Best Non-Sales Video Ever on Handling Objections

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 @ 09:12 AM

romey-obama

In the past few weeks, I have written a lot about some of the top articles of 2014, but today I want to highlight 8 top audios and videos from the past year.  There is a boatload of good stuff in these video/audio recordings and I strongly urge you to watch.  The best of the bunch is the last one, featuring Bill Whittle, on handling two real-world objections.  If you watch only one video all year, this is the one!

Jim Lobaito, host of BizTalkRadio, interviewed me about Sales Selection in this really fast-paced 30-minute podcast.

Dan McDade interviewed Koka Sexton and me about Leads and Lead Follow Up in this intense 30-minute video.

Evan Carmichal conducted a terrific interview of me in this video where I talked about The Pitch at the 18-minute mark.

Gerhard Gschwandtner interviewed me and we discussed a myriad of sales leadership topics in this short video below:

This video on SOB Quality won a Silver Medal for Top Sales & Marketing Video of 2014.

This Webinar on Mastering the Art of Sales Coaching won a Silver Medal for Top Sales Webinar of 2014.

This Webinar on How to Sell Value in Modern Times was top-rated by its attendees.

Finally, this last video was an after-thought in a 2012 post, but it's still the best video I've seen on handling objections.  It runs for 10 minutes, features Bill Whittle and this is what I wrote in 2012 to introduce the video:

Examples of Addressing Objections

I'd like to share a 15-minute video clip of Bill Whittle.  This is NOT a political statement on my part.  I'm simply sharing HIS two examples of how Romney and Obama should have responded to their critics.  Bill was speaking to a conservative Republican audience.  Forget the politics because this isn't about that in any way, shape or form.  Instead, get the lesson on how objections should be addressed!  The point is that both Romney and Obama went on the defensive and attempted to hide information, and confuse people with their spin on the facts and history.  
  
These are GREAT examples!!!  In the clip, Bill handles both objections (in Romney's case - "you're too rich and can't relate"; and in Obama's case - "Benghazi was a disaster") head on and aggressively takes responsibility for what both were accused of.   At this point, it should go without saying that I advise you to first ask questions to better understand the objection.  Then, at some point, either the original objection or a newly uncovered concern must be addressed.  

It doesn't get any better than this.  It's worth the 10 minutes that it will take to watch.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales objections, bill whittle, Obama, romney, best sales video

Will You Be Able to Recruit Good Salespeople in 2015?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

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Copyright: oakozhan / 123RF Stock Photo

Do you know when your car is not running properly?  It's usually quite obvious.  Lighting is very obvious too.  How about your home theater?  You probably won't know about a problem with that until after a component has stopped working.  Do you have a really good way to determine whether your sales recruiting process works the way it should and will work going into next year?  How can you determine whether your job postings are effective?  How do you know if you are getting enough candidates?  How do you know if the best candidates are making it to the interview stage?  How can you tell if you are about to make a hiring mistake?

Occasionally, my sales development firm conducts a turnkey search for a crucial sales, sales management or sales leadership role.  Usually, this occurs when the client lacks either the bandwidth, expertise, or desire and absolutely, positively cannot afford to get this particular hire wrong.

Last week, we completed two such projects where we were looking for salespeople that were absolute needles in the haystack.   This 2-minute video has my take on what constitutes "needle in the haystack" criteria.

Below, you can see a breakdown of candidates for each company and how they converted along the way.

Company NY Company CT Company
Views (all sources) 2959 624
Resumes (all sources) 243 71
Applications 101 20
Assessments 71 12
Recommended or Worthy 31 7
Phone Interviews 20 5
Face to Face Interviews 10 4
Recommended to Client 5 3
Hired 2 2
Time from Start to Finish 16 Weeks Less Than 30 Days

 

Which project was more successful?  Was it the NY company where we identified 5 candidates that met their needle in the haystack criteria, or the CT company where we only identified 3?  Was it the NY company where we took 101 applications or the CT company where we took only 20?  Was it the CT company where it took less than 30 days, or the NY company that really did their due diligence and took 16 weeks?  Was it a tie because both companies got two great salespeople?

Determining winners and losers is dependent on roles and expectations.

From Objective Management Group's (OMG) perspective - both companies had licenses for unlimited sales candidate assessments, so it was a tie.

From Kurlan & Associates' perspective, getting the CT company completed in less than 30 days was more profitable and less labor intensive than what was required to complete the NY company.  However, the time and labor must be measured against the context of fees.

From the client's perspective, the CT company was the winner because we were able to exceed their expectations on the timeline.

From the perspective of the job sites, they won big on the NY company because they were paid for views and got 4 times as many.

If it had taken as long for us to complete the hiring for the CT company as it had for the NY company, the numbers, multiplied by 4, would have been very similar to the numbers of the NY company.

There are a few interesting side notes to this exercise.  We teach most clients how to do what we do instead of doing it for them.  In those cases, they are responsible for sourcing candidates, and typically, if a company had received only 20 applications, 12 assessments with only 7 passing the assessment, they would call to complain about a lack of candidates.  And if a company had received 101 applications and only 5 of the candidates that passed the test met their needle in the haystack criteria, they would be calling to complain about the quality of the candidates.

That's the thing about getting selection right.  The only thing that matters is that you have the patience to wait for the right candidates to appear, the ability (aided by tools) to recognize those candidates, and in the end, the ability to convince those candidates to join you.  The numbers and ratios are just that - numbers and ratios.  It's about getting the right candidates into the pipeline, not getting lots of candidates into the pipeline.

Of the candidates that viewed the postings, why did such a relatively small number send their resumes?  Because we wrote the ads in such a way that most of the readers knew that they did not fit the criteria for who we were looking for.

Why did fewer than half of the candidates complete applications?  Does the answer really matter?  All you need to know about the candidates that didn't complete them is that they didn't follow through.  Why did a third of the candidates that completed the application fail to take the assessment?  Again, who cares?  It's yet one more way in which we can disqualify those candidates that need to be filtered out.  Could we have lost out on some good candidates who decided not to complete applications and assessments?  That depends on what you consider good.  If those same candidates won't complete call reports, use CRM, attend huddles and meetings, follow through, or do things your way, then no, we didn't miss out on anybody.

I believe that there will continue to be a shortage of good candidates through the first three quarters of 2015.  You can counter the effects of a candidate shortage by getting some help, using good tools or having experts do the work for you.  Would you like to use the accurate, predictive sales candidate assessment that we use and recommend?  Click here for a free trial.

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, sales selection, objective management group

The Most Important Sales Issues Heading into 2015

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

judgement
Copyright: zimmytws / 123RF Stock Photo

As we approach the end of the year, do you pass judgement on the personal contributions you made to your wallet, family, friends, co-workers, customers, community, industry, religion, and the world during the past year?

How did you do?

If you're like me, you did really well in some areas, and in others, not very good.

In today's article, I'll look back on the 100 articles I wrote in the past year and pass judgement.  I have included links to the most popular, most discussed, most shared, and my personal favorites from this year.  These are the most important issues for salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders, as well as their CEOs as we head into 2015.

As I click on the links to these articles, they are truly the best of 2014, a treasure trove of sales, sales management, and sales leadership content.  Please Enjoy!

Let's start with topics:

The 5 topics I wrote about most often were:

  1. Sales Selection and Recruiting 18%
  2. Social Selling, Inbound and Inside Sales 12%
  3. Sales Management and Sales Leadership 9%
  4. Pipeline, Forecasts and CRM 8%
  5. Finding New Business 7% 

The 5 most popular articles were:

  1. Top 10 Mistakes Salespeople Make on the Phone (Funny Read) a finalist for Top Sales Blog Post of 2014
  2. The Best Top 10 Lists for Sales and Sales Management (links to 50 great articles)
  3. Are Inside Sales and Consultative Selling Mutually Exclusive?
  4. Can These 5 Keys Determine the Fate of Cold Calling? another finalist for Top Sales Blog Post of 2014
  5. Could it Really be The Death of SPIN Selling?

The 5 articles that were shared most often on LinkedIn were:

  1. Leads are Making Salespeople Lazier Than Old Golden Retrievers

  2. Top 10 Mistakes Salespeople Make on the Phone (Funny Read)

  3. This is the One Thing Missing from the New Way of Selling

  4. The Sales Epidemic That is Neutralizing Salespeople Everywhere

  5. What the Sales World Can Learn from Marathon Participants


The 5 articles on which my readers commented the most were:

And finally, my top 10 (in no particular order) personal favorites from 2014

  1. Top 5 Sales Issues Leaders Should Not Focus On
  2. The Biggest Secret of Salespeople that Rock
  3. Why My Golfing May be Just Like Your Sales Recruiting
  4. Sales Managers are Sometimes Like Cashiers
  5. Why There is No Value When You Provide Value Via Special Pricing
  6. Baseball, Sales Cycles, and the Quest for Shorter
  7. How Stealing 2nd Base is Today's Secret to Success in Sales
  8. The Sales Epidemic That is Neutralizing Salespeople Everywhere
  9. Is This an Example of Succeeding or Failing at Inside Sales?
  10. Are You Any Good at Evaluating Sales Talent?

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Topics: best sales management articles, best sales leadership articles, best sales articles

Top 5 Keys to Select and Hire Great Salespeople in 2015

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 08, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

selection3

Copyright: swingvoodoo / 123RF Stock Photo

I'm always amused when an email comes through with a message that says something like, "Maybe we should target candidates that aren't recommended" or "Why do so many candidates lack Commitment?" or "Your assessments are only recommending 1 out of every 5 candidates!" or "The questions don't fit the role!" or "Thanks for saving us so much time - we would have hired some of these losers last year!"

I can usually determine, just from the comment of the email, exactly who, by title, must have sent it to us.  Here are some funny examples:

If it's a comment about how few candidates are being recommended, then the message is probably from an internal or external recruiter. 

All but the savviest of recruiters hate Objective Management Group (OMG) because we make their jobs more difficult.  Their job is to find great sales or sales management candidates and OMG only recommends those who are most likely to succeed in the role so, from their perspective, we are "knocking out" too many of their "awesome" candidates.  We do help them succeed at their jobs, but they must deliver more candidates than before to achieve that success.

A comment about how much time we have saved them is usually from the HR Director or VP.  Those Individuals easily recognize how good the recommended candidates are and really appreciate how much time they saved by not having to engage with undesirable candidates.  We make their jobs much easier!

When we read a comment about the assessment questions not fitting a sales role, the email is definitely from a candidate that is either a fish out of water, very inexperienced, or very misguided about professional selling.  Good salespeople never have a problem with fit or context.

Sarcastic comments, like the one above about targeting 'not recommended' candidates, usually come from frustrated CEOs that haven't met with enough good candidates.  Of course, it's easy to place the blame on OMG for quality of candidates because, well, who are they going to blame, their own people?  The quality of the candidates is directly related to the effectiveness of their job posting, where they placed their ads, and how well those postings are working.  OMG assessment recommendations essentially become the feedback on the quality of their sales candidate pool.

Testimonials often come from Sales VPs or Directors that have begun to hire great salespeople.  They recognize how good the candidates have been, they have made their first hires, and the new salepeople that OMG recommended have gotten off to great starts.

Depending on their roles and whether or not achieving their goals has become easier or more difficult, everyone has a different context and perspective of the exact same instrument.

As of this writing, there are some indisputable conditions that everyone must contend with:

  • There is a shortage of good candidates, but they do exist.
  • The more difficult the role and the more capable and expert the salesperson must be, the harder it will be to find "the one".
  • It is taking between 60-90 days to complete the hiring process.
  • The best job sites depend on a combination of geography and the desired capabilities of the salespeople you are hoping to hire.
    • The best candidate, who I personally interviewed in the past 30 days, was sourced from Craigslist.
    • The best overall candidates for a specific geography, that I interviewed in the past 90 days, were sourced from Indeed.
    • The best overall candidates for a non-specific geography, that I interviewed in the past 90 days, were from LinkedIn.
    • The best overall value for sourcing candidates was from ZipRecruiter.
  • You may conduct 5-minute phone interviews with ONLY the candidates that were recommended for the role by the OMG Assessment.
  • You may interview only the best of those candidates from the phone interviews.

Managing your own expectations is key to making this process work.  You must exercise:

  • Patience.  You may have to repeat the process several times to find who you are looking for.
  • No Compromises. If you compromise, you'll be starting all over again in 6 months.
  • Discipline.  Never consider a candidate that is not recommended by the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment regardless of fit.  
  • No Exceptions.  Exceptions compromise the integrity of the sales recruiting process.
  • Speed. Once you have identified a desirable candidate, act swiftly or you will lose that candidate!  I interviewed a great candidate at 2PM on Thursday and recommended him to my client at 3 PM.  At 5:45 PM I received a call and learned that my client had already contacted, met with, interviewed the candidate, and presented a job offer that the candidate accepted.

Finding, selecting, hiring and onboarding great salespeople is more difficult than at any time in the past 20 years.  The only thing that will make it easier is something for which you absolutely won't want to be wishing - a huge economic downturn.  As long as the economy is growing and things are going relatively well, we can deal with it being more difficult to hire.  After all, what good is a glut of candidates if you can't afford to hire them?

Finally, don't forget about EEOC Guidelines.  if you are using OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments, current guidelines require you to assess all of your candidates.  Clients simply purchase a flat-fee license for unlimited use and send the link to every candidate that submits a resume.  Easy!  You're EEOC compliant.

Want to hear more?  Listen to this BizTalkRadio interview of me talking about getting sales selection right.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, sales test, personality test, interviewing salespeople

Selling Value - Everything You Always Wanted to Know

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 03, 2014 @ 23:12 PM

value

Copyright: kchung / 123RF Stock Photo

Some news stories just don't go away.  Today those stories include Ferguson, Bill Cosby, ISIS and The NFL's Domestic Abuse Problem.  There is also Obamacare, Immigration and Ebola.  They remain in the news more because the media continues to milk these stories then readers demand to know more.

When we look at the sales stories of the recent past, the topics that sales experts continue writing about are Social Selling, Inbound Marketing, LinkedIn, Twitter, CRM and Lead Nurturing.  They remain in the news more because the writers are attempting to sell their own services that happen to support those topics more than readers demanding to read more about it.  There's nothing wrong with these topics of course, but sales experts should be addressing topics more closely aligned with helping sellers sell, instead of so much space being devoted to what takes place at the top and above the top of the sales funnel.

So if not those topics, then what should we all be writing about - all the time - that would be a real difference maker for salespeople?

I believe that it's the importance of and ability to sell value.  Why, you ask? 

Selling value is the one thing that all salespeople, operating without benefit of the lowest price, absolutely, positively, must be able to do well in order to consistently earn the business.  

Despite the need to effectively sell value, it happens to be one of things that salespeople do very poorly. The importance of selling value isn't going away, but sales experts are not spending enough time talking about it, writing about it, explaining it, or providing training on it.  The most critical aspect of this topic is understanding the many factors that support a salesperson's ability to sell value.  Selling value isn't a specific thing that one says or does, as much as it's an outcome of several other things.  According to Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics (close to one million salespeople assessed), of the 6 most important factors required to sell value, most salespeople have, on average, only 2 of them as strengths or skills.

This is such an important topic that last week I hosted a broadcast on Selling Value in Modern Times.  If you would like to watch it, run time is 46 minutes.

According to a Google search on my blog, I've written about or mentioned selling value, in some way, shape or form, 766 times in the past 10 years.  Here are 10 of my favorite articles on selling value and when you extract the major points from each, it provides a very nice collection of guidelines for selling value:

The One Thing Most Salespeople Are Unable to Do

Why There is No Value When You Provide Value Via Special Pricing

Top 10 Outcomes When Salespeople Screw Up Selling "Value Added"

Top 5 Sales Issues Leaders Should Not Focus On

This is the One Thing Missing from the New Way of Selling

Do You/Should You Have a Complex Sale?

Top 10 Reasons Why Salespeople Let Price Drive the Sale

How to Add Value to Your Sales Offering

New Metrics for the Sales Force - Unusual Thoughts for Unusual Times

Boston Ballet and Money Tolerance - What it Means to Your Sales Force

As I mentioned above, selling value does not stand on its own.  You should now understand that from the value selling broadcast and the articles above,  there are several other factors that contribute to selling value.  Unless salespeople are able to effectively integrate all of the necessary factors (Sales DNA, sales process, strategy and tactics), then the the end result will always be salespeople that are only able to talk about value, instead of actually becoming the value.

I'll be hosting a webinar on December 10 at 11 AM Eastern Time.  We'll be discussing the 5 Hidden Factors that Determine the Fate of Every Sales Force.  Selling Value is certainly one of those factors!  It will run for about 45 minutes.  If you would like to attend you can register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, crm, twitter, Pipeline, linkedin, social selling, selling value, Lead Nurturing, top of the funnel, Bill Cosby, Value Proposition

Key Sales Strategies for December

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 01, 2014 @ 07:12 AM

snowmen

Copyright mreco99 / 123RF Stock Photo

It's hard to believe that it's December already.  It seems like only yesterday that I made my annual reposting of one of my most popular articles of all time - a terrific holiday article that is worth a read even if you read it each of the previous 4 Decembers.

Top 3 Lessons from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker

Does that resonate for you in December?  All year long?  Every day?

So let's discuss December sales strategies.  What can you do to assure that December (a short month with only 17 business days) as well as the 4th quarter and the year finish - all have a strong finish?

You won't like my answer at all, but it's the truth.  

Not. Much.  

About the only thing you can do in December that will benefit the month of December, the quarter and the year is to make sure that the truly closable, qualified, and forecasted opportunities actually close.  If you pull out all the stops, but do it with opportunities that are not truly closable (in December), you run the risk of alienating your prospects.  This is where it is so important to know the difference between what you consider closable, and what your prospects consider closable.  How do you know?  At some point, they told you that you will get this done in December and you have a meeting or call scheduled to do just that.  If that hasn't occurred, then in all likelihood, you are guessing that you can close these opportunities in December.

Some companies need to spend their money this month or they risk losing it.  Do you know which of your opportunities are in that situation?  Those companies will buy from somebody this month - do you know whether or not it will be from you?  Again, you would know because you would have learned that as you qualified them, not because you have a good feeling about it - a guess by any other name.

There are some things that you can do this month, that will have a tremendous impact....on next year....

Most salespeople spend their December days trying to close deals, sending cards, delivering wine, chocolate, fruit baskets, nuts, pretzels and special gifts.  While important, minimal time should be devoted to those things.  Instead, salespeople should be filling their pipelines, scheduling January meetings, and assuring that the 1st quarter of next year is strong.

How can you get prospects on the phone in December?  This is a great month to use a service like ConnectAndSell, which provides up to 8x the conversations that reps get by dialing on their own.  Instead of wasting all of their time dialing and not connecting with anyone, salespeople actually spend their entire calling session speaking with their prospects.  It's very efficient, powerful and useful!  And when you find out how helpful it is in December, you'll want to use it year-round for pipeline building.  Whether it's inside or outside salespeople that do the calling, maximizing your call time in December will be the one thing that will guarantee a strong start to next year.  

There is also an emotional component to December.  Many of us will be on well-earned breaks, staycations, vacations and trips between Christmas and New Years.  There are four possible outcomes for December: 

  1. You closed the forecasted business and built a strong pipeline for next year.
  2. You closed the forecasted business, but failed to build a strong pipeline for next year.
  3. You failed to close the forecasted business, but built a strong pipeline for next year.
  4. You failed to close the forecasted business and failed to build a strong pipeline for next year.

The outomce you end the year with will determine your mental state for not only your time off, but for when you return.   How would you like to be feeling?  Would you like to kick back and relax during your vacation or sulk around, beating yourself up for blowing it?  How would you like to feel when you return on January 2?  Do you want to be energized or still feeling the effects of screwing it up in December?

Close what you can close today, but your emphasis in December must be on building for the near future.

Top performing companies have higher win rates, shorter sales cycles and stronger revenue growth.  Learn what they do differently by downloading my newest White Paper, The Modern Science Behind Sales Force Excellence.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, Closing Sales, accurate sales forecast

You're Afraid to Sell Because You Think There is Hope

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 @ 07:11 AM

bandofbrothers

It may have been in episode 4 or 5, in season 1.  It was definitely in the HBO series Band of Brothers.  Thanks Chris, for recommending it.  I can't believe I'm a decade late watching this!

A soldier was telling an officer that after the drop into Normandy, he simply hid in a ditch.  The officer asked if he knew why and he replied, "Because I was scared!"  The officer said, "You were scared because you thought there was hope.  The sooner you can accept that you're already dead, the sooner you can function as a soldier."

Think about that statement - not just its war implications, but also its life, and of course, sales implications.

Some people worry constantly about troubled love ones until that trouble causes their death.  The worrying ends because in those cases, death eliminates the fear.

In sales, we certainly don't want salespeople to have a defeatist attitude - nothing could be worse than that.  But on an opportunity by opportunity basis, there is tremendous power in believing we have already lost, or that we cannot possibly win this deal or account.

Why?

In battle, if we believe we are already dead, then what's the worst that can happen?  If we are already living the worst that can happen - death - then we won't be afraid, we won't be tentative, and we will do not some, but all of the things we were trained to do.  We'll fight!

In sales, if we believe we have already lost, then what's the worst that can happen?  If we are already living the worst that can happen -  we lost - then we won't be afraid, we won't be tentative, and we will do not some, but all of the things we were trained to do.  We'll sell!

"We'll sell" means that we'll ask all of those good, tough, timely questions that salespeople don't always ask; qualify more thoroughly than ever before, and not give in to the pressure of an early demo, presentation or proposal until the milestones in our process tell us that it's appropriate. 

Most salespeople fail to achieve because of their fear, but if we can eliminate the fear, only a lack of selling skills would hold them back and those can be taught.  Sure it can take 8 months to a year to train and coach salespeople to master consultative selling.  But that's a hell of a lot better that the 2-3 years it can take when all of their fears still prevent them from even trying what they are being taught.

Pop culture, especially a movie that tells a true story, can provide a better context for change than when we map out steps and teach.

You won't get this deal, so stop being afraid.  Do the things you've been afraid to do because you don't have anything to lose!

 

 

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, fear of failure, selling fearlessly, selling skills training, sales fears, sales qualifying

Top 5 Sales Issues Leaders Should Not Focus On

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 06:11 AM

manning

Did you ever watch Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Aaron Rogers have a bad day at Quarterback?  Did you notice that the following day, everyone was saying that he sucked?  While it's possible that these three Quarterbacks could have a bad day, most of their bad days are less about them and more about whether or not their offensive lines gave them the time and protection they needed to find an open man and make a good pass.  It could also have something to do with whether or not their receivers were able to quickly get open.  Give a good Quarterback enough time and they will make you pay.  Put enough pressure on them and they can look as bad as anyone else.  In football, it's all about cause and effect.  Bad quarterbacking by a good Quarterback is usually the effect, not the cause of the bad performance.

The same thing is true in sales.  We get calls and emails here all day long from busy executives of growing companies who mistakenly believe that they know what they need help with.  The Top 5 Requests are:

  1. Selling Value
  2. Negotiating Skills
  3. Presentation Skills
  4. Forecasting
  5. Closing Skills

In fairness, most salespeople could stand to improve in these areas, but these are not root causes as much as they are effects.  These five items are the sales equivalent to Quarterbacks having a difficult day.  What we really need to know are, what are the sales equivalents to the offensive line's ability to protect and the receiver's ability to get open?  Let's review these one by one.

Selling Value

Establishing indisputable value to a customer is an outcome based on a collection of capabilities.  It requires that a salesperson have supportive Sales DNA, specifically in the areas of being comfortable talking about money, having a high money tolerance, being a value buyer and not needing to be liked.  It requires that salespeople have consultative selling skills in order to differentiate, uncover compelling reasons to buy from them, and conduct the conversation nobody else is having.  It requires having the ability to connect all the dots, in just the right way, at just the right time.  And finally, there must be a philosophy about selling value and related strategy in place.  To learn more about selling value, join me on November 25 for our presentation on How to Sell Value in Modern Times.  Click here to register.

Negotiating

Negotiating is a trap door that salespeople fall through when, as with value selling, they lack the complete collection of capabilities required to avoid negotiating.  Negotiating is not something in which salespeople should strive to improve.  It's something they can completely avoid.  They must have supportive Sales DNA, specifically, an ability to stay in the moment, be rejection-proof, and not need to be liked.  Even more than with selling value, salespeople must be able to uncover that compelling reason to do business with them and differentiate better than anyone else to have the conversation that nobody else is having with their prospects.  It requires that they have the ability to quantify, cost-justify, and provide a compelling argument for ROI.  Finally, avoiding negotiation requires salespeople to possess excellent qualifiying skills!

Presentation Skills

A presentation is only as good as what was presented, why it was presented, who it was presented to and when it was presented.  Most salespeople present features and benefits instead of solutions, present too early in the sales process, present to the wrong people, and present for the wrong reasons.  The real cause here is a faulty sales process, with demos and presentations mistakenly being sequenced as a milestone to gain interest, instead of a milestone to seal the deal.

Forecasting

A forecast is a human prediction being made by software applications.  The problem is not with the software, as much as it's with the humans that enter the data and override the variables.  The real blame must be given to sales process and qualification. Sales processes that have been inappropriately staged and sequenced will always cause forecasting nightmares.  When it comes to qualification, there are usually two issues.  The first is that salespeople regularly fail to thoroughly qualify because they have chronic cases of Happy Ears.  The second issue is that qualification frequently occurs at the wrong time - either much too early in the sales process, before a prospect has a compelling reason to participate in qualification, or way too late in the process, when salespeople finally learn why a deal hasn't yet closed.

Closing Skills

It appears to many that closing skills are perhaps the most important set of skills a salesperson could have, but the science says otherwise.  Closing is an outcome that occurs naturally and easily after salespeople have thoroughly and effectively navigated all of the prior milestones and stages in their sales process.  Therefore, an apparent lack closing skills is really caused by an ineffective sales process, insufficient Sales DNA, a large skill gap, and most importantly, an inability to sell consultatively and thoroughly qualify.

Do you like my Blog?  Support it by voting for Understanding the Sales Force as Top Sales Blog at Top Sales Awards.

Register for the Top 5 Hidden Factors That Determine the Fate of Your Sales Force - a 45-minute presentation on December 10 at 11 AM Eastern Time.

Read my article over at the Hubspot Blog - What Effective Role Playing Sounds Like.

Topics: sales process, negotiating, sales forecast, selling value, sales presentation skills

Why This Salesperson Failed to Close the Deal

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 @ 07:11 AM

Have you ever played golf?  Did you ever play a hole where you drove it perfectly off the tee, hit a great shot from the fairway, and still couldn’t get it on the green in regulation?

Of course you did.  Me too.  Almost always.

This is a true story about a salesperson who experienced the same thing – only different – because he didn’t get it on the green in his sales cycle.

Our story begins when I received a marketing email from a software company. Their email worked perfectly, as they succeeded in getting me to click on the link to take their 3-question survey.  Once there, I found that I was unable to answer the questions because my true answers weren’t among the available selections.  The choices only allowed for me to have a problem that I didn’t have.  Oops.  I aborted the survey.  But they knew I had clicked on the survey and apparently didn’t care whether or not I finished.  Despite the fact that Joe Kindergarten designed the survey, their email marketing had worked flawlessly – at least on me.

Moments later, the inside salesperson (we’ll call him Phil) left me a voicemail and followed up with an email about two minutes later.  Apparently, the inside sales team, and specifically Phil, were well aware of these statistics touting the importance of calling in the first hour and for even better results, in the first five minutes:

Connects-1ResponseTimes-1Infographic provided by salesforce.com and CrystalNorth

So the email marketing worked, and Phil immediately followed up on his new lead.

Of course, there’s the issue of whether or not I was actually a lead.  Had I become a lead because I began to take a survey or was I simply a contact?  Did I become a lead when and if Phil reached me and turned me over to a salesperson or was Phil responsible for taking me through their sales cycle?

This was the topic of a very lively discussion between Koka Sexton and me on Dan McDade’s excellent video-conference last week.  You can watch the 30-minute show by clicking here.

Back to Phil.  We may never know if he was in an Inbound marketing role, an inside sales role, or a traditional sales role but from inside.  Why?  Let’s discuss what happened next.

Nothing happened next!

It seems that Phil was unaware of the well-known statistics that reveal how many follow-up attempts are required to reach a contact or a lead.   It can take 10-15 attempts and Phil gave up after 2!

Should Phil have continued calling and emailing?  Should he have attempted to connect on LinkedIn or give up?

Phil couldn’t possibly know the answer to that unless he kept trying.

For example, it took 15 attempts before I was able to connect with the Worldwide VP Sales for a company that became one of our biggest and most important clients.  And this wasn’t a name and email address on a form after an internet download of a White Paper.  This was someone who was introduced to us by another executive in his company and had already indicated that he wanted to talk with us. Even under those ideal conditions it took 15 attempts.

Lessons: Don’t. Give. Up.

Don’t. Let. Your. Salespeople. Give. Up.

In my most recent White Paper, The Modern Science of Sales Force Excellence, one of the findings showed that only a small percentage of companies doing inbound marketing/sales were converting more than 40% of their leads/contacts to conversations.  Download the White Paper to learn what they are doing differently from all of the other companies.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, inside sales, reaching prospects, prospecting tips

It's Obvious That Sales Excellence is Not Important

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 @ 06:11 AM

excellenceImage Copyright: olivier26 / 123RF Stock Photo

This is an end-of-the-week follow up article on Sales Excellence and why it's really not that important to most salespeople, sales leaders and CEO's.  Would you like to know why nobody seems to care about sales excellence?

I just published Why Nobody Cares About Sales Excellence on Pulse Network at LinkedIn.  Read that first and follow the 3 links!

This week's superb issue of Top Sales Magazine is available for free. Download here.

My brand new White Paper, The Modern Science of Sales Force Excellence, is chock-full of insights and available for free. Download here.

Nominations for the 2014 Top Sales Awards have been announced and you can vote in any or all of 15 categories here.  

I'm honored that OMG has been nominated for Top Sales Assessment Tool after winning the Gold medal each of the last 3 years.  

I'm shocked and honored to be personally nominated for 6 awards!  I would be so appreciative if you would cast a vote for at least Top Sales & Marketing Blog, and if you're feeling generous, any or all of the other 5:

Top Sales & Marketing Article (Increase in Social Selling Yields No Increase in KPI's)

Top Sales & Marketing Blog (The one you're reading - Understanding the Sales Force - which has won a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal for 3 straight years)

2 Top Sales & Marketing Blog Posts (Top 10 Mistakes Salespeople Make on the Phone AND Can These 5 Keys Determine the Fate of Cold Calling?)

Top Sales & Marketing eBook (my new White Paper)

Top Sales & Marketing Video (What Does it Mean for a Salesperson to have SOB Quality?)

Top Sales & Marketing Webinar (How to Master the Art of Sales Coaching)

As I understand it, Dan McDade's video broadcast on Thursday, November 12, was standing room only.  The first 100 people who were lucky enough to get in were treated to a great 30 minutes of lively debate from Dan, Koka Sexton and me.  Check back here next week for a link to the recording!

Finally, be sure to listen to Biz Talk Radio on Sunday, November 16 at 8PM Central Time to hear host Jim Lobaito's interview with me.  Not available on Sunday evening?  Catch the podcast by visiting the home page for the show where you can listen to lots of other good sales podcasts too.

Topics: koka sexton, sales assessment tool, linked in pulse

About Dave

Dave Kurlan's Blog has earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award three years running and this year this article earned Gold. Read more about Dave.

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