Dave Kurlan

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Dave Kurlan's Predictions for Sales Organization in 2020

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 16, 2019 @ 10:12 AM

2020

Before I can make any predictions for 2020, let's start with these ten simple truths about selling for proper context.

 

ONE:  Selling is not as difficult or as simple as many would have you understand.  

TWO: While there are certainly nuances that influence how selling changes based on the target audience and complexity, selling is essentially the same whether it is technology, pharmaceuticals, capital equipment, financial services, cars, components, accounting or any of 200 other industries.

THREE: Selling is about opening people's minds, changing people's minds, and getting them to take action.

FOUR: Effective Selling requires a well thought-out sales strategy, sales process, sales methodology and appropriate sales tactics.

FIVE: Salespeople can be easily sabotaged by weak Sales DNA.

SIX: One skill that all salespeople must have is the ability to lower resistance.

SEVEN: Salespeople must be likable and trustworthy.

EIGHT: Salespeople must be willing work hard.

NINE: Salespeople must be motivated enough to overcome challenges, competition, negativity and difficult prospects.

TEN: Salespeople must be fearless.

Regular readers know that my company, Objective Management Group (OMG), has evaluated 

1,927,898 salespeople from companies.  We measure 21 Sales specific Core Competencies which you can learn more about here.

With the context firmly in place, we can discuss my predictions for 2020.

CRM - Every senior executive I speak with is frustrated with their investments in mainstream CRM. No exceptions.  If they bought Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, or Oracle, they have salespeople who hate it, have to be nagged to update it, don't use it at all, and worst of all, they aren't getting the realtime insights or views into the actual pipeline that prompted the investment in the first place.  I think this is the year that companies finally begin pulling the plug and cutting their losses on the big CRM applications, and start over with smaller, sales-specific opportunity and pipeline focused applications.  I believe that any company that wants their sales process, complete with dynamic playbook and scorecards fully integrated into CRM should choose Membrain.

VILT - More companies will choose Virtual Instructor Led Training despite the evidence that live, interactive sales training is far more effective.  Why?  VILT is much less expensive!  But it might be several years before companies recognize that just like CRM, going the way of the popular trend doesn't move the needle on sales and profits and will eventually result in a wasted investment in the wrong training.  Selling can be taught via VILT, but it must be demonstrated over and over until salespeople can execute what they learned.  That means live role-playing and not scripted actors. Your salespeople must be able to play the part of the difficult prospect that they face each day and challenge the trainer to have the realtime conversation that will change minds.  It simply isn't possible with VILT. 

AI - Artificial Intelligence will continue to grow in popularity and acceptance because, once again, the sellers of AI say it's the next thing you must have.  AI can be very helpful automating tasks on the marketing side, where bots might be able to replace salespeople when it comes to conversations via email. But if you have a complex sale, the last thing in the world that you would want is to substitute a bot for a skilled salesperson! 

Evaluations and Assessments -  As with CRM, I think this is the year that companies will realize that you must use pre-employment assessments for effective sales selection.  I believe that they will finally come to recognize that personality assessments and behavioral styles assessments aren't predictive of sales success.  Objective Management Group (OMG), winner of the Gold Medal for the Top Sales Assessment eight consecutive years, leads the way in accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments but for every one of the 29,000 companies that use OMG, there are 172 that don't (of five million B2B companies).  I don't know if it is naivety, ignorance, stubbornness or stupidity, but there is plenty of science that suggests this must change.

Consider this graphic. 

quota-attrition-1

In the graphic above, only 49% of reps achieve quota at companies that don't use pre-employment assessments.  That increases to 61% at companies that do use pre-employment assessments, and 88% at companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.

The same holds true for turnover.  It's 19% when companies don't use pre-employment assessments, 14% when they do, and only 8% when they use OMG.  That's why OMG has won the gold for 8 consecutive years!

Growth: The economy is booming and the only question is whether your salespeople can outsell your competition.  For each opportunity your salespeople work on in 2020, only one company will have the lowest price. If that's not you, then you must become really effective at selling value.  This is the year that companies will become serious about making that happen, investing in sales training that stresses a consultative and value based approach, grounded in sales process.

Change: Sales leaders and sales managers will have to do better in 2020 but how can we reach them?  If you look at those who follow these important hashtags on LinkedIn, it seems that the people who could make a difference are missing in action:

#salesleadership 5,067

#salesleader 268

#salesleaders 367

#salesmanagement 9,054

#salesmanager 3,046

#salesmanagers 608

#salesprocess 4,651

#salespipeline 121

In a great 2020 economy, companies will have the cash to make smart decisions, invest in quality training and tools, and coach up their salespeople to beat the competition but it will take engaged, proactive sales leaders to make it happen!

What do you think?  Leave your comments on the LInkedIn discussion for this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales assesments, crm, Sales DNA, sales predictions, VILT, Artificial Intelligence

The Most Successful Negotiation is The Negotiation That Isn't Needed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 09, 2019 @ 05:12 AM

driving-in-the-snow

The last few years it seems that each time it snows, even a little, they cancel school.  Are school officials convinced that parents and bus drivers will put kids' safety in jeopardy because snow is falling?  They weren't worried about such things when I was growing up  and back then, we didn't have cell-phones, all-wheel drive, anti-lock breaks, traction control, all-weather radials, blind spot warning, collision warning or lane assist!  Winter drivers are better equipped to deal with snow than at any time in history so cancelling school every time it snows doesn't make any sense.

Another thing that doesn't make any sense is the "Negotiate" step I see in the sales processes of most companies.  Why is it there?  Why are we negotiating?  What are we negotiating? How are we negotiating?  The only thing that's clear is when we are negotiating and apparently, it occurs just prior to closing.  Like cancelling school when it snows, it doesn't make any sense.

If we begin with the concept of why we are negotiating, it might answer the what and how questions too. If our salespeople are thoroughly qualifying, and they get their prospects to agree to share their budget, agree to a dollar amount or range, or better yet, that they'll spend more to do business with us, we should never have to negotiate prices, fees or cost.  Is that step in most sales processes?  It sure as sh*t should be!

So if we shouldn't be negotiating the price, are we negotiating terms?  In my experience, when salespeople qualifying properly, only terms need to sometimes be negotiated.  In the normal world, sellers set their terms; not buyers.  But in Bizarro sales world buyers (at most big companies) try to bully sellers into agreeing to their ridiculous terms. 

This week, one company said that their terms are Net 75.  I said, "I'm sorry, but we can't solve your problem and be your bank.  Our terms are due on receipt of invoice and it's non-negotiable." 

They said, "Oh, OK."

I could have said, "If you can get us 50% on receipt of invoice, we'll let you pay the balance net 30.  Would that have been a negotiation?  Of course it would.  But it would be the exception, not the rule, and it wouldn't require a negotiation step in the sales process!

The existence of a step in the sales process requires that we must always execute this step.  The belief that we must negotiate price, terms, deliverables or anything else puts salespeople in a situation where they are expected to sacrifice profitability.  And companies wonder why their margins are being squeezed.

According to data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments of 1,925,985 salespeople, only 13% of all salespeople have the Negotiator competency as a strength. Only 13%!!  If you force your salespeople to negotiate, most of them will give away the farm!  OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and while the Negotiator competency isn't one of the 21, you can see the data on the 21 Sales Competencies and how you and your salespeople compare here,

Instead of negotiating, your salespeople should be mastering selling value.  Selling value completely neutralizes the need for negotiating and while fewer than 50% of all salespeople have the Value Seller competency as a strength, that's a lot better than the percentage of salespeople who can negotiate.

Stop telling your salespeople to negotiate and get them the training and coaching they need to effectively sell value.  The most successful negotiation is one that never occurs.

What do you think?  Leave your comments on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, negotiating, selling value

The Top 15 Sales and Sales Leadership Articles of 2019

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 04, 2019 @ 13:12 PM

best-of-2019

Just when it seems that I don't have any more articles to write, another year has passed and I've now surpassed 1,800 articles on my Blog.  As with any other year, some are really good and some aren't as good but I try to inject my style of using analogies because everywhere I look I see a correlation to sales and sales leadership.

For example, as I look out the window, Dinger, our Golden Doodle, is trying to find a good place to do his business in the snow.  He picks a spot, rejects it, chooses another, rejects it, and circles around and gets distracted, and asks to come back inside without having done what he went out there to do.

To me, that sounds like a lot of salespeople!  They sit at their desk, open their list of prospects, come up with reasons not to call or follow up, finally choose a prospect they feel good about calling, get distracted by an incoming email, get a cup of coffee, go back to the computer, choose another contact, get distracted again, this time by social media, and leave for lunch without having done what they were supposed to do.

After reviewing the 50 or so 2019 articles, I have chosen the top 10 articles based on views, comments here and comments and likes on LinkedIn and Twitter..  Most of these articles rely on statistics from Objective Management Group and/or correlate to strong analogies.  Enjoy!

10 Most Popular Articles (Views, Comments and Likes)

1. The 14 Lies Preventing Salespeople from Getting Their Prospects into a Buying State of Mind

2. Change in Approach Leads to 304% Increase in Sales Effectiveness

3. The Top 8 Requirements for Becoming a Great Salesperson

4. How Big of a Role Does Age Play in Sales Effectiveness

5. The Best Salespeople are 2733% More Likely to Have This Than the Worst Salespeople

6. How All Those Trucks ion the Road Can Help You Stop Discounting

7. New Data Shows That Top Salespeople are 2800% Better at Disrupting the Flow

8. Sales Process and Why So Many Salespeople Lose Their Way

9. How to Transform Your Sales Pipeline Today

10. The Best Salespeople are 791% Better at This Than Weak Salespeople

The Red Sox are my favorite baseball team but they didn't make the playoffs this year.  It doesn't always work out that my favorite teams are champions!  Similarly, five of my favorite articles from 2019 failed to make it into this year's top 10.  

My Favorites from 2019

1. The New Salesenomics

2. Did You Know That the Beatles Taught us about Selling

3. Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression

4. A Tale of Three Squirrels and Their Human Counterparts in Sales

5. New Data Reveals a Powerful New Score for Sales Effectiveness 

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales pipeline, sales performance, sales effectivnes

Only 11% of All Salespeople Do This at the End of a Sales Call

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 02, 2019 @ 16:12 PM

nutcracker2019

This will be the 18th consecutive year that we attend the Boston Ballet's performance of the Nutcracker, and while it is the same performance every single year, it is a wonderful family tradition and we wouldn't miss it for the world.

Traditions are important.  They ground us, give us a sense of stability and purpose, and provide something that we can look forward to.  Rituals are like traditions in that they serve the same purpose, but occur much more frequently.  Selling, is filled with rituals, from the sales process we always follow, to those specific questions we always ask to those specific talking points, comparisons, and stories we always share.  Why?  They work!

So it is with that sense of tradition that for the 10th consecutive year, I republish my Nutcracker article which is always the most popular article each December.

The Top 3  Lessons  from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker

If you attend a Nutcracker performance or simply listen to some of the suite during the holiday season, one of the selections you'll hear is the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy".  Perhaps you can't match the music to the title, but I'm sure if you listen to the first 30 seconds of this version, you'll recognize the melody regardless of your religion or ethnicity.

Even though you've surely heard it before, can you identify the four primary musical instruments at the beginning of the selection?

In this version, you're hearing the glass harmonica, while most orchestral versions and performances feature the celesta, oboe, bassoon and flutes.  Can you hear them?

Just as the "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" sounds familiar to you, your salespeople find familiarity in the sounds, questions, comments and discussions on their sales calls.  As much as you may not be able to distinguish the specific instruments creating those sounds in "Dance...", your salespeople may not be able to distinguish the credible comments and questions from the noise on their sales calls.

During a first sales call, suppose your salespeople hear one prospect say, "This has been a very interesting and productive conversation and we might have some interest in this."  And imagine another prospect at the same meeting says, "We'll get back to you next month and let you know what kind of progress we've made."  And still a third might say, "In the meantime, please send us a proposal with references and timeline."

Lesson #1 (based on Objective Management Group's data) - Of every 100 salespeople:

  • 70 rush back to the office to begin work on the proposal and tell their bosses that their large opportunity is very promising because all 3 prospects in the meeting were very interested;
  • 19 leave the call and make 2 entries in their journals - "propose" and "follow-up" - and they'll do both eventually;
  • 11 are still at the meeting, asking more questions.

Lesson #2:

  • Prospects' voices are like musical instruments.  Each instrument in "Dance..." has a specific role in the performance.  If the wrong instrument or notes are played or they're played at the wrong time, the entire selection is ruined.  Prospects' comments in the scenario above have different meanings depending on their business titles and their roles in the buying process.
  • If "please send us a proposal", "we're interested" or "very productive" are spoken from an Executive - the CEO, President or VP of something - it has a far different meaning than if the comment were to come from a buyer in Procurement.
  • When any of those 3 comments are spoken by a user - an engineer for example - rather than a buyer or an Executive, the comments may be far more genuine, but carry much less authority.

Lesson #3:

  • Sometimes it's more fun to listen to a song, symphony or simple melody and to figure out how and why the composer or arranger selected the particular instruments to play the particular parts of the selection.
  • Your salespeople must apply that wonder and analysis to their sales calls.  The prospect may be the composer (started the initiative), arranger (selected the vendors to talk with), director (charged with the initiative and conducting the process) or musician (following directions of the conductor).  It's the salesperson's job to figure out who they're dealing with, what role they play, what influence they'll have and how to get the various players aligned on the compelling reasons to buy and your ideal solution.

Homework Assignment - Return to Lesson #1 and answer 2 questions:

  1. Which of the 3 sales outcomes do your salespeople typically find themselves doing?
  2. Which additional questions do those 11 salespeople stay to ask?

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn discussion thread.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, Closing Skills, sales and selling, sales stats

What Sales Organizations Must Learn from the Impeachment Hearings

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Nov 22, 2019 @ 11:11 AM

impeachment

This is not a political article but I will use the impeachment hearings as an example to set the stage for my insights.  Currently in the USA there are 3 major schools of thought relative to the impeachment hearings:

Most Democrats and Liberals: "We hate Trump and we want to see him impeached."

Most Republicans and Conservatives: "We love Trump and hate what they are trying to do to him."

Most  Independents: "They should follow the facts and make an informed decision."

Suppose that instead of the impeachment hearings we are analyzing a sales opportunity where we substitute "You" (Bob) and "Your Company" (ABC) for Trump, and substitute Your Customer or Prospect for "We".

You'll quickly see how one of the same three scenarios plays out for each  opportunity. 


The Love Scenario: If it's your customer, you had better hope they're saying. "We love Bob and ABC and we would never leave."  Perfect.  But it could just as easily be your competitor's (XYZ) existing customer and they love XYZ and would never leave.  As with the impeachment hearings, whether they love you or your competitor they will dig in their heels to defend their position.

The Hate Scenario: If it's your customer and they hate you and ABC they will be leaving you no matter what you do or say. While there may be nothing you can do to stop their departure, there is plenty you can do to prevent scenarios like that.  If they are XYZ's customer and they hate XYZ then they are leaving XYZ no matter what and this becomes your low hanging fruit.   You can leverage this growth opportunity when you stop talking about your company and products, and instead learn what your prospect doesn't like about XYZ and encourage them spell out all of it.  If you take this consultative approach, you will win this business! 

If they are truly independent then you're operating on a level playing field.  Your consultative approach will help you differentiate from your competition as long as you take your time, don't rush through it, and find their compelling reason to do business with you.

If you work as hard as you can to get your customers to love you and your company they'll dig in their heels to defend you and never leave.  Leverage the low hanging fruit to grow your business.

The other insight from the hearings has to do with the ambassadors and diplomats who disagree with Trump's foreign policy.  We learned that the career diplomats serve at the pleasure of the president and are to carry out the president's foreign policy regardless of whether they agree with it or it's the proper policy.  Agree or disagree as we might, that's how it's supposed to work.

We see the exact same thing in sales organizations where sales managers and salespeople are not executing the sales strategy, sales plan and sales process laid out by the executive team.  There are always goals, targets, metrics, expectations and timelines.  When these fail to be met, it's either because we've chosen the wrong people, haven't properly set expectations, haven't provided the proper coaching, or they don't agree with your "policy."  These can be fairly difficult to decipher, differentiate and fix so a little help from an OMG sales force evaluation can help.

evals

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn discussion for this article

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, Donald Trump, key to growing revenue, retention

Are You Using This New Technology to Generate New Opportunities?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 13, 2019 @ 13:11 PM

rainbow-flatware

Do you have Rainbow flatware?  Biomagnetic ear stickers? A diamond-shaped ice cube tray? Baby feather wings?  Yah, these things exist here.  You don't?  Me neither.

Have you signed up to use a company that uses AI to generate leads for you?  You haven't?  Me neither.

It seems to me that the only companies using AI to generate leads are the companies trying to sell you their services using AI to generate leads.  How ironic!

AI-generated emails make up the majority of the digital solicitations I receive and they are all from companies offering their lead generation services.  These emails are very easy to recognize.  The personalization is nearly non-existent, the formatting is awful, the message sucks, and they lack traditional signature panels.  But the easiest way to recognize that these are AI-generated emails is the workflow.  They never send one email.  There are usually five or six more that follow and they all seem to include some of the same requests to "bump" their email to the top of the inbox, to "take another look" at their offer, "acknowledge" how busy I am, and the one that drives me crazy, that they "hope" I'm doing well.

In addition to AI, some marketers and sellers utilize workflows from their Marketo, Hubspot and similar marketing/prospecting applications.  Emails and workflows from these applications are usually better composed and formatted.  I'm looking at one of those now, from a UK-based technology firm, attempting to sell outsourced IT consulting.  This particular workflow has sent me 9 emails in the last 5 weeks.  They all begin with "Hope you're doing well."  Then they follow with:

  • 1st email: I am getting in touch to make sure your fieldwork and data collection needs are met.
  • 2nd email: This is a quick note to make sure you received my previous email
  • 3rd email: In case my previous email was an educated stab in the dark,
  • 4th email: I am connecting with you to ask if you need additional support
  • 5th email: I hope you had a chance to review my previous email and hope it didn’t get buried in your inbox.
  • 6th email: I am sorry if I caught you at the wrong time with my previous email.
  • 7th email: see 1st email (back to the beginning)
  • 8th email: I am getting in touch today to see if there is a chance for us to collaborate on your current/upcoming projects.
  • 9th email: I was just curious to know if you received my previous email, and if you had all the information you need in order to get going!

She incorrectly assumes that after 9 emails, she has developed a relationship, participated in positive, constructive conversations with me, and that I have moved from cold prospect to closable prospect.  All this despite hearing nothing but crickets from me.  This is insane!  Why are people wasting their time on these "please delete me" emails?

Back to the AI-generated emails.  They are exponentially worse than what I just shared above!

My recommendation?  Use this powerful game-changer instead or use video conferencing.

Are you in?  Share your comments on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, lead generation, email prospecting, AI

Video Conferencing for Salespeople - To Zoom or Not to Zoom?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 06, 2019 @ 14:11 PM

zoom

No data or statistics today.  No sales training or coaching either.  This won't be a lesson for sales managers or sales leaders.  This is my rant of the day.

Netflix?  √
Blue jeans? √ 
Tee shirt? √ 
Laptop? √ 
Smartphone? √ 
Zoom Meeting room? √

Lately it seems that everyone has a Zoom room so congratulations to Zoom!  They're adding telephony so they seem to be expanding their offerings.  The question is, if everyone is rushing to Zoom for their advanced meeting platform, why aren't salespeople taking advantage of it?

Selling has generally moved from outside to inside.  The advantage of selling from ones desk or home office is that it's much more efficient and far less costly.  The disadvantage is that people still want to meet the people they are doing business with.  Enter video.  Video conferencing allows prospects and customers to see us, without us having to travel.  It's better than audio-only, otherwise known as phones.  

If video enhances our ability to sell from the comfort of wherever we are, why is it that nearly every time I join a Zoom meeting the host's video is turned off?  Doesn't that defeat the purpose?

In my opinion, the appeal of the technology has caused everyone to jump on board but the availability has moved more quickly than our readiness to adopt the technology. Many salespeople are either too embarrassed or too uncomfortable being on camera to turn on their camera.  And then there's the group who turn it on but don't center the camera on their face!  Do us a favor - you're the ones who shouldn't be turning on the cameras!

Video meetings are the future.  Video meetings are important.  The technology to sell by video conference is easy-to-use, ready-to-use, requires no training, and can help you be a trusted advisor - a status you cannot achieve as quickly by phone or in a Zoom meeting without video.

When I'm being sold to I keep my camera off - but for some reason they don't turn theirs on.  When I'm doing the selling you can bet your bottom dollar that my camera is on, I'm looking at them, I'm animated, and behaving exactly as I would if I were sitting in that prospect's conference room or office.

 

Come on people - turn on your video!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, video, zoom

Good Sales Recruiting is Like Selecting Movies and TV Shows

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 05, 2019 @ 10:11 AM

prime-video-screen-shot-bb-alt-d1f4ae787d684f6bb141e35884e187de

Do you like movies and TV Shows?  I love them!

How do you go about selecting the next movie or show you will watch?  Do you look for a specific show, watch the trailer and if you like the trailer, watch it?  Or, do you look at all of the new releases, or everything in a particular genre, narrow down the selections, watch several trailers, and finally choose one?

Most people use the second scenario which, by the way, is a very good approach for selecting and hiring salespeople.  Unfortunately, that's not how most companies go about it.

You need to cast the net as far and wide as you can to generate a large candidate pool.  Then you need to assess all of the candidates in the pool.  Most companies either don't use assessments, don't use the right ones, or wait until the final interview to ask candidates to take the assessment.  Improper use affects quota attainment and attrition.  See the stats below:

quota-attrition-1

As you can see from the slide, companies that don't use assessments have a 49% quota attainment rate, compared to 61% for companies using assessments and 88% for companies using Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive sales-specific assessment.  Isn't that compelling?

Consider these actual use results from an OMG user below:

use-graph

This global company, which hires around 30 salespeople per year, is not only the picture of consistency with the number of assessments used, but recommendation rates are within the normal range for roles considered to have significant difficulty.  More importantly, look at the number of candidates they had to assess in order to hire the 29 who had the sales capabilities to succeed in the company's various sales roles!  That's why you need to cast the net far and wide.  910 might seem like a large number but it's only 18 candidates per week spread among their many global locations.

if your typical candidate pool has many fewer candidates and you don't use an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment, it's no surprise as to why your sales recruiting efforts are hit or miss with an emphasis on miss.  When you hire salespeople, they are all supposed to meet or exceed expectations for pipeline building and revenue generation.  It shouldn't be cause for celebration when they do!

Assessing all of your candidates up front allows you to focus on only those candidates who are recommended for the role, saving time and money that would be wasted calling and interviewing candidates who don't have what it takes or wouldn't be a good fit for the role.

You can retool your sales recruiting process and the adoption of a sales-specific, accurate and predictive assessment is one of those changes you can quickly and easily make.

Share your comments in the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

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

New Data Reveals a Magical New Score for Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 31, 2019 @ 15:10 PM

110

Do you drive at the speed limit, the fastest speed you can get away with, the slowest speed you can get away with, or are you an 85th percentile driver?  The 85th percentile driver travels at the speed that 85% of the cars on that road are traveling, regardless of the posted speed limit.  Motorists.org has data, illustrated below, proving that the 85th percentile speed is the ideal speed for safe travel.

85th-percentile-speed-limits

Thanks to a new finding soon to be included in Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments, the sales equivalent of this data shows a correlation between spoken words per minute and sales effectiveness, identifying the safest speed or pace to deliver sales messaging.

During 2019, OMG began asking salespeople who were being evaluated to provide their value proposition and elevator pitch on video.  Prior to 2019 we simply asked them to type their elevator pitches and value propositions.  The change occurred because we believed we could learn more from audio and video.

Today, we reviewed data from the most recent 3,000 or so videos and we observed that salespeople who delivered their messages at 110 words per minute, had sales competency scores that were higher than 93% of all salespeople.  The ideal range - between 100 and 120 words per minute - places that group in the 85th percentile where their percentile score is better than 85% of the sales population.  The actual range for all salespeople was recored at between 40 (they probably had several seconds of empty recording at the beginning and/or end of their recording) to 230 (they were in a big hurry to get this over with!).

The magic of 110 words per minute is that it's easy to listen to.  A prospect is more likely to hear the entire message whereas a much slower pace is painful and a much faster pace will likely cause prospects to tune out.  The easy-to-take speed of 110 is also less threatening to a prospect, thereby lowering the risk of causing prospects to become resistant.

Pace isn't the only thing we discovered.  We've known from years of collecting value propositions and elevator pitches that the real problem is that most salespeople from most companies have horribly flawed messaging.  The messaging is often weak, rambling, off-target, vague, inconsistent and most importantly, not worded so as to differentiate.

Finally, when does pace matter?  When you're making your first call, when you're asking questions, and of course, when you're presenting!

Work on your messaging and moderate your pace to achieve performance worthy of the 85th percentile!

Share your thoughts about this in the comments for the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, OMG Assessment, Value Proposition, messaging, elevator pitch

A Tale of 3 Squirrels and Their Human Counterparts in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 28, 2019 @ 11:10 AM

squirrels2

It was rainy and cool so the leaves are dropping from the trees, the peak color has passed and it's time to focus on something else.

Speaking of focus, this morning I was watching 3 squirrels each doing their thing.

Squirrel #1, who I named Ernest, was finding lots of nuts and burying them.  His nest was full and he will reap the benefits of his hard work over the winter.

Squirrels #2 and #3, who I named MT and LayZ, were playing.  They were running up and down tree trunks, jumping from limb to limb, running in circles and generally chasing their tails.  They don't yet have nests and unless they make a commitment, become disciplined, and get to work, they will starve to death this winter.

Ernest, MT and LayZ are no different than their human counterparts who find themselves in sales roles.  The top salespeople are like Ernest and the bottom salespeople are like MT and LayZ.  For evidence of that claim, take a look at the table below with a sprinkling of data from Objective Management Group (OMG) which has evaluated 1,910,915 salespeople from  companies.

squirrels

Ernest would be an Elite salesperson.  Elites make up the top 5% of all salespeople.  MT and LayZ would be weak salespeople who make up the bottom 50% of all salespeople. As you can see from the 6 findings I included in the table, elite salespeople like Ernest are 208% stronger than weak salespeople like MT and LayZ.

The 2 findings most consistent with Ernest's focus and discipline are Commitment and Prospects Consistently, where Ernest is 92% and 82% stronger than MT and LayZ.

Even more importantly, Ernest is 326% stronger in the Hunter Competency.  The Hunter, and Commitment to Sales Success, are two of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures. The other four findings listed above are all attributes of the Hunter Competency.

No matter how much selling evolves and how many complimentary selling tools become available, one thing will always remain constant.  B2B sales requires a full pipeline and a pipeline that yields results is built from a consistent prospecting effort, born from commitment and discipline.

With or without leads, a BDR team, or outsourced appointment setting, it is a salesperson's responsibility to be sure that the pipeline always has the 3 F's:

  1. Full (consistent daily effort to keep the pipeline full)
  2. Filled (qualified opportunities in the pipeline, lesser ones out)
  3. Fluid (opportunities in, opportunities moving and opportunities closed or archived)

Most salespeople don't even know the threshold for a full pipeline.  It's the number of opportunities required to sell one multiplied by the number that must be closed.  It doesn't matter if it's one account, one order, or one contract as long as the same definition is applied universally throughout the pipeline.  Additionally, the number required to sell one is not the number of proposals required to sell one.  It's more like this (if you close 33% of your proposals):

  • Closed: 1
  • Proposals Required (Closable): 3
  • Qualified Opportunities: 4
  • Opportunities with Compelling Reasons to Buy (Prospects): 6
  • New Opportunities (Suspects): 8

You can see that the typical pipeline requires 21, not 3 opportunities to sell 1, .

Don't be MT or LayZ.  Be Ernest with your pipeline building efforts.

Share your comments in the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Images Copyright iStock Photos MT and LayZ, and Ernest

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing, sales pipeline, prospecting, sales tips, discipline

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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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