Salesenomics - Many Sales Organizations Are Stuck in the 1980's

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 22, 2021 @ 07:11 AM

1980s

Today is moving day for Objective Management Group.  When we first toured our new space, John Pattison, OMG's COO said, "It looks like something the 1980's barfed up!"  I'm happy to report that thanks to big-time help from PENTA Marketing CEO Deborah Penta, our new space is bright, cheery, modern, energetic, open and functional! 

Thinking about the 80's got me thinking...

When was the last time you saw a black and white television or even a console color TV?

How about an electric typewriter?

Or a car that didn't have anti-lock brakes?

You would have to return to the 1980's to see those things and when it comes to their operations, some sales organizations are still in the 1980's.

For example, check out these statistics from OMG's evaluations of 30,000 sales teams and more than two million salespeople.

31% of companies don't use CRM.

44% do not have a way to track the opportunities in their pipelines.

89% do not qualify their proposals.

39% do not track whether their salespeople are under/over quota.  

54% do not track win rates

51% do not know their average order size

74% do not track the length of their sales cycle

40% do not track the number of opportunities in the pipeline

65% do not track the quality of the opportunities in the pipeline

35% do not track margins!

90% do not track the number of meetings required to close

96% do not track the cost of a sale

Unfortunately, there is more, but these are the head turners and it makes me wonder...

It's been widely reported for years now, that fewer than 50% of salespeople are hitting quota.  From the data shown above, we know that 39% of companies don't even track that.  What percentage of their reps do you think are hitting quota?  My guess is less than 20% (think 80/20 rule) so how much worse would it be if those companies were included in the data?  I'm guessing we would learn that fewer than 33% of all salespeople are hitting quota.  That's much closer to what I from companies every day.

We are no longer in the early stages of the information era.  Data is king so how can companies operate without this crucial information?  Even prior to the dawn of the information age, companies found ways to track this information, so why would some choose to ignore this today?

I'm guessing that most of the companies in question are small with less than $20 Million in revenue and fewer than 8 salespeople.  I assume that they are not tech companies and more likely than not come from older industries, like building materials, small manufacturers and small industrial distributors.  But I'm just guessing.

You can easily track everything you should be tracking with the right CRM application.  OMG has an integration with what we believe is the best sales-specific CRM application in the world, Membrain.  It's user-friendly, ideal for complex sales, easy to customize, produces the most important data and reporting out of the box, and you won't have to nag your salespeople to use it. And for fans of Baseline Selling, there is a BLS specific edition of Membrain too.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, crm, omg, KPI's, objective management group, sales team evaluation

Most Sales Processes, Funnels and Pipelines are How Old?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 29, 2021 @ 16:09 PM

Have you ever conducted a Google or Amazon search for one thing only to be presented with search results that were completely different than what you were looking for?

I was looking for an image of a sales funnel and couldn't believe what I found!  My search results can be found here.  Can you believe all of those images of sales funnels?  Look them over and see if you can recognize the  problem with all of them.

There were a number of marketing funnels included on the page but I wanted to see the images for sales funnels. 

The first one I found had the title, "Sales Funnel Stages."  It had six stages and none of the stages were sufficiently defined so as to determine where a prospect is in the sales process or for forecasting whether the opportunity will close and when it will close.  The six stages were:

        1. Awareness
        2. Interest
        3. Consideration
        4. Intent
        5. Evaluation
        6. Purchase

I'm sorry, but that is not a predictive sales funnel.  Awareness is a marketing stage.  Purchase is post-pipeline.  Evaluation is just like consideration.  Intent - is that intent with us or intent in general?  This funnel is for an optimistic sales leader who wants things to look good but I guarantee that the win rate out of this funnel is brutal.

I found a variation of that funnel without the evaluation stage and with intent replaced by decision.  In other words, they are evaluating!

The second funnel I found had the title, "Sales Funnel."  It was four stages so that seemed promising until I saw the stages:

        1. Awareness
        2. Interaction
        3. Interest
        4. Action

More awareness.  Interaction - you mean like a conversation to get them interested?  And once they were interested they were going to take action?  Wow.  I'm sure that has a high win-rate.  Not.

Then there was a variation of that funnel where Interest is replaced by Decision.  So we go from a conversation to a decision.  It's very transactional, isn't it?

Then I found a "Detailed Guide to Building a Sales Funnel" and it even had descriptions of its five stages:

        1. Unaware
        2. Lead
        3. Prospect
        4. Customer
        5. Fan

In this funnel, they go from lead to prospect to customer so the only part of the sales funnel that has anything to do with selling is stage 3 - prospect!  Guess what their win rate must be?  This is an incorrectly named marketing funnel!

Then I found a three-stage six-part funnel that had:

        1. Awareness
          1. Visit
          2. Lead
        2. Consideration
          1. Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
          2. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
          3. Opportunity
        3. Decision
          1. Customer

It appears more complex than the funnel before this one but it is essentially the same thing with the same problem.  The entire sales part of the sales funnel was 2.3 - opportunity.

It was only a matter of time before I found a graphically modern and pleasing version of the original sales process, AIDA:

        1. Awareness
        2. Interest
        3. Decision
        4. Action

Now it should make sense to you.  Nearly every single pipeline, funnel and sales process shown on that page full of funnel images is based on this old, antiquated AIDA process that was developed by St. Elmo Lewis in 1898.  That's right. In the 19th century, five years before Henry Ford rolled out the first Model A from his plant in 1903, St. Elmo Lewis gave the world a sales process that is still being used by most companies.

So what should a modern funnel look like?

It should have just four stages.  Any additional stages would be for marketing and if it's marketing-related it doesn't belong in the sales funnel!

The funnel should mimmic the sales process.  The stages don't necessarily need to have the same names but the stages should represent the same milestones.

The funnel or pipeline should trace the evolution of a sales opportunity as it moves from suspect to prospect to qualified opportunity to closable opportunity.

          1. Suspect - you have a first meeting, call, or video scheduled (3 milestones) based on discovering that they have issues that you can address
          2. Prospect - they have a compelling reason to buy what you sell and buy it from you (5 milestones)
          3. Qualified - they are thoroughly qualified to do business with you (7 milestones)
          4. Closable - they have given you a verbal and you are waiting to formalize the agreement (3 milestones)

If you want to see what a funnel should look like when you bring it to life, in the context of a full and comprehensive sales process, then watch this video.  It has a run-time of ten minutes.  I have shared this video before so if you have seen it and don't need to see it in the context of this article, feel free to skip past.

You heard and saw in the video that the only complete sales process with a built-in methodology is Baseline Selling.  Baseline Selling is pre-integrated and easy to further customize in the Baseline Selling edition of Membrain, simply the best sales-specific CRM application on the planet.  Check it out here

The danger of having your funnel rooted in 120-year-old theory becomes even more troublesome when your sales training and coaching is based on this and it is this which is integrated into your CRM.

It should be crystal clear by now that most of what you learn about sales today, is no more relevant, thorough, fresh, on-point or correct than the sales process served up by St. Elmo Lewis in 1898.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales pipeline, crm, sales funnel

FOX News and CNN Can Help You Conduct Better Sales Opportunity Reviews

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 17, 2020 @ 13:08 PM

cnn-fox-news_list

I don't really care whether or not you like, approve of, tolerate, or agree with President Trump and/or the issues he stands for.  Doesn't matter to me.  And you shouldn't care what I think of him or which side of that invisible center line I am on.  Shouldn't matter to you.  While this is an article about coaching salespeople, I am going to use the current divisiveness as an analogy to help you better understand how sales leaders can have a huge impact on your salespeople.

If you're on the side that hates the President and can't wait for him to leave office when Biden gets elected, you might be watching CNN.  They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for attack.  They will rarely, if ever, share any of his accomplishments, wins or achievements and even lie to make sure he is constantly vilified.  What fun for his critics!

If you're on the side that loves, likes or tolerates the President and you prefer that he be reelected instead of Biden, you might be watching FOX.  They will report on and amplify anything that Trump does that can possibly be ripe for praise.  They will rarely, if ever, share his disappointments, defeats or mistakes and even lie to make sure he is praised (except on their hard news shows which do tend to go right down the middle).  What fun for his fans!

OK, so that should have been detached and objective enough to prevent anyone getting upset with me so far.  Hooray for me because that isn't easy these days.  But you ask, what does all this have to do with coaching salespeople through an opportunity review?

There are two sides to every story.  Trump is rarely as horrific as CNN makes him out to be and rarely as awesome as FOX makes him out to be.  The truth is always somewhere in the middle. The same holds true for your salespeople when you ask them to tell you about a current opportunity and why it might be in a stage of the pipeline that it's been stalled in for weeks or months.

Your salesperson might explain what a great opportunity this is, how well they have connected with their contact, the good feedback they have received from their conversations, why they expect movement in a week or two, how this is just the tip of the iceberg because there's more where this came from, and they are extremely confident.  Like FOX talking about Trump.

You look in your CRM application and observe that critical milestones have not been met, it's been stuck in stage 2 for 60 days, the salesperson still has not met with the decision maker, doesn't know the compelling reason why they would switch to your company, and noted that their company has been buying from the same incumbent for 8 years yet the salesperson hasn't uncovered a single negative issue about that incumbent.  You begin to think that this is about getting a lower price from you to keep the incumbent honest.  You conclude that this is a terrible opportunity.  Like CNN talking about Trump.

As with the coverage of Trump, an opportunity review with a salesperson is often two tales about the same prospect.  The salesperson's version compared with yours.  FOX compared with CNN.

This is very important!  If you begin to review an opportunity without that difference in mind, without looking for holes, without looking to challenge them, without looking to invalidate or dismiss their optimism, it will be a wasted review.  Your job is to help your salespeople to better understand their own next steps to either move the opportunity forward, justify leaving it where it is, or abort the opportunity altogether.  Often times, your salespeople are way too close to the opportunity to see it clearly and objectively.  This will be especially true when your salespeople don't have enough opportunities in their pipeline, causing them to be even more attached to and hopeful for the few opportunities they do have.

Your salespeople don't know what they don't know and can't do what they can't do.  That's why you're there!

Politics is the business of where different parties stand on various issues.  It's supposed to be about healthy debate.  It's not supposed to be as divisive and nasty as it has become.  Similarly, a solid, thoughtful, helpful opportunity review should be a healthy debate about the opportunity.  The salesperson should not be attacked or made to feel bad.  All criticism should be constructive.

Are you conducting productive and effective opportunity reviews with every salesperson every day?  If not, then today is a great day to start!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, crm, sales opportunities, fox

How to Achieve Sales Mastery - A Collection of Loosely Connected Thoughts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 06, 2020 @ 15:07 PM

baseball flag

During our first of its kind Independence Day weekend, I thought about a lot of things that loosely tied into sales effectiveness and while they could all be articles in their own right, I decided to write one article tying them all together.

I've been writing articles for my Blog for fifteen years - since 2006 - so not only was I an early adopter, I've written close to 2,000 articles.   The five topics I have written most about are:

    1. The 21 Sales Core Competencies and the data from evaluating 1,988,673 salespeople.  
    2. Sales Process and the importance of having one that is customized, customer-focused, milestone-centric, staged, and optimized 
    3. Consultative Selling and why that approach will net better results than any other approach 
    4. Sales Coaching and its impact on revenue 
    5. Baseball and it's ties, connections, similarities and place in sales 

Baseball?  There are lots of reasons for baseball being in the top 5 but in 2005, I wrote my best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball

Baseline Selling uses baseball as a metaphor and includes a complete sales process and methodology rolled into one.  My son was two when I started writing that book. He became an outstanding baseball player and next month he leaves for college where he'll be continuing to play baseball at the next level.  During the past 15 years more than 100 of my articles had a baseball analogy somewhere in them and more than half of those had a mention of my son. In a way, my Blog chronicled his journey - both his successes and failures - from the first time he swung a Wiffle bat, through Little League, Travel Teams, High School, College Showcases and finally, college.

My Son's Baseball Journey is the same as any person's journey through a sales career - it involves constant improvement, practice, drills, role-playing, reinforcement, coaching, and at every level along the way, some level of proficiency and mastery.  While baseball players rise through the levels and a very small, but hugely talented group play beyond college, sales offers similar growth opportunities as salespeople rise from an assortment of sales roles with varying levels of difficulty up through sales management, sales leadership, and sometimes, for the very ambitious and talented, all the way to the C Suite. 

As my mind drifted I recalled my son's most memorable baseball moments.  This is my favorite memory ( video clip ) from last summer when he delivered the walk-off game-winning hit in the quarter-final game of a big tournament in Virginia.

That brought me to memorable salespeople.  While I have worked with and trained many salespeople who were quite memorable, I focused in on salespeople who were indispensable to my businesses.  After all, what would you rather be, a vendor/supplier, a resource, a partner, a trusted advisor, or totally freakin' indispensable?  I remembered 45 years ago when, at age 20, I opened the doors to my music business.  Yes, I was a musician but no, I didn't know enough about the other musical instruments and accessories I would be selling.  There were plenty of salespeople who wanted me to stock and sell their products, but there were two who taught me about which products there would be demand for, the distribution of products I would need to have on hand, the inventory levels that would be required, and even what I needed to know and ask so that I could be knowledgeable.  In the early years, they helped me profitably run, grow and finance my business.  They were indispensable salespeople

Moving back to baseball, my son actually played in four games this weekend.  Baseball is back!  Sort of.  Home plate umpires were calling balls and strikes from well behind the pitcher's mound.  They didn't have a supply of balls - new balls were thrown to the pitcher from a coach.  Umps and coaches wore masks for the traditional pre-game meeting at home plate, and parents were socially distanced and could not watch from behind the backstop.  But it was baseball and it gave us a sense of normalcy.  The game of summer adapted its rules to prevent (we hope) the virus from spreading.  That brings me to my next thoughts regarding the importance of adapting, being flexible and change.  

While baseball is still baseball, sales is still sales.  How we connect today has changed dramatically and will become the new standard. We must adapt, be flexible and change with the times. But once we have connected, we must still follow our customer-focused, milestone-centric sales process, take a consultative approach, sell value and thoroughly qualify.  That.Will.Not.Change.  You must still develop a relationship, build trust, find a compelling reason for them to do business with you, create urgency and differentiate yourself, recommend the ideal solutions and get them to buy from you.  That.Will.Not.Change.  However, the tools you have at your disposal have changed: 

  • Prospects and customers can click a link to schedule time in your digital calendar which syncs across all your devices to save you a ton of time like youcanbook.me.
  • The new crop of CRM applications with built-in playbooks to guide you through your sales process with an emphasis on opportunities and pipeline instead of contacts and companies like Membrain.
  • Digital document signing to replace the part of the closing process where documents requiring signatures go to die like Docusign and Adobesign.
  • Social Selling applications like LinkedIn, Twitter, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Hubspot to help you get inbound leads and make connections through Blogging, posts and shares.
  • Video Conferencing like Zoom.
  • File Sharing applications like AWS, Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive and Egnyte.
  • Content Sharing applications like OneMob.
  • Collaboration tools like Evernote and Onenote
  • Organizational tools like ToDo.
  • Email like Outlook, Gmail and Spark.
  • If/Then/Next tools like Zapier.

These tools, if used effectively and integrated efficiently, will make your life easier.  None of these tools will do the selling for you, but it will make the ancillary tasks around selling easier for you to get done.  For instance, I can send out my newsletter in MailChimp, link to my Blog, get an inbound lead, connect over LinkedIn, give an interested prospect the link to my calendar to schedule our first video call over Zoom, move to the next stage of the sales process in my CRM, import collateral from Dropbox and share over OneMob, note the appropriate follow up work in ToDo, close, and have an agreement signed with AdobeSign.  This is how the right tools support and even streamline our selling efforts.  But you still have to do the selling!

I've been in the sales development space since 1985.  I could have very easily become old and out of touch, but instead I have chosen to stay young and at the forefront of all things sales.  From my work at Objective Management Group (OMG), I preside over the largest collection of performance data about salespeople on the planet.  As of July 5, 2020, we have nearly 2 million rows of data, each with around 180 findings or 360 million data points!  You can see some of that data here.  

Finally, sales mastery takes more than a decade to develop - just like baseball.  You don't show up for your first day in sales, attend orientation, go to a sales training class and declare yourself a professional salesperson.  While product knowledge is crucial, that knowledge does not contribute to being an effective salesperson.  Forgetting what you know so that you can ask good questions helps a lot more than telling people what you know.  Baseball players show up for their first day and have to learn to catch and throw and hit off a tee.  They progress from there.

Embrace the journey and the tools, hop on the train, and dedicate yourself to developing the mastery required to be an elite salesperson.  The top 5% of all salespeople are exponentially more effective than the bottom half of all salespeople.  What do you want to be when you grow up?

Image Copyright Megan Ellis on Unsplash

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Baseline Selling, sales process, crm, Baseball, membrain, mastery

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

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine 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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