Dave Kurlan

Recent Posts

Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 14, 2019 @ 08:06 AM

first-impression

Most salespeople don't take first impressions seriously enough. If they did, their first impressions would be much more favorable.

I can still remember my first (unintentional) lesson about first impressions.  My family was gathered at my grandfather's house to watch the debut of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan show.  It was February 9, 1964 and at 8 years old, I was one of seventy-three million people watching the show that night.  I was as excited about this show as I would be later that same year when I attended my first Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park.  That is pretty excited! 

Sitting on the carpet, I was completely focused on seeing and hearing The Beatles play five of their hit songs, but my mother was doing color commentary from the plastic covered sofa behind me.

She said, "He's cleaner than the other 3", referring to Paul McCartney, who had straighter teeth, and a face more suitable for the mop top hair style shared by the four of them.

There it was, my first lesson in judging people by how they looked, and more specifically, what "clean" did and did not look like.

We were all exposed to unintentional lessons like that when we were young and those lessons stay with us today.  My father was an optometrist and around a quarter of his patients were on welfare.  While they were entitled to the same eye examination as everyone else, they were not allowed to choose from the same selection of eye glasses  and were not allowed to wear contact lenses - unless they could pay the difference.  Therefore, I assumed that anyone I saw wearing "those glasses" must be on welfare.

15 years later, when I was in the music business, a man who looked like he spent the night sleeping on the side of the road, bought the most expensive guitar I had in stock.  He paid cash.

Enough for the trip down memory lane.

When you are in sales, your first impression has been made the moment a prospect sets eyes on you, and based on how that prospect reacts, you, in turn, create a first impression of them.

Objective Management Group (OMG), which has evaluated or assessed 1,869,505 salespeople, has a finding I haven't written much about called Sales Posturing.  In a nutshell, Posturing measures first impressions, how memorable you are, and how effectively you differentiate yourself from the competition. In the table below, you'll see scores for Posturing,  as well as Relationship Building which is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies. 

posturing-relationships

While there is a correlation between both sets of scores and the overall effectiveness level of salespeople, the difference in scores is minuscule in comparison to creating urgency, The 21 Sales Core Competencies, Closing, and 5 Scores Related to Money.  This proves my point that most salespeople, even the great ones, do not pay enough attention to the quality of their first impressions.

How much focus have you given to how you make your first impression?  Here are 10 things you can control to assure that you make a great first impression.  For a lot of these, Goldilocks and  the Three Bears will be a good guide.  Not too much, not too little, but just right:

  1. Your smile
  2. Your handshake
  3. Your confidence
  4. Your outfit
  5. Your hair
  6. Your first words
  7. Your tonality
  8. Your trustworthiness
  9. Your approach
  10. Your authenticity

Thirty-three years ago, when I was far less experienced in the sales development space, my first impressions were not very good and it was represented by the quality of my clients at the time.  Fortunately, thirty-three years provides a nice, long runway for improvement!

Selling, and especially consultative selling, is difficult enough without having to dig out of the hole created by first impressions gone wrong.  You rarely get a second chance to make a first impression so remember, every encounter provides you with your last chance to make a good first impression.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, relationship building, assessment, omg, the beatles, objective management group, Ed Sullivan

Win a Free Coaching Call with Dave Kurlan and 4 More Prizes

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 12, 2019 @ 14:06 PM

contest

By the middle of June each year, we tend to know who the best of the best are.  Super Bowl Champion, NBA Champion, Stanley Cup Winner, Masters Winner, and in baseball, MLB all-stars are being selected.  It's as good a time as any to recognize the best readers of Understanding the Sales Force!

While there are several approaches that can be taken, we will have a competitive, yet winnable contest.

Challenge: Review any 1 or more of the articles that have been published so far this year.   

In the comment section below, enter your best lesson or takeaway from the article(s) you have chosen.  There will be five winners based on the quality of the lessons submitted:

5th place: Complimentary signed copy of Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.   $18.49 value

4th place: Complimentary subscription to the Sales DNA Modifier  $119 value

3rd place: Complimentary subscription to the Baseline Selling self-directed course $795 value

Runner Up: Complimentary subscription to the Baseline Selling Advanced course $795 value

Grand Prize: Complimentary coaching call  with Dave Kurlan $1,000 value

What are you waiting for?  Let's get started!

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, Sales Coaching, best sales blog, dka

How to Raise the Incomes of Minimum Wage Workers Without Wealth Distribution or Socialism

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 05, 2019 @ 19:06 PM

robin-hood

Hang in there - this will be an article on sales - but you need to get through the big set up.

Bernie Sanders spoke at a Walmart shareholders meeting and criticized the company for not paying higher wages.  He said that a company owned by the wealthiest family in the USA, should be able to pay $15/hour.  Bernie and some of his colleagues believe in wealth redistribution, conjuring up images of Robin Hood stealing from the wealthy and giving it to the poor.  Walmart says the average wage of their hourly workers is $17.50.

Bernie and his pro socialism friends believe that people who have built successful business enterprises should be penalized for their success while capitalists believe that their success allows them to reinvest in their businesses and create new jobs and great new products and services.  Wages will rise as a result of supply and demand and right now, demand outweighs supply. Ask anyone who is hiring salespeople or computer software engineers and they'll tell you how much wages are increasing!

Not stated, but implied, is that minimum wage employees are forced into those low paying jobs and the wealthiest Americans are to blame.  Why can't low hourly wage workers seek and earn better paying jobs?  Is it lack of skills?  Lack of motivation?  Lack of commitment?  Lack of education? Lack of opportunity?  Lack of training?

Why not sales?  Selling is a profession that employs 16 million in the US alone and for most sales jobs, especially with today's lack of candidates, there is a laundry list of qualifications that are NOT required:

  • college degree (an archaeology degree won't be much help)
  • HS diploma (not usually required for B2C but usually required for B2B)
  • experience (lots of entry level sales roles available)
  • skills (they can be taught)
  • money (not many straight commission jobs being offered)
  • professional appearance (lots of inside sales roles to be filled)

Instead of wealth redistribution, why can't we offer entry level sales positions to all who are willing to do the work to raise their incomes from $7.50/hour to as much as $53,000?  According to Salary.com, that's the total average entry level sales compensation being paid right now.

There is no shortage of sales trainers out there so there would be plenty of help available to train inexperienced salespeople.  The government could even pay for some of those training programs. OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment accurately predicts sales success - even for those without sales experience! And every company has sales openings.

The single most common issue revealed in my daily emails is, "Dave, how can we get more salespeople into our recruiting pipeline?  Where can we find more sales candidates?  Why aren't salespeople responding to our job postings?"

I looked into some of the progress being made by 9 of my personal clients who are currently recruiting salespeople and discovered that despite the lack of candidates, in the last 12 months they have managed to assess 1,919 candidates, 20% were recommended, 25% were worthy of consideration, and 55% were not recommended.  Buried in those average recommendation rates, 2 companies had more than 85% of their candidates recommended and 2 had 0% recommended.  4 companies had more than 70% that were not recommended.  While difficulty levels will affect recommendation rates, that is surely not the case here.  The companies with high recommendation rates had job postings that described their ideal candidates while the companies with low recommendation rates had job postings that described Joe or Mary weak candidate.

You might not think that these recommendation rates would help much if only 45% of this group would be recommended or worthy but if we look at only the lowest difficulty levels - entry level - the combined rates will be closer to 75%.

There are ample opportunities to assimilate low hourly wage workers into B2C sales positions, have them assessed, hired, on boarded, trained and deployed.  On the other hand, wealth redistribution would cause massive layoffs, inhibit innovation, stifle R&D, limit consumer spending, stop the booming economy, crash the stock market and cause a major recession.  Other than that it's a terrific idea.

What do you think?  Add your comments to the LinkedIn discussion here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales assessments, bernie sanders, wealth redistribution

How to Know if You Are You Really Selling Consultatively

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 03, 2019 @ 20:06 PM

consultative-2

Most of the CEOs and sales leaders I speak with agree that their sales organizations need to be more effective at taking a consultative approach to selling. At the same time, they insist that they talk about it often and that their salespeople are doing OK with a consultative approach.  OMG's Sales Force Evaluation usually reveals that they aren't doing much more than talking about it, as their scores for the Consultative Seller competency are quite low.

How can you determine if you or your team are being effective at using a consultative approach?  I created this list of outcomes that would be true if your consultative approach was working effectively.  You and/or your salespeople are :

  1. Having much better, very different conversations
  2. Experiencing prospects who are much more engaged
  3. Witnessing your prospects becoming emotional
  4. Watching prospects take shortcuts to give you their business
  5. Being thanked for your help by your prospects
  6. Realizing that price is no longer an issue
  7. Finding it easier to get and keep the decision maker engaged throughout the sales process
  8. Seeing your sales cycle becoming shorter
  9. Getting excited over higher win rates
  10. Finding your competition becoming irrelevant
  11. Bonus - Closing occurs naturally.

Speaking of closing, Graham Hawkins shared a post on LinkedIn which listed all of the known closing techniques. He noted that his close rate is through the roof and he doesn't need to use any of those closes any longer because when you are selling consultatively, the sales close themselves.

He is completely correct because the top 5% of all salespeople in the world have mediocre scores for closing (55%) and very strong scores for consultative selling (77%).  Looking at this data another way, only 24% of the top 5% are strong closers but 60% are strong at selling consultatively.

If you're truly selling consultatively, you won't have a problem with the buyer journey either.  Whether you call it the buyer journey or the buyer-seller journey, there are things you need to consider.  

The buyer journey is a slippery slope. The journey is completely separate from the sales process,   When salespeople align with the journey, they become facilitators, and when they facilitate, they are the same as everyone else and become commoditized.  When salespeople use a consultative sales process, the buyer journey is completely neutralized.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, closing, buyer journey, win rates

How Top Salespeople Anticipate and Manage Resistance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 29, 2019 @ 16:05 PM

anticipation

Last week Tom Hopkins shared a post on LinkedIn that resembled what I have said so many times.  He said, "The art of selling involves two jobs: Job One is to reduce sales resistance and the other is to increase sales acceptance."

Many readers left comments about the importance of relationships as a means to preventing resistance from going up.

I left a comment that said, "Thanks Tom.  Most salespeople fail to lower resistance because they lack the self-awareness to understand what it is that they might say or do, or how they might act that would raise resistance in the first place.  When salespeople can anticipate and manage resistance, they won't have to work so hard to reduce it so frequently.  All of the comments about the importance of developing relationships to lower resistance and increase acceptance are misguided.  Just look inside your own family dynamics to recognize that relationships don't eliminate or lower resistance.  It might be quite the opposite."

One reader asked me a great question, "How do you anticipate resistance?" 

I thought that was such a great question that we should discuss the topic more fully in this article. Are you familiar with the Carly Simon song from the 70's?  It was even more popular as the theme song for the Heinz Ketchup ads.  Ready?

A great starting point for this discussion is my short 2:34 video on managing resistance.  

So back to the question as to how you anticipate resistance.

Most salespeople are so bad at anticipating resistance that they are frequently doing one of two things:

  1. Missing the signs - their prospects are resistant and they are completely blind to it;
  2. Trying to overcome whatever resistance they do observe by becoming defensive and making the situation worse.

Our two-year old GoldenDoodle anticipates resistance better than that! 

Dinger

The Carly Simon song was, "Anticipation."

Our dog knows that when the rest of the family is out, and my phone plays the familiar sound from the Blink camera, they have returned home and he excitedly runs to the door.  He knows that after he comes back in the house from doing his business he'll get a bone and he sits and waits for it.  He knows that when all of us put our jackets on we'll be leaving the house and he runs into the bathroom where he'll spend the time sleeping.  He knows that when we turn off the news we'll be heading upstairs to bed and he leads the way.  He is a master of anticipation.

Unfortunately, most salespeople are a bit slower on the uptake as they frequently fail to recognize the patterns. 

One of the reasons for that is their poor listening skills. Only 25% of all salespeople emphasize listening over talking and it's no surprise that almost the identical percentage of salespeople listen effectively.  Those who aren't really listening won't hear the building resistance in a prospect's voice.  Salespeople don't listen because they are strategizing in their mind, thinking ahead, considering what's been said, scripting their next move, determining what their next question should be and generally not paying attention. It's not a big jump to go from lack of listening to lack of observing.  If they aren't paying attention via their listening, then they aren't paying attention via observation either. If they aren't observing, they won't see the changes in body language that could signal the building of resistance. When salespeople are busy thinking instead of paying attention, they are not controlling their emotions and staying in the moment as they should.  Only 37% of all salespeople are able to control their emotions.

Let's revisit the self-awareness issue.  Most salespeople aren't consciously aware of how prospects react when salespeople answer a question a certain way, ask a certain question, become defensive, begin blabbing their talking points, dodge questions, move the needle on the bullshit meter, or appear untrustworthy, all cases where their prospects could regularly become resistant.

You've undoubtedly heard the question, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Wikipedia states that this is a "philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception."  The same question is valid when applied to salespeople.  If a prospect becomes resistant and the salesperson doesn't see or hear it, was the prospect truly resistant?

Sales closing rates vary wildly by industry but generally range from as low as 10% to near 50%.  In its evaluations of 1,865,460 salespeople, salespeople scored an average of only 24% in the Closer Competency and only 6% of all salespeople have the Closer Competency as a strength. (See stats on all 21 Sales Core Competencies

Let's play a game of what if.

If 75% of salespeople are not really paying attention, it's reasonable to deduct that resistance goes up in at least half of their sales calls (37.5% of all calls assuming all salespeople make the same number of calls) without the salespeople knowing it.  Failed closings average 70%, and if resistance occurs 37.5% of the time, then in 26% of the cases, resistance is responsible for salespeople losing the sale.

Managing resistance is huge and Tom Hopkins was and is correct when he said that lowering resistance is job number 1.

There is no sales tactic that is easier to learn than how to lower resistance. It's a shame that for most salespeople, it is the sales equivalent of an archeology degree.  They aren't likely to use it.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, overcoming resistance, linkedin, Tom Hopkins, win rates, sales data

The New Salesenomics

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 23, 2019 @ 21:05 PM

 SALESENOMICS

Back in the 1960's it made sense for gasoline prices to be discounted down to the nearest 9/10 of a cent because gas prices ranged between 17.9 to 18.9 cents.  But when gas prices are around $3.00 per gallon, how does 9/10 cent continue to make sense?  Some habits die really hard.

I don't know about you but some things just don't make sense to me.  I loved the Leavitt/Dubner series of books on Freakonomics and thought I could share some interesting sales and sales management data that make little sense.

Nearly 50% of salespeople are willing to work on straight commission but only 7% of companies offer such a compensation plan.

Two of the sales metrics tracked most often are margin at 65% and profitability at 51%.  Surprisingly, only 6% of companies track the cost of a sales call.  Why do companies who care about margin and profitability not care about the cost of a sales call?

Only 34% of companies track win rates, 32% track account retention, and 9% track the percentage of meetings that close; yet 57% track the percentage of salespeople under/over goal and 47% track their top opportunities.  Why would they track their top opportunities but not care about meetings that close or win rates?

49% of companies track the number of opportunities in their pipeline yet only 27% track the quality of those opportunities.  That leads to the low win rates that companies are not really tracking and the inaccurate forecasts that drive CEO's crazy!  

Salespeople reporting to a manager with strong Coaching skills have 26% more closable opportunities in their sales pipelines while salespeople reporting to a manager with strong Accountability skills have 18% more closable opportunities in their pipelines.  On the other side of the fence, salespeople with sales managers who have weak coaching and/or accountability skills saw 77% of their late stage opportunities moved back to one of the earliest stages of the pipeline!

Sales managers with strong coaching skills are 230% more likely to have elite salespeople working for them!  If that doesn't make a case for developing coaching skills, I don't know what does.

Although they should be spending half their time on coaching, Sales Managers spend around half their time split between coaching, accountability and motivation.  How do they spend the other half of their time?  Does it really matter?  Whether it's spent on personal sales, closing reps' deals, putting out fires, or administrative crap, all of it distracts from coaching.

Salespeople with no sales experience – born to sell – have a sales percentile score of 32 with an average Sales DNA score of 61 and an average Will to Sell score of 60.  They fall into the very weak category.  Compare that to salespeople with 5-10 years of experience – trained to sell – who have a sales percentile score of 58 (182% higher) with an average Sales DNA score of 67 (110% higher) and an average Will to Sell score of 66 (110% higher).  Trained to sell beats born to sell.

All of the salesenomics statistics referenced above are from Objective Management Group's (OMG) data warehouse.  OMG has evaluated or assessed 1,863,494 salespeople from companies in countries.

Would you like to see how salespeople score in each of the 21 sales core competencies?  Click here.

Would you like to check out the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment? Click here.

Would you like to discover some more salesenomics?  Check out these articles:

Great News! The Latest Data Shows That Salespeople are Improving 

Data Shows That Only 14% are Qualified for the Easiest Selling Roles

The Wrong Salespeople are Hired 77% of the Time

Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

New Data Shows that You Can Double Revenue by Overcoming This One Sales Weakness

Salespeople With This Weakness Score 47% Worse at Reaching Decision Makers

Which 4 Sales Competencies Best Differentiate Top from Bottom Salespeople?

Where Can You Find the Best Salespeople?

The Top 12 Factors that Cause Delayed Closings and What to Do About Them

Data Shows 1st Year Sales Improvement of 51% in this Competency

Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Do the Best Sales Managers Have the Best Salespeople?

New Data Shows That Elite Salespeople are 700% Less Likely to Do This

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

Does Being a Strong Qualifier Correlate to Having a Strong Pipeline?

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Latest Data - Strong Salespeople Score 375% Better Than Weak Salespeople

Sales Pipeline Data Shows That Most Late Stage Opportunities Just Aren't

Latest Data Shows Most Salespeople Would be Fired or Arrested if they Worked in Accounting

New Data - Are Experienced Sales Managers Better Sales Managers?

The Latest Data Shows That Sales Managers Are Even Worse Than I Thought

Sales Playbook and CRM Problems - What the Data Tells Us

New Data Shows How Relationships and the Need to be Liked Impact Sales Performance

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

Discovered - Data Reveals the Second Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Topics: sales training, Sales Coaching, born to sell, sales metrics, sales data

The 14 Lies Preventing Salespeople From Getting Their Prospects into a Buying State of Mind

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 17, 2019 @ 13:05 PM

lies

Most lies are truths to the people who state them.  Take climate change for example.  Climate change is clearly a real thing. The planet has been warming exponentially since the ice age!  But to think that humans are responsible, that humans can stop it, or else we'll be dead in 12 years, seems ludicrous to me.  My statement is a lie to every reader that doesn't agree with it, but rings true to those who agree.   Lies are in the minds of the beholders.

Let's cover some of the lies being told to companies with sales organizations and how those lies prevent sales organizations from being their best.  Over the past 10-20 years, we have seen and heard the following proclamations (and you can find most of them with this Google search link:

Selling is dead.  Circa 2001. This is obviously false!  Currently in the US, there are around 4.5 million B2B salespeople and nearly 16 million salespeople overall and those numbers are growing.

Cold Calling is dead.  This lie was so freaking good that people actually believed it!  Why?  If they could justify not making cold calls anymore, then their lack of prospecting might not look so bad because, Didn't you hear?  Cold calling is dead, right?" Referrals and introductions are at the top of the food chain but a cold call is much more likely to convert to a meeting than a cold email or an inbound lead regardless of how many follow-ups are attempted.  More importantly, you'll experience far less competition for your prospect's attention by using the phone than if you use web-based cold approaches.

Inbound is King (so selling is dead).  False. How many years running did we hear this lie?  Hubspot, the Lion King of inbound, has a large sales force placing outbound calls to generate sales.  How's that for alive and well?

SPIN Selling is dead. False.  I first read this in 2008.  While it it is true that only the top 5% of all salespeople can execute SPIN, it's still being taught and it's still being (kind of) implemented and executed.  It's one of the oldest forms of consultative selling which, by all accounts, is supposed to be dead!

Solution Selling is dead. False.  I first read that Solution Selling was dead in 2007.  Most of the tech companies I have worked with, including now, in 2019, had been using some form of Solution Selling prior to my arrival so it's clearly not dead.  I believe that there is a fatal flaw within Solution Selling that makes the methodology far less effective and efficient than it could be (learn more here) and than others are, but it's far from dead.

Consultative Selling is dead.  False.  According to Objective Management Group (OMG) which has evaluated and assessed 1,861,244 salespeople from  companies in countries, 59% have not even begun to sell this way yet!  How can something that is still trending up be dead?

Sales Process is dead.  False.  See Consultative Selling is dead.  According to the same statistics, 52% of salespeople are not following a staged, milestone-based, customer-centric sales process.  This is a huge improvement from just 10 years ago when the percentage was only 9!  This too is trending up, not down, so not only is it not dead, but CRM without an integrated sales process is just a data warehouse.

Traditional Selling is dead.  False.  This one depends on how you define traditional selling.  If we define traditional as features and benefits selling (FAB), then it should be dead and buried and forgotten.  Unfortunately, it's far from dead because more than half of all salespeople - the weak half - are still selling this way.

The old way of selling is dead.  See Traditional Selling.

Relationship-building in sales is dead.  False.  In 2011, Harvard Business Review, the biggest publisher of junk sales science, declared Relationship Selling dead.  That alone should be reason enough to call it a fake news.  As a sales methodology, Relationship Selling prioritizes taking making friends and building a relationship over time because people buy from people they like. In the 60's and 70's, a good relationship was more than enough for people to justify buying from you. Today, not so much.  While people DO like to buy from people they like, the relationship is no longer the only criteria.  If you can help your prospect as well as anyone else, the relationship could be a difference maker but if you can't meet the other important criteria, your relationship won't help you.

Always-be-closing is dead.  This. Should. Be. Dead.  It fits right up there with traditional selling and FAB selling.  Of the salespeople that are selling this way, most are misinformed  and the rest are sales bullies.  It should be dead because it leaves people with a bad taste in their mouths and gives salespeople a bad reputation.

Social Selling is dead.  Already?  Talk about fads!  We've only been selling socially for several years so how can Social Selling die as quickly as Pokemon Go?  The reality is that Social Selling never existed in the first place.  Personal promotion?  Sure.  But selling?  Nobody sells anything over social networks.  Everything is marketing, advertising, blogging, tweeting, videos messages, connecting, and building networks and followers.  Sounds like PR and marketing to me.

Outbound is dead.  False.  See this article.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will replace salespeople.  False.  I'm sure you're getting the same cold emails as I do.  They all promise to grow your business, generate leads, make appointments, and if you don't respond to their first attempt, then several more emails will follow.  Each email is powered by AI.  Each email is worse than the one that preceded it and are so awful that I'm sure that the recipients hit the delete button faster than you can say thank you.  Further, AI will never be able to replicate a human having a deep, thoughtful conversation that helps a prospect become emotional.  Prospects buy emotionally.

For example, check out the following consultative questions I taught a sales team to use yesterday.  I used generic versions of the questions and hid the responses but you should be able to easily understand the flow.  Identify a business issue that you frequently uncover and use that as you convert the questions and answers to your business.

Salesperson:  So why do you need this?

Prospect: Response.

Salesperson:  How were you handling that problem up until now?

Prospect: Response.

Salesperson: How long has that been going on?

Prospect: Response.

Salesperson:  If you've been doing it like that for all this time, why change now?

Prospect: Response.

Salesperson: Tell me about the last time that happened.

Prospect: Response.

Salesperson:  How much it that cost when that happens?

Prospect: Response.

Salesperson:  So over this period of time, what has the total cost been?

Prospect: Response.

Salesperson:  How does you that affect you?

Prospect: Response

Salesperson: How do you feel about that?

In each case, the salesperson can't ask the follow up question unless they get the appropriate response they are hoping for.  And as the questions become more emotional and more difficult, the tonality, pace and facial expressions must change along with it?  Can you imagine this type of exchange taking place over email driven by AI?  No. Freakin. Way.

All of the lies we are told create excuses for salespeople to not learn, embrace, practice and apply the most important aspects of successful selling.  The lies mask the best practices of great salespeople and great sales organizations because they suggest that there's an easier way to sell where you can hide behind your keyboard and monitor.  Well, I've got news for you.  There are no shortcuts, no easy paths, no magic pills, nothing but doing the hard work.  If it isn't challenging, and you aren't challenging yourself to improve, then AI will replace you.

Join the discussion and leave your comment at the LinkedIn post.

Image copyright iStock Photos

 

Topics: Consultative Selling, solution selling, Relationship Selling, inbound, SPIN Selling, outbound, AI

10 Reasons Why Salespeople Hallucinate

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 15, 2019 @ 14:05 PM

hallucinate

I was in the basement of our home looking for something when I saw it.  It moved left to right, low, between the stored Christmas trees.  I took another look and this time it moved right to left.  Each time I moved, it moved.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized it wasn't a critter but a shadow that I was casting.

I saw something that simply wasn't there.  A figment of my imagination.  You could even call it a hallucination.

Salespeople frequently have hallucinations where they think there is something there, like a great opportunity, and in reality, there isn't anything there.  Not even close.  And then there are the salespeople who don't see an opportunity when there is actually a great one hiding in plain site.

Let's talk about the many reasons that these scenarios occur.

Let's start with my top 10 reasons why salespeople hallucinate an opportunity where there is none:

  1. The prospect seemed to like them and was open
  2. The salesperson did so much talking that they failed to identify whether or not there was a compelling reason to buy
  3. The prospect didn't voice an objection so the salesperson assumed that they were a go
  4. The salesperson failed to differentiate but assumed they were effective
  5. The salesperson failed to thoroughly qualify and assumed that it was all systems go
  6. The sales manager did not inspect the opportunity or coach to the opportunity after it was updated in CRM
  7. The prospect was not comfortable sharing and the salesperson was not comfortable challenging that
  8. The prospect asked for a quote or proposal and the salesperson took that as a buying signal and went into facilitation mode
  9. The salesperson began with a demo and the prospect, who was not the decision maker, thought it was nice to have but not a must have
  10. The salesperson assessed all of the competition, the size of the company, how hard it would be to get the business and decided for the customer that it wasn't worth pursuing.

 If you or your salespeople are guilty of one or more of these selling sins, it's time to take professional selling more seriously.  Salespeople are hired and well paid to have sometimes difficult discovery conversations with sometimes difficult prospects.  Those who retreat to the office to quote are behaving like minimum wage facilitators.  Facilitating is easy while selling is challenging so do your job, push through the uncomfortable stuff and differentiate!

Coach your salespeople through all 10 of these difficult selling scenarios by attending our one-of-a-kind, two-day, Sales Leadership Intensive on June 4-5.  Two days of great training and discussion all oriented towards making you a master of sales coaching.  Visit http://kurlanassociates.com/sales-leadership-event.  As of May 15, 2019, we have 8 seats remaining and they won't last long! 

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, sales effectivnes, dka

Dave Kurlan's 23 Steps to Improved Channel Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 08, 2019 @ 14:05 PM

dave-video

When you purchase a car, do you consider yourself a customer of the dealer you bought or leased it from, the auto maker, or both?  

When you purchase a Sony flat screen TV from Best Buy, do you consider yourself a Best Buy customer, a Sony customer, or both?

When you purchase a Nespresso machine from Amazon, do you consider yourself an Amazon customer, a Nespresso customer, both, or neither?

Those questions are important to consider when we discuss channels and who is your customer.

I recorded a three-minute video because it is easier to explain this in a video than by typing a long article.

 

If you sell to and through a channel, and assuming you have the mindshare of the reps, here are my 23 conditions you should require prior to a ride-along in the territory:

Pre/Post trip assignment for reps who work with Distributor partners:

  1. Touch base with territory sales person or manager to schedule two days of field calls.
  2. Identify which accounts they will be seeing and type of work those accounts focus on.
  3. Ask the question when is the last time this account has seen or heard about our products?
  4. How many units/projects/purchases a year does this firm make?
  5. What type of products do they use? If applicable, have they specified our products in the past?
  6. Does this company use other products that you carry or just our products?
  7. Determine what the purpose of each presentation/sales call is. Example-lunch and learn, update, class, small group, large group or specific project/opportunity to discuss.
  8. Will the decision makers be joining us?
  9. Send a complete itinerary before my trip to ensure you are using my time wisely?
  10. Are we doing any social events after work that could lead to business?
  11. What is your (distributor sales person) relationship with these accounts?
  12. How much annual business do you do with these accounts we are seeing?
  13. Who are your top 10 customers by volume? Should we be meeting with them?
  14. Who and how should we follow up on opportunities generated from the trip?
  15. Send overview of the two day trip to appropriate sales manager.
  16. How many new accounts are we calling on that you have never met? What is the potential there?
  17. What sales tools do you currently have, and what do you need me to bring?
  18. What are the biggest objections or opportunities with this account we are seeing?
  19. Do you plan on showing any of your other products or will this be focused only on my products?
  20. What did we learn from this call? Did you hear the same things I did, what could we do better or differently? 
  21. Setting expectations, I’ll take the lead on a few calls and then I’ll watch you present. This way I can give feedback and help where needed.
  22. Helping the distributor partner understand our product can help differentiate them from competition.
  23. Explain that our Channel Partner reps rank their accounts A, B, or C. Ask rep if the accounts we will visit are A’s, B’s or C’s. Some accounts that are B’s and C’s for other products could be A's for our products.

The changes and improvements that will occur from requiring these conditions are dramatic but will take some time to bare fruit.  Think about every rep at every channel partner and how long it might take for them to accept, embrace, buy-in, and execute on some of these requirements.  Raise your expectations but give it some time!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, channel sales

What to Do with the Salespeople Who Become Your Biggest Problem

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 03, 2019 @ 14:05 PM

problem-child

I coach a lot of sales managers and sales leaders and when I ask them what they want help with today, it's rarely a big opportunity, it's seldom coaching best practices, it's hardly ever targeted metrics for their team, and it's almost unheard of for them to request that I help them improve as sales managers,  Oh no.  They almost always want  help with their biggest problem child.  Every sales team has a maverick - the person that can't be managed, but leads the company in sales.  Over the past 33 years, I've met a lot of mavericks and the best advice I can give a sales manager is to ignore and thank your mavericks but don't let them near the rest of your salespeople!  This article is not about managing your mavericks!

This article is about the ineffective salesperson who is lazy, or has an attitude problem, or is stubborn, or isn't making the calls, or can't close any deals, or has an empty pipeline, or won't adapt to the new way of selling, or can't seem to grasp the importance of getting traction, or claims not to know what's expected in the way of performance.  While you can objectively read the description in the prior sentence and say, "Easy. Terminate and move on," when the sales manager is emotionally involved, they aren't objective, think they can fix this person, and believe that giving up will reflect poorly upon them.

We can spend many hours over many weeks and months working on ways to motivate, change, improve, coach up or fix these salespeople.  The problem is that most of these problem children can't be fixed.  It's not that poor performers in general can't be coached up; it's that poor performers who are problem employees usually can't be fixed.

50% of all salespeople are weak and these salespeople definitely fall into the weak category.  But there's something else that makes them problematic.

I usually take the following steps to make my case to their managers and senior executives:

  • We review the OMG sales evaluation for the problem salesperson - the root cause of most issues can be found right in the summary and usually have little to do with the 10 selling competencies and more to do with the 5 competencies in Will to Sell (grit) and/or the 6 competencies in Sales DNA (strengths or weaknesses that support or sabotage the 10 selling competencies).
  • We develop a plan for the sales manager's next coaching conversation with the problem salesperson.  This is usually one where we attempt to change the offending behavior or move toward replacement
  • We present the plan to the sales manager's VP Sales and/or CEO for buy-in.
  • In most cases, the problem salesperson is managed out, not coached up.

Even though we can manage the problem salesperson out in a fairly short period of time, most sales managers misdirect their energy on their problem salespeople instead of using that same, limited energy to support and coach up their cooperative and more effective salespeople.  MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR TIME!  DON'T WASTE IT ON PEOPLE YOU WILL END UP TERMINATING AND DON'T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF BELIEVING THAT YOU CAN FIX PEOPLE!

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales evaluation, sales attitude, OMG evaluation, problem attitude, sales maverick

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,700 Articles

About Dave

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

Email Dave

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

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Individual Blog -  Silver

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver


Top Sales Awards 2018 - Assessment Tool -  Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blog 2019

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader