Salespeople in Small Companies are 43% Better at This and Other Salesenomics Insights

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 06, 2020 @ 20:01 PM

statistics

You seek out the best products, best stores, best websites and best experiences.  Doesn't it make sense to wonder about where you can find the best salespeople?

I asked Objective Management Group's (OMG) COO, John Pattison, to dig into some of our data from the evaluations of 1,932,059 salespeople from  companies and provide me with some scores.

I reviewed the data and have a number of very interesting and surprising Salesenomics conclusions to share.

For this exercise, we looked at large (more than 100 salespeople), mid-market (30-100 salespeople) and small/medium (fewer than 30 salespeople) companies.  Then we gathered average scores for each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as Sales Percentile.

It turns out that you'll find more excuse making at larger companies where salespeople scored 43% worse than in small companies.  Why?  Excuse makers aren't nearly as exposed in large companies as they are in small companies, with more layers of management between themselves and those who might call them out for it.  While salespeople from small companies are the weakest overall, they are much less likely to make excuses.  They'll suck without placing blame!

Large companies are also where you'll find salespeople who are more comfortable talking about money and having the kinds of financial conversations that are so necessary for sales success.  Salespeople in large companies scored 21% better in this competency.  Why?  Large companies often sell high-ticket products and services to other large companies and when salespeople aren't comfortable having those financial conversations they fail.  With high-ticket sales, quotas are quite large and when salespeople are missing quota, they are missing by millions, not thousands!  That makes it difficult to stay under the radar.

Large companies have salespeople who are far less likely to use social selling, scoring 39% worse than salespeople at smaller companies!  Salespeople at large companies have an easier time scheduling meetings than those in smaller and lesser-known companies. Think rolling out the red carpet!  But social selling isn't the only thing they don't use.  They are also the worst at using CRM!  The executives who invested millions on their CRM must be absolutely thrilled over that finding.  It tells them that they aren't the only ones frustrated with CRM adaptation and compliance.

The best salespeople overall can be found in mid-market companies where the average sales quotient is ten points higher than in small or large companies.  This makes sense too because those are the companies that take sales training and coaching most seriously.  Many large companies buy sales training but don't really care if it changes anything because they're just checking off a box.  Many small companies don't want to pay for sales training because they're afraid it won't change anything.  But many mid-market companies need it, want it, pay for it, and care tremendously about the outcomes.

The most rejection proof salespeople can also be found in mid-market companies.  It makes sense because that's where you'll find the best hunters!  Mid-market companies also have salespeople who are better at selling value, taking a consultative approach to selling and qualifying.

Salespeople who have the worst scores in Presentation Approach can be found at small companies.  That's where you'll also find salespeople who are less likely to follow the sales process.  I believe this is because there is far less discipline at small companies.

I didn't stop there.  I also looked at sales percentile by industry.

The best?  Commercial Real Estate with an average Sales Percentile of 54%.  The worst? Transportation and shipping with an average Sales Percentile of only 35%.

That's a 55% difference!  It makes sense though.  Many of the commercial realtors that have called on me have attempted to take a consultative approach even though there were still some that began conversations by asking for my lease expiration date.  That transactional approach can be seen with shippers too.  All of the shippers that have called on us seem to be unaware that there are any buying criteria other than price!

So what does all of this mean?  

It means that no matter where we look, how we look at it, how we slice it and dice it, and how many findings we dissect, most salespeople are still guilty of sucking and most companies are still guilty of allowing them to remain sucky.

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn discussion thread here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales competenices, crm, sales statistics, sales analysis, sales data

Dave Kurlan's Predictions for Sales Organization in 2020

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 16, 2019 @ 10:12 AM

2020

Before I can make any predictions for 2020, let's start with these ten simple truths about selling for proper context.

 

ONE:  Selling is not as difficult or as simple as many would have you understand.  

TWO: While there are certainly nuances that influence how selling changes based on the target audience and complexity, selling is essentially the same whether it is technology, pharmaceuticals, capital equipment, financial services, cars, components, accounting or any of 200 other industries.

THREE: Selling is about opening people's minds, changing people's minds, and getting them to take action.

FOUR: Effective Selling requires a well thought-out sales strategy, sales process, sales methodology and appropriate sales tactics.

FIVE: Salespeople can be easily sabotaged by weak Sales DNA.

SIX: One skill that all salespeople must have is the ability to lower resistance.

SEVEN: Salespeople must be likable and trustworthy.

EIGHT: Salespeople must be willing work hard.

NINE: Salespeople must be motivated enough to overcome challenges, competition, negativity and difficult prospects.

TEN: Salespeople must be fearless.

Regular readers know that my company, Objective Management Group (OMG), has evaluated 

1,927,898 salespeople from companies.  We measure 21 Sales specific Core Competencies which you can learn more about here.

With the context firmly in place, we can discuss my predictions for 2020.

CRM - Every senior executive I speak with is frustrated with their investments in mainstream CRM. No exceptions.  If they bought Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, or Oracle, they have salespeople who hate it, have to be nagged to update it, don't use it at all, and worst of all, they aren't getting the realtime insights or views into the actual pipeline that prompted the investment in the first place.  I think this is the year that companies finally begin pulling the plug and cutting their losses on the big CRM applications, and start over with smaller, sales-specific opportunity and pipeline focused applications.  I believe that any company that wants their sales process, complete with dynamic playbook and scorecards fully integrated into CRM should choose Membrain.

VILT - More companies will choose Virtual Instructor Led Training despite the evidence that live, interactive sales training is far more effective.  Why?  VILT is much less expensive!  But it might be several years before companies recognize that just like CRM, going the way of the popular trend doesn't move the needle on sales and profits and will eventually result in a wasted investment in the wrong training.  Selling can be taught via VILT, but it must be demonstrated over and over until salespeople can execute what they learned.  That means live role-playing and not scripted actors. Your salespeople must be able to play the part of the difficult prospect that they face each day and challenge the trainer to have the realtime conversation that will change minds.  It simply isn't possible with VILT. 

AI - Artificial Intelligence will continue to grow in popularity and acceptance because, once again, the sellers of AI say it's the next thing you must have.  AI can be very helpful automating tasks on the marketing side, where bots might be able to replace salespeople when it comes to conversations via email. But if you have a complex sale, the last thing in the world that you would want is to substitute a bot for a skilled salesperson! 

Evaluations and Assessments -  As with CRM, I think this is the year that companies will realize that you must use pre-employment assessments for effective sales selection.  I believe that they will finally come to recognize that personality assessments and behavioral styles assessments aren't predictive of sales success.  Objective Management Group (OMG), winner of the Gold Medal for the Top Sales Assessment eight consecutive years, leads the way in accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments but for every one of the 29,000 companies that use OMG, there are 172 that don't (of five million B2B companies).  I don't know if it is naivety, ignorance, stubbornness or stupidity, but there is plenty of science that suggests this must change.

Consider this graphic. 

quota-attrition-1

In the graphic above, only 49% of reps achieve quota at companies that don't use pre-employment assessments.  That increases to 61% at companies that do use pre-employment assessments, and 88% at companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.

The same holds true for turnover.  It's 19% when companies don't use pre-employment assessments, 14% when they do, and only 8% when they use OMG.  That's why OMG has won the gold for 8 consecutive years!

Growth: The economy is booming and the only question is whether your salespeople can outsell your competition.  For each opportunity your salespeople work on in 2020, only one company will have the lowest price. If that's not you, then you must become really effective at selling value.  This is the year that companies will become serious about making that happen, investing in sales training that stresses a consultative and value based approach, grounded in sales process.

Change: Sales leaders and sales managers will have to do better in 2020 but how can we reach them?  If you look at those who follow these important hashtags on LinkedIn, it seems that the people who could make a difference are missing in action:

#salesleadership 5,067

#salesleader 268

#salesleaders 367

#salesmanagement 9,054

#salesmanager 3,046

#salesmanagers 608

#salesprocess 4,651

#salespipeline 121

In a great 2020 economy, companies will have the cash to make smart decisions, invest in quality training and tools, and coach up their salespeople to beat the competition but it will take engaged, proactive sales leaders to make it happen!

What do you think?  Leave your comments on the LInkedIn discussion for this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales assesments, crm, Sales DNA, sales predictions, VILT, Artificial Intelligence

What is the Sales Stack and Do You Need it?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 01, 2019 @ 20:10 PM

sales-stack-1

You bought a really nice, new, laptop computer and you thought to yourself, "Now I'm all set!"  But are you?  You needed a case to carry it around, a thumb drive for quickly moving files from your laptop to another, and a printer and if you have a Mac notebook, a port that will serve as adapters to your various cables.  These are your accessories.

You'll also need cloud storage, a broadband connection, email, a browser and 20 or so software applications so your computer can help you do the things you purchased it to do.  This is your technology stack.

But now there is a sales stack too.  What is the sales stack, and should you have one for your salespeople?

The sales stack consists of CRM, gamification, lead engagement, pricing and configuration, proposal generation, e-signature, content sharing, video conferencing, video production, video server, broadcast email, social selling tools, calendar scheduling, sales compensation, and more.  These tools, along with sales and sales management training and coaching, keep sales enablement folks busy.

And therein lies the problem.

You don't need all of these tools!  They are a distraction.  They create busy work.  They take time to learn and integrate.  Very few of them actually help you sell.  But you are told by the people that develop them that you must have these tools.  And you are told by sales enablement folks that you will be getting these tools.  After all, if you are the VP of sales enablement and you don't keep the flow of tools, applications, integration, training and implementation of these tools coming, there isn't much of a need for you to be there.  In order to justify your existence, you "keep 'em coming!"  Sales Enablement is the sales stack's best friend.

The question is, if we didn't have a sales enablement function, how many of these tools would we acquire based on the following criteria?

  • They help salespeople follow their sales process
  • They help salespeople stay organized in their efforts to close business
  • They provide sales leadership with important, realtime data
  • They provide insight and visualization into the sales pipeline
  • They give salespeople more time to sell and less time doing paperwork
  • They make salespeople more efficient

You would have CRM, but it probably wouldn't be Salesforce.com.  If you have a complex sale or a 1 month or longer sales cycle I would advise you to choose Membrain.

You would have an e-signature application to streamline getting your agreements signed.  I like AdobeSign.

If your salespeople aren't in the field or in a territory you would probably have video conferencing.  I like Zoom.

To avoid sending emails back and forth you would have a calendar scheduling application.  I like Youcanbook.me

If you run a company or lead the sales organization, those 4 tools would help your salespeople be more efficient, more effective and more focused.  Add anything else to that "stack" and you are taking away efficiency and effectiveness.

The stack won't sell for you.  The stack won't make your salespeople better.  You don't want the stack for the sake of having the stack.

That's my story and I'm "stacking" to it.  Leave your comments in the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, crm, sales effectiveness, sales stack

Sales Playbook and CRM Problems - What the Data Tells Us

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 06, 2018 @ 08:06 AM

pollen

I can't remember a spring where the pollen was worse than in 2018.  You go to the car wash and an hour later your beautiful car is covered in yellow crud and you're out $20.  A waste.

Perhaps you have an irrigation system with a rain sensor that tells the controller that your lawn and flower beds don't need to be watered today because it is pouring outside.  Yet, when you look out the window you see that the sprinklers are running despite the existence of a rain sensor.  A waste.

Did you ever spend hours assembling a child's toy only to watch it sit unused until the kid outgrew it and you gave it away?  Waste.

For years I noticed that most people never touched the manuals, handouts, CD's, card decks, and books that were distributed to them for the training programs in which they participated.  How many books, studies, manuals and reports have you received that sat and collected dust, reside on your hard drive or in the cloud and remain unopened to this day?  In my office, I have 6 shelves full of books that I never read and probably won't read half of the books on my Kindle either!  Waste.

That leads me to the growing demand for Sales Playbooks.  Companies want them, get excited about them, believe they are important, pay tens of thousands of dollars for them, and invest many hours collaborating for a successful final document.  You won't believe the wasteful things that happen next!

Over the past several years, I have witnessed two Sales Playbook creation scenarios repeatedly play out.

  • The executives who are most adamant about wanting to collaborate engage early but then fail to invest the time and effort necessary to provide the data, sample reports, knowledge, expectations, metrics and other information required to create a powerful and useful playbook.  They lose interest and without the necessary company-specific information, they end up with a playbook that is more generic so they don't bother to distribute the book to their salespeople.
  • Collaboration takes place as expected, a great playbook is created, and after distributing it to their salespeople, the books are never again opened or referenced.

In my experience, there is a sense that as long as the company issues a check to pay for the creation of the playbook, they can check the box and move on to their next project.  Check for a check.  They believe that getting the project started is more important than getting the project finished, seeing it through and assuring that the book is utilized according to expectations.  Waste.

I am a big fan of Membrain, the sales enablement application that manages pipeline with a focus on sales process and opportunities with integrated CRM.  Not only do they have a version with Baseline Selling built in, their interface is designed specifically for the creation of playbooks within the sales process.  Each milestone can be a separate playbook, with drop-downs, calculations, conditions, if-thens, cause and effect, instructions, examples and more.

Why invest in a stand alone playbook that either won't be completed or won't be used when there is such a terrific sales enablement application that allows you to integrate all of the desired components in one place?

I will no longer invest time to collaborate with senior executives to compile playbooks when Membrain is a significantly better alternative.  I am happy to help companies integrate playbook and sales process within an application like Membrain. Salespeople that live in Membrain are more able to drive their opportunities forward and manage their pipelines.

The biggest challenge with CRM/Opportunity/Pipeline Management applications is that most salespeople hate them and resist using them.  Want proof?  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of them is CRM Savvy. Look at the data below from a subset totaling 450,000 salespeople that were evaluated in the past 5 years.  

crm-usage

The data, showing 3 attributes of the CRM Savvy competency, clearly shows that while the majority of salespeople use CRM, stronger salespeople are 56% more likely to use it than weaker salespeople.  Fewer than 40% of salespeople embrace CRM and fewer than 10% actually live in their CRM application. Living in CRM is a best practice so what does that tell you?  It means that if your salespeople aren't choosing to live in your CRM application, you chose the wrong freaking CRM application! 

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, crm, sales playbook, sales data

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

perfect-day.jpg

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

Selling Value - Everything You Always Wanted to Know

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 03, 2014 @ 23:12 PM

value

Copyright: kchung / 123RF Stock Photo

Some news stories just don't go away.  Today those stories include Ferguson, Bill Cosby, ISIS and The NFL's Domestic Abuse Problem.  There is also Obamacare, Immigration and Ebola.  They remain in the news more because the media continues to milk these stories then readers demand to know more.

When we look at the sales stories of the recent past, the topics that sales experts continue writing about are Social Selling, Inbound Marketing, LinkedIn, Twitter, CRM and Lead Nurturing.  They remain in the news more because the writers are attempting to sell their own services that happen to support those topics more than readers demanding to read more about it.  There's nothing wrong with these topics of course, but sales experts should be addressing topics more closely aligned with helping sellers sell, instead of so much space being devoted to what takes place at the top and above the top of the sales funnel.

So if not those topics, then what should we all be writing about - all the time - that would be a real difference maker for salespeople?

I believe that it's the importance of and ability to sell value.  Why, you ask? 

Selling value is the one thing that all salespeople, operating without benefit of the lowest price, absolutely, positively, must be able to do well in order to consistently earn the business.  

Despite the need to effectively sell value, it happens to be one of things that salespeople do very poorly. The importance of selling value isn't going away, but sales experts are not spending enough time talking about it, writing about it, explaining it, or providing training on it.  The most critical aspect of this topic is understanding the many factors that support a salesperson's ability to sell value.  Selling value isn't a specific thing that one says or does, as much as it's an outcome of several other things.  According to Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics (close to one million salespeople assessed), of the 6 most important factors required to sell value, most salespeople have, on average, only 2 of them as strengths or skills.

This is such an important topic that last week I hosted a broadcast on Selling Value in Modern Times.  If you would like to watch it, run time is 46 minutes.

According to a Google search on my blog, I've written about or mentioned selling value, in some way, shape or form, 766 times in the past 10 years.  Here are 10 of my favorite articles on selling value and when you extract the major points from each, it provides a very nice collection of guidelines for selling value:

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

Closing and Negotiating Challenges - Symptoms of Another Selling Problem

Sales 102 - The Pitch Deck, the Price Reduction and the Data

This Simple Strategy Will Sell Your ROI and Value Proposition Every Time

Why This is Still a Great Selling Sales Book After 10 Years

Price Quotes and the Inability of Salespeople to Sell Value

The One Thing Most Salespeople Are Unable to Do

Why There is No Value When You Provide Value Via Special Pricing

Top 10 Outcomes When Salespeople Screw Up Selling "Value Added"

Top 5 Sales Issues Leaders Should Not Focus On

This is the One Thing Missing from the New Way of Selling

Do You/Should You Have a Complex Sale?

Top 10 Reasons Why Salespeople Let Price Drive the Sale

How to Add Value to Your Sales Offering

New Metrics for the Sales Force - Unusual Thoughts for Unusual Times

Boston Ballet and Money Tolerance - What it Means to Your Sales Force

As I mentioned above, selling value does not stand on its own.  You should now understand that from the value selling broadcast and the articles above,  there are several other factors that contribute to selling value.  Unless salespeople are able to effectively integrate all of the necessary factors (Sales DNA, sales process, strategy and tactics), then the end result will always be salespeople that are only able to talk about value, instead of actually becoming the value.

I'll be hosting a webinar on December 10 at 11 AM Eastern Time.  We'll be discussing the 5 Hidden Factors that Determine the Fate of Every Sales Force.  Selling Value is certainly one of those factors!  It will run for about 45 minutes.  If you would like to attend you can register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, crm, twitter, Pipeline, linkedin, social selling, selling value, Lead Nurturing, top of the funnel, Bill Cosby, Value Proposition

Top 10 Reasons For Inaccurate Forecasts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 @ 07:02 AM

sales pipelineFor double article Friday, in addition to my Sales Pipeline Nazi article, I have the following bonuses for you:

For those of you who wanted to attend the Webinar on the Sales Candidate Analyzer, here is a link to the recording.

WittyParrot has just released the Top 50 Sales Productivity Tips ebook with 50 Experts, including me, offering their advice.  Download it here.

And the March Issue of Top Sales Magazine is available!  It includes an article from me and several other noteworthy sales writers.  You can download your copy here.

**********

The Sales Pipeline Nazi

When I wrote this article, the Northeast corner of the US was being walloped by yet another snowstorm, which in this case, was very accurately forecasted.  At the same time, the first email I saw today had a link to a very funny video – a spoof of a Pipeline Review being run by Hitler.  Here is a link to that video on You Tube.

So the storm and the video led me to the following thoughts.

We joke a lot about sales forecasts being no more accurate than weather forecasts, but everything is relative.  An inaccurate forecast of cloudy won’t have much of an impact on anyone, but an inaccurate forecast of sunny and warm might.  An inaccurate forecast of flurries might not cause a problem if they don’t materialize, but an inaccurate forecast of a foot of snow – in either direction – has serious consequences.

Inaccurate sales forecasts are legendary.  Here are the 10 most common reasons why salespeople, sales managers, Sales Directors and CEO’s suffer from this: 

  • They lack a formal, staged, criteria-based pipeline.
  • They lack a functional, sales-specific CRM or Pipeline Management application.
  • Their sales process is not integrated into the CRM/Pipeline Management application.
  • Salespeople have the power to suggest the likelihood of closing.
  • Salespeople have the power to override the application’s weighting of an opportunity.
  • Salespeople fail to LIVE in the CRM application, providing infrequent updates, causing most report and dashboard data to be outdated.
  • There is a lack of accountability for keeping the application up-to-date - not weekly, not daily, but in real-time!
  • The data being entered is not being inspected by management.
  • Nobody cares about getting it right.
  • The concept of pipeline management has not been integrated into the culture.

As for the weather, we learn to live with those inaccurate forecasts by preparing for the worst.  We also learn to check back often, get an updated forecast the night before, the morning of and right before that outdoor event, trip to the airport, or 6-hour drive.  What if our salespeople did that?  What if sales managers did that?

If sales forecasts are truly like weather forecasts and we have learned to make the best of the weather, why can’t we simply employ the same strategies and tactics to sales forecasts?  Why can’t we get updates, check-in, check back, verify and re-verify?  Why can’t we get it right?  Why don’t we get it right?

In my opinion, there are a combination of factors at play that discourage salespeople from taking the steps that I just mentioned:

  • Laziness – “It’s too much work!”
  • Fear of Rejection – "When I check back, what if they changed their mind?”
  • Need for Approval (Need to be Liked)  - “They might not like me anymore.”
  • Fear of being wrong – “How could I live with myself?”
  • Pressure to find new opportunities – The only time hunting takes precedence over anything!
  • Consequences of removing an opportunity and its related value from the forecast and/or pipeline – “It’s much better to slide the opportunity to next month than the alternative.”

We must get sales forecasting right.  And we can.  If one company can do it, all companies can do it.  But it takes a commitment, from the top down, to make it work.  It takes work after the commitment has been made.  If the first 9 reasons, from my list at the beginning of the article, are properly addressed and the appropriate commitment has been made, then any company wishing to have an accurate sales forecast can have one. 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, crm, Pipeline, membrain, salesforce.com, sales forecasts

The Future of Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 @ 08:12 AM

holograhpicMy vision, of how the future of selling is shaping up, appears in today's (the December 18, 2013) issue of Top Sales Magazine.

After you have read the article, please contribute your comments, suggestions, visions, rebuttals and opinions which are all welcome right here.

This issue also features the 2013 Award Winners of the Top Sales & Marketing Awards in 18 Categories.

We did pretty well this year!

Objective Management Group (OMG) took home the Gold for the 3rd straight year for Top Sales Assessment Tool.

At Kurlan & Associates, Frank Belzer won the Silver for Top New Sales & Marketing Book, Sales Shift.  By the way, if you haven't read Frank's Blog, it's also deserving of recognition.

I won the Bronze for Top Sales & Marketing Blog - my 3rd consecutive win for Understanding the Sales Force.

I also won the Gold for Top Sales & Marketing Article - Sales Management Best Practices - Are Your Salespeople Challengers?

Our Partner, Membrain, won the Gold for Top CRM Tool.

And many of our friends and colleagues were honored too.  I congratulate all of them!!

As you contemplate the Future of Selling, think about how these changes might affect your company this month, this year, next year, and the years ahead.

Is your Sales Infrastructure able to support the sales team of the future?

Is your Sales Architecture optimized to support sales managers spending 50% of their time coaching?

Is Sales Management up to the task of providing effective coaching?

Has Sales Enablement provided everything needed so that your salespeople can go to market with the right strategy, execute and have the required conversations?

Is Sales Talent Management providing the sales talent you will need to grow revenue?

Does your Human Capital have the sales DNA and the skills required for success?

During January, I'll be writing more about these 6 keys to the ideal sales organization.

Tomorrow, I'll present my Top 10 Articles of 2013 so that you can vote on your favorite.  I'll publish the winning article before we break for the holiday.

Finally, Gazelles Growth Institute has added my Baseline Selling video broadcast to its lineup of top-notch, world-class speakers and on-demand courses.  It came out great and I'm really delighted with the work they did.  If you haven't been able to work with us directly and want an inexpensive taste of how the Baseline Selling sales process and methodology work, you should check out this and the other video courses at Gazelles Growth Institute.

Thanks for reading and don't forget to read my article, The Future of Selling, and enter your comments right here

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, crm, move to inside sales, membrain, top sales magazine, sales predictions, technology in sales, connectleader, cisco, holographic meetings

Science and the Length of Your Sales Cycle

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 09, 2013 @ 07:10 AM

When Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluates a sales force, 1 of the 26 questions we answer for clients is, Can You Shorten Your Sales Cycle?" 

We have some science behind that and as part of the analysis we conduct on a sales force, we can determine whether they have the skills and sales DNA for that to become a reality.

There are 11 factors that contribute to determining whether a salesperson or sales force can shorten their sale cycle, not including the factors that determine whether or not a salesperson is trainable and/or coachable.

In the screen shot below, this real sales force (names have been changed) has, on average, only 3 of the factors.

Shorten Sales Cycle Factors

One of the 11 factors, that has a great deal to do with the length of the sales cycle, is whether or not the sales force and/or the salespeople have an effective sales process.  As you can see from the image above, nobody was following an effective sales process.  Another really important factor is exactly what salespeople actually believe - what they think - relative to the sales cycle.  In the next screen shot, you might be able to read some of the beliefs that this sales force had around the sales cycle:

SLBeliefsThose two factors alone are enough to double the length of a sales cycle!  There are still 9 more factors that have an impact; however, just from what we've discussed and reviewed so far, it's obvious that this company's sales cycle is M-U-C-H longer than it needs to be.

That gives you a sense for how we go about answering questions for companies.  But there is an additional way!

At my sales consulting company, Kurlan & Associates, we use, love and strongly recommend Membrain as a sales pipeline tool.  They have awesome pipeline analytics that are available right out of the box.  Check out the next 2 screen shots that have to do with - you guessed it - sales cycle length!

Sales Cycle Age

This screen shot basically shows that this company has almost no chance of closing an opportunity beyond 51 days.

Sales Cycle Time in Phase

This screen shot shows that opportunities, that spend more than 10 days in any stage, rarely close.

Sales Science:  When you combine the contributing factors to a long sales cycle and then provide salespeople with actual statistics that show what happens when they allow the sales cycle to extend, we can change behaviors.  When we provide an effective sales process, milestones, qualifiers and effective sales strategies and tactics, we can change results.

Are you using all of the science that you can get your hands on to radically change the way your sales force performs?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, crm, Sales DNA, pipeline management, sales science

Are Your Strategic Partnerships Your Passive Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 @ 08:01 AM

partnerToday, more than ever before, strategic partnerships, both formal and informal, are an important element of conducting business.  They exist at all levels, including these 10:

  1. Insurance agencies electing to provide a particular insurance carrier's policies,
  2. Marketing firms and their choice of printers, photographers and trade show booth fabricators,
  3. VAR's determining which hardware and software to integrate for their customers,
  4. A CEO's inner circle of advisors and resources,
  5. The directors of a company's board and their commitment to making introductions,
  6. The business networking group to which a salesperson belongs,
  7. A payroll company's partnership with a benefits provider,
  8. The attorneys, accountants, and insurance agents who work together to help clients,
  9. The distributors that resell a manufacturer's products and
  10. The referrals and introductions which happy customers make for their sales reps.

There are so many more examples.

Who are your formal and informal strategic partners? 
Whom do you recommend?
Who recommends you?
 
While many of you are using LinkedIn to accomplish some of the above, it just isn't the same as having real-life, real-world business relationships!  Get off the computer, on the phone and make this happen!
One of the most challenging areas of generating revenue is finding new business.  Shouldn't one of your priorities be to establish alliances who can lead to fufilling, profitable two-way partnerships with as many people and companies as possible?
 
At both Objective Management Group and Kurlan & Associates, one of my roles is to identify strategic partners.  Not necessarily the biggest.  Not necessarily the most well-known.  Not necessarily the one with whom everyone else wants to partner.
 
Instead, we want to make sure that a strategic partner is a company who:
  • Has people we know and trust,
  • Cares as much as we do about our clients and their challenges and
  • Can provide the ideal, complimentary solution in a related area - one that extends beyond our core competency of sales force development.
Let me introduce you to a few of the companies with whom we are proud to partner:
  • Everyone needs powerful, but easy-to-use pipeline management which emphasizes sales process, requires a minimal number of clicks and data entry, and has powerful out-of-the-box reporting and dashboards.  Our strategic CRM Partner understands this and has designed the best application that I have ever customized and used.  Please meet the Project Manager at Membrain, Henrik Oquist.  Contact Henrik .
  • Everyone needs marketing and lead generation help.  Whether the exposure and leads come from inbound, internal, outbound, print, internet, email, social sites, events, PR, collateral, or advertising, one thing remains constant.  There must be alignment between sales and marketing, a gap which increases in size in accordance with the size of most companies.  Our strategic Marketing Partner understands the importance of marketing and sales being aligned, and the role which they work to creatively support to drive sales and revenue.  Please meet the Founder and CEO of PENTA Communications, Inc.Deborah Penta.  Contact Deborah.
  • And everyone needs to make the most of their prospecting time.  Few salespeople, especially selling executives, have the time to get on the phone and dial the names on their lists.  That's where our strategic calling partner comes in.  They handle the dialing and you and/or your salespeople simply complete the conversations - a week's worth in an hour!  Please meet the Founder and CEO of ConnectLeader, Senraj Soundar.  Contact Senraj.
Over the coming weeks and months I'll introduce you to some more people whom you should know.  What will you do to strengthen the mutual quality of your formal and informal strategic partnerships?  Can they be your passive sales force?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Force, crm, strategic alliances, strategic partners, pipeline management tool, sales & marketing alignment

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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