What Sales Managers Do That Make Them So Ineffective

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 @ 14:07 PM

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Earlier this week I wrote an article on why so many sales managers are so bad.  In today's article, I'll share what makes them so ineffective.  The easiest way to explain this is to start with a baseball analogy.

Our son, who is now 14, is a very talented baseball player.  In addition to me, he has been coached in some capacity by approximately 15 other baseball coaches with varying degrees of effectiveness.  Some were very good, and some were very bad.  Not because they were bad people, but because they simply didn't know what they didn't know.  Here is an example of a bad coach from when our son was 12 years old.  The pitcher (not our son) was not throwing strikes and had walked 3 straight batters.  The coach yelled out, "throw strikes!"  Now if these were high school kids and the pitcher was trying to be too nibble, that instruction, or just, "Pound the zone" might work.  But 12 year-olds are still learning to pitch so asking for an outcome without providing instruction isn't very helpful.  Next the coach yelled, "Fix your mechanics!"  Again, if the pitcher knew which mechanics and/or how to fix them it might be helpful but of course, he didn't.  The next thing the coached yelled was, "Make an adjustment!"  I wasn't coaching this team so there wasn't anything that I could do, but I knew what should have happened.  If the coach actually knew which mechanics needed to be adjusted he would have called time out, walked to the mound, and had a chat.  He could have shared any one of the following examples of adjustments to pitching mechanics:

  • You're rushing - slow down your delivery
  • You're not pushing off the rubber - use your legs!
  • You're throwing across your body - turn your chest toward home plate before your arm comes around
  • You're not finishing your pitches - follow through
  • There is too much movement - pitch from the stretch 
  • You're releasing the ball too early, too late, too high, too low.
  • You're not extending your arm - throw down hill
  • You're over throwing - don't throw it as hard
  • You're holding the ball too tight - loosen your grip a bit
  • You're too anxious - breath!

And if the coach was oblivious to the mechanics, but still insisted on yelling out to his pitcher, he could have simply yelled out some encouragement! In lieu of instruction, at least encouragement will motivate, and not demotivate.  Now let's make the transition from baseball to sales management.

Sales Managers are usually guilty of the exact same thing.  We've all heard sales managers ask salespeople to:

  • Close more sales
  • Qualify them better
  • Make more appointments!
  • Ask better questions
  • Ask for more money
  • Go back and try again!
  • Get it closed before the end of the quarter
  • Give them an incentive!

How many sales managers know how to actually coach their salespeople?  How many of them can debrief in such a way that they can identify exactly where a sales conversation went south?  Identify which key question didn't get asked or followed up?  Role play how the conversation should have gone?  Role play how the next conversation should sound? Identify why a prospect was stuck on price when the goal was to sell value?  Determine why the prospect lacked urgency?  Figure out why the salesperson was unable to reach the decision maker?  Understand what in the salesperson's Sales DNA interfered with executing the sales process?  Learn which skill gap was responsible for the outcome?

Typically, most Sales Managers are not any better at providing coaching on the mechanics of selling than volunteer baseball coaches are at providing coaching on the mechanics of hitting or pitching.  We have a long way to go!

One of the challenges facing some companies is that many old school, veteran salespeople don't understand why they need to change their approach, change expectations or even participate in training and coaching.  With the world around them changing at breakneck speed, they appear to be blind to to it all.  Despite global competition, prospects who don't need a typical salesperson calling on them, and the need to sell value instead of price, these salespeople refuse to admit that anything has changed.  To make matters worse, their sales managers are often afraid to challenge them.  They are concerned that the salesperson's may quit if feathers are ruffled or worse, the sales manager will get terminated if a veteran salesperson complains to the C Suite.  It's an awful situation and it's made worse when weak, unqualified and ineffective sales managers are put into these roles.

We need a revolution!  I don't want to sound like Bernie but that is truly what is needed with the current state of sales management.  Will you be a leader, a follower or a resistor?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, Baseball

Why So Many Sales Managers are So Bad

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 @ 06:07 AM

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Image Copyright 123RF Stock Photo

I see bad ones everywhere I look. They are not usually bad people and they might not have been bad salespeople, but they are usually so ineffective in their role as sales managers.  We will discuss some of the reasons and share an example next!

One reason that sales managers are ineffective is that many of the articles, information and guidelines about sales management practices are so bad!  Why?  Because so many of the people who write the articles are not experts on sales management! For example, for a couple of months the folks over at Pipedrive.com have been asking me to link to their article on sales management.  They told me that I failed to include the definition of sales management in this article on hiring salespeople and that if I pointed to their article on sales management it would fill in the gap.  

If I were writing opinion pieces for a baseball audience (that would be so much fun for me!) I wouldn't have to define baseball and because I write opinion pieces for a sales leadership audience so it doesn't make sense for me to define sales management.

Anyway, I clicked the link they provided, read it and unfortunately much of what is in their article is either outdated or not part of the core role of a modern sales manager.  From the definition, where they failed to mention that 50% of a sales manager's role is coaching, to the compensation, where they were off by as much as 50%, it just didn't resonate.  Given what they sell, I understand their need to build it around pipeline, but still.  Is it any wonder that when information like this is distributed to potential sales managers, that (1) it could attract the wrong people to the role, and (2) they could begin with a false sense of understanding of the requirements of the role?

I've written about the sales management role a lot and while I can't point to each of the 500 or so articles from here, one article has the essence of what sales management is all about and it's one of my 10 most popular articles of all time - the top 10 sales management functions.  Earlier in this article I mentioned that coaching is now 50% of a sales manager's job.  This article discusses the percentage of sales managers who have the necessary coaching skills while this article talks about why coaching salespeople is so scary for sales managers.

Two more reasons for ineffective sales management:

  1. Sales management is a full-time job but many sales managers who continue to sell, make it a part-time job.  Whether the choice to sell is theirs or management's, it's a bad choice because their first priority will always be their customers, their sales and their commissions.  Coaching, for development and to impact revenue, will be an afterthought.
  2. Executive Leadership often fails to understand what sales managers should really be doing with their time. As a result, they allow the sales managers to define their role, often resulting in less than ideal choices.

A couple of important links:

Hubspot Sales VP, Pete Caputa, compiled a great list of the top 33 sites for free sales and sales training videos.  Thanks for including me Pete!

An online war of words between me, a tech buyer who wrote an outrageous comment to my article on why more salespeople suck, and my readers exploded last week.  After I wrote an article in response to his comment about why he doesn't need salespeople, he wrote some very aggressive responses to the reader comments and the article and things got very interesting from there!  You can check out that lively discussion right here and please add your own comment to the page.  You might hear back from Todd!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, Sales Coaching, sales management functions, pete caputa, pipedrive, sales management role

4 Critical Changes to Go from Failure to Success in Sales Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 @ 13:07 PM

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Today I'm in Florida, preparing to speak at a company's national meeting.  Like many companies, they have not only realized that selling has changed dramatically, but that their salespeople may not have adapted, developed new skills, and changed the way they sell.  If you're a regular reader, active on LinkedIn or Social Media, then you have certainly read about the many ways that selling has changed.  But most senior executives haven't put two and two together yet.  They know that win rates are down and sales cycles are longer, they know it's more difficult than ever before, they see that their salespeople are struggling to meet quotas, but they don't realize the extent to which things have changed.  There are four critical requirements which, together are the difference between success and failure.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we are talking about good salespeople, not bad ones.  There is an elite group of 7% - superstars - a larger group of an additional 16% that are fairly strong, and then the bottom 77% who suck.  We're going to talk about the changes that the top 23% need to make.  While the manner in which the bottom 77% approach selling can significantly change their results, there are issues other than those we will discuss here that limit their success.

1.  Value.  Since there is more competition than ever before and competition puts pressure on margins, it is more important than ever that salespeople have the ability to sell value.  Refer to this article for more on selling value today.  I just analyzed the data from nearly 8,000 OMG (Objective Management Group) sales candidate assessments from earlier this month.  I narrowed it down to 66% who have been in sales for 5 years or more and found that on average, these sales veterans possess only 62% of the attributes of a value seller.

2. Consultative Approach.  It is not possible to sell value unless it is integrated into a consultative approach to selling.  Refer to this article for more on a consultative approach, which helps you to tailor your solution and differentiate you and your company from the competition.  Today, salespeople possess, on average, only 48% of the attributes of Consultative Sellers.

3. Process.  If you can't sell value without a consultative approach, then the same can be said for the approach.  Value and a consultative approach will not work unless they are integrated into a formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric sales process.  Read this great article for more on sales process.  In surveys, most companies say they have a sales process in place. However, our sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments reveal that salespeople possess, on average, only 52% of the attributes required for following a Sales Process.

4. Social.  Cold calling isn't dead but it is on life support.  It takes between 10-15 attempts to reach a decision maker and the conversion rates are falling like a piano dropped from the roof of a skyscraper.  Salespeople must be able to leverage their social networks, get introduced, and reach out to prospects via LinkedIn, Twitter and email to supplement the calls that they make.  Salespeople possess, on average, only 38% of the attributes of a Social Seller.  This one is worse than that score.  More than 1/3 of this group scored below 25%!

What Can You Do?  If you want to dramatically change and improve results, there are three things you can do.

  1. Bite the bullet and have a customized, optimized modern, staged, milestone-centric sales process created for you ASAP!
  2. Get your sales force trained and coached on the new process, a consultative approach to selling value, and social selling.
  3. Hire the right salespeople - those who already possess these capabilities!  The best selection tool is OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  Check out the free trial!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, social selling, selling value

11 Ways You Can Quickly Increase Sales, Revenue and Profit

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 @ 14:07 PM

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Image Copyright 123RF Stock Photo

Verne Harnish is the President of Gazelles - the coaching organization that helps fast growth companies.  In addition to his best-selling books, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits and his latest, Scaling Up, he writes the Weekly Insights, which I always read from top to bottom.  In his June 30 insights, Verne included a quote from Greg Brenneman, author of Right Away and All at Once - 5 Steps to Transform Your Business and Enrich Your Life.  Verne really liked Greg's emphasis on how to drive sales.  Greg says, "Empirical evidence shows that you get at least four times the market value for a dollar of profit that comes from revenue growth versus a dollar of profit that comes from cost reduction."  

Isn't that a great quote?  But it's more than a quote.  It's a blueprint!  Let's discuss some of the ways that you can achieve the desired revenue growth.

I have encountered way to many companies where they expect their growth to come from acquisitions, or their increase in profit from cost-cutting and it never made any sense to me.  With as much data as we have at Objective Management Group (OMG), we didn't have that particular data.  I love it!

So the question to ask is, how can any company organically increase its revenue, starting today?

From 30,000 feet, there are eleven possibilities:

  • Expand your channel(s)
  • Add salespeople to your existing geography and/or territories
  • Replace under performing salespeople
  • Raise prices
  • Add products or product lines
  • Expand your geography and/or territory
  • Improve sales performance
  • Improve sales management effectiveness
  • Improve sales strategies
  • Improve sales systems and processes
  • Expand business within existing customers

From my 30 years of experience helping companies do many of these things, the easiest and fastest of these is the price increase.  Most companies handle price increases very poorly, over complicate it, ineffectively communicate it, and manage to somehow get their sales force distracted for months by this simple step.

Replacing under performing salespeople and adding salespeople works - but only if you are significantly better at hiring the new ones than you were at hiring the old ones.  If your recruiting and selection process haven't undergone significant changes, you might select salespeople who are even more ineffective than the salespeople being replaced!  Check out the leading sales candidate assessment to drastically improve sales selection.

Expanding business within existing customers is a lot more challenging for salespeople than it should be.  At this point in time they probably have great relationships and won't want to jeopardize those relationships by pushing for more, especially if the customer believes they are already buying as much as they can from you.  In this case their need to be liked is a huge weakness.  Read this article for more on how the need to be liked limits sales effectiveness.

Geographic and Channel Expansions are expensive and take time.  While they usually pay off in the long term, they suck up resources, spread the leadership team thin, and the move is often risky and frustrating.

Adding Products can open new doors and increase revenue from existing accounts.  However, your existing salespeople are typically creatures of habit and often struggle with new products.  You'll probably have to bring on new salespeople if you want new product lines to successfully add revenue to your top line.

Improving overall sales performance, sales management effectiveness, sales strategies, systems and processes tend to be some of the most cost-effective, fast-working, long-lasting changes a company can make to increase revenue.  Read this article and this article for more on Sales Process.  The most important thing to be aware of with this particular choice is that the improvements become an integral part of your sales culture and continue to pay dividends in the near and distant future.

There are several ways to achieve revenue growth but some just don't make as much sense as others. 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, verne harnish, Rockefeller Habits, scaling up, greg brenneman

Tech Buyer Explains Why He Has No Use for Salespeople - Must Read

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 @ 06:07 AM

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I managed to develop a case of poison ivy that is so bad it is making my blood boil.  Earlier this year I wrote an article explaining why more salespeople suck than ever before.  (You'll need to read that article for the rest of this article to make any sense.)  Last week, a reader provided a comment that made my blood boil and I wrote a response to it. I think you'll get as riled up over his comment as I did and I hope you'll love my response, but first, read that article, return here and read his comment which I have included below, and then continue reading for my reply.  You won't be sorry!

I polished up his response a bit.  I corrected the typos but left his foul language and general attacks the way he wrote them.

"Allow me to give you some insight as a technology buyer why more sales people suck than ever before: Buyers don't need them. This may apply outside of the tech sector as well. There was a time when product information required someone to convey it. We needed specs, compatibility reassurance, negotiated service delivery along with a quote. Now we just want the damn quote. We can do our own homework comparing competitive products thanks to the majority of product details and specs being on-line. All this horsesh*t is just that... talk. Blah, blah...blah...: 1. Creating value and insight during the client conversation 2. Uncovering complete information regarding the decision making process 3. Exploring client issues and challenges This implies the customer is too stupid to know what they need and the esteemed sales person is there to guide them through the decision making process....whatever. We know what we need - freakin' sell it to us without the corporate phsyco sociology drabble. Believe it or not you don't need to know everything about our operations in Europe to sell me a damn network switch in North Carolina. I don't need to know what kind of bike you kid rides or where you are taking your next vacation. You are not my friend. Prepare the f'ing quote. Now, don't re-architect, re-engineer or include a bunch of unnecessary line items per your "best practices". Stop throwing in twelve kitchen sinks to force me to say no. And I will. And you will take it for an answer. When you don't like no for an answer don't circumvent a department by calling all the way up to the CFO for attention. The answer is still no and you've just lit a match on an already burning bridge. Sales people simply have a harder time now because they are not necessary. The pitch is just that... all pitch. We need ACCOUNT REPRESENTATIVES. We need those who don't exit the stage when the contact ink is dry turning us over to customer "service". Isn't it a wonderful thing that the US is turning to a service sector economy considering how much we suck at it. Sign 'em up for contractual recurring revenue and bleed 'em dry. That should be the front line in the majority of new sales hire meetings. As buyers we know this. Sales people aren't there to provide service. They are not there to point customers to the right party to handle accounting issues. They aren't there for continuing product and customer support, nor should they be. So what purpose do they serve? Hype? Yawn. If American companies would fire or convert their commission "sales" staff for proper customer service and representation it would have a positive effect on the overall economy. The "sell 'em high, sign 'em up wet ink and off shore them to India" model is what buyers are rejecting. Change this. Replace the sales landscape with real customer service."

Here is my response to Todd.

Todd, thanks for taking the time to offer your opinion.  I could tell you are very passionate about this subject and you are certainly correct about one thing.  When you want to buy a switch you shouldn't have to answer all of those irrelevant questions!  That's a transactional sale and salespeople have been obsolete for years when it come to transactional sales.  You can buy those online - you don't need a salesperson!

Unfortunately, you have met far too many salespeople from the bottom 77% of the sales population, yet none of the elite 7%.  If you had met one of the good ones, you probably would have made that individual an exception to your rant.

You have a job to do - get what you need at the lowest price.  But salespeople have a job to do too.  And that's to change your mind, get you to consider value over price, influence your decision as to which company to do business with, and develop a long-term win-win relationship with you.  But you hate salespeople, which is your right.  I hate to break it to you but salespeople hate you too.  You make their lives even more miserable than you can imagine.  While they don't prevent you from doing your job, you sure make it impossible for them to do theirs.

Whether their companies call them account representatives, customer service representatives or salespeople, it won't change the quality of the rep that is calling on you.  77% of them suck, and the good ones have learned not to call on you!  That's because you sound like an uncooperative, close-minded, price-first buyer who is ineffective at developing a value-based relationship with salespeople.  And if the good ones aren't calling on you, they are probably calling on your CTO, CIO, or CFO.  Good for them!

Dave

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, bad salespeople, elite salespeople, tech buyers

Sales Process - It's All about the Shoes, Silly

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 @ 19:06 PM

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I've written dozens of articles on Sales Process an you can read many of them right here.  If you pay attention, you can even see how my thinking has changed over the last 10 years.  While I have never wavered on the importance of sales process, I have modified my thinking on why it's so important, what it must consist of, how it should work, and how it should be integrated into CRM.

When the folks at Gazelles / Growth Institute asked me to write an article for their Blog, they suggested that I write about the Sales Process I introduced in my 2005 best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball.  I had already recorded a one-hour seminar for the Growth Institute Scaling it Up Club and they thought it would make sense to write about that.  Instead, I wrote what I believe is my best article to date on the importance of sales process and what executives routinely show me when I ask to see their sales process.  The article should be fun to read so let me know what you think in the comments.  Read Why a Customized Sales Process is Like Buying Shoes.  The funny thing is that I wrote that article for them long before I started the book, Shoe Dog, and wrote this article!  Suddenly, it's all about the shoes!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales process, gazelles, growth institute

Which Thoughts Affect How Successful You Will be in Sales?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#5 - How Boomers and Millennials Differ in Sales

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 3 Most Important Questions about Sales Process

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

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

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

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

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

I will cite two sources for this article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Percentage of New Salespeople Reach Decision Makers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Actually, I couldn't have been more wrong!

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

rel-soc-graph1.jpg

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

rel-soc-graph3.jpg 

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

 

rel-soc-graph2.jpg

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

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

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

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

About Dave

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

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