31 Conditions That Predict Your Sales Opportunity is in Trouble

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 16, 2021 @ 14:04 PM

Photo Gallery: 2021 Genesis GV80 Luxury SUV - » AutoNXT

Long article for the weekend.

In December I took delivery on my all-time favorite new car and I've been driving my Genesis GV80 for four months now.  You probably saw video of Tiger Woods' destroyed GV80 and there was nothing the car could have done to stop him because he probably disabled the driver assist features and he may have been disabled as well.

Last week, a crazy driver pulled out right in front of me and despite the fact that I anticipated his stupidity and would have been able to stop before smashing into this moron, my car wasn't as certain as I was.  My Genesis took matters into its own hands and went into all out protection mode - making sure nothing happened to it or me.

As advertised, it took over the braking and steering to protect itself, sounded all the alarms to alert me to its strategy and then did two things that really surprised me.  All at once, the seat enveloped me in a cocoon and the seat belt tightened around my shoulders so that there was no chance that anything was going to be moved out of that seat.  Going through the windshield?  Not a chance unless the whole seat was coming with me!

That was cool. 

And it got me thinking.  Wouldn't it be cool if salespeople had a sales version of an early warning system/driver assist like my car has?

The car uses cameras and sensors to factor in conditions that would require emergency tactics.  Salespeople have eyes and ears as well as wisdom that can all be used for emergency tactics.  Let's start with the ears.

There are things prospects say that are almost always tell-tale signs that something is amiss.  Anytime a salesperson hears any of these comments they could be swaying out of their lane or their opportunity might be heading for a crash.  They include but aren't limited to:

  • Send me a proposal or get me a quote; both are bad if it happens earlier in the sales process than it should
  • We still have to meet with others
  • I've been tasked to gather information
  • We don't have a budget for this
  • We'll have to find the money
  • We're going with the best price
  • I need to bring this to [the decision maker] for approval
  • This is a future project
  • We're happy with who we're using
  • You don't need to know that
  • I need to get consensus
  • We don't have any real urgency on this
  • Our contract/agreement doesn't expire until [date]

There are things you don't hear but your wisdom (experience plus lessons learned) communicates them through your inner voice:

  • They don't seem to have a compelling reason to do anything
  • They are withholding information 
  • You think they're lying about something
  • It seems that this is only "nice to have" but you haven't gotten them to "must have"
  • The decision maker is not engaged
  • They are hesitant about spending the necessary money
  • You don't seem to have their ear because they aren't talking in terms working together
  • They have transitioned to a pricing conversation which suggests you haven't cemented your value
  • They see you a vendor or supplier; not a partner or trusted advisor
  • They have an existing relationship that they don't seem willing to blow up
  • They are not allowing you to follow your sales process
  • They are not allowing you to ask questions and you find yourself in show and tell mode

Then, there are the things you observe:

  • They aren't making eye contact
  • They are distracted
  • They are giving you short answers and not explaining themselves
  • They are in a hurry
  • They're looking at their watch
  • Their RFI/RFQ/RFP reads like it was written by a competitor

Some of the examples listed above are chronic - they occur most of the time to most of the salespeople.  Half of them may not know any better - shame on the training and coaching they are or should be getting!  But the other half have weaknesses in their Sales DNA which cause these things to keep happening to them.  A Sales Force Evaluation can smoke out gaps in their sales competencies and Sales DNA.  OMG measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies plus an additional 11, each with an average of 8 attributes.  That's close to 250 sales specific findings for each salesperson! 

Finally, your sales process which is integrated into your CRM application provides warnings, yellow flags, alerts, incomplete milestones, incomplete stages, time in stage too long, stuck opportunities...You do get those, don't you?  Check out the Baseline Selling instance of Membrain.

Pivoting back to my car which takes matters into its own hands.  The partial listing above is set to "alert-only" without evasive or protective measures.  How can we get salespeople to perform evasive and protective measures?  Evaluate/Train/Coach/Reevaluate.  

The evaluation tells us what they're allowing to happen and why.  Training provides them with the strategy and tactics to use evasive action and protect the opportunity.  Coaching helps them master the strategies and tactics.

Improving sales effectiveness does not happen in isolation, automatically over time, or by magic.  Improved sales effectiveness and the resulting increase in revenue requires proactive, purposeful intervention as described above. 

By the fourth quarter of 2021, we will encounter some of the most difficult selling conditions since November of 2008 when, without warning, the revenue spigot was turned completely off.  It remained partially closed through 2016 but from 2017 until the pandemic hit we were in full open fire hydrant mode.  Business was booming and for most companies, quickly returned to booming by the fourth quarter of 2020.

Now we are faced with some huge impending corporate income tax and payroll tax increases and they will be larger than what has been stated on the news.  Those large tax increases do one thing - they cause layoffs.  After the layoffs, consumer spending and confidence drop.  Then we see buying freezes and their related ripple effect where the companies that sell to those big companies experience cash reserve issues, initiate  buying freezes of their own, which work their way down to businesses of all sizes.  

This time around you've been warned.  You have no more than eight months to prepare your sales team for some of the toughest selling ever and most salespeople have never experienced selling as difficult as what we will see in 2022.  On top of that, you'll have more, not fewer competitors because when everyone is selling virtually, every competitor is just as close or just as far away as the next.  And if you're not in the USA, don't think you won't be affected.  What happens here affects you wherever you are.

Now is the time to install early warning systems, sales force evaluations, targeted training and coaching, and more.  Prepare your sales teams now or pay the price in 2022!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, sales objections, sales assessements, sales effectiveness, sales team, tax increase

How to Become More Successful One Day at a Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 13, 2021 @ 07:04 AM

You can find inspiration anywhere.  Even in a book called, A Year of Playing Catch.  Tom Schaff was nice enough to send me a copy of this book and there was the inspiration, right there on page 128.  Why would someone from the world of sales care about a page out of a baseball book?  I'll give you fourteen really good reasons.  You see, the book is much less about baseball and much more about the following thirteen integral competencies of sales success:

  1. Relationships 
  2. Goal setting, planning and execution 
  3. Story Telling
  4. Commitment
  5. Rejection
  6. Persistence
  7. Listening and Asking Questions
  8. Being of Value
  9. Presentation Skills
  10. Outlook
  11. Controlling Emotions
  12. Messaging and Posturing
  13. Being Coachable
  14. Developing Supportive Beliefs

With that said, this is what author Ethan D. Bryan wrote on page 128 and I quote:

It is hard to admit that I am not good enough, that my sheer passion for the game doesn't translate to on-field ability and seven-figure success.  That's the fear anyone faces when they try out for a team, when they take a test, when they apply for a job--that they will be judged and deemed not good enough.  Life is filled with "not good enough" moments.

Unrequited affection.
Seeking a promotion.
Implementing new diet and exercise routines.

"Baseball is life," Mary said.  "Anything you learn from or about baseball can be applied to your daily life, to any relationship you have.  When I observe ballplayers, those who succeed are the ones who absorb the lessons in front of them instead of getting angry.  Anger prevents them from being successful.  That's the difference.  It's not about talent, really, but harnessing the energy and not allowing their emotions to master them.  They know how to make their emotions work for them, so the result is what they want."

How are you supposed to reply to being told you're not good enough?

You don't throw hard enough to play varsity.
Your grades aren't good enough for the scholarship.
There are better applicants for the position.

Those moments I have sat with my not-good-enoughness are initially met with a melancholic disappointment.  I console myself with the simple, honest truth:  At least I tried.  I held nothing back and gave it my best effort. I poured my heart into it and have no regrets.  Those words, often accompanied by a Dr. Pepper and a donut, are usually sufficient encouragement to short-circuit my pity party and keep me dreaming. 

How are you supposed to reply when you know you're good enough but life prevents you from getting a chance?

End quote. Pivoting back to Dave Kurlan now.

Ethan set out on a quest to play catch with someone different every day for a year.  He wrote about every one of those 365 days in his blog here.

Each time a salesperson fails to schedule a meeting, reach the decision maker, uncover a compelling reason to buy, create urgency, qualify the opportunity and win the business, the reality is that in that moment, on that day, during that sales cycle, with that prospect, against their competition, for whatever reason, they were not good enough.  Accepting not good enough is taking responsibility.  Accepting not good enough means there is room for improvement.  Accepting not good enough suggests there is an opportunity for growth.  Accepting not good enough opens the door for coaching.

If Ethan could play a game of catch with somebody every single day of the year, can't you take the same amount of time to improve your sales, sales management or sales leadership skills every day of the year?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, Baseball, storytelling, sales success, sales inspiration, ethan bryan

How to Get Your Audience to Fall in Love With Your Virtual Event

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 09, 2021 @ 07:04 AM

virtual-conference

Do you remember April 1, 2020?  The entire world was in lockdown and at Objective Management Group (OMG) we had just ten days to figure out how to convert our annual four-day international conference for sales experts to a three-day virtual event over Zoom. The 200 in attendance loved it and right after the conference I posted this article with 15 lessons we learned about the transition from a face-to-face conference to a virtual conference.  

By late last summer, we knew full well that our 2021 conference would also be virtual.  The difference was that we would have 7 months to prepare and we wanted to optimize the conference specifically for a virtual event.  How was it different from what we accomplished a year earlier?  Let me share some of the things we did that worked so well.

Shorter Days - Last year we crammed four days into three days and with nobody having anywhere else they needed to be, we presented for 8-9 hours each day!  We knew that was an awfully long time for everyone to stay engaged so this year we planned two four-hour days.  Much better!

Shorter Presentations - In prior years, including last year, conference presentations were typically 45-90 minutes each.  This year our average presentation ran just 8 minutes!  That allowed us to present on 50 topics instead of 18!

Chat Q& A - At traditional conferences, questions come up throughout the duration of most presentations and the presenter must stop to answer both the good questions and the stupid questions, those that have already been asked as well as those that should have never been asked.  Inevitably there is a person who wants to pound their chest and brag for a while.  The questions and the posturing disturbs the natural flow of presentations and makes them unnecessarily long.  This year we handled questions as they arose, in real-time, via chat and Q&A tools within Zoom.  When there was a question that required a longer answer we answered it live at the end of each presentation.  Result?  Fast-paced, uninterrupted sessions that kept everyone engaged.

More Video - Last year we learned just how much everyone loved our choice of videos.  So this year, we had PENTA Marketing produce a conference teaser, unique 5-minute openings for each day, two different versions of a 5-minute break video with product and company-specific trivia, and six segment-specific 10-second videos to introduce each session.  On top of that we carefully chose inspiring videos to play at the top of each hour as we brought the audience back from their five-minute breaks.  This is an example of a 10-second segment intro.

Better Video - Using video is one thing but getting video to play smoothly on the viewer's computer is quite another.  In the end, we settled on three hacks to make the video play beautifully:

  1. Zoom has a new video feature where you click share, then click the advanced tab, click video and select from your file folder the video you want to share.  The video opens and you click the play icon.  That's it. Regardless of the size of the window on your computer screen, it plays full screen for your audience.  But the frame rate may still be too low to eliminate the choppiness which brings us to hack #2.
  2. Zoom automatically places a checkmark in the "Optimize for Video" checkbox but OMG's COO, John Pattison, discovered that if you uncheck that box the video plays at a higher frame rate.
  3. John contributed one more hack when he discovered that if you lower your screen resolution so it's the same as the standard 720p resolution Zoom uses to stream, the frame rates are higher.

Better Backgrounds - Not everyone had a green screen, enhanced lighting, and a high-end camera so our virtual backgrounds needed to be dark enough to eliminate the swimming and bleeding that occurs when the lighting isn't good and a green screen isn't present.  In addition, we had PENTA create a common background for each presenter and they customized each background with the presenters's name, company and title as you can see below.

Better Slide Decks - To complete the professional, "optimized for virtual" look, each presenter was required to use the exact same professional slide templates that we asked PENTA to prepare for us.  Our slides rocked!

Of course, OMG introduced new features and enhancements to our already best-in-class sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments and that's one of the main reasons for us having an annual conference. 

Virtual events may be with us to stay as part of our new normal so we must step up our game and make virtual desirable, exciting and feature-rich instead of a compromise.  You may not be able to offer face-to-face networking and dinners, but you can offer your clients, customers, users and prospects an unforgettable experience.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales excellence, conference, sales assessments, zoom, virtual, event, virtual backgrounds, slide deck, video creation

MUST READ: Are Assessments as Evil as the Persona Movie Suggests?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 07, 2021 @ 12:04 PM

Personality Tests Examined in HBO Max Doc Persona - VitalThrills.com

Suppose you made a movie about cars and decided to feature the 1970's era Ford Pinto, arguably the most dangerous car ever made.  In your movie, you say that since the Ford Pinto is a car, it is therefore representative of all cars, and since the Pinto had a gas tank that could burst into flames from even a fender-bender, that all cars are equally dangerous.  Of course your movie doesn't mention safe cars like Volvo, full-size sedans, pick-up trucks, SUVs or specialty vehicles like sports cars, convertibles, or limousines.  Nope.  The Pinto is the poster child for cars.

That's the problem with the documentary Persona - The Dark Truth Behind Personality Tests. The movie shines the spotlight on the well-known Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator and swings between those that love knowing, being and relating to one of the sixteen personality types; versus those who are trying to change laws to prevent assessments like this from being used as a pre-employment test.

The film mocks those who embrace the Myers-Briggs while advocating for the elimination of pre-employment assessments.  The film focuses on people who believe they were harmed and branded as unemployable as a result of being rejected for work - supposedly because of their test results. Kyle Behm was one of those people and he committed suicide while the movie was being filmed.  The advocates against personality testing for employment issue the dire warning that everyone is or will be negatively impacted by personality assessments.

The film takes five huge leaps of faith and expects viewers to leap along with them:

  1. By using Myers Briggs as the poster child of personality assessments, they lead viewers to believe that all personality tests are essentially the same, measure the same traits and types, and function the same way. This is untrue.  While they all measure traits, they do not measure the same traits, do not function the same way, and they are not all suitable for use as pre-employment assessments. 
  2. By referencing only personality tests, they lead the audience to believe that all pre-employment assessments are personality assessments and vice-versaThey don't mention that there are alternate assessments that are not personality tests.  For example, Objective Management Group (OMG) produces a sales-specific assessment that measures 21 Sales Core Competencies.  The questions ask how salespeople sell, not how people see themselves socially, so OMG's sales-specific assessment truly measures fit for a particular selling role (talent), and not whether someone has the personality type that an employer desires (subjective).
  3. The film-makers attempted to make the case that because these assessments are written by middle-aged white guys, all personality tests are biased towards someone who has had the same experiences as middle-aged white guys.  Oh, and they are racist. This highlights the complete and utter hypocrisy of the film.  Merve Emre, the writer and narrator, claims that the creator of the Myers-Briggs, Isabelle Briggs-Meyers, was a racist and therefore her assessment is biased.  Three things were obvious.  a) Isabelle was not a middle-aged white guy; b) Unless you believe the human mind is created differently in people of color, Isabelle could not have had skin color or upbringing in mind when she created the 16 types; c) Merve Emre began this documentary project with a tremendous bias against personality assessments and especially Myers-Briggs.
  4. Algorithms in personality tests prevent certain people from ever landing any job of any kind.  It's possible that an algorithm could make it difficult for a certain applicant to get a certain type of job for which they may not be a good fit.  For example, an applicant is not very trust-worthy and the position calls for them to handle money. Or the applicant is an introvert and the position calls for them to spend most of their time talking with groups of people.  Assessments do not filter out certain types or groups of people for any and all jobs.  Does. Not. Happen.
  5. The film-makers imply that in order to apply for a job you must first take a personality assessment.  That's not true either.  Many companies do not use assessments and those that use them do not use them for every role in the company.

In my expert opinion, this documentary is fake news.  While they covered both sides of the story, neither side was objective. They didn't tell the entire story while they used a broad brush to position assessments as an ugly, biased, evil tool that exists only to help corporations increase revenue while discriminating against large segments of the population.

While personality assessments do uncover an individual's personality traits and tendencies, that information is simply nice to know.  While some personality assessments claim to predict fit for a specific role, personality assessments are not predictive because predictive validity requires a correlation between assessment findings and on-the-job performance. 

On the other hand, OMG's sales-specific assessment is validated using predictive validity. The 21 Sales Core Competencies actually correlate to on-the-job performance.

Don't allow a movie, this movie, to bully you into not using assessments.  Make a decision to use the correct assessment - the one that is most predictive of success in the particular sales role for which you are hiring.  Choose OMG, named the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the world for ten consecutive years by Top Sales World and named one of the Top 20 Assessment Companies in the World by Training Industry.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, Personality Tests, hiring assessments, pre-employment test, predictive sales test

Why I Believe We Should Blow up the Business Development Rep (BDR) Role in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 29, 2021 @ 07:03 AM

call-center

Did you ever notice how most supermarkets place the least capable cashiers in the Express Lane?  Drives me nuts!  The Market's perspective:  Small orders will be easier for them to handle.  My perspective:  Let's go!!!  They call it Express for a reason!  

Did you ever notice that companies that utilize the Business Development Rep (BDR) role put their youngest, most inexperienced new hires in that role?  The company's perspective: The top of the funnel is easier to handle than a full-blown quota and responsibility for an entire sales cycle.  My perspective:  Why put newbies in the role that is the most difficult of all selling roles?

For decades it was normal practice for Copy Machine, Office Supply, Cell Phones, Life Insurance and Residential Real Estate companies to recruit and train (a little classroom) rookie salespeople and then have them spend years making Cold Calls.  Industries like those continue to suffer from the highest voluntary turnover rates you can imagine and the practice is not entirely different from what tech companies are doing with the BDR Role.  

But why?  Whose brilliant idea was this?

The most difficult companies to prospect your way into become the easiest companies to sell to because when the prospects are saying "no" to inexperienced cold callers there is very little competition for those who are talented and effective enough to book meetings.  But are those young rookies the ones booking those tough meetings?  No. Chance. In. Hell.

Only the best salespeople are capable of getting through to top-level decision makers, getting them engaged on a first call and booking a meeting with those decision makers.  The best our young BDRs can hope for is a meeting with someone who hardly matters in the context of influence, authority and decision-making. 

The originators of this idea had good intentions.  Why waste an account executive's (AE) time making cold calls when someone else could do that and the AE could just handle the actual meetings.  It makes sense on paper but in the real-world it contributes to the sense that we have too much role specialization in sales, horrible conversion ratios and pretty bad win rates too.

While only 46% of all salespeople reach who they believe are actual decision makers, and only 13% actually reach decision makers, only 1% of salespeople with less than one year of sales experience reach actual decision makers.

I think we should blow up the entire BDR concept.  There are other ways for AE's to generate enough quality meetings to fill their pipelines, meet, and exceed quota and in a future article, I will share all of those methods.  In the meantime, it seems to me that the cost and inefficiencies related to having a team of BDRs struggling to book 1.5 meetings per week no longer makes sense.

Dave Brock wrote a great article about what happens when we put our most experienced salespeople in the BDR role.

What do you think?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, cold calling, inside sales, scheduling sales appointments, top of the funnel, BDR

Startups Almost Always Get The Sales Thing Wrong

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 18, 2021 @ 20:03 PM

startup

It's short article Friday.

According to NetShopISP, there are about 305 million total startups created globally each year and around 1.35 million of those startups are tech related.

Did you have any idea the number was that huge?

Typically, founders of start ups put it all on the line - everything - their house, savings, loans from friends and family and perhaps bank loans, angel investments and more.  As brilliant as they are, in most cases, sales is not one of their strengths and it's not until the business has a logo and a website when they realize that success won't come until somebody sells something.  Oh-oh, now what?

It doesn't take long for the founder to realize that they can't be the salesperson, especially when their experience is financial, marketing, operational, technical or mechanical.  When it comes to making their first sales hires, entrepreneurs and startup founders tend to be confused by their options and often make the wrong decisions.

"We want to hire our first salesperson" means different things to different people and most of the time, the founders don't have a clue what it really means.  They are often under the impression that their first sales hire will go out and sell their tail off, then become the sales manager, make a few more sales hires, and become the Sales VP. Then that individual would be expected to build structure, systems and processes, scale and grow enough revenue to flip the company.  

Nice work if you can get it but they couldn't be more wrong.

The person who wants to be the first sales manager is not the person who will go out and hunt for 18 months.  And neither of them - not the hunter and not the sales manager - is the person to lead the strategic growth of the company while building systems and processes.  Nine of ten founders fail to understand that we are talking about three different people, not one person that will quickly transition through three completely different roles!

If the founders get it, and adjust their thinking to embrace the three people concept, they must make a decision about the next challenge.  Since they don't have the finances or the revenue to hire all three of those people, they need to choose one.  Which one?

Invariably, they miss the boat and vote to hire the VP of Sales.  Bzzzzz.  While that hire makes them feel good - the sales VP joins the tiny executive team - that simply cannot be the first sales hire.  Somebody has to sell something and it won't be that person. The Sales VP will be in the office writing plans and creating strategy but there won't be anyone to execute the plan and the company will burn through too much money before they figure out that they may not survive to hire a hunter!  According to Investopedia.com, 90% of those startups fail!

At this point, even if the founder is still on board with the hunter as the first hire, there is another challenge to overcome; they must hire a hunter who will succeed, otherwise they are right back here at the starting line again in 90 days.  How can they assure sales hiring success?  Objective Management Group (OMG). OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments take the worry out of sales selection by identifying candidates who will succeed in the role.  And they are guaranteed!  

Of course there are post hire challenges too, like who is going to onboard them, who is going to manage and coach them, and how long will it take them to figure out how to sell this stuff?  But that's for another day.  Rejoice in knowing that you just hired your first salesperson!

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, hiring salespeople, sales assessements, first sales hire

My Simple COVID Relief Plan Actually Provides Relief

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 01, 2021 @ 19:03 PM

Some families could get more than $14,000 in new Covid relief - WRCBtv.com  | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

[Updated March 7, 2021]

We are going off topic because this article has nothing to do with selling although it is related because some of the businesses that were hurt by the pandemic and the government's reprehensible shut downs have sales organizations.

In the US, the COVID relief bill has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate and we learned that only 9% of the $1.9 trillion in the plan goes to actual COVID relief.  The 9% includes $1,400 for individuals earning less than $50,000 and several hundred billion dollars for small business relief although it's unclear how the small business money will directly help the specific small businesses that were hurt the most.  It seems clear that this is another bill that won't do what is needed but will certainly lead to a tax increase. Joe Biden said this could increase GDP by $1 trillion.  Imagine that.  Spend $1.9 trillion for a $1 trillion return.  Where I come from that's a pretty bad investment so in response to their bloated, stupid bill, I present my simple plan and explain how it will help everyone involved.

Individuals are an easy demographic to help.  The IRS has income tax returns on file for both 2019 and by April 15, for 2020.  It's easy to determine to what degree people earning under $50,000 were hurt by the pandemic.  Subtract their 2020 income from their 2019 income, add back unemployment benefits and stimulus money received, and you have the exact amount of their suffering.  Send them a check for that exact amount.  People who weren't hurt won't get any money and people who have been out of work for months get their 2019 earnings less what they collected in unemployment benefits in 2020.  The IRS has the numbers. It costs what it costs.  No applications needed.  Done. Period. Over. Everyone becomes whole. 

Small businesses are almost as easy.  The IRS has corporate income tax returns on file for both 2019 and by April 15, for 2020.  In my experience there are several numbers that should be considered.  Rent, leases, insurance and utilities have to be paid regardless of whether a business was open.  Most small businesses are S corporations so the owner's income is often the same as the business' profit.  If the owner isn't covered by the individual plan, we can take their 2019 net profit less the 2020 net profit and add rent, leases, insurance and utilities.  As with individuals, the IRS has the numbers, it costs what it costs, no applications or proof will be needed and small businesses and their landlords become whole.

There are businesses that don't qualify as small businesses but still need help, like tourism and entertainment.  A similar plan can be offered to them except instead of matching profit, we simply get them back to break-even.

With this plan, we don't need to pay off student debt, bail out states (they will be fine when both individuals and small businesses pay taxes on their replacement income), or spend any other taxpayer money on anything else except getting people back to where they were.

I'm sure my plan has flaws but it targets the people and businesses who need the help and doesn't make the aid arbitrary.  While I have no idea how much this plan will actually cost (I'm a sales expert not an economics expert) I'd bet my business that it's less than $1.9 trillion.

Schools don't need money to reopen; they simply need to open the doors while the teachers need to live up to the contract under which they are being paid - or be terminated.  If everyone else has to show up for work, teachers should too.

What do you think?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, covid-19, small business, relief plan

How Pitchers Fielding Practice is Exactly the Same as Salespeople Role-Playing

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 26, 2021 @ 06:02 AM

It's short article Friday.  Less is more.

My Twitter feed had the funniest 1-minute baseball video I have ever seen.  It was pitcher fielding practice (PFP) and the coach was miked up. It illustrated just how bad most professional major league pitchers are at fielding their position and how a coach can keep it light - even make it funny - when the pitchers are struggling so badly.

Watch the video here.  It's only 1-minute and you don't have to like or even understand baseball to enjoy this.  Even cricket fans from across the pond, soccer enthusiasts from around the world and hockey nuts from up north of the border will understand and love this video.

When professional salespeople are asked to role-play the salesperson's part of a sales conversation they sound every bit as awful as these pitchers look when attempting to field their position.  Role-playing is the sales equivalent of fielding practice in baseball. 

When salespeople role play they skip ahead, think only of the next question they want to ask; miss openings to ask questions because they aren't actively listening; talk only about what's on their own agenda; make it all about themselves; and they rush in an attempt to get it over with.  PFP provides a sneak preview of how a pitcher is likely to field a ball hit to him (yes, HIM is the correct reference) during a game, and role-playing provides a preview of how a salesperson is likely to perform on an actual face-to-face or virtual sales call.

Here's an example of a salesperson being coached (by me) in a 26-minute role-play.  Yes, it's 26 minutes but it's worth it because you'll learn SO MUCH!

It's OK when salespeople are not good when they role-play.  They will improve but only if they continue to role-play.  Pitchers don't stop taking batted balls in practice; they take more and they do it again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.  Salespeople can't stop role-playing either!  They must role-play again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.  But the other thing that is so important is that their sales managers must keep it light.  It is so easy for constructive criticism to be taken personally when sales managers aren't careful to make sure that their salespeople are OK throughout the process.  It's OK to offer lots of constructive criticism but when it's all over they must be sure to put their salespeople back together again.

Don't avoid role-playing.  Seek it out!

Tom Schaff, a big baseball guy who is also a sales expert, shared this about the pitchers in the video: "A big point of this exercise is no matter how good you are, there's a need to work on your fundamentals. When you look closer, the guys in the clip aren't just ordinary pitchers who fell off a truck. #50, the second guy in the video, is Adam Wainwright, a TWO TIME Golden Glove pitcher, 3x All Star and multiple time top 3 Cy Young Finalist, #22 is Jack Flaherty, and finally, 2x All Star and AL Reliever of the Year, #21 Andrew Miller, not to be confused with OMG's Andy Miller. If that's what happens with All Stars, imagine what it would be like for average major league roster pitchers, college pitchers or high school pitchers!"

I teach sales leaders to coach their salespeople using role-plays like this as well as when they must role-play the sales part.  My next Sales Leadership Intensive is virtual so you can participate on May 19-21.  Learn more here.  It's $1,495 to attend but as a regular reader you can save $100 when you register using this special link.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, role play, Baseball

How to Use Buckets to Improve Sales Performance and Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 19, 2021 @ 07:02 AM

buckets

When it rains it pours, especially when it's coming down in buckets!

Buckets are important, especially when you're attempting to coach up a salesperson or even improve your own sales performance.  If you don't have the OMG evaluation at your fingertips and can't lookup the scores in 21 Sales Core Competencies, or see which attributes need to be improved, you'll need to think in terms of buckets.

When salespeople are struggling, there are five primary buckets to consider:

  1. Pipeline - Their pipeline sucks
  2. Urgency - they haven't been successful uncovering compelling reasons to buy so that urgency can be created
  3. Qualifying - they haven't been able to get their good prospects fully qualified
  4. Closing - they aren't converting their qualified opportunities
  5. Attitude - they lack a positive outlook.

All other issues you might identify should appear in one of those five buckets.

Now let's place the three traditional groups of salespeople into buckets:

  1. A players:  They are the best salespeople in your company and exceed quota and/or expectations, but outside of your company and industry they might not be A or even B players.  Everything is relative.
  2. B players: They're not as good as your A players but they do meet quota and/or expectations.
  3. C players: They are chronic under achievers who fail to meet quota.

Next, let's integrate the buckets of salespeople with the buckets of challenges.

Salesperson to Coach Up Likely Issue(s)
A Player Urgency
B Player Urgency and Qualifying
C Player Pipeline

Let's pretend we're dealing with a C player who has an inadequate pipeline.  We have five more buckets to explore:

  1. Effort - they aren't making enough calls or attempts
  2. Engagement - they aren't getting their contacts engaged in the conversation
  3. Messaging - they aren't using proven, time-tested, positioning statements to get contacts engaged
  4. Delivery - they don't sound very good delivering the message
  5. Conversions - they aren't converting their calls to meetings

In this scenario, you may not be able to identify a single bucket to blame but you have to start somewhere.  If effort is an issue and you don't fix the effort, the other four buckets don't matter. If effort is lacking due to discouragement from past ineffectiveness, you may need to work on the other four buckets before you can return to effort.

It can be overwhelming to identify exactly what you need to work on to improve sales performance.  If you can learn to think in terms of buckets, you'll have a better chance of working on the right end of the problem.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, coaching, Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales excellence

How Overthinking the Turnover Problem Impacts Hiring Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 12, 2021 @ 13:02 PM

diversity

When I was growing up in the hilly areas of central Massachusetts, snowstorms meant that unless cars had chains or studs on their snow tires, cars would not get enough traction to drive up a slippery hill. You could get out of the car and walk up the hill and after abandoning their cars, many people actually did that. When executives running tire and auto manufacturers grew tired of people complaining about this, they finally came up with the perfect solution.  They reasoned that since people wearing snow shoes could walk up snowy hills, they would make cars that utilized auxiliary snow shoes to augment traditional tires for snowy hills.   

The story about the snow shoes didn't really happen but automakers did invent front wheel drive and finally all-wheel drive while tire manufacturers developed all weather radials.  Together, those two solutions eventually solved the problem of slippery, snowy hills.

What my snow shoe story points out is just how easy it is for people to go way off the rails in coming up with stupid solutions to common problems when perfectly good solutions already exist.

This week I experienced a scenario with a large company whose executives thought they had it all figured out and were looking for solutions that were so poorly thought out that it was hard for me to keep a straight face.  Curious?

Coming off a year where revenue dropped by several billion dollars, the company had 1,000 salespeople and a major turnover problem. They were certain that sales selection was to blame because they already partnered with a consultant to work on KPI's, sales management and coaching.  I challenged them and asked how that could possibly be helping given their negative revenue and profit performance last year.   Since I was speaking with the very same trio that implemented and owned those changes, they were preaching from the mountain tops about what a top notch strategy they put in place. They weren't going there with me.

I asked why so many new salespeople were turning over and was told that they weren't selling enough, weren't earning enough money, and could not hold out any longer. Voluntary turnover usually means that onboarding is to blame but not at this company as they pounded their chests and explained their fantastic new onboarding program.  They weren't going there either.

They claimed that they were already doing competency-based selection (they are only measuring drive) so the only thing they need to add is experience-based selection.  But instead of identifying experiences that contribute to success, like examples and proof of prior hunting success, they want biodata

Biodata?  Are you kidding me?  Insurance underwriters use biodata to run a risk analysis before quoting your car insurance but your zip code, interests, hobbies, preferences, commute and other brilliant questions are more suitable for a Tuesday night family trivia game.  There is no way in hell that biodata could ever be predictive of sales success.  I have no doubt that this pile of dog stupidity was introduced to them by an industrial psychologist whose membership knows so little about what it takes to succeed in sales that they are largely responsible for the practices that have led to the sales hiring disasters we continue to observe in large companies.  

What about selecting sales candidates based on their sales specific competencies?  The misinformed and over-confident trio don't want to look at sales competencies until after they've selected, hired and onboarded the new salespeople.  Brilliant! 

How could their approach possibly solve the turnover problem? 

You read it here first.  Biodata - the new model for predicting sales success.  Not.

When companies emphasize stupidity over revenue, habits over competencies, and preferences over talent, they will force square pegs into round holes because selecting salespeople must always be about talent and fit.

Image copyright 123RF

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,850 Articles

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

2020-07-20_14-45-52


 

2020-Bronze-BlogIndi

MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter

Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

2020_Top20_Web_Large_assessment_eval

2020-Gold-AssessTool

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader