps you are one of them.  But if not, you might be surprised at how difficult it is.  Some of you might follow the action well enough to get the right answer, but you would be among the very few.

So if I told you that there is no such thing as a sales personality, how would you change your thinking about salespeople?  If I told you that your social impression doesn’t count for much when selecting a sales candidate, how would that change how you hire?  After administering over 800,000 individual sales assessments that includes over 140 million data points, Objective Management Group concludes beyond any doubt that this is true.  It’s worth noting that this OMG test has won the Top Sales award for assessment tools for the fourth year in a row beating out nine other finalists (if that helps convince you).

So what does count?  Following decades of groundwork laid by Dave Kurlan, here is my Top 10 list in no particular order:

  1. Desire for success in sales (not just success)
  2. Commitment to do what it takes to succeed in sales
  3. A positive outlook
  4. Doesn’t make excuses
  5. Not too many hidden weaknesses
  6. An ability to prospect
  7. The skills to close a sale
  8. Account management and farming skills
  9. Trainability and Coachability
  10. Prior success selling in a similar selling environment in which you operate

What’s not on this list?  Drumroll, please.  Here is my Bottom 10 list:

  1. A firm handshake
  2. A warm smile
  3. The gift of gab
  4. Great looks
  5. Perfect diction
  6. Ready with a good joke
  7. Promptness
  8. Has all the right answers
  9. A great resume
  10. Excellent references

Gosh, “excellent references” is on the Bottom 10 list?  Yup.  A poor reference would be valuable information.  An excellent reference isn’t very useful.  It’s rigged after all, isn’t it?  Many items on this second list might seem like nice things to have, but they won’t predict success selling at your company.  The right combination of the Top 10 list, plus a few other dimensions, can make that prediction with very good accuracy.  To find out whether your candidate possesses these attributes, one must gather over 150 data points.  How many skills comprise the Closer Skill Set, for example?  Try this sample assessment on one of your candidates.

Are you using the right selection criteria to hire your salespeople?  Are you expert at interviewing sales candidates?  Do you attract the best candidates?  Do you cast your net wide enough to ensure the best candidates are in the pool?  Can you change your beliefs when presented with facts and data?  When focused on one set of attributes, can you shift your attention and notice what’s even more important?  Like in partisan politics, we often believe what we want to believe about someone, such as a sales candidate, and overlook what really matters.  Are you able to transcend the lens of your beliefs and see the truth?

 

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dennis Connelly, sales, sales recruiting, hiring, recruiting salespeople, hiring salespeople, sales selection tool, sales selection, objective management group

Retail Selling, the Role of the Salesperson, and Missed Opportunities

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Sun, Nov 17, 2013 @ 09:11 AM

LuxuryStore Mall 250pxJust yesterday, I was walking through the Time Warner building at Columbus Circle in New York with my son. After getting our free chocolate truffle from the Godiva store, we stumbled into a famous luxury goods store while we enjoyed our little confections. I should note that if you like chocolate, the Godiva membership is one of the few that gives away something for nothing. One need only wait until the calendar changes to the next month to get your yummy treat. You don’t need points; you don’t need to buy ten to get one; you don’t need to spend a nickel – ever. You just show up and get your free truffle. 

This isn’t a marketing blog but there’s something there worth noting. I know Godiva fully expects that I’ll buy stuff along the way. But that’s beside the point. While other companies work to build “relationships” with their customers with all kinds of strings, caveats, and quid pro quos, Godiva is acting more like a friend. “Here, have one. I ask for nothing from you.” Seth Godin writes copiously about this kind of behavior toward customers becoming increasingly important in a noisy, information-rich world of companies desperate for your narrowing spans of attention. And Frank Belzer, whose new book Sales Shift is in the running for Top Sales World "Top Sales & Marketing Book" of the year. Vote here.

But I want to talk about the luxury good store experience because we can learn something about selling. We walked in, turned right (just like the research showed we would), and started looking at stuff in the glass cases. Art deco lighters, fancy cigar holders, and thousand-dollar pens were among the items so you get the idea of the type of store we were visiting. The young salesperson walked toward us and asked, “Can I help you find something?” I replied, “No.” He said, “Okay,” and backed away. That was it. Poor “ol’ sport,” I thought, having just seen Gatsby and having not yet completely purged that phrase from my head.

How do you spend a fortune renting retail space at Time Warner on the ground floor, with carefully-designed layout (the result, no doubt, of all the latest in psychological testing), and the best in customer acquisition strategy, and still manage to neglect the part about actually getting the sale? If inbound marketing gets you 70% of the way to making the sale (their figure), in this modern era, the upscale retail shop is designed to go even further. It has to, after all, given the expense of all the bricks and mortar they took the time to assemble. If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t keep building them. Humans, occasionally, like to get up from their computers and move around. We get cabin fever, eventually, and continue our voracious shopping habits in person.

The mentality that led to such poor salespersonship at “Luxury Store” reminds me of the approach that car dealers take, where the role of sales is misunderstood and misdirected. (More on that in another article.) The corporate executives undervalue the role of sales, rely on imagecraft, market positioning, aesthetics, and prestige, etc. and for the most part, it works. People walk into the Honda dealership because they already like Hondas, not because they have no idea what they want and lucky for them, the nice salesperson is there to help them figure it out. Gazillions are spent on advertising to help minimize the role of the salesperson, whose job is to get the person to stay long enough to experience the paper-shuffling, manager-approving Jedi tricks and sign on the bottom line.

The good ones don’t lose the sale. The lousy ones make people furious. Really, haven’t you had that experience, or know someone who has? Don’t you know people who will never buy a car from so and so till the fiery underworld remodels itself as an arctic getaway? But what about real salespeople? Can’t they make a sale where there wasn’t one? Of course they can.

Let’s replay that conversation with Ol’ Sport using a simple conversational technique I learned from TopSalesWorld Hall-of-Famer, Dave Kurlan. “Hi! Should I say welcome, or welcome back?” Me: “I haven’t walked in here before.” OS: “Then welcome. What made you walk in here today?” Me: “You were across from Godiva and I was too busy enjoying my chocolate to notice which store I was wandering into.” OS: “Perfect! If there were a reason to wander in here, what would it be?” Me: “I like cool pens.” OS: “Do you have a pen collection?” And so on, which might include questions like, What’s your favorite pen? Why? Is it sentimental or design or quality? Etc. “You know,” I might think to myself, “I wasn’t expecting to have a real conversation.”

Instead, OS stood back, afraid to say anything more, and eliminated the risk that he would lose a sale that he thinks might otherwise automatically happen. Why is this allowed? It happens because the leadership of Luxury Store, the manager, the marketing department, the board of directors, the finance team, and the sales staff are all on the same page. They undervalue the role of sales. Sales is increased, in their thinking, by the clever product creation, history, story, reputation, design, store layout, inbound strategy and marketing. The sales associate is there to open the glass cabinet, make light conversation, and ring up the purchase, right?

This is a missed opportunity because it’s possible to dramatically increase sales.

  • How many of your sales people are falling into this trap?
  • Is your company fostering the problem?
  • How much pressure do salespeople have to not blow the sale?
  • Do your sales people have the necessary selling skills?
  • Do they have the DNA to overcome their own weaknesses?
  • Can they listen?
  • Can they react in the moment?
  • Do they have the presence to be the added value themselves?

Maybe it’s time to evaluate your sales organization? Maybe it’s time to look at what you might be missing from your sales team. What are their current capabilities? How much better could they be? What would it take to make them better? And how long would it take?

Someday, I’ll buy a super nice pen because I like pens. When that happens, there was nothing about my experience at Luxury Store that puts them on the short list. But there could have been. It was a missed opportunity to make a sale much more than it was a careful execution to not lose one.

 

 

 

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, Dennis Connelly, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales management best practices, recruiting sales people, sales hiring, Baseline Selling, Sales Coaching, retail sales, retail, adapting to changing sales environments, roleplay, role play, alignment of sales and marketing, alienate the prospect, CEO, changes that sales people need to make, change sales behavior, developing better sales teams, gimmicks in sales, getting your foot in the door, dysfunction, improve sales, hard selling, losing the attention of the prospect, losing the business, sales competency, losing the sale, sales mistakes, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales strengths, SOB Quality, selling process, what gets in the way of selling, amazon, sales shift, frank belzer, David Kurlan, Kurlan & Associates, Living Sales Excellence, sales excellence

Inbound Marketing Part Three – The Other Hidden Weaknesses

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Tue, Oct 08, 2013 @ 14:10 PM

Screenshot 2013 10 30 16.32.03In Part One of this article series, I talked about how Inbound Marketing leads have changed the nature of selling and how sales and marketing must interface better.  I also talked about how an information feedback loop between sales and marketing is critical to the growth of sales and the success of the organization.  Frank Belzer’s book, SalesShift, best captures this change in the market and in how sales must be done in an Inbound world.

In Part Two, I discussed how the selling process is necessarily different as a result of the nature of leads generated through Inbound Marketing and how there are certain key skill sets, such as consultative selling, which must be mastered to survive and thrive in this new environment.  I explained how two important, potential, hidden weaknesses can thwart a salesperson’s efforts to master this kind of selling.

In this article, Part Three in the series, I'm going to look at three other hidden weaknesses which can get in the way of salespeople.  Hidden issues are important to understand because they can trump your knowledge and skill.  Training your people on how to sell consultatively will give them the knowledge which they need to sell in an increasingly Inbound world, but that won’t be enough to execute it.  To do that, the barriers, preventing them from performing at their best, must be removed .

In Part Two, I discussed Need for Approval and the tendency to get Emotionally Involved.  These two are of particular importance for consultative selling.  As I described in that article, Need for Approval can prevent one from asking tough questions; getting Emotionally Involved can result in losing control of the conversation.  When these weaknesses are strong, you’re missing your rudder and will have trouble navigating through the buoys and obstacles under the surface.

Three others of the most common hidden weaknesses include Discomfort Talking about Money, a Non-Supportive Buy-Cycle, and Self-Limiting Beliefs.  Let’s look at each one individually and think about how these might be affecting your sales people.

When someone is uncomfortable talking about money, it is harder to have conversations which lead to uncovering the budget, trial-quoting, and otherwise getting over the hurdle of price.  Ask yourself, "What is a lot of money?"  Find out if your salespeople are asking for more money than is comfortable for them.  Dave Kurlan wrote about this problem in this article a few months ago.  How uncomfortable are your prospects talking about money?

A non-supportive buy-cycle is referring to the strong correlation between how a salesperson makes purchasing decisions for themselves, and what they are willing to tolerate from and empathize with the prospect.  Most of the time, we think of empathy as a good thing.  And it certainly is a good thing in a sales setting if it contributes to your understanding of your prospects’ issues, concerns, fears, and desires.  When you empathize with your prospects’ put-offs, it becomes non-supportive.

Self-limiting beliefs (or as we call it, your “record collection”, if you are old enough to remember what records are) refer to the thoughts which we have about an outdated reality, even if they once served you.  Dave Kurlan has written about this issue as well in this article and he points out that our assessment research of over 650,000 salespeople reveals that the following three beliefs are the most common ones standing in the path of success for most sales people.  They are, "I must make a presentation", "It's not OK to ask a lot of questions", and "It's OK if my prospects shop around".  

Are any of the above hidden weaknesses getting in your way or getting in the way of your sales people?  Do you ever suspect that the ability of your sales team is really a lot better than their achieved results, but you don’t know why?  More than ever in the new world of Inbound marketing, the keys to success are moving past these issues and building a sales force of people who have no fear asking enough or the right questions, and who are able to engage in a business conversation rather than a sales pitch.

Need some help with your sales force?  Feel free to contact one of our Sales Development Experts or consider Kurlan & Associates' Sales Leadership Intensive.

 

Topics: sales competencies, Dennis Connelly, Inbound Marketing, Hidden Weaknesses, sales training, sales force development, record collection

Inbound Marketing Part Two - Leads Are Up But Why are Sales Down?

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 @ 15:08 PM

Inbound Marketing, Inbound13, sales, sales leads, Need for Approval, Emotionally Involved, Dennis Connelly, Hidden Weaknesses, HubSpot, SalesShift, Baseline SellingIn Part One of this Inbound Marketing blog series, I talked about how the fundamental nature has changed of what we traditionally think of as a lead due to the profound impact of Inbound Marketing.  Hubspot has played a huge role in both the service which they provide and in their thought leadership.  Their too-numerous-to-count, value-added resellers are helping to determine the outcome of that change on a global scale.

How do we cope with these new, very different leads?  Inbound marketing has cast the net much wider and dramatically increased the potential prospects with whom to follow-up.  We find, however, that most of these leads are not very strong.  That doesn’t mean that they cannot be converted.  Frank Belzer’s book, SalesShift, provides great insight on how to do that.  There was, after all, some reason why your prospect expressed interest in the first place, regardless of their level of commitment to solving any particular problem or desire to find some great opportunity.

I promised, in the last installment, to share with you two of the most important selling weaknesses to overcome in order to be successful with inbound leads.  First, I’d like to make an analogy about inbound leads versus traditional leads so that we can better grasp how important it is to handle these leads differently.  Think of a traditional lead as a prospect shining a spotlight at you signaling their interest, “Hey, I’m over here! And I’m interested in what you have.”  Think of an inbound lead as a firefly.  It’s much less bright, and it’s fleeting.  Look away, and you’ll miss it, “Just browsing, thanks.”

The firefly analogy goes a bit further when you add the fact that inbound leads burn out almost immediately.  So one rule of inbound leads is to jump right on them because they dissipate quickly.  Another rule is to use consultative selling as your number one tool - ask lots of questions, research their business, dig around, challenge and push back.

  1. The first hidden selling weakness which might get in your way when you take this approach, is what we call “Need For Approval” from your prospects.  To challenge your prospect, you cannot shy away from asking tough questions.  “At first, you said everything is great at Spacely Sprockets. But then you shared some problems which suggest to me that everything is not so great. Have you lowered your standards?”  Learn much more about this kind of questioning in Dave Kurlan’s bestseller, Baseline Selling.  Of course, to ask a question like that, you need to have some rapport skills. But it’s important to ask and show your prospect that you can be trusted to be straight, regardless of the interpersonal consequences.
     
  2. The second hidden selling weakness which might get in your way is the “Tendency to Get Emotionally Involved” in the conversation with your prospect.  Can you be open, present, and in control at all times?  When we get emotionally involved, we go into our own head.  When that happens, we lose control of the conversation.

To be a successful consultative seller, we must overcome both of these weaknesses: need for approval and emotional involvement.  It is through consultative selling that we cut through the clutter and find the opportunity to close new business with these fleeting, dimly-lit, passers-by, inbound leads masquerading as hot prospects!

  • Are your people asking good questions?
  • Are they asking enough questions?
  • Do they build rapport quickly?
  • Are they making presentations too early?
  • Are the uncovering the real reason to buy?
  • Do they know exactly how their prospect makes buying decisions?
  • Do they take certain information for granted?
  • Will they ask tough questions even if they believe it will put the relationship at risk?
  • Do they have the presence to listen intently and ask follow-up questions easily?

In Part Three of this Inbound Marketing blog series, we’ll explore three other hidden selling weaknesses which could cause your salespeople to get in their own way and lose more of these opportunities than they need to.  

If you are interested, have your sales force evaluated to see whether they can be effective at selling in an inbound world and whether they possess any of the hidden weaknesses which could be preventing them from succeeding.  If you’re heading to Inbound13 in Boston, please introduce yourself to us at the Kurlan Lounge on the third floor.

 

Topics: Dennis Connelly, Inbound Marketing, sales leads, Inbound13, sales, Need for Approval, Emotionally Involved, Hidden Weaknesses, HubSpot, SalesShift, Baseline Selling

Inbound Marketing Part One - Leads Are Up But Why are Sales Down?

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Wed, Aug 07, 2013 @ 16:08 PM

Inbound Marketing, sales call, sales force evaluation, sales and marketing, Frank Belzer, Dennis Connelly, Dave Kurlan, Trust of Salespeople, sales leads, Sales, Social Media, Sales LeadershipIn Frank Belzer’s recent book, SalesShift: How inbound marketing has turned sales upside down making it more difficult and more lucrative at the same time, he convincingly demonstrates that the nature of the lead has changed and many salespeople are having trouble adapting.  It’s true that in an Inbound world, marketing must work in tandem with sales creating an information feedback loop which propels new sales.  That is also one of Frank’s points.  Where salespeople get into trouble is thinking that a lead is a lead is a lead.

The reality is that all leads are not created “equal.”  As different as a referral is from a cold call, an inbound lead is different than those generated through traditional marketing channels.  When marketing works well, it performs the first part of the sales function.  It generates interest, exposes a potential issue, and may even lead to someone picking up the phone and calling your company for a rep appointment.  When it’s done well, the sales department can get hooked on this approach, even to the point of developing an “order taker” reputation.  The prospect, in this case, is already interested.

But inbound leads are different.  They are born on a different continent.  They are ethnically and culturally different from a traditional lead.  A potential prospect might have been doing research on the internet, watching a cool video, or simply wandering around on the web when an opportunity presented itself.  Taking advantage of the opportunity might have involved a simple mouse click.  Then after typing in an email address and answering a couple of multiple choice questions where your computer usually fills in all the details for you - free stuff arrives on your screen.  Behind the scenes, a company is collecting that information and calling it a lead.  The “prospect” barely lifted a finger in this case, and might not have thought about it very much.

Now back to that lead that is sitting in the rep’s inbox. It has the look and feel of someone who wants your product - just like a traditional lead.  It looks "bigger and badder" than it is.  But it is fundamentally different.  The person on the other end actually might be stunned to get a call from you - “What?! You mean I triggered a sales call? I just wanted to see the video. I’m not in the market for anything.”  But this is exactly the point where the path forks.

What is this fork, you ask?  Yogi Berra said to “Take it.”  Okay, let’s take it.  And here are your choices.  You can continue reaching out to leads who appear to be deer caught in headlights, make assumptions, and watch them run away, or you can develop your selling skills, approach them differently, and convert them.  That’s why Frank said that it’s more difficult, yet more lucrative.  With a few critical tweaks, your sales team can convert more of these kinds of leads and outproduce the competition.  And isn’t that the point?  As the economy comes back and as it lifts all of the boats in your market, are you concerned that your vulnerability to the competition will be masked in the short run as sales increase?  The market winners will be those who outpace the competition or those who beat the competition relative to each other rather than where they were last year.

Throw away "solution selling".  Toss aside spin, dodges, and dropping five dollar bills.  (Reminds me of the Barry Levinson movie, Tin Men, about two rival aluminum siding salesmen!)  Read Dave Kurlan’s Whitepaper on Trust for additional insight in that area. Get rid of "technique" altogether and embrace a conversational and consultative style, like you might with a friend or an uncle.  Back off.  Don’t push.  Ask questions.  Assume nothing.  And most of all, slow down.

In Part 2 of this Inbound Marketing blog series, I will let you in on few secrets.  There are two key selling weaknesses, which most sales people have, that prevent them from having this consultative-style discussion.  Having or not having these two key weaknesses makes all the difference.  And there are three others which could also cause your people to get in their own way and lose more of these opportunities than they need to.  But your staff can overcome them with help, and open the doors to a wealth of opportunity generated by Inbound Marketing.  You may want to consider having your sales force evaluated to see whether the current team can executive your objectives and whether they can both embrace and be effective selling in an Inbound world.

 


Here is the link to "Inbound Marketing Part Two - Leads Are Up But Why are Sales Down?" 

 

Topics: Dennis Connelly, Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, sales leads, sales, sales force evaluation, sales call, sales leadership, frank belzer, sales and marketing, Trust of Salespeople, Social Media

Sales Process and Skyscrapers

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 @ 08:01 AM

sales process,sales model,Dave Kurlan, Dennis Connelly,sales methodology,sales assessment, sales blogThere was a discussion in our recent sales meeting about the lack of excellent sales processes at most companies.  We ought to know.  Led by Dave Kurlan, we've written over a thousand articles combined to help companies better understand their sales force.  While many of these articles are about process, he noted in a recent article that there has not been a significant shift in this area by most companies.

The structure behind a sales force's activities is the process which they follow to bring a potential customer from lead to suspect to prospect to qualified to closed.  Your CRM tool, in part, should be designed to help with process.  Following it carefully and in the right sequence, can make an enormous difference on the outcome.  It ensures that every good lead has the best chance of a successful close.

I was recently in lower Manhattan and noticed the progress which was being made on the Freedom Tower.  It occured to me that the sales process is similar to building a skyscraper.  To an outside observer, it looks like a magic trick.  How do they get the crane to go continuously higher as the building gets taller?  Don’t you need something higher than the building to lift it up?  How do you attach enormously heavy windows and cladding to the outside of the building which is a thousand feet up?  How do you accomplish seemingly simple things like getting water to come out of a sink on the top floor?  It seems impossibly complicated and daunting.

How they build it is beyond me, but it's clear that they have a process.  They do things in order.  The order makes sense.  They are experts in their field.  All of the contractors and suppliers work together so that each piece fits on the next one in the proper order and at the proper time.  They are aligned in their purpose.  Without this process, the building can’t be built.  If they do it out of order, they have to tear part of it down and redo it in the proper order.

A sales process works the same way.  For sales to be effective, there must be a structure and a process.  It must be executed in the proper order.  If it’s out of order, it gets stuck.  Think about the specifics of your sales process for a moment and ask yourself some questions:

  1. Do we have a process?
  2. Do our people use it?
  3. Does management insist that it be followed, in the right order?
  4. Is the sales organization aligned with my view that the process is important?
  5. Is our CRM tool a good fit for our business?
  6. Am I concerned about pushing my people too hard?
  7. Am I fearful of the consequences of change?

For even more sales process issues, read Frank Belzer’s recent article.  While you’re at it, download his new E-Book on having a great 2013.  Your team must be experts at selling your products to your market.  Are they working together with management in alignment with your corporate mission and standards?  Are they helping to build an edifice of effectiveness where strong growth is standard and where your business stands out above the competition like a skyscraper?

Take a few minutes to grade your sales process.  It’s free.  Whether you take it any further or not, it could be valuable and useful information.  Increasingly, companies are asking us to rebuild their sales process.  They're looking for greater accountability, better metrics, clear action items, measurable progress and outstanding results.  If you're interested in having a conversation like this, let me know.

Topics: sales blog, sales assessment, Dennis Connelly, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales model, sales methodology

Consultative Selling - Lesson from a King's Trusted Advisor

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Wed, Jan 02, 2013 @ 16:01 PM

Geoffrey Rush playing Lionel Logue resized 600

Take a quick look at your sales organization and count the number who are consistently selling consultatively.  If it's less than 100%, then count the salespeople who at least know what the term means.  Of that group, who could tell you with clarity and passion, how it differs from other forms of selling?  For bonus points, who could tell you why consultative selling is a more desirable approach in 2013?  If your company didn’t score high on this test, it might be time to question why some of your sales people consistently miss your targets.

Most believe they're selling the best possible way.  “I’m asking lots of questions,” they might say, adding “I have the solution to their problem, have great relationships and they trust me.”  All that sounds right until you consider that almost any seasoned salesperson can say all of that.

What makes one salesperson so much more effective than another?  It’s not about asking questions; it’s about asking the right questions.  It’s about drilling down to uncover issues which weren’t on the table beforehand.  It’s not about having a solution to their problem; it’s about defining the problem in a new way which plays to your strengths.  It’s not about having great relationships; it’s about standing apart from the competition so much so that you command your customer’s attention.  This is what Dave Kurlan calls “Speed On the Bases” or SOB Quality.  You want to be like the great base-stealer who forces the pitcher to pay more attention to you than the batter.  If consultative selling is the lock, then SOB Quality is its key.

There was a movie not long ago which demonstrated SOB Quality (among many other sales lessons) called The King’s Speech.  In it, Lionel Logue, a commoner from Australia, was the service provider.  The prince, the future King George VI, known as Bertie to his family, was the potential client.  The prince had a speech impediment which others hadn’t been able to correct.  Logue came recommended, but couldn’t prove that he could solve his problem anymore than the knighted doctors who'd previously tried.  Here’s an excerpt from their first encounter, before any agreement is made to contract his services:

Logue:  “Please call me Lionel.”
Bertie:  “I prefer Doctor.”
Logue:  “I prefer Lionel. What’ll I call you?”
Bertie:  “Your Royal Highness. Then Sir after that.”
Logue:  “A bit formal for here. What about your name?”
Bertie:  “Prince Albert Frederick Arthur George”
Logue:  “How about Bertie?”
Bertie:  “Only my family uses that.”
Logue:  “Perfect. In here, it’s better if we’re equals.”
Bertie:  “If we were equal, I wouldn’t be here. I’d be home with my wife and no one would give a damn.” Bertie lights a cigarette.  
Logue:  “Don’t do that.”
Bertie:  With astonished look, “I’m sorry?”
Logue:  “Sucking smoke into your lungs will kill you.”
Bertie:  “My physicians say it relaxes the throat.”
Logue:  “They’re idiots.”
Bertie:  “They’ve all been knighted.”
Logue:  “Makes it official then. My ‘castle,’ my rules. What was your earliest memory?”
Bertie:  “What on earth do you mean.” Now visibly irritated.
Logue:  “First recollection.”
Bertie:  “I’m not here to discuss personal matters.”
Logue:  “Why are you here, then?”

What Lionel Logue goes on to uncover is that the Prince’s stammering problem, regardless of its original cause, might have been compounded by personal issues such as the unkind treatment he had received by members of his family.  Logue’s probing inquiry eventually uncovers that his self-image is more important than the stammering.  In fact, the breakthrough comes when Logue sits in the king’s cathedral throne before the coronation, angering and challenging the king, until he finally yells at Logue, “I have a voice!”  Logue calmly replies, “Yes, you do.” and gets up out of his throne.  The King never questions his credentials again.  Logue has become a trusted advisor.

That’s how a commoner with no credentials, title, formal training nor guarantee of success took the business away from his high-powered competitors who possessed the inside track.  That’s SOB Quality and it’s at the heart of consultative selling.

Do your salespeople push back and uncover the underlying problems?  Do they challenge the decision-maker and ask questions which could cause discomfort or even irritation?  Do they look past the original inquiry, listen intently and ask follow-up questions until something interesting emerges?  Are they always looking to disqualify (“Why are you here, then?”) and letting the prospect sell themselves?  If the answer to any of these questions is ‘No’, could they be trained? What would a sales force evaluation reveal about your company's potential for change and opportunity for massive growth?  Do you have the right people to help you realize your organization's full potential as you envision it?

January is a terrific time to reflect on questions like these.  Rather than wondering whether you can hit your 2013 goals, perhaps you should be looking further and asking which sales force changes you must make in order to achieve sustained, double-digit, year-over-year growth.

Topics: sales competencies, sales force assessment, sales blog, sales culture, sales assessment, Dennis Connelly, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Trusted Advisor

CEO's Want to Grow With the Right Sales People

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Fri, Dec 07, 2012 @ 15:12 PM

South Beach sunshine, sales blog, dennis connellyThe TechServe Alliance 2012 Annual Conference in Miami last month provided a great chance to meet up, share ideas, and forge new partnerships with many tech staffing people.  I can now share some insights which I think will resonate with many of you.  The theme that emerged for me was “growth”.  Firms are hiring.  They’re looking ahead with a positive outlook and their growth goals are audacious enough to make Jim Collins smile.

I must say a quick word to the “Water Coolers”, a music and comedy group, who managed to plant a few jingles in my brain – thanks guys.  We weren’t even in Kansas, yet somehow Nowhere Close to My Quota brought a nervous laugh to the room, as if we were all going back to address exactly that with our staffs.  As a sales growth expert working with Dave Kurlan, I was happy that his keynote address focused on tools which don’t require chasing rainbows.

Aside from the upbeat new growth push by many of our members, it’s not all South Beach sunshine out there.  Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, an overseas IT-staffing association, pointed out that a survey of over 1,500 CEOs across 33 industries found that the biggest concerns are volatility, uncertainty and complexity.  “We are all operating in a massively interconnected system.”, she said.  In the IT-staffing world, this is both a problem and an opportunity, as I suspect it is in others as well.  Many members are taking advantage of this with new tools that exploit this complex, interconnected web of information.  We saw new products from exhibiting firms which demonstrated that you can make it work to your advantage as well.

In my conversations, I found that staffing company CEOs voiced many common concerns.  There are some helpful archived articles which address many of their questions.  Here are some of the comments which I heard:

  • “I’m not sure we have the right sales people.”
  • “Why is it so hard to find great sales people?”
  • “We’ve got people that have been with us a long time, but I’m not sure they can make the transition to the way we want to grow?”
  • “How can we get immediate impact and drive more revenue?”

Here’s a link to Dave Kurlan speaking about evaluating your sales force.   

Another question I heard from many companies was:

  • “We haven’t had a great track record hiring the right candidates.  What’s a better way?”

Here’s a link to several articles on selection and another to a white paper which Dave Kurlan wrote on selection.  And here’s a helpful article about what it takes to hire great people, from my colleague, Frank Belzer. 

Many people thought that Dave’s talk on assessments was extremely helpful.  Over the years, he’s written articles which identify a particular finding from a real assessment.  Here’s an article which describes a candidate who wasn’t recommended and the result was an email from the candidate which displayed exactly what the evaluation predicted! 

I look forward to seeing you again at the next event.

Topics: sales competencies, sales force assessment, sales blog, sales culture, Dennis Connelly, grow sales



Dennis-Headshot1 
 

 

Subscribe to Email Updates

Scan the QR Code with your smartphone for immediate access to Dennis Connelly.

Dennis Connelly LinkedIn

Follow Me

Connect

Or Ask for Help 

               Email Me

Sales Leadership Intensive 

http://www.kurlanassociates.com/sales-leadership-event/

Most Popular Posts