The Wrong Salespeople are Hired 77% of the Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 13, 2018 @ 07:11 AM

fired

94% of sales managers are optimistic about their salespeople.  That's a very surprising statistic for a couple of reasons:

  1. 50% or more of their salespeople won't hit their quotas this year and haven't since at least 2008.
  2. Objective Management Group's (OMG's) findings from the evaluations and assessments of 1.8 million salespeople show that 50% of all salespeople are weak.

Sales managers believe that 50% of their salespeople are good and 44% of their salespeople have potential.  Of course, they are using subjective, rather than objective approaches to measuring what "good" is.

How do you measure good?

  • Salespeople consistently meet or exceed quota or expectations
  • You like your salespeople, they work hard, don't give you any trouble, are positive, don't miss quota by too much, sometimes bring in good customers, are advocates of the company and brand, and are good influences, etc.

Unfortunately, a lot of sales managers choose the second option.

Why? Many sales managers aren't very good at what they do!  Only 10% of all sales managers are effective at  both coaching and coaching consistently and when it comes to holding salespeople accountable, they aren't much better.  Review the table below: 


wrong-hires

  •   60% of all salespeople make excuses for their lack of performance
  •   37% of all salespeople lack commitment for sales success
  •   20% of all salespeople are not motivated to achieve sales success
  •   67% of all salespeople lack the minimum required Sales DNA for success in their roles

It's no wonder that sales managers are ineffective.  While there is clearly work to be done in the area of coaching, the real problem is that they begin with the wrong salespeople!

Between sales management and HR, the wrong salespeople are selected as often as 77% of the time!  And then we wonder why their salespeople don't hit quota, why sales managers can't coach them up and why sales managers aren't quicker to terminate and replace under performing salespeople.  There's a fantastic chance that they'll replace them with someone even worse!

The first set of numbers above are for all salespeople.  When we focus on the bottom 50% - the ones that don't hit quota, the ones who make up the majority in all sales organizations, it looks even worse:

  •   67% of weak salespeople make excuses
  •   53% of weak salespeople lack commitment for sales success
  •   30% of weak salespeople are not motivated to achieve sales success
  •   97% of weak salespeople lack the minimum required Sales DNA for success in their roles

Obviously, the biggest difference between all salespeople and the bottom 50% is their Sales DNA.  And the difference between weak and the elite top 5% is 4850%!  That's why when good and bad salespeople interview for sales positions they appear to be essentially the same.  Their Sales DNA, or lack thereof, rarely surfaces unless you know which questions to ask and how to ask them.  So if you're wondering whether you can be fooled when interviewing salespeople, the data would suggest that if half of all salespeople are weak, and 97% of that group have inadequate Sales DNA, then you are being fooled at least half the time.

There are also two huge gaps, one that shows the elite top 5% are highly motivated 2,000% more often and have strong commitment 1766% more often than their weak counterparts.  This amazing article shows the correlation between motivation and performance.

That's the primary reason why more and more companies have turned to assessments. According to CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study, companies that use assessments have 61% quota attainment and 14.6% attrition, versus 49% quota attainment and 19.8% attrition for those who don't use assessments.  Companies that use assessments are 25% more successful at quota achievement and that data is not even for any particular assessment.  Imagine how much better the results are for the companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments. Data from companies who have hired salespeople that were recommended by OMG shows an attrition rate of only 8% and quota attainment of 88%.  

If you use OMG's sales-specific candidate assessments to filter and select your salespeople, you are less likely to make a hiring mistake than if you use an assessment that lacks predictive capabilities, and far less likely to make a mistake than if you don't use any assessment.

Assessments are main stream - there are hundreds of them - and companies that ignore them are knowingly adding unnecessary risk and stunted growth to their revenue streams.  According to Forbes, the cost of a bad hire is $240,000.  But that's not for a sales hiring mistake - that's a generic hiring mistake.  Factor in lost opportunities, lost customers and lost revenue and that number can quickly and easily exceed $1 million per salesperson!

Why wouldn't you invest a tiny fraction of that to avoid costly mistakes?  It's not like there's any risk.  Take OMG for instance.  As you can see from the screenshot below, it's been used on more than 1.8 million salespeople to hire more than 76,000 salespeople in more than 26,000 companies in 200 industries from 43 countries since 1990.  That says proven and time tested. 

2018-11-09_12-42-25

As for the accurate and predictive part, consider that of the candidates who are not recommended by OMG, but get hired anyway because the company is either desperate or stubborn, 75% fail within 6 months.  And of the candidates who are recommended and eventually hired, 92% rise to the top half of their sales organizations within 12 moths.  Very accurate and predictive. 

Check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments here.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, hiring sales candidates, sales recruiting, sales assessment tool

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

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

madness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

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

How I Realized That Selling is Just a Bunch of Crap

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 30, 2018 @ 23:10 PM

crap

Those are strong words and probably quite surprising coming out of my mouth but I'll explain it all.  Earlier this week I was leading another Sales Leadership Intensive and during a break it came to me.  

I was emphasizing how important it is to role-play as part of every coaching conversation and that's when I realized that what I was sharing was a bunch of crap.  I even looked up the quantity required to qualify as "a bunch" and I stick by my use of the word.  Selling is just crap and here is what I mean by a bunch of it.

Consultative approach, strong RelationshipsActive listening, and follow the sales Process. CRAP.

But for it to be a bunch of crap, we need more crap, so:

Keep your prospects Comfortable, lower their Resistance, Ask lots of good questions, and use Positioning statements. CRAP.

Challenge your prospects, help them Reveal their problems, speak with Authority, and be Prepared for anything. CRAP.

Establish Credibility, be Rejection-proof, and don't seek their Approval when asking Probing questions.  CRAP.

Uncover their Compelling reasons to buy, Remain unemotional, be Animated and sell value instead of Price.  CRAP.

Discover Consequences, Relax, and help them Articulate how it impacts them PersonallyCRAP.

Calculate ROI, and Anticipate their Pushback.  CRAP.

A big bunch of CRAP.

Don't worry - I'm not going to write a new book on selling called CRAP Selling.  There are already two well-known sales methodologies that use 4-letter acronyms, like Neil Rackham's SPIN Selling, and Jill Konrath's SNAP selling.  But if you want a popular sales solution that features both sales process and sales methodology rolled into one, then order my best-selling book on modern selling, Baseline Selling. I promise that there isn't a single reference to CRAP and after 13 years, it's still ranked #15 on Amazon.

baselineThis video compares Baseline Selling to SPIN Selling, the Challenger Sale, Solution Selling and Sandler.  If you've heard about Baseline Selling over the past 13 years and haven't read the book, listened to the audio book or attended Baseline Selling training, what the heck are you waiting for?  If you aren't familiar with Baseline Selling, the book is a simple way to start.  And if you're in sales and you like baseball, you have found a match made in heaven.

Topics: Baseline Selling, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales methodology, SPIN Selling, SNAP Selling

Examples of How Salespeople Lose Credibility with Their Prospects

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Oct 28, 2018 @ 23:10 PM

credibility

You probably thought I would write a world series article but there wasn't much tension or anxiety in this series as the Sox dominated.  So instead of an epic baseball related article, you're going to read about trust and credibility.

Most salespeople know the importance of establishing trust and sometimes overcompensate to achieve it.  However, when salespeople lose credibility, the most likely scenario is for their prospects to buy from someone else and this happens much more often than you might think.  Data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments of 1.8 million salespeople tell us that only 38% of all salespeople establish trust and even the top 5% are only able to bump that number to 54%. 

trust-1

That could explain a lot of lost sales, but why? 

It is very easy to demonstrate this by using the current political atmosphere as an example.

Before we begin, I am a registered independent and have voted for both democrat and republican candidates in the past 3 presidential elections, There is no need to read between the lines, twist my words, or turn this into a political platform.  I shared ugliness from both sides of the political spectrum proportionately.

Do you remember the 2016 presidential campaign when a 2005 video of Trump emerged with him saying that he could grab women's genitals?  Most politicians and pundits condemned him, his words and his actions.  At the time, CNN had a couple of Trump surrogates fighting an uphill battle each night as the panels were usually stacked with pro-Hillary voices.   On that night, rather than joining the crowd and condemning Trump's actions, they defended him and lost ALL credibility.  Nobody would listen to them again and they were eventually fired.  All they had to do was say that they agreed with everyone else on the panel and shut up. They could go back to fighting the good fight on another night and they might have even garnered some additional support for being so realistic and honest.  But that's not the path they chose to take.

Things were equally mind-blowing this past week after the serial package bomber and synagogue shooter were both apprehended.  FOX had a couple of democrat strategists who, rather than blaming the bomber and the shooter, put the blame squarely on Trump, as if he had recruited them to act on his behalf.  As with the previous example, they lost all credibility when, if they had only chosen common sense over party, they would have maintained credibility and the opportunity to get viewers to listen to their other opinions.  It was a completely different story over at CNN and MSNBC where their viewers would have surely applauded any guest who blamed Trump for the evil that took place last week.

Which finally brings us to selling.

Your prospects will usually be on one side of your argument or the other.  There's not really any such thing as down the middle because everyone has an opinion.  Whether it's your approach to solutions, product design, services, technology, pricing, timing, delivery or customer service, you won't be credible If you take the view that is opposite of what they believe.  Period.  CNN is the most trusted name in news - as long as you agree with their 24x7 anti-Trump narrative.  FOX is fair and balanced - as long as you only watch the three shows that are actually fair and balanced; because the others definitely lean to the right of center.

So how do you appear credible to a prospect who:

Loves one of your competitors? You need to love them too.

Loves a different product?  You need to love it too.

Loves a different technology?  You need to love it too.

Loves a different price?  You need to love it too.

Love it - at least initially.  At least long enough to lower their resistance.  At least long enough for them to find you credible.  At least until they are willing to listen to an alternate message.

Go Red Sox.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Donald Trump, kavanagh, cnn, fox news, Dave Kurlan, trust, credibility

Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 @ 20:10 PM

gold-nuggets

I had a chance to review the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study and extracted some fascinating data.  I thought it might be interesting to take their data, overlay some of Objective Management Group's (OMG) data, and see what we can take away from that.

Tick-Tock.  The report reveals that open sales positions remain so for an average of nearly 4 months and 9 months pass before a new hire achieves full productivity.  That's over a year!  This particular finding is a moving target and somewhat reflective of the relatively small number of proactive sales candidates and far smaller percentage of good ones.  The report shows that only 22.6% of organizations believe that hiring is an organizational strength, so this recruiting performance shouldn't surprise anyone.  OMG has a finding called FIOF (Figure it out Factor) which correlates to how quickly a candidate will ramp up to speed. Candidates who come up to speed more quickly than typical sales candidates score 75 or better and only 25% of all candidates have this as a strength.   

Not Nutritional.  Western diets are notorious for their inclusion of unhealthy, unnecessary, processed, fatty food instead of healthy whole foods.  Similarly, companies listed sales requirements for new salespeople that were filled with unnecessary requirements (ie., business degree from a university, college degree of any kind, STEM degree, industry sales experience, emotional intelligence, etc.) instead of strong and broad capabilities in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  This suggests that companies still lack a basic understanding of what causes salespeople to succeed.

Tooling.   An equal number of companies use candidate assessments as those who don't.  However, those who do use assessments have 61% quota attainment and 14.6% attrition, versus 49% quota attainment and 19.8% attrition for those who don't use assessments.  Companies that use assessments are 25% more successful at quota achievement and that data is not even for any particular assessment.  Imagine how much better the results are for the companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments. Data from companies who have hired salespeople that were recommended by OMG shows an attrition rate of only 8% and quota attainment of 88%.  

Put Me in Coach.  Just 10% of the companies said that coaching was a strength.  That jives pretty well with OMG's data from its evaluations of more than 25,000 sales forces.  Only 10% of all Sales Managers have the Sales Coaching competency as a strength but most of that group are in the top 20% of all sales managers.

Two-Step.  38% of companies reported that they have a sales process.  Respondents appeared to be overly optimistic as OMG's data shows that only 27% of companies actually have a formal, structured sales process.

Right Down the Pipe.  20% claimed that pipeline management is a strength at their company but that claim is even more optimistic than the dance above.  Remember, their report is built from a survey so it's vulnerable to optimistic misstatements.  OMG's sales force evaluation data reveals that the actual number is 8%!

In conclusion, I'm still disappointed that these numbers aren't improving more quickly.  I believe that there are several reasons for this, but my top 3 are:

  • Too many sales leaders have large egos that don't allow them to ask for or receive help, believing that they and they alone are responsible for, and capable of moving the needle
  • The C Suite often delegates responsibility for change but change won't occur until the commitment to change is demonstrated to the sales organization from those at the very top of the company
  • Many companies are well intentioned about change but don't always make the best choices and don't always see those choices through.  Exhibit #1 is CRM.  My observation of CRM selection, installation, training, customization, integration, acceptance, and adoption is that it has been nothing short of an industry-wide cluster fuck.  Please excuse my language.

Of course there are more reasons than these 3 but most of them, when looked at objectively, can be traced back to these three.  For example, we can consider the people, coaching, training, strategy, systems, processes, expectations, accountability, motivation, culture, and more, but as soon as you seek the cause we must look to the original three reasons.

In the end, it's not usually an unwillingness to spend money to improve sales selection, provide the right tools, hire the right sales leaders, consultants and trainers.  It's the lack of unconditional commitment to get it right.

Join the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales recruiting, sales hiring, sales process, sales pipeline, Sales Coaching, Dave Kurlan, cso insights, sales recruiting failure, sales opportunities

New Data Shows that You Can Double Revenue by Overcoming This One Sales Weakness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 22, 2018 @ 06:10 AM

24 TV Show Cast

My wife and I have been watching 24 for the last few months and we've made it to season 7.  Once in a while, one or both of us falls asleep during late-night episodes but we are always saved by:

PREVIOUSLY ON 24...

With that in mind, I will save you if you didn't happen to read last week's article which is a pre-requisite for this one.

PREVIOUSLY ON UNDERSTANDING THE SALES FORCE...

My article revealed that salespeople who are burdened with the need to be liked are far less effective at selling than those who don't have that weakness.  The biggest insight of all was that these salespeople were 47% less effective reaching decision makers!

This article will take the same approach and use the same data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations of 1.8 million salespeople to look at salespeople who are uncomfortable having a financial conversation with their prospects and customers.  The latest data reveals that 60% of all salespeople have this weakness!  What do you think it will reveal?

As you might guess, the money weakness effects fewer competencies than the need to be liked.  Where the need to be liked has an impact on sales effectiveness in 7 of 21 sales competencies, discomfort discussing finances impacts only 4 of those sales competencies.  See the table below.

money-stats-2
It should not be a surprise that this weakness has an impact on the Value Seller (47% less effective), Qualifier  (50% less effective) and Negotiator (46% less effective) competencies.  What might be surprising is the overall impact it has on Sales Percentile (they score 69% worse overall) and Opportunity Probability.  Salespeople who are uncomfortable having the financial conversation are 50% less likely to close their opportunities than those who are comfortable!  That's huge!  Coincidentally (we are measuring different things here), that is the same difference as in the Qualifier competency. Cool!

But the big story here is not the difference in effectiveness.  In my opinion, there are two big stories with discomfort talking about money.

  1. Wasted time and energy - just think about the calls, meetings, visits, quotes, proposals and people that were involved in the HALF of opportunities that didn't close.  That is a huge waste.
  2. Lost opportunity - think about two numbers - either the value of a customer, account or deal and the number of customers, accounts or deals in a year.   Let's pretend that a deal is worth an average of $25,000 and each salesperson closes an average of 4 per month or 48 per year.  That comes out to $1.2 million.  If a salesperson with this weakness is wasting 50% of his opportunities, that is $1.2 million in lost opportunities - PER SALESPERSON - with this weakness!

While the need to be liked can take many months to overcome, overcoming one's discomfort discussing finances is more of a decision to simply have these conversations.  So if you have this weakness, the $1.2 million dollar question is, are you ready to double your sales?

Read the discussion and add your comment to the LinkedIn thread for this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, talking about money, uncovering budget, double revenue, Sales DNA

Salespeople With This Weakness Score 47% Worse at Reaching Decision Makers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 16, 2018 @ 19:10 PM

friends

A lot of the salespeople I coach have a weakness in their Sales DNA - their need to be liked.  Approximately 58% of all salespeople have this weakness and on average, salespeople score 76% in that competency.  Elite salespeople have an average score of 87% and weak salespeople have an average score of 69%.

What would it look like if we were to pivot this data and look only at the group who have it as a weakness?  When we filter the results by the need to be liked, there are some very interesting scores.  Could it be that the need to be liked - by itself - is a predictor of sales success?  Maybe.  We know that if the salesperson is in an account management role, the need to be liked is an asset.  However, in any kind of producer role, especially in a consultative process or methodology, it will get in the way.  Take a look at this data!

Approval-Impact-2

The most striking takeaway here is that salespeople who don't need to be liked, score 47% higher on their ability to reach decision makers!  This video discusses the inability to reach decision makers.

 

Salespeople who don't need to be liked are also 51% more likely to close the opportunities in their pipeline and score 42% higher in the Consultative Seller competency.

Would we see the same kinds of differences if we filtered by another Sales DNA weakness?  Maybe.  What we do know that most salespeople enter sales because of their need to be liked.  It might help them to make friends - over time - but the need to be liked can be death when it comes to:

  • having the difficult conversation to differentiate this salesperson from everyone else
  • identifying the prospect's compelling reasons to buy
  • causing prospects to believe they must do business with this salesperson.

Salespeople who need to be liked aren't able to do those things.  It's too uncomfortable for them because they are afraid that their questions will cause their prospects to dislike them.

Finally, salespeople who don't need to be liked score 24% better in the hunting competency, partly because they score 25% better in being rejection proof.  That translates to a much bigger pipeline, from which many more opportunities move through the sales process to a close.

So then, what does a salesperson do if they are burdened with the need to be liked and want to improve?

If you're a sales manager, you must attend my Sales Leadership Intensive to learn the only coaching approach that will help you coach those salespeople up.  The next one is in two weeks and there are still some seats left. 

If you're a salesperson, you'll need to be coached to overcome this weakness because training and reading alone won't make it go away.  It usually takes between 8-12 months to overcome the need to be liked so good luck! 

Join the discussion on this article on Linkedin.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales competenices, Dave Kurlan, need to be liked, difference between top salespeople and the rest, difference between good and bad salespeople

Which 4 Sales Competencies Best Differentiate Top from Bottom Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 08, 2018 @ 20:10 PM

elite-v-weak

The difference between great salespeople and weak salespeople has been debated for years.  The articles in my Blog typically address these differences with science and data to support to my position. 

For example, In 2018 alone I have written 15 such articles:

New Data Shows That Elite Salespeople are 700% Less Likely to Do This

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

Does Being a Strong Qualifier Correlate to Having a Strong Pipeline?

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Latest Data - Strong Salespeople Score 375% Better Than Weak Salespeople

Latest Data Shows Most Salespeople Would be Fired or Arrested if they Worked in Accounting

New Data Shows How Relationships and the Need to be Liked Impact Sales Performance

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

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

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

New Data Reveals Why Veteran Salespeople Are Not Better Than New Salespeople

Data Shows Most Salespeople are Dinosaurs When it Comes to Social Selling

Persistence Over Polish - What the Top 10% of All Salespeople Do Better

What Happens When You Force a Square Sales Peg into a Round Sales Hole?

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

Other Blogs, and far too often, the Harvard Business Review Blog, state these differences using junk science - anecdotal observations.  While those observations can be useful, they do not actually differentiate between good and bad, as much as they are what the authors perceive as commonalities among good salespeople.

I reviewed data from nearly 511,000 sales evaluations and assessments from among the 1.8 million that Objective Management Group (OMG) has produced to date.  I compared 21 Sales Core Competencies (you can see much of that data here) of the top 5% (elite) with the bottom 50% of all salespeople.  Then I identified the 4 competencies with the biggest gaps and you can see those in the image below.

 544Competency

The 4 competencies with the biggest gaps are all tactical selling competencies and on average, the top 5% have these competencies as strengths 544% more often than the bottom 50%. However, the 544% number isn't really the story.  The big story is that that 64% of the top 5% have the Consultative Selling as a strength compared with only 3% of the bottom 50%.  Nearly as big a story is that 91% of the top 5% are strong at the Qualifying competency compared with only 6% of the bottom 50%.  And a whopping 95% of the top 5% are strong at the Value Selling competency compared with only 10% of the bottom 50%.

So what does this mean?

Elite salespeople are twice as likely to have solid pipelines because nearly every one of them are strong at the Hunting Competency.  Then, because they are so proficient at selling value and qualifying their opportunities, a high percentage of a greater number of opportunities close and not because they are better closers!

Weak salespeople - in this case, more than 255,000 of them - are twice as likely to have a weak pipeline, and because they are selling transactionally and not consultatively, they close a very small percentage of a smaller number of opportunities.  That's why they are so ineffective. 

Could there be a better case for why transactional selling doesn't work?  Please tell me if you have one!

The other story here is that it's value selling and qualifying that almost every elite salesperson executes so effectively while only 2/3 of them have learned to excel at a consultative selling approach.

The gaps are clear and if you manage salespeople, the question is how do you coach your salespeople up and close such a large gap?  You must attend my Sales Leadership Intensive and learn to coach to these 4 competencies and more.  And if 30% of your people can't be coached up, use the most customizable, accurate and predictive sales specific candidate assessment to easily identify the top 25%.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales competenices, Great salespeople, difference between good and bad salespeople, empty pipeline, closing deals

Where Can You Find the Best Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 28, 2018 @ 01:09 AM

Maybe you drink the finest wines, stay at the most luxurious hotels, dine at the best restaurants, purchase the best brands and drive the fanciest cars. Or not.  Either way, you'll at least want to know where you can find the best salespeople in the world, right?

To accomplish this I looked at data from the most recent 435,000 sales evaluations and assessments from Objective Management Group (OMG) and broke it down into 6 regions of the world. See the image below.

world-sales-dataWhen I ranked the regions of the world by the largest percentage of elite salespeople and the smallest percentage of weak salespeople, the results show the regions ranked in the following order:

  1. North America
  2. Europe
  3. Oceana
  4. Africa
  5. Latin America
  6. Asia

Breaking it down a little further using the same criteria, the USA comes out on top in North America and within the USA, Colorado has the most elite salespeople and Alaska has the largest percentage of weak salespeople.  You can look at some of this data on our public site and see how salespeople score in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

In Western Europe, Switzerland has the best salespeople and Greece has the worst.  In Eastern Europe, Poland has the best salespeople and Russia has the worst.

I also took a look at the same criteria by industry and found that the best salespeople overall can be found in information services while the worst salespeople overall work in financial services.

The important lesson from this is that even in the land of great salespeople, most are still very weak while in the land of horrible salespeople you can still find the occasional strong ones.  Resumes from strong and weak salespeople are nearly indistinguishable and in an interview a weak salesperson might even be better at getting you to like her than a strong salesperson.  The challenge for most then, is how can you tell the great salespeople from the weak ones?  It's pretty easy if you use the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling skills, sales core competencies, best salespeople

The Top 12 Factors that Cause Delayed Closings and What to Do About Them

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 25, 2018 @ 09:09 AM

delays

Over the past 3 months, my wife and I have been up and down the east coast driving our son to and from baseball tournaments and college showcases.  Invariably, each drive back home has taken twice the time it should have because of road construction.  On Sunday, Waze, my favorite navigation app, said that the drive would take just 2 hours and 32 minutes. 4 traffic delays because of road construction delayed us for another 2 and 1/2 hours.  Delays, delays, delays.  Nearly every coaching call with a salesperson is about a delayed closing.  Nearly every coaching call with a sales manager is about a salesperson with a delayed closing.  Everyone wants to know what to do about the delayed closing but that's the wrong question.  Everyone should be asking these two questions instead.

  1. Was it really delayed or were we overly optimistic about if and when this opportunity would close?
  2. What steps can we take to prevent delayed closings?

When I begin working with companies, most delayed closings are simply a case of the salesperson and sales manager deciding that the opportunity was closable and would close on a certain date.  This assertion was most often made up out of thin air with little to no facts to back it up.  Upon further inspection it was clear that these were not closable opportunities so the delays were not based in reality.

How can we prevent delayed closings?  I will list the 12 most important factors for preventing delays at closing time along with some links that further explain what I mean, how to do it more effectively, and/or provide statistics.  Please keep in mind that the list of factors is not a menu.  You can't choose the factor that seems easiest enough to fix and believe that anything will change.  You must fix all of them!  For example, suppose you need to loose 30 pounds, and are told to avoid breads, pastas, processed foods, snacks and pastries. If you decide to eliminate only bread, not much will change.  However, if you eliminate all of the processed foods the weight will come off quickly and easily.  The same is true with selling.  If you fix all 12 of the factors below, you will not only shorten your sales cycle, you will quickly and easily improve your win rate too.  Here they are:

  1. Not consistently executing a formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric sales process 
  2. Failing to get the prospect to "must have" or beginning the process with a demo, but failing to get beyond "nice to have"
  3. Not reaching the decision maker early enough in the sales process
  4. Failing to create urgency because compelling reasons to buy were not uncovered
  5. Failing to differentiate by not having the difficult conversation
  6. Needing prospects to like you.
  7. Failing to build a case and sell value instead of price
  8. Failing to uncover the actual budget
  9. Failing to thoroughly qualify the prospect's ability to buy from you
  10. Not bringing up potential objections earlier in the sales process
  11. Not learning about the competition and how you compare
  12. Not pushing back or challenging conventional or out-dated thinking

You probably noticed at least 3 common factors missing from the list above:

  1. Closing - closing is overrated
  2. Presentation skills - you already know how to do that well.
  3. Relationships - you are probably pretty good at this too.

We shouldn't be talking about delayed closings at all.  Instead, we should be talking about 2 things:

  1. How to shorten the sales cycle and improve the win rate by consistently executing these 12 factors to achieve greater success than ever before and how to coach salespeople up so that they can sell this way.
  2. How to select new salespeople that already have the ability to sell this way!

Image Copyright iStock Photos 

Topics: closing tips, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, selling skills

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About Dave

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

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