Dave Kurlan

Recent Posts

Companies Surprised by Unexpected Remote Selling Challenges

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 09, 2020 @ 17:04 PM

roller-coaster

Forget Consultative Selling, Value Selling and Sales Process - the things I talk about most often.  The inability to sell that way is nothing - and I mean nothing compared with what I'm going to explain today!

For most salespeople and companies, the last three weeks has been an absolute roller coaster. Most companies expect their sales teams to be not only active, but proactive; to replace face-to-face meetings with virtual meetings; and to continue pipeline building so that there is business to close when we return to work.  But is that what's happening?  In today's article, I'll blend my usual mix of statistics with some personal observation from the clients I have been helping for the past three weeks.  I also included three videos that I extracted from a sales training session earlier this week.  You'll be surprised!

Yesterday, in a previously scheduled virtual training program to a global seller of test equipment, I learned that they weren't handling the "new" objections (we're not meeting with anyone now; we're not spending any money now) in a way that was consistent with how I trained them to handle objections just one month ago!  This helpful one-minute video about handling these objections was extracted from the training.

 

I was further surprised when I asked them if they had moved their face-to-face meetings to virtual meetings.  Only 3 of their 18 salespeople were doing that!  This two-minute rant about their lack of virtual meetings was also extracted from that training.

 

I was surprised again when I asked if they were making outgoing calls and building pipeline on deals they couldn't close today.  Less than a third of them were doing so.  My final three-minute rant, extracted from that training, is about their lack of proactive calling.

 

Should I have been surprised?  Upset?

Kurlan & Associates had Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluate this company's sales force last summer and the following bullet points are among the things we learned about their sales team that are still very relevant today:

  • Their regional sales managers weren't coaching - ever.
  • Their sales managers weren't holding their salespeople accountable and  83% of their salespeople were making excuses.
  • 75% of their salespeople weren't motivated and 84% weren't goal orientated.
  • Nearly half of their salespeople are fishermen (they won't hunt but they'll follow up on an inbound lead), half were potential hunters (they would hunt if someone required them to but as I mentioned above, the sales managers aren't holding them accountable) and only one - one! was a pure hunter.
  • 75% of their salespeople had Closing as a weakness and their average score in the Closing competency was only 28!
  • Eleven out of twelve salespeople lacked commitment to achieve greater sales success
  • Half of their sales force was in the bottom 35 percentile of all salespeople
  • Only half of their salespeople were well-suited for working remotely.

Remember, these factors were discovered last summer and are still impacting their ability to get anything productive accomplished today.  In addition to these issues, they scored poorly in 9 selling Competencies other than Closing, 6 Sales DNA Competencies and 2 Will to Sell Competencies other than Commitment, Excuse Making and Motivation.  Click here if you want to see what the average scores are for nearly 2 million salespeople in all 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures, what they are in your industry, and what they are in your company.

Go back and review the last bullet point - suitable for working remotely.  In the old days - February 2020 - this finding only applied to salespeople who were covering a territory remotely from home office, and who worked for sales managers that didn't closely manage them.  Today it applies to every sales person on the planet that is not being closely managed by a sales manager.  With existing salespeople it's nice to know.  When you're hiring new remote salespeople, it's an important criteria of the recommendation to hire.  Under today's conditions, it could be the most important factor aside from selling capabilities.  Three of the key attributes of working remotely are:

  • Self-Starter
  • Works independently
  • Works without supervision

I looked at the data on the most recent 61,000 employed salespeople that OMG evaluated and found that only 41% overall were suitable for working remotely. 

Sales Percentile Percent Suitable
for Remote Selling
Elite (Top 5%) 67%
Strong (Next 15%) 61%
Serviceable 51%
Weak (Bottom 50%) 33%

As you can see in the table above, even a third of the best salespeople in the world aren't suitable for working remotely!  How will the bottom half perform?  And when two thirds of the bottom half can't effectively work from their homes, and most industrial salespeople fall into the bottom half, they're kind of screwed!

You can't make a salesperson who is not well-suited for working remotely suddenly suitable.  But as with the Pandemic, you can mitigate.  Have a conversation over video three times per day instead of once per week!

These times are different enough.  You shouldn't have any use for a salesperson who won't double down, work twice as hard, and find business wherever they can right now.  

Comments?  Leave them here on the LinkedIn discussion.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, overcoming objections, delayed closings, remote selling

15 Lessons Learned from Converting a Multi-Day Conference to a Virtual Online Event

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 06, 2020 @ 10:04 AM

virtual-event

What a month it's been!  Not only how the Covid-19 virus has changed our lives and sent us to work from home, but how we are conducting our businesses from home.  Green screens, virtual backgrounds, video calls and meetings, team chats, video team huddles, a blur between days, working hours and relaxing hours, and more.  In today's article I'm going off topic so that I can share how we converted Objective Management Group's (OMG) 4-day Boston International Sales Experts Conference for OMG Partners, to a 3-Day Virtual Event on short notice, as well as the lessons learned so that you might be able to accomplish the same things that we did.

  1. It's a Broadcast, not a webinar.  People have preconceived notions about webinars and you don't want them thinking for even a second that this will be a boring, one-to-many presentation of a slide deck.  Why?  It.Can't.Be.That.
  2. It's more like a Television News Channel with shows scheduled every hour - some that are opinion shows, some with guests and some with panels.  All of the presenters from OMG's team had consistent, branded, virtual backgrounds with green screens to give the broadcast a professional appearance.
  3. You'll need a team of "Engineers."  You won't be able to do this yourself!  For our event there were at least four of us at all times monitoring chat and Q&A, announcing questions to the presenters, monitoring hand-raising, and promoting attendees to panelists to get them on camera
  4. Platform - we chose Zoom Webinar.  That allowed us to have 2 hosts and unlimited panelists, branding, but more importantly, pre-registration and approval of those registrations, microphones and cameras off by default, and the high-quality play of videos embedded in our slide decks.
  5. Balance - we made sure that we stopped sharing slides the moment the presenter was going to discuss any topic so that no one slide stayed on screen and became the focal point and the speaker/presenter became the focal point.
  6. Slides - speaking of slides, this event required more slides, not fewer.  As a matter of fact, when all was said and done, this is what we included.
    content

  7. Panelists - There was one particular session that I found most difficult to convert to virtual.  In this session, I planned to distribute a handout consisting of an 80-page slide deck, break the attendees into groups of five, have them work as teams and have team answer one of seventeen questions.  Instead, I posted the deck on Bloomfire (our knowledge base/content sharing platform) ahead of time, asked for 17 volunteers and shared the 17-question assignment.  As people volunteered, I assigned them to one of the questions, and asked them to email their work and one-minute presentation to me for review and approval.  Then, five minutes before that session, they were each promoted to panelists and as their turn approached, we were able to seamlessly turn cameras and microphones on and off to have them appear on screen as the presentation progressed.  It was just like a news show!
  8. Video - We included 22 movie clips to break things up, keep things light, and keep attendees entertained.  You can't hope to keep people engaged for 8-9 hours per day if you don't break it up.  We included everything from an interview of Kobe Bryant to a scene from Forrest Gump to a youtube video called Stay the F**K at Home.  And all 22 videos were in the context of the topic we were discussing at the time.
  9. Attendance - There were 135 OMG partners/associates registered to attend our event in Boston but with no conflicts, travel  requirements or costs to attend, 250 registered to attend the virtual event and we consistently had around 200 people in attendance through the two nine-hour days.  Attendees were from the US, Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Denmark The UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Lebanon, Morocco, South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil (and the countries I forgot to include).
  10. Awards Banquet - We weren't able to host our annual two-hour awards banquet but we did have an awards presentation that consisted of a 50-slide deck that honored each of the 42 award winners in less than 5 minutes.
  11. Polls, Q&A's and Chat - At a live conference you'll ask people to raise their hands, you'll get feedback on what you introduced, and they'll have lots of questions.  We pre-built poll questions that we could open and share at pre-determined times in the virtual conference to get the feedback that we wanted.  Starting with the 5-minute intro video on the first day, the chat never subsided as attendees were sharing their thoughts, insights and takeaways for two straight days.  We had two people monitoring chat to pull out and share the golden nuggets that passed by.  And one person monitored the Q&A and came on camera to share the best questions with the presenters.  It was a  great team effort!
  12. Attendee Tutorial - We took five minutes at the beginning of day one to put up some slides on how to use the Zoom controls for the best experience, including, but not limited to:
    1. Changing screen size
    2. Muting and unmuting
    3. Camera on and off
    4. Gallery view versus Speaker view
    5. Side-by-Side mode
    6. How to contribute using chat
    7. How to ask a question using Q&A
    8. How to separate the chat and Q&A from the Zoom window
    9. How to raise their hand
    10. And for panelists, how to share their screen
  13. Fluid Schedule/Agenda - At a hotel, you need to stick to the schedule to make sure it coordinates with meals, beverage breaks and the group's need to use rest rooms.  Not so with the virtual event.  If they had to use the bathroom they could go and nobody would be the wiser.  If they got hungry or thirsty they could eat or drink and nobody would know.  We were able to go longer on sessions that required more time and simply change the schedule as we went along.  On both days we skipped presentations and moved them to the end of the day and nobody cared or got upset.
  14. Networking - In the end, this is the only thing that people wanted that we couldn't deliver.  At a normal conference, they mingle and talk before and after presentations, network at meals and some really crave that aspect of a conference.  We offered a virtual happy hour on Saturday after the final presentation but only 20 people showed up.  Oh well.  You can't please everyone all the time.
  15. Results - the overwhelming response seemed to be that considering everything, our virtual event was as good or better than our hotel-based event!  We worked hard to make it that way but there were other factors.  They didn't have to leave home, they could spend evenings with family, it didn't cost them anything to attend, they had comfortable seating, wore comfortable clothing, ate what they wanted, when they wanted and didn't have to be "on" for the sake of others.  A good time was had by all.

And finally, OMG introduced some spectacular new tools, features, insights, and features that were as well-received as if we had presented them with a stage and an audience.  I'll write more about this in the days and weeks to come.

You can do this too!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, omg, conference, keynote speaker, sales assessments, virtual

Why You Will Finally Pay the Price of Not Selling Value

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 16, 2020 @ 23:03 PM

recession-1

Given the current circumstances - a Global Pandemic and an economy where so many industries have been shut down or compromised - selling value will be more important than ever.  

The result of selling value is that you are able to win the business despite not having the best price. But when we talk about selling value, what does it really mean?

One sales expert who reached out to me last week was worried that when we are focusing on the Value Selling Competency, uninformed salespeople interpret that as an invitation to present the company's value proposition.  They see it as an opportunity to show and tell and talk about capabilities.  He's right.  Most salespeople will seize on an opportunity to share what they know because it is so much easier than asking lots of tough, timely questions.  Let's take a look at the science.  

Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated or assessed 1,961,459 salespeople.  In the table below, you can see the percentage of salespeople who are strong in 3 Sales Core Competencies, as well as Sales DNA (average score of the 6 competencies that make up Sales DNA).  All of these impact one's ability to Sell Value and are presented below sorted by various groups of salespeople. 

Group

Selling
Value

Sales
Process
Consultative
Selling
Sales DNA
All Salespeople 41% 45% 15% 28%
Top 5% of All Salespeople 97% 85% 60% 100%
Less Than 2 Years Experience 6% 29% 6% 11%
More Than 10 Years Experience 53% 53% 20% 37%
Bottom 50% of All Salespeople 11% 27% 3% 1%

This isn't a pretty picture because it basically shows that except for the top 5%, most salespeople suck at selling value.

There are four reasons for this:

  • They aren't following or using a sales process that supports Value Selling - only 45% of all salespeople have Sales Process as a strength.
  • They aren't using a consultative approach and value selling won't work without one - only 15% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength.
  • Their Sales DNA doesn't support consultative or value selling - only 28% of all salespeople have Sales DNA as a strength
  • The company hasn't been decisive about not discounting - it sends conflicting messages.

You can't really get salespeople to properly and effectively sell value until they have been trained on sales process, consultative selling and been coached up on Sales DNA.

Circling back to the sales consultant who reached out last week, I suggested that selling value uses a consultative approach where:

  • The consequences of the problem are monetized or quantified and the solution is a fraction of the cost.
  • The salesperson, as a result of their care, concern and expertise, becomes the value.
  • The salesperson is valued as a trusted advisor compared to competitors who are mostly viewed as vendors.

Selling value will help your company navigate the economic ripple effect from the Coronavirus.  You'll not only continue to generate revenue,  you'll be able to maintain your margins too.

I've referenced only 3 (plus Sales DNA) of the 21 Sales Core Competencies in this article.  You can view the data on all 21 Sales Core Competencies and even see how your sales team compares here.

Comments?  Leave them in the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales force evaluation, selling in the recession, coronavirus

3 Steps You Must Take Today to Save Your Company From This Economic Downturn

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 12, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

3-steps

You know the stories of the Three Stooges, The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, and baseball fans have just heard about The Three Batter Minimum (how stupid!).  We're not going to discuss any of those threes today but we will talk about the three things companies must do, right now, in this quickly disintegrating economy, to drive revenue.

First, I'll share my Three Rants.

In the past couple of weeks, I recorded three, very powerful, very important and very relevant 2-minute video rants.

Rant #1 - Less is More So Don't Talk So Much

Rant #2 - What's Wrong with Value Propositions and Elevator Pitches

Rant #3 - Why You Can't Wait Another Day to Change the Way You Sell

With those three rants digested, let's discuss business  The economy is in trouble - not forever, but for now - and things will unravel in this order.

  • Large companies will enact spending freezes, stop issuing PO's and hold up payments on orders in progress
  • Those spending freezes will trickle down through the shipping industry, the suppliers that sell to large companies and those firms who sell to them
  • The consequences of bullets 1 and 2 will quickly hit consumers in the form of layoffs

Salespeople, who just yesterday were crushing their numbers, won't.  Those who were missing quotas will be unable to sell anything.  Transactional selling (why you should buy it from us/me instead of them) will stop working all together.  Consultative Selling (why you should buy this despite the lack of funding) is the only approach that will work at all.  

Here's the problem with that.  According to Objective Management Group (OMG) and their data from the evaluations and assessments of 1,958,990 salespeople, only 15% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength.  And that number is misleading because most of those 15% make up the top 5% of all salespeople.  60% of the top 5% have Consultative Selling as a strength but only 3% of the bottom half of all salespeople do.  And bad news, most of your salespeople are in the bottom 50%!

There are three things you must absolutely do, right now, today, to have any chance of getting out in front of what's coming.

1.  Have OMG evaluate your sales force.  While the findings and insights are incredible, the specific findings and insights that should be important today are:

  1. How to make the right decisions to right-size or down-size your sales organization.  Who is most well-suited to grow the business in each of your selling roles and who isn't?
  2. How big is the gap that your salespeople must overcome to become proficient at a sales process that supports both consultative and value based selling, who will be able to make the transition, how long will it take, and how much training and coaching will be required?
  3. How big is the gap that your sales managers must overcome to become proficient at sales coaching to support those salespeople?

There are dozens of other relevant, useful and important insights and findings but those are the three that you must have the answers for today.

2. Optimize your Sales Infrastructure. 

  1. Your sales process must be optimized to support this kind of selling
  2. The sales process must be milestone-centric and it must build upon itself. 
  3. Eliminate the dead wood on the sales force - less is more.  
  4. Replace them with great salespeople who will suddenly be available but make sure you use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment to select them.  Now is not the time to lose 8-12 months because you value gut instinct over science!
  5. Now is the time to dump the CRM tool your salespeople refuse to live in (bye-bye salesforce-dot-com) and replace it with one that integrates your optimized sales process and pipeline, has built-in playbooks and focuses on sales opportunities instead of data entry (hello Membrain.com.  
  6. Eliminate unnecessary layers of management and right-size the reporting structure.  Ideal=6-8 reps reporting to a sales manager and 3-5 sales managers reporting to a Regional sales manager.

3. Train, Train, Train, Drill, Drill, Drill, Coach, Coach, Coach

  1. Get the proper sales management training that will turn your sales managers into coaching machines
  2. Get the proper sales training that will turn your salespeople into consultative sellers
  3. Run daily drills so that they can practice on someone other than their prospects!

You really can get out in front of this and continue to drive revenue if your salespeople can effectively side-step the resistance, create urgency, properly differentiate, sell value instead of price, and not become discouraged over all of the rejection they will be facing in the coming months.

Or you can put your head in the sand, believe that what worked last month will work next month, and wait until your cash flow is upside down and by then it will be too late.

Your choice.

Comments?  Leave them on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Salesforce, selling in the recession

The New York Times' Misleading Article on Assessments and Their Use Cases

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 03, 2020 @ 13:03 PM

NYTimes

I'm not usually late but I'm really late on this topic!

Back in September The New York Times, which is often accused of publishing fake news, published an interesting article comparing personality tests to astrology.  The story included specific assessments like The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, The Hartman Personality Profile (Color Code), Plum, and DiSC.  Myers-Briggs reports on sixteen dimensions of personality, the Hartman Profile has four dimensions of personality, Plum uses AI to predict cultural awareness, teamwork and communications, and DiSC has four dimensions of behavioral styles.

I had so many reactions to this article and I have attempted to collect and assemble them into a coherent article that I believe will be worth your while.

THE EXAMPLES: To base an entire article on four assessments is like writing about the automobile industry and using a GMC pick-up truck, a Ford Focus, a Dodge Challenger and a Jeep SUV as examples without mentioning that there are 60 brands which include foreign and domestic, high-end cars, muscle cars, limos, low-end cars, electric cars, three sizes of SUV's, coupes and sedans, exotic cars, trucks and more. Four examples do not come close to helping you understand the choices or capabilities of assessments.

THE COMPARISON: To suggest that assessments are like astrology is like saying that small businesses are hobbies for those who own them.  Some of them are, but most are full-time, profitable ventures that provide their owners with a nice lifestyle.  Some of the 100 assessments are probably like astrology but not the mainstream assessments.

THE USE CASES: The article provides both good and bad examples of use cases but the theme of this article seems to be that assessments will help to maintain good cultural fit and matching up skills to jobs.  The problem is that personality and behavioral styles assessments don't identify skills - they identify traits and tendencies!  You can't match traits and tendency to specific jobs as they are job agnostic.

CULTURAL FIT: Cultural fit is important and some assessments can certainly help to achieve and maintain that but surely you want more than cultural fit for your salespeople.  When it comes to hiring salespeople, you want to know, before you hire them, that they will succeed in the intended role.  But those four assessments, and most of the 100 assessments on the market, cannot possibly make that prediction because they don't measure sales competencies.  Personality and behavioral styles assessments measure traits and tendencies and while some attempt to adapt those findings for sales, the conclusions are leaps of faith at best, and like playing pin the tail on the donkey at worst.

PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS: The author used the term "psychometric" tests" 8 times without explaining what a psychometric test is.  According to Job Test Prep, a psychometric test, "is any activity or assessment that is conducted in order to evaluate a candidate's performance and includes, but is not limited to, skills, knowledge, abilities, personality traits, attitudes and job/academic potential.  There are many psychometric test styles and formats with 3 main areas....aptitude tests, behavioral tests and assessment centers."  In others words, all pre-employment assessments fall under the category of psychometric tests!  Eric Shapiro, who is quoted throughout the article, said, "If I was the United States czar of psychometric tests, there’d need to be some evidence base."

WHAT THEY WROTE ABOUT VERSUS REALITY: There is only one assessment that:

  • Was built for sales
  • Was created by a sales expert
  • Measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies each with approximately 10 attributes
  • Is backed by Science
  • Has been externally validated three times in the last eight years
  • Has been internally validated 210 times in the last five years
  • Uses predictive validity (findings correlate to on-the-job performance)
  • Has been used to assess and/or evaluate salespeople
  • Will accurately predict how a salesperson will perform in the specific role
  • Has a sliding scale where the criteria for a recommendation becomes more difficult to achieve as the difficulty of the role increases
  • Is customizable for the industry/business/selling role
  • Has an optional second layer of customization based on a top/bottom comparison/analysis of your existing salespeople
  • Has 88% of recommended/hired sales candidates attain quota
  • Has an attrition rate of only 8% from recommended/hired candidates

I am describing Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment

It is not a horoscope.

It does not measure cultural fit.

It is not a personality assessment.

It is not a behavioral styles assessment.

It does not use colors.

It does not measure cognitive ability.

It does not measure anything other than sales capabilities.

Below is a sample dashboard from page 2 of a 21 page sales candidate assessment.

dashboard

Using OMG is a no brainer!  Watch this 2-minute video to see how easy it is to get started assessing your sales candidates!

 

 

Comments?  Type them on the LinkedIn discussion thread for this article.

Image Copyright  iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessment, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, sales selection

How Companies Choose Sales Training Companies is Backwards

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 11, 2020 @ 06:02 AM

reverse

Do you partake of dessert prior to eating your appetizer?  Do you eat your dinner in the morning and have breakfast at night?  Would you prefer to have the builder complete the finish work on your new house prior to framing it and installing the roof?  Would you back your car out of the garage before opening the garage door? (I've actually done that by accident - twice!)

It's all quite silly.  You wouldn't think of doing those things in that order but that's how most companies choose sales training companies.  After 35 years in the sales training industry, I'm qualified to comment on this silly behavior, and explain why companies have it all backwards.

If your company is going to partner with a third-party to help increase sales, the actual sales training component should be the last of the various services to be delivered.  What services should be delivered prior to sales training?  

First, a complete sales force evaluation to identify the gaps, problems, challenges, and most importantly, the reasons why your sales results are what they are. This allows you to set realistic expectations for growth by understanding who is capable of improvement, by how much they can improve, and what will be required in the way of training and coaching to achieve that growth.  If you provide training without conducting the evaluation you might as well just write the check and spare everyone the time, effort and aggravation.

Second, sales process.  Your sales process must be customized and optimized because training must introduce your formal sales process and all of the content must be delivered in the context of the process.

Third, sales management training and coaching. If you want the sales training to work, then your sales managers must be trained and coached so that they can coach to the content in the context of the sales process. If your sales managers won't or can't coach consistently and effectively, the training won't stick and the changes won't take place.

Fourth, tweaks to your sales operations infrastructure.  You don't want to start tweaking things after sales training has begun.

Fifth, Upgrades.  Some of your existing salespeople won't be part of your future and knowing who they are in advance from the intelligence of the sales force evaluation allows you to replace them before, not during the sales training. 

Of course, there are other variables, like how the training will be delivered, support materials and technology, the effectiveness of the trainer, how many training sessions a program will include, the topics that will be covered, how much role-playing will be included to demonstrate what good conversations sound like, and homework assignments.  If you make the mistake of rolling out sales training instead of the sales force evaluation as the first step, you won't have the MRI of the sales organization, or a sales radiologist to read the MRI, so it would be like ordering surgery from a menu instead of receiving the proper needs-based treatment.

Where do you find such a sales radiologist?  Objective Management Group (OMG) partners with 300 of the best sales experts in the world who all provide those services as part of an OMG Sales Force Evaluation.  Sure, there are other assessment companies and other team reports but nothing compares with what OMG offers.  Not a single one is able to do the in-depth sales-specific analyses of your team that OMG provides.  Request a sample Sales Force Evaluation

Some of the analyses that OMG includes in a Sales Force Evaluation:

  • Role Analysis (right people in the right roles)
  • Pipeline Analysis (quality and restaging)
  • Sales Process Analysis (thoroughness, sequence, milestones and adherence)
  • Development Analysis (scope, friction, opportunity and timeline)
  • Analysis of 6 Sales DNA Competencies (do strengths support sales process, strategy, tactics?)
  • Analysis of 10 Sales Capability Competencies (selling skills)
  • Sales Management Coaching Analysis (skills, environment, frequency, topics, effectiveness)
  • Sales Leadership Analysis (competencies and effectiveness)
  • Messaging Analysis (elevator pitch and value proposition)
  • Analysis of 5 Will to Sell Competencies (can vs will sell)
  • Industry Comparison Analysis in all 21 Sales Core Competencies
  • Systems and Processes Analysis (sales operations)
  • Priorities for Growth (areas to focus on and training and development requirements)

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales force evaluation, sales training

New Data Reveals a Finding That Correlates to Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 29, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

sales-success

We had a request for some data from one of our longtime partners.  My knee-jerk reaction to her request was that it would be a big nothing burger.  She asked for data that would show the difference between salespeople who are goal oriented and those who are not.  I did not expect much of a difference except in the area of Motivation but I was wrong.  Very wrong!  Check out some of the profound differences this data mining uncovered!

Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales-specific Core Competencies. You can see them all here.  We have data from our evaluations and assessments of 1,940,502 salespeople. Can you guess which of the 21 sales competencies shows the most profound difference between those who are goal-oriented and those who are not?

Hunting.  That's what you guessed, right?  The average score for the Hunting Competency for goal-oriented salespeople is 82% while those who are not goal oriented have an average score of only 68%.  Goal oriented salespeople are 21% stronger at Hunting!  If you think about it, this makes sense because without goals or a plan, the need to prospect for new business is not as obvious or urgent.  "Prospects consistently" and "Maintains full pipeline" are 2 of the10 attributes of the Hunter competency.  Are you looking to hire new salespeople that will grow your business?  Use an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to help select ideal salespeople for your selling role.

Motivation.  This one was a no brainer as "Has written personal goals" and "Has a plan to achieve goals" are 2 of the attributes of the Motivation competency.  Those who are goal oriented have an average score of 81 versus the average score of 61 for those who are not.

Revenue.  This isn't a competency but this finding was screaming for my attention.  Those who are goal oriented have average revenue of $3.8 million while those who are not saw averages of only $2.7 million.

Sales Percentile.  This score places salespeople in a range from 0-100.  A Sales Percentile score of 100 would mean that a salesperson is better than 100% of all salespeople while a Sales Percentile score of 0 would mean that 100% of all salespeople are better than this salesperson.  Goal oriented salespeople have an average Sales Percentile of 64 while those who are not goal oriented have an average Sales Percentile of only 45.  Goal oriented salespeople score 42% better!

Responsibility.  Interestingly, goal oriented salespeople are 21% stronger at taking responsibility and as a result, are far less likely to make excuses for their lack of performance.

Sales DNA is the combination of strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales methodology, sales strategy and sales tactics.  However, when Sales DNA is weak, it sabotages rather than supports.  Sales DNA isn't learned.  Sales DNA isn't skills.  So it blew my mind to see the correlation between goal oriented and stronger Sales DNA.  The difference is profound.  Generally speaking, as the difficulty of the selling role increases, the minimum Sales DNA score required for success increases with it.  For example, if you sell 7-figure capital equipment to the C-Suite of Enterprise sized companies against huge competitors where the incumbent is difficult to replace, that level of difficulty requires a minimum Sales DNA of 82.  If you're selling SaaS to small businesses, you can probably succeed with a Sales DNA of 72.  If you're selling commercial batteries to fleet parts managers you can probably succeed with a Sales DNA of 66.  Goal oriented salespeople have Sales DNA that is 6 points higher and when it comes to Sales DNA, that's a huge difference maker!

Selling Competencies.  10 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure are pure selling competencies, like:

  • Hunting
  • Relationship Building
  • Consultative Selling
  • Value Selling
  • Qualifying
  • Presentation Approach
  • Closing
  • Sales Process
  • CRM Savvy
  • Social Selling Mastery

When we combine the average scores of the 10 selling competencies above, goal oriented salespeople are 20% stronger with an average score of 60, compared to an average score of 50 for those who aren't goal oriented.

Goal oriented salespeople score higher in every single competency.

Here's the biggest takeaway.

83% of elite salespeople (the top 5%) have written personal goals while only 44% of weak salespeople (the bottom 50%) have written personal goals.  That's an 89% difference!

76% of elite salespeople have a plan for reaching their goals while only 25% of weak salespeople have a plan for reaching their personal goals.  That's a 304% difference!

Together those two findings make up the goal oriented finding and while it alone is not predictive of sales success. However, goal oriented is an attribute of the Motivation Competency and that does correlate perfectly with sales success as you can read in this article.

Those who have written personal goals and a plan are far more likely to be top performers than those who don't. Goal setting is low-hanging fruit so why aren't more companies providing their salespeople with professional goal setting programs?

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales performance, top salespeople, goal setting

Is Your Sales Force More Like a Dunkin', Starbucks or Panera Drive Thru?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 21, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

starbucks

On a frigid New England morning, I pulled into a Dunkin' drive thru and noticed that there were only ten cars ahead of me and that meant that it shouldn't take more than five minutes to get through the fast-moving line.  Contrast that to the Starbucks drive thru.  There were five cars ahead of me and that could take from ten to fifteen minutes because of how long it takes to prepare beverages at Starbucks.  That ten to fifteen minutes is a freakin' dream come true compared to Panera Bread.  I don't know if you have Panera Bread where you are but I love the food at Panera.  However, if there was ever a restaurant chain that shouldn't have a drive thru window, Panera, at least the one in my town, fits the bill.  When I pull into the Panera line, I see that there are two cars ahead of me and I know for certain that it's going to take twenty minutes to get through their line.  At lunch time I order ahead using their app but on that cold New England morning I'm not getting out of the car so I'm going to live or die by the drive thru.  Yet despite the intolerable wait times and ridiculously bad customer service, I return time and time again.  All it takes is to reset my expectations so that I no longer get upset with the twenty-minute wait.

This all begs the question, is the sales force at your company more like the Dunkin', Starbucks, or Panera drive-thru?  Today's article will explain how to answer that question.

If your sales force meets or exceeds budget and the revenue flows through the pipeline easily and consistently, then you have a Dunkin'-like sales force.  It only seems to take a couple of people to make a Dunkin' line zip right along so your sales force is mean and lean and gets the job done.

If your sales force meets budget, but it takes a lot of hand-holding, pressure, accountability, hard work and additional reps to do it, you have a Starbucks-like sales force.  It seems to take at least four baristas to move a Starbucks line along but they make it happen.

If you have to lower your expectations, and the sales force still fails to meet budget, then you have a Panera-like sales force.  You don't have enough reps, those you do have under-perform, most projected closes are delayed, and your win rate is very low.  It seems that Panera has a single employee taking drive thru orders, making the food, packaging the order, collecting the money and handing over the order before miserably taking the next order.

The reality is that those three drive thru lines perfectly describe most sales forces.  

Do you remember the old ads for the car rental companies?  Hertz advertised that "We're number one."  Avis marketed that because they were number two, "We try harder."

I would say the same is true for the Starbucks-like sales force.  While Dunkin' is like the Apple sales force selling iPhones, with people waiting in line to place their orders, the Starbucks-like sales force tries harder.  They have to work for every order and since their products are more expensive, they must utilize the more difficult consultative approach, and sell value to generate revenue.

Consultative selling is more difficult because it depends on the two skills that most salespeople have not come close to mastering; listening and questioning.

As you can see below from ten of the twenty-one selling competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) measures, only 15% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength.  Only the Closing competency has a smaller percentage of salespeople who are strong in the competency.  And this isn't from some small sample size.  This is data from the evaluations and assessments of 1,937,474

selling-competencies-1

Let's drill down into a few of the ten attributes of the Consultative Seller competency.  We find that only:

  • 27% of salespeople have listening skills as a strength
  • 24% have Asks Enough Questions as a strength
  • 41% have Asks Good Questions as a strength.

It's pretty ugly.

The Starbucks-like sales force has mastered the consultative approach but most sales forces have not.  What does it take to move from "have not" to "have mastered?"

Lots and lots of training and coaching on consultative selling in the context of a consultative sales process.  And you should have your sales force evaluated by an OMG-Certified sales expert to properly set expectations as to how long it will take, who can improve, how much improvement to expect, and how much more revenue you should expect.  And that's just on the Consultative competency.  You should want to know that about all twenty-one sales core competencies!

Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales, sales process, sales leadership, panera, dunkin, starbucks

The Science Behind One Company's Top Sales Performers and Why They're So Much Better

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 16, 2020 @ 08:01 AM

apples-to-oranges

There are comparisons of apples to oranges, red or green, black or white, stop and go, and the most relevant and current of all, liberals to conservatives.

In today's article, I'll share a hot/cold comparison of my own, but this one is about sales candidates.  Back on January 9, my article about why 3 good salespeople failed and 3 so-so candidates succeeded, used the results of a top/bottom analysis to identify the reasons why.  

Those results were unusual because many of  the differentiators came from outside the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  What does it look like when the differentiators come from within the 21 Sales Core Competencies?  Take a look at this top/bottom analysis and you'll quickly see the difference!

The screen shot below shows that we identified 21 major differentiators.

Jan14TailoredFit

Their three tops are far better and stronger salespeople than the tops in the previous analysis.  Even their bottoms are stronger than the tops and bottoms of the previous analysis.  But the differentiations are very clear.  Consider:

  • Desire for Success in Sales (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >87.  The normal cutoff is 60 so even the three bottoms scored well in Desire but the tops had even more Desire.
  • Motivation for Success in Sales (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >74.  The normal cutoff is 50 so as with Desire, even the bottoms had good scores.
  • Sales Percentile is the overall score.  Greater than 79 means that their tops are stronger than 79% of the sales population.  And if that's what it takes to succeed in this particular role at this particular company, then the sales candidates that OMG will recommend to them must be in the top 20%.
  • Figure-it-Out-Factor or FIOF is a roll-up of 10 findings that predict whether or not a salesperson will ramp-up more quickly than a typical candidate.  Those who are succeeding at this company have FIOF scores of greater than 66.
  • The Sales DNA Competencies are the overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  These are the combination of strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales strategy, sales tactics and sales methodology.  The tops have tremendous Sales DNA Scores of >81 while the bottoms have Sales DNA more consistent with weak salespeople.
  • Supportive Sales Beliefs (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >86. You could say that everything begins with beliefs!  Their top salespeople have scores for beliefs that are only a few points better than their bottoms so a score of 86 or better is an important differentiator.
  • Supportive Buy Cycle (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >70.   There is  a huge difference in how the tops score compared with the bottoms for this competency!
  • Comfortable Discussing Money (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >82. 
  • Handles Rejection (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of the six that make up Sales DNA) >77. 
  • Hunting (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >92.  These are really good  scores so it  should come as no surprise that their tops are filling the pipeline!
  • Consultative Seller (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >49.  This is the second lowest cutoff score of all  the  differentiators we identified. The company overall is still selling transactionally and this is an area for improvement.
  • Qualifying (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >59.  This is another significant differentiator between  their  tops and bottoms.
  • Presentation Approach (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >81.
  • Closing (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >33.  Did you see the scores for the bottoms?
  • Sales Process (one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies) >77. Another  huge differentiation.  It's included twice in this analysis to give it twice the weight because it's that important.
  • Compatibility with their Selling  Environment >71
  • Maintains Full Pipeline (part of the Hunter competency)
  • Self-Starter
  • Decision Maker (part of the Buy Cycle Competency)

Like I always say, these are different for every role at every company selling into every market.  No two analyses are the same and these analyses become the second layer of customization for our sales candidate assessments.  That's what makes them so accurate and predictive.

For brand new users, our top/bottom analyses also serve as proof of concept.  We're able to prove that we can clearly differentiate between their tops and bottoms to give them confidence that our award-winning sales candidate assessments will work for them.

Where can you get your hands on our sales candidate assessments?  Click here.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales performance, assessment, omg

The Deal Breaker That Prevents you From Hiring a Great Salesperson

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 13, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

cheat

One of the questions we are often asked by HR Directors is, "Can people game the OMG assessment?"  Of course they can try, but we have a very effective algorithm that smokes out those who attempt to cheat.  It doesn't happen very often that somebody attempts a big cheat but when it does, it's almost magical in the way we uncover them.

There is a very small percentage of salespeople who attempt an all out cheat.  This unethical group can usually be found in the category of weak salespeople - the bottom 50% - which explains why they think they need to cheat.  But what happens if a good salesperson attempts to game the system?  What would that look like?

This OMG sales assessment dashboard is from a strong sales candidate who cheated.

cand-dashboard

The 93 percentile score puts him in the top 7% - with flaws of course - but still quite strong.  Find the circled area in the bottom left of the dashboard and you'll see the finding "Scoring Confidence" with the score at the lowest end of the low range.  Scoring Confidence is OMG's score on whether we have faith in the results of this particular candidate.

Now look at the top right of the dashboard to the recommendation.  What would otherwise be a Recommended candidate is Not Recommended because of the Scoring Confidence score.

Are there any clues that something doesn't add up for this candidate?  There are.  No, not the low closing score.  The Closing competency is overrated. How can someone this good be so bad at building relationships?  He also scores quite low on the Building Trust competency which can be found in the details of the assessment document.  In my experience, a salesperson who can't build trust or relationships won't be very effective.   He also has two weakness that other salespeople in the top 7% don't have.  He doesn't uncover budgets and wastes time with unqualified prospects.

If you were interviewing this salesperson, the chances are good that his poor relationship and trust building skills would have caused you to dislike him.  You probably wouldn't have hired him because of that.  But what if the clues were different?  What if the inconsistencies were not with competencies that would have tipped you off in an interview?

In the end, sales selection is about information.  There are ten important data points:

  1. The face-to-face interview
  2. The OMG Assessment recommendation
  3. Relevant Experience (found on the Resume)
  4. Compatibility with your Selling Environment (found in the OMG assessment)
  5. Track Record
  6. References
  7. Phone Interview
  8. Responsiveness (in your communications with the candidate)
  9. Thoroughness (in those communications and the interview)
  10. Likability

Still not using the highly accurate and predictive OMG Sales Candidate Assessment?  From among the sales candidates that we don't recommend, but who clients hire despite the warning, 75% of them fail within 6 months!  Why would you choose to make such important decisions without the OMG crystal ball?  

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn thread for this discussion.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, sales selection tool, sales assessments, sales test

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About Dave

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

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