Why Inbound and Inside Sales Experts Think Sales Process is Dead Too

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 18, 2015 @ 16:08 PM

Sales Process isn't even the only thing that inbound marketers say is dead. They'll have you believing that salespeople are no longer needed, selling is dead, and a consultative approach is dead too. They are basically ready to proclaim that anything selling-related, that they don't really understand or find it necessary to do, is not needed and dead.  

Let's start with my recent Google search for "Sales Process is Dead."  That search turned up these articles on the first page of results:

So who wrote all of these articles?  

One article was written by a sales expert discussing the concept of following the buyer's purchasing process. OK, that's still a sales process and it has some validity if you have weak salespeople that sell to large companies where you can't impact or change anything relative to how they buy.

One article was published in Harvard Business Review and was really about Solution Selling being dead. It isn't dead, but the authors are making a lot of money by saying that and pushing the Challenger Sale!

And the rest were written by marketers who might sell a lot more of their services if they can convince you that sales process is dead. 

The second page of the Google search results was even worse, including proclamations that B2B selling is dead and that field sales is dead. Don't get me wrong. I love and use some of their tools and services and recommend them to clients too. But the key word here is tools. They support and enhance selling. Tools don't replace selling.

There's very little question that everything we know about selling has changed dramatically in the past 5-8 years. I've written about these changes on 5 occasions and even my viewpoint has changed during this time! See:

There is some truth to what inbound marketing experts and inside sales experts are saying relative to the context of who they work with. Certainly, those who work inbound leads only need to follow up and either schedule a call or get the lead to click a button and subscribe. There isn't any complicated selling or sales process to navigate in order for that to work! Many inside salespeople only need to concern themselves with the top of the funnel where scheduling an appointment is their ultimate success.  

The disconnect occurs when salespeople, sales managers, sales leaders, marketing executives and CEOs read the propaganda from the inbound/inside experts and mistakenly believe that it applies to them! There are 10 scenarios where that message does not and will not ever apply to you:

  1. If you don't sell inexpensive subscriptions,
  2. If you aren't the lowest price in your category,
  3. If you don't have a short sales cycle,
  4. If you aren't the brand leader,
  5. If you have a story to tell,
  6. If your product requires design/build or customization,
  7. If what you sell is a lot of money,
  8. If you have a new company, new product or new technology,
  9. If you need to get to the C Suite, and/or
  10. If you are the underdog.

Today, there are a significant number of inside salespeople who are responsible for the entire sales cycle and they carry a quota too. Don't even suggest that they don't need a sales process and don't need to sell. Today, if you want even a chance of selling value, differentiating your company and winning business, you must take a consultative approach and use a milestone-centric sales process. You can include buyer-side milestones in that process if you like, but if you include only buyer-side milestones and don't focus on sales-side milestones too, you will get beat by competitors who have a true sales process.

This is important.  

Selling has become more difficult than ever before. Consistent success requires a consultative approach that most salespeople have difficulty executing. They haven't been properly trained or coached in its application, don't practice, and aren't confident enough to use it. It's much easier to give in to the marketers, abandon the sales process, abandon the consultative approach, abandon value selling, and abandon best practices despite how relevant and effective they still are. You'll have a longer sales process and a lower win-rate, but failing could never be easier!

Or, you can take the path less traveled, use the more difficult consultative approach in a more challenging milestone-centric sales process. It will be harder, but your sales cycle will be shorter and you'll have a higher win rate.

Easy gets you lousy results. Difficult helps you achieve consistent success.

I've seen this first-hand with golf and tennis. Accept the difficult job of learning to play either game the right way, learn the correct way to stroke the ball, learn the right strategies, practice your butt off and you'll win a lot more than you'll lose and feel much better about yourself too. Or, continue to play like a hack and you'll lose a lot more than you'll win and constantly have a feeling of frustration and discouragement.

In the end, it's always up to you. There are plenty of us who are always more than willing to help if you want to take the journey to mastery.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, solution selling, inside sales, sales cycle, SPIN Selling, sales tools, inbound sales, win rates

The Science of Sales Selection vs. the Marketing of Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 07:08 AM

Today I received this email from an OMG (Objective Management Group) Partner after he asked me to run an analysis on a company's top and bottom performers.

He wrote, "After all these years, this is still amazing to me. Thanks Dave, my conversation is Monday and we are getting next steps in place.  Appreciate the help."

So why is that such a big deal?

This is someone who has been an OMG Partner for nearly two decades, is one of OMG's most successful partners, and knows our accuracy and sales-specific findings inside and out.  And he was still surprised at just how accurate the analysis was.  Check out the detailed and revealing graphic below!

 

I started with more than 100 sales-specific findings and narrowed them down to the 18 findings and scores that clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms.  A mistake made by behavioral scientists and sellers of personality and behavioral styles assessments is that they only look at top performers and identify common traits.   They fail to realize that the bottom performers have the same personality traits and behavioral styles as the top performers and none of those traits or styles are predictive of sales performance.

In this company, the bottom performers scored just as well as the top performers on some sales-specific findings.  To accurately identify salespeople that are totally perfect for a role, we must understand the differences between both groups, not the commonalities within one group.

The salespeople in the top 7 rows are their top performers and the salespeople in the bottom 9 rows are their bottom performers.  After I identified the findings, scores and cutoffs that we would use, I color-coded them so that you could clearly see the differences - a sea of green on top and a sea of red on the bottom.

Next, in the last column on the right, I calculated the percentage criteria that each salesperson met and set the cutoff to 67%.  

Using these criteria, we would have recommended 6 of their 7 top performers and only 1 of their 9 bottom performers.  We would have been correct on 14 out of 16, or 88% which comes within a few percentage points of our usual predictive accuracy of 92%.

This is scientific sales selection.  It's a necessary part of an overall scientific approach to sales and the sales force.

What drives me crazy are the marketing people who are writing about sales despite their complete lack of understanding about B2B sales.  They spin their messages to get business executives to think that the only thing that matters today is social selling, email, inbound marketing, and content. They hope that if they make inbound marketing sound easy enough by providing their tools and applications then businesses will buy their services and hire them.  For instance, today I read that we no longer need sales process (untrue), a consultative approach to selling is dead (untrue), and all sales forces need to be completely restructured (generally untrue).  That's just today!  And in the past 2 months, I have read that salespeople are now obsolete (untrue), prospects have completed 57% of their buying process before they meet with salespeople (the number is inaccurate) and people are no longer buying value (untrue).

There is no science backing up these claims, just a group of inbound marketers and an inside sales industry trying to convince you that sales today is is only about inbound and inside.  It is true that low-price, low-cost, high-demand commodities that everyone wants - think B2C and subscriptions - are being sold almost exclusively via online marketing. But even some of those companies, like Hubspot, the King of Inbound, have large inside sales forces following a structured sales process and taking a consultative approach.

I've said this before, but it should be repeated.  If you are not the price leader, market leader, or brand leader;  if you have a new product, new technology, or a story to tell; if you have a long sales cycle, provide custom products, or have a design cycle; or if you are the underdog; you need salespeople, you need a custom, formal, structured, milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process, a consultative approach and skills that salespeople who came 10 years before you didn't have.  It's a fact.  And you can't let Inbound Marketers, Social Sellers or Inside Sales gurus tell you otherwise.  Don't get me wrong.  There is a place for inbound, social selling and inside sales in all of these companies.  They are complimentary pieces, not replacements.  After all, you wouldn't replace a Quarterback with a Kicker - the Kicker is an important complimentary piece to a football team.  

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales candidates, inside sales, inbound, sales hiring test, social selling, objective management group

How the Right Questions Can Make up for Lack of Sales Experience

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 11, 2015 @ 07:08 AM

Last week, for the second year in a row, our son played in a 12U baseball tournament in Cooperstown, NY. Last year, he played with boys a year older than him and the tournament inspired this very popular article on the Top 5 Mistakes Salespeople Make. This year's tournament was special, it was exciting to be there, and a privilege for him to be on such a talented team. However, nothing could ever top last year, the baseball equivalent of showing up at Disney World for the very first time. This year, we knew what to expect.

On the trip back home, I didn't need to play racing legend Mario Andretti to get us where we needed to be on time. I kept it to the speed limit, enjoyed the scenery and for the first time, experienced stress-free driving. Not only that, I wasn't tired like I usually am during and after driving 4 hours.

What does this have to do with selling? A lot. Magic, racing and expectations are major factors in sales. We will discuss the role of each and how salespeople can be more consistent when they better understand those 3 factors and learn to manage them.

Magical - Sometimes, salespeople start an opportunity with all of the wonder and amazement of a first-time Disney visit. This can happen when the company is huge, the opportunity has more zeros than ever before, or the salesperson has an audience with a high-ranking, well-known executive. Unfortunately, wonder, amazement and intimidation are like the young child watching the Main Street Disney parade. They lead to an excited, emotional salesperson who will probably be unable to see the forest through the trees.

Racing Car  - Frequently, salespeople can't wait to reach a sales milestone they are comfortable with. That's usually a presentation, demo, proposal or quote. Consider that as well as prospects who declare that they have only 20 minutes. Either scenario causes salespeople to rush through their calls while they fail to ask meaningful questions, don't carefully listen to responses, and skip the follow-up questions. They are so focused on getting to the end that they don't relax and take in the scenery. They fail to uncover the compelling reasons for their prospects to do business with them.

Know What to Expect - There are some occasions when salespeople don't rely on their experience and instincts. Instead they fail to recognize that they have been in this situation, faced these challenges, or met with these kinds of people before. They need to realize that their prior experience has fully prepared them for this moment. When they know what to expect, the call will likely go according to their expectations.

Have you or your salespeople ever walked into a sales call to find people in the meeting that were not expected? Salespeople should always know, in advance, who will be in the meeting and what their role is. If unexpected people attend the meeting they should ask:

  • What is their role in the company?
  • What is their role in this meeting?
  • What is their role in selecting a partner (vendor, source, solution, company or product)?
  • What do they know about me?
  • What do they know about us?
  • What do they know about what we have already discussed?

Is there anyone who will attend the meeting or who is in the meeting that shouldn't? Is there anyone else that should? Are they in agreement with what has been discussed so far?  

Is there a potential partner that they favor? Why? 

What would you have to do in order for them to consider you?

Most salespeople never even think to ask these questions. Others gloss over them. But these questions are more important than a conversation about your capabilities.

If you ask the right questions, you'll know what to expect even when you haven't been there before!

Knowing what to expect and uncovering compelling reasons to buy are both crucial components of sales coaching. SellingPower posted this video of me talking about the essence of sales coaching. Want more? This is the last call for my top-rated, two-day event on How to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Force. The highlight of the two days is the best darn training you will ever attend on the right way to coach salespeople. If you want to attend, use SLI-DK-UTSF for a great discount.

Finally, the latest issue of Top Sales Magazine was published today and it features a lead article written by me.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, asking questions, Baseball, shorten the sales process

Trust and Integrity in Selling May Not Be What You Think

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

 

I know someone who is incredibly likable, is always willing to help a friend, will help those in need, but will also manipulate situations to get what he wants.  He is likable and kind-hearted but sometimes low in integrity and I don't always trust him.

I know someone else who has inpeccable integrity.  His integrity is so strong that it makes him come across as self-righteous, pompous and surly.  He is not the least bit likable.  He could not be in sales because nobody would ever buy from him.  And despite his high integrity, I don't trust him at all.

I'm trying to think of someone I know that is both unlikable and low in integrity and outside of the people we hear about in the news, I'm coming up empty.  I guess that's a good thing!

Of course, as far as salespeople go, the holy grail is the salesperson who is both likable and has high integrity.  I believe there are significantly more salespeople in this sales category than the other three categories combined.  This may surprise people who are not in the sales professions because while salespeople constantly fight the stereotype of the snake oil salesperson, more often than not, it's the prospects who lack integrity. They withhold information, bluff, play games, mislead salespeople and outright lie.  There.  I said it.

Last week I wrote an article about likable salespeople and to what degree their likability influences whether or not their prospects buy from them.  One of the questions I asked was whether or not likable and integrity are intertwined.  Also last week, Jonathan Farrington started a discussion in the Top Sales World LInkedIn group that asked if it was more important to be liked in order to win the business.  Most of the people that commented thought that trust and respect were more important.

Three years ago I published a White Paper on Where, When and Why Salespeople Aren't Trusted.  I was very surprised about what I learned in doing the research for that paper not because there is more distrust of salespeople than I could have ever imagined in my worst nightmare, but because of which salespeople are the least trusted and why.

The thing that most people don't get is that salespeople aren't automatically trusted simply because they have high integrity.  Trust and Integrity are not the same.  We could wrongly trust someone with low integrity just as easily as we might not trust someone with high integrity.  Integrity is part of a saleperson's Sales DNA while the ability to build or create trust is actually a skill.  The scary part of what I just wrote is that a person with low integrity can learn the skills required for building and creating trust.  The sad part of what I wrote is that a person with high integrity may not wish to develop the skills required for building and creating trust.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), our sales force evaluations and our sales candidate assessments both measure a salesperson's integrity.  And when we look at their integrity, relationship building skills and likability, we begin to get a picture of their ability to create trust.  Because in the end, nobody will buy from a salesperson they don't trust.

If you would like to find salespeople that not only can sell, but will sell, in your business and to your customer, and you want them to have integrity, be likable and trustworthy, check out the top sales candidate assessment for the past 4 consecutive years.

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Trust of Salespeople, integrity, sales selection

The Two Sides of Likable Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

likable.jpg

If you have watched the TV series House of Cards, and if you're at all like me, you may have found yourself rooting for the lead characters, whose lack of character and integrity could make you question why you are rooting for them in the first place.  Recently, we have been watching Homeland, which I find to be a more disturbing series than House of Cards.  The biggest difference for me is that I found the characters in House of Cards to be likable - despite their manipulation, lack of integrity and evil doing.  After just 4 episodes, I haven't seen nearly as much manipulation, evil and lack of integrity in Homeland, but I haven't yet identified a likable character either.

Is it possible that we have the same problem in sales?  Do sales leaders find certain salespeople to be more likable?  Do prospects and customers find certain salespeople to be more likable?  Are likable and integrity intertwined?  Can you have likable salespeople who lack integrity?

Some more questions...

Are likable salespeople always effective salespeople? Can you have high integrity salespeople who aren't likable?  None of us want salespeople who lack integrity working for us or selling to us, and we like to think we are good judges of character.  In this article we will focus on the complication of likable salespeople and we'll answer the integrity question in another article.

There are some very skilled salespeople who are lacking in the likable department and therefore, not as effective as they could be.  There are even more very likable salespeople, that lack selling skills and/or Sales DNA, and aren't able to leverage their likability and as a result, struggle to perform.

The likability factor can also blind their sales managers - causing them to hang on to likable salespeople that don't produce, and replace less likable salespeople that do happen to produce.

Fortunately, there are two groups of salespeople that have very clear attributes and actions.  Those who are likable and have strong selling skills and Sales DNA are in the top 26% of all salespeople.  And those who are not likable, with weak selling skills and/or Sales DNA are at the very bottom.  While it should be obvious that the second group of salespeople shouldn't last very long in any sales organization, we find them everywhere!  The question is why?  It's not like that last group is fooling anybody...

The salespeople that consistently fool people are those who are likable but lacking the necessary skills and/or Sales DNA to be effective.  Their sales managers believe that they are coachable and will come around, improve, figure it out and excel.  Only it doesn't happen as often as it should and sales managers aren't very good at predicting when or to whom it will happen.  And as for the group of salespeople who have the skills and/or Sales DNA but aren't likable, their sales leaders think they're simply lucky and that their success is not sustainable.  They may be correct on that one. 

Either way, it's clear that if you have more likable, skilled salespeople with strong Sales DNA, your company will perform better.  You can identify those salespeople by using the right sales selection tool.

Speaking of likable, Jonathan Farrington is a very likable host and he just posted a very likable audio interview with me here.  Jonathan posed the question, with all of the sales training and sales enablement initiatives, shouldn't companies be doing audits at the front end?  You'll like what you hear!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales selection tool, jonathan farrington, house of cards, homeland

Bugged by the Difference Between Great and Lousy Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

bugged.jpg

Yesterday, I noticed a large, furry, dead bug on the hood of my car. It seemed to be attached to the outer lip of the hood - like the edge of a cliff - right where the hood drops down to the grill. I got out of the car to remove the chunk of dead fur and I was shocked to see how wrong I was. It was dead all right, and it was furry. I'm not a tall person, so I wasn't sitting high enough in the car to notice the distance between the bug and the lip of the hood, but my estimate was off by more than 2 feet! What I thought I saw was completely different from reality.

When salespeople don't call high enough into a company, they experience the exact same thing. What they believe they are seeing and hearing is quite different from what they would see and hear if they were higher up, talking with an executive that can communicate the entire story, rather than the partial view and limited information they get from a middle manager. This is Vertical Reach.

One area where vertical reach has a huge impact is selling value. I wrote a very important article on the role that emotions play in selling value for the Selling Power site last week.  

The ability to truly sell value is one of the competencies that elite salespeople have, but ineffective salespeople don't.  I have data from the nearly 1,000,000 salespeople and sales managers that have been evaluated or assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG). Regular readers have read about the elite 6% and the bottom 74%, but today I want to provide some additional eye-opening statistics that differentiate the very good from the not-so-good salespeople. What makes them different?

That's the question that most behavioral scientists and personality assessments don't answer. They usually find traits, styles or qualities that are common among top performers, while failing to realize that bottom performers have those exact same qualities - qualities that brought them into sales in the first place. They don't see that the bug is 2 feet short of the lip.

OMG clearly differentiates the top performers - the studs - from the bottom performers - the duds. Not only are there findings that differentiate top sales performers from those at the bottom, but some of those findings tend to vary by company, industry and selling role.

For example, in one company, top inside sales performers had sales DNA scores of better than 65, while their bottom performers had Sales DNA scores of below 57; top performers had Sales Posturing scores of over 45, while bottom performers all scored below 37; and top performers had qualifying scores of over 60, while bottoms all scored below 50.  Tops had Figure it Out Factor scores of over 75, while bottoms scored below 63; and compatibility scores were over 72 for tops and under 68 for bottoms. These are just a small sampling of the differences.

In another company, top outside sales performers had scores above 78 for being able to stay in the moment, while bottoms were under 67; tops didn't need people to like them, all scoring over 75, while bottoms scored below 62; tops had scores above 83 for Desire for success in sales, while bottoms had scores below 75;  tops had Sales DNA over 63 and bottoms were below 49; tops had closer skills over 33, while bottoms had scores under 22; tops had account management skills of better than 50, while bottoms had scores under 40. Again, these differences are just a small sampling.  

Those two examples are consistent with the variations we find in every sales force evaluation and very useful when it comes to identifying new sales candidates who will succeed in a specific role at their specific company.  And in case you don't think the differences in scores are significant, consider the difference between a baseball player with a batting average of .300 versus one who hits .270.  The .300 hitter is a perennial all-star while the .270 hitter is rarely known outside of his home market.

Returning to the bug on the hood, there is a much larger difference than what you might see with your own eyes when comparing the elite 6% and the bottom 6%.  For instance:

  • 93% of the elite have strong commitment to sales success compared with only 33% of the bottom.
  • 94% of the elite take responsibility for their results and don't make excuses compared with only 20% of the bottom.
  • 78% of the elite don't need their prospects to like them compared to only 6% of the bottom.
  • 98% of the elite are very comfortable talking about finances compared to only 2% of the bottom.
  • 79% of the elite have supportive sales beliefs compared to none at the bottom.
  • 76% of the elite have supportive buying behaviors compared to 8% of the bottom.
  • 95% of the elite are rejection proof compared to 18% of the bottom.
  • 77% of the elite have most of the attributes of a hunter compared with only 31% of the bottom.
  • 100% of the elite have strong desire for sales success compared with none at the bottom.

As you might suspect, there are dozens of additional differences. For example, elite salespeople have, on average, more than 80% of all possible good Sales DNA, while those at the bottom have less than 55%. [Click toTweet] The impact of those 25 points is HUGE! It's the difference between executing a sales process and methodology versus having only the ability to talk about it.

There are many great reasons to evaluate a sales force. Being able to accurately predict which new sales candidates will succeed at your company is only one of them. One of the best reasons to evaluate is to learn which underachievers can become A players, what it will take, how long it will take, and how much improvement you can expect. Of course, you would also learn which underachievers will never get any better than they are today and why.

Today, we sell in very different times than a few years ago. A sales force evaluation helps us understand which of your salespeople have adapted - who is truly selling value instead of price and who can learn? Who is truly taking a consultative approach and who can learn? Whether the sales force has what it takes to shorten the sales cycle and improve the win rate and why? These are just a handful of popular reasons to evaluate the sales force today. Interested in getting some of your pressing business questions answered? Feel free to contact me and discuss what's on your mind.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, top sales performer

The Conversation Sales Leaders Must Have with Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 @ 06:07 AM

the_hard_thing.jpg

Thanks to another recommendation from my client and friend, Chris Collias, I am reading a terrific book called The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There are No Easy Answers.

On page 49 (of the Kindle Edition), there is a must-read passage for Sales Leaders who want to properly lead a sales force. The passage sums up what sales coaching and accountability are all about. 

After assembling a top-end sales force, he completely revamped the sales process and sent every salesperson through a rigorous and unforgiving training program. He demanded mastery. Any slip-up in technique, skill, or knowledge would be met with total intolerance from Mark.

We held a weekly forecast call where Mark reviewed every deal in front of the entire 150-person sales force.  On one such call, a salesperson described an account that he'd forecast in detail: "I have buy-in from my champion, the vice president that he reports to, and the head of purchasing.

My champion assures me that they'll be able to complete the deal by the end of the fiscal quarter."

Mark quickly replied, "Have you spoken to the vice president's peer in the networking group?"

Sales rep: "Um, no I haven't."

Mark: "Have you spoken to the vice president yourself?"

Sales rep: "No."

Mark: "Okay, listen carefully.  Here's what I'd like you to do.  First, reach up to your face and take off your rose-colored glasses.  Then get a Q-tip and clean the wax out of your ears.  Finally, take off your pink panties and call the fucking vice president right now, because you do not have a deal."

Mark was right.  It turned out that we did not have a deal, as the vice president's peer in networking was blocking it.  We eventually got a meeting with him and won the deal.  More important, Mark set the tone:  Sloppiness would not be tolerated.

 

I loved this passage. I'll read it at every Sales Leadership Intensive. I don't condone using the language [Update:  See comments below for clarification] with a salesperson, but the approach is spot on. The challenge, for most sales leaders, is whether or not they can do the following:

  • Can they see around the corner?
  • Can they anticipate 5 steps ahead?
  • Can they be cynical?
  • Can they be both optimistic and skeptical at the same time?
  • Can they push back and challenge their salespeople without being afraid of their salespeople hating them or quitting?

If you can't imagine a sales leader having any of these difficulties, then you are fine! If you have some of these difficulties, then you absolutely must attend my annual Sales Leadership Intensive in August.

Topics: sales management, Sales Coaching, accountability, sales pipeline, pipeline review

An Ode to the Evolution of the Pipeline

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 13, 2015 @ 07:07 AM


eggs-in-one-basket.jpg

better-PIPELINE.jpg

Over the weekend, I was thinking about sales pipelines and inaccurate forecasts, how companies are always experiencing issues at the top of the funnel, and it inspired the following poetry. It won't win an award for imagination, creativity, rhyming or flow. I'll stick to my day job for this, I surely know.

The pipeline on the left with all the eggs in one basket
Scares me to death - a business, one hope, surely heading for a casket
The one on the right has a healthier look
With more opportunities for deals to be booked.

Once so simple, my pipeline for next quarter
Suspects, prospects, and the sales cycle was shorter
Names and numbers on cards was a must
In a shoe box or a file box, today they collect dust.

The prospects were familiar - referred or introduced
Not like today where leads are seduced
Tire kickers, assistants and all the wrong folks
Wanting ebooks and samples -- it's all a cruel joke.

Back then our forecasts were accurate and true
We reached all the ones who made decisions too
They paid on time, not 90 days late
And cared about partnerships since those were first rate.

We have CRM, email, and marketing tools
And our blogs and our websites make visitors drool
Graphics and videos are now all the rage 
And they clog up the pipeline in the very first stage.

I love all the tools for managing the pipe
Membrain is awesome and will keep prospects ripe
While you're sleeping, Hubspot helps prospects find you 
And their Workflows automate your messages too.

ConnectAndSell gets prospects to the phone for you
7 in an hour - almost too good to be true
Schedule new meetings from calls that are cold
It's today's way of calling - what's new is really old.

With all that has changed, one thing remains clear
You must still do the work or your pipeline goes bare
Get on the phone and talk with some prospects
Or quit sales today and move to customer service.

The End. No it isn't.

Selling - the art and science of getting people who didn't necessarily want what you have, to pay you a premium for it. Before you can sell anything, you must have some people to sell it to! Fill the pipeline today!

Would you like to contribute a verse to this pipeline poem? Give it a try - it can't be any worse than mine!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, sales pipeline, membrain, sales forecasts, chad burmeister, connectandsell

Why I Was Kicked Out of a LinkedIn Sales Group

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 08, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

Kicked-Out-Of-LInkedIn.jpg

[UPDATE: This article was named Best in Sales for July 8 at SalesProCentral]

Each day, I read several newsletters written by physicians who are also natural or homeopathic practicioners. They are proponents of natural health care, a nutritional diet, and supplements. They are vocal in their criticisms of the FDA, Big Pharma, and mainstream medicine. The most vocal of them are viewed as huge threats to the FDA and Big Pharma, because they have legitimate cures and protocols for most, if not all diseases, while Big Pharma needs us to take their drugs, which cure nothing, but cause other diseases that require even more of their drugs. They pay the FDA to approve these poisons that are making and keeping us sick.

Over the years, the most vocal natural medical doctors have been singled out, their offices have been raided and some have been arrested. In the past 2 weeks, 3 of them have been found dead. You may be wondering what this has to do with selling or LinkedIn...

Last week, I wrote an article on whether or not LinkedIn was a waste of time and as with the medical newsletters I read, my LinkedIn article resonated with a lot of people. But as with the medical mainstream, not everyone was happy with the article... In just the past week, I have already been blocked in one LinkedIn group and kicked out of another one! 

Each group on LinkedIn has rules.  Some have a lot of rules and are very strict, while others don't have many rules at all. Most of the sales-related groups on LinkedIn are owned and/or moderated by other sales consultants (self-perceived competitors?) with a lot of time on their hands. They can do what they want - it's their groups. But could their behavior be retaliatory for my article or could the article be an excuse to quiet a vocal sales thought leader? Critics will point to this article saying that I'm too impressed with my own importance, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

After my LinkedIn article appeared, one group owner began moderating my contributions and began blocking my helpful comments in discussion threads. After I posted a helpful comment to a discussion asking for sales book recommendations, another group owner responded to my comment and said I wasn't following the rules. When I responded to his comment, I was redirected to a screen that said I needed to be a member of the group in order to comment. I had been kicked out! I sent a LinkedIn inMail to the group owner and said:

I got your message on the book recommendation thread but was unable to reply to it because you kicked me out of the group!

Of course I know the rule about self-promotion... 

I participate in discussions without self-promotion.

This particular thread was asking for book recommendations - it didn't seem like a violation of the group's rule to respond to a book recommendation request by recommending a book that I believed would be helpful.

Anyway, kicking me out of the group seems like a very professional response to my recommendation.

Dave

The group owner responded with:

Learn to read rules Dave

It's really that simple

If my LinkedIn membership gets revoked next for speaking out, I won't have to wonder whether or not LinkedIn is a waste of time. And by the way, it isn't. If you spend much time participating in group discussions, LinkedIn may be a huge time suck and make you feel good about yourself, but adding to and nurturing your connections will pay off in the long-term.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, linkedin, social selling, sales groups on linkedin

Keys to Selecting a Sales Training Company

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 02, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

choosing.jpg

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a Sales VP about the training he said he wanted (but didn't really) for his sales team. In most cases, unless the Sales VP initiates the call, bringing someone in from the outside really isn't high on the VP's priority list. When a CEO initiates the call, and then invites a Sales VP to join the conversation, Sales VPs are usually worried about:

  • How it will make them look? It will usually make them look good, but they usually worry that it will make them look bad!
  • What we can do that they haven't been able to do? They aren't supposed to be sales trainers. They are supposed to be leaders, so it's an inappropriate expectation.
  • What if we tell their salespeople things that are different from what they've been telling them? I'm sure we will suggest different things - that's the purpose of training. But that isn't a bad thing, it's a good thing - especially when the Sales VP embraces it.
  • What if they lose the respect of their salespeople? Really? For bringing top quality training into the company and helping them become more successful while increasing their earnings? Respect goes up, not down.
  • What if they lose the respect of their CEO? The respect is lost when they fight the initiative, discount the need, or suggest that they can do it themselves. Obviously, if they could do it themselves, the CEO wouldn't have initiated the conversation.

I can always tell when a Sales VP is worried about these things because they'll start asking all of the wrong questions. They'll want to know about agendas, content, slides, handouts, style, approach and timing. Instead they should be asking about results, solutions, and what they need to do to make it work!

It's all about the trainer and the trainer's ability to engage the team, keep them engaged and get them to change. The other stuff? It's just stuff and has no bearing on the effectiveness of a sales training program. I can produce the best slides, manuals, handouts and content, but if I suck at training, none of that will make up for it. And I can produce the worst materials on earth, but if my training gets the desired results, none of that will get in the way.

Of course, it's best to combine great materials with great training, but in the end, the only difference between good and bad results is the trainer. Read these articles and the three below for more on how to assure that your sales training initiative is successful:

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/after-the-sales-training 

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/solitaire-modern-sales-training-what-should-it-cover-and-include

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/tabid/5809/bid/77627/Top-10-Sales-Training-Realities-Versus-What-You-Believed.aspx

Would you like to talk about turning your sales team into the most effective, consistent, winning sales team in your industry?  That's a conversation I'm always willing to have.  Just email me.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training

About Dave

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

Email Dave

Subscribe on Kindle 

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe to the Blog

Search the site

 
Top 30 on Kindle
Top 100 on Amazon

Awards

 

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blog 2015

 

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

 

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

 

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter

Dave Kurlan

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 Gold Medal - Blog 2014 Top Sales & Marketing Awards                                       

Gold medal Top Sales & Marketing Article 2014                                        

Gold Medal - Assessment Tool 2014 Top Sales & Marketing Awards

Silver Medal - Video 2014 Top Sales & Marketing Awards

Silver Medal - Webinar 2014 Top Sales & Marketing Awards

Bronze Medal - eBook 2014 Top Sales & Marketing Awards

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader

Other Great Sites

top sales world

Evan Elite Promotion New

 alltop