How Companies Routinely Short Change Their Own Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 09, 2017 @ 19:11 PM

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The classic, "build it and he will come" from the movie Field of Dreams, applies to business too.  Every day, companies invest so much of their funding into making their products better under the belief that if their product is the best, people will come.

While that approach has worked with iPhones and iPads, you'll be hard pressed to find another product that people literally line up to buy.

I see technology companies especially making this mistake; where they achieve very good growth for the first several years until they hit the wall.  Then they raise money, invest it in bettering their product, market to show how much better their product is compared to their competition, and then don't understand why the growth doesn't start up again.

Early on, their salespeople succeeded at selling to the low hanging fruit - the people that raised their hands because they needed or wanted the product.  When the salespeople run out of low hanging fruit, sales stall as they struggle to convert prospects who see the product as nice to have, but not must have. That's when most companies change gears and begin to innovate and invest in their product when in fact, they really need to innovate and invest in their sales force.

I can speak from experience.  At Objective Management Group (OMG), we work on improving our own product every single day in order to maintain our huge advantage over every other assessment that could be utilized for assessing salespeople.  Our assessment is cutting edge, worlds beyond what any other assessment company can provide, and literally the most accurate and predictive sales assessment in the world. 

Unfortunately, we are well aware of the fact that our new features and enhancements won't sell a single additional sales force evaluation or candidate assessment. There is a benefit to continued innovation and development.   It makes our partners feel more confident about what they provide to their clients and it makes us proud, but we know that those enhancements won't be the reason for a single additional client to use it.

Why?  If they really have a problem that only we can solve they would have bought the product we had 35 versions ago.  And if for them, it's only nice to have, our version 2 years from now won't be any more desirable than today's version.

So why don't companies get this?

In my opinion, it is because they can have a sense of control when they invest in their product.  In other words, they know that if they invest x amount of time, y amount of money, z amount of research, and n amount of testing, their next product iteration will be exponentially better than the current version and that will attract additional investor money, make it easier to recruit, and get better product reviews in the trade publications and blogs.

On the other hand, investing in the sales force is either a complete unknown to them, or if they had a bad previous experience, a potential waste of time and money.

Of course they can do both but companies tend to focus on one significant initiative at a time.  Consider  the fact that most tech company founders and CEO's are technical themselves and you can easily understand why they usually choose to put their resources into product development.  That's why their choice of Sales Leader is so crucial.  Tech companies need sales leaders who will fight for resources, fight for the best training, fight for the best coaching, fight for the best tools, fight to hire the best salespeople, fight for more money, and fight for time.  Nice sales leaders are nice to have but demanding sales leaders are essential.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, accurate sales assessment, sales leader, technology company

Increase Your Odds of a Successful Sales Hire by 368%

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 06, 2017 @ 16:11 PM

 

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A Harvard Business Review study proved that using pre-employment assessments increased the probability of a successful hire from 13% to 72%.

I read that exact statement in a marketing promo for a search company and as they hoped, it got my attention. I thought the premise would make for a good article. I began by searching Google for the source of that quote and low and behold, I couldn't locate it. I can't say for sure that the study doesn't exist or the percentages aren't correct but I could not find a single thing that correlated to that quote.

Of course it makes sense that no such statistic exists because with assessments making that much of a difference, it would be a no-brainer for every company to use them and on what planet are the chances of success only 13%?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has an extremely accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment with very impressive statistics. Until seeing the statistics above, I hadn't attempted to use OMG's existing success stats in that fashion. We know that 75% of the candidates who are not recommended by OMG, but hired anyway, fail inside of 6 months. We know that 92% of the candidates who are recommended and later hired rise to the top half of the sales force within 12 months. If we use those two related statistics we would get a probability increase of 368% (25% to 92%). But in this case, we have already been told that the likelihood of success for the candidate that was not recommended was only 25%.

Instead, what if we take the two generic rates of success in hiring salespeople? The first says that 50% of all salespeople hired will turnover. That doesn't mean that the other 50% will succeed, only that they won't turnover! In the case of 50% turnover compared with 92% success, that's an 84% improvement. The second rate of success tells us that based on around 50% of all salespeople hitting their quotas for the last several years, half of the people who don't turnover will succeed. That's 25% - still double our fake 13%. Compared with a 92% success rate, that's a 368% improvement.

The latest data out of OMG shows that 5% of all salespeople are elite (Sales Quotient over 140) and the next 11% are strong (Sales Quotient over 129). Those two groups represent only 16% of all salespeople, down from 23% just 2 years ago. If only 16% of all salespeople are any good, you will need a better way to identify them when their resume and/or online application hits your screen and you better know who they are before you decide to interview anyone. That's where an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment comes into play. OMG's is very customizable and with its accuracy and predictive quality, you'll save a lot of time and money by identifying the candidates who will succeed very early in your sales recruiting process.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, accurate sales assessment

Distraction Engagement and Selling Efficiency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 24, 2017 @ 14:10 PM

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What do you do when a call or meeting cancels unexpectedly?

The choices come from two categories:

  1. Distract
  2. Engage

Distract includes catching up on your reading, browsing the net, stepping out for a beverage and/or snack, making a social call, chatting with colleagues, relaxing, driving, or taking a nap.  It also includes getting things on your to-do list taken care of, administrative work, proposal writing, quotes, responding to email and other non-selling time work that could be done during the evening or the hours before the sun comes up.  Distract is the sales version of charcoal.  It's dirty.

Engage is phone specific.  It includes returning calls, diving into CRM and making calls to move opportunities forward, making calls to schedule new meetings, and making calls to get introductions. Engage is the sales version of Diamond.  It's crystal clear.

In other words, when you find yourself with engage time during business hours, that should translate to phone specific action.  Everything else must be done after hours.

Many salespeople are so busy getting the work done that they don't see how much selling time they waste doing administrative work that can be postponed until later.  Instead they do their administrative work and postpone their selling.  This Google search reveals that most salespeople spend between 3% and 35% of their time actually selling.  When we correlate these percentages with selling effectiveness, the top 23% of all salespeople spend double that amount while the bottom 77% are actually in the 3-25% range.  The bottom 77% are there only because they score poorly when measured on 21 Sales Core Competencies.  The fact that they don't manage their time well either simply compounds the problem.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, top salespeople, time management, elite salespeople

It's OK for Salespeople to Lie When This Happens

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 19, 2017 @ 23:10 PM

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This new world we're all living in is getting downright scary.  It's time to talk about selling in the context of this combustible culture but before I get started, a simple request to the haters on the left and the haters on the right.  You are invited to read something else.  I don't want to spend the next week responding to hate comments.

As I was saying, it's scary out there and while the bad stuff has begun affecting businesses, it won't be long before it's affecting salespeople but more on that in a minute.  And promise that you'll read this article to the end instead of jumping to a conclusion before I make the final point.

You might have missed this story about the owner of Dave's Soda and Pet Food.   Dave was a beloved business person in his community when customers suddenly abandoned him, stopped buying from his stores and started hating him on social media.  Why? Because he posed for a picture with the President signing an executive order.  His business was ruined - not because he is a Trump Supporter - he isn't - but because he was in a picture with Trump and people assume that he supported Trump's policies for healthcare.  And how about the Arizona restaurant that was forced to close because it ran a pro-Trump post on its Facebook page and their employees began receiving death threats?

What about the rash of CEO's that were shamed into resigning from Trump's business Advisory council?  They are patriots, love our country, come from both sides of aisle, believed they could help, but caved into the pressure coming from both social media and big media.

Now before you jump to conclusions, I'm not taking sides, this isn't a post in support of Trump nor is this a post to criticize him.  I am simply sounding the alarm over  what will probably happen next.  Based on how crazy things are becoming for businesses, salespeople are next.  Consider this.

What will happen when salespeople whose views might be very liberal, call on and meet with CEO's whose views might be very conservative?  What if the CEO has a picture of Trump on the office wall?

What will happen when a salesperson from a rural rust belt town ventures into the office of a liberal Silicon Valley CEO?  What if she has a picture of Hillary or Nancy on the wall?

Selling disconnects aren't new.  The 5 listed below have been around for decades: 

  • Prospects in Maine don't buy from salespeople who aren't from there.
  • Salespeople from NYC or NJ often struggle selling in the Midwest.
  • Salespeople with a dominant kinesthetic learning style struggle when selling to prospects whose dominant learning style is visual and vice versa.
  • Detail oriented salespeople struggle with big-picture prospects and vice-versa.
  • A poorly dressed salesperson will struggle with a prospect who dresses like a banker and thinks that everyone else should too.

In other words, when prospects sense that "she isn't like me" they pull back and don't buy.

And now we have this awful cultural and political divide which seems to be growing deeper and wider with each passing day. I hate what's happening out there.  The media amplifies every single one of these stories to get anyone who will listen all worked up over it, they get political opponents to speak out, and then the media runs and amplifies the responses to create additional angst (or ratings).

So what should a salesperson do when a prospect asks, "What do you think about all of this craziness in Washington and with our politicians and their policies?" 

And why might the prospect ask?  It is probably because he or she wants to speak out against the other side and it would be cool to rant with a like-minded person.  If you're on the same side you'll be fine, but what if you're not?  And are you willing to risk losing a sales opportunity because you were on the wrong side of the rant?

It's not cool to lie in sales. But I'm suggesting that this is the one time when a lie will do you good!  Resist the temptation to speak your mind and just say, "I'm actually an independent, not very political, and I try to ignore all the craziness."

Of course, if that's what you actually do, even better.  But if you do have a strong opinion, and you don't know for absolute certain if it runs counter to your customer or prospect, you have my permission to tell a well justified fib.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Donald Trump, hillary clinton, sales and politics, nancy pelosi

Why Do Salespeople Use Facts and Logic to Combat Objections?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 17, 2017 @ 12:10 PM

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The easy answer to the title question is that they have been trained to do that since they first arrived at sales kindergarten.  Whether talking points, bullet points, inarguable facts, competitive differences, ROI, value proposition, brand promise or cost of ownership, these words and phrases have been reinforced since day 1.

The problem is that while salespeople confidently spout off these return volleys, the only thing accomplished is to make it more difficult to sell anything.  When a prospect states an objection their resistance goes up.  When a salesperson attempts to counter the objection with logic or facts, the prospect hears the hard sell and resistance is raised some more.

Logic does not overcome objections.  So what does?

Agreement.

The first rule of dealing with resistance, even if it appears as an objection, is to lower the resistance even if it means agreeing with the objection.  For example, let's pretend that your prospect says, "Your company has a bad reputation."  Instead of arguing the fact, let's respond with, "Your right."

Watch the air get sucked out of your prospect's argument!  They will be speechless.  And their resistance will have dropped too.

Then you can say, "We had a terrible reputation.  That's why I'm here now and the person who was responsible for our bad rap is long gone and hard to find."

Don't expect your customer to ask, "Where do I sign?"  They might say, "That's good to hear."

And you should follow up with, "But in your mind, doing business with us is still carries a huge risk."

Expect them to say, "That's right" because nothing has changed - yet.

And you can ask, "Can we talk about that?"

They'll clarify their concerns and you can ask, "What if I could address  each of those concerns and mitigate your risk?"

Assuming that you hear some version of "that would be good" you can proceed to ease their concerns, one at a time, remembering that less is more.  Don't start selling.  Just make them comfortable enough so that they can buy without you getting their way.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, handling objections, using facts to sell, using logic to sell, bullet points, talking points, buy emotionally

The 5 Biggest Sales Hiring Mistakes and the Top 5 Resume Claims That are Fake

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 @ 06:10 AM

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Image Copyright iStock Photos

I always enjoy reading articles that expose things I don't know about topics I enjoy, like 7 Unsung Built-in Gems in Mac OS X. I had the opportunity to provide that kind of training to a dozen or so sales leaders on some of the less obvious findings and relationships in Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments and how to use them. We also discussed which of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure were pertinent to their different sales roles and why.  One of the regional sales managers asked, "What are the 5 Biggest Mistakes that Sales Managers Make When Recruiting Salespeople?"

While that question is quite easy to answer, most companies, including their recruiters, HR professionals, sales leaders and executives are guilty of some or all of the following 5 mistakes:

  1. Their job posting fails.  Most sales job postings all read the same.  Great job, great company, great opportunity, great benefits, blah, blah, blah.  And even if you are using the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet, it won't help at all if your job posting lures the wrong candidates into the pool.  Describe the candidate along with the experiences you hope they had and the capabilities they must have to succeed in your role.
  2. They wait too long to assess their candidates.  If you wait to assess until after you have interviewed, you won't embrace the findings and recommendation on the assessment unless they support how you feel about the candidate.  If you already fell in love with the candidate and the assessment says "Not Recommended" and you ignore the recommendation it will lead to a hiring mistake.  Assess every candidate immediately after you receive their online application or resume and then you won't  accidentally ignore a candidate whose resume suggests a bad fit but whose assessment scores suggest a very capable salesperson for the role.
  3. They don't properly on board.  They say, "We're using the best assessment and the salesperson was recommended so she should know what to do."  Wrong.  Every new salesperson deserves proper on boarding so that you can prepare them for success instead of setting them up for failure.
  4. They don't thoroughly interview the candidate.  It doesn't have to be a long interview but it needs to be thorough.  You need to dig deep behind every resume claim to separate fact from fiction.  Here are the top 5 examples of claims that sound great but actually turn out to be bogus when you learn about the all important context (in parentheses) for the claim:
    1. Top salesperson  (out of 2)
    2. President's Club (for all salespeople who hit 75% of quota)
    3. Grew annual sales in territory by 200% (from $40,000 to $120,000)
    4. Doubled size of the territory in the first year (closed one big deal that was in the pipeline when he arrived)
    5. Uses words like developed, initiated, led, created, or built in reference to sales programs (did not actually sell anything).
  5. They don't set expectations, coach to those expectations and hold the salesperson accountable for achieving those expectations in the first 90 days.

These five mistakes are easy to correct and then companies will experience far greater success and consistency with their new sales hires.  In most cases, the only thing preventing companies from making these changes is the self-limiting belief that "we've always done it this way."

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales candidates, sales selection, sales assessments, OMG Assessment

Customers Love to Buy so Why Do Salespeople Struggle to Sell Them?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 02, 2017 @ 06:10 AM

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I just returned from the local car dealer.

Have you ever noticed how happy people are when they are buying things?  What about you?  How did you feel the last time you took delivery of your new car?  Was it the new car smell?  The finish?  The wheels?  The look?  The brand?  What about the last time you bought a new smartphone, tablet or notebook computer?  And how happy were you when you moved into your house or apartment?  When you installed the swimming pool, bought the boat, renovated the kitchen, painted the house, bought new furniture, the flat screen TV, or a new wardrobe?  Happy buying extends to vacations and even sporting goods.  It never ends!  The excitement from these purchases tends to last much longer than the moments themselves.  

So if we all love buying stuff, why do salespeople struggle so much when they try to sell stuff?  Why isn't it as friction-free as an abundance of happy buyers would suggest it should be?

There are at least 13 reasons for this:

  1. Many salespeople try too hard to sell instead of helping people buy
  2. Many salespeople try to sell stuff that some people don't want or need
  3. The B2B buying experience is different from the B2C buying experience
  4. Many salespeople and customers don't have the same goals
  5. Many salespeople put their own interests ahead of those of their customers
  6. Many salespeople don't know how to lower their customer's resistance
  7. Most salespeople are predictable and obvious and their customers hate it
  8. Most salespeople don't know how to have a real conversation about issues and the impact of those issues
  9. Most B2B salespeople don't know how to make the B2B conversation personal and fail to get their business customers to the happy place that consumers get to
  10. Most salespeople are absolute amateurs when it comes to the consultative approach to selling, the only approach that makes it personal
  11. Most salespeople aren't able to sell value with any degree of effectiveness so the buyer-seller conversation ends up focused on price
  12. Most salespeople don't take the time to develop relationships
  13. Salespeople are ineffective at getting and setting realistic expectations

There are more reasons but I'm equally sure you get the gist of this.  How can you make the B2B experience more pleasant, helpful, personal and value-based and less about your goals and needs, which raise resistance?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Closing Sales, b2b sales, selling skills, B2C Sales

Top 4 Reasons Why Salespeople Suck at Consultative Selling.

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 @ 10:09 AM

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Yesterday, a sales manager I was coaching asked me to explain the difference between a great question and a tough question.  I gave him the one-minute version but this article has the expanded version of that answer.

I'll use my world as an example and ask you to translate accordingly.  

In my world, while I might occassionally be on a first call with a Senior Sales Leader, I am most frequently speaking with the CEO.  With CEO's, the most common issue they articulate is, "I'm not sure we have the right sales leader."

We have 3 levels of questions and it's important to understand that you must be patient enough to ask them in the proper sequence, and not one right after another.  The proper sequence is:

  • Good Question
  • Tough Question
  • Great Question

There should probably be a few questions and answers between your good question and your tough question and there should be a few more questions and answers between your tough question and your great question.  If you don't get as far as asking and getting the answer to your great question, I can promise you this:

  • You didn't get to the compelling reason they would buy
  • You didn't get to the compelling reason they would buy from you
  • You didn't differentiate yourself from the competition
  • You didn't get your prospect emotional
  • You won't be able to quantify and/or monetize the impact of the problem
  • You may not get the business

So let's start at the beginning, where we heard, "I'm not sure we have the right sales leader."

A good question could be, "Why are you concerned?"  A good question not only allows you to ask for more information, but it must also be relevant to the discussion at hand.

Several questions later, after hearing the CEO's concerns and getting much needed clarification, a tough question might be, "With all of these concerns, and him not responding to your challenges to step it up and make the requested changes, why is he still here?"  A tough question is usually one where, as with this example, you challenge your prospect. You could also push back against what was said in an effort to change outdated thinking or an incorrect assumption.

Several minutes later, after additional conversation, questions and clarification, the CEO says, "He's my son-in-law - that's why he's still here."  Now it's time for a great question.  A great question might sound something like, "So, even if you found the perfect replacement, the challenge for you is how do you replace your son-in-law as the sales leader without ruining the relationship you have with your daughter?" You'll know it's a great question because your prospect will say, "Great question."

The 3 levels of questions, the sequence and your ability to go wider and deeper are examples of the consultative approach to selling.  The consultative selling competency is by far, the one where most salespeople are the weakest.  Objective Management Group's (OMG) latest statistics, from the evaluations and assessments of around 1.6 million salespeople, show the following:

Only 35% of all salespeople have Consultative Seller as a strength.

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The top 10% have an average score of only 66

The bottom 10% have an average score of just 36

The average score for all salespeople is just 50.  The average salesperson has only 50% of the necessary attributes of the Consultative Seller competency which means that they suck at the consultative approach.

 There are four reasons why salespeople are so inherently bad at this:

  1. They need to be liked so they won't ask a question if they think the prospect will get upset with them for asking.
  2. Good questioning requires good listening skills and the only thing most salespeople are good at listening to is the sound of their own voice.
  3. Most salespeople have never been trained or coached to sell consultatively.
  4. Most salespeople are best at presenting and just can't wait long enough for the opportunity to present.

Here is another good article on consultative selling

Here is one more good article on consultative selling.

If you still have an appetite for more reading on the subject, here is another good one.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, asking questions, accurate sales assessment, active listening

9 Reasons Why Salespeople Lack the Urgency Necessary to Succeed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 @ 04:09 AM


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I was in the right-hand lane of very slow moving traffic because of a lane closure ahead, marked by orange cones.  I was along side the cones in the lane where traffic was merging left.  All of a sudden, a police siren and flashing lights were upon me but I had nowhere to go.  Cars were in front of me and to the left of me with cones to the right and the cop was right on top of my rear bumper.  He moved into the lane closed off by the cone, rolled his window down and screamed, "Get out of the way!"

But, from what?

He stopped his Ford F150 along the guard rail inside the coned off lane, turned off his lights and sirens, and put his truck in park.  He was working a private detail, was 5 minutes late and was with the Massachusetts Environmental Police.  I couldn't believe it.  He turned on the lights and sirens, reserved for code 3 emergencies and traffic violations, just so that he could park - and he screamed at me.

You're probably wondering what in the world this scenario has to do with selling but it does, and in a big way.

There was money on the table and the cop was feeling tremendous urgency to make sure he didn't lose the money.

I coach a lot of sales leaders and their most common frustration is that they can't understand why their salespeople don't seem to have the same urgency as they did when they were selling. Their salespeople lack urgency when returning calls and emails, lack urgency booking appointments with people they've been asked to meet, lack urgency when it's time to follow up, lack urgency when the deal needs to be closed, and lack urgency building their pipelines.  The opposite of the cop. 

So while I found the cop's behavior unacceptable, it's exactly the behavior that money motivated salespeople will exhibit, sometimes to the point of rude and obnoxious.

In my experience, there are several possible reasons behind this lack of urgency.  They include, but aren't limited to these 9 reasons:

  • Expectations - their managers have not been crystal clear as to what exactly they expect their salespeople to do.
  • Need to be Liked - Their need for approval is very strong and they don't want to appear to be a pest or a nuisance which in their mind could cause the prospect to dislike them, so they back off.
  • Intrinsically Motivated - They are motivated by being part of something bigger than themselves, mastery, love of selling, and job satisfaction so the expected behavior is inconsistent with how they are motivated.
  • Fear of Failure - When salespeople are afraid of failing it causes a sort of paralysis as they ask themselves, what if I fail?
  • Rejection - Similar to the failure issue,  they are worried about being rejected and when they try to avoid being rejected, the results don't follow.
  • Lack of Desire - Their desire for sales success isn't strong enough to get them to do what needs to be done.
  • Lack of Commitment - They aren't willing to do whatever it takes when what it takes is more difficult, scary or inconsistent with their beliefs.
  • Compensation - Their comp plan is weighted heavily toward salary so they are already being paid - whether or not they do what you need and expect them to do.
  • Perfectionist - Perfectionists don't do anything until they are certain it will be done perfectly.  In the mean time, they procrastinate.

Would you like to suggest a 10th possible reason?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing, urgency, Pipeline, follow-up calls, police

Why You Should Care That Sales Motivation Data Correlates Perfectly With Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 12, 2017 @ 21:09 PM

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What was your reaction when you saw that the water in Tampa Bay was sucked away by Hurricane Irma?  How about when you saw the total eclipse?  Or the Cajun Army rescuing thousands in Houston?  Now, I don't want to equate my news with the enormity of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma, but when I first saw the data, my reaction was exactly the same.  I said, "Wow - didn't see that coming."

This summer, Objective Management Group (OMG) added and began testing for Altruistic Motivation as one of 3 types of Sales Motivation.  Sales Motivation is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies OMG measures. OMG had been measuring Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation in its Sales Force Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments and it recently updated its algorithm for measuring total sales motivation.  You can read more about that here.

Today I was able to look at the 7,500 new rows of data accumulated since this update went live about 8 weeks ago and the data exceeded my expectations.  Take a look at this!

In the table below, you'll see that extrinsic motivation is most prevalent in the top group of salespeople while altruistic motivation is most prevalent in the lowest group of salespeople.  You'll also see the correlation between overall sales motivation and performance.  

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With this data correlating so perfectly, the most important question to ask is, what does it mean?

Recently there have been several articles that suggest we should eliminate commission salespeople and begin paying everyone a salary.  That would REALLY appeal to the bottom 10% with 73% of them being either intrinsic or altruistic.  The majority of the bottom 10%, especially the 35% who are altruistically motivated, should be in customer service.  Customer service doesn't pay as well but that is the role in which they could become top performers by being of service to others.

What do you suppose would happen to the performance of the top 23% when they are faced with being paid the exact same amount as their under performing colleagues?  Say goodbye to their quota crashing performance!

Looking forward, our biggest challenge is that most millennials tend to be intrinsically motivated.  Read this terrific article and look at the data comparing millennials to top salespeople.  While overall motivation is nearly identical in all four groups, millennials have an average Sales Quotient of just 108.  You can see in the table above that a score of 108 puts them in the category of weak salespeople where the overwhelming majority of that are intrinsically motivated.  It's not a stretch to draw the conclusion that the majority of salespeople in the weak category could be millennials.

The best way to incentivize salespeople will continue to be an ongoing topic of discussion.  Those who think that a prospect's interests are best served when salespeople are not on commission are misguided. The reality is that the top two groups of salespeople don't act in a way that makes prospects feel like they are being sold something.  People buy from them because they build relationships, are consultative, listen and ask great questions, and understand the problems that need to be solved.  Weaker salespeople are transactional, rely on presentations and demos, and appear to be more interested in making a sale than solving a problem.  Most of the experts who weigh in on this matter have it backwards.  Like all of the inbound writers who several years ago predicted that sales was dead and inbound was king, these suggestions are nothing more than fake news.

Salespeople who are intrinsically motivated would prefer to be compensated with a salary and perhaps a bonus for performance while extrinsically motivated salespeople would prefer the plan that offered the sky as the limit.

The biggest change for companies is the need to understand how to motivate intrinsics.  Traditional sales motivators like commissions, competition, contests, and awards do not motivate intrinsics. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, would like to change the world, want to achieve mastery, sell because they love it, and do it for personal satisfaction.  How can you motivate them and more specifically, how can you motivate them to become better as a group than their current state of weak?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, sales compensation, commission sales, sales assessments, altruistic motivation

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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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