How Companies Routinely Short Change Their Own Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 09, 2017 @ 19:11 PM

bad-decisions.jpg
The classic, "build it and he will come" from the movie Field of Dreams, applies to business too.  Every day, companies invest so much of their funding into making their products better under the belief that if their product is the best, people will come.

While that approach has worked with iPhones and iPads, you'll be hard pressed to find another product that people literally line up to buy.

I see technology companies especially making this mistake; where they achieve very good growth for the first several years until they hit the wall.  Then they raise money, invest it in bettering their product, market to show how much better their product is compared to their competition, and then don't understand why the growth doesn't start up again.

Early on, their salespeople succeeded at selling to the low hanging fruit - the people that raised their hands because they needed or wanted the product.  When the salespeople run out of low hanging fruit, sales stall as they struggle to convert prospects who see the product as nice to have, but not must have. That's when most companies change gears and begin to innovate and invest in their product when in fact, they really need to innovate and invest in their sales force.

I can speak from experience.  At Objective Management Group (OMG), we work on improving our own product every single day in order to maintain our huge advantage over every other assessment that could be utilized for assessing salespeople.  Our assessment is cutting edge, worlds beyond what any other assessment company can provide, and literally the most accurate and predictive sales assessment in the world. 

Unfortunately, we are well aware of the fact that our new features and enhancements won't sell a single additional sales force evaluation or candidate assessment. There is a benefit to continued innovation and development.   It makes our partners feel more confident about what they provide to their clients and it makes us proud, but we know that those enhancements won't be the reason for a single additional client to use it.

Why?  If they really have a problem that only we can solve they would have bought the product we had 35 versions ago.  And if for them, it's only nice to have, our version 2 years from now won't be any more desirable than today's version.

So why don't companies get this?

In my opinion, it is because they can have a sense of control when they invest in their product.  In other words, they know that if they invest x amount of time, y amount of money, z amount of research, and n amount of testing, their next product iteration will be exponentially better than the current version and that will attract additional investor money, make it easier to recruit, and get better product reviews in the trade publications and blogs.

On the other hand, investing in the sales force is either a complete unknown to them, or if they had a bad previous experience, a potential waste of time and money.

Of course they can do both but companies tend to focus on one significant initiative at a time.  Consider  the fact that most tech company founders and CEO's are technical themselves and you can easily understand why they usually choose to put their resources into product development.  That's why their choice of Sales Leader is so crucial.  Tech companies need sales leaders who will fight for resources, fight for the best training, fight for the best coaching, fight for the best tools, fight to hire the best salespeople, fight for more money, and fight for time.  Nice sales leaders are nice to have but demanding sales leaders are essential.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, accurate sales assessment, sales leader, technology company

Increase Your Odds of a Successful Sales Hire by 368%

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 06, 2017 @ 16:11 PM

 

competency-1

A Harvard Business Review study proved that using pre-employment assessments increased the probability of a successful hire from 13% to 72%.

I read that exact statement in a marketing promo for a search company and as they hoped, it got my attention. I thought the premise would make for a good article. I began by searching Google for the source of that quote and low and behold, I couldn't locate it. I can't say for sure that the study doesn't exist or the percentages aren't correct but I could not find a single thing that correlated to that quote.

Of course it makes sense that no such statistic exists because with assessments making that much of a difference, it would be a no-brainer for every company to use them and on what planet are the chances of success only 13%?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has an extremely accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment with very impressive statistics. Until seeing the statistics above, I hadn't attempted to use OMG's existing success stats in that fashion. We know that 75% of the candidates who are not recommended by OMG, but hired anyway, fail inside of 6 months. We know that 92% of the candidates who are recommended and later hired rise to the top half of the sales force within 12 months. If we use those two related statistics we would get a probability increase of 368% (25% to 92%). But in this case, we have already been told that the likelihood of success for the candidate that was not recommended was only 25%.

Instead, what if we take the two generic rates of success in hiring salespeople? The first says that 50% of all salespeople hired will turnover. That doesn't mean that the other 50% will succeed, only that they won't turnover! In the case of 50% turnover compared with 92% success, that's an 84% improvement. The second rate of success tells us that based on around 50% of all salespeople hitting their quotas for the last several years, half of the people who don't turnover will succeed. That's 25% - still double our fake 13%. Compared with a 92% success rate, that's a 368% improvement.

The latest data out of OMG shows that 5% of all salespeople are elite (Sales Quotient over 140) and the next 11% are strong (Sales Quotient over 129). Those two groups represent only 16% of all salespeople, down from 23% just 2 years ago. If only 16% of all salespeople are any good, you will need a better way to identify them when their resume and/or online application hits your screen and you better know who they are before you decide to interview anyone. That's where an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment comes into play. OMG's is very customizable and with its accuracy and predictive quality, you'll save a lot of time and money by identifying the candidates who will succeed very early in your sales recruiting process.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, accurate sales assessment

Top 4 Reasons Why Salespeople Suck at Consultative Selling.

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 @ 10:09 AM

cons-pic.jpg
Image Copyright iStock Photos

Yesterday, a sales manager I was coaching asked me to explain the difference between a great question and a tough question.  I gave him the one-minute version but this article has the expanded version of that answer.

I'll use my world as an example and ask you to translate accordingly.  

In my world, while I might occassionally be on a first call with a Senior Sales Leader, I am most frequently speaking with the CEO.  With CEO's, the most common issue they articulate is, "I'm not sure we have the right sales leader."

We have 3 levels of questions and it's important to understand that you must be patient enough to ask them in the proper sequence, and not one right after another.  The proper sequence is:

  • Good Question
  • Tough Question
  • Great Question

There should probably be a few questions and answers between your good question and your tough question and there should be a few more questions and answers between your tough question and your great question.  If you don't get as far as asking and getting the answer to your great question, I can promise you this:

  • You didn't get to the compelling reason they would buy
  • You didn't get to the compelling reason they would buy from you
  • You didn't differentiate yourself from the competition
  • You didn't get your prospect emotional
  • You won't be able to quantify and/or monetize the impact of the problem
  • You may not get the business

So let's start at the beginning, where we heard, "I'm not sure we have the right sales leader."

A good question could be, "Why are you concerned?"  A good question not only allows you to ask for more information, but it must also be relevant to the discussion at hand.

Several questions later, after hearing the CEO's concerns and getting much needed clarification, a tough question might be, "With all of these concerns, and him not responding to your challenges to step it up and make the requested changes, why is he still here?"  A tough question is usually one where, as with this example, you challenge your prospect. You could also push back against what was said in an effort to change outdated thinking or an incorrect assumption.

Several minutes later, after additional conversation, questions and clarification, the CEO says, "He's my son-in-law - that's why he's still here."  Now it's time for a great question.  A great question might sound something like, "So, even if you found the perfect replacement, the challenge for you is how do you replace your son-in-law as the sales leader without ruining the relationship you have with your daughter?" You'll know it's a great question because your prospect will say, "Great question."

The 3 levels of questions, the sequence and your ability to go wider and deeper are examples of the consultative approach to selling.  The consultative selling competency is by far, the one where most salespeople are the weakest.  Objective Management Group's (OMG) latest statistics, from the evaluations and assessments of around 1.6 million salespeople, show the following:

Only 35% of all salespeople have Consultative Seller as a strength.

cons-graph.png

The top 10% have an average score of only 66

The bottom 10% have an average score of just 36

The average score for all salespeople is just 50.  The average salesperson has only 50% of the necessary attributes of the Consultative Seller competency which means that they suck at the consultative approach.

 There are four reasons why salespeople are so inherently bad at this:

  1. They need to be liked so they won't ask a question if they think the prospect will get upset with them for asking.
  2. Good questioning requires good listening skills and the only thing most salespeople are good at listening to is the sound of their own voice.
  3. Most salespeople have never been trained or coached to sell consultatively.
  4. Most salespeople are best at presenting and just can't wait long enough for the opportunity to present.

Here is another good article on consultative selling

Here is one more good article on consultative selling.

If you still have an appetite for more reading on the subject, here is another good one.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, asking questions, accurate sales assessment, active listening

New Analysis Shows the 5 Biggest Gaps Between Top and Bottom Sales Performers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 01, 2017 @ 06:05 AM

competency-1.jpg
Image Copyright Cybrain

It didn't take very long for this to happen.  When Objective Management Group (OMG) announced that it was making its findings data available to the public, we knew that it wouldn't take long for someone with a flair for analytics to dig in and come up with something cool.  Last week, John Cousineau, creator of Amacus, got me on a video conference and shared what he came up with.  Hint:  Another way to differentiate top performers.

He analyzed the average scores of OMG's 21 Sales Core Competencies for the top 10% of salespeople and identified 5 that account for 36% of the gap between top and bottom performers.  The first image below shows the 36% gap in the 5 Competencies.  Each point represents a competency, the darker gray shows the average scores for the top 10% and the lighter gray has the scores for the bottom 10%.  The 5 competencies with the largest gaps are shown in blue for the bottom performers and brown represents the gaps between the two groups.

Abacus1.jpgThe next graphic below shows the 5 competencies John identified.

Abacus2.jpg

Translating just a bit, he says that the biggest gap in average scores between top performers and bottom performers - 36% - occurs in the sales core competencies where salespeople:

  1. are comfortable discussing money
  2. take responsibility for their results and don't make excuses or rationalize
  3. thoroughly qualify their opportunities
  4. are able to sell value instead of price
  5. are effective hunting for new business

We must also consider that there are approximately 10 attributes in each core competency and while the gaps certainly exist in those 5 competencies, are there specific skills where the gaps between top and bottom performers are even larger?

The following table shows the biggest gaps between top and bottom performers but instead of showing them by score, they are presented based on the percentage of salespeople who have the findings as strengths. Can you find anything in common between this table and the 5 competencies above?

abacus3.jpg

Hunting, Qualifying, Comfortable Talking about Money and Taking Responsibility appear on both lists, but instead of value selling, we see consultative selling.  

Did you notice the other gaps on this list?  Desire and Commitment are the two most important Sales Core Competencies of all.  They also represent 2 of the 5 competencies in Will to Sell.  All 6 Sales DNA Core Competencies appear on the list as well.  In addition to Comfortable Talking about Money, the list includes Not Needing to be Liked (Approval), Controlling Emotions, Rejection Proof, Supportive Buying Behaviors and Supportive Sales Beliefs.

OMG's data, based on the assessment of more than 1,100,000 salespeople from more than 11,000 companies definitively shows that there is an elite group of 7% - the best salespeople in the world.  These great salespeople are followed by another 16% that are strong.  And then there is the bottom 77%, who all suck.

You can access OMG's findings and compare them to your salespeople and other salespeople in your industry by visiting this page.

When you compare your salespeople to the rest of the sales population it looks like this example where the reader's sales force is worse than the bottom 10% at Taking Responsibility.

abacus4.jpg

You can also make sure you never make another sales hiring mistake by checking out OMG's accurate and predictive sales specific candidate assessments.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales excellence, accurate sales assessment

Which Salespeople are Easier to Train - Millennials or Veteran Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 @ 06:04 AM

Photo Apr 16, 5 49 45 PM-2.jpg

We brought home a puppy and we had him completely housebroken in 4 days.  He's really smart and we've done this before, a combination that makes it nearly impossible to screw up.  To see him go to the door and touch it with his little paw, whimper when he is in his crate, go outside and do his business, and run back to the door is great. But it got me wondering, why is training a puppy relatively fast and easy while it is so much harder and takes so much longer to train salespeople?

The puppy only has to learn a handful of behaviors that he can repeat without the variables that affect salespeople.  There's no resistance, objections, competition, fear, rejection, budget or decision-making issues and the puppy is eager to learn and please.  Millennials are eager to learn and tend to be less resistant to change while veteran salespeople must first be sold on why they need to change.  Even then they may resist for a while.  And what they must learn in order to become more effective is quite comprehensive.

I was comparing the average scores in 6 Sales DNA Core Competencies and was very surprised to discover that the scores for sales candidates were a few points higher than the scores for salespeople at companies where we conducted a sales force evaluation.  Millennials make up a good portion of the candidates. Typically, they are recent college graduates with no sales experience and applying for BDR roles.  My first thought was that if sales candidates had higher scores and millennials were part of that group, then the non-millennials surely have scores that are even higher.

After considering that for a while another thought came to mind.

Most companies complain that there aren't enough sales candidates out there and most who are looking for sales positions suck.  The reality is that they aren't all bad and a large percentage of the salespeople who are applying for new positions are passive candidates. They were recruited. It seems that while there are a lot of crappy salespeople out there right now, they don't take the assessment when prompted, but the good sales candidates do!

An unintended benefit of having your sales candidates take OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment is that it is not only accurate and predictive, many of the the bottom 77% filter themselves out by not even completing it. And the millennials?  Many of those who apply for sales positions actually have Sales DNA that supports selling even though their scores in the 7 tactical Sales Core Competencies are low.  You can always teach the tactical competencies!

You can learn more about the sales candidate assessment here.  Once there you can check out samples, start a free trial and sign up.

If you're not hiring salespeople right now but you're interested in learning how your salespeople measure up in the 21 Sales Core Competencies, or you just want to see how salespeople score in each competency, you can check out our data here.  Warning:  The stats site is very cool and you might not want to leave.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales leadership, sales core competencies, accurate sales assessment

The Official 2017 List of 21 Sales Core Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 @ 18:03 PM

21.jpg
Image Copyright Bluberries

These days, changes happen faster than ever and the same can be said about professional selling.  Selling is evolving, the rules of business are changing, there is more information available on line than there was last week and sales organizations must evolve accordingly.

Back in 2014, I introduced what was then the most current version of Objective Management Group's 21 Sales Core Competencies.  But just 3 years later, we have again found it important to modify the makeup of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and I want to share the changes below, along with the data that makes up each competency.

new-dashboard-21-comps.jpg

Sales Posturing has been removed from the Tactical Selling Competencies and over the next several months it will receive a makeover.  In its place, Selling Value, always an important OMG finding, has received a promotion and is now one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Likewise, the Sales Motivation competency has received a promotion and is part of the Will to Sell category, while Goal Oriented has been downgraded to an attribute of the Sales Motivation competency.

But the real news is not a couple of changes to the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  I've written more than 1,600 articles for my Blog since 2006 and most of them reference important data points from the almost 1.1 million salespeople that OMG has assessed.

Drum roll.  Now, for the first time, you can access the same data
that we use to find interesting statistics about salespeople!

That's right.  We have gone from private to public and you can see some of the same amazing findings that I write about.  Not only that, you can slice and dice the data by geography, industry, experience, Sales Quotient, and more.  You can even see how your own salespeople compare to the entire sales population and sales organizations in your industry.  We are very excited to finally share this with you!

Welcome to our free Stat-Finder tool, your ticket to actual sales statistics that are backed by science.  No fake news, no personal opinions, no popularity lists, no personal observations, nothing anecdotal and nothing to be misinterpreted.  Instead, you can see the average scores in 21 Sales Core Competencies for salespeople in more than 200 different industries, who sell everything to everybody, with every possible experience level and skill set, from companies of all sizes, selling to every possible vertical, and decision-making title.  Give it a spin!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, accurate sales assessment, sales statistics, OMG Assessment

Not the 3 Most Important Sales Hiring Attributes

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 @ 06:10 AM

Sales Selection

Image Copyright: Lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

One topic that never gets stale is how to make sure that you nail sales selection.  Whether or not salespeople actually fail, or they simply stick around, but fail to have an impact,  the common theme is still failure to select the right salespeople.  Recently, I stumbled upon this article about 3 Uncoachable Sales Attributes that you should focus on to get hiring right.  

The author is correct in that the 3 attributes she chose to write about are not really coachable.  However, it seemed she meant to imply that by hiring salespeople with these 3 attributes, you'll get hiring right. While those 3 attributes may be good ones to focus on for the general employee candidate pool,  she is way off base with that approach for hiring salespeople.  Let's discuss the many ways where this approach goes off the tracks.

 

At Objective Management Group (OMG), we are always conducting analyses between top and bottom sales performers, and I can tell you that when someone veers away from the data and begins to compare personality and/or behavioral styles, there is typicially no difference between the top and bottom performers.

The author identified Drive as one of her big three and she defined it as having motivation and competitiveness.  OMG measures motivation, and both top and bottom performers usually appear to be equally motivated.  OMG measures Desire - how badly a salesperson wants to achieve greater success in their sales role.  OMG also measures Commitment - their willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve that success.  Together, they form a very strong representation of competetiveness.  Guess what?  There isn't much of a difference between top and bottom performers with these findings either.  However, we never recommend that a company hire a salesperson lacking in either one.

The author identified Brains.  There is a difference here...but it's not about brains.  It's about one's ability to quickly figure things out.  One doesn't have to be smart to succeed in sales, but they do need problem solving ability.  We call it the Figure it Out Factor (FIOF) and it comes into play during ramp-up time.  Those with scores above 74 ramp up significantly more quickly than those with scores below 60.

The author identified character as her third attribute.  Really?  Do you really believe that someone who struggles in sales is lacking in character?  There is zero difference.  Perhaps a better choice of attributes would have been tenacity, resiliance or mental toughness.

There is a huge difference though, in the areas she did not identify.  

At OMG, we measure several Selling Comptencies (Hunting, Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Presenting, Closing, Positioning, Account Management and Farming) that each include dozens of findings (sales-specific strategies, tactics and qualities) that do allow us to differentiate between the top and bottom performers in sales.

We also measure several areas of Sales DNA (strengths that support the use of sales process, sales methodology and sales competencies) that further help us differentiate between top and bottom performers.

The author named three attributes that she believed made a difference.  How many attributes or findings does it really take to differentiate the sales candidates that will succeed from those who won't?  A lot.  At OMG, we utilize more than 500,000 combinations of findings to arrive at our highly accurate and predictive recommendations as to whether various candidates will succeed in the various roles for which companies are hiring.

There are a lot of people who think they have the ability to consistently identify sales winners.  How can one differentiate between all of them who think that way and other assessment companies that claim to have that capability?  OMG has science on its side and it's the science that helps us to consistently get it right.

Most Sales VP's, sales managers, and even sales authors, trainers and coaches, aren't necessarily experts when it comes to sales selection.  Neither are recruiters.  Who and what can you depend on?  Rely on sales-specific tools that are backed by science, use them in a sales-specific, Top-Grading-like recruiting process, and you can't go wrong.

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Topics: Dave Kurlan, accurate sales assessment, hiring sales candidates, sales hiring tools, sales selection, objective management group

Will This Sales Candidate Really Fail If We Hire Him?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 @ 22:10 PM

This week I called the type of candidate that traditional HR professionals love - his resume was formatted, there were no typos, his background was exactly what my client craved - but the assessment wasn't so impressed with him; he was a borderline candidate at best.  Normally this candidate would not have received a call from me but because he was a good fit, I was looking for a needle in a haystack candidate (again) and was on the cusp, there was no downside to a 3-minute call.

What a disaster!  He didn't engage me ("Hi"), couldn't articulate how his experience met the description in the job posting ("I did all of that"), failed to string a complete sentence together ("Mine was more money") and didn't provide a single example, detail or explanation.  He also failed to ask a single question.  And he was on the cusp.  Weak salespeople don't sound that bad so why didn't the assessment tell me about this issue?

It turns out that while the major findings we typically focus on were acceptable, there was one finding - The Sales Posturing Index - that was the lowest I had ever seen.  On a scale to 100, "Fred" scored 20! 

SalesPosturingWhile Fred was confident enough, he had no clue how poorly he came across, how awful his first impression was, and how badly he presented himself.  Most obvious during the 3-minute call were the following Posturing Qualities that he didn't possess: "Develops Relationships Early", "Consultative Skill Set", "Sales Optimism", "Sales Empathy", "Sales Assertiveness", "Goal Oriented", and "Controls Emotions".

As always, this assessment is very predictive and you only need to believe in it?

Which side of the cusp was the candidate on?

Dashboard

When it says Not Recommended, you really need to believe the science behind the recommendation - if you dare to hire one of these candidates 75% of them will fail inside of 6 months.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, Sales Candidate, accurate sales assessment, predictive sales assessment, sales selection

View All 1,600 Articles

About Dave

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

Search the site

 

Audio Book
Top 30 on Kindle
Top 100 on Amazon

Most Recent Articles

Awards

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Blog Post - Bronze

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Assessment Tool - Gold

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

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

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

Other Great Sites

top sales world

Evan Elite Promotion New

 alltop