3 Tweaks to Your Sales Approach Are Steps Toward Sales Greatness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 19, 2018 @ 06:03 AM


Consider how frustrating it is to approach a traffic circle, or as we call them in Massachusetts, a rotary, during rush hour.  You very slowly make your way towards the circle in a long line of traffic, attempt to merge into a congested circle, travel around to the other side of the circle, and finally exit the other end.  Being a bit impatient, I'm usually screaming to myself, "Come on - don't stop! - let's get moving - let's go!"

Hold that thought.

I believe that role-playing is the single most important thing I can do with salespeople to help them to become great.  There are three kinds of role-plays:

  1. I play the salesperson's part and the salesperson plays the prospect. This is my preferred method as it demonstrates exactly what the conversation should sound like.
  2. I play the prospect and the salesperson plays the salesperson.  This approach works best when conducting pre-call strategy and usually serves to show me how ill-equipped the salesperson is to have the desired conversation.
  3. The salesperson plays the salesperson and another salesperson plays the prospect.  This type of role-play occurs later in training when the salesperson has the foundational skills to execute the sales process correctly and to play the sales part with some confidence.

When I finally reach scenario 3 with salespeople playing their own part, it seems a lot like approaching the traffic circle. Let me explain.

When there is a question they need to ask or they need to summarize what they heard, the traffic circle scenario comes to life.  They slowly approach the circle, and when they finally reach the circle, travel around it a couple of times before exiting and finishing their comments.  In other words, they talk in circles, confusing, distracting and boring their prospect.  Take a step toward greatness: Be direct and concise because less is more memorable and powerful while being less confusing and boring.

Consider how a professional baseball or golf coach may break down swing.  Take a practice swing or two, get in your stance, use the proper grip, bend at the knees, open some at the waste and shoulders, eye on the ball, smooth, extend, hold your follow through, etc.  If you want to hit the ball solidly you must do those things in that order, but you can't be saying those things to yourself as you get ready to swing or bad things will surely happen.

Hold that thought.

You may have several talking points.  You may have rehearsed or even memorized those points; what you want to say about them and the order in which you want to say them.  But if you use your talking points and sequence, your prospect will be totally bored by the logic and mind-numbing time it takes for you to go through them.  A step toward greatness: Abandon the formality and sequence and simply have a conversation.  If there is a question or comment that makes it appropriate to introduce one of those talking points, then fine, but keep it conversational and do not become presentational.

Don't you hate it when a good prospect derails your momentum by asking for references?  This is truly a combustion point in selling.  (There is a great Disney book on combustion points called Be our Guest) You don't know if the prospects really want to talk with people or are using the reference requests to get rid of you.  You don't know whether to provide references, which ones to provide, whether they'll follow up with a call, or what your customers will say to them.

Hold that thought.

Today, it's helpful to have video on your smart phone, of several happy customers that can speak to any concerns your prospects might have.  No delays.  No wondering.  On demand references and testimonials.  Take a step toward greatness:  Everyone on the sales team must record a couple of great 1-minute videos from their best and happiest customers. The videos can be shared across the sales team so that everyone has a robust library of customers who can do the selling for you.  Third-party testimonials are much more powerful than the promises of a salesperson any day of the week. 

Speaking of testimonials, many of you have read my best-selling book, Baseline Selling.  Since writing that book, I have written, shared (complimentary) and given you the opportunity to read more than 1,700 articles on sales and sales leadership right here on my Blog.  I would be most grateful if you would return the favor by writing a review of my book at Amazon.com.  

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales conversation, sales presentation, listening skills, talking points

Persistence Over Polish - What the Top 10% of All Salespeople Do Better

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 12, 2018 @ 06:03 AM


The best athletes in the world know exactly how they do the things they do that make them so great.  In addition to their God-given talent, they outworked everyone else to master the mechanics and nuances of their sport, the mindset required for greatness, and competed at a high level from a very young age.  When they falter they can easily make the adjustments necessary to get back on track.

Interestingly, most top salespeople don't know what it is that they do that makes them so successful! That's surprise #1.  If you look through the data on the 1.7 million salespeople that Objective Management Group (OMG) has assessed, you will see that the top 10% of all salespeople have better average scores than their colleagues in each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Their average scores are listed below for 5 Sales Core Competencies in which they have the best scores.  They are:

Rejection Proof with an average score of 92. Top salespeople continue asking questions long after other salespeople have given up, allowing them to close opportunities that others have walked away from.

Comfortable Talking About Money with an average score of 90. This strength allows top salespeople to have the conversation other salespeople don't have after a prospect says that they either don't have a budget or don't have enough money in the budget.  Top salespeople excel at helping their prospects find the money.

Great at Hunting with an average score of 89. Top salespeople have pipelines with opportunities that are both high in quantity and quality.  With so much being written about the relatively new BDR and SDR roles that allow good salespeople to focus on meetings while lower paid and lesser skilled reps make the first calls, this would suggest that the best salespeople do well because they are scheduling their own calls and meetings.

Thinking Positive Thoughts with an average score for Supportive Beliefs of 87. Their beliefs support ideal sales outcomes while other salespeople struggle with beliefs that sabotage their efforts.  Beliefs affect behavior and behavior drives results.

Doesn't Need to be Liked scoring an average of 86. This strength helps top salespeople listen and ask questions, challenge when appropriate and push back when necessary, all of the key components of an effective consultative seller.  This component of Sales DNA is also a requirement for selling value.

Surprise #2 is that 4 of the top 5 scores are elements of Sales DNA which represent 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Will to Sell has 5, there are 7 Tactical Selling Competencies, including Hunting, above, and 3 Sales Core Competencies can be found in Systems and Processes.  So what does it mean when only 1 top score is a tactical competency and 4 are from Sales DNA?

Surprise #3 is that having strong Sales DNA trumps having strong selling skills.  After processing 1.7 million sales evaluations and assessments, I've seen numerous salespeople who knew what to do, who to do it to, and when to do it; but they couldn't execute what they knew because of their weak Sales DNA.  And I've seen numerous salespeople who lacked a sales process and the tactical selling skills but found a way to get deals done because of their strong Sales DNA.  Sometimes, the top salespeople simply differentiate with persistence over polish.

20 years ago, we developed a product called SalesmindTM that uses affirmations and self-hypnosis to help salespeople overcome their non supportive Sales DNA. Watch this 2-minute video on LinkedIn.  Only a couple hundred of these CDs remain in our inventory and when they are gone they will be gone forever.  They have always sold for $99 but you can get a set for just $49 while supplies last.  Leave a comment on the LinkedIn video and we'll rush you a set of SalesmindTM

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, sales core competencies, sales excellence

10 Ways to Determine if Your Sales Prospect was Engaged

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 07, 2018 @ 22:03 PM


It was like losing my favorite pair of gym shorts, forgetting where I parked my car, or not being able to get my computer to restart.  The past week presented me with its share of technology challenges.  A single instance of my Mac not being able to connect to iCloud had a ripple effect on that and other devices that affected me for a week.

But none of those issues bothered me more than what LinkedIn did.

You probably didn't notice the LinkedIn change because it doesn't effect you.  Over the long term it may not effect me either but the change is affecting me right now.  At the top of this article there are 3 share buttons: 


The inshare.jpg button used to have a counter along side of it that tallied the number of times an article was shared on LinkedIn.  I used the number that appeared there as the key metric to measure engagement with my articles.  I believe that the number of views of an article is meaningless because an article could be viewed 20,000 times but that doesn't mean that 20,000 readers liked it.  People might feel moved to comment but commenting is down overall. Much of the commenting has moved onto LinkedIn and I typically receive more comments via email than on the Blog itself.  When the counter on the inshare.jpg button reached hundreds and thousands it meant that the article resonated strongly enough for people to share it on LinkedIn.  Based on what I was told, LinkedIn discontinued the counter because they didn't think it was an accurate reflection of how frequently the article was shared.

I know what you're thinking at this point. What does that have to do with the article title and selling?  It actually has much in common.  It relates to a sales manager asking, "So, how did your meeting go?"

The salesperson always replies, "It went great."  It's the same response a retail clerk gets when they ask shoppers if they need any help.  "Just looking."  "It went great."  It's the default answer.

The sales manager says, "Good, good."

I wish that sales managers wouldn't ask how meetings and calls went.  They should say, "Tell me about your meeting."

When a salesperson indicates that the meeting went well, their sales manager should ask, "Why do you think it went well?"  This question should lead to an exploration of exactly how engaged the prospect was.  As with the old inshare.jpg button, engagement is the best measurement of the quality of the sales call.  That begs the question, how does one measure engagement?  Here are ten examples:

  • The prospect shared information freely
  • There was little to no resistance
  • The salesperson was able to uncover the prospect's compelling reason to buy
  • The prospect was receptive to alternate ideas, approaches and solutions
  • The prospect shared something personal, told a story, or confided to the salesperson
  • There was mutual authenticity
  • The prospect viewed the salesperson as a trusted advisor
  • The salesperson received compliments on the questions, discussion or meeting that was led
  • The salesperson and prospect legitimately enjoyed their time together
  • The prospect indicated his/her desire to work together

Your ability to create engagement relies on how effective you are in the Consultative Seller competency which is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies measured by Objective Management Group This article is a good example of how ineffective sales management impacts their salespeople.  This roundtable discussion focuses on why sales managers are so ineffective.  And this article discusses how sales management heroics must be replaced by consistency.

Focus on engagement and you'll be rewarded by how much your revenue grows this year.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, linkedin, customer engagement

What Happens When You Force a Square Sales Peg into a Round Sales Hole?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Mar 02, 2018 @ 14:03 PM


Can you imagine attaching a snow plow to a Lamborghini and hiring yourself out to clear parking lots?  Back in April I wrote about our new puppy.  Now he's 1-year old and has grown to 60 pounds, but could you imagine putting a saddle on him and selling rides on the beach?  Could you imagine if the US arsenal of nuclear weapons consisted of putting 1,000's of firecrackers into a plastic cylinder and then saying to North Korea, "try us!"

These are all examples of trying to put a square peg into a round hole - things you just don't do.  And that's how I felt when I received an email asking how to deal with the following sales challenge.

The reader asked me to write an article explaining how to improve the sales effectiveness of their mostly altruistically motivated salespeople.

Most salespeople are either extrinsically motivated or intrinsically motivated.  I explained the science behind the different types of sales motivation in this must read article where I shared some awesome statistics that showed how motivation correlates perfectly with performance.

If you read the definition of altruistic you will understand why altruistics comprise only 7% of all salespeople.

I dug into Objective Management Group's (OMG) data and found some interesting facts.  OMG has evaluated or assessed more than 1.7 million salespeople and sales managers and while the altruistic finding has been measured for only a year, we still have nearly 100,000 rows of data that include that finding.

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and 6 of them are in the category of Sales DNA, the combination of strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales strategy, and sales tactics. Altruistics have an average Sales DNA of just 61 and that's well below the low end of the scale.  For instance, a sales role with zero difficulty requires a minimum sales DNA of 64 while the most difficult sales roles require Sales DNA of 82 or better!

Sales QuotientTM is OMG's overall score and it ranges from 0-173 as detailed below:

  • Over 140 is elite and only 5% of all salespeople are in this group 
  • 130-139 is strong and only 17% are in this group
  • 115-129 is serviceable and 35% are in this group
  • Under 115 is weak and 43% fall into this group.

All, as in every.single.one of the altruistic salespeople are extremely weak, with Sales Quotients averaging under 100.  

45% of those who are altruistic also lack the commitment necessary to achieve sales success.

One of the minor findings in the OMG Sales Assessment is Enjoys Selling.  Most people who are in sales score fairly high on this scale but Altruistics score quite low because they don’t enjoy selling.

If you forget for a moment that they are altruistic, and see how weak they are as salespeople, a role they don’t enjoy, I’m sure you will agree that they would be extremely difficult to train and coach.  Then, add to that challenge that they are altruistic, and you have a scenario where it becomes nearly impossible to train them to be more effective at selling given the embedded self-limiting beliefs, fears and motivation.  Altruistics are perfect for customer service!

Coming full circle here, an Altruistically motivated person in sales is a square peg in a round hole. 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, improve sales performance, altruistic motivation

Would You Like to be Selling Guns Right Now?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 @ 21:02 PM


In the current social and political environment, can you imagine what it must be like to be a salesperson whose job it is to sell memberships for the NRA?  How about selling guns for Smith & Wesson, Glock, Colt, Sturm Ruger, or Beretta?  Many of you have worked for companies that had less than desirable products and/or reputations and you know how difficult that can be.  But how bad might it be for those salespeople when so much of the nation is demonizing their company, organization and/or products?

It was an awful week for stunned people around the USA and an unimaginable tragedy for parents of the 17 students who were killed in the most recent shooting rampage.

Going off my Blog topic for two paragraphs, allow me to warn you that this article will be very controversial and many people will hate it and/or me. I don't like guns, I don't own a gun, I don't want to be in the same room as a gun, but some of my best friends hunt and have collections of hand guns and hunting rifles. I'm OK with people using firearms for hunting, but I'm sure it pisses off members of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).

The National Rifle Association (NRA) was under attack in the past week but I don't understand why.  I thought the NRA was a membership organization for people who own guns in much the same way that the American Automobile Association (AAA) is a membership organization for people who own cars.  The AAA doesn't manufacture or sell cars but they do provide benefits to their members.  When drunk drivers take innocent lives because they were driving under the influence, I am not aware of anyone attacking the AAA.  The NRA doesn't manufacture or sell guns but like the AAA, they offer benefits to their members. And while they certainly don't write the laws, they do lobby congress to enact laws favorable to their members.  Monsanto lobbies for legislation that allows farmers to spray cancer-causing Roundup on Roundup resistant crops and then we eat the stuff.  Pharmaceutical companies lobby to fast track drug approvals that allow doctors to prescribe poisonous treatments that we inhale like candy and become even sicker.  Agricultural companies lobby to have their diabetes-causing wheat products included on the government's food pyramid of healthy eating.  These industries and big companies lobby for favors that eventually kill us and we don't attack them.  So why are people blaming the NRA for the recent string of shooting tragedies?  Let's stop kidding ourselves.  If we have to place the blame somewhere, let's blame our dysfunctional, bought and paid for, corrupt government and the media that amplifies the outrage and pushes the divisiveness.

OK. I'm done with my rant and returning to the sales topic that I began with.  What must it be like to sell for one of these companies or organizations when they are under attack from all sides and what should those salespeople do?

I don't think salespeople representing gun companies have anything to worry about as this article in the NY Times shows that MORE people, not fewer, are buying guns!  

But what if you sell for a company whose products are not reliable, lack the latest and greatest features, aren't a good fit, or don't have competitive pricing?  That would suck, wouldn't it?  What if you sell for one of America's 20 Most Hated Companies?  That would suck too.  But those sales organizations are not disintegrating, their salespeople are not heading for the doors and their revenues are not in a nosedive.  Most of the outrage, hate, and reputation-killing is taking place in the media, not with their customers.

Most of the 16 million salespeople in the USA work for an underdog because only one company in each space can be the most well known, the best in quality, or have the lowest prices.  Everyone else is an underdog and underdogs do just fine.  In order to succeed when selling for an underdog you must be better at selling but unfortunately, 43% of all salespeople are crappy.  

In the battle to win business, great salespeople, who follow an effective sales process, take a consultative approach and sell value, will win more often than crappy salespeople whose only attributes may be to make friends and offer the lowest price.  However, when there aren't any great salespeople in the mix, the crappy salespeople with the best prices will beat the crappy salespeople who don't have the best prices, each and every time.

Those of us in the sales profession might not be able to do anything about the tragedies that are taking place, but we can do something about all of the crappy salespeople out there.  If you are responsible for hiring salespeople, don't hire any more crappy ones.  Use an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment.  If you manage salespeople, get better at coaching them!  Attend my Sales Leadership Intensive in May.  If you lead a company or a sales organization, determine how your salespeople measure up in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  And if you are a salesperson, ask for training and coaching to help you become elite and become one of the top 5% of all salespeople in the world.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, selling tips, florida shooting, NRA

Glue - The Missing Element That Makes Every Sales Training Initiative Successful

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 @ 06:02 AM


I still conduct a limited amount of training with some of my personal clients. We work with companies in more than 200 industries, from startups to multi-billion dollar corporations, that call on every possible vertical and decision maker, in nearly every geography across the globe.  I find that even the most seasoned and resistant of salespeople get to this point: When they realize how much more there is to selling, how much more effective they can be, how much more business they could generate, how they don't need to have the best price, and how much easier selling can be, they become eager learners.  That brings us to the question to be answered in today's article: If most salespeople become eager learners and embrace good sales training, why don't all companies experience equally tremendous revenue growth from sales training?

Some companies simply don't experience an increase in sales from sales training.  The difference between the those that do and those that don't usually lies with leadership.  When sales training is driven by leadership, revenue grows.  When the training is simply approved, but not driven by leadership, revenue rarely improves. 

The symptom of this is how seriously sales management takes its role of supporting the training.  When sales managers hold their salespeople accountable to change and consistently coach to the sales process and content, even mediocre sales training will have a positive impact.  However, when sales managers fail to hold their salespeople accountable for change and don't consistently coach to the process and content, even the best sales training in the world won't have as much impact as it should.

The key to successful sales training has less to do with the sales training itself but everything to do with two other things:  (1) Leadership's engagement; and (2) training and coaching sales managers to help them expertly execute the coaching and accountability of their salespeople.  Sales Managers are the glue that holds everything together.

Let's go to my two favorite analogies - my son and baseball - to provide examples for what we are discussing.

My son has been the subject of dozens of analogies for my articles, and lessons from his baseball experiences are always my favorites.  You can read 30 of those analogies in my ebook, 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales.

He's a high school sophomore and in addition to his varsity baseball team and the college showcase team he will play for this summer, he has a hitting coach who works with him for 3 hours each Saturday and a New York Mets minor league catcher works with him for 30 minutes each week.  The coaching holds him accountable for applying and practicing the adjustments that are unique to him. With the coaching, he's a super star.  Without the coaching, he would be progressing like every other player on the roster. 

We take the sales management element and the importance of great coaching, very seriously.  That's one of the reasons we offer our corporate sales leadership training to non clients each year.  This year's annual Sales Leadership Intensive is fast approaching.  It's May 22-23, outside of Boston, and even though it is still almost 90 days away, I have just 2 seats remaining.  If you/and or your sales leaders would like to become great sales coaches, coach up your salespeople, and grow revenue, this is the even where you can make that happen. [Update - this training is sold out as of March 5, 2018]

And in the shorter term, you can join a panel of experts on this subject on a TopSalesWorld roundtable tomorrow, February 27 at Noon Eastern.  Register here.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales management training, sales management role

Can Sales Statistics be Bad and Good at the Same Time?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 20, 2018 @ 22:02 PM


I received two pieces of bad news relative to statistics.  

The first is about my award-winning Blog.  It seems that readers stay with an article for an average of only one-minute or so.  That means that most readers don't finish the article, fail to get to my summary, and often don't read long enough to get my point.  Basically, everything that comes after the fourth paragraph is not being read.  This could also be good news.  It could mean that I can actually write shorter articles and that would be great for me!

The other piece of bad news relates to my award-winning sales training company, Kurlan & Associates.  I reviewed 5 years worth of statistics on opportunities that weren't closed and it seems that prospects were 6 times more likely to do nothing than to do business with a competitor.  We don't lose very often and I can count on two hands the number of opportunities I have personally lost in the past 5 years.  But it's one thing to rarely lose, and another to learn that 6 times more often than not, a company failed to act.   But these statistics are very misleading. Let me explain why.

Our business is not one where companies always purchase from somebody and it's only a question of from whom (think network copier).  It isn't a given that companies will follow through on training, coaching, sales process, recruiting, evaluating, assessing, sales enablement, consulting, etc.  A few don't have the appetite to spend the money (too late for them).  Some don't believe they really need the help (ego).  Most aren't willing to do the work (change) to achieve results.  

Still reading?  Oh, you're the one who stays past one minute and the fourth paragraph!

These two crappy statistics are connected in that both are related to attention and engagement. 

The one-minute stat is an average.  Some people stay on an article for 5 minutes to thoroughly digest an article while others exit after reading the title or seeing that I am the author.  They must hate me.  It means that there is enough readership so that the average time on page doesn't even matter.  It's a meaningless statistic that might cause some people to find a solution and improve the number.  Not me.  The average is the average and I don't care about averages.  I write for the people who read my articles, not for those who don't.

The same is true for those who in the end, don't buy from anyone.  It means that we are filling the pipeline and the natural attrition in our pipeline is as it should be.  It says that we are qualifying effectively but even that requires some digging to be certain.  Do these opportunities pass through all four stages of the sales process, including a proposal, before the prospects decide to live with the status quo?  Or, are we recognizing their lack of commitment earlier in the sales process and disqualifying the opportunity at that point?  Fortunately, it's the latter.  We usually move on from them before they have a chance to move on from us.  The more meaningful statistic is that we rarely lose!

Are you paying attention to stats like these?  Are they telling you a story about sales effectiveness or lack thereof?  Are the stats suggesting that you need to do things differently?  Do the stats suggest that you stay with an opportunity too long? 

We use a scorecard just like the ones we customize for our clients.  The scorecard keeps us on the straight and narrow and prevents us from chasing opportunities that score below 65 points.  It helps us disqualify very early in the sales process.  Do you have a scorecard that is predictive like ours?

The reality is that there are no bad statistics.  There are statistics that tell a story and those that don't.  There are statistics you can learn from and those you can't.  There are statistics that are forward looking and those that are lagging and that means that there are statistics that are predictive of something and those that aren't.  

When was the last time you looked at some of your statistics to determine what story is being told and the changes you need to make?

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales pipeline, sales metrics, scorecard

Easiest Way to Assess Degree of Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 13, 2018 @ 06:02 AM


Recently, I published an article that introduced a way to measure sales progress by means other than conventional numbers and metrics. 

Today, I received an email from a property leasing salesperson who had his own question about sales effectiveness.  He asked, "How do I determine if I am seeing results from me being a good salesman or if it’s from my sheer volume and what kind of selling would you say a Real Estate Salesperson uses most?"

I explained that there are four types of sales conversations and by conducting some self-analysis you can determine whether success or failure is the result of your own effectiveness, or because of your company's reputation, quality and features of your product or service, the timing of your conversation, or that you happen to have the lowest price.

These are the four types of sales conversations and potential outcomes that I shared:

  1. They want to buy and you help and/or allow them buy from you.  You are not a factor in this decision - they are not buying due to your own effectiveness.
  2. They haven’t yet decided to buy but you persuade them to buy from you.  You are a major factor in this decision as you caused them to make a decision and take action.
  3. They haven’t yet decided to buy and you don’t persuade them to buy from you.  You are not a factor in this decision - they are not buying and you were not able to influence the prospect.
  4. They want to buy and somehow you mess it up and they don't buy from you.  You are a huge factor in this decision.  They were predisposed to buy and something you did cause them to change their mind.

In the end, your effectiveness is determined by how consistently you achieve scenario #2, and how infrequently scenario #4 occurs.

If you have a lot of successful #2's and few to none #4's, it would appear that you are very effective.  If you have a measurable number of #4's, it is safe to assume that you are a crappy salesperson.  If you don't have a lot of #2's, you are somewhat ineffective.  If you have a lot of #1's, you have very little do with your own success.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, keys to sales success, sales effectivnes

What Salespeople Can Learn from Josh McDaniels Gutsy Reversal

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 09, 2018 @ 06:02 AM


If you follow American football even a little, then you were paying attention this week when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl VII.  You might have been paying attention when a day later the Patriots offensive coordinator agreed to take the head coaching position of the Indianapolis Colts.  The press conference was scheduled to take place on Tuesday, but 3 hours before Josh McDaniels would be introduced as the Colts new head coach he changed his mind, left the Colts in the lurch, and decided to remain with the Patriots.  Wow!  Good for Josh and the Patriots.  Bad for the Colts.  Bad for his reputation.  Interestingly, the thing that excited me most was that we now have a well-known, high profile example of someone  changing their mind AFTER the 11th hour.  And boy oh boy does this relate to sales!

Win rates are all over the place - from as low as 10% in technology sales to 75% for elite salespeople across most industries.  So let's average it out and suggest an average win rate of 42 percent.  For most salespeople, and for all of the bottom 50% who are just plain crappy, they are on the wrong side of success more than half the time.  I'm not going to suggest that crappy salespeople can change anything but good salespeople can...

The truth is that in some cases, people change their minds. 

But most salespeople hear that they aren't getting the business and can't wait for their prospect to hang up so that they can feel the pain of losing.  Fuck that!

The question is, what compelling reason might your prospect have for changing their mind?  Let's assume that they won't reverse their decision if they were happy with the incumbent vendor and decided to remain with them.  But they could change their mind if you were in the mix the entire way and on this opportunity they decided to go with your primary competitor.   How would you do it?

You could start by asking, "Have you ever changed your mind about anything?"  You need precedent.  If they're being honest, they'll say yes. Everyone has changed their mind.  Then you can ask, "For the right reason, could this be one of those times?"  The worst they can say is, "No."  But what if they say, "Yes?"  What if you could get just one in ten to say yes to that question?

Your challenge would then be what might constitute the right reason?  You can ask your them.  I'm sure they know what would get them to reconsider buying from you, assuming that you were being seriously considered right down to the wire.

Give it a try.  If Josh McDaniels can change his mind in public, take an absolute mass attack on his reputation and be OK with it, your prospects can change their minds in private.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing strategies, win rates

Is the Sales Force Getting Dressed Up or are Real Changes Taking Place?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 07, 2018 @ 15:02 PM


Recently, I installed vented plastic garage floor tiles like those in the picture above to improve the look of our garage.  It's the same garage, but now it looks awesome.

Yesterday I received an email from Richardson Training, letting me know that they have completed their 2018 Selling Challenges Study.  The data in the report, which you can download here, hasn't changed a great deal since 2017, but the report's new look is awesome.  I reported on last year's report in detail here, but my conclusion for 2018 is the exact same conclusion I came to in 2017.

In 2017, the biggest challenge that companies faced was selling value and that continues into 2018.  It's no surprise.  Most sales organizations that Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluates appear to be quite challenged when it comes to selling value. For example, if you visit OMG's public stats page and scroll down to the Selling Value competency, you'll notice the following:


  • Only 35% of all salespeople have the competency as a strength.
  • All salespeople have an average score of only 56.

In order to effectively sell value, salespeople must also take a consultative approach and use a sales process that supports consultative selling and selling value.  If you scroll from the Selling Value competency to the Consultative Selling competency and then the Sales Process competency, you will find that:


  • Only 22% of all salespeople have the Consultative competency as a strength
  • All salespeople have an average score of only 46 in the Consultative Competency



  • Only 26% of all salespeople have the Milestone-Centric Sales Process as a strength
  • All salespeople have an average score of only 49.

By contrast, if you scroll to the Presentation Approach competency, you will find that:


  • 69% of all salespeople have Presentation Approach as a strength
  • All salespeople have an average score of 73.

So the question is, why does selling value continue to be such a problem for so many companies?  

It takes me and my team at Kurlan & Associates about 8 months, training twice per month, to move salespeople to the point where they are confidently, effectively and efficiently selling value.  That's 16 training sessions, reinforced by at least 32 coaching conversations from their sales managers over the same 8 months.  And prior to those 8 months it takes some time to get sales managers to the point where they can handle the heavy lifting that coaching requires.  So it brings me back to my opening.

Do most companies do the sales training equivalent of laying down the garage tiles by finding non-disruptive training so they can say they provided training?  Or do they refurbish the entire garage - find training like Kurlan provides and make the decision to require their sales managers to become great sales coaches?

Only the refurbishing option will cause change.

Sales Managers won't find better training at turning them into great sales coaches than the training we provide at my annual Sales Leadership Intensive.  I have 5 seats left for the training on May 22-23 outside of Boston.  You can learn more here and register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Richardson, value selling,

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About Dave

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

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