Can Preventing Hiring Bias Benefit the Sales Hiring Process?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 @ 18:08 PM

hiring-bias.jpgImage Copyright iStock Images

Sometimes things which at first sound really good turn out to be not all that great.  Take the recent eclipse for example - can you say overrated?  Much ado about nothing?

Ken Leeser, a regular reader, suggested that I check out this article on eliminating bias from hiring.  That sounded like it would be a really good thing until I considered this.

You're hiring and you need to identify the ideal salesperson for a particular sales role and you need someone to sell enterprise solutions to the C-Suite.  Aside from all of the other requirements, you'll need to find someone who has done this before.  But if you don't have access to employment history, you have no idea what they've sold and who they've sold it to so you can't determine if they have done this before.  And since you won't be able to guess how old they might be you won't know if they are mature enough to call on the C-Suite.  In order to be efficient in your selection process you'll need to apply some hiring bias!

How about if you need to identify candidates to sell nylon stockings to convenience stores, supermarkets and department stores.  Ideally, you would probably prefer a woman for this role but if names are hidden to prevent hiring bias, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time interviewing older men.  In order to be efficient in your selection process you'll need to apply some hiring bias!

How about if you need to identify candidates for a BDR/SDR top of the funnel role?  In this case you would probably not care whether your candidates were male or female but since most of the people in these roles are recent college graduates, you would want to see how recently they graduated from college.  But if that information is hidden to prevent hiring bias, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time interviewing experienced salespeople who would have no interest in a role like this.

What if you need to identify candidates to sell rock crushers or some other heavy duty equipment that requires physical strength to push, pull or drag the equipment around at demos?  In this case you would probably prefer to hire a younger male who is in excellent physical condition.  Not being able to view prior employment and having experience hidden to prevent hiring bias would make it impossible to identify people who might fit the description of what you would need, causing you to waste everyone's time.

What if you need to identify a salesperson who is physically located in the territory you need represented?  An address, hidden to prevent hiring bias, would prevent you from filtering on the appropriate candidates, causing you and your candidates to waste a tremendous amount of time.

The concept of preventing hiri g bias is a good one but when it comes to hiring salespeople I have bias against it.

At the same time, if this is where the world is heading, it's another great reason to use Objective Management Group's (OMG) predictive sales candidate assessments.  Using these up front early in the recruiting process allows you to identify those who will succeed in the given role, eliminating a tremendous amount of the time you would otherwise be wasting.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, sales assessments, hiring bias

Insights Revealed in The Ultimate Analysis of the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 @ 11:08 AM

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Image Copyright iStock Photos

They say that data is king and all this time I thought it was Elvis who was King. Who knew? Unfortunately, it all sounds a bit authoritarian so what if we just say that great data can provide us with great insights so that we can make better decisions?  

Objective Management Group (OMG) has approximately 275 million data points from assessing and evaluating more than 1.1 million salespeople from 11,000 companies. The exciting thing is that there are some very cool things that OMG does with our data.

For example, when we evaluate a sales force we include analyses that you can't get anywhere else. My favorite is our Comprehensive Pipeline Analysis which I wrote about here.

Another one of my favorites is the Ideal Role Analysis where we identify the best people for a particular sales role and the best sales role for each of your people.

I referenced that along with some of the insights from several other analyses in this must read article.

We provide a Strategy Alignment Analysis, a Sales Core Competency Analysis, a Sales Cycle Analysis, a Pipeline Building Analysis and an Analysis of Under-Performing Salespeople. We have a Messaging Analysis, a Value Selling Analysis and a Consultative Selling Analysis. We have a new Analysis of the Coaching Environment, a Sales Leadership Tendency Analysis, a Sales Selection Analysis and a dozen more. Soon we will be introducing a Sales Culture Analysis.

Analyses are great but they can't be analyses simply for the sake of doing analyses.  In other words, we shouldn't do them simply because we can.  We live by our brand promise which is Actionable or it's Free. You should be able to take some actionable step as a result of every analysis we include in a sales force evaluation.  It doesn't mean that you'll like the data or the conclusion.  Why should you?  The very reason for having your sales force evaluated is because it isn't possible to come up with this kind of information on your own!  So while some of the data will reinforce what you were thinking or hoping, most will confirm that changes need to be made.

Here's an example of the top 5 sales force evaluation conclusions and findings that leaders don't like to hear.

The purpose of today's article is to ask if you were going to have your sales force evaluated and choose which analyses to include, which would be most important to you and what kind of analysis would you want that I didn't list above?  Your comments would be great appreciated!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales analysis, pipeline analysis, sales role analysis

How Executives Fail to Understand the Reasons for Poor Sales and Revenue Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 11, 2017 @ 09:08 AM

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"That wasn't what I expected!"  

You might say that after reading an awesome book, waiting for months and years in anticipation of the movie version, only to be extremely disappointed when the much hyped film failed to live up to what you remembered feeling when turning the pages.

You might also feel let down after leaving a great, but expensive restaurant, but the meal, service or ambiance was quite different from what you had imagined when you heard about the business.

And from experience, I can tell you that once in a blue moon, after we evaluate a sales force and present our findings, a rare CEO can become defensive and react poorly to the results.  When it happens, it's usually a sign that the CEO is out of touch with the sales force.  I'll share some of the things to which they sometimes react badly:

The top 5 findings that a CEO might react poorly to are:

  1. An executive sales leader appears to be weak on OMG's Sales Leadership Evaluation.  The CEO might say, "Well, the only reason we landed that multi-million dollar contract with that billion dollar company is because of Bob.  He sold it himself.  So how do you explain that?" 

    The CEO didn't recognize that the company took a great major account salesperson, place him in the Sales VP role, and instead of leading the sales force and functioning as a Sales VP should, he still wants to be the rainmaker and the star of the show. That definitely makes him a weak Sales VP!

  2. The entire sales team is weak.  The CEO might say, "Then how do you explain our double digit growth over the last 5 years?"  

    The CEO doesn't recognize that the company's success has more to do with great marketing and desirable products than the salespeople who represent them because their salespeople just plain suck!  This is an example of Mediocrity winning out over excellence. If the company grew at double digit rates with this group, then they would be growing by leaps and bounds with stronger salespeople!  

  3. The salespeople have issues around the Will to Sell.  Many of the salespeople lack the kind of commitment to sales success that is required to get to the next level.  The CEO might say, "I can't understand how that can possibly be and I certainly don't know how to fix it."  

    The problem is that the company was hiring the wrong salespeople, focusing on technical skills instead of sales core competencies and in doing so, created a culture of complacency.

  4. With the proper training and coaching, the existing sales force can generate 75% more revenue but it will take 24 months.  The CEO might say, "That's a considerable increase.  I don't believe that's possible.  Why is it so large and why will it take so long?"  

    The problem is that the existing sales force is so weak that they are leaving letting large numbers of opportunities slip through their fingers without any ability to capture it.  It will take 24 months because the gaps are so wide and deep and there is a lengthy sales cycle.

  5. Some of the top account managers evaluated as weak salespeople.  The CEO might say, "They are the top 3 salespeople so they can't be that weak!"  

    The problem is that those 3 account managers manage more revenue than anyone else and they're extremely important to your success.  However, they aren't your top 3 salespeople and we can prove it.  If you took their existing accounts away - which they probably inherited and didn't close themselves -  and asked them to build a pipeline, close some new accounts and generate new business, they would fail in dramatic fashion.

Our eyes can be wide open yet still fail to see what we don't want to see.  When expectations aren't met it causes the three D's - discomfort, disappointment and disaster.  Sometimes you can't see the reality of your own sales force until you have the actual data and use it to look at your people, systems, processes and strategies through a different lens.  Companies that fight the data don't change.  Companies that are afraid of the data remain clueless.  And companies that embrace the data grow by leaps and bounds.

The sales force evaluation is the most important and powerful thing you can implement at your company.  It leads to better decisions, changes based on science instead of hunches, and improvements based on necessity instead of opportunity.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales effectiveness, Drive Revenue

Great, Previously Unread Sales Research Uncovered

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 02, 2017 @ 10:08 AM

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Today I'm bringing you some insightful information that was not widely read when it was published back in 2014.  Tony Cole, CEO of Anthony Cole Training and one of OMG's great partners, forwarded me an article that appeared in the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Marketing Research.  The 19 page article, by Kumar, Sander and Leone, was much more intelligent than anything I have ever written or developed. They used vocabulary that I had to look up!  It was so intelligent, that after my third attempt to read it, I still can't figure out what they are saying.  I'm not smart enough.  Anyway, even if you don't attempt to read this article, you need to click on the link and skim the pages just to see how unreadable and math-based it is.  So who are these authors?

Kumar (VK) is the Chang Jiang Scholar (HUST), Richard and Susan Lenny Distinguished Chair & Professor of Marketing, and Executive Director.

Sarang Sunder is a doctoral student in Marketing, Center for Excellence in Brandand Customer Management, J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Georgia State University.

Robert P. Leone is the J. Vaughn and Evelyne H. Wilson Chair and Professor of Marketing, Neeley School of Business, Texas Christian University.

On the ninth page of the article they begin the section on methodology with this paragraph:

"We estimate a latent class model to account for the unobserved heterogeneity. We also account for the potential endogeneity problem that arises due to the opt-in nature of the training interventions using an instrumental variable approach. Next, we describe the details of the model specification and its estimation."

That was the only paragraph in the entire article that I came close to understanding.  To me, it looks more like a document on physics!

They claimed that nobody had ever looked into a methodology for evaluating sales forces until their foray into this area, so they couldn't have looked very hard.  A google search on sales force evaluation turns up 1.8 million results and OMG and/or Dave Kurlan occupies most of the top 10 spots.

At the risk of offending these three scholarly writers, what do they know about sales and salespeople?  Their article studies one large company with around 500 salespeople and they attempt to determine a salesperson's future value to a company.  In their work evaluating the sales force, they don't measure any of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  As a matter of fact, it appears they aren't even aware of the Core Competencies of Selling.  They paid more attention to CLV (Customer Lifetime Value) than any selling competencies that this sales force might have possessed.  If you take a peek, you might conclude the same thing that I did. which, Their model is based more on historical buying patterns of existing customers, retention, and application of those findings to potential new customers. Then they consider the impact of incentives and training. In other words, this isn't even about the salespeople - it's about the customers and whether salesperson incentives and training will cause current and future customers to purchase more.

On the other hand, Objective Management Group (OMG) has a proven process for conducting a thorough sales force evaluation that focuses on the people, strategies, systems and processes of the sales force.  We can accurately predict how much additional revenue your group can bring in after correcting gaps and flaws.  We can identify which salespeople will perform more effectively.  We conduct a pipeline analysis, messaging analysis, and measure 21 Sales Core Competencies.  One of our analyses suggests the best role for each salesperson (when you have multiple roles). We can definitely answer nearly any question you have about your sales force and back it up with science! Check out a real sales force evaluation!

I thought I knew sales.  I've been studying what makes salespeople tick for 32 years and continue to learn and share more each day.  OMG has evaluated more than 1.1 million salespeople and with around 250 findings, we have 275,000,000 data points!

I thought I was pretty smart but I was wrong.  The authors of this article are way smarter than me.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales effectiveness

12 Reasons They Didn't Like You Enough to Buy From You

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jul 28, 2017 @ 10:07 AM

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Image Copyright iStock

Everyone has had this happen...probably more than once.

You worked hard and smart, thought you did a great job, expected to win the business, but didn't.  Later, you learned that the prospect "Didn't really like your style."

It's not at all unusual, but it is almost always misinterpreted.  Salespeople tend to take this personally by internalizing the comment as, "They just didn't like me.  But why?"

What most salespeople fail to understand is that "style" is really code for something completely different.  I have listed 12 possibilities that style could really mean.  Think back to one of those situations and determine how many of these 12 could have been the real culprit:

  1. Relationship - it wasn't strong enough and you failed to connect.  In extreme cases this would be termed a personality conflict.
  2. Resistance - you were not effective enough at managing their level of resistance and it failed to drop.
  3. Accommodating - you were actually too accommodating and failed to gain their respect.  They saw you as a facilitator as opposed to an expert, a resource or an adviser.
  4. Value - the prospect failed to receive value from the time spent with you and considered you to be more of a vendor or supplier than a resource or adviser.
  5. Content - they did not like what you presented, suggested or recommended.  It wasn't what they wanted to hear.
  6. Listening - they didn't believe that you listened to them or to what they wanted.  You were too interested in following and achieving your own agenda.
  7. Authority - your statements lacked authority and you failed to establish credibility.  You were just like everyone else.
  8. Aggressive - they found you to be too confrontational, or obnoxious.
  9. Intellectual - you relied too much on facts, logic, and figures and failed to include anecdotal stories and examples.  You weren't engaging.
  10. Cultural - they have a defined culture, specific core values, and you didn't fit with their culture
  11. Flow - your meeting or call wasn't conversational, it lacked the give and take and back and forth associated with being a mutually authentic conversation.
  12. Expectations - they had certain expectations of you, your capabilities, your offering, the meeting or call, and you failed to meet those expectations.

Have you been guilty of any of these dozen?  If so, what can you do to improve?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, overcoming resistance, Closing Skills, sales effectiveness, lost a deal, beating the competition, personality conflict

What We Can Learn from the Latest Data on Sales Motivation

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 @ 16:07 PM

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Image Copyright iStock

We've been very busy implementing some new findings in our Sales Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments.  Sales Motivation is just one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure, but as with all of the competencies, we go very deep.

Back in the good old days, we measured Money Motivated because most of the salespeople employed back in the 90's were chasing commissions.  By 2011, we had decided to go wider and deeper and broke down Motivation based on whether a salesperson was extrinsically motivated or intrinsically motivated.  In 2014 we added 7 sales specific motivational styles to help sales leaders better understand the best ways to work with their salespeople.  And now, in 2017, we have deepened our measurement of Sales Motivation even further by adding a third possibility - Altruistic Motivation.

I was anxious to see what the data would look like but had to wait a few days until we had around 1,000 new assessments to review.  Sales Motivation now breaks down in the following way:

  • 47% of salespeople are intrinsically motivated (satisfaction, love of what they do, mastery, being part of something bigger than themselves)
  • 25% are extrinsically motivated (commissions, money, rewards and materialistic things)
  • 13% are altruistic (being of service to others)
  • The remaining 15% are somewhat balanced between 2 or 3 of the styles.

I always believed that Motivation is Motivation.  In other words, as long as the motivation is strong, it doesn't matter whether salespeople are extrinsically or intrinsically motivated.  However, it is very important for sales managers to understand the difference between the two so that they can provide the proper type of external motivation.  And now, with the introduction of Altruistic Motivation we have thrown a monkey wrench into the mix.  Altruistically motivated people should not really be in sales.  Their most effective role would be in customer service where it would be important for them to not have their own agenda but instead, serve the customer without exception.  Think Hospital, Doctor's office, upscale Restaurant, Concierge, Front Desk at a high-end hotel, etc.

I don't have the data yet but I expect salespeople who are altruistically motivated to have low scores for Commitment to Sales Success and Desire for Sales Success.  I'll update you when the data is available.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, sales performance, sales excellence, altruistic motivation

Grammar - Why Commas Provide Sales Success Where Periods Fail

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 18, 2017 @ 20:07 PM

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Image Copyright Eerik

You've heard it all before - but not quite this way.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is CRM.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a powerful Inbound initiative.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a customized sales process.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is lots of leads.  Really?

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is targeted marketing.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a custom scorecard.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is outsourced calling.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is an in-house BDR team.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a custom sales playbook.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a sales force evaluation.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is ongoing sales training.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is sales coaching.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a consultative approach.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is the right messaging.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a daily huddle.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a weekly pipeline review.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a full pipeline.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a goal-oriented sales force.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a sales selection tool.

The one thing you need in order to have a successful sales force is a sales recruiting process.

Of course there are more; many more.

The problem is one of grammar.  All of the articles you read, videos you watch and audios you listen to suggest that there is a key to sales success.  Period.  But if you change the period to a comma, you'll quickly see that all of these things are crucial to success in sales.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, keys to sales success

Crucial Selling Take Aways from the 2017 Home Run Derby Lead to Sales Greatness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 12, 2017 @ 09:07 AM

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Did you watch the Home Run Derby on Monday night?  I've never seen anything like it. You could see thunder and lightening through the glass wall in left field as thunderstorms raged while all the home runs were being launched.  Wow, what a show!  Of course, my mind always looks for a correlation to selling and there are some good ones here.  

The sales equivalent to the Home Run Derby wouldn't really work - buyers lining up to place orders with the greatest salespeople on the planet.  That's stupid.  But there's another way to correlate the derby to selling greatness and that is in the area of preparation.  Consider this:

I did some research and found that MLB hitters take as many as 500 swings per day - and they are already among the 750 greatest baseball players in the world.  Resource. What would that look like if we compared it to selling preparation?  Let's consider the following:

  • Each "at bat" (AB) is equal to a sales phone call or sales meeting.
  • Each "dry swing" is equal to a mental review of an upcoming conversation.
  • Each session of batting practice or cage work is equal to a role-play.
  • A swing takes about 3 seconds, so 500 swings is equal to a 25-minute role play.

What if you aren't already one of the greatest salespeople but want to become one?  This article tells the story of a 45-year-old writer with nothing but Little League experience.  He embarked on a quest to become a home run hitter and in doing so it took:

  • 100 swings per day
  • 15 months
  • 28 broken bats
  • a total of 38,400 swings

The key ingredient here is practice and in the area of practice, role playing.   Most salespeople not only hate to practice (read role-playing), but don’t believe it is necessary.  But it's crucial to practice every possible scenario that could come up so that we are completely prepared - for anything. How many salespeople are so thoroughly prepared that it wouldn’t matter what their prospect said, did, or asked and the competition would be irrelevant?

"The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the very things they don't like doing."  

Here is a great movie clip from Hitch that demonstrates how difficult it is to role-play.

 

 

As Aaron Judge became the greatest home run hitter on the planet Monday night, it's important to understand how much practice and preparation was required to get there.  It has taken him his entire short lifetime!

If you want to become a great salesperson - one of the top 7% - then you need to put in the equivalent of your 500 swings every day and practice through role play.  Those who commit to this and make it all consuming will experience financial rewards and personal gratification that will make it all worthwhile.

If you like the baseball/sales analogy, there is none better than the one found in the best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, Sales Coaching, role play, sales effectiveness, aaron Judge, HR Derby

30 Interesting Non-Selling Subjects to Make You Better at Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 05, 2017 @ 11:07 AM

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I was sitting next to a guy who knows that our son is one of the best ball players in his age group in New England.  He is from the former Soviet Union and when he told me that he tought his son to play catch I was confused.  I said, "You didn't play baseball growing up - how were you able to teach him?"  

He said, "When I was in school, we may not have played baseball, but we did have to practice throwing grenades and it's exactly the same motion!"

Who knew?

And he didn't know at the time that practicing grenades would prepare him for something completely different years later.

The same goes for sales.  There are so many subjects, all unrelated to selling, that can make salespeople more effective.

I've written about many of these subjects before.  Don't click on all of them though.  Find 3 that interest you and read only those.  Then leave a comment below on how that could help you.

Intentions and Affirmations

Driving

The Nutcracker

Baseball Practice

George Carlin

Faith

Shoes

Basketball Practice

Military General

Coyotes

Preppers

March Madness

School of Rock

Presidential Debate

The Martian

Jack Reacher

Whiplash

Chris Cagle 

Punishing Ballplayers 

Music

The Mac OS Beachball of Death

Bad Guys

Engelbert Humperdink

Superbowl 49

Blizzard of 2015

Earthquakes

Politics

Band of Brothers

Soup

Baseball

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, sales effectiveness

Sales Effectiveness - How to Win Every RFP That You Respond To

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 @ 14:06 PM

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Image Copyright Gustavofrazao

I am amazed by the sheer number of salespeople who believe they must respond to an RFP, RFQ or RFI.  The resources, including people, time and money, required to respond to the specs from just one of these requests is daunting.  Some companies have so many requests coming in that they spend all of their time responding to them.  This is crazy!  Do you respond to every email you receive? Every call you get?  After all, it's a request, not a demand.  So why the frenzy over responding and replying so quickly?  You won't believe some of the reasons!

Top 10 Reasons Why Salespeople Respond to RFPs, RFQs and RFIs

  1. We won't get future business if we don't respond
  2. We can't get this business if we don't respond
  3. We will appear unresponsive if we don't respond
  4. We want to get a foot in the door
  5. We want to impress them with our capabilities
  6. We will win 10% of them and since we don't know which 10% we need to respond to all of them
  7. We want this business
  8. We need this business
  9. We want to be a back-up option
  10. We have always done it this way

If you and your company follow an effective sales process, proposing must be one of the final milestones prior to closing - it cannot and should not be one of the first milestones!

So not only is there the question of whether to respond, there is also the question of when.

Requests to propose come in one of four buckets:

  1. They want to do business with you but need something formalized
  2. They want to buy from your competitor but need to keep them honest
  3. They want to drive down the price and they are initiating a bidding war
  4. They want to buy from your competitor and need high bids to justify their decision.

That's it.  There aren't any other reasons.  And if you aren't in bucket #1, you should not be proposing!

Proposals are not selling tools, companies do not buy from you because of your proposals, and proposals don't differentiate you from your competition.  Your sales ability - specifically your listening and questioning skills -  will differentiate you from your competition.  Look at any survey of buyers and they all point to the fact that differentiation takes place in the field!

Rather than responding to proposals, you should be doing your best to learn why they sent it to you, why they want you to propose on this particular solution, and why they want to solve their problem in that particular way.  Get the specs of the proposal changed!

Prior to proposing, you must know that the business is yours and they want to buy from you.  Period.  If you don't already know that for a fact, you are not ready to propose.  If you do know it for a fact, then the proposal is simply a formality.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, Winning Sales RFP's, RFQ's

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About Dave

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

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