Not the 3 Most Important Sales Hiring Attributes

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

Sales Selection

Image Copyright: Lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

One topic that never gets stale is how to make sure that you nail sales selection.  Whether or not salespeople actually fail, or they simply stick around, but fail to have an impact,  the common theme is still failure to select the right salespeople.  Recently, I stumbled upon this article about 3 Uncoachable Sales Attributes that you should focus on to get hiring right.  

The author is correct in that the 3 attributes she chose to write about are not really coachable.  However, it seemed she meant to imply that by hiring salespeople with these 3 attributes, you'll get hiring right. While those 3 attributes may be good ones to focus on for the general employee candidate pool,  she is way off base with that approach for hiring salespeople.  Let's discuss the many ways where this approach goes off the tracks.

 

At Objective Management Group (OMG), we are always conducting analyses between top and bottom sales performers, and I can tell you that when someone veers away from the data and begins to compare personality and/or behavioral styles, there is typicially no difference between the top and bottom performers.

The author identified Drive as one of her big three and she defined it as having motivation and competitiveness.  OMG measures motivation, and both top and bottom performers usually appear to be equally motivated.  OMG measures Desire - how badly a salesperson wants to achieve greater success in their sales role.  OMG also measures Commitment - their willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve that success.  Together, they form a very strong representation of competetiveness.  Guess what?  There isn't much of a difference between top and bottom performers with these findings either.  However, we never recommend that a company hire a salesperson lacking in either one.

The author identified Brains.  There is a difference here...but it's not about brains.  It's about one's ability to quickly figure things out.  One doesn't have to be smart to succeed in sales, but they do need problem solving ability.  We call it the Figure it Out Factor (FIOF) and it comes into play during ramp-up time.  Those with scores above 74 ramp up significantly more quickly than those with scores below 60.

The author identified character as her third attribute.  Really?  Do you really believe that someone who struggles in sales is lacking in character?  There is zero difference.  Perhaps a better choice of attributes would have been tenacity, resiliance or mental toughness.

There is a huge difference though, in the areas she did not identify.  

At OMG, we measure several Selling Comptencies (Hunting, Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Presenting, Closing, Positioning, Account Management and Farming) that each include dozens of findings (sales-specific strategies, tactics and qualities) that do allow us to differentiate between the top and bottom performers in sales.

We also measure several areas of Sales DNA (strengths that support the use of sales process, sales methodology and sales competencies) that further help us differentiate between top and bottom performers.

The author named three attributes that she believed made a difference.  How many attributes or findings does it really take to differentiate the sales candidates that will succeed from those who won't?  A lot.  At OMG, we utilize more than 500,000 combinations of findings to arrive at our highly accurate and predictive recommendations as to whether various candidates will succeed in the various roles for which companies are hiring.

There are a lot of people who think they have the ability to consistently identify sales winners.  How can one differentiate between all of them who think that way and other assessment companies that claim to have that capability?  OMG has science on its side and it's the science that helps us to consistently get it right.

Most Sales VP's, sales managers, and even sales authors, trainers and coaches, aren't necessarily experts when it comes to sales selection.  Neither are recruiters.  Who and what can you depend on?  Rely on sales-specific tools that are backed by science, use them in a sales-specific, Top-Grading-like recruiting process, and you can't go wrong.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, accurate sales assessment, hiring sales candidates, sales hiring tools, sales selection, objective management group

How Would These Sports Celebrities Perform in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

Deion Sanders

I wrote a very serious post earlier this week where I had the nerve to bring God into the conversation.  I thought it was appropriate because the biggest and most important take-away from that article was about being inspired and inspiring others. If you didn't get a chance to read it, I think The Biggest Secrets of Sales Rock Stars is worth your time.  Not wishing to write or deliver two overly serious posts in a row, I decided to lighten things up a bit with my analysis of how some famous sports celebrities would perform if they were in sales.  You'll enjoy this one.

First an apology - I went to baseball three times and the other sports only once, and in some cases, I left them out. But hey, I'm a baseball guy.

David Ortiz - Big Papi comes up big in big moments.  After asking the million dollar question at the eleventh hour, goes for broke and asks for ALL of the business.  He gets it, and upon getting the contract, signs, flips the contract and pen in the air, stands there a moment, and admires his great sale.  VIDEO

John McEnroe - Oh, oh.  The prospect said something that John didn't agree with and John just became very emotional and got royally pissed off. He started swearing at the prospect for being such a moron and the prospect just kicked him out of the building.  VIDEO

Deion Sanders - NFL Hall of Famer Neon Deion Prime Time Sanders had a long and successful run at a large account and just renewed them for the biggest gain in company history.  He celebrated his big deal with a dance in the CEO's office.  VIDEO

Mohammed Ali - Ali has gone 12 rounds with this prospective customer and if he wins the bout, he will be the champion salesperson in his industry.  It seems that in this case, Ali has simply worn the prospect down with his rope-a-dope tactics, asking question after question, making presentation after presentation, and outlasting all of his competitors.  He told his new customer that he is the greatest.  VIDEO

Mark Fydrich - If you aren't old enough to remember Cassious Clay becoming Mohammed Ali, then you probably won't remember Mark "The Bird" Fydrich either.  In this sales call, Fydrich, the new guy, cleaned his prospect's desk and just kept talking to the prospect as if he was telling the prospect how he was going to sell to him.  It worked and he got the deal. Then, he started jumping up and down, thanking the customer, his competitors and even his sales manager.  VIDEO

Billy Crystal - What's he doing here?  If you read his book or are a Yankees fan, you would know that Crystal signed a one-day contract with the Yankees and as a 60-year-old, actually had an at-bat against the Pirates in a spring training game.  That means I still have 1-year for the Red Sox to sign me for a day.  Come on Ben Cherrington, give me an at-bat!  So Billy is on this sales call and he's presenting to an entire leadership team, telling stories and making his prospects laugh.  Then he starts picking on and teasing each of the leaders, and the prospects can't stop laughing.  He leaves with the deal and a standing ovation.  They start chanting his name and he comes back and upsells them for an add-on to his deal.  VIDEO

I could have included Michael, Lebron, Larry or Magic for the basketball fans.  I could have included Orr, Gretsky, Howe, or Lemieux for the hocky fans.  And I wouldn't even know where to start for my friend, Ray, and all the soccer fans.  Golf?  Tiger would sleep with his prospect's wife.

Personalities are a big part of selling, but most people don't know how to use their personalities.  If you are a long-time reader, then you know when I mention personality, it's usually to assault a personality assessment being used to assess salespeople.  Not today.  Today, I will treat you with some advice on sales personalities!

Salespeople need to know the environments and scenarios in which they can thrive:

Are they most effective when face-to-face or on the phone?  One-on-one or in a group?  Selling consultatively or presenting to a group?  

In which mode are they most authentic?  When being Funny? Technical? Educational? Consultative? Serving?

From a chemistry standpoint, who in a company are they most comfortable with?  The C-Suite? Middle Management?  Users?  Buyers? Technical folks?

In which part of the sales cycle can they use the various parts of their personality to their best advantage?  Breaking the ice?  Lowering resistance?  Asking questions?  Establishing credibility? Closing?  Following up?

Sit with your salespeople and attempt to identify some of their best qualities and match them up with some of the requirements of their sales role to determine how you can more consistently put them in a scenario to succeed. 

 

Topics: sales personality, sales calls, sports celebrities, sales role

The Biggest Secret of Salespeople that Rock

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 20, 2014 @ 07:10 AM

Jack Black School of Rock

In the old days, after speaking at a conference, I would frequently be told that I was the top-rated speaker at the event.  More recently, people have told me that I "Rocked!"  One time, as I was being introduced, an audience member came up to me and said, "Don't Suck!"  We can't always be rock stars...

I apologize if it sounded like I was bragging.  I didn't mean to.  I was just looking for contrast.  For example, the great rockers of the last 50 years - the Stones, the Beatles and the Dead - now THEY have FANS!  But even those three groups pale in comparison to the original rocker.  No, not Elvis.  Interestingly, I had to go 8 pages deep in a Google search for Rock Star before there was even a mention of anyone remotely connected to being a rock star.  That's when Joe Perry of Aerosmith was mentioned in the Google web search.  Jack Black in his School of Rock role was the first "rocker" shown in the Google image search!  Not quite what I had in mind - no offense to Aerosmith and Jack Black fans...

The greatest of all time to rock would be God.  Who else could have His word in such a huge collection of books written over so many centuries, all while performing miracles?  Who else could have so many devotees?  I know.  I just broke the biggest unwritten (maybe it's actually been written) business rule of all time.  "Don't talk about religion."  Well, fuck that!  If you're one of the readers that usually shares my articles and this paragraph is making you uncomfortable, stop reading right now and don't share the article with anyone.  On the other hand, if you are OK with this paragraph and you would be OK allowing a little more God into our increasingly Godless lives, share to your heart's content.  I was just looking for some more contrast.

Back to speakers and then, finally, onto salespeople.

You've attended conferences and for every speaker that rocked, there were 3 that were so-so and 2 that absolutely sucked.  As a group, do you think that salespeople, and specifically you and/or your salespeople, are any different from speakers?  Do you think that all of your salespeople rock all of their sales calls?  Do some of them rock some of the time?  Do any of them EVER rock?  Let's explore a few of the characteristics of salespeople that really rock.

Salespeople who rock have mastered the following ten competencies:

  1. Animated - This is not just visual animation, like constant movement, but it's also vocal animation, one's ability to reach out with inflection and instantly grab people's attention and keep that attention for the remainder of the meeting.

  2. Memorable - While this tends to be an outcome, the ability to stand apart and differentiate from everyone else is the quality that is most important for being memorable.  Being animated helps, being likable is important, but the ability to stand out from the crowd is most important.

  3. Subject Matter Experts - This is more than being an expert about products and services.  This is about being an expert on application, your industry, your vertical, your market, on process, on your target customer's role and with cost justifications and ROI calculations.
     
  4. Know the Audience - A salesperson must not only connect with a prospect on a personal level, but they must also know their problems, challenges, frustrations, goals and objectives.  A salesperson should understand the personal impact that these issues have on the prospect.  To rock even more, a presentation should be tailored and customized to address what a salesperson has learned about the audience. I was a guest on Evan Carmichael's radio show last week talking about this very thing at the 18-minute mark.
     
  5. Ask Great Opening Questions - Assuming that salespeople have and use consultative selling skills to have great and meaningful conversations (see this post for more), then the quality and depth of those conversations are in direct proportion to the opening questions they ask.

  6. Push Back - Polite and passive salespeople are nice to meet.  However, they are not memorable because they fail to differentiate themselves in a meaningful way.  From time to time, it's important to challenge outdated thinking, push back on a questionable approach or question a decision that might not be in everyone's best interest.  Polite and passive salespeople will struggle mightily with this.

  7. Great Sense of Humor - I am coaching a salesperson who is always too serious.  This caused his prospects to feel threatened, pressured and as a result, they would get defensive.  They just didn't find him likable enough!  Having the ability to detect the moments where it would be useful to lighten things up by using humor makes salespeople more likable and keeps the pressure from mounting.

  8. Presence - When a salesperson is well-dressed, six-feet tall, graying around the temples and has a voice like James Earl Jones, it's hard not to have presence.  But the rest of us need to work at it.  You might not be in an industry or calling on a vertical where your wardrobe can help.  You might not have a great voice.  You might be short like me.  Wisdom may not have appeared in your hair color.  So you make up for these physical shortcomings with pace, confidence, good listening, and a philosophy of less is more.  When you do speak, you should be the voice of wisdom.  Your contribution to the conversation must be significant, unexpected, articulate, relevant, and when possible, profound.

  9. Concise - Being concise will certainly enhance your presence, but one must strive for concise in all circumstances.  No rambling, unnecessary details, complicated demonstrations, or overblown explanations.  When it comes to a presentations, less is always more.

  10. Close - Salespeople must know when to close.  This doesn't vary and it's not after X number of minutes, calls, meetings or questions.  It's not after a demo, presentation or proposal either.  It's when all required milestones within the sales cycle have been achieved. Final Milestone achievement can occur after one day or one year, one call or ten calls, one demo or five demos, after meeting with one person or twenty people.  It's milestone-specific, not time- or quantity-specific.  And when it's been completed, it's closing time.  This point in time is the first and best opportunity for closing and salespeople must be able to get the deal closed when this opportunity finally presents itself. 

All salespeople have the potential to rock, but they may not have all of these competencies mastered.  They can be taught and they can adapt.  I'm certain that when I was younger, the only one of these competencies I had was a sense of humor.  And if I was in front of an audience, then my sense of humor would have been buried beneath layers of fear.  But at some point, I was inspired.  I believe it was by God.  And I believe that you and your salespeople can be inspired to master all ten of these competencies. 

I don't want you to miss the big one here.  It's the biggest secret of all.  Inspiration.  When you are inspired, you rock.  When you inspire others, you rock!

Would you like to be more successful identifying salespeople that rock?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, top salespeople, changing sales performance, sales personality, sales quotas, sales presentations, Sales Rock Star, Greatness, Inspiration

Did our Sales Evaluation Uncover Part-Time Job Selling Drugs?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 @ 09:10 AM

pot

A salesperson was arrested for growing pot and selling it. Can you believe it?

Recently, the same man participated in OMG's Sales Force Evaluation at the company where he worked.  The evaluation showed that he was a very strong salesperson with tremendous selling skills, but it also identified a few telling issues:

  • He wasn't motivated to earn additional money;
  • He didn't enjoy the selling that he was doing for this company;
  • He wasn't committed to his sales success;
  • He wasn't trainable or coachable;
  • He was unlikely to stick around.

The salesperson was terminated following his arrest. 

If you read a sales evaluation with findings like these on a successful salesperson that worked for you, would you discount them?  Disagree with them?  Challenge the evaluation?  Challenge the individual?  After all, it's not that unusual for a successful salesperson to no longer be motivated by earning more money, but it is very unusual when a successful salesperson no longer enjoys selling and isn't committed to sales success.

We know how accurate the evaluations are, so we urge our clients to challenge the individuals in question.  However, since the evaluations uncover hidden issues and the clients weren't previously aware of those issues, quite often they will challenge the evaluation since they "know" the person and the findings "just couldn't be accurate".

This doesn't happen very frequently, but it does happen.  Why do you suppose managers prefer to push back on the findings rather than the person?  Do they know their salespeople that well or are they blinded by that person's results?  Is the performance even a result of that person's efforts or are they reaping the benefits of the hard work of the company, the prior rep, lucrative existing accounts or some other factor they aren't responsible for?

It's fine to push back on findings and evaluations, but when the evaluation is as accurate as OMG's, one needs to push back on the salesperson too.

Topics: sales assessment, sales force evaluation, enjoys selling, dave kurlan sales force profile, sales assessment testing, money motivated, sales development, personality assessment

Why My Golfing May be Just Like Your Sales Recruiting

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 @ 07:10 AM

golfing

Image Copyright: deklofenak / 123RF Stock Photo

On the rare occasion that I have the opportunity to golf, it doesn't matter what I choose for clubs, balls, gloves, tees or clothing.  At this point in my life and very short golfing career, just being out with a friend is good enough for me and if we count his strokes, and my lost balls, our final scores might even be competitive!

That's how some companies recruit salespeople.  It doesn't matter who they are, where they come from, if they have selling skills, and whether or not they have any experience.  These companies treat sales recruiting like the instructions on their shampoo bottle - they rinse and repeat.  

This approach is a self-fulfilling prophecy which, because of their willingness to accept anyone who will take the job, is guaranteed to fail. Nearly every recruit will fail quickly and they will find themselves restarting the recruiting process again a short while later.

When it comes to finding and selecting new salespeople, you can choose the easy path and have consistently poor outcomes, or take the more challenging path and have consistently good outcomes.

When you look at it that way - easy gets you bad and difficult gets you good - there isn't much reason for continuing to do it the easy way.  Of course, if you have always done it that way you may not be willing to change...

What makes the difficult way so difficult?

You'll need a lot more of the right candidates, and a few great tools to help with selection.  

One client, hiring for an inbound sales role, assessed nearly 1,000 candidates in the past 12 months and that was just the beginning!  

Another client needed to identify a needle in a haystack.  They needed an extremely capable salesperson that could sell big deals to the C-suite of enterprise size companies AND the winning candidates would also need to have highly evolved technical skills.  Nearly 200 candidates were assessed for that role.

A third client assessed around 250 sales candidates for an inside sales role while a fourth client assessed more than 2,000 candidates for a traditional outside sales role.

Each of these clients saved huge amounts of time by doing the following 10 things:

  1. They assessed first and asked questions later.
  2. They used a very accurate, sales-specific assessment that is incredibly predictive of success in a sales role.
  3. They did not look at the resumes or contact any candidate that was not recommended by the assessment.
  4. They used online applicant tracking for candidates to collect experience-based information to further filter which candidates would be contacted.
  5. They interviewed the recommended candidates with the right experiences by phone for 5 minutes.
  6. They scheduled face-to-face interviews with the best of those candidates and only then ran their normal recruiting processes.
  7. They selected, hired and on-boarded great salespeople.
  8. They coached, directed and guided these great salespeople, holding them accountable to appropriate KPI's from day 1.
  9. They significantly reduced turnover, increased ramp-up time and exceeded goals for sales revenue.
  10. They did not have to start the recruiting process again.

This was all made possible by the use of one, very customizable, very useful and accurate sales candidate assessment.  It works for every sales role.  It works in every industry.  It will work for you too.  If you would like to take a test drive, click the image below for a free trial!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales candidates, sales selection, sales assessments, OMG Assessment

Top 4 Reasons a Great Salesperson Can Fail at Your Company

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 09, 2014 @ 13:10 PM

dave_video_clip

Earlier this week, I spoke to a great audience of sales leaders at the EcSell Institute Fall Sales Coaching Summit in Dallas where my topic was, How to Hire a Great Salesperson that Will be Great.
 
I asked the attendees if they had ever hired a great salesperson that still failed and everyone there said, "Yes!"  I asked if anyone could explain how or why a great salesperson could fail, and the group offered up many guesses, but weren’t able to come up with my top 4 reasons. Here they are:


 
1. They can’t replicate the environment in which they had their success.  For example, suppose that Company X is a huge, well-known enterprise with a model that calls for salespeople to visit with buyers, quote on programs, and come in with the lowest price – regardless of margin.  One salesperson, Joe, has the biggest of those accounts and backed by a pricing model without a bottom, he is their best salesperson by far.
 
Now let’s pretend that in order to succeed at your company, your salespeople must call on the C-Suite and your prices are higher than your competition.  To make it even more interesting, your company is not very well-known, and your product offerings are new.  Joe, formerly the best salesperson at Company X, applies for a position in your company, and with his winning personality and track record of #1 finishes, you hire him.  This is how one company’s great salesperson can fail at your company.
 
2. Great is relative.  Let’s use Joe for this example too.  By now, you can see that Joe is more lucky than great.  He was working for the right company, at the right time, and had the best customers.  When compared with the other 150 salespeople in Company X, order takers at best, Joe appears to be great.  I wrote about great being relative earlier this week in this article.

3. They weren’t great at all.  You were feeling some urgency, you needed to fill a position in an important territory, and Joe (with his winning personality, award-winning fictional resume and tremendous interviewing performance) comes along.  It’s love at first meeting.

4. Your Culture is in the way. Sometimes it's just not a good fit and other times the company's on boarding, training, accountability and coaching aren't strong enough to get a new salesperson, even a great one, over the hump to where they are consistently bringing in new business.
 
The thing is that, in 2014, there is absolutely no reason for companies to be so inept when it comes to hiring salespeople.  Sure, you’ve hired some salespeople that have worked out.  But you’ve also hired salespeople that didn’t work out.  Hit or miss is not a model for success.
 
So why do companies continue to go it alone, make the same mistakes and continue to hire the wrong salespeople?
 
Ego.  “I’ve done this a hundred times – I don’t need any help.”  “I know how to recruit salespeople – I don’t need any help.”  Do you know what else this is?  It meets the definition of stupidity.
 
You can get help building a world-class, sales-specific, recruiting process which, when followed, will save time and money, and consistently result in great sales hires.  At Objective Management Group (OMG), we call that process STAR and most of our certified partners can provide that help.
You can use a predictive, accurate, sales-specific, candidate assessment at the top of the sales candidate pipeline.  This quickly and accurately identifies the candidates that you do want to interview by phone and in-person while eliminating the candidates that will likely fail in the role for which you are hiring.  OMG’s Sales Candidate Assessment has been voted the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the World for 3 consecutive years.
 
In our latest version, we added video camera icons alongside all of the findings on the dashboard.  Click and I’ll explain the finding!  When it comes to the actual recommendation, there are more than 500,000 possible combinations that make up the video you will see!  Even better, if you need to hire great salespeople, click the image below for a free trial.
You can use online applicant tracking to gather additional information to help you streamline the process, and determine which of the recommended candidates have the right background for success.  We partner with New-Hire.com.
 
ALL of your management issues will disappear when you hire the right salespeople. Truly great salespeople don’t need to be managed, they don’t need to be replaced and you don’t need to babysit them!  All of your time can be spent coaching them up and helping them become even greater.
 
Isn’t it time that you stop repeating a process that is broken and get the help and tools that will make you a hiring genius?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, sales candidates, hiring mistake, sales selection

Solitaire and Modern Sales Training - What Should it Cover and Include?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 06, 2014 @ 05:10 AM

 training
Image Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

I've been playing one of those Solitaire games on my iPad and I can routinely score in the neighborhood of 2 minutes and 30 seconds, with my best time being just under 2 minutes.  I thought I was doing pretty well until I realized that my wife routinely scores between 1 minute and 1:20 seconds with her best scores (not score) being under 1 minute.  She has scored as low as 48 seconds.

If not for my wife, I would have thought I was a real pro at Solitaire!

This is exactly how many CEO's, Presidents and Sales VP's view their sales forces.  Without anything or anyone with whom to compare, they form their judgements on sales effectiveness in a vacuum.  I routinely hear things like, "We have a custom sales process.", and "We've been working on consultative selling."  Yet, after a sales force evaluation has been completed, those same companies are routinely found to have been lagging, not leading, in those areas.

When it comes to providing sales training for your sales force, what exactly, should modern training include?

You've read a few too many sales blog posts, watched a few too many sales videos, and read a few too many sales books.  You even might have downloaded some white papers, checked out some websites, and talked to some sales experts.  Many are left with a sense of confusion, because what you think you need is different from what people are talking about, and everyone is talking about you needing something different.  Is anyone right?  Is everyone right?  Is it possible that nobody is right?

Let's discuss the single most imporant thing you should be providing to your sales force right now and how modern sales training should address it.

How must your sales training change and what should it include?  Certainly, the training should depend on whether it's inside inbound, inside outbound, appointment setting, inside with responsibility for the entire sales cycle, major accounts, account management, territory sales, vertical sales, channel sales or traditional sales.

It's true - the training should change for every role.

However, there is one constant, that should be front and center of every training program, regardless of your sales process or methodology, or the sales role, frequency, intensity, or duration of the training.

Regardless of how you find your opportunities, selling begins when the first contact, lead or email can be converted to a conversation, either by phone,  face-to-face or the video conference hybrid.  Once you are selling, then regardless of which stage in the sales cycle you are in, or your sales role, the very next thing that will take place is a stage-appropriate conversation.

All training, regardless of role, must demonstrate how to have powerful, eye-opening, attention-getting, brand-differentatiating conversations.  Better conversations than this prospect has had with any salesperson - ever.

And what are conversations?  They are the result of the flow that occurs when salespeople utilize advanced listening and questioning skills.  In order to train salespseople to have stage-appropriate conversations, the emphasis must be on listening and questioning.  

Of course, training must be more than only conversations.  However, without training and drilling and demonstrating and role-playing and practicing and mastering and applying and improving those conversations, the steps and milestones of the sales process would be only checkmarks on a list.  And the sales methodology, strategies and tactics that are used to move from milestone to milestone would become mostly useless concepts.

Are you providing this kind of sales training to your salespeople right now?  You did it last year?  Good.  What about this year?  You must continue to train salespeople because left to their own devices, the bottom 74% will always go back to their default approach.  You can't take your foot off the accelerator!  Are you providing the kind of sales training that will help your salespeople crash through quotas and goals?  Are your salespeople becoming exponentially better - always?  

Are your salespeople even capable of learning to sell the way I described here?  Shouldn't you find out whether or not they have the potential to sell this way?  Which of your salespeople can improve and sell that way is just one of the many pieces of sales intelligence you get when you have your sales force evaluated by Objective Management Group (OMG).

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales methodology, sales training, listening and questioning, sales force evaluations

Sales Managers are Sometimes Like Cashiers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

curry

At lunchtime one day, my curry-chicken salad tasted so bad that I returned it to the deli next door.  The owner asked what was wrong and when I told him, he tasted it, said it was fine, and get this - he returned the uneaten portion of my salad into the bowl in the display case.  Yuck!  And I never went back.  Until yesterday.  I was desperate and didn't have enough time to go anywhere else, but I knew enough to stay away from the specialty salads.

The crowds that used to line up were gone.  The staff was about half the size.  The menu, and specifically, the browning chicken salads in the display case were still there.  The owner was operating the cash register, calling names when their meals were ready, and taking their payments.  Instead of working on his business, fixing what was wrong, making much needed changes and urging customers back into his deli, he was handling the money - the one thing that any unskilled worker could do.

He reminded me of so many sales managers I have met during the past 30 years.

Instead of working on the sales force, working with their salespeople, developing their people, fixing what was wrong, guiding and directing, coaching and motivating, recruiting and holding salespeople accountable, they were spending their time doing busy work, running reports, sending emails, collecting call reports, creating quotes and proposals, approving pricing, approving incoming orders, watching the sales numbers, prodding their salespeople to close more deals, and doing simple administrative tasks that a sales assistant or coordinator could do.

Of course, the most important of these sales management functions is coaching.  Coaching salespeople should account for 50% of a sales manager's time.  Coaching salespeople has the greatest impact on development and revenue.  Yet only 15% of all sales managers spend even 25% of their time coaching.  Instead of focusing on what has the greatest impact on their business, sales managers are often like the deli owner - just standing at the register and taking the money.

Speaking of coaching, next Wednesday, I'll be leading a Top Sales Academy session on "How to Master the Art of Coaching Salespeople".  It's free to register and attend and it would be terrific to have you on the webinar!  Please use this link to register for the Noon ET session on October 8.

Speaking of recruiting, last week I led a webinar/tour of the "Magic Behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment".  If you weren't able to attend, you can see the slides here and watch the 20-minute presentation, recorded live, here.

As long as I'm sharing links, the latest issue of Top Sales Magazine is now available here.  This issue includes an article of mine that you'll want to read on Why Sales Leaders Continue to Hire the Wrong Salespeople.

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales management functions, sales managers

Why There is No Value When You Provide Value Via Special Pricing

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 29, 2014 @ 09:09 AM

negotiation Image Copyright: violin / 123RF Stock Photo

I was discussing the OMG Partnership opportunity with a gentlemen from Hong Kong, who objected to our reasonable licensing fees, refusing to pay any fees to a US company.  This is when the conversation began to resemble a sales call.  He did what a lot of buyers do to salespeople and began to boast about how well-positioned his company is to market OMG in Hong Kong and what a huge opportunity this would be for OMG.  He expected me to waive the fees in exchange for the great opportunity he described.

Most salespeople - 74% to be exact - not wishing to jeopardize a great opportunity, start negotiating or worse, agreeing, to the unrealistic requests.  There are ripple effects to this, for example:

  • It creates precedent, making it difficult to uphold terms with new and even existing customers
  • It makes whatever deal they sign very short term.  It is only a matter of time before someone else offers a better price and the business goes away before it has a chance to generate enough volume to make up for the discounted pricing. 
  • It threatens the profitability from the account.  If you reduce or waive fees and/or prices once, the customer expects to negotiate and win every time, making it more difficult to achieve profitability.
  • In OMG's case, the potential partner would have no skin in the game - removing the urgency for them to generate business, and further eroding the potential for a profitable partnership

Weak salespeople mistakenly see the compromise or discount as the value when, in fact, selling at a premium actually establishes the value.  This is so difficult for most salespeople to comprehend.  They think they are doing everyone a favor when they acquiesce, but in reality, they are setting everyone up for failure.  

Most executives think that this is a training issue, but they would be wrong.  While training can provide a number of strategies and tactics for dealing with prospects and buyers who behave this way, it doesn't change the misguided salesperson at all.  At best, these salespeople have new words, but still execute with the old beliefs.

The root cause appears in the way that salespeople make major purchases for themselves. If they have always shopped for the best price, that behavior becomes the norm.  When a prospect wishes to do the same, the salesperson views that as acceptable - appropriate even - and finds a way to accommodate.

This particular issue is one of the many hidden weaknesses that OMG identifies when we evaluate sales forces and assess candidates.  It can explain why margins are poor, why salespeople are unable to sell value, and why business is lost because of price.   Listen carefully to this entire audio clip, taken from a sales training webinar, where a salesperson ambushed himself as a result of this very weakness.

How many of your salespeople have this hidden weakness?  How many candidates have you considered that have this hidden weakness?  How would your business change if none of your salespeople had this issue?  What did you learn from the audio clip?


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales weaknesses, sales assessment tools, value selling,

Are Salespeople Also Joggers?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

jogger

As I drove to work today, I passed 4 joggers, all with different styles, paces and appearances.  As usual, I saw the similarities between what I observed and the sales profession.

Jogger #1 was an overweight man, in his 50's, working very hard, but not going very fast or far.  He had lots of unnecessary motion and wasted energy, was wearing himself out, and showing little in the way of results.  He instantly reminded me of the salesperson who works lots of hours, always seems to have enough to keep quite busy, but never seems to get his opportunities moved through the pipeline to closure.

Jogger #2 was a middle-aged woman who was moving in slow motion.  Until that moment, I did not believe anyone could run that slowly!  She reminded me of salespeople who never seem to get new opportunities into their pipelines because they lack the urgency necessary to get on the phone and make calls. 

Jogger #3 was the model of efficiency, with good speed, pace and motion.  He reminded me of a salesperson who has a purpose, stays focused, and accomplishes his goals.

Jogger #4 was actually sprinting.  He was pushing it to the limit, exhibiting good form and clearly able to outrun the field.  He reminded me of an elite salesperson - the top 6% - that start out fast in the morning, quickly get their calls made, get results from those calls, and then conduct effective sales calls, meetings and presentations.  These salespeople have consultative selling skills, make it look easy, and close the majority of their fully-qualified opportunities, crashing through goals and quotas.

What kind of salespeople/joggers populate your sales force?

Most sales organizations, regardless of size, lack enough #4s and that's not even the real problem.  The actual problem is that most sales leaders and their CEO's are OK with that!  They accept it as part of business.  Think about how many other sales problems must frustrate executives like that.  How many of those issues would go away if they hired better salespeople?

It's never too late to change perspectives.  It's never too late to start hiring the right salespeople.  Consider OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  Yesterday, I led a tour that discussed The Magic Behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  You can view the 20-minute presentation here.

It's never too late to learn about your existing salespeople either.  Wouldn't you like to know whether or not you have future #4s that simply need to be better trained and coached?  It's never too late to learn whether your #1s and #2s will never change.  And don't you want to know why, as a sales organization, you aren't finding and closing more business?

You need sales force intelligence.  Not intelligence that you get for your sales force, like Hoovers, but intelligence on your sales force, like Objective Management Group.  That's where a sales force evaluation comes in.  Can your underperformers be saved?  Can your performers improve?  Have you been selecting the right people?  How must that change?

How can your salespeople more effectively find, convince, qualify and close more new business?  Your ability to impact sales through improvement and change is dependent on having the right answers to the right questions.  Objective Management Group asks and answers 19 critical business questions about your sales force to provide you with the needed intelligence on your sales force that leads to better decisions, increased sales and improved win-rates, sales cycles and selection.

Executives tend to be just like those joggers too.  Only a small percentage make use of the available intelligence to improve revenue generation and profit.  The rest make a lot of noise, vary between the status quo and constant change, and exert lots of wasted efforts for minimal gain.  Which type are you?

Image Copyright: bowie15 / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, sales candidate assessments, OMG Assessment, top sales performers, jogging,

About Dave

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

Email Dave

Subscribe on Kindle 

Subscribe to the Blog

Search the site

 
Top 30 on Kindle
Top 100 on Amazon

Top Sales World - Summer Reading 2014

Inbound 2014

Awards

Top Sales & Marketing Influencer 2014

Dave Kurlan

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 2013 Bronze Medal Top Sales & Marketing Blog

2013 Gold Medal Top Sales & Marketing Article

2013 Finalist Medal Top Sales & Marketing Thought Leader

2013 Gold Medal Top Sales & Marketing Assessment Tool

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