Data: The Top 10% of All Salespeople are 4200% Better at This

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 07, 2021 @ 11:09 AM

dont-care

My wife and I entered the small jewelry shop and were greeted - not with a warm welcome - but with a matter of fact "my name is...and I'm the owner...and I created everything in the store" which was followed by fifteen minutes of non-stop presentation of everything she created.  

You've been in a store like this and you know exactly how you have reacted to that.  It includes thinking all of the following:

  • Stop!
  • Shut Up!
  • I don't care!
  • Go away!
  • Oh wait, I can go away!
  • Please stop so I can leave!
  • Your stuff is not even that good!
  • Has anyone ever listened to this?
  • You've got to be kidding me!
  • There's more?
  • OMG make it stop!!!

When it was over my wife said "thank you" and we walked across the street to a gallery where we were quickly greeted - no greeted is totally the wrong word - instructed to "put on a mask!"  The mask thing again.  About ten minutes later he caught us staring at one particular painting for several minutes and asked, "Are you familiar with her work?"  We said, "No" and he took the opposite approach of the Queen of all Jewelry and walked away!

So in one store we weren't the least bit interested, she didn't notice, didn't care and kept on keepin' on.  In the other store we would have bought that painting and he abandoned us.

I don't usually write about retail selling and today's article is not about retail selling except to make a couple of important points.

If we all know how boring, irrelevant and agonizing it is to be presented to when we aren't interested, then why do salespeople, who have surely been on the receiving end of the scenario described above, insist on presenting before they have a qualified, interested prospect?  It's stupid, irresponsible, and a huge waste of time.  But they persist.

Salespeople aren't great at taking a consultative approach.  According to the data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments on more than two million salespeople around the globe, only 14% have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength.  Only 42% of the top 10% have it as a strength and as you might guess, 0% of the bottom 10% have it as a strength.  You wouldn't think that anything could be worse than that, right?  But if you look at the bottom 50% - the bottom million salespeople, only 1% have the Consultative Seller competency as a strength. The top 10% are 4200% better at taking a consultative approach than the bottom 50%!

The Consultative Seller is one of twenty-one Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG and each competency has between six and twelve attributes or an average of around nine.  In addition, there are 10 additional competencies with attributes combining for around 450 data points per salesperson and approximately 945 million data points in total.  You can see some of the data here and compare industries too.

Back to the story.

When salespeople have been trained to listen and ask questions first some still choose to tell their prospects everything they know up front.  Why?

I can think of ten potential reasons and none of them are very good:

  1. They lack experience and all they know is what they learned in orientation training
  2. They need to be liked and fear that if they ask questions their prospects will become angry
  3. They don't agree with the consultative approach
  4. Their sales manager is not holding them accountable for taking the consultative approach
  5. Their sales manager is not reinforcing the consultative approach through coaching
  6. They don't listen very well and as a result, don't know which question to ask
  7. They don't know what "good" sounds like and can't replicate it
  8. They haven't practiced and lack confidence
  9. They think that listening and asking questions delays getting to the demo
  10. They are doing fine doing it the way they are doing it

Everything on my list is symptomatic of numbers four and five. With reinforcement coaching and accountability, every other reason goes away.  That brings us to the next point/question.  Why aren't sales managers doing numbers four and five?

I can think of ten more potential reasons and none of them are any good either:

  1. They are spending too much of their time on personal sales
  2. They need to be liked and fear that holding their salespeople accountable will make them angry
  3. They don't agree with the consultative approach
  4. Their boss is not holding them accountable for implementing the consultative approach
  5. Their boss is not reinforcing the consultative approach through coaching
  6. They don't listen very well and as a result, don't know which question to ask their salespeople
  7. They don't know what "good" sounds like either and can't replicate it
  8. They haven't practiced role-playing and lack confidence
  9. They agree that listening and asking questions delays getting to the demo
  10. They are doing fine doing it the way they are doing it

Most of these reasons are essentially the same.

It's a top down problem and the folks at the top just hope the folks at the bottom take care of business and don't really care how. And therein lies the problem.  Ambivalence from the C-Suite basically suggests that they just don't care.

What can we do about that?  Rocky LaGrone had a great answer to that question!

Rocky said:

"You could take a stick and beat the C-suite over the head repeatedly until they cry Uncle and then start to listen.


Their biggest problem however is not their ambivalence. It's the fact they don't even know it's a problem. They rely on the sales leader because most of them (C-suite) don't understand sales. Sales is some fuzzy, hard to grip, intangible thing that is a bother but still necessary. The sales leader tells them, "all is good, numbers are coming, next quarter will be better, we are working on it, we need better pricing, we can't produce the product and deliver on time anyway, if we only had the Glen Gary, Glen Ross leads!" Or some other solid excuse...

Then they (C-Suite) play chase and try to fix everything except the cause. For example: Let's get a new CRM, new compensation plan, new marketing, new website, new brand, or something else that exacerbates and hides the real problem. Real problem - wrong sales people, wrong skills, wrong Sales Manager."
 
Thanks Rocky!

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales presentation, listening skills, questioning skills

How To Stop Sucking by Understanding and Changing Your Sales Metrics

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 30, 2021 @ 09:08 AM

metrics

The CDC is back to focusing on COVID case numbers.  Earlier this summer, Massachusetts was reporting fewer than 100 new cases each day but more 1,000 new cases per day have been reported for the past two weeks.  That particular metric supports the narrative that the Delta variant is spreading but it does not tell the real story that allows us to assess our risk.  

 

 

For the real story to materialize, we should know how many of those 1,000 cases occurred in vaccinated people, how many vaccinated people with COVID have symptoms, and how many of those cases required hospitalization.  Case numbers support that there is new spread, but a detailed breakdown would help us to understand our reality.

The exact same thing is happening with the sales numbers reported by most companies.

Suppose a company reports that its win rate is 24%.  Does that tell you anything other than they suck?  It doesn't tell us how badly they suck, why they suck, how long they've sucked, who sucks, or whether there is any hope for them to stop sucking.  And even if their win rate is double the 24%, the same questions apply. Let me explain.

How badly they suck depends entirely on the stage in the sales process from which the conversion is being measured.  Win rates are not calculated consistently so a 24% win rate could mean five different things:

  • Proposals to closed - if they are only closing 24% of their proposals they are demonstrating the highest possible degree of suck.
  • Qualified to closed - if they are closing 24% of their qualified opportunities they suck at qualifying!
  • Prospects to closed - if they are closing 24% of the opportunities that move past a first meeting, that could be an acceptable rate.
  • Suspects to closed - if they are closing 24% of the prospects they get first meetings with that is something to brag about.
  • Leads to closed - if they are closing 24% of their leads they are freaking awesome!

Every company handles this conversion differently but in my opinion, proposals to closed provides incomplete information because we don't know how many companies they were competing against.  Prospects to closed, suspects to closed and leads to closed are inferior because we don't yet know if the opportunities are thoroughly qualified. Therefore, only qualified to closed provides us the intelligence to determine how badly they suck.

Knowing why they suck requires that a sales process includes all of the required milestones and the milestones have also been integrated into their CRM.  We need to know how many qualified opportunities failed to meet all of the company's milestones for qualified.  If you want to know which milestones should be included, watch this ten-minute video on the most popular sales processes and methodologies.


In order to know how long they've sucked, look at win rates over time using the exact same criteria that is being used today for comparison.  What was the win rate last quarter, and each quarter before that?  Are we trending up or down or is it the same as it was earlier in the timeline?

Who sucks? Unless your reporting includes win rates by salesperson, you won't have the ability to see how you arrived at 24%.  You probably have someone who is closing closer to 50% and there is probably someone closing closer to 10%.  Why is that?  What are they each doing that is so different?  

Is there any hope that they can improve?  This is the most important question of all.  The other metrics we were discussing report lagging data and won't be of much help.  Improvement must be forward looking and the best forward looking metrics have nothing to do with win rate and everything to do with the pipeline.  Is it larger than last quarter, prior quarters and prior years?  Do the opportunities in the pipeline have a larger value than over the same period of time last year?  Is the quality of opportunities in the pipeline higher than it was over the same period of time last year? 24% of 200 opportunities is better than 24% of 100 opportunities.  24% of $2 million is better than 24% of $1 million.  And if the quality is better that would suggest that the win rate will be better than 24%.  That is one way to answer the hope question. 

The other way to measure hope is to conduct an OMG (Objective Management Group) evaluation of your sales team. OMG's evaluation is unique in that it will very clearly show why salespeople aren't selling more, the specific sales competencies where the gaps are, who could be selling more, how much more, the required coaching and training to get them there, how long it will take to get them there, and so much more. Most companies feel that the money spent on an OMG Sales Force Evaluation is the best money they ever invested in sales.

You can get a sample of an OMG Sales Team Evaluation here (checkmark next to sales force eval).

You can see data on the 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

You can learn more about a sales team evaluation here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales pipeline, sales backed by science, sales metrics, sales milestones, sales team evaluation

Follow This Advice to Schedule More Meetings and Spend Less Time Doing It

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 25, 2021 @ 13:08 PM

toadYesterday I watched a toad walk across the outdoor side of our kitchen window.  Picture it!  I wish I had video but it ran so counter to what I have observed toads doing over the past 65 years that I froze.  I performed a google search and found exactly one image of a toad on a window. Please understand that the dirty window and sill are not mine - I found the image via a Google search.

Regular readers know that I'm all about the data and I have written nearly two thousand articles based on data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) assessments of more than two million salespeople.  Occasionally however, I see data where incorrect conclusions have been reached and like the toad on the window, my conclusions run counter to theirs.  One such example is a beautiful infographic from sales playbook company Xant. I am going to share some of their data, graphics and conclusions and I'll provide my counter argument to their conclusions.

I'm not challenging the data, only their conclusions.

They cited data from tens of millions of outbound follow up calls to leads showing call conversion rates being significantly better on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Their conclusion was that salespeople should make their outbound calls on those three days.

I see it a bit differently.  Wednesday is hump day and Friday is the beginning of the long weekend.  Both days are notorious for being slacker days so it's not that prospects are less likely to schedule meetings when you call them on Wednesdays and Fridays as much as salespeople tend to be far less effective on Wednesdays and Fridays.  So if Xant is suggesting that salespeople focus their calls on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays you should absolutely make your outbound calls on Wednesdays and Fridays when there is less noise and competition but while being as effective as you would on the other three days.

The data also showed that contact rates were best in the morning and they suggested that you make your calls then. Of course, I see it differently!  I have always suggested that outbound calling be performed for no more than 4 hours per day because salespeople become exhausted and less effective as the day goes on.  I believe the poorer afternoon contact rates are due to salesperson fatigue; not prospect behavior!  Therefore, if Xant is suggesting that you call in the morning, begin making your calls in the afternoon when fewer salespeople are calling!

There was one conclusion that I wholeheartedly agreed with and that is the time elapsed from lead to follow up call.  Five minutes does seem to be magical with a conversion rate that is 8X better than waiting even ten minutes before your call!  FOLLOW UP IMMEDIATELY!!

Their data shows that most salespeople - 81% - make fewer than 5 follow up attempts but the data isn't filtered by title. Calling the C Suite requires more attempts than calling a manager but salespeople suck at reaching decision makers.  Read these articles.  Despite that, it is very clear that you must be persistent! The reality is that the contact rate for between two and six attempts is much better than for one attempt and more than eight attempts.  My advice, call every day until you reach the person that generated the lead.

When it comes to lead follow up, I have a few suggestions.

Do it quickly and you won't have to do it a lot.

Do it effectively and you'll have a better conversion ratio.

Do it a lot to become more effective.

Let's pivot to a baseball analogy.  If the batter fails to get a hit, one of three things have occurred:

  1. They made solid contact but hit it right at a fielder - bad luck.
  2. The pitcher got them out with good pitching.
  3. They got themselves out with lack of plate discipline.

Don't get yourself out with lack of outbound calling expertise.  Practice every day and become awesome.  When I first began selling I hated cold-calling with a passion.  Since I was spending 6 hours per day doing what I hated I vowed to become good enough at it so that I could do it in one hour.  Remember, the better you are, the less calling you'll have to do!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessments, prospecting, cold call, outbound

Nothing Beats This One Tool When You Can't Sell Face to Face

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 19, 2021 @ 10:08 AM

abc

The "ABC's" is an alternate term for fundamentals.

Unless ABC stands for Afghanistan, the Border, and Crime. The US Government has seriously botched the ABC's in 2021 and there's no way to easily undo what's been done.

However, there are some misguided selling strategies that can be undone and in today's article we'll discuss the benefits of the single tool that is the real deal and a huge difference maker.

Email sucks for everything except sending links and attachments, confirming meetings, saying hello, catching up, and sending along meeting agendas.  You should never sell over email and you know this.  How many unsolicited emails do you delete each day with offers to generate leads, appointments, SEO, website design, IT help and more?  Would you like to know what is always more effective than email?

The Phone is a much better way to have a conversation because you simply can not have a conversation over email.  You lose context, tonality, meaning, timing, spontaneity, and all of the dynamics of a conversation!  Please choose the phone for prospecting, following up on inbound leads, making outbound calls, and for follow up conversations.  Would you like to know what is always more effective than the phone?

Video is best.  While you can have an actual conversation over the phone, you can't see how your prospects and customers are reacting and for building trust, they can't look you in the eyes.  Video solves that.  I'm going to use my dog, Dinger, as an example.  You may recall that last year I proved that Dinger has better listening skills than most salespeople.

This 14 second audio provides an example of what you might hear when asking a question over the phone.

Link to Audio 

Now listen to the audio - but WITH video and watch how vastly different it is from what you expected.

Seeing how they react, how they respond and what they do is even more important than hearing their words.  I know, my example is with a dog.  Would it be any different if you asked a person?  Suppose you asked, "Is this something you would find useful?" and the human said, "yah, sure."

Let's assume you have the ability to observe them and you see them responding to email while they absentmindedly say, "yah, sure."

It's more important than ever that you choose video over phone if you can't meet face to face.  You want to have every possible advantage, tool, weapon, strategy and tactic at your disposal and video is the closest you can get to the good old days of face to face.

One of the new competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) now measures is Video Proficiency.

When evaluating a sales team we also capture two videos of your salespeople delivering their elevator pitches and value propositions.  When assessing sales candidates, the Video Proficient competency, while not one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, is still very nice to know.  Check out our best-in-class, sales-specific, accurate and predictive sales candidates assessments here.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, video, selling skills, sales assessments

Siri Can't Help You Close the Deal but Doing These Three Things Can!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 09, 2021 @ 07:08 AM

Siri - Apple

When it comes to navigation I usually opt for Waze but sometimes Siri can find a way out of traffic that Waze can't.  On the other hand, try asking Siri to dial a phone number while she's navigating and you'll quickly learn that she can't multi-task.  If you are navigating using Apple maps in CarPlay, then Siri will navigate to the address you asked her to call.  She gets in the way!

Sometimes Siri doesn't actively listen and decides to send you somewhere different from where you asked her to navigate; a different city or town and/or a place that doesn't sound remotely close to what you asked for. She gets in the way.

So what do you do when Siri isn't cooperating?  Do you give up and wing it?  Do you try again?  Do you stop navigating with Siri and switch to Google, Waze or your built-in system?  Do you persist until you get what you need?

That's exactly what salespeople are supposed to do.  Get creative, be persistent and find a way to reach the decision maker.  You do it with Siri, so why don't you do it when someone in the company won't introduce you to the decision maker, when they won't give you the decision maker's name or when they don't cooperate?  Why do so many salespeople give up and plow forward with the contact they are speaking with right now?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has more than 2 million rows of data on this and the science says that salespeople who reach the actual decision maker are 341% more likely to close the business compared with those salespeople who don't reach the decision maker.  It is not only profound, nothing could be more straight-forward!

Also at play is a salesperson's need to be liked and their fear that if they push, challenge or question it, or if all else fails, they go around this person, said person will become upset, no longer like them, so they won't get the business. While the feared consequences are outright false, 59% of all salespeople do need to be liked and that gets in the way - a lot.

Something else gets in the way of getting to decision makers and it isn't Siri.  It's timing!  There is a specific moment in the sales process when your odds of reaching the decision maker are stronger than at any other time.  It's like a Tornado.  When certain weather conditions exist, those conditions become perfect for a tornado and without those conditions, there is virtually no chance.  So it goes with selling.  There are certain conditions that make it perfect for getting the decision maker engaged but without those conditions, there isn't much of a chance.  

You must be able to first ask, "Who else cares about this?" and upon hearing the decision maker's title, ask, "How do we include Mary in our conversation?"  

In order to properly time the "who else cares?" question, you must have already discussed something so compelling, so powerful and so impactful, that the "who else cares?" question is the next logical question in the discussion.  Asked at any other time and the question won't fit. 

In order for the person you are speaking with to care about getting the decision maker engaged, you must have monetized or quantified their issue to the degree that its cost is many, many times that of your solution. In essence, you are asking who else cares about that much money.

There is a fourth potential reason - salespeople get lazy, take shortcuts, and simply don't try.  I've seen it happen with good, veteran salespeople - a lot.  The good news is that this particular reason is VERY easy to fix.  

Siri might not be able to get you to the decision maker, but using science, ignoring your need to be liked, and getting the timing right will make it 341% more likely that you will close the business.

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, reaching decision makers, objective management group, need to be liked

Salespeople Will Close 50% More Business By Changing This One Thing They Do!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 05, 2021 @ 07:08 AM

expensive

We've gone from don't wear a mask, to wear a mask, to wear 2 masks, back to no need to be masked and now back to wear masks indoors, even if you have been vaccinated. CDC Guidelines change almost weekly, often lack the science to justify their recommendations, don't take local conditions into consideration and are usually very confusing to say the least.  Is it any wonder that there is so much pushback over their latest (as of August 2) guidelines?

At Objective Management Group (OMG), one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies we measure and report on also tends to confuse salespeople, is the cause of frequent pushback, but has thirty-five years of cumulative science to support the finding and our conclusions.  Allow me to introduce you the competency called Supportive BuyCycleTM.

BuyCycleTM represents how salespeople go about the process of making a major purchase and there is a 100% correlation between how they buy and the behavior they accept from their prospects.  For example:

Salespeople who conduct research before they buy are more likely to provide their prospects with all the information they want early in the sales process, without first making sure they are a good, qualified prospect.  This results in A LOT of unqualified quotes that will never be won!

Salespeople who shop for the lowest prices are more likely to understand and help prospects who want the lowest price.  This results in low margin business that can't be retained because it will be lost to the next company to come in with the lowest price.  It's a race to the bottom!

Salespeople who comparison shop are more likely to understand and tolerate prospects who want to talk with them along with 3-5 competitors.  This makes it difficult for salespeople to stand out and differentiate themselves from the others.

Salespeople who think a relatively small amount of money is a lot of money are more likely to understand and cave to prospects who claim that the amount they are asking for is a lot.  As a result, they find it difficult to advocate for themselves, their offering and the value it represents.

Salespeople who need to think things over at closing time allow their prospects to do the same thing, opening the door for other, more aggressive competitors to take the business.  This results in a much lower win-rate.

A new, sixth attribute is about to join the five original attributes of BuyCycleTM. Salespeople who dislike being sold or dislike salespeople in general tend to overcompensate and are terribly ineffective, resulting in prospects being thoroughly unimpressed.  These salespeople don't seem to want the business!

I mentioned that there is a lot of pushback to BuyCycleTM.  Some salespeople, whose BuyCycleTM does not support ideal sales outcomes, become very upset and emphatically deny that the way they buy has any impact on the way they sell.  It does.  It always does.  But it takes time before they allow themselves to see it.  

And the most important fact is that salespeople who do change so that the way they buy supports ideal sales outcomes, close 50% more business!

There is some very compelling evidence to back this up.  Consider the following science:

Competency Top 5% Strong Bottom 5% Strong
Supportive BuyCycleTM 67% 3%

As you can see, the top 5% of all salespeople are 2200% more likely to have Supportive BuyCycleTM as a strength than the bottom 5% of all salespeople.

Now that I have unmasked the science behind BuyCycleTM, perhaps there should be a mandate that salespeople change the way they buy until their BuyCycleTM supports ideal sales outcomes.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales core competencies, Closing Sales, improve sales performance

A Key Competency That Differentiates Top Sales Performers From Posers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 21, 2021 @ 16:07 PM

Watch The Goldbergs TV Show - ABC.com

We were watching an episode of the hilarious comedy series The Goldbergs and one of the themes of episode 4 in season 3 was about authenticity.  In this episode, Barry and Erica, the two oldest children, accused each other of being posers.

The bottom 50% of all salespeople are posers too.  In an article last week we discussed how data can help you hire the ideal salespeople.

In that article I shared a top/bottom analysis where the top performers were 100% more effective reaching decision makers than the bottoms.  Below I've shared another top/bottom analysis with different findings. 

 

At every company there are always a combination of between 15 and 30 findings and scores (from among the 250 or so that Objective Management Group [OMG] measures) that differentiate the best top performers from the worst under-performers.   In this analysis, if we had to choose a single differentiating factor, it would be the top performers' ability to sell consultatively (column 10).  If we chose a second factor, it would be their ability to use their skills to reach decision makers (column 17). Column 18 shows that their top performers are also succeeding at uncovering the decision makers' compelling reasons to buy because in addition to their skills, they are also assertive (column 21), allowing them to push back and challenge their prospects.  This causes those decision makers to respect them, view them as trusted advisors instead of vendors, and develop a bias towards them.  

When a salesperson can effectively use a consultative approach and uncover the decision maker's compelling reasons to buy they will stand out, develop a relationship along the way, and usually get the business. 

It doesn't hurt that these top performers also score significantly higher on hunting and maintaining a full pipeline so that the opportunities they find will move through the pipeline and often close while their under performing colleagues find a much smaller number of opportunities which get stuck in the discovery stage of the pipeline and fail to close.

While the reasons for inconsistent sales performance are always different, the answers will always be found in the data.  The 21 Sales Core Competencies will always reveal where the real problems are and that allows companies to focus their training and coaching on the appropriate competencies.  An OMG Sales Force Evaluation provides all of that data and then some.

Request samples here.  (Be sure to check Sales Force Eval.)

See the 21 Sales Core Competencies along with average scores by industry and if you want, even for your own company here.

Hire the right salespeople for each selling role at your company using OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments here.  A company that began using OMG's sales candidate assessments two years ago reported that their retention had improved from 25% to 70%, diversity had improved from 90% white male to 51%, ramp up time was 40% faster, and 75% of their teams had exceed their annual quota after just six months.

The time for having posers selling for you has passed.  What will the future of your sales team look like?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, reaching prospects, reaching decision makers, improve my sales teams performance, OMG evaluation

A Home Run - How the Right Data Can Help You Hire Your Ideal Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 13, 2021 @ 19:07 PM

2021 Home Run Derby bracket

Last night Major League Baseball held its annual Home Run Derby.  We've seen the home run derbies before.  We watch them every year.  They are always the same - each slugger tries to hit more home runs than the other sluggers in the contest.  At the same time, they are always different and last night there were four stories that made this year's home run derby different from all the rest.  Pete Alonso, Shohei Ohtani, Trey Mancini, and Juan Soto made the contest different. It is always the individual story lines that make the mundane different.

Speaking of the same but different, from time to time I've posted some compelling top/bottom sales team analyses using sales assessment data from Objective Management Group (OMG).  From nearly 250 data points in 21 Sales Core Competencies, we identify the specific findings and scores that differentiate a company's top 3 performers from their bottom 3 non-performers.

There are several reasons for doing this:

  • Proof of Concept - to prove to non-believers that OMG can clearly differentiate between their tops and bottoms and would therefore be able to identify sales candidates who will succeed in their business.
  • Tailored Fit - we add those same differentiators to role configurations as additional customization and criteria on their OMG sales candidate assessments.
  • Understanding - it helps clients to know why some salespeople are succeeding and others are failing.  These differentiators help them understand their sales teams, salespeople and sales bottlenecks.

I completed a top/bottom analysis for a large, well-known company and it doesn't get more compelling than this:

In this analysis there were 38 findings and scores that differentiated the tops from the bottoms.  The three tops met between 89%-97% of them while the three bottoms met only 5%-13% of them.  But the analysis is bigger than how many differentiating factors there are and how the final percentages are different.  Look at some of the differences within the findings themselves!

The tops are 100% more effective at reaching decision makers which, by itself, is a game changer.

The tops are 266% more effective at using a consultative approach to selling and 193% more effective at selling value.  Of course they are!

The tops are 187% more compatible with the criteria for being successful in their roles which points to very ineffective sales selection at hiring time.  For example, in the screen shot above you can see that the tops, but not the bottoms, are generally more experienced and comfortable with hunting for business in the C Suite of institutional accounts.  They are also more experienced and comfortable facing resistance and competition, asking for more than $250,000 in a long sales cycle, and selling conceptual services.  Together, those are ten factors that should have been identified as crucial for sales success PRIOR to hiring any salespeople, and their candidates should have been vetted for those experiences and their comfort level!

Want to hit more home runs when you're hiring salespeople?  Never will you have more confidence hiring the right salespeople for your company and selling role(s) than when you use Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments. They are proven and time-tested to be the most accurate and predictive sales-specific assessment on planet Earth.  Check them out here.

Image copyright MLB.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, objective management, sales test

Is Your Sales Process Backwards, Upside Down or Stupid?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 07, 2021 @ 07:07 AM

Here Today movie review & film summary (2021) | Roger Ebert

My wife and I recently watched the new funny but sad movie, Here and Now, written and directed by Billy Crystal, who stars as comedy writer Charlie Burnz.  In one scene, Charlie recalled a happier time when his family used to have what they called "upside down day." On upside down day they started the day by eating dessert, had dinner for lunch, and finally ate breakfast for dinner.  

Speaking of meals, we recently dined in a restaurant which had its rules laminated and affixed to the table. Their very first rule read, "Food must be ordered with alcohol" instead of what it should have said, "Alcohol must be ordered with food."  Words are important and these words were backwards. (100 bonus points if you can guess the restaurant name.) 

In between the meal and the movie, we attempted to shop at a well-known French retailer.  Before entering, they required scanning a QR Code, registering on their website, and waiting to receive a call from an associate before being allowed to shop.  Also frustrating was the problem that most of their products were not on display so you needed to know exactly what you were looking for because browsing in this upscale retail store was not encouraged.  Retail is all about browsing and at this store, they forgot about making it easy to buy and replaced it with making it difficult to get started.  Brand stupidity. (100 bonus points if you can guess the French brand.) 

Last night I was pulled over by a Massachusetts State Police Officer for changing lanes when there are double solid white lines.  I don't think it was the first time I've done that in 50 years of driving, but I'm certain I've never been pulled over for that before. I broke the rules.

Let's take upside down, backwards, rule breaking and stupid and use those four conditions to dissect sales processes.

When we look at the sales processes that most companies have in place, there are usually elements of upside down, backwards and stupid.

Some companies have a dedicated team of BDR's that work the top of the funnel before they hand-off the opportunity to an account executive. The very poor conversation to meeting ratios are an example of a serious combustion point with this scenario. There are many reasons for these unacceptable ratios that companies invariably find ways to justify (see my article about Why We Should Blow up the BDR Role).  While inexperience and ineffectiveness are the two most obvious reasons, another significant reason is the use of BANT which stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timing.  (See my article about Why BANT Can Kill Opportunities.) Put another way, BDR's are not only charged with reaching decision makers, engaging them in conversation and scheduling first meetings, but many of them are also supposed to qualify those opportunities so that account executives don't waste their time.  While it's smart to have account executives working qualified opportunities, it's upside down, backwards and stupid!  A decision maker has no incentive to answer qualifying questions this early in the sales process before there is some compelling reason for them to buy what you have.  In other words, while you want to start the sales process with a decision maker with authority, you start with whom you start and go from there.  You can't qualify a prospect's ability to buy or get to the actual decision maker  until there is enough urgency for them to take action!  At that point, they'll ask you what you need from them!  When it's done at the right time in the sales process, it's much easier!

Another problem with most of the sales processes is the sheer number of steps that have nothing to do with selling.  For example, Marketing has worked its way into the sales process and while the lead generation work flow is important, it does not belong in the sales process.  A signed contract is an acceptable final step in the final stage of the sales process but the steps that legal undertakes are part of the legal team's process, not sales. 

Sales processes tend to emphasize three major steps - prospecting, presenting and closing - but seriously lack the actual selling-based stages and milestones. If we wish to sell value and create urgency, a consultative approach is required.  Without it, the conversation will invariably turn to price and your attempts to sell value will go right down the drain.

In this case, the sales process is not upside down or backwards, it is inside out - the inner core is missing!  For a better explanation, watch this ten-minute video that explains the difference between sales process and sales methodology, the milestones a good sales process must include, and the differences between some well-known sales methodologies and processes.


 

Even when we have helped companies optimize their sales process, salespeople are multiple-time-offenders when it comes to following the new sequence of milestones in the sales process.  Salespeople LOVE to skip steps.  They break the rules!

The single best example of upside down, backwards and stupid occurs when considering the limitations of certain CRM applications and/or the limitations of the integrators who customize those applications.  Your sales process must be integrated into your CRM application so some companies, acknowledging the various limitations of their CRM/integrators, include only those simple steps that they can get into their CRM. You can't dumb down your sales process because of limitations in your CRM! 

For the complex sale, we recommend Membrain, a robust CRM that emphasizes opportunity and pipeline which is fairly easy and quick to  customize, add content, create complex playbook scenarios, create stages and milestones and produce the reports you want.  Despite the availability and recommendation of a perfect application like Membrain, some companies cite their accumulated investment and training, and refuse to give up Salesforce, MS Dynamics and others, despite the lack of user compliance, inability to make it user friendly, customization challenges and costs.  Lack of compliance means very little realtime data and inaccurate forecasts and that's the reason you bought CRM in the first place!  Upside down, backwards and stupid!

What are you doing that is Upside down, backwards and stupid? 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, qualifying, account executive

Why More Salespeople Are Being Recommended for Difficult Selling Roles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 24, 2021 @ 15:06 PM

recommended

We are finally doing things we haven't done for quite a while including dining inside restaurants, flying, staying in hotels, going to and hosting parties, attending packed stadiums for sporting events and more.  Something else we haven't done for quite a while is revisit Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales selection statistics on the percentage of people that are recommended for various selling and sales management roles.

The last time we looked at recommendation data was in 2014!  In the seven years since we have seen a sluggish economy (2014-2016) with lots of candidates to choose from, a robust economy where candidates were very difficult to find and attract (mid-2017 to early 2020), a non-existent economy hammered by COVID (2nd quarter 2020- through the 1st quarter of 2021) with a decent supply of good candidates, and now back to a robust economy with good candidates scarce once again (2nd quarter 2021).

I was interested to learn how the recent recommendation data compared with the recommendation data from seven years ago.

First, let's define what a recommendation means.

Every OMG sales, sales management and sales leadership assessment has some criteria that is set in stone, some that varies with the difficulty of the role, and some that is client-side specific.  Candidates must meet the criteria in all three areas to be recommended.  Good salespeople are sometimes not recommended for certain roles because they aren't a good fit while mediocre salespeople are sometimes recommended for certain roles because they are a great fit.  It's too complicated to get into customization criteria in an article like this but the goal of OMG's candidate assessment is to get the right people into the right roles and there is a huge difference between all the possible selling roles in all the companies in all the industries where OMG assessments are utilized.

To get a sense for differences, even in the same industry, please refer to this article.

OMG allows five levels of difficulty for its sales roles, three for its sales management roles, and two for its sales leadership roles.  To give you a sense for how those difficulty levels differ, consider the following examples:

  • Little to No Difficulty - salesperson checks stock, fills stock with order updates.  An order-taker.
  • Some Difficulty - industrial sales of supplies used in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) A better order-taker.
  • Moderate Difficulty - government sales, mostly bid work, but selling the reason to choose you at a higher price.
  • Considerable Difficulty - 6 or 7 figure consultative sale of capital equipment against formidable competition.
  • Significant Difficulty - 6 and 7 figure consultative sale of services to the C Suite in a long sales cycle competing against formidable competition

Now that you have some context for the difficulty levels, let's take a look at the before and after data and.

 

                                               2014                                                                                  2021

So what are the noteworthy changes?

The percentage of candidates being recommended for the most difficult and challenging sales roles has almost doubled!!  That's right.  Two exclamation points on that one.  Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that there are more strong candidates than seven years ago, but it does mean that companies are improving their ability to target and attract the good salespeople into their candidate pool.

Similarly, a higher percentage of sales managers are being recommended at the higher levels.  As with sales candidates, I attribute this to better targeting and attraction tactics.

The percentage of sales leadership candidates being recommended has dropped - a lot.  There are a lot more sales leadership candidates out there today than in 2014 and most of the candidates don't meet the significantly higher bar that exists for sales leaders today.

Finally, some HR and Sales Leaders are horrified and all recruiters are pissed when so many of their candidates are not recommended.  But isn't that why you choose an accurate and predictive assessment like OMG in the first place?  You choose OMG to AVOID making the mistake of hiring someone who can sell but won't,  who sounds good but isn't, who sells you but doesn't sell anyone else, or who simply isn't a good fit for the role.

Check out OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.

Image copyright 123 RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HR, hiring salespeople, sales assessment tools, top sales assessment, right salespeople right seats, OMG Assessment

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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 nine 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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