What Happens When You Force a Square Sales Peg into a Round Sales Hole?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Mar 02, 2018 @ 14:03 PM

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Can you imagine attaching a snow plow to a Lamborghini and hiring yourself out to clear parking lots?  Back in April I wrote about our new puppy.  Now he's 1-year old and has grown to 60 pounds, but could you imagine putting a saddle on him and selling rides on the beach?  Could you imagine if the US arsenal of nuclear weapons consisted of putting 1,000's of firecrackers into a plastic cylinder and then saying to North Korea, "try us!"

These are all examples of trying to put a square peg into a round hole - things you just don't do.  And that's how I felt when I received an email asking how to deal with the following sales challenge.

The reader asked me to write an article explaining how to improve the sales effectiveness of their mostly altruistically motivated salespeople.

Most salespeople are either extrinsically motivated or intrinsically motivated.  I explained the science behind the different types of sales motivation in this must read article where I shared some awesome statistics that showed how motivation correlates perfectly with performance.

If you read the definition of altruistic you will understand why altruistics comprise only 7% of all salespeople.

I dug into Objective Management Group's (OMG) data and found some interesting facts.  OMG has evaluated or assessed more than 1.7 million salespeople and sales managers and while the altruistic finding has been measured for only a year, we still have nearly 100,000 rows of data that include that finding.

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and 6 of them are in the category of Sales DNA, the combination of strengths that support the execution of sales process, sales strategy, and sales tactics. Altruistics have an average Sales DNA of just 61 and that's well below the low end of the scale.  For instance, a sales role with zero difficulty requires a minimum sales DNA of 64 while the most difficult sales roles require Sales DNA of 82 or better!

Sales QuotientTM is OMG's overall score and it ranges from 0-173 as detailed below:

  • Over 140 is elite and only 5% of all salespeople are in this group 
  • 130-139 is strong and only 17% are in this group
  • 115-129 is serviceable and 35% are in this group
  • Under 115 is weak and 43% fall into this group.

All, as in every.single.one of the altruistic salespeople are extremely weak, with Sales Quotients averaging under 100.  

45% of those who are altruistic also lack the commitment necessary to achieve sales success.

One of the minor findings in the OMG Sales Assessment is Enjoys Selling.  Most people who are in sales score fairly high on this scale but Altruistics score quite low because they don’t enjoy selling.

If you forget for a moment that they are altruistic, and see how weak they are as salespeople, a role they don’t enjoy, I’m sure you will agree that they would be extremely difficult to train and coach.  Then, add to that challenge that they are altruistic, and you have a scenario where it becomes nearly impossible to train them to be more effective at selling given the embedded self-limiting beliefs, fears and motivation.  Altruistics are perfect for customer service!

Coming full circle here, an Altruistically motivated person in sales is a square peg in a round hole. 

Image Copyright Racer.Lt

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, improve sales performance, altruistic motivation

Why You Should Care That Sales Motivation Data Correlates Perfectly With Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 12, 2017 @ 21:09 PM

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Image Copyright iStock Photos

What was your reaction when you saw that the water in Tampa Bay was sucked away by Hurricane Irma?  How about when you saw the total eclipse?  Or the Cajun Army rescuing thousands in Houston?  Now, I don't want to equate my news with the enormity of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma, but when I first saw the data, my reaction was exactly the same.  I said, "Wow - didn't see that coming."

This summer, Objective Management Group (OMG) added and began testing for Altruistic Motivation as one of 3 types of Sales Motivation.  Sales Motivation is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies OMG measures. OMG had been measuring Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation in its Sales Force Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments and it recently updated its algorithm for measuring total sales motivation.  You can read more about that here.

Today I was able to look at the 7,500 new rows of data accumulated since this update went live about 8 weeks ago and the data exceeded my expectations.  Take a look at this!

In the table below, you'll see that extrinsic motivation is most prevalent in the top group of salespeople while altruistic motivation is most prevalent in the lowest group of salespeople.  You'll also see the correlation between overall sales motivation and performance.  

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With this data correlating so perfectly, the most important question to ask is, what does it mean?

Recently there have been several articles that suggest we should eliminate commission salespeople and begin paying everyone a salary.  That would REALLY appeal to the bottom 10% with 73% of them being either intrinsic or altruistic.  The majority of the bottom 10%, especially the 35% who are altruistically motivated, should be in customer service.  Customer service doesn't pay as well but that is the role in which they could become top performers by being of service to others.

What do you suppose would happen to the performance of the top 23% when they are faced with being paid the exact same amount as their under performing colleagues?  Say goodbye to their quota crashing performance!

Looking forward, our biggest challenge is that most millennials tend to be intrinsically motivated.  Read this terrific article and look at the data comparing millennials to top salespeople.  While overall motivation is nearly identical in all four groups, millennials have an average Sales Quotient of just 108.  You can see in the table above that a score of 108 puts them in the category of weak salespeople where the overwhelming majority of that are intrinsically motivated.  It's not a stretch to draw the conclusion that the majority of salespeople in the weak category could be millennials.

The best way to incentivize salespeople will continue to be an ongoing topic of discussion.  Those who think that a prospect's interests are best served when salespeople are not on commission are misguided. The reality is that the top two groups of salespeople don't act in a way that makes prospects feel like they are being sold something.  People buy from them because they build relationships, are consultative, listen and ask great questions, and understand the problems that need to be solved.  Weaker salespeople are transactional, rely on presentations and demos, and appear to be more interested in making a sale than solving a problem.  Most of the experts who weigh in on this matter have it backwards.  Like all of the inbound writers who several years ago predicted that sales was dead and inbound was king, these suggestions are nothing more than fake news.

Salespeople who are intrinsically motivated would prefer to be compensated with a salary and perhaps a bonus for performance while extrinsically motivated salespeople would prefer the plan that offered the sky as the limit.

The biggest change for companies is the need to understand how to motivate intrinsics.  Traditional sales motivators like commissions, competition, contests, and awards do not motivate intrinsics. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, would like to change the world, want to achieve mastery, sell because they love it, and do it for personal satisfaction.  How can you motivate them and more specifically, how can you motivate them to become better as a group than their current state of weak?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, sales compensation, commission sales, sales assessments, altruistic motivation

What We Can Learn from the Latest Data on Sales Motivation

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 25, 2017 @ 16:07 PM

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Image Copyright iStock

We've been very busy implementing some new findings in our Sales Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments.  Sales Motivation is just one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure, but as with all of the competencies, we go very deep.

Back in the good old days, we measured Money Motivated because most of the salespeople employed back in the 90's were chasing commissions.  By 2011, we had decided to go wider and deeper and broke down Motivation based on whether a salesperson was extrinsically motivated or intrinsically motivated.  In 2014 we added 7 sales specific motivational styles to help sales leaders better understand the best ways to work with their salespeople.  And now, in 2017, we have deepened our measurement of Sales Motivation even further by adding a third possibility - Altruistic Motivation

I was anxious to see what the data would look like but had to wait a few days until we had around 1,000 new assessments to review.  Sales Motivation now breaks down in the following way:

  • 47% of salespeople are intrinsically motivated (satisfaction, love of what they do, mastery, being part of something bigger than themselves)
  • 25% are extrinsically motivated (commissions, money, rewards and materialistic things)
  • 13% are altruistic (being of service to others)
  • The remaining 15% are somewhat balanced between 2 or 3 of the styles.

I always believed that Motivation is Motivation.  In other words, as long as the motivation is strong, it doesn't matter whether salespeople are extrinsically or intrinsically motivated.  However, it is very important for sales managers to understand the difference between the two so that they can provide the proper type of external motivation.  And now, with the introduction of Altruistic Motivation we have thrown a monkey wrench into the mix.  Altruistically motivated people should not really be in sales.  Their most effective role would be in customer service where it would be important for them to not have their own agenda but instead, serve the customer without exception.  Think Hospital, Doctor's office, upscale Restaurant, Concierge, Front Desk at a high-end hotel, etc.

I don't have the data yet but I expect salespeople who are altruistically motivated to have low scores for Commitment to Sales Success and Desire for Sales Success.  I'll update you when the data is available.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, sales performance, sales excellence, altruistic motivation

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

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