Which Thoughts Affect How Successful You Will be in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 @ 08:06 AM

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I finished reading Game 7 - Ron Darling's book on the final game of the 1986 World Series, and I'm half way through Shoe Dog - Nike creator Phil Knight's memoir.  They're similar books because each devotes so much ink and analysis as to how their own thinking and beliefs - both positive and negative - shaped their actions and outcomes.  Read them and imagine sales instead of baseball and entrepreneurship, and both books will help shape the ideal thought process to support selling!  I highly recommend both books.  I wrote a lot about beliefs in selling in both Mindless Selling and my best-seller, Baseline Selling.  As a matter of fact, when Objective Management Group (OMG) measures this, only 45% of the sales population have 80% or more of the possible supportive sales beliefs and only 6% (elite territory) have better than 87% of the possible supportive sales beliefs!

We're half way through 2016 and I've posted 60 more articles to my Blog.  I used to measure the effectiveness of an article by the number of reads, but these days, that's more a measure of whether the title or first sentence successfully got a reader to click through.  Today, I think a better measure of an article's overall impact is the number of LinkedIn shares it receives.  As I usually do every six months, I listed the top ten articles from January through June ranked by LinkedIn shares.  Chances are that you didn't read them all so here goes:

#1 - Breaking News - More Salespeople Suck Than Ever Before

#2 - Must Read - This Email Proves How Poorly the Bottom 74% of Salespeople Perform

#3 - Learn How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

#4 - The 5 Questions That Get Prospects to Buy so You Don't Have to Sell

#5 - How Boomers and Millennials Differ in Sales

#6 - Sales Coaching and the Challenges of Different Types of Salespeople

#7 - What do you Blame When Salespeople Don't Schedule Enough New Meetings?

#8 - What Percentage of Sales Managers Have the Necessary Coaching Skills?

#9 - How Wrong are Company Methods to Rank and Compensate Salespeople? 

#10 - Why Uncovering Pain Doesn't Close the Sale with a CEO and the 3 Conditions You Do Need

While those were the most shared, there are a couple that should have been shared more often but weren't:

The 3 Most Important Questions about Sales Process

It's Coming Sooner Than You Think - 5 Keys to Prepare Your Sales Force for the Recession

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Coaching, Top Performer, sales performance, self-limiting sales beliefs, sales compensation, linkedin, uncovering pain, phil knight, nike, ron darling

Those Who Follow Sales Best Practices Don't Necessarily Become Top Performers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 @ 10:06 AM

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You'll regularly find me writing about the science - the data - that differentiates top sales performers from the bottom.  But today, I'll move into the world from which everyone else in this space operates - anecdotal evidence and opinions. 

I will cite two sources for this article:

  • The 130 sales consulting firms that partner with me at Objective Management Group (OMG) and provide our award-winning sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments;
  • The tens of thousands of salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders that I have personally trained.

In both groups of people I have noticed a few things that are common to the tops and not so much the bottoms and I'm certain that if you paid attention, you would recognize some of the same patterns in your organization.

In my experience, The top salespeople in both groups typically attend scheduled training events, Conferences, Webinars, and coaching calls.  They also tend to stay on top of updates, communications, reviews, emails and notes.  While some bottom performers do these things too, it's clear that there is a correlation between the tops and the learning and development activities on which they choose to invest their time.

The question is, are they at the top because they focus, participate, attend and respond; or do they actively participate because they are at the top?  Which one is cause and which one is effect?

Each of the activities I mentioned are best practices of top performers.  It's almost impossible to be a top performer and not do those things, while it is quite easy to not do those things and be a bottom performer.  But that doesn't answer the question of cause and effect.  Let's take a closer look at the bottom performers that do all of those things but still fail to perform.  If they do all of the same things, what holds the bottom performers back?

I didn't begin writing this article with a plan to go here, but as always, it ends up here.  Assuming that an ineffective sales manager isn't to blame, it comes down to the following four things:

  • Lack of Desire for Greater Success in Sales
  • Lack of Commitment to Do What it Takes to Achieve Greater Success in Sales
  • Weak Sales DNA - Strengths Don't Support their Selling Skills
  • Poor Selling Skills - Never Developed or not up-to-date

 I just looked at a few thousand rows of data from the last two weeks.  While 91% of these salespeople had strong Desire, only 59% had the Commitment to do what it takes.  That's a difference maker!  Additionally, only 33% had Sales DNA of 70 or better and only 9% had Sales DNA of at least 82 which is required to support the Challenger Sale.   Worst of all, only 11% had at least 50% of the selling skills we measure.

So even when I try to write an anecdotal piece, I end up returning to the OMG's science behind selling.

Cause and effect?  Salespeople who do the right things don't necessarily become top performers but top performers necessarily do the right things.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, the challenger sale, top producer, sales assessments, objective management group, top performing salespeople

What Percentage of New Salespeople Reach Decision Makers?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 @ 11:06 AM

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It isn't as good as the Father's Day gifts I received from my wife and son, but I love it just the same.  My team at Objective Management Group (OMG) built a great new tool and this one does not help us to more effectively evaluate sales forces and assess sales candidates.  We're already pretty darn good at that.  The new tool allows me to quickly grab and analyze data faster and more effectively than I ever could before.  For example, I used it last week for the first time and within a few minutes I was able to write this article that showed 2 of our 21 sales competencies in a completely surprising way.  While this is very cool for me, I think this could be even more awesome for you!

For example, I reviewed a new set of around 8,500 rows of data today.  I wanted to know what percentage of salespeople were able to get past gatekeepers, including voice mail systems, and reach decision makers. This was very interesting!

Overall, 46% of all salespeople are able to get past gatekeepers and reach decision makers - but that's only when we include procurement folks as decision makers.  If we filter the data on salespeople who do not begin with procurement, that number drops to just 13%!  But there's more!  When I filtered the data by salespeople who are brand new to sales it drops to only 1%.  ONLY ONE PERCENT OF NEW SALESPEOPLE ARE ABLE TO REACH DECISION MAKERS!!  And who are the people filling all of the new sales development and business development roles - the top of the funnel roles where BDR's and SDR's call to make appointments for the account executives to meet with Decision Makers?  Brand new salespeople!!  This data is only about getting through - prior to having a first conversation with a decision maker - is it any wonder that they average only 1.5 meetings booked per week?

There are plenty of people writing articles about the differences between good salespeople and everyone else.  I attempt to debunk as many of those articles as I get to see but there are more than I could ever get to. Compared to the science based data that OMG has, those articles are based on opinions and anecdotal references and generally quite false.  Do you have a theory about salespeople?  Have you observed a difference maker?  Have you worked with some great salespeople?  With this new tool at my disposal, I can accept any and all of your theories, questions, assumptions and requests, run an analysis, and report on what we learn!  I'm very excited about the process.  You can enter your request in the comments below, or if you prefer anonymity, email it to me at dkurlan@objectivemanagement.com.  I won't use your name if you don't want me to.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, booking appointments, reaching decision makers, phone prospecting, top of the funnel

Surprising New Data on Salespeople Busts the Myths about Relationship Selling and Social Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 @ 13:06 PM

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If you are a regular reader, you might recall this great article on Selling to a CEO.  In that article, I also mentioned some of the expanded Sales Competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) now measures.  Before April, Relationship Building and Mastery of Social Selling were findings in our evaluations, but now, they are full blown competencies with complete sets of attributes.

I had a theory about salespeople, but didn't have the data to prove it out.  I believed that social selling was a godsend to those in sales who were not great at relationship building - that by utilizing applications like LinkedIn and Twitter, they could reach out to new people, but with the benefit of hiding behind the glass screen. Do you think I was right?  Or wrong?

 Actually, I couldn't have been more wrong!

We took nearly 5,000 rows of data from the past 2 weeks and looked at those two competencies and compared the results.  In the 1st graph, you'll see that the overwhelming majority of salespeople are poor at both, or to put it in my vocabulary, they suck at both!  Just 5% were good at both, 11% excelled at social selling and 16% excelled at relationship building.  

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So I wondered if the data might be skewed based on demographics.  For instance, would the data show that salespeople with more than 10 years in sales are less effective at social selling and better at relationship building?  We filtered the data and removed everyone who had fewer than 10 years of sales experience, leaving us with around 1,850 veteran salespeople.  The graph looked nearly identical to the first graph but the veteran group at 33% was much better at relationship building, 11% - the same as the entire population - had mastered social selling and 8% achieved high scores in both.

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So I wondered what would happen if we looked at the people who were new to sales. This time, we filtered the data and removed everyone who had more than 5 years of sales experience, leaving us with around 2,000 newer salespeople.  This graph also looked quite similar, but there were a few small differences.  Just 2% of the newer salespeople were good at both competencies.  33% were good at relationship building, and surprisingly only 9% had mastered social selling - an even smaller percentage than the veteran group!

 

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 My theory?  Out the window.  Not even close!  Instead we made two even better discoveries from this exercise:  

  1. The majority of salespeople, who aren't very good at relationship building, will be equally poor at social selling.
  2. Although you and I are selling socially, most salespeople - 89% are not effective at social selling! 

Are you surprised by any of these discoveries?  What are your thoughts?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, twitter, Relationship Selling, linkedin, social selling, sales assessments

A CEO's Guide to the Differences in Sales Leadership Roles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 15, 2016 @ 14:06 PM

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I was reviewing a sales leadership evaluation with my client, a CEO, who was a bit confused over how this was different from a sales management evaluation.  He wondered, "Aren't sales managers and sales leaders the same?"

He has a sales force that was typical of a mid-size business with a Sales VP (the sales leader), 2 sales managers, and about 15 salespeople between them.  In my experience, there is a boatload of confusion over the differences between Sales Managers, Sales Directors, Sales VP's, Regional Sales Managers, National Sales Managers, Senior Sales VP's, Worldwide Sales VP's, Sales Operations VP's, Sales Enablement VP's and Chief Revenue Officers.

Let's attempt to explain some of the important differences between Sales Managers and the other Sales Leadership roles.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), we evaluate both Sales Managers and Sales Leaders as well as Salespeople.  To use the proper evaluation, we often have to ignore titles and pay more attention to reports and function.  

Who are the Direct Reports?  One of the most obvious differences between Sales Managers and other Sales Leaders is who reports to them.  Typically, salespeople report to Sales Managers and Sales Managers report to Sales Directors or Sales VP's.  One of the reasons that executives get confused is this example where, in one company, the manager of 5 salespeople is a Sales Manager, while the company across the hall with 3 salespeople has them reporting to a VP Sales.  Sometimes, the very first hire a company makes is a Sales VP whose role is to sell.  Titles do not tell the story, but reporting structure does!

What is the Primary Function?  The primary function of a Sales Manager is to coach salespeople, so the focus is on tactics.  The primary functions of a Sales VP's are market penetration, building an effective sales organization, systems and processes, and revenue growth, so the focus must be on strategy.  Small companies, looking to hire their first Sales Leader, often want both - someone who can bring strategy as well as tactics.  They must choose between hiring a Sales VP who is willing to perform Sales Management functions, or a Sales Manager who may be completely unproven when it comes to strategic thinking.  A compromise is not usually the solution, so we need to look at who will be reporting to this person and recognize that a proven Sales Manager with a passion for coaching salespeople will have the most impact.

What is the Compensation?  While this can vary wildly depending on the industry, there are some common range differences.  Most Sales Managers earn between $125,000 and $175,000 in total compensation while most Sales VP's earn between $250,000 and $350,000 in total compensation.  When a small company hires someone to perform in the Sales Management role, but awards a VP title, the cost goes up significantly!

What about those other Roles?  Sales Enablement VP's, sometimes known as Sales Operations VP's, arrange for the tools and training.  Sales Directors sometimes report to Sales VP's while in other companies, the reverse is true.  Both positions are necessary when there are too many of one of those titles.  For example, if we have 6 Sales Directors, each with 3 sales managers reporting to them, the Sales Directors would report to a VP.  Or, if we had 6 Sales VP's, each with 3 sales managers reporting to them, the Sales VP's would report to either a Sales Director, a Senior VP Sales, or a Worldwide VP Sales.  And finally, the senior sales leader and the senior marketing leader would report to a Chief Revenue Officer.  In some companies, Sales Managers are the salespeople (think territory managers) while Sales VP's are the sales managers with some expanded responsibilities.

So back to the Review of the Sales Leadership evaluation.  One of the interesting findings that confused the CEO was that while his Sales Leader scored 81% on Sales Strategy and 77% on Sales Coaching, the leader's tendency was to default to Sales Accountability (get tougher) and Sales Recruiting (hire better salespeople) despite having much, much lower scores on those competencies.  We see this a lot with Sales Leaders - using skills where they aren't that strong and failing to use skills in which they are really good!

There are many different styles of leadership and when it comes to Sales Leaders, you may have a preference as to the style and how well that style fits into your culture.  Be warned though. Pick the style you like after you have determined that the sales leader has mastery over the competencies for that particular sales leadership role.  A great style makes it easier to work with someone.  When style trumps capabilities, your new sales leader could be the skipper of a sinking ship.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, sales VP, Sales Director

The One Sales Data Point That Varies Wildly

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 @ 06:06 AM

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In my last article, we discussed big data and big lies in the sales assessment space and touched on OMG's 230,000,000 data points.  Most of the data points are very consistent across cultures and continents, but there is one that varies wildly depending on the role, the country, and the culture.

One of the many OMG findings is "Enjoys Selling."  Recently, we performed an analysis of those salespeople who had Strong Desire and Strong Commitment toward sales success, but who did not Enjoy Selling and were not Motivated.  It is a very rare combination - we see it in only 1 in 400 salespeople - except in countries, cultures and companies where the emphasis is on hiring entry-level salespeople.  Then, the rate of occurrence can be as high as 1 in 200.  Still rare, but twice as likely to occur.  To put this in context, fewer than 5% of salespeople don't enjoy selling, and fewer than 5% aren't motivated.  But only 1 in 400 have both of these as weaknesses, yet still have both strong Desire and Commitment.  Who are these salespeople?  How can they be committed and have strong desire, but not enjoy it or be motivated? Intrigued?

I don't have a scientific answer for this question, but I do have some possibilities.

Some feel obligated to sell.  They are in a family business and they are part of the family.  They feel obligated to a parent, grandparent, spouse, uncle, aunt or in-law.

Some are selling for the first time and they want to succeed - at whatever they do. They are pushing through - not because they enjoy selling and feel motivated to sell - because they have a need to get their careers off to a good start.

Some are aging career salespeople and need to succeed because they are nearing retirement.  They no longer enjoy selling and no longer feel motivated to sell, but they are pushing through out of necessity.

So if this anomaly represents such a small percentage of salespeople, why did I bother to write about it?

Because you might have one of these people working for or applying for a job one day and you should understand the hidden factors that will have an affect on their results.

According to recent Gallop research, there is a 20% improvement in sales when companies select the right salespeople.  OMG can help you select the right salespeople with the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment and the one that has been named the Top Sales Candidate Assessment for 5 consecutive years.

The Tenfold Blog quoted 20 Business and Sales Leaders on what they believe is the #1 Trait of Superstar Salespeople.  It's very difficult to narrow selling down to 1 trait, but 20 of us did exactly that and you can see what we all had to say.  As a reader of this blog, I don't believe that you will be able to agree with half of the 20 quotes!  Compare that with this article on the 10 Differences Between Sales Winners and Losers.

Finally, the list of the Top Sales Books for Summer Reading was released and you can get that here.  Yes, my best-seller, Baseline Selling is on the list again.  When I wrote this article on Sunday evening, it was sitting at #13 on the list of best-selling sales books on Amazon.com despite being published 11 years ago! 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales selection, sales success, gallop, #1 trait of successful salespeople

Big Data and Big Lies Have Arrived in the Sales Training and Assessment Space

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 03, 2016 @ 07:06 AM

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I've been trying very hard to find the time to write this article.  I always have plenty of material, but I just couldn't wait to write this particular article, and I've been waiting for nearly 24 hours since the idea was triggered by an email.  24 hours may not seem like a lot of time, but for me, once I decide to do something, I want to do it right then.  But before I could write, there were meetings, an important award ceremony where our son was named Middle School Male Athlete of the Year, and of course, the dinner celebration that followed.  We are so proud!  I hadn't realized it, but he has become to athletics what Objective Management Group (OMG) is to assessments, and my wife's company, PENTA Communications, is to marketing.  All three of us are committed to being the best at what we do.  

Yesterday I received an email that you might have received too.  It was a promotion from Top Sales World (TSW) to download a "Free Big Data-Driven Sales Training Report for Your Industry."  TSW was simply the messenger in this case, with the provider being The Sales Board.  Like many of you, I clicked through and saw that their report was based on their assessments.  And this is where it got really interesting for me!  Their website read an awful lot like OMG's - only the numbers were very different...

They say that they have assessed 400,000 salespeople from 3,500 companies and they measure 5 critical selling skills that are predictive of success.  That gives them more than 1 million data points.  Good for them.  They claim that "no other company has developed big data comparable to this enormous database of skill measurement and corresponding performance change."  Absolutely Incredible!  So why am I ticked off, but not impressed? 

If you're a regular reader, then you know I mention the source and size of OMG's database whenever I provide statistics from OMG.  So I need to do that again here.  OMG has assessed more than 1 million salespeople from more than 11,000 companies (in the same period of time) and we measure all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  And since there are an average of about 10 attributes in each of the 21 Competencies, that would give us 210 million data points!  Even though OMG's data points dwarf theirs by 210 times, their lie about their big data being the biggest source anywhere is only a footnote.

I want to talk about the 5 selling skills that they say are critical and predictive of success.  I would argue that while their 5 are useful, selling skills alone are not predictive of anything!  We have assessed tens of thousands of salespeople who have incredible skills, but some:

  • Lack Sales DNA - They lack the strengths that support their ability to execute those skills.
  • Lack Commitment to sales success - They won't do what it takes and give up when it gets difficult.
  • Lack Desire for sales success - It's not important enough to them to do what it takes.
  • Don't enjoy selling - It's not enough fun - it's more of a job.
  • Have a Low Figure it Out Factor - They can't connect the dots quickly enough to succeed.

Those are examples of salespeople who can, but don't.  The weaknesses cause salespeople with great skills in all areas of selling to fail to achieve.  How helpful are their 5 skills (buyer/seller relationships, gaining commitments, sales planning, presenting and questioning skills) when a salesperson won't hunt or qualify? 

Everything is relative, so I'm sure that when hunting isn't required, and qualifying isn't important, and a consultative approach isn't necessary (a transactional sale), then salespeople with those 5 skills are more effective than salespeople without them.  Even questioning skills, which are so crucial to a consultative approach that enables salespeople to differentiate themselves from the competition, can't be executed by a salesperson whose Sales DNA doesn't support it.

Okay.  My rant is done.

Message to The Sales Board - stop lying on your website!  You can't help it if your assessment is inferior, but at least be truthful about your place in the sales assessment world.

Speaking of assessments, I'll be the tourguide for a fast-paced presentation on Tuesday, June 7, at 11 AM Eastern, where you can learn all about the real magic behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  Register to be part of it!

And speaking of email promotions, do you remember BigBrains case history I wrote about last fall?  Yesterday I also got an email promotion from them and this one will knock your socks off.  If you remember the study or went back and just read it, you know that their SDR's aren't very good.  And they didn't want to do anything to hire better ones or train the ones they had.  But they are offering training to companies who want to learn how they do it.  Is that like Donald Trump offering lessons on how to be politically correct?  Or Obama offering lessons on how to execute on a world-class foreign relations policy?  Or Hillary on how to give speeches without screaming?  I'm sure you get the point.  Stupid!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales effectiveness

The Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 24, 2016 @ 08:05 AM

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I’m reading Basketball legend Bill Walton’s autobiography, Back from the Dead.  There are great stories and lessons, but the one I want to discuss here is about legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden.

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Bill talked about the basketball team’s practices and how they were so well scripted, incredibly challenging and the most fun. He called them symphonies! The practices were so powerful that the games, even against the best competition, were always much easier than practice.  The games were so easy that the players did not need to remember plays or even think.  All they had to do was execute.  The team’s system of running the fast break was so well ingrained that executing was easy. This led to an 88-game winning streak!

Translating this story to selling, I need to point out that most salespeople not only hate to practice (read role-playing), but don’t believe it is necessary.  Remember, as much as the basketball team practiced, it was only their own part that they were practicing.  They didn’t have the other team’s playbook and didn’t even prepare for the other team.  They simply practiced every possible scenario that could come up so that they were completely prepared - for anything.  In sales, how many salespeople are so thoroughly prepared that it wouldn’t matter what their prospect said, did, or asked and even the competition would be irrelevant?

"The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the
very things they don't like doing." 

Here is a great movie clip from Hitch that demonstrates how difficult it is to role-play.

Albert Gray, an insurance company executive in the 1950's, said something that is still as true today as it was nearly 70 years ago.  He said, “The successful person has the habit of doing the things failures don't like to do. They don't like doing them either necessarily. But their disliking is subordinated to the strength of their purpose.”  If he said it today, it might have sounded like, "The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the things they don't like doing." 

See Dan Caramanico's comment below about practice where he writes, "Lots of teams practice but the difference lies in the adage that it is not practice that makes perfect. It's perfect practice that makes perfect. Half hearted practice or practicing the wrong things is no help at all."

And I'm reminded of this message from when I participated in Dave Pelz' Short Game School.  "Practice makes permanent!"

Finally, Bill Talerico wrote an article about John Wooden and translated yet one more great basketball lesson here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, notre dame basketball, john wooden, ucla basketball, bill walton

What Do You Blame When Salespeople Don't Schedule Enough New Meetings?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 23, 2016 @ 06:05 AM

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Most salespeople suck on the phone.  If you read that article, you learned about 10 common mistakes that salespeople make on the phone.  But those are strategic and tactical mistakes - they are skill-based.  What happens when you have salespeople who won't even make calls?  Could they be suffering from call reluctance?  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of them is the Hunter Competency. The Hunter has about a dozen attributes and 4 in particular determine if, and to what degree, a salesperson will have call reluctance:

  • 58% of all salespeople need to be liked to such a degree that it can have a negative effect on their ability to prospect for new business. They worry that a prospect might become upset and not like them, so they don't ask the questions they should - when and if they call.
  • 20% of all salespeople have difficulty recovering from rejection to such a degree that it can prevent them from making calls. Not making the calls is a defense mechanism to protect them from rejection.
  • 13% of all salespeople possess a "will not prospect" belief to such a degree that they won't prospect unless they are forced to by their sales manager.
  • 46% of salespeople are perfectionists who procrastinate until they believe they can do something perfectly. In the case of prospecting, it contributes to what seems like a time management problem (they didn't have time to prospect.)  

The image below, from the evaluation of a large sales force, has salespeople distributed almost equally (unusual) among the four groups:

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  • Hunters will hunt for new business without being asked.
  • Potential Hunters would hunt for new business if their sales managers held them accountable.
  • Fishermen will follow up on a lead, but won't engage in proactive hunting.
  • People for the Ethical Treatment of Prospects will not hunt, no matter what, ever.

I'll be leading a fast-paced 45-minute online presentation on The Magic Behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment, June 7 at 11 AM ET.  There is no cost to attend and you'll learn a lot about sales selection that you didn't know before.  Click here to register.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, call reluctance, phone prospecting, empty pipeline, not making calls

How Boomers and Millennials Differ in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 18, 2016 @ 13:05 PM

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I hate this article already - the last thing we need is another article to help us to understand Millennials.  Except for one thing.  Most of you reading this are Millennials and you probably need to better understand boomers.

We've all heard many of the distinctions of Millennials - how they like to work, where they like to work, when they like to work, how little they like to work, how entitled they are, how money isn't that important, how they want to change the world and be a part of something bigger than themselves.  So I'm not going to write about any of that in this article.  Instead, I'm going to talk about several tendencies that differentiate these two generations of salespeople.

We can begin with Motivation.  Boomer salespeople are generally extrinsically motivated - motivated by money and things - while Millennials are typically intrinsically motivated.  They would prefer to love what they do and strive for mastery.  Here is more on the difference between these two types of motivation in sales.

We can talk about New Business Development too.  Boomers are much more likely to pick up the phone and make a call - even a cold call - to initiate contact and follow up and they prefer to meet face-to-face.  Millennials are more likely to use their social networks - LinkedIn, Twitter, Text and Facebook - to initiate contact - and email to follow-up and they tend to prefer selling by phone.  The two newest selling roles - SDR's and BDR's - are both top-of-the-funnel roles where the reps simply schedule meetings and calls for account executives.  These roles are filled almost exclusively by Millennials.  I hear you.  "But they are on the phone and you said they don't like using the phone!"  Exactly.  And that explains why they are so bad at it. The latest statistics from ConnectAndSell tell us that these reps book, on average, 1.5 meetings per week.  If that is the only thing they are required to do, shouldn't the number be more like 2-3 meetings per day?

And speaking of Selling Skills, Boomers are far more likely to have professional selling skills while Millennials are more likely to frame selling in the context of demos, proposals and follow-up.  It might not be their fault, as most of them are in the aforementioned top-of-the-funnel roles, while Boomers are almost always found in outside territory, major account, vertical or account management roles.

One of the new things that Objective Management Group (OMG) introduced last month is industry statistics where the results of a company's sales force evaluation are compared against other companies in their industry.  Here's an image from a slide that looks at the average scores for salespeople in 6 major strands of Sales DNA and how this sales force (burgundy) compares to similar companies (blue) as well as all companies (green).

industry-comparison.png 

Regular readers know that OMG has evaluated more than one million salespeople from more than 11,000 companies.  I am hoping that in the coming months, we can filter our data by generation and share the differences in the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, inside sales, selling skills, top of the funnel

About Dave

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

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