What Should You Do When You or Your Company is Disliked in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 @ 06:04 AM

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I know.  Everyone loves you. You are just so likable that it's inconceivable that you could be disliked.  As usual, I see things a bit differently and I'll prove that there is someone that not only dislikes you, but might even hate you.  For example, my company, Objective Management Group (OMG), is universally hated by an entire vertical!   I'll share that with you, but first I must ask you a question.  If you are in territory sales, is there a competitor salesperson gunning for you?  Have you taken business away from anyone?  Do they hate you?  Is there a competitor who is all smoke and mirrors, who can't deliver on what they promise, who still manages to win business at your expense?  Do you hate them?  Do you sell a product or service that can help a company do more with fewer employees?  Do those employees hate you?  It wasn't that long ago when Apple hated Microsoft and Microsoft hated Apple.  Allow me to provide a few examples and then I'll share how to deal with the hate.

One of OMG's products is our legendary, accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment.  Everyone from the CEO down through sales leadership and HR love this tool, but internal recruiters hate it and recruiting firms hate us!  Internal recruiters hate us because they have to work harder to find sales candidates who will be recommended.  It's their job, so they deal with us.  After all, only 7% of all salespeople are elite, and just an additional 16% who qualify as strong.  That means that 77% of the candidates they find suck, usually aren't recommended, and our assessment exposes that.  

For recruiting firms, the hate is even worse.  Their profit depends on a company quickly falling in love with a candidate and when one of their clients wants to use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment, it is not only more difficult, but it takes much longer for them to find the right candidate. That eats into their profit and they absolutely hate that!  One way that recruiting firms deal with this is when they attempt to discredit our assessment.  As you can imagine, that kind of hate isn't much fun because it puts clients right in the middle of that battle.

Over the years, the creative people in our entrepreneurial and innovative economy have been responsible for developing products (think internet-related) and services (think outsourcing) that eliminate jobs.  The employees who are most vulnerable to having their jobs eliminated absolutely hate the companies and their salespeople who provide those services.

Speaking of entrepreneurs, one of the best sites is EvanCarmichael.com and last week, Evan hosted a video interview with me when we talked about assessments, selling, presenting and differentiating.  It was a fun and fast-paced interview and you can see it here.

So what can you do when you there are groups of people who hate you?  Introduce the issue yourself.  You'll need to wait until you have uncovered their compelling reason to buy and then you can ask a question like this one, "An ideal solution is going to eliminate some jobs, and while that will save the company money, how will you deal with the pushback that you're going to get?" or, "A solution that will solve the problem we are talking about will cause this group over here to be quite upset.  How will you deal with the protests you are going to get from them?"

Here are some additional resources.

This article on how to ask questions so that customers buy and you don't have to sell was named one of the top 10 sales blog posts of the month.

This article that I wrote for the SellingPower blog explains how to sidestep price issues so that you can sell value!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, competition, Motivation, Apple, objective management group, selling power, microsoft

Is it OK if You Lose Customers Because of the Evolution of Your Product?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 11, 2016 @ 10:01 AM

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Did you ever look for something you haven't used in quite a while, only to be dismayed when you couldn't find it?  Where could it be?  Did you lose it?  Did the cleaners throw it away?  Was it stolen?  Did you tuck it away somewhere, but can't remember where?

Did you ever lose a long-time customer?  Did it happen overnight or was it a long time in coming?  Did you try to save them?  Were they savable?

One of the inevitable facts of selling is that the Law of Sales is much like the Law of Gravity.  "What goes up must come down" loosely translates to "Who you sell will eventually go away."  The only question is whether that will be days, weeks, months, years or decades from now.  

In 1990, Objective Management Group (OMG) began selling what would eventually become an elite, world-class suite of sales force evaluation and sales candidate assessment tools.  We helped companies through third-party resellers who would eventually be called partners.  We started with 6 charter partners, all of whom remained active until last week when 1 of them made the decision not to continue with us after 25 years.

Partners come and go.  For the last 15 years, the number of sales consultancies we have partnered with has averaged around 150 partners worldwide.  So why would a long-time, loyal partner or customer go away?

In this case, it's evolution.

Companies evolve. Products evolve. Customers evolve.

However, when companies, products and customers do not evolve together, there is an opportunity for a competitor to swoop in and fill a void.  And here is the million dollar question:  Is that OK?

Maybe.

There is a fine line between leading and listening.  Of course, you want to listen to your customers and provide them with win-win solutions.  At the same time, you can't stop evolving because a customer does not want to join you on that journey.

For example, suppose a printing equipment manufacturer had made the complete transition from mechanical printing to digital printing and one large customer wanted to continue printing with mechanical equipment. While the manufacturer saw the coming trends, technology, promised efficiencies and new opportunities, the customer was married to his mechanical equipment and didn't want to make the investment in new digital equipment.  Does the manufacturer listen to the large customer and slow its own evolution, or do they allow that one large customer to leave, while continuing to lead the way to the future?  And if the manufacturer did listen and slow down, how long would it be before the customer went bankrupt and the manufacturer no longer had the lead over their competitors?

OMG is committed to continuing to create, innovate and provide amazing, insightful, powerful, timely, accurate and predictive evaluations and assessments for sales forces and leadership teams.  This isn't some sort of marketing slogan either.  This is what we have been doing every day, all day, since 1990.  Selling has changed dramatically in the past 7 years and our evaluations and assessments have had to evolve as well.  For example, some of the many things that we have added or enhanced include:

  • Social Selling proficiency
  • CRM proficiency
  • Inside Sales
  • Lead Gen
  • Appointment Setting
  • Intrinsic Motivation and How Intrinsics are Motivated
  • The Buyer Journey
  • Enhanced Sales Process
  • Ideal Roles
  • Ramp up Time
  • Longevity
  • Sales Posturing
  • Sales Messaging
  • Sales Leadership Effectiveness
  • Sales Management Effectiveness
  • Pipeline Analysis
  • Modification of our 21 Sales Core Competencies
  • Perfect Fit Analysis
  • Much, much more.

It's disappointing when a partner isn't willing to take the next step into the future.  At the same time, when partners stay and applaud our work, it validates that we are doing the right things, going down the right path and leading the way. The many consultants who email, wanting to partner with us because of what we are doing, further validates our actions.

Will you attract more customers than you will lose or will you lose more customers than you will attract?  Will you suffer in the short-term, but prosper over the long haul or will you achieve a short-term gain at the expense of long-term results?

Think about all of the customers who moved to Apple because Apple knew what people would want to have.  And think of all of the people who left Microsoft and Windows until they innovated and introduced the Surface Tablet and Windows 10.

Innovate, evolve, push, lead and perfect your life's work.  It won't be right for everyone at every moment, but that's just the validation you need that you are doing it right.  Customers may leave when they aren't happy with your service or your perceived value and that needs to be addressed.  But when they leave because they can't or don't want to keep up, it means that you are doing the right things.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Apple, CRM Application, Windows, innovation, microsoft

10 Great Examples - Customer Service as a Powerful Sales Tool

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 23, 2015 @ 06:11 AM

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Last week, during my travels to Poland and back, I experienced how companies are using customer service as sales tools.  In most cases, customer service tends to be vanilla, bland, and although professional in its approach, it is typically highly unspectacular.  However, sometimes, customer service is so good, or so bad, that their brand statements go beyond what marketing or sales could ever do.  After all, what leaves a stronger and potentially longer lasting impression than your own experience with a brand?  Let's start with two great examples - experiences that make you choose to return for more.

Upon landing in Frankfurt on my first leg home from Warsaw, I received an email from Expedia.com telling me that my flight from Frankfurt to Boston was canceled.  My anxiety intensified and I began Googling alternate flights to Boston while deplaning, only to learn that the flight had not actually been canceled.  As I was about to board my flight to Boston, I realized that in my moments of despair, I had left my iPad in the seat back pocket on the previous flight.  I stopped at Lufthansa's Flight Services counter upon my return to Boston and they gave me an email address to contact in Frankfurt. Imagine my surprise, and relief (the iPad was not password protected, so someone could have had a free-for-all until I could change the passwords those accounts that my iPad apps connected to!) when I received this email response:

Dear Mr. Kurlan,

Thank you for your e-mail. Your iPad is found and registered.
Ref Nr xxxxxxx

Please authorize a shipping agent of your choice (DHL, FEDEX, United Parcels, etc)  to pick up your item at:

Deutsche Lufthansa AG and authorize them to deliver it to your address.  They could pick it up any day at our counter 284, Terminal 1-A, departure level, from 7am to 7pm.  There is a telephone at the counter that they should pick up. It is automatically connected to our office. We will bring the packet to the counter. They should mention xxxx and show us the written authorization they have from you.

Please send us the details.

Kind regards,

I will most definitely seek out Lufthansa whenever I have an international trip!

When I arrived at the Regent Warsaw Hotel at 14:30, I inquired about getting my suit pressed.  Their service promised that clothing picked up after noon would be returned by 9:00 the following morning.  I explained that I was speaking at 8:00 the next morning, so 9:00 would not be sufficient. They picked up my suit, pressed it and returned it 30 minutes later!  Guess where I'll be staying if I return to Poland?

People are convinced - every second of every day - to either begin doing business, continue doing business, or stop doing business with companies - based on the way they are treated by the company's employees.  The customer service I'm referring to is rarely performed by actual customer service reps. These employees actually have more of an impact on customers than customer service reps, but aren't trained, paid or treated like customer service reps.  It's one thing to get good or bad customer service from someone who is paid to provide it.  It's quite another to get the good or bad service from someone whose primary role in the company is not customer service.  These are people who either choose to be helpful, indifferent or worse.

Unfortunately, we experience many more examples of bad service than good.  Here are some that I've written about before. These are ten very short examples that you must read in order to fully understand the extent to which this impacts revenue:

Unbelievable at United Airlines

Volatile at Verizon and a Second Issue with Verizon and a Third Issue with Verizon

Unacceptable at US Airways

Poor at Paychex

Dumb at Dell but Awesome at Apple

Wrong at the RMV

Nuts at National Car Rental and a Second Time at National

While each article represented a good example and together they provide paths to retaining business, also notice that I tend to write about the bad ones.  Today, with social media, bad news travels further and faster than ever before, sometimes going viral.  Knowing that It also costs more than ever to acquire new customers, it's important to realize that companies could grow their revenue at exponential rates if they weren't so inept at retaining business! How much business do your employees cause you to lose?  It's not enough to train salespeople and customer service reps.  EVERYONE should be trained on how even the most insignificant interactions with customers can impact the business.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, customer service, Apple, Dell, Verizon, lufthansa, united airlines

Steve Jobs Legacy on Selling - 10 Criteria to Sell Itself

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 05, 2011 @ 22:10 PM

jobsSteve Jobs left many legacies and I thought it might be useful to discuss the one he left on sales.

Apple's products, under his direction and leadership demonstrated that people will buy, without being sold:

  • if the product is cool enough
  • if the value exceeds expectations
  • if the marketing creates demand
  • even if the market hasn't asked for it
  • when demand exceeds supply
  • when the design is near perfect
  • when its uncool not to have it
  • when it changes how we interact
  • when it changes our lives
  • when it changes the world
If your products or services don't meet those 10 criteria, chances are you have to sell it instead.  So what can you, your people, your company - anybody - do to get you closer to "it sells itself"?
Should it be:
  • Easier
  • Sexier
  • More Powerful
  • More Obvious
  • More 21st Century
  • More Intuitive
  • More Complete
  • Smaller
  • Bigger
  • Cheaper
  • More Cutting Edge
  • Faster
  • Louder
  • Quieter
  • Better
What can you imagine, conceive, or create that you've been unable, unwilling, or unpaid to do before?
If you could create something that would sell itself, what would you be able to go and sell with your free time?
My words are knee-jerk reactions at one moment in time.  I'm sure I missed more than I captured.  What can you add to this article?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, Apple, thoughts on selling

The App Store Provides Insights into Your Company's Sales Challenges

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 @ 05:11 AM

App StoreLet's look at your company, brands, products and services.  Is there any possibility that someone could go wrong buying from you? 

To answer this question, let's first look at Apples's App Store. Normally I simply find the app I need and download it on the spot but over the holidays I had enough time to actually browse the App store.  When I got to the Book category I browsed by popularity and noticed that THE MOST POPULAR books for the iPad were not the latest romance novels, thrillers or biographies, and they weren't the New York Times bestsellers either.  Ready?

  1. Christmas Tale
  2. Shakespeare
  3. The Bible Reader
  4. Marvel Comics
  5. DC Comics
  6. Twas The Night Before Christmas
  7. Toy Story Read-Along
  8. The Velveteen Rabbit
  9. The Holy Bible - King James Edition
  10. Dr. Seuss's ABC  3.99
  11. Archie Comics
  12. MeeGenius! Children's Books
  13. Alice for the iPad-Lite
  14. NIV Bible
  15. Three Little Pigs
  16. Jingle All the Way
  17. Lesbian Short Stories, Part 1
  18. Children's Bible
  19. The Cat in the Hat 3.99
  20. Comics+

Kids, comics, Bibles, and Freebies pretty much sum it up.  Here's another way of looking at it.  Except for #17, they are all either safe, easy, traditional, low cost or tried and true choices.  You just can't go wrong making those choices.

If we eliminate FREE from the list, the only significant change is that the comics disappear to be replaced by more kids books, bibles and JFK: 50 Days.

If we eliminate the two Christmas books in the top 10, they would simply be replaced with two  non-holiday kids books.  If we eliminate the kids books altogether they would be replaced by more Bibles and Bible readers, and A Tale of Two Cities. And to reach the last of my top 10 paid non holiday, non kids books, Message Bible, we would reach the 166th most popular download.

Back to my opening question. Is there any possibility that someone could go wrong buying from you?  Is buying from your company the safest choice?  Is it the easiest choice?  Is it the traditional choice?  Is it free or very low priced? Is it the tried and true choice?

If it's not any one of those, then your salespeople better be performing in a big way (and I don't mean doing demos, presentations, quotes and proposals either).  Because the only way to achieve and sustain success when you have competition that is a safer, easier, more traditional, lower priced or tried and true choice is for your salespeople to sell their asses off (and I'm not talking about hard work either).

Your salespeople must be smarter, more effective, more strategic and more tactical than ever before.  They must also be more efficient, more capable and more resilient than ever before.  And don't even think about sending them out there without an optimized, formal, structured sales process.

How many of your salespeople qualify?

Don't forget to vote for my Blog for Top Sales Blog of the Year here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales performance, Sales Tactics, Apple, App Store, sales strategy

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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 eight 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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