9 Reasons Why Salespeople Lack the Urgency Necessary to Succeed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 @ 04:09 AM


Mass.-Environmental-Police.jpg

I was in the right-hand lane of very slow moving traffic because of a lane closure ahead, marked by orange cones.  I was along side the cones in the lane where traffic was merging left.  All of a sudden, a police siren and flashing lights were upon me but I had nowhere to go.  Cars were in front of me and to the left of me with cones to the right and the cop was right on top of my rear bumper.  He moved into the lane closed off by the cone, rolled his window down and screamed, "Get out of the way!"

But, from what?

He stopped his Ford F150 along the guard rail inside the coned off lane, turned off his lights and sirens, and put his truck in park.  He was working a private detail, was 5 minutes late and was with the Massachusetts Environmental Police.  I couldn't believe it.  He turned on the lights and sirens, reserved for code 3 emergencies and traffic violations, just so that he could park - and he screamed at me.

You're probably wondering what in the world this scenario has to do with selling but it does, and in a big way.

There was money on the table and the cop was feeling tremendous urgency to make sure he didn't lose the money.

I coach a lot of sales leaders and their most common frustration is that they can't understand why their salespeople don't seem to have the same urgency as they did when they were selling. Their salespeople lack urgency when returning calls and emails, lack urgency booking appointments with people they've been asked to meet, lack urgency when it's time to follow up, lack urgency when the deal needs to be closed, and lack urgency building their pipelines.  The opposite of the cop. 

So while I found the cop's behavior unacceptable, it's exactly the behavior that money motivated salespeople will exhibit, sometimes to the point of rude and obnoxious.

In my experience, there are several possible reasons behind this lack of urgency.  They include, but aren't limited to these 9 reasons:

  • Expectations - their managers have not been crystal clear as to what exactly they expect their salespeople to do.
  • Need to be Liked - Their need for approval is very strong and they don't want to appear to be a pest or a nuisance which in their mind could cause the prospect to dislike them, so they back off.
  • Intrinsically Motivated - They are motivated by being part of something bigger than themselves, mastery, love of selling, and job satisfaction so the expected behavior is inconsistent with how they are motivated.
  • Fear of Failure - When salespeople are afraid of failing it causes a sort of paralysis as they ask themselves, what if I fail?
  • Rejection - Similar to the failure issue,  they are worried about being rejected and when they try to avoid being rejected, the results don't follow.
  • Lack of Desire - Their desire for sales success isn't strong enough to get them to do what needs to be done.
  • Lack of Commitment - They aren't willing to do whatever it takes when what it takes is more difficult, scary or inconsistent with their beliefs.
  • Compensation - Their comp plan is weighted heavily toward salary so they are already being paid - whether or not they do what you need and expect them to do.
  • Perfectionist - Perfectionists don't do anything until they are certain it will be done perfectly.  In the mean time, they procrastinate.

Would you like to suggest a 10th possible reason?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing, urgency, Pipeline, follow-up calls, police

Predict the Weather but Control the Sales Forecast and Revenue

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 06, 2017 @ 06:06 AM

rain.jpg
Image Copyright Mark_KA

It's June 6 in Westboro, Massachusetts, USA, and the temperature is 49 degrees Farenheight or 9 degrees Celsius. It's pouring rain and with the exception of 3 nice days in the middle of May, when the temperature was in the 80's, it's been like early April since, well, early April!   The weather sucks.  And in case you aren't familiar with what the weather should be like at this time of year, it should be 80 degrees (27 degrees Celsius) and sunny.  

You may be more familiar when the rant sounds like: "It's almost the end of the quarter, we're only at 65% of forecast, the pipeline is half empty, and nothing is closing. With the exception of 3 nice deals that came in during May, our salespeople have sucked." 

While the crappy weather and your crappy 2nd quarter revenue have crappy in common, there is one huge difference that can help you hit your sales forecast even when the weather forecast is for rain.

As long as you know the monthly sales goal, closing percentage, average order size, and length of the sales cycle, I will guarantee that you will meet or exceed the sales goal.  Let's pretend:

  • The monthly goal is $100,000
  • The closing percentage is 20%
  • The average sale or account is $25,000
  • The sales cycle is 6 months.

If you do the math and nothing else but the math, then as long as 20 new opportunities, worth a total of $500,000, enter the pipeline each month, beginning 6 months ahead of the first monthly goal you intend to meet or exceed, you will never miss another sales goal ever again.

Let's walk through the Algebra.  If you close 1 of 5 then 5/1 x $100,000 is $500,000.  But you can't just have one or two big opportunities worth $500,000 in the pipeline because you close only 1 of 5.  Remember, your average sale is $25,000 so you'll need close 100,000/25,000 or 4 and at 20% that's 4 x 5 for 20 opportunities.  Finally, with your 6 month sales cycle, what you add to the pipeline in June represents December revenue, not June, so beginning this month you're working on next year's revenue.

As long as you manage what you can control - the new opportunities that enter the pipeline - then you will never miss another number again.

Back to the weather.  Consider my rule of puppies, which says that the harder it is raining, the more often the puppy will want to go outside and make sure that I get wet. And don't forget the rule of spring baseball, which states that the more games our son is scheduled to play during April, May and June, the colder and wetter the weather will be.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing, sales pipeline, sales forecast

Sales Success is Like Making Great Tasting Soup

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 03, 2014 @ 10:11 AM

french_onion_soup_med

Believe it or not, most people still believe that sales success boils down to getting a lot of people to agree to watch a demo.  While that's the case with technology, it doesn't vary too much from that in non-technology sales where most people believe that sales success boils down to one of two things - either a critical mass of meetings, or a proposal or quote.

On the other hand, depending on which experts you listen to, sales success boils down to how effective one is with either Inbound, Social Selling, Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Value Selling, Solution Selling, Relationship Selling, The Challenger Sale, acceptance of the Buyer Journey, Sales Process, Sales Methodology, Prospecting, Telesales, Reaching Decision Makers, Closing Techniques, Value Propositions, Capabilities, Presentations, Metrics, Tools, CRM, Pipeline Management, Training, Coaching, Sales Management, Selection, or Timing.  I'm sure I've missed a few, but you get the gist.

Sales success is no more about any one competency than great-tasting soup is about one ingredient.  If you omit one ingredient, like salt, the soup will taste bland.  If you omit one competency, like Qualifying, your sales effectiveness will suffer.  While you can't leave one ingredient out of the soup, it's also not possible to make soup by focusing on and including only one ingredient.  Likewise, with sales, you can't expect to succeed, dominate your market, and celebrate your results if you focus on and include only one of the competencies on my list.  

It requires all of the competencies, all of the tools, all of the systems and processes, and effective sales leaders to bring it all together.

Companies that abandon their time-tested and proven approaches for new tools and technology are as short-sighted as companies that fail to adopt the new approaches, tools and technologies.  It's not about extremes or polar opposites as much as it's about planning, integration, a practical approach and inspection.

Sometimes, the leaders are too close to know what to keep, what to discard, what to adopt, and how or when to adapt.  Sometimes they are too smart and know the answers without knowing which questions to ask.

Just remember, sales success is a lot like making soup.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, sales methodology, closing, sales performance, sales selelction

Every Sales Assessment Tells a Story - This is Fred's Story

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Dec 18, 2011 @ 22:12 PM

underachieverWhen his boss couldn't understand why Fred wasn't performing, we performed a sales force evaluation and among the things we focused in on was Fred.

Fred's Sales DNA was generally quite good but when it came to his selling skills, there were a few problems that explained everything.

  1. ALL of his skills were top of the funnel skills - in other words, he could prospect and find opportunities but he did not have any skills to gain traction, move the opportunity forward, and get the opportunity closed.
  2. He was not suitable for working independently. He needed to be part of a team.
  3. He was not a self-starter.  He needed a daily prod from a sales manager.
So while the original question was "How come?", the new question is "Is there any hope?"
In Fred's case, the skills can be developed through the appropriate training, the problem with self-starting can be solved with some pro-active sales management - twice daily accountability calls - and the working independently problem can be solved with joint sales calls.
That's Fred's story.
Would you like to hear my story?  Recently I was interviewed by Aaron Ross, for his Predictable Revenue Blog.  This was a little different from most of the interviews of me because we strayed from sales and covered music and fatherhood too.  Click here for the interview.
What's the story behind your non-performers?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, closing, training, sales prospecting, sales assessments

Top 11 Reasons Why Salespeople Fail to Close Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 19, 2011 @ 12:09 PM

stop sign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I coached a salesperson who thought he had call reluctance - but I didn't agree.  He was pushing through, making calls - although not as many as he should.  He has some need for approval - but since he needs approval from his boss he needs to make the calls in order to get it.  He needs some approval from his prospects but can't earn that unless he gets prospects on the phone and impresses them. So he actually has reason to pick up the phone and make calls.

I wondered whether he loved selling - enough.

I wondered whether he was committed - fully and unconditionally.

I wondered whether it was something else entirely...

The reason I'm bringing this up is that in most companies, when certain stages of the sales process are not being exectued as they should, executives often don't know why.  That's one of the many reasons why we evaluate Sales Forces - to identify root causes of the known (and unknown) problems.  The second reason is that problems are often misidentified.  For example, half of the calls and emails we receive each day ask us to conduct workshops/coaching/training/seminars on closing skills, even though closing skills are almost never the reason why salespeople fail to close sales.  With sales and salespeople, you need to work backwards from what you know, and ask many "could it be?" questions to identify the real problem and more importantly, the reason for the problem.

For instance, problems with closing (delays, put-offs, losses to the competition, pricing, etc.) happen for any or all of the following reasons:

  1. not a qualified opportunity
  2. salesperson did not present an ideal solution
  3. lack of urgency
  4. salesperson did not create/build value
  5. no compelling reasons to buy
  6. lack of posturing
  7. timeline misunderstood
  8. not selling to the correct person
  9. salespeople lack opportunities so they continue to work the lousy ones too
  10. salesperson presented too early in the process and then went into chase mode
  11. prospect never agreed to spend the money required
Even if you identify which of the reasons are responsible for the closing problem or challenge, you must go through that same process and identify 10 more possible causes for each reason - and go through that process repeatedly until you have identified the root problem.  The root problem will probably have nothing to do with selling skills!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, closing, prospecting, cold calls, presenting, sales assessments

Most Salespeople Suck at Selling - Is it Worse Than Ever?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 26, 2011 @ 06:08 AM

vacuumLast year I wrote this short article on the difficulty that salespeople have getting their voice mail messages returned.  In May, this article addressed the subject in a different way. Two years ago I posted a related and very powerful and popular post about Lance Armstrong and how he uses metrics.  Last month, a member of a LinkedIn group, Sales Management Executives, posted this question:

"What is your approach to get people to call you back after you have left 2 or 3 messages?"

In the past month, there have been 47 comments, one of the most popular topics I've seen there.  Some of the replies have been on target but most are embarrassing to read.  These are sales management executives and this is a "what salespeople must learn to do in their 1st week in sales" topic.  Most salespeople do not have the skills to consistently get new prospects to the phone!

Yesterday I met with a national sales manager from India and we reviewed the sales candidate assessment he would be using to recruit a national sales force there.  We were talking about skill sets and I pointed out that it might not be realistic for him to expect the candidates in India to have well developed consultative skills.  He asked why and I explained that even here in the US, it's not realistic to see it.  Companies and their sales forces are able to talk about the concept, they say they are doing it, but the data suggests they are not.  Objective Management Group's data from 100,000 salespeople assessed most recently, shows that on average, salespeople possess only 22% of the attributes of consultative sellers.  They aren't doing it.  When I observe salespeople who are supposedly selling consultatively, they ask one or two questions before jumping into a presentation.  If performed correctly, a salesperson who is selling consultatively should spend the first 60-90 minutes of a sales call asking questions to completely understand the issues, problems, impact, cost, and compelling reasons to invest in a solution.  Most salespeople are only asking for 30 minutes time and since it's what they are most comfortable doing, they want to make sure they have enough time to present something.

So most salespeople aren't reaching prospects, aren't selling consultatively and, as you could tell from last week's post about qualified presentations, they aren't qualifying either.

So the two questions are:

  1. Why?
  2. What Can be Done?
The why is simple.  It's not really a complete lack of skills as much as it is a combination of weaknesses that prevents salespeople from doing things they need to do.  As a result they resort to what's comfortable for them, even though what's comfortable is rarely effective.
In order to solve the problem, you must evaluate your sales force, identify which weaknesses are causing the problems, determine on a salesperson by salesperson basis who can be saved, what it is required from a training, development and coaching perspective, what your ROI will be, and provide the 8-12 months of development required to get them doing things consistently and effectively.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, closing, prospecting, cold calls, presenting, sales assessments

Why the Relationship is So Important to the Sales Outcome

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 30, 2010 @ 09:09 AM

Many people have written extensively on the topic of relationships and selling.  One common topic is that people only buy from people they like and the other is how to develop strong relationships.  There is nothing wrong with either of those topics but they surely miss the mark in two important areas.

  1. Some people develop wonderful relationships but the relationships take much too long to develop. 
  2. How many times have you or one of your salespeople had a strong relationship only to discover it was still not enough to get the business?

People do have to like you but it's not enough.  Liking and trusting you has some value, but not enough to compensate for a price or quality gap.  The added value must come from understanding their compelling reasons for buying what you sell and for spending money, sometimes more money, to do business with you rather than your competitor.  When you have  conversations that lead to and uncover their personal, compelling reasons, you'll be seen as a trusted adviser, different from all the rest, and THEN they'll see the value in doing business with you.

Unfortunately, in order to ask those questions and have those discussions, a relationship must be established.  And this is where the double edged sword comes into play.  The discussion I'm talking about is a first meeting discussion.  But the relationship that requires is often a 2nd or 3rd meeting relationship.  So the problem I present is, how does one develop a late-stage relationship in an early stage meeting?

This is what the elite salespeople (top 6%) do so well.  It's what the mediocre (bottom 74%) do so poorly.  And it's what all of your salespeople must be able to do effectively and consistently in order to win more than they lose.

How do your salespeople stack up?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, closing, sales effectiveness, salespeople

How to Close the Deal that Your Salespeople Can't Close

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 10, 2010 @ 07:08 AM

stop signSometimes, when your salespeople are trying to close a sale, the deal stalls, gets put-off, or simply doesn't close.  This is followed by, well, follow up, leading to more put-offs.  There are many reasons why this happens but for the purpose of this article, let's simply assume that the prospect has every reason to buy and the salesperson did not do anything glaringly wrong along the way.  Simply a closable opportunity that hasn't closed yet.  In situations like this, there are usually two things going on:

  1. The prospect has some unresolved fear, discomfort or risk;
  2. The salesperson is trying too hard to close.

The fascinating thing about these two scenarios is that the harder the salesperson attempts to close, the more fear, discomfort and risk it creates for the prospect.  Their resistance gets stronger.

The solution?  Stop trying so hard!

The strategy?  Lower the resistance.

The tactic? Acknowledge their fear, let them know you understand it, and lower their resistance.  Get them to admit to it and then you can ask them why they are afraid, and what you can do to resolve it. 

This new information is not an objection or even a reason.  It is simply a new problem for you to solve and your solution should be revised to address this problem.  If you can do that, you'll close the sale.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, closing

Top 20 Requirements - How Salespeople Can be Better at Closing

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 10, 2010 @ 07:06 AM

HandshakeIf you were to ask most executives for one thing that they would like their sales force to do better, you would likely get one of two answers:

  1. Close
  2. Prospect 

Nothing wrong with those two choices - or is there? 

While salespeople can get better at closing, closing is an outcome, and with the exception of real estate and banking, not really an event. When we evaluate sales forces and look at their ability to close, they may possess some of the strengths and skills that are part of the Sales Core Competency called Closing, but  most of those attributes are used prior to, not during, closing time. The ability to close depends on the following 20 variables (in no particular order) that a salesperson brings to the table - or not:

  • use of an optimized, formal, sales process
  • their severity of Need for Approval
  • whether their Buy Cycle (the way they buy things) supports or sabotages sales efforts
  • their Consultative Selling skill set
  • ability to identify the compelling reasons to buy
  • ability to quantify problems and build value
  • how thoroughly they qualify their prospect, competition and own company
  • whether they present early in the process or late in the process
  • ability to provide both a needs and cost appropriate solution
  • timing - whether they close when the opportunity is actually closable
  • ability to eliminate potential stalls, put-offs, objections and excuses prior to closing time
  • how much Fear of Rejection they have
  • ability to remain optimistic in the face of obstacles and pessimistic when things are going too smoothly
  • ability to develop a relationship early in the process 
  • ability to be realistic
  • ability to solve problems
  • exceptional questioning and listening skills
  • ability not to assume anything without validating their assumptions
  • ability to differentiate your company from all others through questioning
  • how trusting they are

When a sales manager asks for a seminar on closing, good sales experts push back and question the logic behind that, all the while knowing that a session on closing is a waste of time if the salespeople aren't doing these 20 other things effectively.  And of course, it's important to know whether they can and will do those 20 other things effectively. Inexperienced and somewhat less successful and/or effective colleagues might simply agree to provide the seminar without understanding or caring that it won't change a thing.

Is prospecting, or as executives see it, scheduling more appointments, any different? Is that a skill?   We'll explore prospecting next time.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, closing, sales evaluation

Why You Should be Scared When Your Salespeople are Closing Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 @ 09:02 AM

Most senior executives get excited when a lot of business starts to close all in a fairly short period of time.  They think:

  • Momentum
  • Cash Flow
  • Best Practices being executed
  • Processes being followed
  • Strategies being executed
  • Tactics being utilized
  • Salespeople becoming more effective
  • Retention
  • Focus on bigger opportunities now
  • etc.

What they should be thinking is more along the lines of:

  • uh-oh
  • is the pipeline emptying?
  • what's coming along behind this?
  • has anyone been filling the pipeline during all this closing frenzy?
  • how could I have not seen this coming?

Sales managers get caught up in the excitement of a closing frenzy when they should be taking a step back and asking themselves, what's wrong with this picture?

If you have a short sales cycle - less than 30 days - you won't feel the impact of this as much as a company with a longer sales cycle.  If you have a six month sales cycle and the pipeline just emptied in a closing frenzy, it could be six months before business begins to consistently close again!

You may see a similar phenomenon when salespeople are on an appointment scheduling frenzy - nothing seems to be closing - and opportunities are not moving through the stages of the sales process.

So what is the answer?  Balance.  Your job is to maintain balance - hold salespeople accountable for all three requirements:

  • filling the pipeline
  • moving opportunities through the pipeline
  • closing the closable opportunities in the pipeline
  • all at the same time
  • without breaks in the action
  • without excuses
  • without blinders on

How about at your company - is there balance?

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Force, closing, salespeople

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