Data Shows That Your Sales Team is No Different Than Your Lawn

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Nov 20, 2020 @ 07:11 AM

I just love it when our lawn looks gorgeous - thick, lush, and green, green, green.  Getting it looking that good requires fertilizing, aerating, thatching, over seeding, and frequent mowing, all things better suited to the landscaping company than me. Of course, some sun and water help too. And even with an irrigation system, by the middle of the summer, areas of our lawn begin to look like crap. Not to worry though. By mid fall, the lawn looks its absolute best.  Yup, my lawn never looks better than it does on November 1. Right before it snows and turns brown for the winter!  You have to admit, that's a lot of work and expense for a lawn that looks perfect for all of 6 weeks - 3 weeks in the spring and 3 weeks in the fall!

nice-lawnDead-Lawn-1024x675

                                                Great looking spring lawn.                                                                                           Crappy looking summer lawn

Because my lawn looks its worst on August 1 and its best on November 1, it has a lot in common with most sales organizations.  A sales team looks its best on January 1, when every opportunity in the pipeline is a possibility and forecasts predict a banner year.  It looks its worst just a week earlier, when on December 23, sales leaders defend the team's sub-par performance to the CEO and explain why 57% of their salespeople failed to hit quota - again!  It's easy to explain why the lawn fails, as dry, hot summers will do that.  But why do sales teams continue to fail, year after year, regardless of industry, and in every economy?  Why don't the numbers improve?  Why don't more salespeople jump from C's to B's?  From B's to A's?  From D's to C's?  The answers - and there are plenty - are evasive.  But let's try!

We can certainly pin some of the blame on sales managers.  My last two articles explain many of the problems contributing to ineffective sales management.  Read about crappy sales managers and then read the follow-up article about crappy coaching.

We can certainly pin some of the blame on salespeople.  Why don't they try to improve?  Why don't they invest in sales self-development?  Why don't they read more books and articles, watch more videos, listen to more audio and push themselves out from their comfort zone?   Why don't they practice?

After 35 years in this business, I still don't understand why sales, as a profession, includes so many ineffective salespeople.  Based on data from Objective Management Group (OMG), who has evaluated and assessed 2,033,688 salespeople, 50% of all salespeople suck.  Take a look at the image below where I have isolated the bottom 50% of all salespeople.  This screen shot represents the percentage of those weak salespeople who have the ten tactical selling competencies as strengths:

After seeing these percentages is it any wonder why half of your salespeople fail to hit quota?  Don't think it could get any worse?  Take a look at what happens when we look at the bottom 10% where it's clear that the only thing some of them are capable of is making friends and presentations:

These ten selling competencies are ten of the twenty-one sales competencies that OMG measures.  You can see them all, filter by industry and sales percentile, and even see how your salespeople compare.  Data on OMG's 21 Sales Core Competencies.

We can pin some of the blame on history. To a certain degree, C Suite executives are conditioned to accept these year-end results and when they are disappointed yet again, they don't raise hell, don't fire the sales leaders, and don't storm out the door.  They simply aren't surprised any more.  Failure is baked in.

You know what it takes to make a lawn look great and from experience I know what it takes for a sales team to become great.  Companies that evaluate their sales teams, provide effective sales training, embrace sales process, train their sales managers to coach, get sales selection right and improve their sales cultures, yield huge gains in sales and profits. Yes, margins increase too. That's what happens when salespeople learn to sell value instead of price.

With that in mind, we can certainly assign a lot of blame on company owners, CEO's and senior sales leaders who don't take those steps and/or don't take those steps seriously. 

The conversation on the LinkedIn post for this article has some fantastic additional reasons why and took my lawn analogy even further.  The best one so far is from Rocky LaGrone who said, "...Don't forget about pesticides for those pesky insects, pre-emergent for unwanted weeds, over watering, and fungus. Those are the same in sales as mediocre sales leaders and salespeople. It's the equivalent to making excuses and accepting them. Add lack of understanding of how to bring value and premature presentation and you have a baron landscape in sales. With zero effective coaching you might as well not mow! The layman landscaper cant see the early warning signs of root damage or infestations of grubs no more than the layman sales executive can't see their rotting sales foundation without measuring the right metrics at the right frequency. Most people react to their grass and don't pay attention to the roots. Healthy roots produce healthy plants and the same is true for sales. The fundamentals never change. It's the application of the fundamentals that make the difference. A professional landscaper will start with a soil sample and analysis. Why wouldn't a sales executive start with an analysis of their salesforce?"

There are a lot more great comments like this on at the LinkedIn post.

There's no excuse for not weaponizing your sales teams and equipping them with every appropriate sales strategy and tool to leverage their ability to close opportunities they have routinely allowed your competitors to retain, steal or close.

As Michael Jackson famously sung in his timeless 1980's hit, Man in the Mirror,  Make a change.  Start with the [person] in the mirror.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales performance, CEO, sales quotas, sales assessments, sales managerment, increase profit

Selling Over Video - The Six Things You Must Do Next to Improve Your Look

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 17, 2020 @ 09:11 AM

green-screen

At this point, most salespeople have accepted that the majority of their sales "calls" will take place over Zoom or similar video platform.  However, accepting the reality of video selling, and maximizing that video selling for effectiveness, are two completely different things.  In today's article, we'll discuss the next set of steps you should take so that selling over video can be as effective as possible.

I don't really care what your video looks like for internal meetings, but I care a lot about what it looks like when you are selling, selling your company and selling yourself.  There are six additional things to consider beyond the platform you choose to use and how to master that platform.  In this article we'll cover all six!

Virtual Backgrounds - Do you remember what you learned about making a good first impression back in Sales 101?  Good, because I don't ever again want to see your bedroom, kitchen, living room, basement, loft, deck, closet, office cubicle, boat, the default beach image, or any of the standard backgrounds that Zoom and others make available.  They are all unprofessional.  You can upload any image to Zoom, so upload your logo, a trade show background, the front of your building with the logo showing, or a professional photo of the product you sell.  Anything except what is actually behind you!  If you don't know how to do this, find someone who does and do it.  

Green Screen - The problem with virtual backgrounds is that because they're virtual, they tend to bleed, causing your head to look funny, your hands to disappear, and maybe your hair and ears too.  You can easily fix that with a green screen.  But don't get just any green screen.  Make sure that you seek out one that easily sets up, collapses, and is easy to move around and store.  I like this one.  Warning, you have to set up green screens immediately behind you and right up against your chair so if you choose to leave it set up I guarantee it will be in your way

Lighting - So you have your virtual background and green screen but you still don't look professional because there isn't enough lighting in enough of the right places. I get so frustrated with salespeople whose faces I can't see because there is a window behind them causing them to look as if they are in the dark, or they really are in the dark (figuratively and literally).  Instead of messing around with shades and lamps, invest in an inexpensive clip on USB LED light.  Lighting will make all the difference in the world, but once you have good lighting, you'll want to pay more attention to getting camera ready in the morning!

Camera - Your built-in camera might be fine, but if you're using a Mac, the camera is only 720p and isn't full HD.  Not only that, your built-in Mac camera lacks the settings to make adjustments.  To solve this problem you can either purchase a clip-on 1080p USB HD web camera, or download iGlasses, which works in conjunction with your cameras and allows you to adjust focus, zoom, color, brightness and more.  Stay away from the dozens of cheap Chinese-made webcams that are promoted for half the price. Connection, compatibility and quality need to be brainless.  The last thing you want to do is spend hours getting your camera to work!  

Microphone - Your built-in microphone is not fine.  Invest in a USB broadcast microphone and you'll sound better than if you were there!  This is especially important if you are going to record a video and post it, send it, or reuse it.  I like the Blue Yeti.  Just a warning, these high quality microphones pick up everything, especially the sound of you typing on your keyboards, but also barking dogs, crying babies, landscapers running their mowers and blowers, and dishes!

Wardrobe - Most of us are not locked down and we are free to leave our homes and return to our offices.  That said, there are no more excuses for how we all look when hopping on a video call.  At least from the waste up, look professional!  You don't have to wear a shirt and tie, but no more tee shirts!  In the northeast US, it's late-fall and winter is knocking on the door so a long-sleeve collared shirt and nice sweaters are good options for men, while business blouses and conservative sweaters and tops are good choices for women.  Guys - shave!  Everyone - fix your hair! 

Colors and textures are important too.  According to Jordan Stolch, Wardrobe consultant at ThriveGlobal, "Neutrals such as blue, grey, charcoal, off-white/cream, khaki and navy are your best choices for on-screen colors as they consistently register with the camera and ensure you look professional, trustworthy, and experienced."  I don't recommend that you wear solid black or white as cameras do not like those two colors.

Here are two examples:

See the difference?  On the left, long sleeve crew shirt and distractions galore but the lighting is OK.  On the right, all as it should be with green screen, virtual corporate background, good lighting, and a nice sweater.

It's time to up your game on video.  With every moment you spend on video, your prospects are judging you! 

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, video, zoom, selling over video, video tools, dressing for business video, microphone for video, lighting for video, green screen

New Data - Most Sales Managers are a Disaster When it Comes to Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 16, 2020 @ 08:11 AM

disaster

When your computer isn't functioning the way you expect you may notice how sluggish and unresponsive it is - a symptom of the real problem - so you need to look more closely.  I'm on a Mac so I open up the activity monitor to determine if a program or programs are using too much memory or utilizing too much CPU. If that's the case, I force quit those programs and if that doesn't work, I restart the device.  If the problem isn't resolved after a restart, I do a deeper dive and review what changed since the computer was running smoothly.

My article about Crappy Sales Managers discussed the low recommendation rates for sales management candidates, why they are so low, and the bigger repercussions of the problem.  Speaking of deeper dives, today's article takes a deeper dive into one of the problems identified in the prior article; crappy sales coaching skills.

When Objective Management Group (OMG) conducts a sales force evaluation, one of the things we do is ask salespeople about the one-on-one coaching they receive from their sales managers.  We do this so that in addition to evaluating the sales managers' 20 Sales Management Core Competencies, we can also gain insight into their sales management effectiveness.  The data from salespeople is divided into two categories:

  1. Frequency of the Coaching Received
  2. Type of Coaching Received

The average number of salespeople reporting to their sales managers is 6 and the average number of hours that sales managers report working is 50.  While sales managers consistently tell us that they are spending an average of 25% of their time, or 12.5 hours coaching, that turns out to be a huge lie!

Consider what salespeople tell us:

32% of salespeople are getting coached weekly.  If 6 salespeople are getting coached for 30 minutes per week, that would be 3 hours per week or 6% of their sales managers' time.

48% of salespeople are getting coached monthly.  If 6 salespeople are getting coached for 30 minutes per month, that would be 3 hours per month, or 1.5% of their time.

Worse, 11% of all salespeople are coached quarterly or less and only 9% of all salespeople get coached daily.

Then there's the issue of what constitutes coaching.  Effective sales coaching impacts opportunities and improves sales effectiveness but that is not what most sales managers do for coaching.  Consider that:

60% of all coaching is to simply provide help with pricing, technical help, or with proposals.  Sorry, but that's not coaching!

Of the remaining coaching, which we know occurs much too infrequently, a third, or 12% of all sales coaching is to encourage or challenge salespeople.  Sorry, that's not coaching either; it's motivation.

72% of what sales managers call coaching is simply not coaching! 

How does the remaining 28% break down?

12% is strategy - what we want to accomplish in a given account or with a given opportunity.  That's not coaching.  That's Account Strategy.

9% is Sales Process/Pipeline - pipeline review conversations.  See this article for a comparison of what these conversations usually sound like versus what they should sound like during pipeline/opportunity review conversations.

That leaves tactical coaching which accounts for 7% of all coaching - this is opportunity or salesperson specific coaching to improve the salesperson, make them more capable, make them stronger, and coach them up! 

Only 7% of this infrequent coaching actually accomplishes any meaningful coaching.

In addition to the dismal numbers about coaching, companies are not tracking things that would be useful to a coaching conversation or a pipeline review conversation.  Consider:

Only 9% of all companies track the conversion ratios of meetings to closed opportunities.  Don't you think this data would stimulate a coaching conversation that attempts to identify and rectify the issue as to why a salesperson isn't able to convert more business?

Only 27% of all companies track movement of the pipeline.  Isn't this related to the previous metric which would tell us WHERE opportunities are getting stuck?

Only 27% of all companies track the quality of the pipeline.  Isn't this directly related to both previous metrics which would tell us whether opportunities should have even been pursued?  If there are opportunities in the pipeline that shouldn't be, doesn't that artificially skew the previous two metrics?

This brings us to the million dollar question.  Why are sales managers so misguided, so ineffective and so crappy?

I believe the answer is obvious, embarrassing and quite easy to determine.

New sales managers, as well as the companies who promote them, believe that the very things that made them successful salespeople will make them successful sales managers. Then, continuing that belief into a sales manager's tenure, sales managers don't ask for and aren't offered sales management training and coaching which emphasizes how to coach salespeople.  As a result, new and growing sales managers must rely on the sales manager they reported to when they were in a sales role for what sales management is supposed to look like.  We can debate that theory as much as we want, but if we rely on the data in these two articles, my theory is indisputable.

As disappointing as this is, companies continue to grow sales and profits DESPITE crappy sales management.  But is it scalable? Is it sustainable?  Will it continue to work when economic conditions are less favorable?  I think not and I saw plenty of evidence of that in the second quarter of 2020.

Looking at the bigger picture and using OMG's data on 2,031,692 salespeople from more than 35,000 companies, 50% of all salespeople suck.  If there is any hope to improve those numbers or the 57% of reps that fail to hit quota each year, we must make the development of sales managers the number one priority for 2021.

I can't emphasize enough how critical it is to grow revenue and profit, sell value instead of price, build sales cultures, increase retention, hire better salespeople, and improve the reputation of the profession.

Image copyright 123RF

The Problem With Having Crappy Sales Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 11, 2020 @ 15:11 PM

lg-electronics-front-load-washers-wm8100hva-64_1000

The lettering above the dials of our LG washing machine (pictured above when new) have worn off.  I went online believing I could get a replacement decal and while LG does not provide replacements,  they will replace the entire front panel for $125.  While I was researching this stupid, preventable issue, I found that many LG owners have the same problem.  You see, the letters come right off if you are stupid enough to drape a stained baseball uniform (or any stained clothing) over the front of the washer and spray it with a stain remover like Shout.  How can the product managers for this machine be so bad?

They're not the only professionals who are quite bad at what they do.  Sales Managers underperform at a mind boggling level.  Let me show you the degree to which most sales managers are unqualified.

Let's begin our story with sales management candidates - those candidates looking for a sales management gig.  Objective Management Group's (OMG) recommendation rate for sales management candidates is only 14.8% with another 14.1% on the fringes leaving 71% of all candidates not recommended!  More than two out of three candidates for sales management roles don't qualify!

The next question is why not?

One third of all candidates are knocked out for having low scores in Will to Manage Sales.  This group of five sales management competencies includes Desire for Sales Management Success, Commitment to achieving greater sales management success, Outlook, Responsibility and Motivation.

42% of all candidates are knocked out for having Sales Management DNA scores that are too low.  Sales Management DNA consists of five competencies which together are a combination of strengths that support a sales manager's ability to coach to and enforce sales process, sales strategies, sales tactics, sales methodology, sales pipeline and CRM compliance.  When the score dips below a certain point, those competencies become weaknesses.

16% of all candidates are knocked out for scoring too low on the Sales Coaching competency and another 61% are on the fringes.  That's another way of saying that only 23% of all candidates have the Sales Coaching competency as a strength and when sales managers are supposed to be spending half of their time on coaching, that's seriously useless.

Ugh.

There are a couple of different ways to look at this.  Companies that are serious about building strong sales cultures and following best practices use OMG's sales management candidate assessments and say, "No big deal.  That's why we use OMG to assess sales and sales management candidates!"  Companies that don't use OMG probably don't even notice because the candidates are probably no worse than most of the sales managers already working there.

That brings us to the bigger problem.  Six out of every seven sales managers SUCK!

What does that mean for you?

Most sales managers don't coach enough, don't coach consistently, don't coach the right way, don't impact their salespeople's opportunities, don't grow their salespeople, don't inspire their salespeople, don't hold their salespeople accountable, suck at recruiting new salespeople, spend too much time on personal sales and compiling reports, and not nearly enough time developing the talent on their teams.  More on this topic.

I spoke with the two senior-most executives of a national company who admitted that they've been trying to build a sales organization for ten years.  They said they "don't know what they don't know."  That doesn't actually differentiate them from most executives.  What does differentiate them is that they admitted it!  Unfortunately, admitting that they don't know what they don't know doesn't solve anything.  They must also be willing to follow advice, follow through and stick with it and that's easier said than done. Building a sales culture that rocks means starting with the right sales manager in place.  Always.

The challenge is to understand the importance of having the right sales managers.  If you run a company with a small sales team, you're lying to yourself if you think that you can manage salespeople in your spare time.  Just. Not. True.  If you run a larger company with a larger sales team, you're lying to yourself if you think that as long as you hire the right sales talent any sales manager will do.  Right up until the good salespeople quit.  If you have multiple sales teams, with more layers between the C Suite and the salespeople, sales managers receive less scrutiny, are more independent, and play an even more important role in executing the company's strategy.  You're lying to yourself if you think that having any sales manager with industry experience will get the job done.

Sales Managers are the LG washing machines of the sales profession and the people they report to are the enablers that allow that inferior product to exist.

Time to towel off.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, sales management, sales performance, sales team, sales management test

First Steps to Generate More Sales Opportunities Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 05, 2020 @ 18:11 PM

buses

I experienced a number of firsts this week!

I saw school buses for the first time since early March and with the buses, came traffic congestion!

Some of the television networks began announcing that new episodes will return in January.  I don't know how much longer I can wait to learn what happened after all of those season finales.  Come to think of it, I don't even remember the season finales.  Whatever, finally something new to watch!

My office phone rang for the first time all year. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration but it is the first time it rang since I returned to the office in mid-August.  Not only did it ring, it was a cold call!  I ran a complicated set of analyses on all the pertinent data, and with some comprehensive deductive reasoning, I concluded that it was the first cold call received since mid-August.

According to Objective Management Group (OMG), only 3% of all salespeople prefer to prospect by phone, so it's no surprise that this call was an aberration.  More about that in a moment.

Unfortunately, there were several things I experienced this week that were not firsts.

On LinkedIn, 13 more of the people who asked me to join their networks immediately attempted to schedule calls to sell me something.  In Microsoft Outlook, my email inbox received 17 fairly awful unsolicited emails, 16 from companies who do various forms of lead generation promising more customers and sales.  Why would anyone hire a lead-generation company that demonstrates how poorly they will actually perform this service for you, while lying about which mediums *plural* they will use?  None of them ever reach out by phone!

Using the above data, if you have 17 competitors sending completely delete-worthy emails from the workflows in their email marketing applications, 13 more reaching out with equally woeful LinkedIn messages, with almost nobody reaching out by phone, why in the world would you prospect using anything other than the phone, unless wasting your time sending delete-worthy emails is less painful than using the phone?

In 2015 I wrote this article about the power of the phone.    

This article has a boatload of prospecting tips.

This article has suggestions on how to improve your emails.

This 2014 article has great tips for both phone and email.

Luckily for you, this is the end of today's article, but if you want to watch a 2-minute video rant from yesterday, you can find my rant about the problem with Value Propositions and Elevator pitches here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, scheduling sales appointments

The Correlation Between Milestones, Sales Process and Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 26, 2020 @ 07:10 AM

process

The shit show known as 2020.  Many of us have heard that term used to describe this uniquely strange year.  Despite everything unusual about 2020, there have been some normalcies too.  We celebrated births, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's and Father's Days, and we will all celebrate the upcoming holidays.  The gatherings might be smaller and more localized, but the holiday won't pass by without us.  These are all Milestones.

Objective Management Group (OMG) celebrated some milestones this year too.  In January we celebrated our 30th Anniversary, in August we processed our 2 millionth sales assessment and in September we updated the industry standard 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Milestones are important.  How are they important to sales success?

Milestones are also the most important components of a strong, reliable, predictive sales process. 

Without specific milestones that must be reached in each stage of the sales process, there is no sales process!

Back in the early 90's, in the very early days of OMG, only 9% of all salespeople had and/or followed a sales process.  While that has improved dramatically in the last 30 years, to 45%, it is still way too low.  Check out these findings.

Sales Process is only one of twenty-one Sales Core Competencies yet it correlates perfectly with sales percentile.  As you can see, the best salespeople are 94% more likely to have and follow a sales process while 83% of weak salespeople, the bottom half of all salespeople, are out there winging it!  And when it comes to all salespeople, 55% are winging it.  Hmmm.  That's pretty close to the 57% who don't hit quota, isn't it?

Consider that salespeople who are just winging it usually have milestones.  For example, most lousy salespeople have conceptual milestones for things like:

  • Getting on an approved vendor list
  • Quoting
  • Submitting a Proposal
  • Scheduling a Demo
  • Getting a Prospect to Agree to a Trial

There is nothing wrong with these milestones unless they are the only milestones in a company's or salesperson's sales process. Unfortunately, that's what we usually see, with salespeople looking to achieve late stage milestones without meeting the ten to fifteen crucial milestones that must be achieved PRIOR to the five listed above. A best-practices sales process has at least four stages (think in terms of stages like suspect, prospect, qualified, closable) with each stage having between three and eight measurable milestones.  

Skipping a single milestone can have devastating consequences.  Imagine what can happen when salespeople skip ten to fifteen milestones! 

Very often, companies lacking the appropriate milestones in its sales process have win rates below 15%.  Companies that get their sales processes customized and optimized with predictive scorecards get their win rates up to near 80%!  If yours isn't that high, there's a good chance that sales process is at the top of the list of root causes. 

To get a better sense for what a sales process should look like, and how popular sales processes compare, check out this 11--minute video that I recorded four years ago.

Milestones are important.  One of your milestones should be to make your sales process as structured and predictive as your accounting, operations, manufacturing, programming, legal, shipping or engineering processes.  It is irresponsible for your sales process to not be as solid and well-thought out as each of your other processes. Sales success drives revenue and profit. Why would you allow the single process that drives revenue and profit to suffer from lack of professional attention. 

Sales is not some fluffy art-form that can be molded to the whims of each salesperson!  Sales is more like a software application where the science lies under the hood in its code and the art or personality is infused into the look, feel and easy-to-navigate user interface.  Sales science lies in the sales process and methodology and the art or personality is infused by the salesperson to have a friendly, easy and enticing conversation with the prospect.

Image copyright 123 RF

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales effectiveness, sales success, sales milestones, sales software

The Keys to Fourth Quarter Sales Success in 2020

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 @ 07:10 AM

You're probably going to hate this article!  I'm going to show you that much of what is transpiring with the Pandemic could be having a greater impact than you realize relative to the future state of your business and you might not like what I have to say.  As always, if you can hang in through some of the preliminary analysis, I'll make the pivot to sales and business.

Each day, the Boston Globe sends an update with metrics that the state of Massachusetts is monitoring with regard to the Pandemic.  The update for October 19, 2020, is shown below:

Notice that the death toll rose by 15. 

Also notice that under "Related" the link to the article warning about gloom and doom over the next 6-12 weeks.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer tweeted this out today:

Back in May, when Massachusetts began reopening, there were between 10-20 deaths per day, and 100-200 new cases per day.  Over the past 5 months, the number of new cases has risen by more than 100 each month to the 827 new cases reported today.  However, during this entire 5 month period, the daily death toll has not exceeded 10-20, the same as it was back in May.  See the two graphs in the next paragraph on media reporting.

Media Reporting - Unfortunately, most media outlets insist on reporting only the number of new cases, but don't tell you that hospitalizations are down  *dramatically*  and deaths have remained steady after dropping to their current low levels.  Check out the CDC's own graph on hospitalization rates between week 10 (early March) and week 40 (early October):

You are reading this graph correctly.  Even among those over 65, hospitalizations are down to just over 5% of those infected with Covid. 

This is the latest graph of US deaths from Covid.

That's right.  Cases way up.  Deaths way down.  You should also check out this data on death counts - click on the graph to see the entire graph.

You read this table correctly too.  The actual number of deaths did not significantly exceed the expected (normal) number of deaths.  Does this mean that the largely elderly population with comorbidity, who died, might have died anyway?  This video shows that the CDC's own data shows that more than 100,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 were not COVID deaths!

If deaths and hospitalization rates are so low, despite cases continuing to increase, why isn't the media sharing this great news? 

After all, we all want good news, we all want to be more optimistic, and we all want the economy to thrive.  What's going on? 

There can be only one answer.  The media wants to continue making President Trump the villain so that he does not win reelection.  If you don't agree with that explanation then please explain why the media never shared any of these graphs and tables with you.  Do you have a better explanation?

Impact on Business - The same media that is misleading you about the Pandemic is also telling us that we are in the midst of the worst economic recession in history, with more jobs lost than ever before, and it will become much worse.  Of course, that's not the case.  Unemployment is down to just 7.9% and that's with most of the travel, tourism and restaurant industries still shutdown or operating at very reduced capacity! 

I participated in a government survey on the impact the Pandemic had on my small business and last week they sent a link to view the results. You can see the results for yourself here but I can save you a tremendous amount of time.  I played around with the variables on the site, recorded my results and one thing became crystal clear.  When I didn't include states like California and Michigan, whose Governors are still trying to keep small businesses shuttered, and I didn't include the two NAIC codes from the industries that were devastated, the rest of us have fared pretty well through the past 7 months!  We're doing OK!  It's important for us to know this fact in order to drive home a fantastic 4th quarter to salvage 2020.

Metrics - The pandemic has called attention to the fact that on a daily basis we are surrounded by key metrics for COVID-19. I can't believe how many companies have still not identified the key metrics that will drive their sales results.  There are either no metrics, the metrics are irrelevant or the metrics are backwards looking.  It's 2020.  Forward looking metrics rule the day.  Get with the program!

Tools - I read this article about the best Chrome Extensions for sellers.  I don't want to criticize the article because it's an accurate list of great applications that you can start from within Chrome.  However, the last thing your salespeople need right now is more tools.  It's noise. A distraction.  Technology for the sake of technology.  There are basic tools that every salesperson should be equipped with and everything else is completely unnecessary.

We're trying to grow the economy all the way back and most of the information being pushed at us isn't helping. We've come a long way since March and we can make even more progress in the fourth quarter if we keep our eye on the ball and don't allow the fear-mongering, agenda-driven media to have their way, negatively influence the masses, and cause another slowdown or worse, shutdown.  Here's what the same Boston Globe sent out today, October 20, 2020.

In summary, Simplify.  Focus.  Metrics. Optimism. Hire Salespeople. Sell. Train. Drive. Fight. Engage.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales effectiveness, sales tools, revenue growth, covid-19, pandemic

New Data Shows an Overlooked Finding Correlates to Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 15, 2020 @ 09:10 AM

compatibility

We use remote deposit, a terrific convenience for depositing checks from the desktop without going to the bank.  The only problem is that the software that runs the check scanner isn't compatible with the Mac OS.  It only runs on Windows so we have to remotely connect to an old Dell that takes up unnecessary space. Oh, if only the software for the check scanner was compatible with the Mac.

My wife and I were friends with a couple that argued ALL the time. They argued when they were alone, they argued when they were with us, they argued when they were with their kids and they were just brutal to each other.  If only they were more compatible.

Compatibility is not only important, it could be one of the most overlooked criteria in hiring sales candidates.  Let's do a deep dive! 

Most sales leaders think that industry experience is the most important criteria for evaluating the fit of a potential sales hire but they couldn't be more wrong.  Compatibility with the selling environment is far more important.  For example, if you sell payroll services, is it more important that the sales candidate came from the payroll industry or is it more important that they have great selling skills and called on the same HR professionals that a payroll salesperson would need to call on?  In other words, is it more important that they know stuff, or is it more important that they have a built-in network of customers to sell to? 

There's more to compatibility than who they sell to.  Factors like the length of the sales cycle, how many calls/meetings that entails, your price point relative to the competition, the amount of money they'll be asking for, the quality of the competitor's offering, the effectiveness of the competition's marketing and sales, whether they've worked for a sales manager with a similar management style, how much pressure they'll be under, whether they'll get the coaching and training they require, if they've worked under a similar compensation plan, and more should be considered.  There are nearly 30 variables that help to determine whether a salesperson is compatible for the role. 

At my weekly meeting with Objective Management Group's (OMG) COO, John Pattison, we discussed compatibility in the context of another finding we call FIOF or "Figure it Out Factor."  Candidates that have a FIOF score of 75 or better ramp up more quickly than other candidates.  Compatibility is weighted pretty heavily in the FIOF finding because of how it influences the ramp-up time of new salespeople.  The more compatible a salesperson is with your selling environment, the more quickly they should ramp up because they've "done this before."

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as 9 other competencies that are important but not core.  An additional finding is a score for compatibility.  

Out of curiosity, we wondered what the average score for compatibility was because we haven't looked at that before.  He asked me to guess and I said "somewhere between 60 and 80."  It turns out that the average compatibility score for all sales candidates is 70.  Not bad!  For kicks, we ran the analysis for the four levels of Sales Percentile which include Elite (top 5%), Strong (the next 15%), Serviceable (the next 30%), and Weak (everyone else - the bottom 50%).  This is what the analysis showed:

Who knew that compatibility would correlate to Sales Percentile? I certainly didn't think that the distribution of scores would show this kind of correlation.  After all, when we score compatibility, we aren't measuring any of the sales competencies that make up Sales Percentile; only prior selling environments. The top 5% of all salespeople are 41% more compatible with their selling roles than the bottom 50% and it left me wondering, "Why?"

Three theories came to mind and perhaps you can add some additional theories!

Theory 1: The best salespeople naturally identify good fits for themselves so that they can thrive.  We could guess that elite salespeople seek out the greatest selling challenges - something beyond their comfort zone - but perhaps they are simply too smart to sabotage themselves.

Theory 2: The worst salespeople don't pay any attention to fit because to them, selling is just spouting off features and benefits, doing demos, generating quotes and proposals, and taking orders.  Maybe they simply gravitate to wherever they are wanted?

Theory 3: The best sales leaders, in hiring only the best salespeople, are rewarded with salespeople that can handle their selling environment. It's worth noting that the best sales leaders hire salespeople who are more talented than they are while average and weak sales leaders hire salespeople who are weaker than they are.

I haven't written about compatibility before but it's worth spending a few minutes to understand the role it plays in sales success.

What plays an even more important role in sales success than compatibility?  It's the 21 Sales Core Competencies and configuring OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to recommend those candidates that score well in the competencies that are crucial to success in the role you are hiring for.  Learn more about the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, human resources, sales performance, Personality Tests, sales selection, sales assessments, sales test

Senate Confirmation Hearings Shows Us What Salespeople Do Wrong Every Day

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 12, 2020 @ 18:10 PM

Day 1 on Amy Coney Barrett Supreme Court confirmation hearing begin in  Senate

Oh no, another post on the political climate.  Don't worry, I'm not taking sides, I'll be right down the middle, and very critical of both sides.  And stay with me for the pivot to the good stuff - my sales analysis.  Here goes!

It was Columbus Day in the US so I had a chance to catch the first day of the Judiciary Committee's Senate Confirmation Hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  It featured 10-minute opening statements by both Republican and Democrat Senators and finally, by Judge Barrett herself.

In my opinion, there weren't any winners today.  In 10-minute increments, both sides demonstrated everything that is wrong with when salespeople present. Make no mistake, politicians are very much always selling and usually, their performances give salespeople a bad name.

The Democrat messaging, although consistent, was extremely negative, with all of the senators regurgitating the same talking points: Covid-19 safety concerns, the process being a sham, and threatening that Americans will lose their health insurance if Judge Barrett is confirmed.  Although we want salespeople to articulate consistent messaging, especially with their value propositions, negative messaging turns people off, and if these presentations had been delivered by salespeople, most prospects would have responded with, "You guys are all the same!"  You don't want to be selling faced with that perception!

The Republican messaging was as inconsistent as the Democrats were consistent. Most addressed different topics from each other, but the real issue was that they were on the defensive the entire time as if they were handling objections.  When salespeople are in objection handling mode their prospects' resistance goes up making it very difficult to sell anything.

I understand why both groups chose the strategies they used. 

The Democrats could not risk leveling personal attacks on Judge Barrett the way they did on Justice Kavanagh so they attacked the process, the President, the Republicans, the timing, the rules, and claimed that the impact of having this judge on the supreme court would be catastrophic.

The Republicans were already under fire by Democrats and the media for moving forward to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg prior to the election so they defended themselves by citing precedent, constitutionality, qualifications, religious freedom, history, and unfair attacks.

Both sides were right to have strategies but they were poorly executed. Strategies of attacking and playing defense are both losing strategies.

Salespeople must never go on the attack and must never go on the defensive.  

Instead of attacking the competition, salespeople can ask questions about their prospects' personal experiences, what they want and need, why it's important, how they feel about it, and what would make things better.  You can accomplish the very same things, only better, without ever mentioning the competition or saying anything bad about them.

Instead of getting defensive in response to objections, whether real or perceived, salespeople can - you guessed it - ask questions using the very same approach described above.

Elected officials suck as role models especially when making self-serving politicized partisan presentations.

Learn from this debacle!  The key to sales success lies in listening and asking questions, not delivering cleverly worded presentations.  But listening and asking questions are consultative selling skills and are attributes of both the Consultative Selling Competency and the Value Selling Competency.  Check out the 10 selling competencies in the screen shot below which shows the percentage of all salespeople who have that competency as a strength.  

You've probably heard that 80% of all revenue comes from 20% of all salespeople.  Here is how the top 10% of all salespeople fare in the same ten competencies:

Except for Hunting and Relationship building, the top salespeople are two to three times more likely to have these competencies as strengths.

I'll show you the same ten competencies, but this time for the bottom 50% of all salespeople:

You are reading this correctly.  Only 1% of the bottom half of all salespeople have Consultative Selling and Qualifying as strengths and none having Closing! So that's why more than 50% of all salespeople don't hit their quota each year!  Most salespeople suck at most selling competencies so perhaps they should all become politicians.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales presentation, selling value, sales and politics, amy coney barret

The Difference Between OMG and Extended DiSC Assessments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 07, 2020 @ 12:10 PM

Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen is dead at 65 - ABC News

This is gonna be fun!

In 2005, GM produced four mini-vans known as the Buick Terraza, Chevrolet UplanderPontiac Montana SV6 and Saturn Relay.  These four cars were exactly the same, with the brand logos being the only differentiators.

Today, some Luxury car companies dress up the cars from their primary brands as Toyota is known to do with its Lexuses, Nissan with its Infinities, Honda with its Acuras, and Ford with its Lincolns.  But we all know this. 

What about something you might not know?  With Eddie Van Halen's passing yesterday, I was thinking about great guitarists and that led me to who actually manufactured your well-known Japanese guitar brand?

And then there are the cheap Chinese rip-offs of quality American products.

When it comes to sales assessments, things are also not what they appear to be.  For example, take the FinXS Extended DiSC which, at first glance, appears to have much in common with Objective Management Group's (OMG) Salesperson Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments.  But are they the same, similar, or is it more like the Chinese rip-off?

Let's take a look under the hoods of both assessments and then you can decide.  We'll begin with a comparison of the two respective dashboards.

 

                                                       FinsX Extended Disc                                                                             Objective Management Group Salesperson Evaluation

While they don't look the same, the FinsX Extended Disc has copied 8 of the 21 Sales Competencies that OMG measures, as well as 5 of the underlying attributes from other competencies.  So on the surface it appears to measure 13 of the competencies that OMG measures.  But does it really?  Let's dig deeper.

DiSC assessments have four dimensions, one for each letter in its name.  For those who aren't familiar, they include Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance.  While there are some variations to the questions and formats of the various DiSC tests, what they all have in common is that the questions are asked in a social context.  This particular assessment also asks some questions in the context of selling.  You can see some DiSC questions here.

All of OMG's questions are asked in the context of selling; what you do, how you do it, when you do it, what causes you to do it, how you think about it, what you believe, etc. None of the questions are in a social context because people act and behave differently in social settings than they do in business settings.

From 30,000 feet, the first question that must be asked is how in the world does the FinsX Extended DiSC arrive at findings like Prospecting, Qualifying, Handling Objections or Sales Process from a DiSC assessment with only the four dimensions? 

The quick answer is that they can't!  If you dig deeper into the FinsX Extended DiSC report, they actually measure something quite different from what their summary says.

For example, look at this description of the prospecting finding:

See it?  Whether one scores low or high, it's about a mindset, not a sales capability or competency.  So what does FinsX Extended DiSC mean when they refer to a prospecting mindset?  Let's dig further!  This is their description of the Hunter mindset.

Huh?  It's instant gratification!  I'm not kidding!  It gets worse.  Let's dig further!  This is their description of what the Prospecting score actually measures:

That's right - it has nothing at all to do with prospecting.  They are lying to you in their dashboard summary! 

For comparison, look at what OMG measures for the Prospecting or, as OMG calls it, the Hunting competency:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It should be obvious that OMG's prospecting competency is all about hunting for new business, right?  So you might be thinking I picked Prospecting because that's the FinsX Extended DiSC score that's easiest for me to debunk. Think again.

What if we repeat this process with Qualifying?  This is the Qualifying score in the FinsX Extended DiSC:

Whether the salesperson has a high or low score, they are telling you that it's about uncovering whether the prospect is a good fit through questioning and listening.

They are talking about a mindset again - this time it's about finding the truth:

Okay.  So in a social setting, perhaps that's asking a question like, "Where are you?"  "Who are you with?"  "When will you be home?" Is that really the same as Qualifying an opportunity?  And what are they actually measuring?

Once again, what they can actually measure has nothing to do with qualifying a sales opportunity. And the best part is that they are reusing Hunter! Remember? Instant gratification! You can't make this stuff up!

And what does OMG measure and report on for the Qualifying competency?

Does that look like finding the truth?  It looks exactly like what a salesperson must do when qualifying an opportunity.

I can do this for all 18 of their supposed sales scores but all you need to know is this.  As with ALL personality and behavioral assessments passing themselves off as sales assessments so as to compete with OMG, they lie.  They have no ability to measure a sales competency.  You can't report on what you can't measure and personality and behavorial styles assessments simply can't measure sales capabilities. 

The assessment business has much in common with both the Chinese rip-off model as well as the Japanese guitar manufacturing model.  The FinsX Extended DiSC is like the Chinese rip-off because it appears to be measuring the same things, but upon closer inspection it measures little of what it purports to measure.  Other assessments fall under the Japanese model. For example, 16PF is an assessment that most people haven't heard of yet they produce more assessments than anyone else, but under different brand names!  Consultants can design an assessment and use the underlying 16PF, choose which of their findings to include, and then call those findings whatever they choose!  The lie!

If you want to evaluate your sales force and learn why they aren't performing as well as you need them to, or assess your sales candidates to identify those who will succeed in your business, stop messing around with imposters and get the real deal.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has been named the Top Sales Assessment in the world for nine straight years.  It's hard to argue with that. It's even harder to argue with the science.  It's the only sales assessment that has been validated using predictive validity.  That means that OMG's findings have been correlated to on the job performance.  Try doing that with a personality or behavioral styles assessment!

Knowledge is power.  Now you have the knowledge to choose the proper tool to evaluate your current sales team for development purposes, and to assess sales candidates for selection purposes.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessment, sales evaluation, improving your sales team, personality test, DISC, sales selelction

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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