Big Data and Big Lies Have Arrived in the Sales Training and Assessment Space

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 03, 2016 @ 07:06 AM

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I've been trying very hard to find the time to write this article.  I always have plenty of material, but I just couldn't wait to write this particular article, and I've been waiting for nearly 24 hours since the idea was triggered by an email.  24 hours may not seem like a lot of time, but for me, once I decide to do something, I want to do it right then.  But before I could write, there were meetings, an important award ceremony where our son was named Middle School Male Athlete of the Year, and of course, the dinner celebration that followed.  We are so proud!  I hadn't realized it, but he has become to athletics what Objective Management Group (OMG) is to assessments, and my wife's company, PENTA Communications, is to marketing.  All three of us are committed to being the best at what we do.  

Yesterday I received an email that you might have received too.  It was a promotion from Top Sales World (TSW) to download a "Free Big Data-Driven Sales Training Report for Your Industry."  TSW was simply the messenger in this case, with the provider being The Sales Board.  Like many of you, I clicked through and saw that their report was based on their assessments.  And this is where it got really interesting for me!  Their website read an awful lot like OMG's - only the numbers were very different...

They say that they have assessed 400,000 salespeople from 3,500 companies and they measure 5 critical selling skills that are predictive of success.  That gives them more than 1 million data points.  Good for them.  They claim that "no other company has developed big data comparable to this enormous database of skill measurement and corresponding performance change."  Absolutely Incredible!  So why am I ticked off, but not impressed? 

If you're a regular reader, then you know I mention the source and size of OMG's database whenever I provide statistics from OMG.  So I need to do that again here.  OMG has assessed more than 1 million salespeople from more than 11,000 companies (in the same period of time) and we measure all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  And since there are an average of about 10 attributes in each of the 21 Competencies, that would give us 210 million data points!  Even though OMG's data points dwarf theirs by 210 times, their lie about their big data being the biggest source anywhere is only a footnote.

I want to talk about the 5 selling skills that they say are critical and predictive of success.  I would argue that while their 5 are useful, selling skills alone are not predictive of anything!  We have assessed tens of thousands of salespeople who have incredible skills, but some:

  • Lack Sales DNA - They lack the strengths that support their ability to execute those skills.
  • Lack Commitment to sales success - They won't do what it takes and give up when it gets difficult.
  • Lack Desire for sales success - It's not important enough to them to do what it takes.
  • Don't enjoy selling - It's not enough fun - it's more of a job.
  • Have a Low Figure it Out Factor - They can't connect the dots quickly enough to succeed.

Those are examples of salespeople who can, but don't.  The weaknesses cause salespeople with great skills in all areas of selling to fail to achieve.  How helpful are their 5 skills (buyer/seller relationships, gaining commitments, sales planning, presenting and questioning skills) when a salesperson won't hunt or qualify? 

Everything is relative, so I'm sure that when hunting isn't required, and qualifying isn't important, and a consultative approach isn't necessary (a transactional sale), then salespeople with those 5 skills are more effective than salespeople without them.  Even questioning skills, which are so crucial to a consultative approach that enables salespeople to differentiate themselves from the competition, can't be executed by a salesperson whose Sales DNA doesn't support it.

Okay.  My rant is done.

Message to The Sales Board - stop lying on your website!  You can't help it if your assessment is inferior, but at least be truthful about your place in the sales assessment world.

Speaking of assessments, I'll be the tourguide for a fast-paced presentation on Tuesday, June 7, at 11 AM Eastern, where you can learn all about the real magic behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  Register to be part of it!

And speaking of email promotions, do you remember BigBrains case history I wrote about last fall?  Yesterday I also got an email promotion from them and this one will knock your socks off.  If you remember the study or went back and just read it, you know that their SDR's aren't very good.  And they didn't want to do anything to hire better ones or train the ones they had.  But they are offering training to companies who want to learn how they do it.  Is that like Donald Trump offering lessons on how to be politically correct?  Or Obama offering lessons on how to execute on a world-class foreign relations policy?  Or Hillary on how to give speeches without screaming?  I'm sure you get the point.  Stupid!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales effectiveness

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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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