Top 3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Change Your Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 @ 11:11 AM

I get asked this question a lot: "We've tried sales training before and it didn't really change anything. Why didn't it work?"

It's a common frustration and often explains why companies try it once and don't go back, or why they use a different company every year.  There are three powerful reasons why sales training won't work, and what you can do that will make it work everytime.  To explain why it doesn't work, I recorded this 3-minute video to save you from having to read a long article.

So what can you do to make sure that sales training works?  These are the four most important factors:

  1. Evaluate Your Sales Force so that we know exactly which competencies need to be addressed through training.  Canned, off-the-shelf training won't address the real issues if you don't know what they are!
  2. Invest in 90-days of sales management training and coaching to help them coach to the content and incorporate Sales DNA into the coaching.
  3. Make sure that the frequency of your training is at minimum twice per month for at least 6 months - or more.
  4. Make sure that the training company and specifically the trainer know how to get your salespeople engaged and committed to change.  This isn't school, you're not providing education, you're investing in training your salespeople to achieve different results than they are getting today.  It's about change.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, CEO, sales management training, VP Sales

Top 10 Ways to Increase Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 03, 2011 @ 02:10 AM

top10I'll bet that every CEO, President, Director, VP of Sales and Sales Manager asks the "how can we increase sales?" question on a regular basis.  Do you?

There are as many answers to this question as there are politicians running for US President in 2012.  They include but aren't limited to:

  1. Acquire smaller competitors
  2. Add new product lines and/or services
  3. Expand to new geographies
  4. Add salespeople
  5. Increase advertising 
  6. Raise quotas
  7. Improve Quality
  8. Lower Prices
  9. Land some terrific stories in the press
  10. Develop your Sales Force
I'll bet you can't guess which one I'm going to address here...
Surprise - I'm going with #8 - Lower Prices.  Yes - you can increase sales (and go out of business!) by lowering your prices....so instead, I'm going with #10, OK?
Why does developing your sales force make the most sense?  How about 10 more reasons?
  1. It's more affordable than the other options
  2. It makes it easier to accomplish #4 - add salespeople - and #6 - raise quotas
  3. B players become A's.  C's either become B's or get replaced with A's.
  4. It has an immediate impact.  The majority of the work can be completed in the first year and some of the most important work is completed in the first 90 days.
  5. Organic growth returns much greater profit, much more quickly than acquisitions 
  6. Significant increase in closing percentages
  7. Significant increase in new opportunities
  8. Best practices are instituted and become legacy
  9. Sales Systems and Processes are optimized and become legacy
  10. Improved morale as they become a great, top producing sales team.
Between the global economy, the recession, the internet's effect on buyers' access to information, new selling tools and applications, and the need for an optimized sales process, selling has changed more in the past 5 years than it has in the past 50 years.  Most companies haven't changed their approach and still hope that their salespeople, who succeeded prior to the 2008 crash, will somehow get some momentum.  But what worked in 2006 doesn't work in 2011 and won't work in the years to come.  If you want to grow revenue, the best option is to invest in your selling machine. It's the only one that pays dividends!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales force development, sales management, Sales Coaching, CEO, President, VP Sales, Sales Director

How to Interpret Sales Revenue and Economic News

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 13, 2011 @ 06:06 AM

moneyI am having a disconnect with the bad economic news being reported.  Perhaps these conditions aren't like this where you live and work, but here's what I see all the time:

  • Can't find a place to park at shopping malls because they are jammed;
  • Every flight I take is full;
  • There are lines of cars waiting to purchase fuel at gas stations;
  • The restaurants are packed;
  • Sporting events are sold out;
  • Concerts are sold out;

Perhaps the disconnect between what I see and what is being reported is simply this.  While there are some isolated geographies and industries that are doing poorly, others are doing quite well.  But when we look at the overall numbers, they just don't provide an accurate reflection of what is actually taking place.

We heard that only 54,000 new jobs were created in May.  Shouldn't news of 54,000 new jobs, most created by small and mid-market businesses, be a good thing?  The reality is that there hasn't been much new job creation from blue-chip and other large companies.  The slow job growth is an isolated problem, not a widespread one.

Even the slumping stock market is only a reflection of one segment - investors - and only one kind of investor.  Obviously, the other kind is continuing to infuse huge amounts of cash into growing companies.

And I know the housing market is still slumping. But like I said before, it is a single industry and not representative of the whole.  But the three isolated numbers the government likes to provide us with, stocks, home sales and gas prices drive the overall numbers way down.

As a result, the overall numbers simply don't reflect what is really taking place.  And that brings me to sales numbers.  Do your overall sales numbers reflect what is really going on?

Take a look at your sales revenue by salesperson for the year to date.

Look at the numbers for some of your top salespeople and review the data to answer these questions:

  • What percent of the total represents sales to existing customers?
  • What percent of the total is low-margin business?
  • What percent of the total might include an unusually large, one-time sale which, if taken away, would actually make the numbers unimpressive?
  • Which of these opportunities were in the pipeline for one or two quarters too long, meaning that the revenue was not the result of a recent selling effort?
  • How many new customer opportunities are in their pipeline going forward?

Now look at the numbers for some of your mid-tier salespeople and dig through the data to find these answers:

  • What percent of the total represents brand new customers/accounts?
  • What percent of the total is higher-margin business?
  • Are there any unusually large sales that might skew the results?
  • Is their pipeline going forward looking nice and solid?

If you come up with the answers I am expecting, then you'll see that you must approach the sales revenue numbers with the same degree of skepticism and isolation as you should when listening to economic reports.  The total is not representative of what is really taking place.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales performance, CEO, sales numbers, Economy, sales revenue

10 Attributes of the CEO Who Drives Sales and More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 25, 2010 @ 06:08 AM

Both Sides of MouthI had two conversations that were in stark contrast to one another.

The first was with an executive who told me that the company must have their salespeople selling more consultatively to better differentiate themselves in the global market, so they began training on SPIN selling - a year ago.  I told him that was a good start and wondered if they experienced the same thing as most companies that train on SPIN selling - it is a great questioning strategy but their salespeople simply can't apply it or execute it. 

[Note - SPIN is a questioning strategy developed by Neil Rackham but it is not a sales process.  If you are familiar with my Baseline Selling sales process and book by the same name, SPIN would take place between 1st and 2nd Base.]

Back to the story...This executive said that their salespeople aren't able to demonstrate any more competance than they were a year ago but he didn't want to upset anybody, anything, any apple carts, any vendors, any salespeople, etc.  He believed he had all the answers despite his own evidence pointing to the contrary.  I  mentioned that he was talking out of both sides of his mouth and he even agreed with that!  He was simply too invested in maintaining the status quo and keeping the peace to change anything.  A powerful, consistent formula - for failure.

You may have read my article from earlier this week when I described 10 CEO's and the Impact They Have on Their Sales Forces.  The executive above was a combination of #1 and #9. 

My second conversation was with an effective CEO who is completely unlike those that I described in the other article.  My good CEO has the following 10 qualities that have a positive impact on the sales force:

  1. He asks questions and listens when he doesn't have the answers;
  2. He has very little patience for incompetence;
  3. He holds people accountable;
  4. He lets people know where they stand;
  5. He demands the best from everyone;
  6. He leads the way and drives change;
  7. He sets clear expectations and has consequences for failure;
  8. He isn't afraid to terminate anyone;
  9. He is very decisive;
  10. He knows that revenue is King.

He has many more good qualities but these ten stand in contrast to the ten I wrote about in the previous article.

If you lead a company or a sales organization, which leader would you like to emulate?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, accountability, CEO, Drive Revenue, Lead Sales Force, Lead Change, SPIN Selling

Sales Force Lessons from Gates, Crowley and Obama

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 28, 2009 @ 06:07 AM

The outraged Harvard Professor who was arrested and Cambridge's arresting officer of record will both meet over a beer with President Obama at the White House this week.  The President is reaching out to mend fences between local adversaries and as unusual as that sounds, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

This sort of thing happens - parents bringing to quarreling kids together. Sports managers uniting players that don't get along.  Letterman and Oprah.  But it happens in business too.  The boss meeting with the manager and employee that are having trouble.

This should happen a lot more often on the sales force.  How often do customers become upset over the behavior of a salesperson, customer service rep, technician or even accounting?  When controversy jeopardizes a good account, it's time for the president or CEO to reach out and mend fences between adversaries!  Some top ranking executives feel as though they are above such gestures but now we have precedent.  After all, when the President of the United States of America can bring cop and professor together, you can bring customers and company representatives together too.  It should be a best practice and it shouldn't be limited to behavioral disasters either.

How about good opportunities with profitable accounts that can be leveraged?  When a salesperson or team loses traction, hasn't positioned itself correctly, or takes a misstep along the way, isn't it appropriate for a top executive to step in?

So what should an Entrepreneur do? While there are upsides to Entrepreneurs being their own best salespeople, there are downsides too.  The two biggest are:

  • Despite being the president, they are viewed as a salesperson
  • When things go wrong, there isn't anyone higher up to step in and reset the opportunity 
I know a CEO of one large company who makes calls to existing customers and not only makes his presence known, he always asks for more business.  Why not take advantage and leverage your position?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: sales competencies, sales, selling, Sales Force, CEO, sales personality, sales strategy

The CEO Who Needed to Hire Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 @ 09:02 AM

Yesterday I spoke with a CEO who asked for some help recruiting salespeople.  It seems that the salespeople they had previously hired had failed.  As I learned more about their business, a few things became obvious to me:

  • They hadn't yet figured out the best way to find and close business - they only closed 8 deals last year, up from 4 the year before.
  • They lacked any formal sales systems or processes.
  • They were closing only 1 of 30 opportunities.
  • They were selling to people who didn't want or need their service.
  • They must sell the "why buy" rather than the "why us?"

The reality of their situation is that before they can recruit salespeople and expect them to succeed, they must first succeed themselves so that they can share their proven, time-tested, repeatable model with new salespeople.  Today they are selling by the seat of their pants and they aren't very good at it.  You simply can't bring new salespeople into an environment like that and expect them to succeed. 

Do you want to hire some horses?  Don't take the horse before the cart.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales recruiting, sales management, recruiting salespeople, Sales Candidate, CEO, Closing Sales

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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.

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