Last Day Madness on the Sales Force - That's One Kind of Urgency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 05, 2018 @ 20:11 PM

madness

The 2018 World Series is in the rear view mirror, my family can go to sleep at a normal time again, and sports fans can finally devote their attention to Basketball, Hockey and Football (and soccer okay?  You got me to say it).  I'm still getting calls and emails asking if I've come down from cloud 9 over the Red Sox world-series victory but I keep explaining that I was never on cloud 9.  The series victories over the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers, all 100-win teams in their own right, were too easy. There wasn't enough drama, tension, adrenaline or doubt.  There was no sense of urgency.  That's the topic for today - urgency.  Check out the table below:

RedSox-RevenueAs you can see in the table, each clinching victory became bigger than the one before it as final days of the month, quarter and year increase in importance to a company.

If a company has the month won, the quarter in the bag, and even the yearly revenue goal met by the end of November, there isn't any drama, doubt, tension, or urgency.  They just keep on selling without any pressure.  

We know that 50% of sales reps won't hit their quota this year because the same thing has been happening for years without signs of improvement.  That's not surprising given that the data from 1.8 million salespeople evaluated and assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG) shows that the bottom 50% of salespeople are very weak.

Most sales managers don't have their months, quarters and years end like the Red Sox did.  They're pushing, pulling, demanding, asking, strong-arming, discounting and screaming to get the deals in, all because the deals were never closed in the first place.  If customers will place their orders on the 30th of the month, they would have placed them on the 20th if the salesperson was effective.  But prospects have learned that if they hold out, the call offering a discount will come through at the end of the month.  And the difference between good and crappy salespeople?  The ability to create Urgency.  This article shows how Elite salespeople create urgency 326% more often than weak salespeople!  

There's one other factor at play in last day madness.  Crappy sales managers are part of the mix too and effective coaching, as you can see in this article, is achieved by only 10% of all sales managers.

There will always be urgency to win. - The question is simply, will you create the urgency and eliminate last day madness, or by failing to create urgency, require unnecessary urgency - madness - on the last day instead?

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, urgency, closing more sales, end of quarter closing, red sox, world series

Discovered - Data Reveals the Second Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 07, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

compelling

Whichever way you turn, wherever you look, and whatever you listen to there is data.  Polls, surveys, metrics, analytics, analyses, white papers, graphs, charts, infographics, tables, spreadsheets and more.  There is data everywhere.  5 of my last 10 articles were based on data and I know that my regular readers love the articles that are based on data so I am writing about data again today.

Objective Management Group (OMG) recently expanded the Consultative Seller competency which represents 1 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

I took a look at the first thousand rows of data that came through and made some more cool discoveries that I will share below.

Let's start with the Consultative Seller Competency.  As you can see in the image below, the average score for all salespeople is 44%, which means that the average salesperson possesses fewer than half of the necessary attributes of the Consultative Seller.  As you can see from the green slice of the pie chart below, only 22% of all salespeople have this competency as a strength.  Even the top 10% of all salespeople only score an average of 65%.  This is the competency where most salespeople are the crappiest.

cons-comp

The question is why are most salespeople so ineffective at this competency?  If they aren't being professionally trained and coached, that would explain a lot of the bad scores because only around 7% of all sales managers are capable of providing the kind of coaching that would help their salespeople become effective consultative sellers.  I'm guessing that even some outside trainers and coaches aren't effective enough to move the needle on this competency.  But there is more to this than meets the eye.  Let's look at what happens when salespeople are being effective versus ineffective at consultative selling.

Please look at the next image below.

issues-1

These 3 pie charts show how effective these 1,000 salespeople are at uncovering issues by looking at 3 specific sales process milestones:

  1. Whether reasons to buy are uncovered or not
  2. Whether those reasons are actually compelling enough to buy or they only created interest
  3. Whether the salesperson created enough urgency so that the prospect must buy or it was simply nice to have.

This tells us A LOT!

While 84% of these B2B salespeople are able to uncover business issues or reasons, only 33% are able to continue asking questions long enough to uncover compelling reasons to buy as shown in the second pie chart.  There is an enormous difference between a business issue and a compelling reason to buy something to solve it.  As you can see from the third pie chart, uncovering business issues leads to a condition where 73% of prospects find the offering is simply nice to have, while 12% of these salespeople leverage those compelling reasons to a condition where prospects must have the solution.  There is a huge difference between nice to have and must have.

Consider this recent article on reaching decision makers where the data showed that only the opportunities where salespeople met with the actual decision makers reach the proposal ready and closable stages.  We have a similar scenario here where the salespeople who uncover compelling reasons to buy are 56% more likely to move their opportunities to the proposal ready and closable stages.

This huge selling gap can be fixed but it isn't one of the easy ones.  Uncovering compelling reasons to cause prospects to believe they must have your solution requires advanced active listening and questioning skills, as well as Sales DNA to support its use.  The best trainers, coaches and consultants who offer their expertise in this area agree that it will usually take 8-12 months for a sales team to make the transition from where they are today to the kind of selling I described above.  However, the return on that investment of time and money is amazing!  When salespeople are finally able to sell in this manner, sales always sky rocket!

Topics: Consultative Selling, closing more sales, listening and questioning, sales excellence, Dave Kurlan, OMG Assessment

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 @ 05:04 AM

decisionmaker

Humans have been waiting for thousands of years to discover the secrets of life.  Why are we here?  Why do bad things happen?  What happens after we die?  Is Heaven real?  What is God's plan for us?

While many experts have attempted to answer all of these questions, most of us lack proof. There's no data.  If we wake up tomorrow morning and suddenly there are not only answers to these questions, but science-based proof, that would be a game-changer for us.

Likewise, every day most companies try to determine why their salespeople don't close more business, why so many opportunities die on the vine, and what they need to do differently to change change their results.  They try everything!  Most leaders think it's an issue of closing skills.  It's not.  Others think it's about prospecting.  While that has an impact on the size and quality of the pipeline, it has little to do with results.  But I have discovered the cause, will show you the data, and discuss how to fix it.

Recently, Objective Management Group (OMG) integrated its sales force evaluation and its pipeline analysis.  Previously, the pipeline analysis was a separate chapter and while very revealing, the data was standalone.  OMG also expanded its analysis of salespeople's ability to reach decision makers and rather than a finding as it once was, it is now a full competency with 8 attributes.

I have reviewed several dozen sales force evaluations conducted since the change and discovered something very revealing.  Look at the bar graph shown below:

DM's

This is VERY representative of every sales force evaluation I reviewed for this article. There is a lot going on in this graph so let me walk you through it.

This sales force averages 54% of the attributes for reaching decision makers but only 13% (green slice of the pie) are strong at this competency.  The overwhelming majority of the salespeople believe in the importance of reaching decision makers and use their skills to attempt that.  Let's focus on the first two attributes which are both Calling on Actual Decision Makers but show contradicting data.

DM2

Let's start with the second attribute.  We ask each salesperson to identify 4 late-stage, proposal-ready or closable opportunities and we ask them 19 questions about each of those opportunities.  Nearly 90% of the salespeople met with the actual decision makers on these late-stage opportunities.  That's pretty good.

The first attribute comes from each salesperson's personal evaluation.  It shows that only 10% of them are reaching actual decision makers overall.  That's pretty bad.

Now that we have these two opposing data points, it should be clear what the problem is, both for this company and for many of the companies showing the same contradiction.

When salespeople successfully reach the actual decision makers, opportunities move through the pipeline and reach the closable stage, often resulting in a win.  However, MOST salespeople are NOT reaching the actual decision makers and those are the opportunities that lose traction and/or result in a loss.

Remember, for the most part, these are salespeople who believe it's important to reach the decision maker, have that as a milestone in their sales process, have the sales skills to reach decision makers, but still fail to reach the decision makers. 

Let's take a closer look at a few of the other attributes.

DM3-1

Half of their salespeople are calling on buyers at the start of the sales process.  Why are they doing that?  Nearly half aren't comfortable meeting and talking with the target decision makers, and a third need to be liked and can't push back on buyers who won't introduce them to or allow them to meet with decision makers.

Clearly, this is not the only problem that sales organizations are facing by a long shot.  However, this data shows that if they could fix just one thing today, the consistent ability to reach decision makers would make a huge difference.

It's one thing to know what the problem is and its impact on results.  However, fixing this problem is not  simple. Reaching decision makers is made possible by having advanced listening and questioning skills in an effective consultative selling process, an ability to differentiate, and being perceived as a trusted advisor.  Reaching decision makers is time sensitive in that the timing must be perfect to consistently succeed at getting the decision makers to engage.  Let me use my expert ability to combine baseball and sales for the perfect analogy.  Have you read Baseline Selling?

If the batter swings too early he will probably miss the pitch or perhaps hit a weak ground ball.  If the batter swings too late he will probably miss the pitch or perhaps hit a pop fly ball.  If the batter times his swing perfectly and squares the bat to the ball he will crush it.  Salespeople need to crush it when it comes to reaching decision makers.  They must time their ask perfectly or they will probably strike out.  You can also use comedy as an analogy where the comedy writer provides the same routine to a professional comedian and an amateur.  The words coming out of each person's mouth would be identical but the professional comedian gets the laughs because of having mastered the timing and cadence of the delivery.

This problem can be fixed but the trainer or coach providing the help must have a mastery of the nuances of how these pieces all come together.  If your salespeople can reach even 25% more decision makers, think about the impact that will have on revenue.

You can see all of OMG's data for all 21 Sales Core Competencies, by industry and even see how your company compares.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: closing more sales, win rates, Dave Kurlan, sales process, Consultative Selling, reaching decision makers, sales pipeline

Help is Here for Salespeople Who Find Themselves as the Underdogs

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 @ 19:04 PM

Underdog.jpg

You or your salespeople are on a call.  Is it an uphill battle?  Do you feel like you need some luck to win the business? Are you up against an incumbent - and your prospect is happy with them?  Are there too many competitors - and you are having trouble getting noticed?  Does the prospect claim to only care about price - and you aren't the lowest?  Do they just want a proposal or a quote - and you feel like you need to provide it to them?  Do you have trouble winning most of the time?  Do you almost always face resistance of some kind? Is it difficult to simply get a meeting?I wrote an article for the SellingPower blog where we discuss the challenges of being an underdog. Read it to now to learn how you can outsell the big companies.

Another one of my articles was named the Top Sales Blog post of the week.  If you missed it, I explained how coyotes show us the importance of external motivation.

Sales VP's, Sales Directors, Regional Sales Managers, National Sales Managers, Local Sales Managers, CEO's, Presidents, Channel Sales Directors, Inside Sales Managers, Board Members and more come from companies of all sizes and industries to attend our Annual Sales Leadership Intensive (where we limit attendance to fewer than 30 attendees) in May.  Every graduate says that this is the-best-training that they have ever attended.  We focus on showing, demonstrating and training sales leaders to coach salespeople in the most impactful and effective way, and nobody does this like we do.  Coaching is how you impact important deals.  Coaching helps you develop salespeople.  Coaching leads to revenue growth.  Nothing - and I mean nothing - has a greater impact on the sales organization than when you spend half of your time coaching and you conduct coaching the right way.  If you would like to join us, we would love to see you there.  This embedded discount code/link will give you a special 30% discount. [Update - Sold Out]

There was a tremendous amount of interest in these ten articles over the past 4 months:

Uncovering Pain Doesn't Close the Sale and the 3 Conditions That Will

On Our Doorstep - 5 Keys to Prepare Your Sales Force for the Recession

Why More Salespeople Suck Than Ever Before 

Why Company Methods to Rank and Compensate Salespeople Are All Wrong?

Proof of How Poorly the Bottom 74% of Salespeople Perform

One of These Two Assessments is More Predictive of Sales Success

The Challenges of Coaching Different Types of Salespeople

How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

Why This is Such a Great Sales Book

Sales Performance Improves When You Stop Worrying About Your Words

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, effective sales leadership, sales management seminar, closing more sales, beating the competition

What the Huge Patriots Win Teaches us About Sales Momentum

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 @ 12:11 PM

pats beat jetsPerhaps you watched the Thursday night Thanksgiving Day football massacre between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.  The Patriots scored 35 unanswered points in the second period and scored 3 touchdowns in one 52-second period of time.

Unbelievable!

Incredible!

Unheard of!

The more common reaction though is, "How quickly it all unraveled for the Jets."  We heard more of that than, "How quickly it all came together for the Patriots."  That's because humans love talking about people when they are down.  Why talk about how fortunate the Patriots are when we can talk about how unfortunate the Jets are?

Let's focus on fortune for a moment.  If you were watching that football game, it was completely uneventful up until those three quick scores.  It went from uneventful to explosive in just 52 seconds.  The same fortune can be realized by a salesperson, sales team or company, even when it seems that none is forthcoming. That's the point of today's post.  Sales and revenue can materialize very quickly. Momomentum - both good and bad - as in the football game, can build very quickly as well and success is all about building positive momentum.

So, what does it take for sudden sales, monumental momentum and ridiculous revenue? 

Consistency.  You must be consistent - about holding your salespeople accountable for consistently adding the right number of opportunities to the pipeline, moving those opportunities through the stages of the pipeline, following the steps of your sales process, qualifying , and providing both needs and cost appropriate solutions.

The wins (which can come suddenly) build positive momentum and lead to championship years.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, grow sales, sales growth, sales revenue, closing more sales, sales success

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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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