Choose Which of These Two Assessments are More Predictive of Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 06:02 AM


face-off.jpgThis week, a candidate for a sales position sent along his Predictive Index (PI) assessment so that we could compare it to his sales assessment from Objective Management Group (OMG).  Most people have little sense as to how assessments compare to each other - and even more have experience only with personality and behavioral styles assessments.  I was able to extract the dashboard from OMG's 21 page sales-specific assessment, and the graphics and selling summary from the 3-page Predictive Index behavioral styles assessment.  You might find the comparison interesting!Let's begin with what I was able to extract from PI and focus on the selling summary.  Like most behavioral styles assessments, there is very little that actually has to do with selling and as you can see in the one summary about the candidate's selling ability, there isn't much there that will translate to the field:

PI-Sales-Summary.jpg6 Bullet points - that's the entirety of it - and if you look closely, you'll see that those behavioral styles are really the focus; not the sales words.  Authoritative, driven, risk-taker, flexible, outwardly focused, comfortable expressing ideas or concepts.  As I said, these are not sales-specific capabilities, but they add some sales type language to make it look that way.  It's marketing!

Now let's add their graphics.  Can you predict how this candidate will perform from this information?  Here are the meanings of these findings and what they measure.

PI-Sales-Dash.jpgNow let's take a look at just the dashboard - page 2 - from OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment for the same candidate.

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You can very quickly see that from the top down, the candidate has grit - the Will to Sell (Desire and Commitment for success in sales), borderline supportive Sales DNA (the combination of sales strengths), some very strong sales competencies (hunting, consultative selling, qualifying and posturing), some mediocre sales competencies (closing and account management), and a clear weakness at farming in major accounts.  The overall score - Sales Quotient - is 126 on a scale of 173 - making the candidate serviceable at best.  A strong salesperson (only 20% of these) has a sales quotient of 130 to 139 and an elite salesperson (only 6% of these) has a sales quotient of 140 or higher.  Why is this candidate only a 126 when he has true grit and some great selling competency scores?  It's the Sales DNA.  While this salesperson will be able to add opportunities to the pipeline with his strong hunting skills, and gain some traction with his strong consultative and qualifying skills, his combination of Sales DNA weaknesses will prevent him from being able to talk about budgets and finances, and he will empathize with comparison shoppers, price shoppers, and  prospects that give him put-offs instead of decisions (all 3 of these are from the Supportive Buy Cycle strand of Sales DNA which present as a huge weakness).

He applied for an industrial territory manager role - one that is not very challenging - so he is worthy of consideration - for that role.  However, if this were a more complex sale, selling more expensive products or services to a senior level of decision maker with more sophisticated competition, he would not have been worthy or recommended. 

Which assessment would you rather use?  75% of the candidates that aren't recommended by OMG, who somehow get hired anyway (think love fest) fail inside of 6 months.  92% of the candidates that are recommended and hired rise to the top half of the sales force within 12 months.  That's predictive!

 

Which Assessment is More Predictive?
OMG
PI
My Gut Instinct
Other
Do Quizzes
 

Earlier this week I posted this article about made up statistics.  The stats above are real.  You can learn more about OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment here.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, predictive index, OMG Assessment

Sales Coaching and the Challenges of Different Types of Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 08, 2016 @ 06:02 AM

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When (other) articles and blogs contain sales statistics, they are often made up.  For example, Andy Rudin wrote this article about made up sales statistics and I recently read this article by Stewart Rogers about made up statistics.  Infographics and videos are two more sources of statistics that are often based more on fiction than fact, yet they still have value, even if the numbers aren't correct.  Here's a new infographic which has useful information, even if the purpose is to promote Fatstax.  Recently a reader directed me to a video on the Harvard Business Review site.  They rarely have accurate, relevant sales-specific information there, so I clicked over with great anticipation.I watched the video on 8 types of salespeople and while I don't agree with there being 8 types, their statistics were fairly consistent with the science and data from Objective Management Group (OMG) which states that there is an elite 6%, 20% that are strong, and everyone else - the bottom 74% - who basically suck.

If you are a fan of the Challenger Sale, the Challenger is one of 5 types of salespeople according to its authors.  In OMG language, the Challenger is one of the elite 6%, with a Sales Quotient of 140 (SQ ranges to 173) or higher and Sales DNA of 83 (ranges up to 100) or higher.  Practically speaking, it means that 94% of salespeople don't have the Sales DNA or Sales Capabilities to sell like a Challenger.

Chuck Mache, says that there are 4 types of salespeople.  While Chuck recommends the Professional for B2B sales, his types are based on personality traits, so there is only a one way correlation.  Someone who has the traits of the Professional is not necessarily a great salesperson, but some great salespeople have the traits of the Professional.  To make that a little easier to understand, a winter storm does not always consist of snow (it could be ice, a wintry mix, or even rain), but snow always comes from a winter storm.

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies, including a salesperson's Will to Sell (4 competencies), Sales DNA (6 Competencies), Sales Capabilities ( 8 competencies) and Systems and Processes (3 Competencies).  When viewed through these lenses, personality traits don't play a part in determining sales success.  If we look at the competencies consisting of only the 8 Sales Capabilities, there are 109,600 possible combinations.  And after factoring in the Will to Sell and Sales DNA, the possible combinations exceed one million.  What I'm saying is that there are more than 4 or 5 or 8 or 12 types of salespeople.  

However, when someone insists that there are certain types of salespeople, I can offer you this.  I have found that when it comes to coaching salespeople, we can place them into one of 11 categories.  Keep in mind that while I can categorize them for coaching purposes, this does not define them as salespeople, and does not correlate to how they approach selling - only how sales managers should approach coaching them.  Here they are:

Talking Tammy - Tammy needs to talk for the first 20 minutes before we can provide 10 minutes of powerful coaching.

Fast Frank - Frank wants only a single question answered in each session and wants to get off the phone ASAP.

Take Away Tom - Tom needs just one take away to feel there was value.

Hit Me Hank - Hank needs to be whacked over the head at some point during each coaching session.

Do it Don - Don must be told what to do and then he’ll do it.

Validation Vicky - Vicky tells us what she wants to do and then needs us to validate that it’s the right approach.

Successful Sandra - Sandra wants us to tweak what already works in order to achieve marginal improvement.

Know-it-All Norm - Norm does not want to be told anything at all.  He needs to figure it out himself.

Timid Tim - Tim needs to have his self-worth validated.

Show Me Shelly - Shelly needs to have her current skill-gap demonstrated.

Broadway Betty - Betty needs to role-play.

I wrote a rebuttal to my 11 types of salespeople that sales coaches encounter.  There is no science to this.  No data.  No statistics.  Like the authors I have criticized over the years, I simply reviewed the files of thousands of salespeople I have coached in the past 30 years, and grouped them into categories based on the types of sales coaching they required.  It is purely anecdotal.  And although it makes sense and can be quite useful, it is entirely lacking in science.  These 11 types are completely unlike what Objective Management Group provides to us.  OMG provides us with the data from the evaluations and assessments of more than 1 million salespeople - a very significant sample size.  And OMG measures so many sales-specific findings that together, they always tell a story about a sales candidate, a salesperson, a sales team, and an entire company.  The story itself isn't science, but the science helps us to tell a story.

While types are entertaining and generally somewhat useful to be aware of, there is no substitute - ever - for real science.

If you want to use science that makes sales selection accurate and predictive, check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

If you want to use science to identify the changes that will significantly grow sales revenue from your existing sales force, check out OMG's Sales Force Evaluation.

Finally, check out cartoonist Stu Heineke's new book, How to Get a Meeting with Anyone.  A number of sales experts, including me, were quoted and there are some great tips, stories and of course, cartoons!

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, the challenger sale, sales types

Has the Sales Profile of an A Player Changed Dramatically?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 03, 2016 @ 12:02 PM

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Recently, a number of readers asked me to review two articles which they thought were right up my alley.  Apparently they thirst for one of my specialties - poking holes in articles that are just plain wrong about hiring salespeople.  It's not that I enjoy ripping articles apart, it's just that I don't have any tolerance for authors who either don't know what they are talking about, don't have any science backing them up, or use examples that can't be replicated across industries, markets and geographies.  Shall we dig in?

We'll begin with an article from Sales Benchmark Index which in itself is a surprise because Greg Alexander and his team typically write great articles that are usually challenge-proof. If Dan Perry were more specific, and cited the particular assessments and tools to which his theory applied, then The Myth of the Ideal Hiring Profile would be fine as is.  Instead, he used a broad brush leaving readers to believe that all assessments are outdated.  Most personality and behavioral styles assessments were never designed to be used for sales selection, but not wanting to ignore an opportunity, these mostly old social instruments were adapted by using sales-like labels for their findings.  But make no mistake; the findings are still the same age-old social findings that have no connection to business or sales and therefore, are not predictive of sales success.  Clearly, these profiles are all useless and outdated for the specific role of sales selection.  But not all assessments are outdated or adapted for sales.

That brings us to his other point; that the profile for an A player has changed dramatically in the past 12 months.  I could agree with a statement that said sales has changed dramatically in the past 8 years, but really in the last 12 months?  Here are 25 Ways it has changed...  In sales, A players (the elite 6%) have only needed to add some social selling skills and use of tools to their repertoire.  They already bring to the table the selling package required to succeed in sales in 2016 and beyond.  They build relationships, follow a milestone-centric sales process, use a consultative approach, ask the tough questions, qualify thoroughly and get business and accounts closed.  The group of salespeople that has changed the most are B players, who needed to close their skill and Sales DNA gaps.  You can suggest that C's have had the most changes to make, but the thing with C's is that what they most need to change, they actually change the least.  That's why they are C's!

Finally, if you want to use a sales assessment/selection tool that was designed for sales, is more accurate and predictive than any other assessment on the planet, is customizable for any modern sales role, and evolves as selling evolves, then you'll want to become one of the 11,000 companies that rely on Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments.

 

Moving on to my favorite target, Harvard Business Review, I have to challenge Frank Cespedes again.  I last challenged Frank and HBR in November of 2015 with the very popular article, How Wrong is the Harvard Business Article on How to Hire Salespeople.  Their current collaboration, Hiring Star Salespeople Isn't the Way to Grow, was a very interesting read. The article wasn't really about hiring stars as much as it was about how to scale a SaaS business and I was in agreement with most of that.  My issue - and it's the same issue that I had with the November article - is that the authors insist that hiring salespeople should be based on their ability to complete the tasks they have identified.  

Selling is not task-oriented as much as it is milestone-oriented and that's when we are discussing sales process.  The real magic in selling is when the sales process is integrated with the sales methodology - the consultative approach required for the conversation to flow seamlessly from stage to stage and milestone to milestone.  While there are tasks involved during a sales cycle: following, calling, sending, showing, providing, sharing, explaining, etc., a salesperson's ability to execute on those tasks is dependent upon their underlying selling skills and Sales DNA.  Tasks are an oversimplification of the art and science required to be successful in selling. And whether you want to scale, grow at a moderate pace, or maintain your revenue, your salespeople - both new and veterans alike - must be able to execute consistently and effectively in their roles.  How can you determine whether sales candidates have what it takes?  Once again, I urge you to check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  How can you determine whether your existing salespeople can execute your plan and what is required to develop their capabilities?  Check out the OMG Sales Force Evaluation

Topics: Dave Kurlan, harvard business review, hiring salespeople, HBR, sales benchmark index, sales assessments, objective management group, frank cespedes, sales a players, greg alexander

Learn How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 01, 2016 @ 06:02 AM

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Would you believe me if I told you that in a recent sales force evaluation, nearly 50% of the 300 inside salespeople were not in the right role?  Recently, we evaluated a large inside sales force and I thought it might be interesting to share some of the more unusual findings that were responsible for this sales team's inability to achieve the revenue goals that the company expected from them.It isn't uncommon to learn that salespeople are not in a role for which they are best suited, although it isn't as easy to determine in sales forces when there may be only one role - like territory sales.  On the other hand, when we evaluate a company with multiple selling roles, our analysis will identify the best role for each salesperson and, as I mentioned at the outset, most on this sales force were not in the right selling role!

This particular sales force was interesting in other ways too. 100% had strong Outlook (we never see that even in much smaller teams), 92% were Coachable and 82% had strong Desire.   As good as that sounds - and it is very good for a large sales force - 47% lacked Strong Commitment. I wrote an award-winning article about the difference between Desire and Commitment here.

Understanding the huge difference between their Desire and Commitment levels, it should not surprise you that the sales managers mirrored the salespeople with their Desire and Commitment scores.  You won't have any difficulty determining whose teams had most of the salespeople that lacked Commitment.

A big part of almost any inside sales role would require finding new customers and that was true with this company.  I'm going to share one of the most interesting findings from the evaluation. It is symptomatic of the Commitment problem and is one of the reasons as to why so few of their salespeople were in the right role.  In the image below, you'll see that there was a near-even distribution of the four groups into which we categorize salespeople when it comes to finding new business.  And in case you aren't sure, even distribution in this area is not good.

inside-sales-hunting.jpg

  • 21% will hunt for new business without being asked.
  • 30% would hunt for new business if their sales managers held them accountable.
  • 24% will follow up on a lead, but won't engage in proactive hunting.
  • 24% will not hunt, no matter what, ever.

Training and coaching will not change those percentages, but will improve the skills of the 51% that do or would hunt.  The percentages are reflective of their Sales DNA which, in this case, does not support hunting activities.  48% of them lack the Sales DNA which supports hunting for new business!  That explains a lot, doesn't it?  

This company had a well-known value proposition - you've undoubtedly heard it - but they recently changed it.  The image below shows that their salespeople  were generally not using either the old or the new value proposition in their selling!

inside-sales-value-prop.jpgI know we haven't mentioned a single sales competency or selling skill, but suffice to say that this sales force was extremely weak in the area of skills.  So weak, it isn't even worth sharing the scores for competencies like Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Presenting, Posturing, Account Management, Sales Process, Relationship Building, CRM Savvy, Social Selling, etc.  Instead, let's look at one of the findings that explains why this group was not improving.  In the image below, you'll see that Excuse Makers outnumbered those who take responsibility and the sales managers were even worse than the salespeople.  I'm sure you can guess whose teams most of the excuse makers were on...

inside-excuses.jpg

Here is a link to a very short article and video where I explain the huge impact of excuse making.

I'll share one more of the many interesting findings from this evaluation.  Notice from the image below that despite the fact that this company positions itself as providing value, most of the salespeople are not comfortable with their pricing.  The majority believe that they must have the lowest prices in order to succeed.  The sales force is out of alignment with the company's value proposition!!  Here is a great article that describes how quoting prices undermines selling value.inside-pricing.jpg

These examples are just 5 out of dozens of interesting findings that we shared with their executives.  Without learning about these issues, they would have continued going down the wrong path and expanded the sales team's general ineffectiveness.  Read about the impact of scaling sucky sales.  

What about your sales force?  Do you have the right salespeople in the right roles?  Are your salespeople actually capable of executing your plan?  Can they provide the growth that you need them to achieve?  There are two ways to find out.  The first is to wait 12 more months and measure results against expectations. How has that worked out in the past?

The second way is to evaluate your sales force and learn how their capabilities align with your goals, expectations and timeline to discover what, if anything, needs to change.  Learn more about a sales force evaluation here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Sales Force, inside sales, sales effectiveness study, new business, OMG Assessment

Why This is Still a Great Selling Sales Book After 10 Years

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 28, 2016 @ 09:01 AM

 

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I continue to be amazed at the staying power of my 2005 book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.  3 publishers have contacted me this year about writing a 10th Anniversary Edition, a revised and updated edition, or a follow-up.  Yesterday, Pete Caputa, VP at Hubspot, wrote a really great article about the 3 sales books that are must-reads for salespeople, why, and Baseline Selling was one of the three.

I was speaking to a group of CEO's in NYC yesterday and when they wanted to know about Sales Process, Solution Selling, Value Selling and The Challenger Sale, the easiest way to explain both was to show the visual of the Baseline Selling sales process and show them how it all fit together.  So it got me thinking.  While other books come and quickly go, why has Baseline Selling continued to sell, resonate, help, fit and make sense, even as selling as a profession continues to experience dramatic changes?

After giving it some thought, I came up with the following things that differentiate Baseline Selling from all other books:

  • It is a complete sales process that can be customized to fit any business, role, vertical, service or product.  It has stages, milestones and steps.
  • It is also a complete methodology.  It has a well-defined approach, a dialog or conversation, that helps salespeople move from stage to stage and milestone to milestone
  • It has plenty of examples, stories and sample dialog.
  • It identifies and explains how to manage and overcome deficiencies in Sales DNA - weaknesses that interfere with successful selling.
  • It is very easy to follow, memorable and easy to apply.
  • It is a fast and fun read.
  • If you like baseball, it's even more fun to read.
  • It stresses fundamentals and as a result does not lend itself to becoming obsolete.
  • It pays tribute to the authors of historically time-tested and effective strategies and tactics and builds on them for the 21st century.
  • It was written based on my experiences with companies from more than 200 industries, has examples from many industries and, as a result, it has a much wider appeal than most books on selling.
  • Most readers found that laying out the sales process over the baseball diamond and using the base paths as stages was quite helpful.
  • Some mentioned that they found the rich bibliography of other sales books very helpful.

The book is rated 5 stars on Amazon and this morning the paperback ranked 8th in Sales.

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And the Kindle edition is ranked 14th in Negotiating (I know - don't ask.)

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And this is after 10 years! You can read the reviews there.  In addition to the reviews on Amazon, 23 experts added their reviews on BaselineSelling.com.  All those people can't be wrong after all these years...

While we're talking books, you can also get a free copy of my eBook, 63 Powerful Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, Closing Sales, top sales books

Sales Performance - Stop Worrying About the Words You Say

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 25, 2016 @ 04:01 AM

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When coaching, most sales managers change the words their salespeople use.  "That's not how I would say it - try this instead!"  While there are a couple of key moments in the sales process where the words do actually matter, for 98% of the sales process, it's about listening and asking appropriate questions, following the process, achieving key milestones, following the company's general strategy and using appropriate sales tactics.  It's almost never about the actual words.  For example, last week I coached a salesperson who was using all of the words the other salespeople on the team were instructed to use - but with vastly different results.  I think you'll find the coaching interesting.

I wrote an article about it for LinkedIn Pulse and you can read it here.  It's a quick read and it has the details I did not provide above.

As she tried to reduce her time-on-call from 9 to 7 minutes, she skipped an important step, rushed and became ineffective.  More often than not though, poor performance is the result of not being either strategic or tactical enough, avoiding milestones because of discomfort, or allowing the prospect to lead the salesperson away from the crucial sequence of the sales process.  

Whatever reasons may be causing poor performance, it's the sales manager's job to identify it, make sure that the salesperson learned a valuable lesson, role-play how it should have sounded instead, and make sure there is a sound plan of action moving forward.

While Sales Managers should be spending at least 50% of the time on coaching, statistics say that fewer than 25% of all sales managers spend more than 25% of their time coaching. According to this article, only 7% of sales managers are elite, 18% shouldn't even be in a sales management role, and 34% aren't trainable.  As bad as the statistics are, the eye test is even worse.  When we train and coach sales managers on how to be more effective at coaching, most have little idea as to how much of their time should be spent coaching and few have any concept as to how to coach effectively.

It's time.  Let's make ineffective sales performance and ineffective sales coaching a thing of the past.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales performance

How Targeting Improves Win Rates and Shortens Sales Cycles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 19, 2016 @ 04:01 AM

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Now that we are nearly 3 weeks into the new year, have you changed anything with regard to goals, strategies or plans?  How about targets?  A few small tweaks to your targets can have a huge impact on revenue!

Targets are obvious but at the same time, misunderstood.  Of course I have the usual baseball analogy, which I'll skip along with the target analogies for golf, basketball, soccer, football and hockey.  The analogy that works best for today's topic is archery.  In sales, when we talk about targets, most people immediately think about revenue and profit targets, and sometimes product units and/or shipment targets.  However, today we will discuss the importance of having targets around your opportunities.  Please take a moment to review the image below:

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Each opportunity is scored based on how perfectly it is aligned with your ideal prospect/customer/client. Of course, that requires that you have the ability to define and describe a perfect customer.  Can you?  That would be the first challenge.  The second challenge is to identify the criteria that would suggest and perhaps qualify that an opportunity is in alignment with your ideal. I suggest that companies choose from variables like the ten that follow:

  1. Prospect's Revenue range or minimum
  2. Prospect's Number of Employees range or minimum
  3. Contact person is the targeted Decision Maker
  4. Size of the opportunity
  5. Proximity to our sweet spot for application/deliverable/service/function/fit
  6. Opportunity can be leveraged
  7. Profit opportunity
  8. Probable Length of the Sales Cycle/Timing
  9. If there is Competition and/or Who the Competition is Likely to be
  10. Odds of Winning an Opportunity Like This

Each variable should be weighted according to importance, but to simplify the concept for this article, we will assign each criteria 10 points.  Then, your opportunities can be scored like this:

  1. 100 points
  2. 90 points
  3. 80 points
  4. 70 points
  5. 60 points
  6. 50 points
  7. 40 points
  8. 30 points
  9. 20 points
  10. 10 points
  11. 0 points

We don't score opportunities at Objective Management Group (OMG), but my sales consulting firm, Kurlan & Associates, scores every opportunity and does not pursue anything below a "D."

I even score my keynote speaking opportunities, but my criteria is quite different than the criteria for Kurlan clients or for that matter, the other speakers at Kurlan.  For instance, I turned down around 15 talks in 2015 for the following 10 reasons (in no particular order):

  1. The fee (a stipend - are you kidding me?)
  2. Time of the year (tough to commit to dates during snowstorm season)
  3. How difficult it is to travel to the destination (I hate long flights and connections.)
  4. Audience demographics (CEO's - great; Marketing people - fagetaboutit)
  5. Potential for additional business (always a good thing!)
  6. Days away from the office (Sorry Asia and the Pacific Rim!)
  7. Conflicts with any of my son's baseball or basketball games (a top priority for me)
  8. The topic they wish to have me speak about (Oh no - not that again!)
  9. The length of the talk (Longer is actually better.)
  10. The person who referred me to the organization or company (someone I don't want to disappoint?)

You'll find that sales cycles become shorter and win rates become better as you more effectively target ideal customers and hold salespeople accountable for executing on those targets.

Do you have a target that is interesting, novel, controversial or very predictive at your company?  We would love to hear about it in the comments below!

2 More Sales Experts weigh in on targeting here on the SpiroHQ Blog.

Several top sales experts, including me, weighed in with our review of 2015 progress and expectations for 2016 over at Dan McDade's PointClear Blog. It's a short article and worth a couple of minutes to check it out.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, shorten the sales cycle, sales targets, win rates

Sales Selection Experiment - Part 2 - It's Back!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 @ 04:01 AM

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When our son was just beginning to speak and we did something that he really enjoyed, he would say, "Again!  Again!"  

Two years ago, I wrote about a sales selection experiment with a group of college kids and the results were so much fun to read that when they repeated the exercise this year, my first reaction was, "Again!"  I think you're going to really enjoy the conclusions from this year's class!

First, you'll need the back story and results from the first go around and don't worry - it was an extremely short article!

Now that you are familiar with the premise and the first set of results, we must ask whether or not the results will be similar, the same or completely different.  The setup was the same - 5 teams - organized by their scores, and they set out to sell overpriced encyclopedias to homeowners in upscale neighborhoods.  Here are my conclusions from this year:

The students with the highest scores for Commitment to Sales Success sold five times more books than the students with the lowest scores for Commitment.  Once again we see why Commitment is the most important finding.

The team with the highest scores for Desire for Sales Success had both the best win rate and the most wins, but also had the fewest door knocks.  While strong Desire is always a requirement, Desire alone is not enough!

The two teams with the lowest scores for Desire for Sales Success and the lowest Sales DNA / Sales Quotient tied for the lowest win rate and fewest books sold.

The student who had the highest combined scores for Desire and Commitment had the highest win rate and the most books sold.

The five students with the lowest scores for Commitment and the most doors knocked had a combined win rate of 0.  Did they lie about the number of doors they knocked on or simply knock and fail to do what was required after that?

The seven students, or 28%, with the highest combination of Desire and Commitment closed 19 of the 32 sales.

The three students, or 13%, with the highest combination of Sales DNA and Sales Quotient scores closed 5, or 20%, of the 32 sales.

Neither Sales Quotient nor Sales DNA by themselves are enough.  The five who scored highest on each of those scores closed only 6 of the 32 sales.  They must be accompanied by Desire and Commitment!

This study also proved that numbers alone aren't enough to get it done.  The ten students who knocked on the most doors closed only 7 of the 32 sales.

 

 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales assesments, sales selection, objective management group

Is it OK if You Lose Customers Because of the Evolution of Your Product?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 @ 10:01 AM

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Did you ever look for something you haven't used in quite a while, only to be dismayed when you couldn't find it?  Where could it be?  Did you lose it?  Did the cleaners throw it away?  Was it stolen?  Did you tuck it away somewhere, but can't remember where?

Did you ever lose a long-time customer?  Did it happen overnight or was it a long time in coming?  Did you try to save them?  Were they savable?

One of the inevitable facts of selling is that the Law of Sales is much like the Law of Gravity.  "What goes up must come down" loosely translates to "Who you sell will eventually go away."  The only question is whether that will be days, weeks, months, years or decades from now.  

In 1990, Objective Management Group (OMG) began selling what would eventually become an elite, world-class suite of sales force evaluation and sales candidate assessment tools.  We helped companies through third-party resellers who would eventually be called partners.  We started with 6 charter partners, all of whom remained active until last week when 1 of them made the decision not to continue with us after 25 years.

Partners come and go.  For the last 15 years, the number of sales consultancies we have partnered with has averaged around 150 partners worldwide.  So why would a long-time, loyal partner or customer go away?

In this case, it's evolution.

Companies evolve. Products evolve. Customers evolve.

However, when companies, products and customers do not evolve together, there is an opportunity for a competitor to swoop in and fill a void.  And here is the million dollar question:  Is that OK?

Maybe.

There is a fine line between leading and listening.  Of course, you want to listen to your customers and provide them with win-win solutions.  At the same time, you can't stop evolving because a customer does not want to join you on that journey.

For example, suppose a printing equipment manufacturer had made the complete transition from mechanical printing to digital printing and one large customer wanted to continue printing with mechanical equipment. While the manufacturer saw the coming trends, technology, promised efficiencies and new opportunities, the customer was married to his mechanical equipment and didn't want to make the investment in new digital equipment.  Does the manufacturer listen to the large customer and slow its own evolution, or do they allow that one large customer to leave, while continuing to lead the way to the future?  And if the manufacturer did listen and slow down, how long would it be before the customer went bankrupt and the manufacturer no longer had the lead over their competitors?

OMG is committed to continuing to create, innovate and provide amazing, insightful, powerful, timely, accurate and predictive evaluations and assessments for sales forces and leadership teams.  This isn't some sort of marketing slogan either.  This is what we have been doing every day, all day, since 1990.  Selling has changed dramatically in the past 7 years and our evaluations and assessments have had to evolve as well.  For example, some of the many things that we have added or enhanced include:

  • Social Selling proficiency
  • CRM proficiency
  • Inside Sales
  • Lead Gen
  • Appointment Setting
  • Intrinsic Motivation and How Intrinsics are Motivated
  • The Buyer Journey
  • Enhanced Sales Process
  • Ideal Roles
  • Ramp up Time
  • Longevity
  • Sales Posturing
  • Sales Messaging
  • Sales Leadership Effectiveness
  • Sales Management Effectiveness
  • Pipeline Analysis
  • Modification of our 21 Sales Core Competencies
  • Perfect Fit Analysis
  • Much, much more.

It's disappointing when a partner isn't willing to take the next step into the future.  At the same time, when partners stay and applaud our work, it validates that we are doing the right things, going down the right path and leading the way. The many consultants who email, wanting to partner with us because of what we are doing, further validates our actions.

Will you attract more customers than you will lose or will you lose more customers than you will attract?  Will you suffer in the short-term, but prosper over the long haul or will you achieve a short-term gain at the expense of long-term results?

Think about all of the customers who moved to Apple because Apple knew what people would want to have.  And think of all of the people who left Microsoft and Windows until they innovated and introduced the Surface Tablet and Windows 10.

Innovate, evolve, push, lead and perfect your life's work.  It won't be right for everyone at every moment, but that's just the validation you need that you are doing it right.  Customers may leave when they aren't happy with your service or your perceived value and that needs to be addressed.  But when they leave because they can't or don't want to keep up, it means that you are doing the right things.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Apple, CRM Application, Windows, innovation, microsoft

What's Missing from the Report That Says Sales Training Doesn't Make Reps Better?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 06, 2016 @ 09:01 AM

SALES-TRAINING-FAILS.jpg

I could not believe my eyes when I read this report.  It was during the break between Christmas and New Years, so perhaps I wasn't as sharp as would be during a regular business day.  Maybe I missed something.  So I reread the report and the words amazed me even further.  The report claimed that salespeople don't improve their skills as a result of sales training.  Really?  Let's take a look.Here's the link to the article at KD Nuggets.

The goal of the report is to sell us on the power of talent analytics - being able to predict pre-hire whether the candidate will be a top performer - or not.  I'm all for that.  That's one of the things that Objective Management Group (OMG) does so well, so I am invested in a good report that supports our business.  But there are so many holes in this report that moths wouldn't be able to sustain themselves for more than a day.

The report is based on two studies; more specifically, the outcomes of training programs at two companies.  At one, the salespeople were actually underwriters - so they weren't really salespeople as much as they were the point of contact for agency salespeople.  Think customer service whose job is to find a way to say, "Maybe."  The second sold internet service to consumers.  So neither company sought or hired B2B salespeople.  After the author established who was studied, the report talks only about the underwriters.  So let's focus first on the underwriters and what the report doesn't tell us:

  • Did the underwriters have sales managers?  My guess is no.
  • Were the sales managers providing sales coaching? Ditto.
  • Who provided the training?  Was it an outside company or employees?
  • What were they trained on?  Was the content relevant to their roles?
  • How long were they trained and how frequently?
  • Was the trainer any good?  I would guess not.
  • Were the underwriters trainable and/or coachable?  
  • Did the trainers understand where Sales DNA would interfere with execution of skills?  I know they didn't.

The author states that the only thing you can do with underperformers, once they have been hired, is to devote resources to making them average.  Really?  If a company doesn't purposely hire an underperformer, don't they still have the option to terminate?

The second graph is quite dramatic at the 12-year point, when you learn that they only had 5 years worth of data and the last 7 years are "hypothetical" with assumed "linear growth."

I've been in the sales development business for more than 30 years and I can tell you this.  Training results differ from salesperson to salesperson, from company to company, from industry to industry, and from marketplace to marketplace. The single biggest variable on whether training will be successful is leadership commitment.  When a CEO, President or other senior authority is visibly driving the initiative, the results will be dramatically better than when that commitment is not visible to the salespeople being trained.  The second biggest variable is whether the participants are trainable and coachable.  The third is that sales managers must be trained and coached to do two things consistently and effectively prior to training the salespeople.  They must be able to coach the salespeople to the content; and they must be able to hold the salespeople accountable for applying what they learned. The capability of the trainer and the content itself come in at fourth and fifth.

We were not told how these variables impacted the training of the underwriters in the report.

Can training fail?  Of course.  Does it fail regularly?  Yes.  However, from personal experience, it is a rarity when properly designed and executed professional sales training fails.  The first step should be an OMG sales force evaluation which, in addition to answering 19 important business questions, shows who we are working with, whether or not they are trainable, and the specific nature of their skill and Sales DNA gaps. Then, when one of OMG's 150 partners provides the training - the right way - it is very rare for training to fail.

The reality is that the report we looked at was not really a study at all. I believe that it was a lame attempt to make a case for talent analytics.  And they are completely right.  When you get sales selection right, most of these issues simply go away.

For the fifth consecutive year, OMG was named the Top Sales Assessment Tool on the planet by TopSalesAwards.  Our predictive accuracy is legendary.  You can check it out here.  And be sure to read this short article on LinkedIn Pulse on the key Difference Between Sales Winners and Everyone Else.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, sales talent, 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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