The Latest Data Shows That Sales Managers Are Even Worse Than I Thought

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 @ 06:06 AM

bad-stats

When you watch the news these days, it seems like all you hear is Russia, Immigration, North Korea, FBI, DOJ, liars and leakers, and the latest celebrities to be disgraced by their behavior.  You would think there wasn't anything else going on!

You might be having a similar experience with my recent articles as I have been sharing lots of data about salespeople - to the degree where you might think that nothing else matters.

Today we're diving into sales management and specifically, the Sales Management Coaching Competency. What you read will surely disappoint and shock you and might even cause you to puke in disgust.

Many sales experts have been talking about how important it is for sales managers to not only spend 50% of their time coaching, but for that coaching to be impactful as well.  Sales managers should be coaching to opportunities, and coaching on strategy, tactics, and pipeline.  They should be coaching up their salespeople and they need to be great at it.  But is any of this actually taking place?  Let's take a look.

We'll be digging intoObjective Management Group's (OMG) data from the evaluation of nearly 1.8 million salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders.  For this study, I have mined the data from the most recent 9,000 sales managers to be evaluated along with their teams.

The first table shows the percentage of sales managers who are strong in the Sales Coaching Competency arranged by Sales Management Quotient.

coaching-as-strength

I'm sure you can easily see for yourself that outside of the top 3 percent of all sales managers, expecting sales managers to be effective at sales coaching is pretty much a pipe dream.  Only 10 percent of all sales managers are any good at coaching and most of them come from the strongest 15 percent.

Does it get any better when you look at the frequency of coaching? According to the salespeople who report to these sales managers, the majority of the coaching that takes place is on demand.  The next table shows that when salespeople don't ask for help, few sales managers proactively provide frequent coaching with "never" being the third most common scenario following on demand.  Only 10 percent are getting the daily or multiple times per week coaching we would hope for.  Could that 10 percent be reporting to the 10 percent of managers who are good at coaching?

coaching-frequency

We asked these sales managers how much time they spend on coaching and the next table shows just how grim the coaching situation really is. Read this table from the bottom right and up where you can see that 63% of all sales managers fall into the weak category and slightly more than half of those managers are spending no more than 10% of their time coaching.

coaching-time-spent

24% of all sales managers fall into the serviceable category and 70% of them are spending no more than 20% of their time coaching.  Of the remaining 13% (elite and strong) of all sales managers, just under half are spending no more than 30% of their time coaching. 

After all the preaching, teaching and beseeching, not much has changed in 10 years.  Sales managers aren't spending nearly enough time coaching their salespeople and when they do, the coaching is pathetic.  I recorded this 2-minute video to share my thoughts about the practical reality of widespread lousy sales management.

 

There are a several reasons for this:

  • Many of these sales managers maintain personal sales and their commissions far outweigh their sales management compensation and they don't have the time nor do they want to make the time for coaching.
  • They think that coaching is what happens when they do a ride along or listen in on a phone call.
  • They think that telling a salesperson what to do, helping with pricing or specs, or asking how a call went is coaching
  • They aren't able to execute the single most important and effective element of sales coaching - the role play.

There is an important discussion taking place here on LinkedIn on this article and in the comments, Barbara Giamanco suggested adding three additional reasons to the list:

  • Managers are not given training in how to coach. Since they don't know how to effectively coach they either - don't do it, or do it badly. Plus, it is highly likely that they aren't being coached by their boss either.
  • There isn't a coaching culture that provides the foundation for giving managers the time needed to invest in coaching well and often. In other words, senior leadership doesn't buy into the importance of coaching.
  • The managers themselves don't see the value, so they don't do it.  Like so many things we see in sales today that haven't changed, people seem to keep defaulting to what they've always done even if it isn't working.

I've written a lot about effective coaching.  Here are five of the best articles:

Article

Article

Article

Article

Article

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, omg, sales management competencies, sales data

Sales Playbook and CRM Problems - What the Data Tells Us

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 06, 2018 @ 08:06 AM

pollen

I can't remember a spring where the pollen was worse than in 2018.  You go to the car wash and an hour later your beautiful car is covered in yellow crud and you're out $20.  A waste.

Perhaps you have an irrigation system with a rain sensor that tells the controller that your lawn and flower beds don't need to be watered today because it is pouring outside.  Yet, when you look out the window you see that the sprinklers are running despite the existence of a rain sensor.  A waste.

Did you ever spend hours assembling a child's toy only to watch it sit unused until the kid outgrew it and you gave it away?  Waste.

For years I noticed that most people never touched the manuals, handouts, CD's, card decks, and books that were distributed to them for the training programs in which they participated.  How many books, studies, manuals and reports have you received that sat and collected dust, reside on your hard drive or in the cloud and remain unopened to this day?  In my office, I have 6 shelves full of books that I never read and probably won't read half of the books on my Kindle either!  Waste.

That leads me to the growing demand for Sales Playbooks.  Companies want them, get excited about them, believe they are important, pay tens of thousands of dollars for them, and invest many hours collaborating for a successful final document.  You won't believe the wasteful things that happen next!

Over the past several years, I have witnessed two Sales Playbook creation scenarios repeatedly play out.

  • The executives who are most adamant about wanting to collaborate engage early but then fail to invest the time and effort necessary to provide the data, sample reports, knowledge, expectations, metrics and other information required to create a powerful and useful playbook.  They lose interest and without the necessary company-specific information, they end up with a playbook that is more generic so they don't bother to distribute the book to their salespeople.
  • Collaboration takes place as expected, a great playbook is created, and after distributing it to their salespeople, the books are never again opened or referenced.

In my experience, there is a sense that as long as the company issues a check to pay for the creation of the playbook, they can check the box and move on to their next project.  Check for a check.  They believe that getting the project started is more important than getting the project finished, seeing it through and assuring that the book is utilized according to expectations.  Waste.

I am a big fan of Membrain, the sales enablement application that manages pipeline with a focus on sales process and opportunities with integrated CRM.  Not only do they have a version with Baseline Selling built in, their interface is designed specifically for the creation of playbooks within the sales process.  Each milestone can be a separate playbook, with drop-downs, calculations, conditions, if-thens, cause and effect, instructions, examples and more.

Why invest in a stand alone playbook that either won't be completed or won't be used when there is such a terrific sales enablement application that allows you to integrate all of the desired components in one place?

I will no longer invest time to collaborate with senior executives to compile playbooks when Membrain is a significantly better alternative.  I am happy to help companies integrate playbook and sales process within an application like Membrain. Salespeople that live in Membrain are more able to drive their opportunities forward and manage their pipelines.

The biggest challenge with CRM/Opportunity/Pipeline Management applications is that most salespeople hate them and resist using them.  Want proof?  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of them is CRM Savvy. Look at the data below from a subset totaling 450,000 salespeople that were evaluated in the past 5 years.  

crm-usage

The data, showing 3 attributes of the CRM Savvy competency, clearly shows that while the majority of salespeople use CRM, stronger salespeople are 56% more likely to use it than weaker salespeople.  Fewer than 40% of salespeople embrace CRM and fewer than 10% actually live in their CRM application. Living in CRM is a best practice so what does that tell you?  It means that if your salespeople aren't choosing to live in your CRM application, you chose the wrong freaking CRM application! 

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, crm, sales playbook, sales data

New Data Shows How Relationships and the Need to be Liked Impact Sales Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 04, 2018 @ 06:06 AM

dog

In my most recent article, I shared data that showed a chain reaction would occur when salespeople have more than one major weakness in their Sales DNA and the second major weakness is their tendency to become emotional. As a trigger, the first major weakness causes the salesperson to become emotional, at which time their listening skills become compromised.

That article can be found here and as of this writing nearly 6 dozen LinkedIn subscribers have contributed some very insightful comments here.  Their comments inspired me to dig even further and look into the correlation between relationship building that salespeople do and their need to be liked.  In this study, even I was surprised by what I found!

The table I assembled below includes data comprised of 450,000 salespeople from Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on more than 1.75 million salespeople who have been evaluated and/or assessed.

Relationship-Approval-3

The table is sorted by the 5 ranges of Sales PercentileTM with the weakest salespeople in the percentile of 25 or below, and the top 5% in the elite group, with scores of 95 or better.

The second column shows the percentages of those who DO NOT need to be liked arranged by Sales PercentileTM.  You'll notice that those scores correlate perfectly with the Sales PercentileTM, just as they did in this study of the Correlation Between Sales Motivation and Effectiveness.  With the exception of the extrovert column, ALL of the scores in ALL of the columns correlate perfectly with Sales PercentileTM.

Many of the LinkedIn comments referencing the article on Chain Reactions theorized that relationships either were or were not important.  I mined the data on 5 of the key attributes of the Relationship Building Competency and laid them out by Sales PercentileTM in order to compare them to the findings of Not Needing to be Liked.

There are some striking discoveries here, including the fact that the percentage of extroverts positively correlates to sales effectiveness.  In addition, while you can't see it in the table, 78% of the extroverts need to be liked.

Some of the key data points can be seen below.

Relationship-Approval2

Look at the highlighted data for Not Needing to be Liked, Relationship Based Sales Process and Relationships are Key Factors in Closing Business.  While 86% of the weakest salespeople DO need to be liked, only 42% of them have a relationship-based sales process and some believe that the relationship is the key factor.  Do you see it?  Despite NEEDING to be liked, most of them lack the conscious awareness of whether or not they are successfully building a relationship during the sales process. That is one of the key reasons that the weakest group of salespeople are so incredibly ineffective. Some in this group are attention seekers while some are so timid that if you blew them a kiss they would tumble over.  Either way, this is a group that you shouldn't waste time coaching, shouldn't attempt to raise their expectations, and ultimately, shouldn't retain.  Replace these salespeople and use OMG's accurate, predictive, customizable, sales-specific assessment tool.

Conversely, we see that two thirds of the top group, where only 11% need to be liked,  DO have a relationship based sales process while only 1% believe the relationship is a key factor to closing the business.  Do you see it?  They DON'T NEED to be liked but are conscious of the importance of developing a relationship during the sales process.  They know how (mechanical) but don't need to (emotional).

These findings bridge the gap between the two primary groups in the LinkedIn comments. One group implied that relationships didn't matter at all, while the other group said that relationships were extremely important.  It is important to develop a credible, value-based, trusting, respectful relationship, while equally important that salespeople NOT NEED their prospects to like them.

Over the past two weeks I have enjoyed digging into the data and sharing some of the insights that prove and disprove theories while shedding light on the reasons for various sales effectiveness and performance.

Do you have a theory to prove?

Do you have a question that our data could answer?  Leave your question or theory in the comments here or on LinkedIn, or email me at dkurlan@objectivemanagement.com 

I'll be happy to do the digging and share the findings right here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, sales process, Sales DNA, Relationship Selling, sales science

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 30, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

 chain-reaction

I have written extensively about Sales DNA over the years and today we will view Sales DNA from the perspective of sitting inside of a chemistry lab.

Sales DNA is the combination of strengths (or weaknesses) that support (or sabotage) the execution of sales process, sales strategy and sales tactics.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures and includes the 6 most powerful of those strands of Sales DNA in its 21 Sales Core Competencies.  While I usually discuss the impact of these weaknesses, we have never conducted a lab experiment like this before! 

John Pattison, the COO at OMG, built a new tool for us to play with.  It allows us to slice and dice the data in ways never before possible (for us).  I feel like a kid with a new train set but that analogy ages me.  I feel like a kid with a new PlayStation!

The image below shows the average scores for all salespeople in the 6 Sales Core Competencies of Sales DNA.

DNA-pct-strengths-2

 

The average scores for all salespeople are not very good!  The next image shows the percentage of all salespeople who have those 6 Competencies as strengths.  This isn't very good either.

DNA-pct-strengths-1-1

 

You can see all of our data in all 21 Sales Core Competencies and filter it by industry and company here.

Most experiments begin with a theory or a question. My theory is that Sales DNA is similar to a chemical reaction whereby if a salesperson has 2 or more of the 6 above as weaknesses, and #2 is the tendency to become emotional, then weakness #1 will trigger weakness #2. 

A weakness is triggered when salespeople are aware of the need to execute a step, strategy or tactic, like asking a specific question, but are worried that the prospect will dislike them for doing so. As a result, they avoid executing and thereby sabotage themselves.  

DOESN'T NEED APPROVAL:  As a weakness, it causes salespeople to avoid an action when they worry that their prospects won't like them.  Prevents salespeople from asking tough questions, pushing back and challenging their prospects, the core skills to selling like a Challenger.

CONTROLS EMOTIONS: As a weakness, it occurs when salespeople worry, strategize, panic or get excited.  This causes them to get in their own heads, and prevents them from being able to actively listen and ask good questions, the core skills of a consultative approach to selling.

COMFORTABLE DISCUSSING MONEY: As a weakness, salespeople aren't comfortable asking a prospect where their money is coming from, how they might find money they don't have, how they might find more money than what was budgeted, or how to prioritize expenditures to solve their problems.

Let the experiment begin!

The first Competency I tested was Doesn't Need Approval or, whether or not a salesperson NEEDS to be liked.

58% of all salespeople Need to be Liked (a weakness) and their average score is 76 (weak).

When I sliced the data with Controls Emotions you can see what I found in the table below:

Emotions

66% of salespeople who need their prospects to like them become emotional when the weakness is triggered.  2/3 of them!

I wondered how much that percentage might change based on our Sales PercentileTM score so I dug deeper and learned that:

The bottom 25% of all salespeople, almost all of them at 85% - become emotional when the need to be liked is triggered.

For those in the percentiles between 26 and 50, 72% become emotional when the need to be liked is triggered.

Salespeople in the percentiles between 51 and 75 were less likely to become emotional when the need to be liked is triggered.  It happens with 60% of them.

Only 41% of the salespeople in the percentiles between 76-94 (strong) have the need to be liked but when it is triggered, 46% of that group become emotional.

Only 18% of elite salespeople (the top 5%) have the need to be liked but when it is triggered, 24% of them become emotional. 

* * * * 

I ran the same experiment on Comfortable Discussing Money.  As with the need to be liked, 60% of all salespeople have this as a weakness.  

67% of those who are not comfortable discussing finances become emotional at the moment the money weakness is triggered.  Again, it's two thirds of them!

As with the need to be liked, the percentage changed according to Sales PercentileTM so here is what happens:

78% of the salespeople in the bottom 50% become emotional when the money weakness is triggered.

59% of the salespeople in the percentiles between 51 and 75 become emotional when the money weakness is triggered.

Only 34% of salespeople in the percentiles between 75-95 are uncomfortable discussing money but when the weakness is triggered, 41% of that group become emotional.

Only 8% of elite salespeople (the top 5%) are uncomfortable talking about money, but when the weakness is triggered, 17% of them become emotional. 

Upon the triggering of the first weakness, these findings show that for most salespeople with more than 1 major weakness along with the tendency to become emotional, the emotions weakness is triggered as part of a chain reaction.

The data also confirms that nearly all of the weakest salespeople (Sales Percentile below 25) have these weaknesses (and more) and the 1st weakness almost always triggers the 2nd weakness.

Finally, the data confirms that very few of the salespeople in the elite top 5% have these weaknesses and when they do it is far less likely for the 2nd weakness to be triggered with the 1st.

When everyone on the sales force receives the exact same sales training and coaching, these findings explain why top salespeople continue to succeed while poor salespeople fail to show measurable improvement

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, Sales DNA, sales statistics, emotional, need to be liked, talking about money, sales data

10 Reasons Why Parents of Toddlers Make Better Sales Coaches Than Sales Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 24, 2018 @ 18:05 PM

toddler

Toddlers watch Sesame Street, play with blocks, take baby steps, constantly ask 'why', eat food that has been cut into tiny bite size pieces, love to start with dessert, and love to have fun.  Their parents make sure they are comfortable, help them overcome their fears, work to prevent resistance and emotional meltdowns, and teach them as they go about their business.

What does any of this have to do with sales and sales leadership?  Read a bit more and I'll explain.

This week I hosted my annual Sales Leadership Intensive where CEOs, COOs, Sales VPs and Directors, Regional Sales Managers, Field Sales Managers, Front Line Sales Managers and Inside Sales Managers come to become great at coaching salespeople.

They learned some of these concepts:

  • Baby Steps - instead of going from A directly to Z, go from A, to B, to C, and so on until you eventually, and easily get to Z - your desired outcome.  This pertains to the actual coaching, the role plays that are part of every coaching conversation, and actual sales calls.
  • Sesame Street - based on the segment with 4 pictures and one of them doesn't belong, you learn to recognize what's missing from the debriefs of your salespeople, in sales role plays and in actual sales calls.
  • Red Blocks - the few words and phrases out of many stated by salespeople in coaching, in role plays and by prospects that are candidates for follow up questions.
  • Why - the thought process that drives every question in sales coaching debriefs, sales role plays and actual sales calls.
  • Bite-Sized Pieces - instead of trying to get your salespeople to eat the entire elephant, have them eat it one bite at a time.  They can't work on all of their weaknesses and skill gaps at once so help them identify one they agree with and have them go to work on that.
  • Comfortable - keeping your salespeople comfortable, or recognizing and managing resistance during coaching and sales conversations, are the best examples of sales as an art form.  There are no successful coaching or selling outcomes when resistance is high.
  • Start with Dessert - the key to successful sales coaching debriefs is to begin at the end and work backwards.
  • Fears - These self-limiting beliefs are responsible for salespeople who self-sabotage their outcomes because they are afraid that their prospects will get upset with them. 
  • Fun - making sure that sales coaching conversations are fun will keep your salespeople coming back for more.

Parents of toddlers do these things all day long while sales managers, most of whom struggle mightily with coaching, do not.  Only 7% of all sales managers are effective at coaching.  They don't do it often enough, don't do it with all of their salespeople, don't do it effectively, don't achieve memorable outcomes, don't make it fun, don't provide tactical and strategic coaching, don't debrief,  and don't role play. So what do they do?  When it comes to their coaching, mostly they waste everyone's time.

Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, role play, effective sales leadership

What You Should Never Do on LinkedIn to Do Business with Your LinkedIn Network

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 16, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

linkedin

I don't know about you but for every benefit I get from LinkedIn, I get an equal amount of frustration.  Some people, like me, have criteria for who they will invite and whose invitation they will accept on LinkedIn. How many times has this happened to you?

Someone invites you to join their LinkedIn network or asks if they can join yours.  You accept.  And then it happens...

In the first example, I received this message a week after I accepted this individual's invitation:

Hello Dave,   I noticed we haven’t had a chance to talk yet having been connected now for over a week. I am following up to see if you have reviewed our [their product] that has changing the shape of businesses nationwide. If you want more info let’s schedule a time to get connected personally here: [their personal landing pageto gather more detailed information.   As always, if there is anybody you want me to connect you with in my network let me know and I will make it happen. I look forward to your response!

In the second example, I received this message from someone in a business similar  to mine who, as with the first example, sent this to me right after I accepted his invitation:

Hello Dave, I am reaching out because it looks like you are doing some exciting things that are really making a difference! I know the true value of an online network comes from creating meaningful connections through start-up conversations. I am passionate about helping organizations of all sizes to improve their sales performance. For over 25 years I have designed and implemented knowledge management and performance support systems for many companies including Hewlett Packard, ExxonMobil, Pepsi Co. and many others. Let’s chat. Please call me at [phone number] Ps. Here’s an article I thought you might find interesting. It explains more about the importance of Content Strategy in Sales Look forward to talking to you soon, [his name].

In the third example, the message was sent to me the same day I accepted his invite. While it was more tailored to me than most others, it was still wrong:

Hi Dave, I came across your profile recently on LinkedIn, and I got to know that you already are a published author. I’m the CEO of [company], one of the world leading “Done For You” Publishing company which provides all the services related to book publishing and marketing. You can find more about us at [their website[. Recently we have launched a Press Release Distribution service for authors which is worth $2,500 (FREE for you). If you avail this offer, then we will get your book featured in press releases to around 300+ media sites, including Top-Tier Newswire (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, etc.) which positions you as the go-to expert in your field. In exchange, we would just need your testimonial (video & written) which we can use to get paid clients. If you find that this is the right fit for you, then you can schedule a free 30 min strategy call with me today at [scheduling link]. I would love to spread your book with our PR service (for free). Thank you, [signature line].

Inviting someone to your LinkedIn network and immediately trying to pitch them is not cool and not how to effectively leverage LinkedIn.  There are plenty of LInkedIn experts out there and I'm not going to pretend to be one of them. The way to do business with people in your LinkedIn network is for them to notice your expertise on LinkedIn.  Engage in conversations.  Create and share content and ask specific people to comment.  Pitching your new connections will only cause them to remove you as a connection.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, linkedin, social selling

Eliminate Delayed Closings Once and for All

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 14, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

leavesA long time ago I realized that in the suburbs outside of Boston, new leaves reach full size each Spring on May 11.  This year, with the cold April we endured, May 11 came and went and the leaves were delayed.

That said, spring leaves on May 11 are exponentially more predictable than pipeline opportunities.  Why might an opportunity not close when it was forecast to?

Technically, there are seven possibilities:

  1. Closes as forecast and you win.
  2. Closes when forecast and you lose.
  3. A short delay that you will close
  4. A short delay that someone else will close
  5. A long delay that you will close
  6. A long delay that someone else will close
  7. A delay of any duration that results in no decision.

And why might those conditions apply?

  • Your CRM application wasn't configured to properly calculate the projected close date
  • Your sales process/CRM application does not include a scorecard that scores and predicts a win
  • The opportunity was not thoroughly qualified because the salesperson:
    • didn't know how
    • wasn't aware of the need
    • fear or discomfort
    • ignored what the prospect said
  • The salesperson had happy ears

The statistics on 1.7 million salespeople evaluated and assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG) show us that only 27% of all salespeople have the Qualifier Competency as a strength.  The top 10% of all salespeople only have an average of 77% of the attributes of a Qualifier and all salespeople average 53%.

The same statistics show us that only 30% of all salespeople have the CRM Savvy as a strength.  And the top 10% of all salespeople only have an average of 64% of the attributes of CRM Savvy and all salespeople average 43%.

And 27% of all salespeople have the Milestone Centric Sales Process as a strength while the top 10% of all salespeople only have an average of 66% of the attributes of the Sales Process Competency and all salespeople average 49%.

Of the nearly 6,000 candidates that were assessed in the past 4 weeks for sales positions, 38% of them "think it over" when making major purchases.  That makes them vulnerable to prospects who wish to think it over at closing time, extending the sales cycle, and causing a delay. because they "understand."

See OMG's statistics in all 21 Sales Core Competencies and filter by industry as well as your company.

Preventing delays can't always be avoided but more thorough qualifying makes a huge difference.  The key is asking more questions.  When you think you have asked enough, there are always a few more you can ask.  For example, in this article, the difference between "nice to have" and "must have" are often the difference between delays and closes.  This article shows that the when salespeople meet with the actual decision makers they are 56% more likely to close the business.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales CRM, qualifying, OMG Assessment, steps in a sales process, delayed closings

Discovered - Data Reveals the Second Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 07, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

compelling

Whichever way you turn, wherever you look, and whatever you listen to there is data.  Polls, surveys, metrics, analytics, analyses, white papers, graphs, charts, infographics, tables, spreadsheets and more.  There is data everywhere.  5 of my last 10 articles were based on data and I know that my regular readers love the articles that are based on data so I am writing about data again today.

Objective Management Group (OMG) recently expanded the Consultative Seller competency which represents 1 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

I took a look at the first thousand rows of data that came through and made some more cool discoveries that I will share below.

Let's start with the Consultative Seller Competency.  As you can see in the image below, the average score for all salespeople is 44%, which means that the average salesperson possesses fewer than half of the necessary attributes of the Consultative Seller.  As you can see from the green slice of the pie chart below, only 22% of all salespeople have this competency as a strength.  Even the top 10% of all salespeople only score an average of 65%.  This is the competency where most salespeople are the crappiest.

cons-comp

The question is why are most salespeople so ineffective at this competency?  If they aren't being professionally trained and coached, that would explain a lot of the bad scores because only around 7% of all sales managers are capable of providing the kind of coaching that would help their salespeople become effective consultative sellers.  I'm guessing that even some outside trainers and coaches aren't effective enough to move the needle on this competency.  But there is more to this than meets the eye.  Let's look at what happens when salespeople are being effective versus ineffective at consultative selling.

Please look at the next image below.

issues-1

These 3 pie charts show how effective these 1,000 salespeople are at uncovering issues by looking at 3 specific sales process milestones:

  1. Whether reasons to buy are uncovered or not
  2. Whether those reasons are actually compelling enough to buy or they only created interest
  3. Whether the salesperson created enough urgency so that the prospect must buy or it was simply nice to have.

This tells us A LOT!

While 84% of these B2B salespeople are able to uncover business issues or reasons, only 33% are able to continue asking questions long enough to uncover compelling reasons to buy as shown in the second pie chart.  There is an enormous difference between a business issue and a compelling reason to buy something to solve it.  As you can see from the third pie chart, uncovering business issues leads to a condition where 73% of prospects find the offering is simply nice to have, while 12% of these salespeople leverage those compelling reasons to a condition where prospects must have the solution.  There is a huge difference between nice to have and must have.

Consider this recent article on reaching decision makers where the data showed that only the opportunities where salespeople met with the actual decision makers reach the proposal ready and closable stages.  We have a similar scenario here where the salespeople who uncover compelling reasons to buy are 56% more likely to move their opportunities to the proposal ready and closable stages.

This huge selling gap can be fixed but it isn't one of the easy ones.  Uncovering compelling reasons to cause prospects to believe they must have your solution requires advanced active listening and questioning skills, as well as Sales DNA to support its use.  The best trainers, coaches and consultants who offer their expertise in this area agree that it will usually take 8-12 months for a sales team to make the transition from where they are today to the kind of selling I described above.  However, the return on that investment of time and money is amazing!  When salespeople are finally able to sell in this manner, sales always sky rocket!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales excellence, listening and questioning, closing more sales, OMG Assessment

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 @ 05:04 AM

decisionmaker

Humans have been waiting for thousands of years to discover the secrets of life.  Why are we here?  Why do bad things happen?  What happens after we die?  Is Heaven real?  What is God's plan for us?

While many experts have attempted to answer all of these questions, most of us lack proof. There's no data.  If we wake up tomorrow morning and suddenly there are not only answers to these questions, but science-based proof, that would be a game-changer for us.

Likewise, every day most companies try to determine why their salespeople don't close more business, why so many opportunities die on the vine, and what they need to do differently to change change their results.  They try everything!  Most leaders think it's an issue of closing skills.  It's not.  Others think it's about prospecting.  While that has an impact on the size and quality of the pipeline, it has little to do with results.  But I have discovered the cause, will show you the data, and discuss how to fix it.

Recently, Objective Management Group (OMG) integrated its sales force evaluation and its pipeline analysis.  Previously, the pipeline analysis was a separate chapter and while very revealing, the data was standalone.  OMG also expanded its analysis of salespeople's ability to reach decision makers and rather than a finding as it once was, it is now a full competency with 8 attributes.

I have reviewed several dozen sales force evaluations conducted since the change and discovered something very revealing.  Look at the bar graph shown below:

DM's

This is VERY representative of every sales force evaluation I reviewed for this article. There is a lot going on in this graph so let me walk you through it.

This sales force averages 54% of the attributes for reaching decision makers but only 13% (green slice of the pie) are strong at this competency.  The overwhelming majority of the salespeople believe in the importance of reaching decision makers and use their skills to attempt that.  Let's focus on the first two attributes which are both Calling on Actual Decision Makers but show contradicting data.

DM2

Let's start with the second attribute.  We ask each salesperson to identify 4 late-stage, proposal-ready or closable opportunities and we ask them 19 questions about each of those opportunities.  Nearly 90% of the salespeople met with the actual decision makers on these late-stage opportunities.  That's pretty good.

The first attribute comes from each salesperson's personal evaluation.  It shows that only 10% of them are reaching actual decision makers overall.  That's pretty bad.

Now that we have these two opposing data points, it should be clear what the problem is, both for this company and for many of the companies showing the same contradiction.

When salespeople successfully reach the actual decision makers, opportunities move through the pipeline and reach the closable stage, often resulting in a win.  However, MOST salespeople are NOT reaching the actual decision makers and those are the opportunities that lose traction and/or result in a loss.

Remember, for the most part, these are salespeople who believe it's important to reach the decision maker, have that as a milestone in their sales process, have the sales skills to reach decision makers, but still fail to reach the decision makers. 

Let's take a closer look at a few of the other attributes.

DM3-1

Half of their salespeople are calling on buyers at the start of the sales process.  Why are they doing that?  Nearly half aren't comfortable meeting and talking with the target decision makers, and a third need to be liked and can't push back on buyers who won't introduce them to or allow them to meet with decision makers.

Clearly, this is not the only problem that sales organizations are facing by a long shot.  However, this data shows that if they could fix just one thing today, the consistent ability to reach decision makers would make a huge difference.

It's one thing to know what the problem is and its impact on results.  However, fixing this problem is not  simple. Reaching decision makers is made possible by having advanced listening and questioning skills in an effective consultative selling process, an ability to differentiate, and being perceived as a trusted advisor.  Reaching decision makers is time sensitive in that the timing must be perfect to consistently succeed at getting the decision makers to engage.  Let me use my expert ability to combine baseball and sales for the perfect analogy.  Have you read Baseline Selling?

If the batter swings too early he will probably miss the pitch or perhaps hit a weak ground ball.  If the batter swings too late he will probably miss the pitch or perhaps hit a pop fly ball.  If the batter times his swing perfectly and squares the bat to the ball he will crush it.  Salespeople need to crush it when it comes to reaching decision makers.  They must time their ask perfectly or they will probably strike out.  You can also use comedy as an analogy where the comedy writer provides the same routine to a professional comedian and an amateur.  The words coming out of each person's mouth would be identical but the professional comedian gets the laughs because of having mastered the timing and cadence of the delivery.

This problem can be fixed but the trainer or coach providing the help must have a mastery of the nuances of how these pieces all come together.  If your salespeople can reach even 25% more decision makers, think about the impact that will have on revenue.

You can see all of OMG's data for all 21 Sales Core Competencies, by industry and even see how your company compares.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales pipeline, reaching decision makers, closing more sales, win rates

Improper Use of BANT Will Cause You to Kill Opportunities

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 26, 2018 @ 13:04 PM

talking-on-the-phone

I received an email asking me to check out an article on the Salesforce.com blog that features an infographic they hoped I would promote.

The article focuses on the middle of the funnel and the handoff between marketing and sales.  In doing so, they discuss MQL's (Marketing Qualified Leads) and SQL's (Sales Qualified Leads).  While I don't have an issue with the infographic, I have huge issues with the content of the article and if you follow the advice in this article, you'll have far fewer MQL's that your salespeople can turn into SQL's.

Here's why.

They are promoting the use of an adapted form of BANT - in this case, BANTA.  BANT was introduced by IBM in the 60's as a way to qualify opportunities.  It stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline.  This article adds Attitude.  These are important milestones in the sales cycle so what's wrong with BANT?  As a tool for qualifying, there is nothing wrong with BANT.  My issue is with WHEN BANT is used.

Most of you are familiar with Solution Selling.  That was one of the earlier sales processes for selling consultatively.  Technology companies loved Solution Selling but every time my company was asked to help a tech company the second thing we always had to do was replace Solution Selling as the standard sales process. (The first thing is evaluate the sales force) Why?  Solution Selling called for salespeople to qualify too early in the sales process and that was still AFTER the opportunity had been handed off from Marketing. 

This short video explains the importance of sequence and timing in the sales process and especially why you can't qualify too early.

The second stage of the sales process is too early for salespeople to qualify an opportunity because at this point the potential customer has no incentive to answer any qualification questions!  YOU WILL LOSE AN OPPORTUNITY IF YOU ATTEMPT TO QUALIFY TOO EARLY!  If that is true, then what business do we have asking Marketing to qualify opportunities before turning them over to sales?  

There are 2 sets of qualifiers required:

  1. Are they qualified to meet with us?
  2. Are they qualified to buy from us?

These are two completely different issues.  In the first case, we want to know how close the opportunity is to the profile of our ideal customer.  In the second case, we want to know if they can actually buy from us.  BANT provides a framework for the second and as you no doubt saw in the video, the components of BANT don't come into play until the third stage of the sales process.

This is simply the latest from several years of fake news declaring that:

  • Cold calling is dead
  • Consultative Selling is dead
  • SPIN Selling is dead
  • Salespeople are dead
  • Sales process is dead
  • Inbound is King

So who comes up with this crap?  Usually it's marketers with something to sell, who have little actual expertise in sales, sales strategy or sales process in all their variations.

What should you do? 

You can't go wrong if you focus on perfecting sales process and consultative selling. As for Marketing, let marketing do what they do best and generate leads.  If there are too many crappy leads for your salespeople to waste time on, add dedicated BDR's (Business Development Reps) to identify the good ones and hand them off which brings us back to MQL.  What is a Marketing Qualified Lead?  They are willing to have a conversation about whether we can help.  Period.  Let your salespeople convert interest to opportunities.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, solution selling, salesforce.com, BANT

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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