The Keys to Fourth Quarter Sales Success in 2020

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 @ 07:10 AM

You're probably going to hate this article!  I'm going to show you that much of what is transpiring with the Pandemic could be having a greater impact than you realize relative to the future state of your business and you might not like what I have to say.  As always, if you can hang in through some of the preliminary analysis, I'll make the pivot to sales and business.

Each day, the Boston Globe sends an update with metrics that the state of Massachusetts is monitoring with regard to the Pandemic.  The update for October 19, 2020, is shown below:

Notice that the death toll rose by 15. 

Also notice that under "Related" the link to the article warning about gloom and doom over the next 6-12 weeks.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer tweeted this out today:

Back in May, when Massachusetts began reopening, there were between 10-20 deaths per day, and 100-200 new cases per day.  Over the past 5 months, the number of new cases has risen by more than 100 each month to the 827 new cases reported today.  However, during this entire 5 month period, the daily death toll has not exceeded 10-20, the same as it was back in May.  See the two graphs in the next paragraph on media reporting.

Media Reporting - Unfortunately, most media outlets insist on reporting only the number of new cases, but don't tell you that hospitalizations are down  *dramatically*  and deaths have remained steady after dropping to their current low levels.  Check out the CDC's own graph on hospitalization rates between week 10 (early March) and week 40 (early October):

You are reading this graph correctly.  Even among those over 65, hospitalizations are down to just over 5% of those infected with Covid. 

This is the latest graph of US deaths from Covid.

That's right.  Cases way up.  Deaths way down.  You should also check out this data on death counts - click on the graph to see the entire graph.

You read this table correctly too.  The actual number of deaths did not significantly exceed the expected (normal) number of deaths.  Does this mean that the largely elderly population with comorbidity, who died, might have died anyway?

If deaths and hospitalization rates are so low, despite cases continuing to increase, why isn't the media sharing this great news? 

After all, we all want good news, we all want to be more optimistic, and we all want the economy to thrive.  What's going on? 

There can be only one answer.  The media wants to continue making President Trump the villain so that he does not win reelection.  If you don't agree with that explanation then please explain why the media never shared any of these graphs and tables with you.  Do you have a better explanation?

Impact on Business - The same media that is misleading you about the Pandemic is also telling us that we are in the midst of the worst economic recession in history, with more jobs lost than ever before, and it will become much worse.  Of course, that's not the case.  Unemployment is down to just 7.9% and that's with most of the travel, tourism and restaurant industries still shutdown or operating at very reduced capacity! 

I participated in a government survey on the impact the Pandemic had on my small business and last week they sent a link to view the results. You can see the results for yourself here but I can save you a tremendous amount of time.  I played around with the variables on the site, recorded my results and one thing became crystal clear.  When I didn't include states like California and Michigan, whose Governors are still trying to keep small businesses shuttered, and I didn't include the two NAIC codes from the industries that were devastated, the rest of us have fared pretty well through the past 7 months!  We're doing OK!  It's important for us to know this fact in order to drive home a fantastic 4th quarter to salvage 2020.

Metrics - The pandemic has called attention to the fact that on a daily basis we are surrounded by key metrics for COVID-19. I can't believe how many companies have still not identified the key metrics that will drive their sales results.  There are either no metrics, the metrics are irrelevant or the metrics are backwards looking.  It's 2020.  Forward looking metrics rule the day.  Get with the program!

Tools - I read this article about the best Chrome Extensions for sellers.  I don't want to criticize the article because it's an accurate list of great applications that you can start from within Chrome.  However, the last thing your salespeople need right now is more tools.  It's noise. A distraction.  Technology for the sake of technology.  There are basic tools that every salesperson should be equipped with and everything else is completely unnecessary.

We're trying to grow the economy all the way back and most of the information being pushed at us isn't helping. We've come a long way since March and we can make even more progress in the fourth quarter if we keep our eye on the ball and don't allow the fear-mongering, agenda-driven media to have their way, negatively influence the masses, and cause another slowdown or worse, shutdown.  Here's what the same Boston Globe sent out today, October 20, 2020.

In summary, Simplify.  Focus.  Metrics. Optimism. Hire Salespeople. Sell. Train. Drive. Fight. Engage.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales effectiveness, sales tools, revenue growth, covid-19, pandemic

New Data Shows an Overlooked Finding Correlates to Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 15, 2020 @ 09:10 AM

compatibility

We use remote deposit, a terrific convenience for depositing checks from the desktop without going to the bank.  The only problem is that the software that runs the check scanner isn't compatible with the Mac OS.  It only runs on Windows so we have to remotely connect to an old Dell that takes up unnecessary space. Oh, if only the software for the check scanner was compatible with the Mac.

My wife and I were friends with a couple that argued ALL the time. They argued when they were alone, they argued when they were with us, they argued when they were with their kids and they were just brutal to each other.  If only they were more compatible.

Compatibility is not only important, it could be one of the most overlooked criteria in hiring sales candidates.  Let's do a deep dive! 

Most sales leaders think that industry experience is the most important criteria for evaluating the fit of a potential sales hire but they couldn't be more wrong.  Compatibility with the selling environment is far more important.  For example, if you sell payroll services, is it more important that the sales candidate came from the payroll industry or is it more important that they have great selling skills and called on the same HR professionals that a payroll salesperson would need to call on?  In other words, is it more important that they know stuff, or is it more important that they have a built-in network of customers to sell to? 

There's more to compatibility than who they sell to.  Factors like the length of the sales cycle, how many calls/meetings that entails, your price point relative to the competition, the amount of money they'll be asking for, the quality of the competitor's offering, the effectiveness of the competition's marketing and sales, whether they've worked for a sales manager with a similar management style, how much pressure they'll be under, whether they'll get the coaching and training they require, if they've worked under a similar compensation plan, and more should be considered.  There are nearly 30 variables that help to determine whether a salesperson is compatible for the role. 

At my weekly meeting with Objective Management Group's (OMG) COO, John Pattison, we discussed compatibility in the context of another finding we call FIOF or "Figure it Out Factor."  Candidates that have a FIOF score of 75 or better ramp up more quickly than other candidates.  Compatibility is weighted pretty heavily in the FIOF finding because of how it influences the ramp-up time of new salespeople.  The more compatible a salesperson is with your selling environment, the more quickly they should ramp up because they've "done this before."

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as 9 other competencies that are important but not core.  An additional finding is a score for compatibility.  

Out of curiosity, we wondered what the average score for compatibility was because we haven't looked at that before.  He asked me to guess and I said "somewhere between 60 and 80."  It turns out that the average compatibility score for all sales candidates is 70.  Not bad!  For kicks, we ran the analysis for the four levels of Sales Percentile which include Elite (top 5%), Strong (the next 15%), Serviceable (the next 30%), and Weak (everyone else - the bottom 50%).  This is what the analysis showed:

Who knew that compatibility would correlate to Sales Percentile? I certainly didn't think that the distribution of scores would show this kind of correlation.  After all, when we score compatibility, we aren't measuring any of the sales competencies that make up Sales Percentile; only prior selling environments. The top 5% of all salespeople are 41% more compatible with their selling roles than the bottom 50% and it left me wondering, "Why?"

Three theories came to mind and perhaps you can add some additional theories!

Theory 1: The best salespeople naturally identify good fits for themselves so that they can thrive.  We could guess that elite salespeople seek out the greatest selling challenges - something beyond their comfort zone - but perhaps they are simply too smart to sabotage themselves.

Theory 2: The worst salespeople don't pay any attention to fit because to them, selling is just spouting off features and benefits, doing demos, generating quotes and proposals, and taking orders.  Maybe they simply gravitate to wherever they are wanted?

Theory 3: The best sales leaders, in hiring only the best salespeople, are rewarded with salespeople that can handle their selling environment. It's worth noting that the best sales leaders hire salespeople who are more talented than they are while average and weak sales leaders hire salespeople who are weaker than they are.

I haven't written about compatibility before but it's worth spending a few minutes to understand the role it plays in sales success.

What plays an even more important role in sales success than compatibility?  It's the 21 Sales Core Competencies and configuring OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to recommend those candidates that score well in the competencies that are crucial to success in the role you are hiring for.  Learn more about the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, human resources, sales performance, Personality Tests, sales selection, sales assessments, sales test

Senate Confirmation Hearings Shows Us What Salespeople Do Wrong Every Day

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 12, 2020 @ 18:10 PM

Day 1 on Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing begin in  Senate

Oh no, another post on the political climate.  Don't worry, I'm not taking sides, I'll be right down the middle, and very critical of both sides.  And stay with me for the pivot to the good stuff - my sales analysis.  Here goes!

It was Columbus Day in the US so I had a chance to catch the first day of the Judiciary Committee's Senate Confirmation Hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  It featured 10-minute opening statements by both Republican and Democrat Senators and finally, by Judge Barrett herself.

In my opinion, there weren't any winners today.  In 10-minute increments, both sides demonstrated everything that is wrong with when salespeople present. Make no mistake, politicians are very much always selling and usually, their performances give salespeople a bad name.

The Democrat messaging, although consistent, was extremely negative, with all of the senators regurgitating the same talking points: Covid-19 safety concerns, the process being a sham, and threatening that Americans will lose their health insurance if Judge Barrett is confirmed.  Although we want salespeople to articulate consistent messaging, especially with their value propositions, negative messaging turns people off, and if these presentations had been delivered by salespeople, most prospects would have responded with, "You guys are all the same!"  You don't want to be selling faced with that perception!

The Republican messaging was as inconsistent as the Democrats were consistent. Most addressed different topics from each other, but the real issue was that they were on the defensive the entire time as if they were handling objections.  When salespeople are in objection handling mode their prospects' resistance goes up making it very difficult to sell anything.

I understand why both groups chose the strategies they used. 

The Democrats could not risk leveling personal attacks on Judge Barrett the way they did on Justice Kavanagh so they attacked the process, the President, the Republicans, the timing, the rules, and claimed that the impact of having this judge on the supreme court would be catastrophic.

The Republicans were already under fire by Democrats and the media for moving forward to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to the election so they defended themselves by citing precedent, constitutionality, qualifications, religious freedom, history, and unfair attacks.

Both sides were right to have strategies but they were poorly executed. Strategies of attacking and playing defense are both losing strategies.

Salespeople must never go on the attack and must never go on the defensive.  

Instead of attacking the competition, salespeople can ask questions about their prospects' personal experiences, what they want and need, why it's important, how they feel about it, and what would make things better.  You can accomplish the very same things, only better, without ever mentioning the competition or saying anything bad about them.

Instead of getting defensive in response to objections, whether real or perceived, salespeople can - you guessed it - ask questions using the very same approach described above.

Elected officials suck as role models especially when making self-serving politicized partisan presentations.

Learn from this debacle!  The key to sales success lies in listening and asking questions, not delivering cleverly worded presentations.  But listening and asking questions are consultative selling skills and are attributes of both the Consultative Selling Competency and the Value Selling Competency.  Check out the 10 selling competencies in the screen shot below which shows the percentage of all salespeople who have that competency as a strength.  

You've probably heard that 80% of all revenue comes from 20% of all salespeople.  Here is how the top 10% of all salespeople fare in the same ten competencies:

Except for Hunting and Relationship building, the top salespeople are two to three times more likely to have these competencies as strengths.

I'll show you the same ten competencies, but this time for the bottom 50% of all salespeople:

You are reading this correctly.  Only 1% of the bottom half of all salespeople have Consultative Selling and Qualifying as strengths and none having Closing! So that's why more than 50% of all salespeople don't hit their quota each year!  Most salespeople suck at most selling competencies so perhaps they should all become politicians.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales presentation, selling value, sales and politics, amy coney barret

Sales Assessments, More Like Guitar Manufacturers or Ripped-Off Products?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 07, 2020 @ 12:10 PM

Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen is dead at 65 - ABC News

This is gonna be fun!

In 2005, GM produced four mini-vans known as the Buick Terraza, Chevrolet UplanderPontiac Montana SV6 and Saturn Relay.  These four cars were exactly the same, with the brand logos being the only differentiators.

Today, some Luxury car companies dress up the cars from their primary brands as Toyota is known to do with its Lexuses, Nissan with its Infinities, Honda with its Acuras, and Ford with its Lincolns.  But we all know this. 

What about something you might not know?  With Eddie Van Halen's passing yesterday, I was thinking about great guitarists and that led me to who actually manufactured your well-known Japanese guitar brand?

And then there are the cheap Chinese rip-offs of quality American products.

When it comes to sales assessments, things are also not what they appear to be.  For example, take the FinXS Extended DiSC which, at first glance, appears to have much in common with Objective Management Group's (OMG) Salesperson Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments.  But are they the same, similar, or is it more like the Chinese rip-off?

Let's take a look under the hoods of both assessments and then you can decide.  We'll begin with a comparison of the two respective dashboards.

 

                                                       FinsX Extended Disc                                                                             Objective Management Group Salesperson Evaluation

While they don't look the same, the FinsX Extended Disc has copied 8 of the 21 Sales Competencies that OMG measures, as well as 5 of the underlying attributes from other competencies.  So on the surface it appears to measure 13 of the competencies that OMG measures.  But does it really?  Let's dig deeper.

The FinsX Extended DiSC is really DiSC without the adapted style.  DiSC has four dimensions, one for each letter in its name.  For those who aren't familiar, they include Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.  While there are some variations to the questions and formats of the various DiSC tests, what they all have in common is that the questions are asked in a social context.  You can see some DiSC questions here.

OMG's questions are asked in the context of selling; what you do, how you do it, when you do it, what causes you to do it, how you think about it, what you believe, etc. None of the questions are in a social context because people act and behave differently in social settings than they do in business settings.

From 30,000 feet, the first question that must be asked is how in the world does the FinsX Extended DiSC arrive at findings like Prospecting, Qualifying, Handling Objections or Sales Process from the social questions asked in a DiSC that has only the four dimensions? 

The quick answer is that they can't!  If you dig deeper into the FinsX Extended DiSC report, they actually measure something quite different from what their summary says.

For example, look at this description of the prospecting finding:

See it?  Whether one scores low or high, it's about a mindset, not a sales capability or competency.  So what does FinsX Extended DiSC mean when they refer to a prospecting mindset?  Let's dig further!  This is their description of the Hunter mindset.

Huh?  It's instant gratification!  I'm not kidding!  It gets worse.  Let's dig further!  This is their description of what the Prospecting score actually measures:

That's right - it has nothing at all to do with prospecting.  They are lying to you in their dashboard summary! 

For comparison, look at what OMG measures for the Prospecting or, as OMG calls it, the Hunting competency:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It should be obvious that OMG's prospecting competency is all about hunting for new business, right?  So you might be thinking I picked Prospecting because that's the FinsX Extended DiSC score that's easiest for me to debunk. Think again.

What if we repeat this process with Qualifying?  This is the Qualifying score in the FinsX Extended DiSC:

Whether the salesperson has a high or low score, they are telling you that it's about uncovering whether the prospect is a good fit through questioning and listening.

They are talking about a mindset again - this time it's about finding the truth:

Okay.  So in a social setting, perhaps that's asking a question like, "Where are you?"  "Who are you with?"  "When will you be home?" Is that really the same as Qualifying an opportunity?  And what are they actually measuring?

Once again, what they can actually measure has nothing to do with qualifying a sales opportunity. And the best part is that they are reusing Hunter! Remember? Instant gratification! You can't make this stuff up!

And what does OMG measure and report on for the Qualifying competency?

Does that look like finding the truth?  It looks exactly like what a salesperson must do when qualifying an opportunity.

I can do this for all 18 of their supposed sales scores but all you need to know is this.  As with ALL personality and behavioral assessments passing themselves off as sales assessments so as to compete with OMG, they lie.  They have no ability to measure a sales competency.  You can't report on what you can't measure and you can't measure sales capability by asking social questions. And for any form of DiSC, they only have those four dimensions.

The assessment business has much in common with both the Chinese rip-off model as well as the Japanese guitar manufacturing model.  The FinsX Extended DiSC is like the Chinese rip-off because it appears to be measuring the same things, but upon closer inspection it measures little of what it purports to measure.  Other assessments fall under the Japanese model. For example, 16PF is an assessment that most people haven't heard of yet they produce more assessments than anyone else, but under different brand names!  Consultants can design an assessment and use the underlying 16PF, choose which of their findings to include, and then call those findings whatever they choose!  The lie!

If you want to evaluate your sales force and learn why they aren't performing as well as you need them to, or assess your sales candidates to identify those who will succeed in your business, stop messing around with imposters and get the real deal.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has been named the Top Sales Assessment in the world for nine straight years.  It's hard to argue with that. It's even harder to argue with the science.  It's the only sales assessment that has been validated using predictive validity.  That means that OMG's findings have been correlated to on the job performance.  Try doing that with a personality or behavioral styles assessment!

Knowledge is power.  Now you have the knowledge to choose the proper tool to evaluate your current sales team for development purposes, and to assess sales candidates for selection purposes.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessment, sales evaluation, improving your sales team, personality test, DISC, sales selelction

Top 10 Reasons Not to Test Your Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 05, 2020 @ 06:10 AM

testing

Testing.  Testing 1234.  Testing.  Check, check, check. How do I sound?  Testing 12345.  

Anyone who has conducted or listened to a sound check should be familiar with those words.  More testing = better audio.

If you're feeling ill, get tested.  That's the mantra for COVID-19.  But lots of people are getting tested.  In the USA, 345 out of every 1,000 people have been tested as of the end of September.  Compare that with Mexico where only 12 out of every 1,000 people have been tested.  That could explain the difference in positive test rates in these two countries with the US rate being less than 5% and Mexico's rate close to 50%.  More tests = well, something.

Those aren't the only two examples of testing being an obvious no-brainer.  Doctors test our vital signs - temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, blood and for some, EKG, and prostrate.  More thorough testing = more healthy.

Testing is not only normal, it's expected.

So why in the world is it so difficult to get Sales Leaders and HR professionals to test sales candidates?

We hear everything, including this week's top 10 reasons for not assessing:

  • "I hire using my gut feel"
  • "HR is not comfortable using assessments"
  • "We don't want to be bound by the recommendation"
  • "We don't want to spend the money"
  • "We don't want to change our hiring process" 
  • "We don't want to inconvenience our recruiters"
  • "What if I get a false positive?"
  • "Legal won't go for it".  
  • "Turnover is baked into our process". Consider this internal note from today: "[He] has a potential client who hires 150 reps/week with 300% turnover! Wanted to know how to price that 7,000 hire license. I suggested we take a different approach and determine the real cause of the turnover problem and then look at how many they really need to hire."  Anytime I read that turnover is greater than 100%, that's an example of baked-in turnover.
  • We don't believe in assessments". Consider this email I received today: "Nice to e-meet you.  [He] sings [OMG's] praises, but up front you should know that I have always been somewhat skeptical of Myers Briggs or personality profiling type exercises, so I'm the one you have to convince."  Bad experiences with assessments that weren't designed for sales creates biases.

These excuses are total BS.  Consider the following 4 facts:

  • Average sales turnover is now 34% and in some industries and companies it is much higher.  source
  • The average cost of sales turnover is 1.5 times compensation.  If average sales compensation is $95,000 that's a cost of $142,000.  source.
  • Fewer than 50% of salespeople will hit quota this year.  Do you think that's because of the pandemic?  Think again.  It's been that way for years!  source
  • Average ramp-up time is 5 months.  This varies wildly across industries but here's a formula to calculate what yours should be:  Length of Learning Curve + Length of Sales Cycle + 30 Days to transition.  If you have a six month sales cycle and it takes 3 months before a salesperson can have an intelligent conversation with a prospect, the ramp-up time - the time it takes for business to begin closing - is 10 months!

Let's be conservative and say that for every ten salespeople, the average company turns over 3 per year at $142,000 each.  The $426,000 cost is nothing compared to these other three problems:

  1. The distraction of having to hire 3 more salespeople
  2. The disruption in the territory or vertical,
  3. The lost opportunity of having an under-performer representing you.

Consider 8 more facts:

  1. Companies that use Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales candidate assessments have average turnover rates of just 8%.  That's 425% better than average.
  2. Companies that use Objective Management Group's sales candidate assessments have quota attainment of 88%.  That's 205% better than average.
  3. When companies hire salespeople that were not recommended by OMG, 75% of them fail within 6 months.
  4. When companies hire (after doing their due diligence) salespeople that were recommended 92% rise to the top half of the company's sales force
  5. OMG has been voted the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the World for 9 consecutive years
  6. OMG is customizable, incredibly accurate and predictive of sales success right down to the sales role for which you are hiring
  7. OMG has assessed 2,017,367 salespeople in - companies.
  8. OMG lowers recruiting costs and saves time - it's not expensive.  Depending on the number of hires and the size of the candidate pool, assessments could cost as little as $8 each!

You would think that these 8 facts would thoroughly and completely rule over the top 10 reasons for not assessing. But every minute of the day, seven days a week they don't.  People are stubborn. They don't know what they don't know while believing that that they know everything.

This is my call to action.   Grab a sampleTry it for freeRegister to begin using OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, hiring, recruiting, assessment, omg, sales test, personality test

New: The 21 Sales Core Competencies for 2020 And Beyond

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Sep 27, 2020 @ 16:09 PM

Had an update lately?

I get an Office 365 update on Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and OneNote at least every week.  Yawn.  It seems half of them are to fix something that broke in the previous release.

Apple updates the operating systems of their various devices on a fairly regular basis.  The software for my Apple watch was updated twice in the past month.  IOS, the operating system for the iPhone and iPad was just updated as was the software for AppleTV.  OS x, the operating system for the Mac, was recently updated.  Most of these updates occur automatically and without fanfare but when an update advances to the next number - from 13.62 to 14.0 - it's a big deal and means significant updates to features, stability, security and usability are included.

Such is the case with Objective Management Group.  Like Apple, OMG updates its assessments on a non-stop basis but rolls out significant updates a couple of times per year.  Last week OMG introduced the latest revision to the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

There are thirty competencies in all, each with between six and twelve attributes but some are more important than others and OMG measures twenty-one of them in the following three categories:

  1. Will to Sell includes 5 sales competencies that differentiate between whether a salesperson CAN sell, versus whether they WILL sell. 
  2. Sales DNA includes 6 competencies which, when appearing as strengths, support a salesperson's ability to execute sales process, sales methodology, sales strategy and sales tactics.  However, when these competencies appear as weakness, they sabotage a salesperson's ability to execute sales process, sales methodology, sales strategy and sales tactics.
  3. Tactical Selling has 10 sales competencies that show the degree to which a salesperson has developed the required skills to effectively sell in today's ever-changing world of selling.

OMG's latest release includes several changes to the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

There is a new competency called Sales Technology which wraps three sales competencies into one:

  1. Video Proficient is a brand new competency that looks at a salesperson's use of video platforms, how well they have learned those platforms, and to what degree they have embraced video for virtual selling.
  2. CRM Savvy was previously included in the 21 sales competencies before being rolled into Sales Technology.
  3. Mastery of Social Selling was also included in the 21 sales competencies prior to being rolled into Sales Technology.

Sales Technology is a great example of how quickly OMG moves to not only remain current as selling evolves, but to lead the way and standardize the competencies which experts in the sales development space view as core to success.

OMG has had a finding called Reaches Decision Makers since 1990 and in recent years it became a full-blown competency that included eight attributes.  In the latest update, OMG moves Reaches Decision Makers into the primary group of 21 because our research shows that salespeople are 900% less likely to move the opportunity to closable if they are not talking directly with the actual decision maker. 

There is a very good reason that OMG has been named the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the World for nine consecutive years.  It is not only extremely accurate, it is also incredibly predictive and insightful. In the screen shot below, you can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies, as well as some of the other competencies OMG measures and reports on, as shown on the coaching dashboard of a sales evaluation.

Personality assessments (like Caliper) and behavioral styles assessments (like DiSC) ask their questions in a social context, measure personality traits and behavioral styles and then ADAPT (GUESS) those findings for sales.  This is crucial for understanding the differences!  OMG asks all of its questions in the context of sales, measures actual sales knowledge and capabilities in the context of the sales competencies above, and ACCURATELY REPORTS on those sales competency scores.

You can view and filter by industry some of OMG's data in 21 Sales Core Competencies and even see how your salespeople compare by clicking here.  You can check out OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Personality Tests, caliper, sales test, selling value, DISC

The Crucial Step Missing from Most Sales Training Programs

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 21, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

Most companies don't understand that crappy customer service is really a sales issue.  When a company's customer service is thoughtful, helpful, kind and thorough, that great customer service actually serves the sales organization.  It becomes easier for salespeople to renew accounts, cross-sell, up-sell and succeed.  When a company's customer service sucks, it has the opposite effect, creating objections, resistance, disdain and animosity.

As an example, I had such an experience with Safelite, whose website claims that they are the #1 auto glass specialist in the country.

I had a ding in my windshield and scheduled Safelite to come to my office to repair the windshield.  Easy!  In the middle of the repair, the technician called to let me know that the windshield had cracked to the bottom and that this happens sometimes with repair attempts.  Frustrating but Okay, so I needed to know, if my repair payment would be applied to a new windshield and how soon I can have that completed.  The technician was vague but he said not to worry - it would be taken care of.  I should have known from his vague response that he knew transitioning from a failed repair to a windshield replacement was not one of Safelite's strengths!

Over the next 24 hours, I didn't hear from Safelite so I reached out to customer service.  I left a voicemail, sent an email, and sent a text.  Nothing!  Frustrated, I looked at the other options for windshield replacement but there weren't any - Safelite had bought up all of the competitors!  I had no choice but to schedule the windshield replacement through Safelite so I did. 

By now the crack created by Safelite (that's one way of up-selling from a repair to a replacement) was quickly expanding in three directions. Time was of the essence but the first available slot was two weeks away but beggars can't be choosers so I booked it.  A week later, customer service finally responded to my email but their response had little to do with what I asked them.  I began receiving reminder emails and texts telling me to be on time at two weeks ahead, 1 week ahead, 2 days ahead, 1 day ahead, 12 hours ahead and 30 minutes ahead.  I pulled into their shop at the scheduled time, having blocked out the morning to get the repair completed.

I was greeted by a man who looked at the car (Lincoln Navigator) and then asked, "Are you the Lincoln Navigator?" 

Wow, that was an intelligent question but I digress.  "Yes."  

"We have a problem."

"What's that?"

"We don't have the windshield for your car."

I said, "You've been texting me non-stop to make sure I was here at 8am.  If you didn't have the glass, couldn't you have let me know last night?"

He replied defensively, "First, I haven't been texting you - that's done from Ohio.  I have nothing to do with that.  Second, the glass is delivered overnight so we wouldn't have known last night and yours wasn't delivered. I'm trying to find it now"

Did you notice how well he diffused the situation and lowered my resistance?  Not.  He basically said, "Hey, it's not my fault!"  How about, "I am so sorry."  Or,  "Wow, we really screwed up."  Or,  "You must be really upset."  Or, "I feel terrible - this was totally unfair to you."

I'll save you from the rest of his ugly conversation with me and fast forward to the call I received later that day.  Brooke was calling to reschedule and she offered me a date two weeks out.  I reminded her that I had scheduled this two weeks earlier - with her - and I didn't understand why they would need another two weeks to get my windshield, especially in light of what had happened earlier that day.  She said, "You probably didn't schedule it with me."

I said, "Yes, it was you, Brooke."

She said, "Well, that doesn't matter."

I was thinking that this arrogant, defensive, ass-covering attitude was part of the culture at Safelite.  I said, "I'm not going to schedule a date two weeks out and have this happen again.  Call me when you have the glass in your possession and then I'll schedule it."

I don't think Safelite has a sales organization or has to worry about up-selling or renewals.  They are the only game in town over much of the country.  Can you imagine what would happen if they actually had competition or had a sales organization worrying about how much business they would lose to those competitors with customer service as bad as theirs?  No wonder they gobbled up their competitors! 

There is a lesson here for those of us in the sales development space.  When we train, coach and develop salespeople, we must demand that customer service get the training and coaching required so as to not sabotage the great work we do with sales organizations.

[UPDATE 9-24 Guy S. from Safelite reached out to me today and made everything right, had my windshield in his possession, scheduled the replacement, apologized for the way this was handled and for how I was treated.  Thanks Guy!]

[UPDATE 9-27 Guy S. From Safelite called again and said the windshield was inspected and he offered to pick up my car, drive it to their shop, and return it to me when finished.  Thanks Guy!]

[UPDATE 9-29 All's well that ends well.  Guy S picked up my car at 8am, drove it to the Safelite shop, oversaw the windshield replacement and calibration, and returned the car to me a short time later.  This ended the fiasco that began a month earlier on a good note.  Guy, you're the best.  This is Guy with my car and new windshield.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, customer service, sales effectiveness, safelite

Masks and Sales Assessments - You Lose a Little Freedom and Control for Safety and Confidence

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 18, 2020 @ 13:09 PM

mask-in-public

A short end-of-the-week post.

Earlier this week I wrote this article about correlation versus causation.  I compared analyzing restaurant dining and positive Covid-19 tests, and assessment findings and results.  This article will depart from correlation and causation but we'll still use the Pandemic as a metaphor for certain sales assessment experiences.  

I wear a mask whenever I leave the house or the car.  As someone in the vulnerable age group for Covid-19, a mask makes me feel much safer and more confident when I encounter other people.  When I wear my mask, I lack some of the freedom I previously had and I lose some control because I can't see where my feet are when I'm walking down a flight of stairs!  Of course that's only problematic if I miss a stair and knock on wood, that hasn't happened in the first 6 months of the Pandemic.

You lose a little freedom and control but you feel a lot safer and more confident when going out in public.

The same thing happens when clients use Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.  They lose a little freedom because they no longer arbitrarily interview salespeople who they feel like interviewing, and refrain from simply offering positions to people because they have a gut feeling about a candidate.   However, they lose some control because one half to two-thirds of the candidates will not be recommended when they aren't great fits for the particular sales role for which the company is hiring, or simply aren't very good salespeople - period.

HIRING-PANDEMIC

Companies that use OMG sales candidate assessments for sales selection are seeing huge improvements in applications, assessments completed (the candidate pool), and a sharp decrease in recommended (more lousy sales candidates and/or imperfect fits for the role) candidates, cost per assessment, days to hire and compensation.

quota-attrition

Companies that use OMG for sales selection have 80% higher quota attainment, and 238% lower attrition. 

You lose a little freedom and control to feel a lot safer and more confident when offering sales candidates a position.

Image copyright 123 RF

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, OMG Assessment, sales selelction

How the Correlation Between Restaurants and Covid 19 Applies to Sales Assessments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 17, 2020 @ 06:09 AM

wearing masks

Do you hate meetings as much as I do?

They're the worst.  But I have one weekly meeting that's always uplifting and productive.

I'm talking about my weekly meeting with John Pattison, COO of Objective Management Group (OMG). He happened to mention a report released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) pointing to the correlation between people who recently dined at a restaurant and later tested positive for Covid-19.  Of course the media was doing its best to spread misinformation as the article titles below suggest:

The report actually included facts they didn't share in their titles, like:

  • It was not known whether they dined inside or outside
  • It did not say that they contracted Covid-19 at the restaurant or because they ate at a restaurant

restaurants

John pointed out that this is a clear case of correlation, but not causation.  In other words, there is no proof that eating at restaurants caused anyone to contract the virus.  He said there could be many reasons why people eating at restaurants also have higher rates of infection.  For example, people who don’t like to wear masks might be more likely to eat at restaurants.  Assuming that is true, the cause is more likely to be a lack of mask wearing, not eating in the restaurant.  

But does it really matter whether this is causation?  Is there that big of a difference?  Is correlation enough?  It depends on what you are trying to show.  Let's take sales assessments for example.

All assessments produce a number of findings and scores, most in the context of personality or behavioral styles.  When used to assess salespeople, they can make a case that there is a correlation between a finding like drive, and sales success.  Correlation, not causation.   Why?  because drive does not cause sales success.  There are lots of people with drive who were epic failures at selling!

Personality and behavioral styles assessments are not sales specific, even when their publishers refer to them as sales assessments.  They were not built to measure sales competencies, but instead attempt to correlate personality and behavioral findings to sales.  None of the assessments in this category are sales specific, they don't measure actual sales competencies, and there is no causation. The information they provide is simply nice to know, but unfortunately, not predictive of sales success.  

OMG's sales assessment was built for sales, is used only for sales, measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies, has 280 sales-specific findings and is extremely predictive of sales success.  For an assessment to have predictive validity though, its findings must correlate to on the job performance.  There's that correlation word again.  Since there only needs to be correlation, does that mean that causation isn't important?  Correlation is not required, but it is vitally important.  

For example, one of the differences between sales producers and sales imposters is the difference between whether they can sell versus whether they will sell.  Can vs. Will. Who needs another salesperson whose best sales call is the one where they convince you to hire them?  You want salespeople who will find and close new business.  There is causation between Will to Sell and sales success.

Of course there are other examples.  A candidate who scores high in OMG's Consultative Seller competency and Value Seller competency will perform successfully in a complex sales environment.  There is causation. 

A candidate who scores high in the Hunter competency will succeed in a cold-calling sales environment.  Causation.

Here's another way of looking at correlation and causation.  Someone who scores well in a personality assessment will generally do quite well at developing, building and maintaining relationships.  It's a one-way correlation.  Why?  Because someone who is good at developing, building and maintaining relationships is not necessarily a good salesperson.  There is no causation.

Back to my meeting with John.  While we were meeting, Guy Kawasaki's twitter post appeared.

The OMG Sales Candidate Assessment is a really great cake but John and I agreed that despite a visual dashboard that tells the story of the candidate and effectively illustrates the scores for all 21 Sales Core Competencies, it has dog poop for frosting compared to the look we believe we can create.  We agreed to reimagine the dashboard and how we visually show each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies throughout the report so that we have the sweetest, most beautiful looking frosting ever spread on an assessment.  Stay tuned for an all-new look to the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment coming in early 2021.  In the meantime, it would be malpractice to hire salespeople without taking advantage of the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet.

Images copyright 123RF and 123 RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, recruiting salespeople, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, Correlation, personality assessments, personality test, coronavirus, covid-19, causation

Most Companies Can Boost Sales From 30-100% in Just One to Two Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2020 @ 18:09 PM

maserati

Your teenage daughter, growing 4-6 inches per year, asks for two new pairs of sneakers.  She's already outgrowing 3 pairs each year and these two, which are completely unnecessary, would keep her in fashionable footwear for only a few months.  It would make total sense for you to say, "Let's wait a few months until you've stopped growing so fast."

An employee asks for a new car, believing that an SUV crossover (not the Maserati in the picture!) would be more practical than a mid-size sedan.  There are 8 months left on the lease so it would be completely reasonable for you to say, "Sounds good.  Let's make that change when the lease comes to an end in 8 months."

In both 2012 and 2016, companies everywhere were telling salespeople, "We're going to wait until after the election."  There was tremendous uncertainty surrounding those two elections and companies didn't want to commit to anything until they were sure who the next President of the USA would be.

Surprisingly, in the year of the pandemic, salespeople are not hearing the dreaded, "We're going to wait until after the election."   Despite the polling, pandemic, and incredible divisiveness, companies are not pushing the pause button.  But why?

It's not because salespeople have become so strong that they have obliterated that put-off!  89% of all salespeople accept stalls and put-offs and that's changed by only a quarter of a percent since before the start of the pandemic.  That's right.  There has barely been a change in salespeople's ability to overcome stalls and put-offs since before the pandemic.  Ugh.

Biden has promised to raise both the corporate income tax and the capital gains tax if he gets elected so it can't be fear of that.  

It's not because there's a vaccine on the way which will help stop the spread of the virus because when it comes to Covid-19, nothing is certain.

So what is it?

Many companies already experienced at least 3 to 6 months of uncertainty and they can not withstand even 2 more months of that.   As a result, companies are investing, streamlining, expanding, hiring and going all in to save their 2020s, and position their companies for historical growth in 2021.

As I review what our clients are hearing, what OMG's partners are sharing, and adding my own anecdotal experience, there has never been a better time to sell!

But seller beware. Favorable conditions do not equate to easy selling.  There is tremendous pressure on margins, competition is fierce, and the selling challenges are more difficult than ever before.

Current conditions require resistance proof sellers however only 54% of all salespeople fit that description and that's improved by only 1% since the start of the Pandemic.  Current conditions require salespeople to take a much more consultative approach and sell value.  Unfortunately, only 12% of all salespeople have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength and only 30% have the Value Seller competency as a strength.  Among the weakest of all salespeople - that's half the sales population - the percentages drop to 2% and 7% respectively.  As we begin to purge the virus, how can companies surge when half of their salespeople suck at selling?

Companies don't really look as I just described them.  We don't see many companies where half the people in the sales organization suck.  In many of the companies whose sales organizations we evaluate, most of the salespeople suck!

You don't think that applies to your company but you aren't really sure whether a quarter, a third, half, or all of your sales force sucks because some of your people sell more than others.  Don't be misled by distribution of revenue.  Keep in mind that distribution of revenue usually has more to do with quality of the territory, number of established accounts, size of the established accounts, length of time in the industry, repeat business and call-in business than sales capabilities.  There are only two ways to compare the relative sales capabilities of your salespeople:

  1. Have every salesperson look for new customers under the exact same conditions (calling on the same size accounts in the same vertical against the same competition in the same territory)
  2. Have us evaluate your sales force and from the more than 180 findings and 21 Sales Core Competencies, compare Sales Percentile scores.

The ability to compare the sales percentile scores of your salespeople is not the ideal reason to evaluate your sales force.  But identifying where your challenges lie and learning what it will take to significantly increase sales is. Large and small companies alike that evaluate their sales teams learn that with targeted training and coaching in the areas identified, sales increases of between 30-50% within one to two years are very achievable. Some companies are able to double sales in the same period of time.

This is not the time to purposefully do nothing, wait and see, or worse, hope for the best.  Improving sales effectiveness has a greater impact on your top and bottom lines than any other thing you can do, including cost-cutting, operational efficiencies and lay-offs.

When it comes to sales transformation, you don't say, "let's wait until things get better" because sales transformation is the very thing that makes things better.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, objections, sales statistics, election, selling value

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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 eight 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.

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