10 Great Examples - Customer Service as a Powerful Sales Tool

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 @ 06:11 AM


Last week, during my travels to Poland and back, I experienced how companies are using customer service as sales tools.  In most cases, customer service tends to be vanilla, bland, and although professional in its approach, it is typically highly unspectacular.  However, sometimes, customer service is so good, or so bad, that their brand statements go beyond what marketing or sales could ever do.  After all, what leaves a stronger and potentially longer lasting impression than your own experience with a brand?  Let's start with two great examples - experiences that make you choose to return for more.

Upon landing in Frankfurt on my first leg home from Warsaw, I received an email from Expedia.com telling me that my flight from Frankfurt to Boston was canceled.  My anxiety intensified and I began Googling alternate flights to Boston while deplaning, only to learn that the flight had not actually been canceled.  As I was about to board my flight to Boston, I realized that in my moments of despair, I had left my iPad in the seat back pocket on the previous flight.  I stopped at Lufthansa's Flight Services counter upon my return to Boston and they gave me an email address to contact in Frankfurt. Imagine my surprise, and relief (the iPad was not password protected, so someone could have had a free-for-all until I could change the passwords those accounts that my iPad apps connected to!) when I received this email response:

Dear Mr. Kurlan,

Thank you for your e-mail. Your iPad is found and registered.
Ref Nr xxxxxxx

Please authorize a shipping agent of your choice (DHL, FEDEX, United Parcels, etc)  to pick up your item at:

Deutsche Lufthansa AG and authorize them to deliver it to your address.  They could pick it up any day at our counter 284, Terminal 1-A, departure level, from 7am to 7pm.  There is a telephone at the counter that they should pick up. It is automatically connected to our office. We will bring the packet to the counter. They should mention xxxx and show us the written authorization they have from you.

Please send us the details.

Kind regards,

I will most definitely seek out Lufthansa whenever I have an international trip!

When I arrived at the Regent Warsaw Hotel at 14:30, I inquired about getting my suit pressed.  Their service promised that clothing picked up after noon would be returned by 9:00 the following morning.  I explained that I was speaking at 8:00 the next morning, so 9:00 would not be sufficient. They picked up my suit, pressed it and returned it 30 minutes later!  Guess where I'll be staying if I return to Poland?

People are convinced - every second of every day - to either begin doing business, continue doing business, or stop doing business with companies - based on the way they are treated by the company's employees.  The customer service I'm referring to is rarely performed by actual customer service reps. These employees actually have more of an impact on customers than customer service reps, but aren't trained, paid or treated like customer service reps.  It's one thing to get good or bad customer service from someone who is paid to provide it.  It's quite another to get the good or bad service from someone whose primary role in the company is not customer service.  These are people who either choose to be helpful, indifferent or worse.

Unfortunately, we experience many more examples of bad service than good.  Here are some that I've written about before. These are ten very short examples that you must read in order to fully understand the extent to which this impacts revenue:

Unbelievable at United Airlines

Volatile at Verizon and a Second Issue with Verizon and a Third Issue with Verizon

Unacceptable at US Airways

Poor at Paychex

Dumb at Dell but Awesome at Apple

Wrong at the RMV

Nuts at National Car Rental and a Second Time at National

While each article represented a good example and together they provide paths to retaining business, also notice that I tend to write about the bad ones.  Today, with social media, bad news travels further and faster than ever before, sometimes going viral.  Knowing that It also costs more than ever to acquire new customers, it's important to realize that companies could grow their revenue at exponential rates if they weren't so inept at retaining business! How much business do your employees cause you to lose?  It's not enough to train salespeople and customer service reps.  EVERYONE should be trained on how even the most insignificant interactions with customers can impact the business.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, customer service, Apple, Dell, Verizon, lufthansa, united airlines

How to Get Your Sales Message to Resonate Every Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 @ 07:11 AM


This is an article about getting your sales message to resonate - every time.  However, before we can discuss that, I need to share a current, real world example.  So bear with me.

Just like the news programs which, before the Paris attack, had been talking mostly about political debates and candidates, I have been discussing various aspects of the science behind sales selection.

Last week, an article I wrote for LinkedIn went viral and included a large number of very good, very insightful comments that took the conversation deeper and wider.  The article makes for an interesting study because the writing followed the same path I took on an article back in March that had completely different results.  Let's compare the two articles, examine what caused the comments to be so dramatically different, and use that to understand getting your sales message to resonate.

In a typical year, there are usually several articles written by people who aren't experts on sales selection, introducing a certain set of criteria that differentiates top from bottom salespeople.  Sometimes they take the same approach and identify several criteria that should be used in sales selection.  When I read these articles and it is clear that they are as wrong as the government is when they try to run health insurance and over-regulate businesses, I usually write a rebuttal article of some kind.

I wrote the first rebuttal article back in March and it caused a literal firestorm of emotionally charged comments, attacks, support and testimonials.  In some ways, it was awesome and in other ways, it was sad.

I wrote another rebuttal article last week and it caused a tremendous number of good, positive, insightful comments.

Both of my articles were similar in that each exposed the gaps and errors in the original articles and I backed it up with science.  But they were received in completely different ways.  What happened?

In March, The Sales & Marketing Analytics Blog ran an article titled "The 8 Things the Top 1% of Reps Do Differently".  It was lame, and the author didn't really know what she was talking about.  My rebuttal article appeared one day later, on my blog, and had typical readership and comments. Then, CustomerThink ran with the article and that's when the firestorm hit.  CustomerThink's Blog is not my audience, and doesn't have the same demographics as my audience.  The first responders were negatively charged, and the second wave of responders were positively charged.  It was an epic online battle!

This is the link to the articles and all of the comments.  It's an awesome read, but the comments make it extremely long!

On November 2, the Harvard Business Review ran an article on the "Best Ways to Hire Salespeople".  This article was as wrong as snow in July and last week I posted my rebuttal article on LinkedIn Pulse.  It's not my personal blog, but similar readers tend to find it - readers who are looking for information like this.  All of the responders were kind and many added to the conversation.  No trolls.  No emotions.  No firestorm.

This is the link to the articles and all of the comments.  It too is awesome, but not nearly as long.

I believe that the difference between the two articles has little to do with the articles themselves, but more to do about audiences.  Deliver the right message to the wrong audience and you'll get killed.  Deliver the right message to the right audience and it will resonate.

The same thing happens every single day in sales.  When salespeople get to people who really care, who have a problem, who will be impacted, who have a financial stake, their message will resonate and they can do business together.  When salespeople get to people who don't care, who have no stake, who won't be impacted, their message will fall on deaf ears and the wrong conversation will ensue.  You know who I'm talking about - Purchasing!  They don't care about anything other than price yet salespeople continue to call on them, trying to deliver messages centered around quality, value and service.  The folks in purchasing, like teenagers, don't care!  Stop calling on them.  You may end up there to get your purchase order, but please don't start there!!!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling to purchasing, sales operations, linkedin, sales selection

A Perfect Way to Handle Objections, Challenges and Push Back

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 11, 2015 @ 10:11 AM

We watched the GOP Debate last night (I know the photo is from an earlier debate). I remember saying to my wife, "This isn't a debate - all they're doing is answering the questions being asked."  And then, all of a sudden, a debate broke out, and what did the brilliant moderator do?  He said, "I'm sorry, we need to move to the next topic."  We finally got ourselves a debate and they want to stop it!"  

Consider the majority of salespeople and their single biggest skill gap.  Even when they are aware that today, a consultative approach to selling is necessary, and even if they actually use a consultative approach, all too often, this is what happens:  They ask a great question, the prospect replies with an answer, and then, rather than getting their prospect to expand on the answer (allowing the salesperson to get closer to the prospect's real issues and compelling reason to buy), the salesperson moves to the next question.  Gerard Baker, the British moderator, was widely praised for his performance, but in my opinion, he blew it - just like millions of salespeople blow it every single day.  Don't snorkel, go deep-sea diving!

Speaking of the debate, salespeople can learn something from Dr. Ben Carson, who unlike Donald Trump, handles criticism and attacks in a wonderful way.  Trump fights back with "great" attacks which achieve similar results to salespeople becoming defensive.  It raises, instead of lowers resistance!  

Carson, when asked why we should believe him, said, "You don't have to believe me."  That lowers resistance and it was beautifully delivered.  Then he followed that up with something along the lines of "check the facts" and "treat everyone equally."  Last night he said, "You know what? We should vet all candidates. I have no problem with being vetted.  What I do have a problem with is being lied about and then putting that out there as truth.  And I don't even mind that so much if they do it with everybody, like people on the other side. When I look at somebody like Hillary Clinton who sits there and tells her daughter and a government official, 'No, this was a terrorist attack,' and then tells everybody else that it was a video – where I come from, they call that a lie."

That is how challenges, objections and push back should be handled. Just perfect.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, handling objections

What True Story Does Your Sales Pipeline Tell You about Your Business?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 05, 2015 @ 12:11 PM

Yesterday I was looking at the dashboard in my new car and noticed that one of the gauges could be swapped out.  There aren't any fixed gauges on this dash because the gauges, ranges and needles are displayed digitally. I can even change their color!  The thing that caught my interest though, was the flashlight effect where the ticks to either side of the needle are brighter and bolder to draw attention to where the needle is pointing.  That got me thinking about the dashboards for my company.  First I looked at the dashboards for Kurlan & Associates and because of what I saw, I never got to the Objective Management Group dashboard.

We use Membrain for our CRM/Opportunity/Pipeline Management system because it's the one we recommend most often to our clients and if we're going to recommend a CRM application, shouldn't it be the one we use, embrace and love?

While changing the filters for one of the graphs, I noticed some things that I hadn't noticed the last time I checked in.  And I promise, the things I noticed are probably occurring at your company too.  The question is, can your CRM application let you know (and do you know) what to do next?  So here's what I found that was so interesting.

In the past two months, there were 40 new opportunities added, bringing the number of active opportunities in the pipeline to 80. That's an average of 1 new opportunity per person, per week, which is exactly what it should be in our business.  So that's good.  But I also noticed this:

There are currently 16 highly probable, closable opportunities representing 20% of the pipeline which is a lot better than what we normally see.  For instance, for every 2 new clients, it historically requires the following:

  • 20 suspects that convert to,
  • 10 prospects that convert to,
  • 5 qualified opportunities that convert to,
  • 3 closable opportunities.

In other words, only 10% of the prospects we begin talking with typically become clients.  Not because we aren't effective or that prospective clients go with other companies; but mostly because half of the 20 suspects we start conversations with are either the wrong person for us to be speaking with or there isn't a good fit and we disqualify them!  Similarly, we often disqualify half of the remaining 10 prospects because they don't have or won't spend the money to work with us.  That's how we get from 20 to 5.  And as with any business, we don't close every one.  Some decide to do nothing at all and once in a blue moon, a prospect chooses to go with another company.

I also noted that there was forward progress made on 58 opportunities - meaning that no single opportunity is sucking up the team's time or resources at the expense of other opportunities.

The metric that really stuck out for me though was that 22 of the 80 opportunities were stalled.  They had exceeded the baseline number of days allowed for an opportunity to remain in a particular stage of the sales process and our dashboard in Membrain has some very compelling data about opportunities that stall.  The image below represents the graph of stalled opportunities. Green represents an opportunity that we closed and gray represents one that we archived or lost.

This small red line in this graph indicates that when an opportunity stalls for more than 19 days, the chances of closing that business decrease dramatically, from 78% to less than 50%.  It further illustrates that if an opportunity stalls beyond 35 days, there is very little chance that the opportunity will close, with the win rate dropping to just 10-15%.

So when I saw that there were 22 stalled opportunities, I dug a little further and found that all of them were stalled beyond 35 days.  So the probability of any business occurring with these opportunities is already below 15%.  Next I wanted to identify which stage of the pipeline they were stalled in.  In Baseline Selling, we have 5 stages of the pipeline where opportunities are either:

  1. On Deck - 1st Meeting has not been scheduled.
  2. 1st Base - 1st Meeting has been scheduled but not yet held (Suspect).
  3. 2nd Base - 1st Meeting has been held and it is a real opportunity (Prospect).
  4. 3rd Base - Opportunity has been thoroughly qualififed (Qualified).
  5. On the Way Home - Opportunity is Closable (Closable).

I found that all but four of the stalled opportunities were on Deck.  So either a lead had come in, someone had expressed interest or we were referred to the company but no meeting had been scheduled - after more than 35 days!

That's the beginning of the process of reading a useful CRM dashboard.  The data tells us where the problem is, who has the problem, and what we should be asking.  In this case, one person - a very busy senior sales expert - was responsible for 36% of those stalled opportunities.  So while we can understand how the business interfered with getting meetings scheduled, it is still not acceptable.  The opportunities should have been handed off to a consultant on the team who isn't as jammed with training, consulting and coaching as he is.  In another case, one person was only responsible for 5%, or just 1 of the stalled opportunities.  That's good, right?  No, it's bad.  Everything is relative.  He doesn't have as many opportunities in the pipeline as the others, so his 1 stalled isn't an indicator that he's moving things along as much as it's an indicator that his pipeline is too small!

While most of my articles address sales selection, sales force evaluations, sales competencies, sales DNA, sales strategy, sales process and sales tactics, sometimes getting the pipeline right can make all the difference in the world.  Of course, to get the pipeline right, you must have an application that gives you the right information, in an easy-to-access format.  You also need an application that your salespeople embrace and always keep up-to-date so that you have real-time data.  And finally, you must be willing to consistently review your dashboard and let it tell you a story.  What story is your dashboard telling you today?

And before you comment, I'll make the first one:

"Dave, you talk about consistently reviewing the dashboards, but in this case, you weren't aware of the stalled opportunities until they were all beyond 35 days.  Isn't that hypocritcal you fat, old, sales guy?"  Someone was going to write that so I figured I would save him the trouble.  Yes, it would have been a male troll.  And yes, I should have been on top of that, but I wasn't this month.  And hey, my mistake is your gain because it made for a good topic for the blog, didn't it?

Don't miss this article that was published on LinkedIn Pulse about Fred - The Top Salesperson or a Horrible Salesperson?


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales pipeline, sales win rate, sales opportunities

Five Great Lessons That Apply to Every Company That Hires Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 02, 2015 @ 09:11 AM

I turned sixty years old today and everyone is asking me how it feels to be sixty.  To be honest, it feels exactly the same as it felt to be fifty-nine - which is essentially the same as it felt to be 40.  Nothing has changed.  And speaking of nothing changing, nothing has changed over at BigBrains where two updates have come my way.  The first came from someone who knows the real identity of BigBrains and suggested that I refer to them as ShitForBrains instead.  She must have met them!

The second update came from the OMG Partner who is working with BigBrains.  His email was a riot and even though he is very frustrated with their inability to make smart decisions, he sees the humor in all of this too. He signed off with, "Some people have to cut off their nose to spite their face. &^%$# amazing!"

There are some really good lessons that are beneficial to all executives and from companies of all sizes and industries. I'll share the top five lessons here:

If you haven't read the prior posts about BigBrains, Benchmarking, our Perfect Fit Analysis, and their reasons for being so stupid, this post has links to each of the other articles.

BigBrains is finally using our Sales Candidate Assessment, and instead of hiring business development reps, the subject of 6 previous posts, they are using it to hire salespeople.  There is still a problem though...  BigBrains is interviewing first (wasting lots of time and money) and assessing later. So of course, when they assess their final candidates, the assessment results are coming back as not recommended and they can't understand why.  

LESSON #1:  You will never be able to determine from an interview whether a candidate possesses enough Desire and Commitment for success in sales, whether their Sales DNA is strong enough to succeed in support this skills, and whether they have the sales capabilities to get the job done.  

LESSON #2: You must assess candidates at the earliest stage of the recruiting process to filter out those who won't succeed in the role and identify those candidates with whom you should spend your time talking.

LESSON #3: Some of the candidates that you choose to not include in the process should be included because their sales capabilities make up for whatever it is that you don't like about their resume.  Some of the candidates that you choose to include in the process should not be because their sales capabilities are not consistent with what you liked about their resume.

LESSON #4: If you interview prior to the assessment, you will fall in love with your candidates and then, if the candidate is not recommended, tend to dismiss the assessment results because they differ from what your heart is telling you.  Assess first and you will only be able to fall in love with quality candidates, and, perhaps of greater importance, be EEOC Compliant.  When using assessments, all candidates must be assessed.

LESSON #5:  Nobody, regardless of how long they have been interviewing and hiring salespeople, is smarter than OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  You just can't beat the track record, predictive accuracy and uncanny insights.

Lack of significant change as your age increases is a good thing.  Lack of change when you're attempting to get sales hiring right is not.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Recruiting Process, hiring sales candidates

The Crucial Channel Sales Strategy You Can't Get Wrong

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 @ 10:10 AM

Our business is different.
Our salespeople are really good. 
We have a sales process. 
We sell consultatively. 
We don't have a sales force - we sell through a channel.

Those statements represent the 5 most inaccurate things we hear every day from executives before they become clients.  I say they are inaccurate because each statement is invariably proven to be incorrect after we evaluate their sales force.  If we take the 5th statement, break it apart, and make it two statements, then I could make a case for each being a true statement, but not when taken as a single statement of fact.  They "sell through a channel" is very easy to agree with.  They "don't have a sales force" becomes easy to agree with because channel salespeople are quite often among the weakest salespeople we see anywhere!  But there is a larger, more important issue with the channel statement. Whether or not you currently employ channels as part of your goto market strategy, you must understand this one crucial strategy which, if you get it wrong, absolutely sabotages your results with a channel.

Executives tend to believe that there is a major difference between selling directly to their customers versus selling through their channels. In reality, what is it that is so different?  When selling directly to a customer we’re trying to persuade them to buy what we sell.  When selling through the channel we’re trying to persuade the channel reps to sell what we sell.  The commonality though, is that we are trying to persuade them to do something.  Whether it's buy what we sell or sell what we sell, the only real difference is where the money ends up coming from!

The answers to "why you should sell more of what we sell" and "why you should buy what we sell" are similar.  Their respective reasons for taking action may be different, but the overall sales approach is identical!

The problem is that most companies view their channel salespeople as channel managers despite the fact that the channel managers don't actually manage anybody or anything.  The title reinforces inappropriate beliefs, behaviors, activities, messaging, questions and outcomes.  How would things change if their titles changed from channel manager to salesperson in charge of getting reps to sell more of our stuff?

Let's not disguise what we expect our salespeople to accomplish. Providing them with superficial titles that make them feel important, but mask or change expectations, does a huge disservice to all.  Call them what you want them to be! 

I don't write about channel sales nearly as much as I should, especially where so many of our clients sell through channels.  If you want to read more on channel sales, you might enjoy this article about the 10 biggest problems with channel sales.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling tips, sales revenue, channel sales

Can Salespeople Really Double Their Revenue by Solving This One Challenge?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 27, 2015 @ 23:10 PM

I've written about our son around 30 times over the past 10 years and in those articles where I mentioned sports, the sport was always baseball. For the last three years, his fall sport has been cross-country and in the past two months he has won 6 meets. This year, he transitioned from participating in to winning his events.

While there are several sales analogies I could point to for this turn of events, there is one in particular that is crucial if your company sells more than one product or service.

Over the years, one of the common frustrations that executives have shared with me is that so many of their salespeople - even their good ones - were one dimensional.  They sell only one product or product line out of many. They sell to only one type of account. They thrive in only one vertical. They excel with only one particular level of decision maker. And the rhetoric is always similar too. "If these salespeople could just go from being good at one thing, to being good at two things, then we would double revenue!" So maybe they wouldn't double revenue, but certainly they could achieve a sizable increase.

Why is it so difficult for salespeople to go from master of one discipline to master of multiple disciplines?

They get comfortable.

Here's another analogy. Restaurants. You wouldn't go to an Italian Restaurant to order a burger, any more than you would go to a Chinese Restaurant and order shepherd's pie. And if you have some favorite restaurants, you probably don't vary much from the dish you always order there because it's what you like that they make so well.

We get comfortable.

So what caused our son to suddenly perform so well in cross-country? He loves to win even more than he likes competition. And when he sensed that he could actually succeed, he committed.

How do you accomplish the same thing with salespeople?

There are five things you can do:

  1. Stop complaining about it and make it a requirement for continued employment.
  2. Support the change by helping them get some early wins.
  3. Learn why the alternative sales target is so difficult or scary and coach to overcome the barriers.
  4. Offer them better direction and guidance on their approach, positioning, questioning and tactics.
  5. Raise your own expectations and those of your salespeople.

Over at Top Sales Magazine, there is a brand new look and they have gone to a larger, monthly magazine. I have a feature article about Mastery of Sales on page 16 of the November issue and you can download it here.

And speaking of competition, the SellingPower Blog has a terrific article about how Motivation is not usually the problem when it appears that salespeople aren't motivated! 

Finally, join me today (October 28, 2015) at 11 AM ET for a discussion on the role of Benchmarking and the Perfect Fit Analysis when it comes to effective Sales Selection.  Register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Accountability, how to increase revenue, Baseball, sales increase, cross country

How Companies Routinely Screw Up Hiring the Right Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 @ 14:10 PM

The way that most people watch television these days is to fall in love with a continuing series, and then watch the episodes, on demand, when they want to.  I believe that when it comes to reading, Blogs work the same way as TV.  You find a Blogger whose work you like, who writes about things that interest you and you check back often or subscribe via email or RSS.  That is the case with the sales selection series that I've been sharing for a couple of weeks.  This series of articles is about crazy, stupid sales selection and how some executives say that they want to get it right, but won't allow themselves the leeway to actually get it right.  5 articles have already been posted about this and this article represents the sixth chapter.

Let's catch up.  If you haven't read each of the previous installments, you can find them here:

Sales Selection Case History of BigBrains
Benchmarking Misapplied to Sales Selection at BigBrains
Why Companies Always Get Sales Selection Wrong 
The SalesHack Weighs in on the Sales Selection Issue at BigBrains
The Follow Up Conversation with BigBrains Revealed

Why are so many people interested in this particular case history?  Is it because they can laugh at an executive's inability to see the obvious?  Is it because they could possibly be that executive?  Is it because they like all of the data and science?  Is it the comedy?

I am hosting a Webinar on Wednesday, October 28 at 11 AM when we will discuss this case history and how to improve sales selection.  If you would like to listen in and/or participate, you can register to attend here.

This is all very related to sales selection and sales coaching. If you haven't done a great job on selection, there will be much more pressure on the sales manager to perform great coaching instead!  I led a 40-minute presentation on coaching for Handshake and you can view/listen to the archived recording here.

It appears that I'm promoting things so as long as I'm at it, you absolutely must read this article by Hiplead.  They emailed me a link to this article and I wanted to share what they had to say about how you can get significantly more people to read your emails.

Finally, Top Sales Magazine is going from weekly to monthly and from small to big.  The premier issue is available now and you can download it here.  I contributed a feature article on the state of selling.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, objective management, top sales assessment, sales selection

Part 4 - The Real Story Behind the Sales Selection Fiasco

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 @ 09:10 AM

The 2016 MLB playoffs are in full swing, so forgive me if I refer to baseball for exactly the 100th time in the past 11 years and 1,350 Blog articles.  Clutch hitting - at bats in pressure situations that usually occur late in the game - has been studied a lot in recent years. While the sabermetricians say there isn't much of a difference in the overall statistics, there are individual players who have significant differentials between their clutch and non-clutch performances.  This week, we uncovered such a differential in sales!

Objective Management Group (OMG) produces nearly 200 findings that come from our ability to measure sales capabilities and there is tremendous consistency within the data.  Earlier this week, while mining the data from approximately one million salespeople, we found an anomaly.  Over the past 25 years, only our measurement of motivation has changed enough to be statistically significant and it wasn't a change in the percentage of salespeople who are motivated, as much as it was a shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation.

But this week we discovered a statistical difference between those salespeople who currently work for a company whose sales force was evaluated, and those sales candidates who were applying for sales positions.

One of our findings is Enjoys Selling. We found that while 88% of the salespeople that were part of a sales force evaluation enjoy selling, an astounding 97% of the sales candidates enjoy selling. Can you explain the difference?

Of course, there are several possible explanations:

  • The candidates are lying.
  • The candidates are different.
  • The candidates aren't as complacent.
  • The candidates actually want to be in sales.

Let's explore the last possibility.  If that were to be true (that they actually want to be in sales), does that mean that the existing salespeople don't want to be in sales?

The 9% differential represents approximately 9,000 salespeople.  I think it's fair to assume that of all of the salespeople whose companies had moved them into a sales role,  9,000 of them were not enjoying sales.

The real story here is why executives decide that people like Bob (usually engineers or product experts) should be salespeople.  The Bobs of the world are consistently among the least effective salespeople and aren't as valuable in their selling roles as they were in their prior roles.

STOP moving people into sales because they know stuff!  Move people into sales when they ask to be moved into sales AND when they have enough supportive Sales DNA to help them succeed in that role.  The skills can be taught over time.

Of course, this is only a single data point and it's part of a much bigger issue in and around sales selection.

I've been writing about this for the past two weeks and prior to today's article, there were 3 other articles that preceded this one.  If you start with this article on LinkedIn Pulse, it links to the two other important sales selection articles in the series.

Chad Burmeister, VP of sales at ConnectAndSell and the primary author of the new book, SalesHack, added this article on his Blog, SalesHack, after a follow-up conversation with the CEO of BigBrains.

After writing these articles about his company, BigBrains, their CEO's take was to suggest that we develop a new assessment that would be customized for the SDR role at his company.  That's right, consider this:

  • We were successful in predicting 83% of their top and bottom performers.
  • They were no more successful at selection than a coin flip.

They had 3 other successful people that would not have been recommended because they weren't really interested in sales, didn't enjoy selling, and lacked desire for success in selling.  Because of those 3 anomalies, they want an entirely new assessment that would identify more sales candidates like those 3, instead of the time-tested and proven assessment that consistently identifies top performers in SDR roles in more than 11,000 companies.

Go figure!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales selelction

Price Quotes and the Inability of Salespeople to Sell Value

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 @ 06:10 AM

Last week, I was training a sales force to sell value - an absolutely revolutionary concept - when the unthinkable happened, not once, but twice in the same training.  As incredible as it was to me, it clearly illustrates why it is so darn hard for companies to get their salespeople to sell value.

We had just spent an hour demonstrating a consultative approach to selling, a prerequisite for selling value.  We then spent another hour on the 4 keys to selling value.  We were in the middle of a role-play when Dick asked, "Why do I need to ask all those questions when all he wants is a price?  Isn't there a scenario where I can just quote him a price?"

Sure there is, Dick!  If you are prepared to be entirely obsolete - right now - then go ahead, skip the questions and the whole conversation, and quote your precious price.  Because we don't actually need you if all you're going to do is quote a price.  Your prospects and customers can get that online - and quicker than you can come up with an answer for them.  Today, prospects and customers have zero use for a salesperson whose value is limited to knowing prices and technical specifications.

It got even better after I was done with Dick.  Bob told me about Tom, a customer who can't buy from him because Tom has to buy from his brother-in-law.  Apparently, Bob's wife will kill him if he doesn't buy from Tom... Anyway, there was a scenario where Tom couldn't get what he needed from his brother-in-law, so he called Bob and asked, "How much?"

Of course, Bob wanted to quote a price, but I suggested that we role-play because there was probably another way to handle the call.  I played Bob's part in the role-play and wanted to take the call in a completely different direction.  Instead of quoting a price, I asked, "Tom, does your wife know you called me?" and "Why can't Tom deliver this for you?" and "You only want to make a one-time purchase?" and "Why should I do that?"

While Bob was thinking transactionally about the small order he might easily get, I was thinking about how we can leverage this turn of events and convert this into Bob doing a favor for Tom instead of Tom doing a favor for Bob.

The one thing that always gets in the way of selling value, is when salespeople want to quote prices!  Stop-quoting-prices!  There will be plenty of time - LATER - to let them know how much they will pay you when they decide to buy from you! 

Available Now and Coming Soon

I can't believe it, but it's already the 10th Anniversary of Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball - and still relevant 10 years later!  If you haven't read this best-seller, order it today or get it for your Kindle!

Free Download - 63 Powerful Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales - my new eBook

Sales Hack - Special Edition Featuring Dave Kurlan - 25 Sales Solutions to Drive Sales and Revenue - a new book by Chad Burmeister and Chris Beall

Fanatical Selling - The Ultimate Guide to Opening Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Email, Text and Cold Calling - A new book by Jeb Blount

Free Webinar by Handshake - October 21 at 1PM ET - Register for The Best Way to Coach Sales Reps 

Free Webinar by Objective Management Group - October 28 at 11 AM ET - Register for Benchmarking, EEOC Compliance and Predictive Sales Selection.  Speaking of Sales Selection, don't miss the popular article I published on LinkedIn Pulse - Why Most Big Companies Hire the Wrong Salespeople and How to Get it Right

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, selling value

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Dave Kurlan's Blog has earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award four years running and this year this article earned Gold. Read more about Dave.

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