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

Achieve More Accurate Forecasts and Sales Results Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 @ 06:11 AM

Sales-Cycle-Time-in-Phase-1

Are you old enough so that if you don't write something on your to-do list you won't remember to do it?  That's me.  I don't feel old, I don't look that old, but I'll be 60 next year and have become a slave to Wunderlist.  On Monday, I forgot to push the correct notification button and only some subscribers were notified of Monday's article.  That article was perhaps the most important article I have written in all of 2014 and it introduced my latest White Paper - The Modern Science of Sales Force Excellence.  This White Paper has ground-breaking insights and has already been nominated for Top eBook of 2014!  The Monday article clearly shows the differences between companies with shorter sales cycles, higher win rates and greater increases in sales.

Last week, a new client was explaining how he called several of the nearly 300 opportunities that one salesperson had in his pipeline.  My client identified 7 opportunities that had no recent activity, but had been in the pipeline for several months and were supposed to close.  Imagine my client's surprise when:

  • My new client had no difficulty reaching the decision makers,
  • The prospects were happy to speak with my new client,
  • My new client learned that two prospects had gone with an inferior competitor - months ago, and
  • My new client learned that the others had not even heard of his company.

How can this happen?

Did you read Monday's article?  There was one significant difference not included in that article.  In 96% of the companies where new salespeople were outperforming those hired previously using other methods, those companies had integrated their sales process into their CRM or pipeline management application.  Would that have helped here?  That depends on which application was being used.

We use Membrain at both of my companies and we recommend Membrain to all of our clients.  There are many reasons as to why we believe that Membrain is an ideal Pipeline Management tool.  Here are a few that would have helped our client if his company had been using Membrain.

Membrain would have notified him that:

  • These 7 opportunities were stuck when they were in that stage just one day longer than specified,
  • The opportunities had exceeded the ideal time for their sales cycle,
  • There were incomplete next steps, and
  • These opportunities were no longer included in the forecast.

The application would have proactively notified my new client.

One of the biggest and most chronic complaints we hear from clients is that they either can't get their salespeople to use the company's CRM application, or they don't update their CRM in real time, updating it only when asked to do so.  Does that sound familiar?  Companies with that problem - and that's most companies - rarely see an accurate forecast, rarely know the progress their salespeople have made on opportunities, and rarely have the data necessary for their dashboards to display accurate information.

The thing we like best about Membrain is that salespeople like Membrain - a lot!  It's simple to use, has no complicated navigation, requires almost zero data entry and always shows salespeople their pipeline on login by default.  It's opportunity-centric instead of data-centric.

Most of all, it doesn't require an integrator to customize it - to get your sales process built-in and hooked up to the pipeline, dashboard and forecast.  Everyone on my team is able to easily work with the Membrain application and customize it for clients.  It doesn't take long, and the end result is an awesome, robust sales process/opportunity focused application and clients fall in love.

I have always preached that salespeople should live in their CRM.  Membrain makes this possible.

In my 2005 book, Baseline Selling (kindle edition is ranked #53), I introduced the concept of a Visual Pipeline.  Membrain brought this to life.

You can check out Membrain here and take advantage of the special pricing they are offering my readers!  It's ready to rock right out of the gate.

Topics: Baseline Selling, sales pipeline, sales win rates

Second Secret to Sales Force Excellence

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 @ 09:11 AM

Social-Selling-Secret

Last week, I revealed the first secret success ingredient from our Sales Force Effectiveness Study.  Today, before I reveal secret #2, I need to take care of three important promos:

Koka Sexton and I will join Dan McDade on Thursday at 1:00pm ET to talk about Lead Follow-Up and you're invited.  Register here.
Our new White Paper, The Modern Science Behind Sales Force Excellence is available today.  Download it here.
John Pattison wrote his first article for the Sales Operations Blog, Today I met the Worst Salesperson Ever!

One of the stand-out findings that jumps off the pages of our new White Paper is about sales training.  Over the years, many reports have highlighted all of the money that has been wasted on ineffective training.  However, the study on which this White Paper, on Sales Force Excellence, is based was equally clear about this subject.  Most of the companies in the study reported that they offered sales training to their sales force.  But when we looked beyond the obvious, what became most clear revolved around three important distinctions:

  1. Who provided the training
  2. How frequently the training was provided
  3. The content that was included

We looked at the impact of sales training from every possible angle and I'll share a few of them here.  Of the companies that reported both a customized formal sales process AND a resulting increase in sales, 100% of them provided sales training at least monthly, and half of them offered sales training weekly, compared with only 28% of the overall respondents.  Most of these companies had outside sales training firms provide the training compared with only 44% of the overall respondents.  Got that?  The difference is the combination of customized, formal sales process, weekly or monthly sales training, provided by professional sales training companies.

We also looked at companies that were practicing Inbound Marketing/Sales.  We focused on the companies that converted more than 40% of their leads to conversations.  83% of that group hired outside sales training companies and 100% focused on traditional sales competencies as training topics compared with 55% overall.  Half of this group provided sales training on a weekly basis.  On the other hand, when we looked at companies that were converting fewer than 20% of their leads to conversations, only 14% of those sales forces received weekly training and most of them received it from in-house trainers.  Once again, it's clear that frequency as well as outside versus in-house trainers and, with this group, content, are clear differentiating factors.

We also looked at companies whose sales cycles were shorter and win rates higher.  Not surprisingly, 100% of this group reported significant increases in sales and 100% were having their sales forces trained at least monthly, by outside training firms.

It's clear that seminars, 3-day boot camps, and quarterly training are all nice, but they offer very little value and have very little impact.  That comprises the training that is a waste of money.  Companies that hire outside sales training firms, provide training at least monthly, and train on traditional sales competencies increase their win rates, shorten their sales cycles and significantly increase revenue.

This secret is just the tip of the iceberg in this 18 page White Paper.  Would you like to learn about the other big difference makers?  Download our new White Paper, The Modern Science of Sales Force Excellence today!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force excellence, win rates

Leading a Sales Force is Even More Like Baseball

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

baseball

I miss baseball already.  Although I can't watch it right now, I still think about it.  I look forward to next season when, together with my wife, we'll watch our son strike out other kids, hit lots of home runs, and improve his baseball skills while playing close to 100 games!  I don't look forward to the seats...  

I've written plenty about the similarity betwen baseball and selling, but today I'm writing about the similarity between baseball and sales leadership.  If you're not a baseball person, you might not see the same things that I see, most of which can be applied to leading a sales force.  For example,

there are five levels of professional baseball:  a short season A team, a full-season A team, and then, as the player becomes adjusted and ready for the two higher levels in the minor leagues; AA and AAA.  Then, if and when he's good enough, he'll be promoted to the Majors.  

Most people can see the differences in the caliber of play when comparing a Little League game to a high school game, or a college game to a professional game.  Most people aren't able to recognize the differences between each of the 5 professional levels.  They may be watching a minor league game, but it sure looks like professional baseball to them - without the 35,000 people in the stands rooting for their team.  Pitchers make the pitches, hitters hit the ball, run the bases, and everyone make the plays.  It is professional baseball, but in the minor leagues, pitchers don't command their secondary pitches.  While they already have a major league-ready fast ball, they have not yet mastered the ability to throw their curve ball, change up or slider to the exact spot it needs to go.  Hitters in the minor leagues are able to hit a fastball with authority, but may not be  able to recognize, adjust to, and hammer breaking pitches.

The exact same difference exists between sales experts like me and sales leaders like you.

Most sales leaders can easily differentiate between salespeople who are awful and those who are not awful.  They have difficulty differentiating one awful salesperson from another.  If you're asking yourself why I'm placing this in the context of awful, rather than good, it's because 74% of the sales population is awful!

Based on Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics, a sales force of 10 would typically have:

  • 0 elite salespeople who make up the top 6%,
  • 2 good salespeople who make up the top 26%, and
  • 8 salespeople who are awful, making up the remaining 74%.

A typical sales leader looks at the sales force and can differentiate between the 2 good and 8 bad, but isn't able to explain why.  Sure, they can point to sales numbers and activity, but those aren't reasons, as much as differing results.

It's very difficult to coach someone up when you don't know the cause of their ineffectiveness.

For example, let's take 3 awful salespeople who are each underperforming at a company we recently evaluated:

  • Bob has a full pipeline, but despite all of the opportunities, his win-rate is pathetic.
  • Mary has a nearly empty pipeline, but closes most of the opportunities she does uncover.
  • Bill has a poor pipeline - half way between Bob and Mary - but most opportunities get stuck and don't move through to closure.

You can easily determine that Bob is a successful hunter, but an awful closer.

You can easily determine that Mary is a successful closer, but an awful hunter.

You can easily determine that Bill isn't very good at anything.

Now let's pretend that they are your salespeople.  That shouldn't be a stretch because you probably have 3 salespeople who look like this.  

Do you know why this is happening?  Do you know how to figure out why it is happening?  Do you know that a seminar on prospecting or closing won't change anything?  Do you know what is in their Sales DNA, their Will to Sell, or their Sales Skill Sets that are responsible for these outcomes?  Do you know if they're even trainable?  Do you know if they're really coachable?  Do you know if you're any good at developing salespeople with these mysterious issues?

Of course you don't know.  You're not even supposed to know.  If you did know, they would each have been either fixed (because you knew what to fix and how to fix it) or replaced (because you knew it couldn't be fixed or you weren't capable of fixing it).  Right?

That example is only one of the reasons to evaluate your sales force.  Here are some more.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales force evaluation, Baseball, sales development

Surprising Social Selling Secret Drives Sales Revenue

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 05, 2014 @ 06:11 AM

Social-Selling-Secret

Today I learned that an article I wrote back in November of 2013, Increase in Social Selling Yields No Increase in KPI's, was named Top Sales Article of the Month for October 2014 by Top Sales World.  While I'm always honored to win awards for my Blog, this time around I don't really deserve it. The findings in my November 2013 article were correct based on what I knew in 2013, but based on what I know to be true today, it is no longer accurate.  If you've been reading my Blog, then you are probably aware of OMG's big Sales Force Effectiveness Study that we've been working on for the past three months.  One of the things we studied is the impact of Social Selling. At face value, one might come to the exact same conclusion as we did in 2013, that it's having limited impact on sales.  However, this time we looked wider and deeper and beyond the obvious and we were extremely surprised by what we found.  We discovered that

companies are experiencing tremendous sales results with Social Selling, but not because of Social Selling.  We found the same thing to be true of Inbound Marketing/Sales.  Companies are experiencing tremendous results with Inbound Marketing/Sales but not because of Inbound Marketing/Sales.  The report will be released next week and I don't want to spoil the fun but I will share one snippet.

One of the many differentiators between the companies succeeding with Social Selling and/or Inbound Marketing/Sales, and those that aren't might surprise you.  Companies that are succeeding with Social Selling and/or Inbound have shorter sales cycles, higher win-rates, and significant increases in sales when...

wait for it...scroll down...

 

...scroll further...

 

...scroll some more...

 

...the CEO is involved, committed, and driving best practices throughout the sales organization.  Companies are twice as likely to experience this kind of success when the CEO is part of this picture.

Look for insights like these and dozens more when we release our study on November 11.  Want to be notified?  Just subscribe to the Blog  and/or follow OMG on Twitter.

 

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, sales effectiveness study, social selling

Sales Success is Like Making Great Tasting Soup

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

french_onion_soup_med

Believe it or not, most people still believe that sales success boils down to getting a lot of people to agree to watch a demo.  While that's the case with technology, it doesn't vary too much from that in non-technology sales where most people believe that sales success boils down to one of two things - either a critical mass of meetings, or a proposal or quote.

On the other hand, depending on which experts you listen to, sales success boils down to how effective one is with either Inbound, Social Selling, Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Value Selling, Solution Selling, Relationship Selling, The Challenger Sale, acceptance of the Buyer Journey, Sales Process, Sales Methodology, Prospecting, Telesales, Reaching Decision Makers, Closing Techniques, Value Propositions, Capabilities, Presentations, Metrics, Tools, CRM, Pipeline Management, Training, Coaching, Sales Management, Selection, or Timing.  I'm sure I've missed a few, but you get the gist.

Sales success is no more about any one competency than great-tasting soup is about one ingredient.  If you omit one ingredient, like salt, the soup will taste bland.  If you omit one competency, like Qualifying, your sales effectiveness will suffer.  While you can't leave one ingredient out of the soup, it's also not possible to make soup by focusing on and including only one ingredient.  Likewise, with sales, you can't expect to succeed, dominate your market, and celebrate your results if you focus on and include only one of the competencies on my list.  

It requires all of the competencies, all of the tools, all of the systems and processes, and effective sales leaders to bring it all together.

Companies that abandon their time-tested and proven approaches for new tools and technology are as short-sighted as companies that fail to adopt the new approaches, tools and technologies.  It's not about extremes or polar opposites as much as it's about planning, integration, a practical approach and inspection.

Sometimes, the leaders are too close to know what to keep, what to discard, what to adopt, and how or when to adapt.  Sometimes they are too smart and know the answers without knowing which questions to ask.

Just remember, sales success is a lot like making soup.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, sales methodology, closing, sales performance, sales selelction

Why Prospects Don't Buy From You Today!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 29, 2014 @ 14:10 PM

world Series 2014

Did you watch any of the 2014 World Series?

I watched a few pitches of Game 6 and I'm a baseball guy!  Why so little?  I was watching Jake Peavy give it his all, trying to hold things together, and thought to myself, "Why am I watching this?  I don't care about either of these two teams.  I'm not engaged."  I'm guessing that if you're not a Giants or Royals fan, you may not have seen too much of this World Series either.  I do plan to watch Game 7 - as long as it keeps me engaged.

Engagement.  There is a huge connection between what I experienced with the World Series, and what prospects experience with salespeople.  If you can understand and apply this analogy it will make a huge difference in the quality of your calls and meetings.  Here are the four most important things for you to know.

Think back to the last time you were a prospect - for something - anything.  Other than a shiny new car or your next home, were you excited?  Really excited?  Were you anxious to talk with a salesperson about long distance or VoiP, insurance, payroll, shipping, a new machine, software, office furniture, computers, legal and accounting, landscaping, seal-coating your driveway, a fence, an industry-specific tool or device, anything?

No, of course not.

So, it stands to reason that your prospects aren't all that excited about meeting with you or your salespeople either.  That helps to explain all of the cancellations and postponements that so many salespeople experience!  The prospects will meet if they have to - if they need to - but not because they are simply interested.  Even that is interesting.  You know they need to meet, but they aren't admitting that.  So, you ask why they wanted to meet and they explain that they are "investigating other options, exploring what's available, or curious about your capabilities."  But, if you know that they are meeting with you because they need what you have, you can push back.  You can say, "Most people are too busy to meet with me unless there is something they were really hoping I could help with.  In your case, what would that be?"

Making this situation a bit more challenging is that salespeople get really excited about talking to, meeting with and presenting to their new prospects.  The reality is that there is a huge lack of alignment in the levels of excitement between salespeople and prospects.  So, how can you get them as excited as you are about discussing and showing them what you have?

It's not easy, but you can do this if you can help them solve a business problem.  At the same time, that's the exact mistake that so many salespeople are making.  They start by trying to demonstrate that they can solve a business problem.   I know.  I sound like I'm contradicting myself even though I'm not.  What I'm saying is, you can't demonstrate your ability to solve their business problem until they have admitted that they have a business problem!  This can't occur until after they have:

  • Told you about the issues that contribute to their business problem,
  • Told you about the business, personal, emotional and financial impact or consequences of their business problem,
  • Quantified the cost of this problem if it's left unresolved, and
  • Expressed their desire to accept your help.

You still need to qualify them.

My favorite Qualification Articles are: 

Top 5 Reasons Why Salespeople Don't Qualify Effectively

Top 10 Reasons Salespeople Struggle to Get Decisions

Top 10 Criteria for a Qualified Sales Presentation

Then, and only then, is it appropriate to demonstrate how you can solve their business problem.  Then, they will be as excited as you are.  Then, they will be ready to buy.  Then, they will take action.

How can you make the transition from demonstrating your product, to demonstrating your ability to solve a business problem, to doing that only after having learned about their desire to get your help?

I'll be honest with you.  It's not easy.  It involves learning to master the art of Consultative Selling, and specifically, how to listen and ask follow-up questions the right way.  For most salespeople, that takes 8 months of training from someone who actually knows what they're doing.  And not many sales trainers and coaches have the ability to teach this the right way.  It is a very elite group!

Prospects will get as excited as you when you learn how to get them excited - not by doing demos and presentations, but by asking enough good, tough, timely questions to learn about them and their business issues.  Then you'll know they are saying, "Wow, she really gets it.  I want to work with her!"

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling tips, Closing Sales, sales presentation, sales qualifying, Jake Peavy, 2014 World Series

The One Thing Most Salespeople Are Unable to Do

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

the-one-thing-salespeople-can't-do

Can you guess what it is - the one thing most salespeople are unable to do?

Based on what I most frequently write about, you might think that it would be consultative selling, but that's not it.  You might also guess that it's the sales equivalent of eating right - not doing demos and presentations so early in the sales process. But that's not it either.

However, there really is one thing that all but the most elite salespeople are unable to do.  It is partly a result of their inability to sell consultatively while continuing to demo, present, quote and propose too early.  Can you guess what it is now?

Most salespeople can talk about their value proposition, and they can certainly add something of value, but they are unable to provide value - enough value so that their prospects will pay more to do business with them.  I'm not just talking about salespeople selling value, I'm talking about salespeople being the value!

How huge is this problem and how hot is this topic right now?

In just the past week, it has been the host's topic of choice on 2 radio shows on which I was the guest, the topic of 2 articles I was asked to write, the topic of two keynotes I was asked to give, and the topic of an upcoming presentation my team will conduct (you're invited!) later this month.  Is this a hot topic or what?

The inability to sell value is nothing new though...it has been going on for decades.  What's different now is that so many people care so much about it.  Why do you suppose that it's suddenly so important?

[Insert your answer in the comments below.]  I'll give you my answer right here.

Only one company in each product category can be the low price leader and they have to sell shit-loads of their stuff to make any money.  Everyone else must fight for the business that may not go to the low price leader.  Some try to get the business by competing on price, while others try to get the business by attempting to justify a higher price.  That's where it's essential for companies and their salespeople to sell value.  And most aren't very good at it.  So companies are getting fed up with making very short money on the business they are winning, while losing a much larger number of opportunities than they care to admit.  For most, this is a losing battle that can't continue.  Therefore, one of three things will occur:

  1. They will give up, shut the doors, and go away.
  2. They will give in, lower their prices, and try to make it up on volume.
  3. They will give us (or someone else) a call and get some help selling value.

If only it was that easy.

There are many reasons why salespeople aren't able to sell value.  The categories include, but aren't limited to:

  • Lack of alignment on Philosophy,
  • Unclear, ineffective and/or inconsistent Strategy,
  • Useless and ineffective Tactics,
  • The mission can't be supported by salespeople's Sales DNA,
  • Salespeople have Sales Skill Gaps, and/or
  • The Sales Process does not support and/or reinforce a value sale.

I don't have the space to write in detail about each of these categories in this article, but there are some things you can do that will help:

Buyers will continue to drive prices down until salespeople learn how to stop it, or companies start dropping like flies.  The time has come to stop the squeezing.  Won't you join me in putting an end to the madness?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling value, overcoming price objections, value selling,, Evan Carmichael

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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