Living Sales Excellence - Dennis Connelly's Blog

Commitment and the Data Behind Sales Trainability

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 @ 08:08 AM

54991635_s_Commitment_081318It's a startling statistic that 37% of salespeople lack the necessary Commitment to their sales success to make significant improvements in response to training. In an article posted a few weeks ago, I discussed the 7 Sales Training Success Factors and how to avoid sales training failure. If you missed it, you may read that article here. After several thousand views and numerous responses, both from comments in social media and personal notes, it's clear you want even more detail on this very important issue. I'll address one of those factors in more depth today and get to the others in future articles. Factor number 3 of the 7 was A Trainable Sales Force. So what makes a salesperson trainable?

The statistic mentioned above is important to know when setting up a sales training program. It was drawn from the vast trove of data collected by Objective Management Group over the past two decades. This specific finding came from sampling 44,000 recent evaluations of currently-employed salespeople. It's showing that almost 4 out of every 10 salespeople have this issue! It might explain what you are seeing at your own company. How many of your salespeople are making steady improvements in their skills and effectiveness? How many are stagnant?

In the context of training, let's take a wider look at the characteristics that play an important role in yielding the most successful outcomes. First, what does it mean to say that someone lacks the "necessary commitment?" Commitment can be defined as the level of discomfort one is willing to endure to achieve what she or he desires. In short, desire is what we want; commitment is what we are willing to do to get it.

Often, managers use a few rules-of-thumb to determine if a salesperson is going to "make it." I usually hear things like, "they gotta love selling,"  or, "they gotta be hungry," or "they gotta know our industry." While these can be useful, the reason some of us use them, and others like them, is because they are relatively easy to determine about a person, without a comprehensive assessment. When we short-cut the selection process like this, we are guilty of what psychologist Daniel Kahneman calls the Availability HeuristicWe are prone to favor readily available information and we have a tendency to over-weigh the implications of a finding we can easily determine. 

Commitment is just one of the 21 sales core competencies that we look at when evaluating salespeople for training or, for that matter, when making a prediction about how successful a sales candidate would be at your company selling your products and services to your customers in your market against your competition. When we connect all of the dots, the picture of the salesperson emerges and that complete picture makes it much easier to predict if they'll be successful. Any one data point is just a dot. Love selling?; dot. Hungry?; dot. Committed?; also a dot. Before I recommend hiring a salesperson, I might look at those first two dots, for example, to help me make a decision but they are not one of the 21 sales core competencies. They are not as important as Commitment - a more important dot.

It turns out, Commitment is one of the most difficult findings to tease out of a candidate. If you ask someone during an interview if they're committed to their success, they'll say "yes." That doesn't help you because who is going to say, "no." Rather, we need to understand that level of discomfort they will endure to be successful in selling (or in their sales managerial role) as they define that success. An evaluation is the simplest, most objective way to find out. A lack of commitment usually leads to the following set of outcomes:

  • Won't do it the right way or won't do it the way you want them to
  • Won't make improvements in their ability to perform in the role
  • Will tend to give in, or give up when the going gets tough

When hiring a candidate or moving someone into a role in which they lack commitment, it eventually leads to regret. If they lack other critical skills required for the role, then the lack of commitment usually results to failure in less than six months. If they have most of the skills they need for the role, a common scenario that understandably presents the greatest challenge for hiring managers who convince themselves that the low-commitment finding is an aberration, what generally happens is the performance over time is lackluster relative to their skills. In this scenario, regret sets in at between 12 and 18 months at the realization that you've lost a year and a half and have to start over.

And what if their Desire for sales success isn't very high? That's another dot that is also very important in the picture that emerges from all those dots as it relates to their trainability. In that same data sample, 13% of sales "current-employees" lacked enough desire for success in sales to justify making the necessary effort to improve, or roughly one in eight. It's an interesting statistic if not quite as alarming as the two out of every five who lack Commitment.

What other factors play a role in determining the trainability of your people? I would want to know if they are sufficiently Motivated. 21% are not. I would want to know if they have a positive Outlook. 36% do not. And I would want to know if they make a lot of Excuses for any lack of results. 60% do that! I would rank them as follows:

Top Five Factors for Salesperson Trainability

  1. Desire for success in sales (without this, one should look for other work)
  2. Commitment to do what it takes to achieve what you desire 
  3. Motivation to put on your game face and make it happen every day
  4. Positive Outlook, unencumbered by circumstances, and "free" to dig into the work
  5. Takes responsibility for outcomes - no excuses

While the percentages of those who don't have each of these characteristics, or necessary grit for selling, is higher than you might expect, remember that each of these factors is a dot. Taken together, generally about 75% of the team is trainable. The impact on revenue from the improvements that those 75% can make in a year usually far outweighs the lack of results that will come from those who are less willing to improve. And when you know who is who, sales leaders can choose to make improvements by looking at three groups that emerge:

  1. The trainable
  2. The less easily trained performers
  3. The less easily trained, or even untrainable non-performers.

For maximum improvement to performance, leaders can train group 1 and choose to replace group 3 with people who are stronger than those in group 1. The group 2 people present a potential dilemma. Generally, it's best to look at both the level of their performance, and the growth requirements and ask yourself if you can afford to let them continue to beat quota quarter after quarter without a year-over-year growth.  

A team with 75% trainable salespeople are commonly able to produce between a 25% and 75% growth on their improvement alone, without even replacing group 3. For sales training to be successful, it helps when the sales force is trainable. Last fall, I evaluated a team that came up short, resulting in a rare recommendation not to spend money training the group. It wasn't going to work. We took a completely different approach that I'll share with you over the phone if you're interested and/or concerned about your team.

For the individual salesperson, commitment is at the heart of their trainability and willingness to make the changes required for their own improvement so they can achieve the success they desire. How committed are you to ensuring your team makes the improvements it needs to meet or exceeds the outputs that you desire for them?

 

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Photo Credit - Copyright : Dmitriy Shironosov   (123RF) 

Topics: commitment to sales success, commitment, effective sales training, sales training, grit, excuse making, sales culture

The Top 7 Most Common Excuses for Delayed Sales Process Adoption

Posted by Dennis Connelly on Mon, May 14, 2018 @ 23:05 PM

48275588_s_ProcessAdoptionDelays-chalkboardLearning an effective sales process is easy. It usually fits on one sheet of paper, takes about an hour to memorize, and, having just come off of two weeks of travel to four different clients for intensive day-long training sessions, I can confidently share with you that salespeople and managers understand the simplicity and effectiveness of a fundamental sales process right away. There's a collective "a-ha" that occurs in every session at the moment when something that seemed so complicated at first is suddenly understood at its foundation. So why does it take months to impact sales results? I'm glad you asked. Read on to find out.

Think of the complexity of your product offering and how, while there are differences in ability on your team, most of your people can talk about the products and services in great detail. There could be hundreds of items or dozens of service combinations and options, but most seasoned salespeople can rattle them off like they are discussing backyard barbecue tips at a Little League game. With little investigation, one can see that most of your product offerings exceed the complexity of an effective sales process, often by an order of magnitude. So why does it take the team so long to adopt the sales process, use it on every call, and reap the rewards of regularly outselling their competition?

1638064_s_ProcessAdoptionDelaysThere are reasons of course, or if you prefer to use the language of elite salespeople (those possessing selling skill scores in the top 7% of all salespeople), then let's just call them excuses. Here's my list of the 7 excuses I hear the most related to the lack of adoption of sales process:

Top 7 Most Common Excuses for Delayed Sales Process Adoption

  1. Management doesn't insist they use it.
  2. They don't practice it enough to be comfortable using it on an actual call.
  3. They aren't coached specifically to sales process.
  4. They have too many hidden psychological barriers.
  5. Managers can't identify their people's personal obstacles.
  6. Their beliefs don't support acting on key steps in the process.
  7. They don't have the right sales process.

1. Management
If management isn't insisting that salespeople follow sales process, then is it a corporate adoption and buy-in problem, or is it an accountability problem? Accountability runs all the way through the organization. Sometimes there's an expectation that because managers are tasked with achieving the overall outcome of their people, that they will do what it takes, ethically, to accomplish their goals and we don't need to tell them what to do.

This kind of thinking lets leadership off the hook. That would be like managers telling their salespeople to go out and sell "so I'll just leave you alone so you can get on with it." Who will motivate them, who will coach them, and who will hold them accountable to performing the activities that lead to hitting the goals? Sales management isn't the top of the chain of sales hierarchy. The top of the sales food chain is occupied by the party or parties responsible for the outcome of the business: Owner, CEO, Board of Directors. Insistence on something as fundamental as sales process starts there.

When it's important to find out how you are getting the results you are getting and why, it might be time to evaluate the sales organization as a whole. Click here to see if a Sales Force Evaluation makes sense for your team.

2. Practice
Try it out in practice sessions first, using role-play, ideally with a manager or between salespeople and an observant manager helping to facilitate or play one of the roles. You wouldn't change your grip in the middle of a golf tournament. You would try it out on the practice green first. Do the same with sales process. Ask yourself what this call should sound like? Look for places it could get derailed and work through each one. Then be prepared for the call to go nothing like what you planned.

3. Coaching
Think of the greatest player you know in a sport you love to follow. That person has a coach, right? And if that person happens to be the best player in the world in that sport, they still have a coach. From this perspective, it means the coach is, by definition, not as good at the sport as the player, or they would be number one. Yet, the star player wouldn't want to lose them as their coach and they would never stop wanting to be coached. That's how they got where they are. In sales, formal scheduled coaching should happen daily. It's the most important role of the manager. You can read several articles on coaching by selecting from the list found by clicking here.

4. Psychological Barriers
What is blocking a salesperson from saying or doing something that they know they should say or do? The answer is often based on certain barriers that lie within their own head? It might not be a lack of ability or understanding; it might instead result from how they stop themselves due to habit, discomfort, or fear. Thanks to the magic of the OMG sales assessment, we now know that among many, there are six major hidden weaknesses that can cause a barrier to success and lead to slow improvement. They include:

  • Non-supportive Buy Cycle
  • Excessive Need for Approval
  • Getting Too Emotionally Involved
  • Discomfort Talking about Money
  • Non-Supportive Beliefs
  • Difficulty Recovering from Rejection

Rather than explain each one of these in detail, I would direct you to our upcoming one-hour live webinar on this very topic scheduled for June 14th at 11:00 am U.S. Eastern Time. It's free of charge and you can register by clicking here.

5. Identifying Issues
Often, even when salespeople have barriers to their success slowing down their progress, it goes unrecognized, either because the manager isn't looking for it, or the manager has the same issue herself and doesn't recognize the weakness in her people. To find out how your people compare with respect to the 21 Sales Core Competencies measured in the OMG assessment tool, against other salespeople, click here.

6. Beliefs
Beliefs are at the heart of all of our outcomes. Our beliefs, especially the ones about which we feel most certain, determine how we view our potential. Our beliefs about our potential determine the actions we take. And our actions produce the results we get. Each time we get a result, it reinforces our beliefs and the process starts again. I first learned of this cycle of success from neuro-strategist, Steve Linder of Strategic Brain, who had learned it from Anthony Robbins over 20 years prior.

When we come to terms with the fact that our beliefs are the driving force of our personal success machine, it can feel quite energizing. When I conduct Belief-System workshops with clients, we cover over 90 self-limiting beliefs that can impact sales outcomes, drawn from the original work of Dave Kurlan along with others such as Nassim Taleb, Robbins, Linder, Napoleon Hill, Milton Erickson, and repeated personal observations from my work with clients.

Of the over 90 self-limiting beliefs addressed in the workshop, here are seven:

  • My prospects usually buy on price.
  • My prospects don't have the time we really need.
  • My territory is the hardest.
  • My lack of result was due to the competition.
  • My prospects are often unreachable.
  • It takes several meetings to build rapport.
  • I need my prospects to like me.

If you are interested in having your own facilitated Self-Limiting Belief Workshop, click here to book me as a speaker.

7. Wrong Sales Process
The sales process should be a customized, optimized, staged set of steps that naturally describes and directs your actions and conversations with a prospect as you move them from lead to close.  If you are using the wrong sales process or if your sales process is inadequate, what should you do? Click here to take our eye-opening Sales Process Grader to find out.

Summary
To re-cap, all that is required to ensure speedy and effective adoption of your sales process is to address and resolve each of the seven most common excuses listed above. I'm willing to bet you could memorize this list in under five minutes. See how easy that was. And here is your perfect success formula if you are willing to accept it. Create a to-do list to address each of the seven excuses for not getting total early buy-in on your world class sales process. Then do the items on the list!

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Book Dennis Connelly to speak at your event.

Photo Credit - Chalkboard: Denis Ismagilov  (123RF)
Photo Credit - Road Barriers Elena Elisseeva (123RF)

 

Topics: sales process, adjusting the sales process, sales managerment, self-limting beliefs, managerial leadership, excuse making



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