Six Overlooked Factors When Hiring Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 11, 2019 @ 14:04 PM

turnover

This week I've been sick with my annual bout of asthmatic bronchitis - fun stuff - and the question I've been asking myself is, "how long will it last this year?"  Historically, it's takes 2-4 weeks for this to subside and it sucks big time during that 2-4 weeks.  But thinking about time frames got me thinking about one of the universal timelines and challenges facing companies everywhere.

How long should it take for a new salesperson to become successful and why do so many of them fail?

There are six factors in total but let's begin with those on the client-side:

  1. The length of your sales cycle
  2. The length of your learning curve
  3. A Transition period

If you have a six-month sales cycle, a three-month learning curve and it takes 3 months to transition from their old world to your business, that translates to 12 months of pipeline building before you can reasonably expect your new salesperson to start closing business.

On the salesperson side, there are also three factors:

  1. Length of their runway (cash or safety net to survive a transition that doesn't guarantee as much money)
  2. Degree of urgency (how much urgency they feel to get off to a great start)
  3. The theory of relativity  (the more difficult your business is compared with their old business, the shorter the runway becomes)

If your new salesperson has a six-month runway, medium urgency, and selling in your world is more difficult than the world from which they came, there is a negative six-month gap and it's pretty clear that the salesperson will fail.

These factors are but a handful of the factors that go into successful sales selection strategies.  If you select the right salespeople up front, you'll experience much less turnover, fewer delays to growing your revenue, and build stronger sales teams.

Objective Management Group offers the most predictive, accurate and customizable sales-specific candidate assessment on planet earth. You can check it out here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, sales talent, sales selection

The 21-Day Solution for the Toughest Sales Weaknesses

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 05, 2019 @ 16:04 PM

Salesmind

About a year ago, I wrote a very popular article called, Persistence Over Polish, where I discussed the competencies that the top 10% of all salespeople were better at than everyone else.  The article identified 5 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that were the biggest difference makers, showed the gap in capabilities, and explained the impact of having these competencies as weaknesses.  You should really take 2-minutes and read it.  Then, about a week ago, I wrote another popular article called, How the Rubber Band Sabotages Sales Performance.  That article discussed six competencies specific to Sales DNA and the impact those six have on performance when they appear as weaknesses.  At the end of last week's article, I promised to introduce a solution to you within a week and true to my promise, the solution follows.

Let's begin with two examples of the problem:

Only 2% of elite salespeople (top 5%) have any weaknesses at all in their Sales DNA, while 98% of weak salespeople (the bottom 50%) have weak Sales DNA overall.

Salespeople who need to be liked are 148% less effective, they are 147% less likely to reach the decision maker, and their probability of closing is 151% smaller.  That's why elite salespeople are 329% more effective at creating urgency than weak salespeople.  Urgency causes action, while a lack of urgency results in an opportunity that gets stuck in the pipeline.

Salespeople who are uncomfortable talking about money are 168% less effective, 129% less likely to reach the decision maker, and their probability of closing is 150% less.  

And if salespeople have both of those weaknesses?  It's over before they make the call!

All 10 of the tactical selling competencies require salespeople who do not need to be liked.  It's most important for effective hunting, consultative selling and  selling value.  Both selling value and Qualifying require that salespeople be able to have in-depth conversations about finances.

Years ago, Objective Management Group (OMG) had a product called Salesmind.  It used self-hypnosis to reprogram a salesperson's limiting beliefs.  Beliefs influence behaviors and behaviors impact results.  Salesmind was extremely effective, helping salespeople overcome 10 different sales weaknesses, each after just 21 days of use.  Compared to coaching and the discomfort associated with change, Salesmind was easy and fast!  But Salesmind was a CD and computers stopped shipping with CD drives so the product faded away.  Until now!

We have migrated all of the terrific Salesmind programming to an online platform called the Sales DNA Modifier, where it can be used more easily than ever before.  We retained the very best content from Salesmind, and added sales affirmations as downloadable audio files for when you are driving in the car.  

The 10 best things about the Sales DNA Modifier with Salesmind are:

  1. It works!
  2. It's easy
  3. It's fast
  4. It requires only 5 minutes of your time, twice per day
  5. You don't need to think about it
  6. It's more powerful than getting coached or going for therapy
  7. It's available 24x7
  8. You can access it from any device
  9. It will make you a much more effective salesperson
  10. You will feel much better about yourself

The Sales DNA Modifier is available as an online subscription for just $119/year and comes with a money-back guarantee.  Check it out here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, sales weaknesses, Sales DNA, need to be liked

How the Rubber Band Sabotages Sales Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 01, 2019 @ 10:04 AM

rubber-band

I have written many articles about Sales DNA, the combination of strengths that support sales process, sales strategy and sales tactics; or, when it appears as a weakness and sabotages ones ability to execute.

Unlike strategies and tactics, where you can learn and apply them, improving your Sales DNA requires much more effort and time.  

As an example, let's talk baseball, my second favorite topic, and my son, who is now a nearly 17-year-old high school junior playing varsity baseball and showcasing his baseball talent for colleges.  He was four when I first started mentioning him and his baseball in articles.  He's a terrific catcher and hitter but each year, his early spring at-bats aren't representative of the kind of hitter he is.  He always ends up leading his teams in batting but despite working hard on his hitting all winter long, he rarely looks like the top hitter in the first couple of games.  It's the elastic band effect.  As much as he worked on a particular facet of the swing indoors in the batting cage, when he gets outside and faces live pitching, the band snaps back into place and for a couple of games it's as if he never practiced the swing mechanics.  The elastic band is the manifestation of old muscle memory.  

The same thing happens to salespeople.  In training they learn sales process, better listening, questioning and qualifying skills, and role-play. Then they get in a live conversation with a prospect and the rubber band snaps back into place and they revert to their old presentation mode.  In this case, the rubber band is the manifestation of their Sales DNA controlling what they can and can't say, ask or do.

Rubber bands are tricky because you can pull them very far, but if you release the pressure for even a second, they always snap back to their original shape.  Sales DNA is tricky too.  Any of a salesperson's six Sales DNA competencies can appear as a weakness, including: 

  1. The need to be liked (prevents salespeople from asking good, tough timely questions, pushing back, or challenging their prospects' thinking)
  2. Tendency to become emotional (makes it difficult for salespeople to engage in active listening)
  3. Discomfort talking about money (makes it difficult for salespeople to fully qualify on finances, terms and ability to pay)
  4. Self-limiting beliefs (sabotages outcomes)
  5. Personal buying habits (causes salespeople to understand and empathize with stalls, put-offs, objections, excuses and sob stories)
  6. Difficulty overcoming rejection (causes salespeople to procrastinate having their next call)

When attempting to overcome any one of those issues, you can pull hard on that rubber band with awareness and coaching, but as soon as you stop pulling, the band reverts back to its original shape.  It's as if you never had that coaching conversation and never pulled on the band.

Most sales managers find it very difficult to help their salespeople overcome these weaknesses.  It requires tremendous amounts of repetition, positive affirmations, permissions, workarounds, and role-playing.  It's not easy and change doesn't occur quickly.  Most sales managers give up  after everyone becomes frustrated trying to fix it.

Visualizing the rubber band helps.  You can actually watch the Sales DNA snap back into place while the salesperson reverts to their pre-coaching behaviors.  That can serve as a visual cue to take another shot, make another attempt, and reinforce the coaching you just provided.  While that won't immediately change anything, salespeople will eventually become numb to the negative Sales DNA and over a period of months, overcome it if they don't give up. 

Next week, I'll share an even more powerful solution with you.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales weaknesses, Sales DNA

Are Salespeople Still Using the Hard Sell?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 27, 2019 @ 09:03 AM

hard-as-a-rock

When you hear a phrase like the hard sell, do you instantly think of car salespeople?  Insurance?  Replacement windows?  No offense intended to those of you in one of those three industries!

While someone's reference to a hard sell may differ, the perception of the hard sell is fairly universal.   After prospects state an objection, say they're not interested, or tell the salesperson, "No," prospects tend to raise their resistance.  Most salespeople have been trained to handle these objections and put-offs and therein lies the problem.  There are proper and effective ways to handle these, and there are improper and ineffective ways to handle these.  When you use the wrong approach it will appear to the prospect as if you are using the hard sell and their resistance will go up even further.

Most salespeople think that the hard sell consists of arm-wrestling, hammering or pressuring their prospect.  While all three of those approaches are variations of the hard sell, most salespeople overcompensate so much that they wouldn't be caught dead using them.  Instead, salespeople are guilty of the hard sell when they aren't aware of it.  All it takes to be perceived of using the hard sell is to attempt any of the following ten things in response to a prospect's increased resistance:

  1. Recite talking points
  2. Attempt to overcome an objection
  3. Share product features
  4. Explain the benefits
  5. Tout their capabilities
  6. Use logic to make a point
  7. Make the prospect wrong
  8. Try to close after a prospect says, "No" or "Maybe."
  9. Attempt to continue the conversation after hearing, "Not interested" or "We're all set."
  10. Fail to listen to the prospect and continue talking instead

That's right, most of you, without realizing it, are guilty of what you try so hard to avoid, the hard sell.  It's not so much that you are using the hard sell, as it is your prospect perceives it as the hard sell.

So what can you do instead?

Lower. Their. Resistance.  Watch this very short video about lowering resistance.

 

Lowering resistance must always be your first order of business.  

How?

Phrases like, "You're right," "I understand," "I agree," "Makes sense," and "Of course" all work fairly well.  And then you should ask permission to ask a question.  Just make sure that you don't do any of the ten things I listed above!

The actual question you ask is less important than whether or not you ask one.  Your question should be based on something you just heard, like, "You just said that you don't think this is something that you need. Can you tell me why you feel that way?"

Managing and recovering from resistance is the real art of selling. 

I just released my online, self-directed, on-demand, advanced selling skills program featuring nearly 30 lessons with recorded, actual role-plays that demonstrate the most difficult selling scenarios of all - the art of selling.  Subscribe here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, asking questions, hard selling, advanced selling skills, overcoming objections, online sales training

The Power of Smart Differentiation in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 19, 2019 @ 06:03 AM

AOC

In a previous article, I wrote about the one question that can help salespeople differentiate themselves from the competition.  On the heels of that article, one interesting theme from the emails I received was the importance of differentiation.  Some questioned whether I was exaggerating the importance of differentiation and I think that's a great topic for discussion!

In order to weigh the benefits, let's look at the current political landscape.  

Currently, there is a young, female, hispanic, enthusiastic, freshman congresswoman from New York who is getting a tremendous amount of media attention.  They are treating her as if she is the voice of the democratic party. She has ideas, plans, hopes and dreams and everywhere she speaks, people are listening and reacting.  She has differentiated herself from the fat, old, stuffy, white guys that are so representative of public office.

The only problem with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) is that she isn't very bright. Her inability to understand the history of socialism, her complete ignorance of the implications of her green new deal, her "win" over Amazon, and the embarrassing questions she asked Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan in a recent hearing are just 4 recent examples of her inability to grasp fairly simple concepts.  But what if she was intelligent?  What if she possessed both the ability to differentiate AND some brilliance?  She would be unstoppable!

Most salespeople are guilty of spending way too much time talking about their products and capabilities.  In other words, they're guilty of being too smart.  While they should be listening and asking questions, their insistence on talking about how much they know simply commoditizes them.  What would happen if they could differentiate like AOC, but refrained from slipping to her level of dumbness?

Differentiation gets prospects to listen and engage.  Smart, common sense differentiation will cause them to buy from you.  When you ask good, smart, tough and timely questions and have the difficult conversation that nobody else has had with them, you differentiate. You'll be able to identify the real problem, the one others missed while they were too busy talking, and you can uniquely recommend a smart, tailored solution that's packaged differently from what everyone else recommends.

Smart differentiation will help you to consistently outsell your competition.

Join the discussion of this article right here on LinkedIn.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, AOC, differentiation, alexandria ocasio-cortez

One Question Provides Salespeople with Instant Feedback on How Well They Differentiated

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 13, 2019 @ 11:03 AM

1

Most salespeople do not know the difference between their prospects' decision-making process compared with their decision-making criteria.

What's worse is that even more salespeople don't even bother asking about it.  According to data from Objective Management Group (OMG) who has evaluated/assessed 1,843,105 salespeople, only 27% of all salespeople are strong qualifiers so it's likely that the majority are not asking.

If you do ask a prospect about their decision-making process, you might hear about the steps they will take. If you ask about criteria, you might hear about the topics they'll consider when they make their decision.

I'll take you through an example. 

Let's say we were going to decide on the best car we have ever owned.

Our process would be to make a list of 5 cars we have owned and enjoyed.  My personal best are my current car, a 2018 Lincoln Navigator, a 2001 Jaguar XJR, a 1999 BMW 7 series, a 2005 Lexus LS and a 2015 Lexus GX. So far, that's similar to short-listing the vendors a company will invite to make presentations.  PROCESS.

Next, identify the criteria that's important to you.  For my list, I chose look, comfort, features, handling, noise level, cargo space (my son's catcher's gear takes up a lot of space) and driving enjoyment.  Note that the price I paid is not one of my criteria but I understand if it is one of yours. This is similar to identifying the questions that each vendor will be asked.   CRITERIA.

Rate each car on a 1-5 scale for each of your criteria, with 5 being the best.  PROCESS.

Next, calculate the average score for each of the 5 cars.  PROCESS.

Finally, rank the cars by score.  Your favorite car is the one with the highest overall score. Mine is my Lincoln Navigator.  This represents how the decision will be made.  CRITERIA.

Knowing a prospect's process and criteria for making a decision is only the first step.  Why are they doing it that way?  Do they need to do it that way?  If they want to work with you, why are they complicating it so much?  If there is urgency to get their problem solved, why are they taking so long?  Does it all come down to the fact that none of the salespeople stood out?  Nobody differentiated themselves?  There wasn't a single salesperson who was head and shoulders above the rest?  Everyone seemed and sounded so much alike that your product or service appeared as a commodity?

Shame on you!

Whenever they commoditize you, your company, your product, your service or your price, you are receiving instant feedback as to your how poorly you differentiated yourself.  The only consistently effective way to differentiate is to take a consultative, value based approach, featuring listening and questioning skills.

Unfortunately, most salespeople are unable to identify compelling reasons to buy, create urgency, and get their prospects to "must have."  Most salespeople fail to uncover anything more than business issues, which are never enough to differentiate.  

Join the discussion of this article right here on LinkedIn.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, consultative, prospect buying strategy, reaching decision makers

Dave Kurlan's 10 Rules for Effective Sales Emails That Connect With New Prospects

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Mar 10, 2019 @ 17:03 PM

emails-1

They aren't personal, they aren't written well, their messages are identical, you want to delete them and I know  you get these emails too.  I had already decided to save some of these worthless emails for an upcoming article when Keenan posted this rant on LinkedIn.  After you read his rant and related comments, please return to my article for a short tutorial on what's wrong with these emails and how to make them stickier.

I didn't include emails that were newsletters, promotions, or advertisements and focused only on the thirteen emails that were meant to appear as if they were sent only to me.  Of course they weren't sent only to me. Some were undoubtedly created/sent using artificial intelligence and if artificial is another word for fake, then some of those emails were absolutely artificial in their intelligence!  In the image below you can read some of the introductions, subject lines, calls to action, highlights and lowlights of these emails.  Below that you can read their offerings, my 10 Rules for sending sales emails  and an example of what a good email would look like.  If your desktop, laptop or tablet supports zooming, you might want to try that to read the contents of the following table:

emails

Their Offerings:

  • 4 for Lead generation /appointment setting - a great example of poor targeting
  • 1 for Receiving Fees for Referrals
  • 2 for Magazine Recognition - an example of good targeting with an attempt to appeal to my ego.  Entrepreneur of the Year and 10 Best Performing Sales Management Solution Providers.  Undoubtedly Pay to Play or they would have called.
  • 1 for Software - mediocre targeting
  • 1 for  Outsourced Software Engineers -  mediocre targeting
  • 1  for Commercial Office Leasing - excellent targeting
  • 1 for Investment Opportunity - poor targeting
  • 1 for List of SHRM members - decent targeting
  • 1  for Candidate sourcing automation - mediocre targeting

Rule #1 - Target and Qualify Each Contact!  Do you have any idea how many cold emails I get offering to help me grow sales?  Really?

Rule #2 - Begin Your Email with Hi or it They Won't Read it

Rule #3 - Avoid Inauthentic Comments.  If I don't know you then why would I care if you hope I am well?

Rule #4 - Don't Sell Your Product or Service.  You're only attempting to provide them with a reason to connect.  If you provide your features and benefits in the email they won't have a reason to connect.

Rule #5 - Keep it short and Simple!  I'm not going to read 14 paragraphs!

Rule #6 - Send 50 Qualified, Personal Emails Instead of 5,000 Generic emails

Rule #7 - Don't Give Your Prospect a Job! When you ask them to call you that's exactly what you are doing.

Rule #8 - Your Subject Line Can Not Look/Sound Like Spam

Rule #9 - Your Email Must be Believable!  Are you really going to grow my business because you combine email, social media, outbound, and inbound calling?  Maybe you can save me time but don't promise something you can't control, like whether those meetings you claim to schedule will convert.

Rule #10 - Your Email Should Read Like an Email to a Friend or Customer

Putting it All Together.

You've seen the lowlights of the absolute crap that passes for email introductions and read my 10 rules.  If I were going to write a first email to a targeted (it would be the right person in the company), qualified (they would definitely use what I sell) suspect, I would want to introduce myself, offer my positioning statement (the problem I solve that they probably have), provide a couple of examples, ask if they are experiencing any of those problems, and whether they would like any help.  For example, if I wanted to target the CEO of a SaaS company, I would write the  following.  The Italic font is just to differentiate the example from the rest of my article. Don't send the email with italics!

Hi Bob,

I've helped a few other CEO's in the SaaS world who were frustrated over all of the inaccurate revenue forecasts they kept getting. 

When I first spoke with other SaaS CEO's, the two biggest problems they used to have were all of the opportunities that weren't closing, and lack of new opportunities to replace those that didn't close.

You may not have these frustrations but if you do, and would like to take a few minutes to discuss whether or not I can help, just reply to this email with something as simple as "OK" and I'll make it easy to schedule a call.

Looking forward to talking with you.

Dave Kurlan
CEO
Objective Management Group

It's still a cold email but it's a million times better than all of the pitiful emails that most of us receive each day. I would prefer that salespeople use the phone for a cold reach out but if it's a choice between a cold email or nothing, I'll take the email. It's OK to follow up on this email by phone.  Remember, you can't have a conversation over email so if anyone does respond to your email attempt, move that conversation to the phone as soon as possible.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting emails that work, good sales email, effective sales email

Why Coaching Causes Some Sales Managers to Hold On for Dear Life

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 04, 2019 @ 05:03 AM

holding-on

Over the past few months I've been coaching 30 sales leaders from 3 companies and while most are trying their hardest to do everything I recommend, apply everything they learn, and coach as instructed, there are several that don't follow through and fail to move the needle for their teams.  A few don't want to be coached.  A few don't think they need to be coached.  A few are too proud to be coached.  A couple are too mentally challenged to be coached.

Avoidance aside, there are six scientifically proven reasons for their struggles and I'll share them with you here.In the table below, you'll see data from Objective Management Group, which has evaluated 1,838,327salespeople and sales managers.  The first three Sales Management Competencies shown in the table are from the category of Sales Management DNA. They are shown below  as weaknesses.

Sales Management Competency

Percentage with Competency as
a Weakness 

Controls Their Emotions 55%
Supportive Beliefs 100%
Supportive Buy-Cycle 65%

100% of sales managers have Self-Limiting Sales Management Beliefs. Let's say that their beliefs include, "coaching won't work" or "my salespeople won't follow a sales process" or "If I hold my salespeople accountable they'll quit" or "If I debrief their calls the way you instruct they'll hate me" or "I could never learn to role-play the way you teach it."  If they have any of those beliefs, what are the chances that they can apply what they're learning from me or anyone else?

65% of sales managers have Non-Supportive Buy-Cycles.  This means that they make their major purchases in a way that will not support ideal sales outcomes.  It could be that they look for the lowest price, comparison shop, think things over, think a relatively small amount of money is a lot of money, they do research, or some combination of those things.  If that's the case, and a salesperson comes back with a put-off, objection or excuse, the sales manager won't be any more effective coaching the salesperson than the salesperson was dealing with it with the prospect.

55% of sales managers become emotional. They're talking to themselves or thinking too much and as a result, their listening skills won't be optimal.  If they attempt a role-play to demonstrate the coaching strategy, they might jump ahead instead of doing a slow, consultative role-play, following up answers with appropriate new questions to ask.

Those aren't the only factors.  Two more come from the category Will to Manage Sales.

Sales Management Competency

Percentage with Competency as
a Weakness 

Commitment 23%
Takes Responsibility 55%
Coaching 90%

23% of sales managers lack Commitment, suggesting that they won't do what it takes when that is outside of their comfort zone.

55% of sales managers are Excuse Makers and when they rationalize why coaching won't change anything, why some salespeople can't be coached, why coaching them the way I recommend won't work, nothing will change.  Excuse making must be snuffed out from the top down.

The five competencies we discussed above don't even take into consideration the actual Coaching Competency shown above.  Unfortunately, 90% of sales managers are weak in the coaching competency.

When you put all of this together, it's easy to understand why some sales managers struggle so much when it comes to coaching.

I can help!  Each year I host the top-rated Sales Leadership Intensive where, for two long days, we help sales managers develop their ability to consistently and effectively coach up their salespeople.  As of this writing we had around 5 seats left for March 19-20 so if you can make it I promise it will be life-changing. This is the best coaching-specific training you will get anywhere!  You can learn more here

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales management competencies, OMG Assessment

How to Use the Your Experience with Turbulence to Overcome Resistance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Feb 24, 2019 @ 11:02 AM

turbulence

We were on a JetBlue flight from Florida to Boston and the turbulence was much worse than usual.  More dramatic, longer lasting, and bad enough for the flight attendants to remain seated for the entire flight.  You've probably experienced a flight like that too.  Fun!  

The jet was probably traveling 500 MPH but it's funny how when the air is smooth, it doesn't even seem like you're moving, but when you add some serious bumps, you can feel every single one of those 500 MPH.  It feels more like an out-of-control roller coaster!

Sales calls work the same way.

When prospects are rushed, disinterested, resistant or rude, the call feels bumpy, like a jet traveling through turbulence.  When prospects are engaged, interested, and answering your questions, it feels smooth, like you're hardly moving.

So how can you get that smooth feeling on every call or meeting?

It's all about managing resistance which I explain in this 2-minute video.

 

When pilots encounter turbulence they might seek to find smoother air by lowering their altitude.  When great salespeople encounter turbulence they must first seek to lower resistance.  Most salespeople are unable to do this because it's more natural for them to respond with logic, talking points and specifications, which only serve to raise the resistance even more.  Or they might be more focused on how their prospects don't seem to like them enough to buy from them.

There are only a few steps required to improve in this area.

  1. Observation and Awareness - pay attention!  It's easier when you're listening than when you're talking.
  2. Lower Resistance - agree with them. Offer to leave.  Ask if you're boring them.
  3. Ask a great question - about them - to get their attention and then follow up with an even better question to get them engaged.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, overcoming resistance, jet blue

Salespeople Make This Mistake - The Dumb Question I Was Asked in a Hotel Restaurant

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 @ 21:02 PM

doubletree

I pulled up to the entrance of the Doubletree Hotel, greeted Chris, and we walked into the hotel restaurant.  As we approached the table, a well-meaning server asked, are you an Honors member?  I said, "yes."  

A moment later she returned and said she couldn't find me in the system.  She asked me to spell my name, went back to her computer, and returned again, saying, "I can't find your reservation in the system."

I explained that I wasn't a hotel guest and we were here for breakfast.  "Oh, then you'll have to pay for your breakfast!"  

"OK," I said.  After all, I was expecting to pay for breakfast!

Can you imagine how much simpler it would have been if her first question was, "Are you staying with us?"

Salespeople make the exact same mistake.  How do I know?  I can prove this with several examples.

Personal - In any given year, I might engage in role-play with as many as 500 salespeople and before they know any better, and sometimes after, they nearly always begin with the wrong question.  And it's not limited to only the wrong opening question, there are tremendous odds that they'll ask the wrong follow-up questions too.

Evaluation Data - Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated and assessed 1,833,484 salespeople from companies.  If we zoom in on the data related to asking questions, we find the following differences between elite salespeople and weak salespeople.

Elite salespeople are twice as effective as weak salespeople at asking good questions. 
Elite salespeople are three times more effective than weak salespeople at asking tough questions.
Elite salespeople are twice as effective as weak salespeople at asking enough questions.

These three questioning skills are attributes of the Consultative Selling competency, one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures.  See them here and see how you stack up.

Another Sales Core Competency, when it appears as a weakness, prevents salespeople, even those with good questioning skills, from asking the questions.  Salespeople who Need to be Liked are unable to ask a lot of questions, ask tough questions, or have the difficult conversation that nobody else has had with their prospect. 

Elite salespeople are four times more effective in this competency than weak salespeople!

Pay attention to your questions.  If they don't move the conversation closer to uncovering a prospect's compelling reason to buy, don't ask the question.  At the same time, don't skip over important questions and milestones - it rarely works. 

Remember that milestones are the foundation of a staged, consultative sales process and it's difficult to be effective if you attempt to sell without one.

Contribute to the discussion of this article here on Linkedin.

Finally, I leave you with two offers.

Steven Rosen interviewed me for his Fireside Chat series and sales leaders will find our discussion extremely beneficial.  Register here to watch this episode when it's released on February 19 at Noon Eastern Time.

My awesome 2-Day Sales Leadership Intensive is filling up fast.  As of February 15 there are just 7 seats remaining for the March 19-20 event. First come, first served.

Learn more here.

Here's a two-minute video of me explaining why the event is rated so highly.

 

Here's a testimonial from a recent participant.  

 

Here's a quick video with a bunch of participants.

 

I would love to see you there!

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, asking questions, best sales assessment

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,700 Articles

About Dave

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.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Individual Blog -  Silver

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver


Top Sales Awards 2018 - Assessment Tool -  Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blog 2019

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader