Part 4 - The Real Story Behind the Sales Selection Fiasco

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 @ 09:10 AM


The 2016 MLB playoffs are in full swing, so forgive me if I refer to baseball for exactly the 100th time in the past 11 years and 1,350 Blog articles.  Clutch hitting - at bats in pressure situations that usually occur late in the game - has been studied a lot in recent years. While the sabermetricians say there isn't much of a difference in the overall statistics, there are individual players who have significant differentials between their clutch and non-clutch performances.  This week, we uncovered such a differential in sales!

Objective Management Group (OMG) produces nearly 200 findings that come from our ability to measure sales capabilities and there is tremendous consistency within the data.  Earlier this week, while mining the data from  salespeople, we found an anomaly.  Over the past 25 years, only our measurement of motivation has changed enough to be statistically significant and it wasn't a change in the percentage of salespeople who are motivated, as much as it was a shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation.

But this week we discovered a statistical difference between those salespeople who currently work for a company whose sales force was evaluated, and those sales candidates who were applying for sales positions.

One of our findings is Enjoys Selling. We found that while 88% of the salespeople that were part of a sales force evaluation enjoy selling, an astounding 97% of the sales candidates enjoy selling. Can you explain the difference?

Of course, there are several possible explanations:

  • The candidates are lying.
  • The candidates are different.
  • The candidates aren't as complacent.
  • The candidates actually want to be in sales.

Let's explore the last possibility.  If that were to be true (that they actually want to be in sales), does that mean that the existing salespeople don't want to be in sales?

The 9% differential represents approximately 9,000 salespeople.  I think it's fair to assume that of all of the salespeople whose companies had moved them into a sales role,  9,000 of them were not enjoying sales.

The real story here is why executives decide that people like Bob (usually engineers or product experts) should be salespeople.  The Bobs of the world are consistently among the least effective salespeople and aren't as valuable in their selling roles as they were in their prior roles.

STOP moving people into sales because they know stuff!  Move people into sales when they ask to be moved into sales AND when they have enough supportive Sales DNA to help them succeed in that role.  The skills can be taught over time.

Of course, this is only a single data point and it's part of a much bigger issue in and around sales selection.

I've been writing about this for the past two weeks and prior to today's article, there were 3 other articles that preceded this one.  If you start with this article on LinkedIn Pulse, it links to the two other important sales selection articles in the series.

Chad Burmeister, VP of sales at ConnectAndSell and the primary author of the new book, SalesHack, added this article on his Blog, SalesHack, after a follow-up conversation with the CEO of BigBrains.

After writing these articles about his company, BigBrains, their CEO's take was to suggest that we develop a new assessment that would be customized for the SDR role at his company.  That's right, consider this:

  • We were successful in predicting 83% of their top and bottom performers.
  • They were no more successful at selection than a coin flip.

They had 3 other successful people that would not have been recommended because they weren't really interested in sales, didn't enjoy selling, and lacked desire for success in selling.  Because of those 3 anomalies, they want an entirely new assessment that would identify more sales candidates like those 3, instead of the time-tested and proven assessment that consistently identifies top performers in SDR roles in more than 11,000 companies.

Go figure!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales selelction

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

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