Is the Sales Force Getting Dressed Up or are Real Changes Taking Place?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 07, 2018 @ 15:02 PM

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Recently, I installed vented plastic garage floor tiles like those in the picture above to improve the look of our garage.  It's the same garage, but now it looks awesome.

Yesterday I received an email from Richardson Training, letting me know that they have completed their 2018 Selling Challenges Study.  The data in the report, which you can download here, hasn't changed a great deal since 2017, but the report's new look is awesome.  I reported on last year's report in detail here, but my conclusion for 2018 is the exact same conclusion I came to in 2017.

In 2017, the biggest challenge that companies faced was selling value and that continues into 2018.  It's no surprise.  Most sales organizations that Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluates appear to be quite challenged when it comes to selling value. For example, if you visit OMG's public stats page and scroll down to the Selling Value competency, you'll notice the following:

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  • Only 35% of all salespeople have the competency as a strength.
  • All salespeople have an average score of only 56.

In order to effectively sell value, salespeople must also take a consultative approach and use a sales process that supports consultative selling and selling value.  If you scroll from the Selling Value competency to the Consultative Selling competency and then the Sales Process competency, you will find that:

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  • Only 22% of all salespeople have the Consultative competency as a strength
  • All salespeople have an average score of only 46 in the Consultative Competency

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  • Only 26% of all salespeople have the Milestone-Centric Sales Process as a strength
  • All salespeople have an average score of only 49.

By contrast, if you scroll to the Presentation Approach competency, you will find that:

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  • 69% of all salespeople have Presentation Approach as a strength
  • All salespeople have an average score of 73.

So the question is, why does selling value continue to be such a problem for so many companies?  

It takes me and my team at Kurlan & Associates about 8 months, training twice per month, to move salespeople to the point where they are confidently, effectively and efficiently selling value.  That's 16 training sessions, reinforced by at least 32 coaching conversations from their sales managers over the same 8 months.  And prior to those 8 months it takes some time to get sales managers to the point where they can handle the heavy lifting that coaching requires.  So it brings me back to my opening.

Do most companies do the sales training equivalent of laying down the garage tiles by finding non-disruptive training so they can say they provided training?  Or do they refurbish the entire garage - find training like Kurlan provides and make the decision to require their sales managers to become great sales coaches?

Only the refurbishing option will cause change.

Sales Managers won't find better training at turning them into great sales coaches than the training we provide at my annual Sales Leadership Intensive.  I have 5 seats left for the training on May 22-23 outside of Boston.  You can learn more here and register here.

Topics: value selling,, Consultative Selling, sales process, Richardson, Dave Kurlan

Predictions for 2018 - The Sales Triad Will Provide Record Sales Growth

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 @ 06:01 AM

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The economy is doing well, unnecessary regulations have been rolled back, the stock market is soaring, unemployment is low, consumer confidence is up, manufacturing has returned, companies are investing in the American economy, businesses are confident about the future and tax cuts are about to make paychecks bigger for about 90% of all Americans.  What will consumers do with that extra money?  They'll spend it of course!  As a result of these positive developments, what should you expect to happen from a sales perspective in 2018?

Companies are spending money, so that's a good thing.  Executives whose past actions suggested that your product or service was nice to have, but not a must have, might want to buy it this year!  Companies that didn't have budgets during the past few years might have budgets this year.  Decision makers who didn't have enough in their budgets may have a surplus this year.  There will be plenty of money to go around.  Hallelujah!

Warning: Don't get too excited.  While companies will be buying and spending, it doesn't mean that your company will get the business.  More buying and spending means more competition and with the internet, companies need not be local in order to compete for and win that business.  

With the availability of money and additional competition, I can tell you this.  If you aren't the low price leader, the best-known company, or the safest decision that a buyer can make, you will have to do some real SELLING to get that business.  And not just selling, but thoughtfully, effectively, efficiently, and articulately selling value.  What?  You already sell value?  Really?  I'll bet you don't.  I'll bet the salespeople in your company talk about value and justify your pricing, but talking about value is not selling value.  Do you ever tell prospects that you will be competitively priced?  Then you're not selling value.  Do you ever discount your price?  Then you're not selling value.  Do you ever make exceptions to your pricing?  Then you're not selling value.

Selling value is extremely challenging for most companies because on it's own, it doesn't translate to a sale.  Selling value is an approach in a sales process with a consultative methodology that supports selling value.  You are undoubtedly familiar with the nuclear triad, and the combination of a consultative sales process, value selling approach and a consultative selling methodology is the selling equivalent.  It's the sales triad!

Companies that still take a transactional approach to selling may have very difficult year when it comes to acquiring new business and retaining existing business.  This will be the year that sales dinosaurs become extinct.  In 2015 I wrote that 1 million salespeople would become obsolete by 2020. Not only has the time come, it has come earlier than expected and it came for many more than 1 million salespeople.  This year, I predict that 3 million salespeople will either lose their jobs to the internet or to salespeople who can sell consultatively and sell value.

Whether it's professional sales training or sales coaching, your sales managers will play a major role in this transition.  Your sales managers can get a jump start on this by attending my annual public Sales Leadership Intensive on May 22-23 outside of Boston.  As of this writing (January 29) there are just 7 seats remaining so you'll need to act quickly.  Learn more at http://kurlanassociates.com/sales-leadership-event.  Register here

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling value, sales process, Consultative Selling

7 Reasons Why Prospects Go Cold and How to Avoid it

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 05, 2018 @ 09:01 AM

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Outside of Boston, today is the day after the blizzard of 2018, it's a winter wonderland, and the deep freeze we have been experiencing is expected to get worse, with extended periods of sub-zero temperatures and wind chills approaching -30 degrees Fahrenheit.  What does that have to do with selling?  Plenty!

One of the biggest frustrations that salespeople and their sales leaders have is when good prospects go cold.  These include prospects that were projected to close soon yet, they aren't returning calls, emails, inmails or overnight deliveries.  Not only have the prospects gone cold; the salespeople have been frozen out.  But it's more like the weather than the two scenarios sharing common words.  

I finished reading Dan Brown's new book, Origins.  I think it's his best work since The DaVinci Code although I did correctly guess the ending...  Anyway, at one point they are reading the Roman Numerals XI + I and coming up with an answer of 12.  12 was not the answer required to decode the matter at hand.  Professor Langdon, the main character, changes his perspective.  He rotates the equation by 180 degrees, turning it upside down until the equation becomes I + IX.  The new answer is 10, exactly what they needed.

If you change your perspective about prospects going cold, you might discover that you caused them to go cold, rather than the myriad of other possibilities.  I'll explain.

The deep freeze didn't just suddenly arrive last week.  The weather has been working up to this since temperatures began to drop in mid November.  It's been getting cooler and cooler and then colder and colder until now.  There is a lead-up to the freeze and if we take a step back, it happens nearly every year around this time.

Your prospects don't suddenly go cold either.  There are signs. 

In half of the cases the salespeople had developed a case of happy ears earlier in the sales process and their belief that the prospects were interested or warm or even hot was entirely imagined.  Their prospects didn't go cold as much as they were already cold and couldn't find another way to tell the salesperson to go away!

In some instances, the prospects were actually hot but the salespeople complicated things and didn't get out of the way enough to allow their prospects buy.  The prospects became frustrated with their inept salespeople, bought from someone who could quickly help them, and didn't talk to the original salesperson again.

In many of the cases, the salespeople were moving more quickly than the prospects.  The salespeople were on their own timeline and the prospects didn't have the same urgency.  Feeling more pressure than they were comfortable with, the prospects decided not to talk with those salespeople anymore.

Many prospects go cold when they aren't the actual decision makers, they haven't engaged the decision makers, and have nothing to report.  These salespeople made two huge mistakes: 

  1. They achieved nice to have, but not must have.  If you aren't talking with the decision maker, nice to have will never be enough to empower a subordinate to ask the decision maker to participate or get the decision maker to approve the needed funds.
  2. They didn't start with the decision maker!  It's nearly impossible to sell up hill and while selling downhill isn't ideal, it doesn't cause your heart to beat as fast as trying to sell up hill.

The reality is that in most scenarios, salespeople caused their prospects to go cold.  When salespeople have been frozen out it's usually because they were talking with the wrong person, weren't moving at the correct speed, or didn't get their prospects to sense that they must have this product or service.

If you are wondering why salespeople find themselves in these scenarios so frequently you don't have to look any further than these 5 Sales Core Competencies:

  1. Sales Process - the freeze will nearly always happen when an effective sales process is not followed and presenting occurs too early.
  2. Doesn't Need to be Liked - when this competency appears as a weakness, salespeople won't ask the necessary questions to smoke this out.
  3. Consultative Seller - when the salesperson fails to take a consultative approach they will fail to uncover the compelling reasons to buy and fail to get past nice to have.
  4. Value Seller- when salespeple fail to sell value, it can be difficult for prospects to justify spending the money
  5. Qualifier - when salespeople aren't thoroughly qualifying, they will often find themselves selling to the wrong person

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies in total and while they all play some part in the freeze, these five take center stage.

If you are a sales leader, one thing you can do to address this issue is to hire stronger salespeople who won't find themselves in the deep freeze.  It begins with an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment.

What can you improve upon to eliminate most instances of the deep freeze?  And equally important, if your prospect returns from the deep freeze, will you know why and will you do the right thing?  Read Part 2 here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales problems, sales process, Consultative Selling, selling value, Dave Kurlan

The Perfect Day for a Salesperson - 10 Ways to be More Efficient and Effective in 2018

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Dec 08, 2017 @ 09:12 AM

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Introduction

You can be more effective and more efficient selling in 2018, do every single thing I wrote about in this article, exactly as I wrote it, and without any difficulty, by making a conscious decision to follow this blueprint.  It's not hard. It's not scary.  It's not unusual.  It's not even thought-provoking.  It's simply a list of best practices that great salespeople (top 5%) do and that crappy (46%) salespeople either don't do consistently or don't do it at all.

Pre-Planning

The ideal sales day begins the previous evening.  Looking ahead to tomorrow, how many meetings do I have, which of those are sales related, how many items on the to-do list must be completed, how many proposals are due, and how many emails must I respond to before the day begins?  Based on all of that, how early do I need to set the alarm?  For me, most mornings it's for 5:30 AM.

CRM

Upon awakening, I like to begin the day inside CRM (we love Membrain) so that I can see all of my opportunities, the stage of the pipeline they are in, identify those I must move along, and who is waiting on me for something.

Calendar

Next, I need to identify my prospecting time for the day.  That's when I'll do the required work on those opportunities that need attention and schedule new meetings.  On most days, I have less than an hour of time for this so I need to be prepared to be ultra productive.  I can't afford to spend an hour attempting to reach potential new clients since even for me it will take 10-15 attempts to reach a CEO or Sales VP so it's crucial to actually connect with prospects during this time.  I begin with introductions, move to referrals, then to inbound leads from appropriately titled decision makers, and back-fill with LinkedIn connections and other inbound leads.  I only want to schedule future calls - not spend time talking with them today.  If you aren't fortunate enough to have a steady supply of introductions, referrals and inbound leads to call, you need a way to be more efficient than cold calling and I recommend that you use ConnectAndSell.  In an hour of calling they'll help you connect to an average of 7 prospects whereas attempting to reach prospects on your own might not yield 7 connections in an entire day.

Email

It's still early so this is the ideal time to respond to emails that I didn't get to yesterday, those that came in over night, and those where I need to be proactive.

Preparation

Finally, there are the scheduled sales calls.  For brand new opportunities, what do I need to know about them, their company, their industry and our common connections before we speak?  What is the desired outcome for each call?   What is the game plan to get there?

Sales Calls or Meetings

These days almost everything I do is by phone or video conference and that holds true for sales calls as well. If I want to achieve a predictable outcome then all I have to do is have a great conversation that faithfully follows our sales process, reaching the required milestones along the way.  One of the things that I love about Membrain is that the sales process, milestones, scorecards and playbooks for each milestone are on the screen during the call.  Companies that are in sales training, learning sales process and/or methodology, introducing playbooks, on boarding new salespeople, incorporating integrated CRM, or getting veteran salespeople to change the way they do things gain an additional benefit or 3 from these features.

What Can Go Wrong?

There is very little that can go wrong when you prepare like this.  Surely, some calls will cancel or reschedule, some prospects will be unqualified, some opportunities may be poor fits, and some prospects won't want to share answers to your questions.  You can't control any of that stuff but you can prepare for it.  Read this article to better understand how to use your unexpected free time.

Contrast

I receive a few incoming cold calls and schedule a few sales calls or meetings with salespeople calling on my companies each week and here's what I can tell you about them.  They.  All.  Suck.  No exceptions.  Here's why:

When salespeople are scheduled to have an actual sales call with me all they want to do is pitch, present and demo.  Does anyone, other than those salespeople that we train, actually use a consultative approach to sell?

Summary

Armed with an effective approach, appropriate planning, effective sales process and methodology, supportive sales tools and good scores in all 21 Sales Core Competencies, you will succeed.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales best practices, time management, Dave Kurlan, sales process, Consultative Selling, crm, membrain, connectandsell

Which is Worse - Crappy Salespeople or Crappy Sales Managers?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 05, 2017 @ 21:12 PM

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In his book, The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki said, "Don't Worry, Be Crappy."

That advice suggested that companies just get their early versions of software and tech products out there and they could make them better later.  

How are early versions of technology different from crappy salespeople and crappy sales managers?  For one thing, salespeople and sales managers tend to stay crappy unless professional training, coaching and interventions occur.  And unlike products, user feedback tends to be sketchy when it comes to salespeople because they refrain from giving it.  But what would happen if they did?

Prospects care about two things.  Are the salespeople calling on them likable and do they bring value?  Read that correctly.  I didn't type that they can recite the unique value proposition or talk about value.  I wrote that they actually bring value.  More specifically, strong, effective salespeople must be the value.  While it's great when salespeople receive product training to become more knowledgeable, they shouldn't be sharing their product knowledge on sales calls.  It's redundant because prospects and customers can find that information with 2 clicks on Google so they don't need to hear the same thing from salespeople. 

Most salespeople are crappy and I'll share 3 statistics to help you understand just how crappy they are.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has data on 1.6 million salespeople that have been assessed and evaluated. In the next 3 graphics I will share the Sales Quotient (the overall score for the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures) in 3 categories.  The sample size for this particular statistic is arond 417,000+ salespeople. 

This first graphic below shows the average Sales Quotient for all salespeople.   The average score is 116.

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The next graphic below shows the avarage Sales Quotient for elite salespeople who have a Sales Quotient of better than 140.  Only 6% of all salespeople are represented here.  Their average score is 144.

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The final graphic below shows the average Sales Quotient for weak salespeople who have a Sales Quotient below 115. Amazingly, 46% of all salespeople are represented in the weak group.  Their average score is just 103.

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Watch this 1-minute video for some thoughts on what you can work on first. 

Kurt Mortensen interviewed me for his sales podcast and you might find this 15-minute interview on sales process helpful.  As we approach year-end and my article in the December issue of Top Sales Magazine has a number of things that salespeople can work on in December to improve.

It's a different story altogether with sales managers.  Their salespeople need to be coached every day.  And it needs to be the kind of coaching that makes their salespeople want to come back for more.  Providing technical help, pricing, or discounts is not coaching.  Telling salespeople what to do is not coaching either.

Salespeople and sales managers can be trained but I can tell you this.  It's a lot easier to train crappy salespeople than it is to train crappy sales managers.  Selling is difficult but effective coaching brings difficult to a whole new level.

I've written a lot of articles on coaching salespeople and you can find 30 articles right here.  You can also register early to attend my annual Sales Leadership Intensive that is coming up in May.  It's simply the best training on how to master the art of coaching salespeople.

So don't worry if you're crappy - just do something to make yourself better and then instead of crappy you'll be happy.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Consultative Selling, sales process, Sales Coaching, Dave Kurlan, kurt morensen

B2B Salespeople Send 16,000+ Unqualified Proposals Each Day!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 29, 2017 @ 21:11 PM

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If you have a role in sales or sales leadership then what could be better than knowing exactly how you and/or your salespeople REALLY compare with the other salespeople in your industry or in the world?  Could anything be more fascinating than a visual or infographic depicting how effective your sales force is at various aspects of selling?  And what if these visuals could demonstrate that B2B salespeople create and send more than 16,000 inappropriately timed proposals each day?  Cool, huh?  More on that data in a minute.

Earlier this year we introduced a free public site where you could actually see how your salespeople compared in each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Recently, we improved the site so that in addition to average scores and comparisons in each competency, you can see the percentage of salespeople that have each competency as a strength.  Check it out here!

I love some of the new infographics we have developed to show clients the capabilities of their sales force.  For example, check out this slide that visually tells the story of how their sales force sells.  The number in each pie chart is the average score in each competency and the colors indicate the percentage of salespeople that have that competency as a strength, weakness or in between.  For example, the highest average score for this sales force is for the value seller competency but only 1/3 of the sales force has value seller as a strength.

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This is a cool slide.  It shows the 8 sales leadership competencies that we measure in the outer ring and his tendency by rank outside the ring. When a tendency is not aligned with a strength we have a problem.  For example, in this slide, strategic thinking is green - a strength - but strategy is ranked 6th out of 8 as a tendency and recruiting - a weakness - is ranked 1st out of 8 in his tendencies.  Those are both problems!  Gene should be spending much more time on strategy and much less time on recruiting.

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We reevaluate a sales team after a year or so and this is how we show the change in a particular competency.  In this slide the average score increased from 39 to 47 in the Consultative Competency and there were improvements in most of the attributes and half of the salespeople now had this competency as a strength.

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My favorite slide is the one where we restage the company's pipeline according to what's real.  In the slide below,  we looked at 717 late stage proposal ready opportunities.  If they were all truly late stage, the visual would have looked like the umbrella stand in the middle image.  However, our analysis caused 36% of the opportunities to move back to the suspect stage and 33% of the opportunities back to the prospect stage.  Only 27% were actually closable and another 4% were qualified.  This company prematurely sent 494 unqualified proposals!

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This company is not unusual.  If their 239 salespeople produced 494 unqualified proposals, then how many inappropriately timed proposals do 4.5 million B2B salespeople produce?  A little more half are in inside sales roles that handle the top of the funnel.  That leaves around 2 million B2B salespeople who are making 4,133,891 premature unqualified proposals per year or 16,535 per day!

We have around 50 more infographics like these that help to visually show how well equipped a sales force is to compete, win more business and grow revenue.  We identify all of the gaps and issues to be addressed and recommend a plan of action to accelerate sales effectiveness. 

 Most importantly, we provide answers to the questions that companies cannot answer on their own.  If this interests you, excites you or is something you want us to do at your company, just email me and I'll forward it to the appropriate person.

Image Copyright iStock

Topics: sales proposal, Consultative Selling, sales force evaluation, OMG Assessment, sales leadership, Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies

4 Reasons Why Salespeople Suck at Consultative Selling.

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 @ 10:09 AM

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Yesterday, a sales manager I was coaching asked me to explain the difference between a great question and a tough question.  I gave him the one-minute version but this article has the expanded version of that answer.

I'll use my world as an example and ask you to translate accordingly.  

In my world, while I might occassionally be on a first call with a Senior Sales Leader, I am most frequently speaking with the CEO.  With CEO's, the most common issue they articulate is, "I'm not sure we have the right sales leader."

We have 3 levels of questions and it's important to understand that you must be patient enough to ask them in the proper sequence, and not one right after another.  The proper sequence is:

  • Good Question
  • Tough Question
  • Great Question

There should probably be a few questions and answers between your good question and your tough question and there should be a few more questions and answers between your tough question and your great question.  If you don't get as far as asking and getting the answer to your great question, I can promise you this:

  • You didn't get to the compelling reason they would buy
  • You didn't get to the compelling reason they would buy from you
  • You didn't differentiate yourself from the competition
  • You didn't get your prospect emotional
  • You won't be able to quantify and/or monetize the impact of the problem
  • You may not get the business

So let's start at the beginning, where we heard, "I'm not sure we have the right sales leader."

A good question could be, "Why are you concerned?"  A good question not only allows you to ask for more information, but it must also be relevant to the discussion at hand.

Several questions later, after hearing the CEO's concerns and getting much needed clarification, a tough question might be, "With all of these concerns, and him not responding to your challenges to step it up and make the requested changes, why is he still here?"  A tough question is usually one where, as with this example, you challenge your prospect. You could also push back against what was said in an effort to change outdated thinking or an incorrect assumption.

Several minutes later, after additional conversation, questions and clarification, the CEO says, "He's my son-in-law - that's why he's still here."  Now it's time for a great question.  A great question might sound something like, "So, even if you found the perfect replacement, the challenge for you is how do you replace your son-in-law as the sales leader without ruining the relationship you have with your daughter?" You'll know it's a great question because your prospect will say, "Great question."

The 3 levels of questions, the sequence and your ability to go wider and deeper are examples of the consultative approach to selling.  The consultative selling competency is by far, the one where most salespeople are the weakest.  Objective Management Group's (OMG) latest statistics, from the evaluations and assessments of around 1.6 million salespeople, show the following:

Only 35% of all salespeople have Consultative Seller as a strength.

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The top 10% have an average score of only 66

The bottom 10% have an average score of just 36

The average score for all salespeople is just 50.  The average salesperson has only 50% of the necessary attributes of the Consultative Seller competency which means that they suck at the consultative approach.

 There are four reasons why salespeople are so inherently bad at this:

  1. They need to be liked so they won't ask a question if they think the prospect will get upset with them for asking.
  2. Good questioning requires good listening skills and the only thing most salespeople are good at listening to is the sound of their own voice.
  3. Most salespeople have never been trained or coached to sell consultatively.
  4. Most salespeople are best at presenting and just can't wait long enough for the opportunity to present.

Here is another good article on consultative selling

Here is one more good article on consultative selling.

If you still have an appetite for more reading on the subject, here is another good one.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Consultative Selling, Dave Kurlan, accurate sales assessment, asking questions, active listening

Perhaps Hope is a Selling Strategy After All!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 09, 2017 @ 10:06 AM

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Image Copyright 2Jenn

You've heard that hope is not a strategy - and it isn't a strategy if you're sitting there saying to yourself, "I hope I win this deal..."

As you know, hope was a big news topic this week when James Comey revealed that President Trump said, "I hope you can let this go."  All kinds of partisan and legal strategies will be discussed relative to the meaning, intent and context for the word hope.

Earlier this week, Brad Ferguson, a long-time OMG Partner in Arizona said, "They'll meet with you based on hope and buy from you based on belief."  You'll find three short paragraphs with links below to clarify the ideal way to strategize by utilizing hope and belief.

It should go without saying that for a prospect to schedule a meeting based on hope you must have the right kind of first phone conversation where you identified an issue with which you might be able to help.  See this article for more on how to have a successful first phone conversation.

For a prospect to buy based on belief they must find you credible, likable, caring, relatable, expert and trustworthy.  I call this SOB Quality and this short video explains what it is and how you can easily achieve it.

Hope, as a significant selling strategy, is when you intentionally abandon all hope of getting the business. To better understand how, and why you must accomplish that, read more here.

Topics: cold call, Closing Sales, Dave Kurlan, Donald Trump, james comey, Consultative Selling

Closing and Negotiating Challenges - Symptoms of Another Selling Problem

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 14:04 PM

report.jpg Image Copyright Shironosov

I recently learned that one of OMG's clients in Europe purchased two goldfish. In keeping with their tradition, the client named the two fish, Recommended and Not Recommended.  Surprisingly, recruiting salespeople was not one of the topics addressed in this year's 2017 Selling Challenges Study.  Meghan Steiner, from Richardson, was nice enough to send me an advanced copy of the results.  There were a number of interesting findings and to learn what was covered and see my insights from the report, continue reading.

Consider the findings below that I pulled from the much larger report.  Respondents said the following issues are challenges for their companies:

  • 24% said gaining higher prices 
  • 20% said closing win/win deals
  • 17% said maintaining profitability
  • 24% said competing against a low cost provider
  • 16% said creating a compelling case for change
  • 19% said customers who continue to reopen the negotiation
  • 15% said positioning a competing value proposition

The 7 findings I listed above came from two different chapters of the report.  Higher prices, win/win deals and profitability came from the chapter on Negotiation.  Positioning, reopening negotiations, competing against low cost providers and the case for change came from the chapter on closing.  

"When I combined the 7 challenges, together they suggest that the
problem these companies really have is an inablity to sell value!"

The findings from the report came from a survey where most of the 300+ respondents were from companies larger than $500 million, with sales quotas generally running more than $1 million each.

How do the findings compare with OMG's scientific data from the evaluation of 1,100,000 salespeople from 12,000 companies?  Let's compare!

The average score for the Selling Value competency is 56 which means that the salespeople in the 370,000 rows of data in this query have, on average, 56% of the attributes in the Selling Value competency.  You can see that the top 10% are significantly more effective and the bottom 10% are significantly worse!

value2.jpgAnother way of looking at this competency is to determine the percentage of salespeople who have selling value as a weakness.  

"68% of the salespeople we looked at had Selling Value as a weakness.  

Our data shows that selling value is a much greater issue than the survey suggests.  The likely reason for this is that respondents from large companies may not understand why they are having the issues listed by the bullets above.  They only recongize the symptoms.

The Selling Value Competency is 1 of the 7 Tactical Selling Competencies that OMG measures, and 1 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies measured in all.  You can see the attributes for this competency in the screen shot from a sales force evaluation below.

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When companies continue to believe that their problems lie in negotiating and closing, they seek training on negotiating and closing!  When the real problem is selling value, you need to provide training on consultative selling, change your pricing strategy and provide training on selling value.

Here are four other things you should do:

1. See how your salespeople compare to others in your industry and to salespeople in general in any or all of the 21 Sales Core Competencies with OMG's complimentary stat finder tool.

2. Select only strong (16%) and elite (7%) salespeople with OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment.

3. Become more effective coaching your salespeople in all 21 Sales Core Competencies by attending my annual Sales Leadership Intensive where coaching for impact is the focus during the two day training.  There were only 6 seats left for the May 17-18 event outside of Boston.

4. Download the 2017 Sales Challenges Study from Richardson.

Topics: selling value, Consultative Selling, Dave Kurlan, objective management group, OMG Assessment, Richardson, negotiating, close more sales

What B2B Companies Must Learn from 10 Reasons Why Amazon is Destroying Retailers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 17, 2017 @ 06:04 AM

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Image Copyright AdrianHancu

Amazon generated almost $44 Billion in net revenue last year and it had to come from somewhere. That's not $44 Billion that people wouldn't have spent if not for Amazon.  It's money that people would have spent, at some retailer, probably within an hour of their home or office, but chose to buy from Amazon instead.  

You may think it's because Amazon saves them money but that isn't necessarily true.  And you may think it's simply more convenient to order from your laptop or mobile device but that might not be the case either.  I'm going to share my 10 reasons why this is happening and you might be very surprised with my conclusion at the end of the article where I provide an important warning for B2B Sellers.

How often have you needed or wanted something today?  Paying for overnight shipping was not acceptable, free prime two-day shipping was not soon enough, and ground shipping meant waiting forever.  You want it now.

So you traveled to the retailer and what happened?  If your experience was anything like mine, it was one of the following:

  1. The store was open but it didn't seem like anyone was working that day
  2. You found someone but they knew less than your pet
  3. You were attacked by an overly aggressive salesperson
  4. You found what you wanted but the checkout line wasn't moving
  5. The salesperson tried to talk you into something different from what you wanted
  6. They didn't have what you wanted in stock (or in your size or preferred color).
  7. You made it to the cashier but it took 10-minutes to find an SKU that would scan in their computer
  8. Their tiny bags were too small for what you purchased
  9. Their skimpy bags didn't support the weight of what you purchased
  10. You had to wait for them to bring a big box from "the back" and you could have driven to an Amazon warehouse and back in the time it took them.

Did you notice that I didn't say you found what you wanted but it was 10% more than on Amazon?

Amazon is destroying them.  It's in stock.  You can get it tomorrow.  You don't have to deal with morons. There's never a line.  They ship it right to your door and without a single salesperson they take care of you in a way that retailers seemingly can't.  

Because they are losing revenue and profit, retailers are compensating and making things worse.  They seem to specialize in slow, dumb and incompetent people; out of stock merchandies, outdated systems and frustrating customer service.  Why would anyone choose to have this experience when they can point, click, pay and get what they want?

If a retail chain is getting destroyed by Amazon, it should do the complete opposite of what most retailers are doing.  They are already losing money, so doing more of the same won't change their fate. They should hire more staff, provide better training, and focus on the customer experience - doing whatever it takes to dramatically improve the customer experience and hope that people are so delighted with their visit, how they were helped, their ability to get in an out on their timeline, and getting what they wanted, that the positive word of mouth could turn things around.

And that brings us to sales.  Selling has changed dramatically.  But the changes aren't limited to B2B sales.  B2C selling has changed just as much - perhaps even more.  So why are retailers still doing things the same as they were 40 years ago?  Their employees are low paid in comparison to their B2B cousins, under trained on product, not trained or trained using antiquated methods for greeting customers and helping them buy, and most of the employees don't seem to care all that much.  I believe the retailers are getting exactly what they are paying for and until they raise their expectations, compensation and training methods, they will continue to get destroyed by Amazon.

Of course there are exceptions.  Apple and Niketown immediately come to mind.  Neiman Marcus has a history of excellence.  But then who?  The list is pretty short.

There is a lot to be learned from this.  B2B companies don't need to look into a crystal ball because the B2C lessons are what lies in store for them if they don't realize that everything about selling has changed. If their salespeople are still selling transactionally, relying on demos and quotes, and trying to compete on price, they will be obsolete in two years.  Buyers will have no use for them.  They will be redundant.  

Your salespeople must follow a milestone-centric, customer focused sales process, take a consultative approach, sell value and abandon their old methods.  You are running out of time.

We show sales leaders how to make these changes at my annual Sales Leadership Intensive.  Join us May 17-18!

Topics: amazon.com, B2C, B2B, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales strategy

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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, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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