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

Elements of an Effective Elevator Pitch

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 24, 2019 @ 17:09 PM

messaging

Why is your favorite sports team better than my favorite team?

Why do you like your political party instead of mine?

Why are you so loyal to the make of car you drive instead of the make of car that I drive?

I bet you can make a passionate pitch for all three, and probably have them come out better than an elevator pitch or your unique value proposition.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), we ask salespeople to record their elevator pitches and value propositions as part of our sales force evaluation.  Some are OK, most are not, and for most companies, there are tremendous inconsistencies between each salesperson's messages.

Elevator pitches and UVP's are usually so poorly constructed that it makes me wonder if anyone in sales leadership puts any time at all into formalizing these messages.

That said, I thought it might be helpful to discuss the elements of a good elevator pitch and/or value proposition.

I believe that a good pitch or proposition has seven elements:

  1. Personable - When a likable salesperson launches into a pitch or proposition and recites a scripted message, it sticks out like a sore thumb and they are no longer perceived as personable.  It's imperative that they deliver the right message, without sacrificing their likability.

  2. Message - Whether it's an elevator pitch or value proposition, the essence of each is the message itself. Is the actual message consistent with what an elevator pitch (what we do) or value proposition (how we uniquely provide value) are expected to communicate?  In my experience, most are not.

  3. Context - Context is important as it's the backdrop for the message.  If the type and location of an event represent the context for how to dress, then the question that was asked or the type of call or meeting represents the context for the pitch or proposition.  Context helps us frame the elevator pitch or value proposition.
                                                    
  4. Who - Often times salespeople fail to include the company, product or brand in the elevator pitch or value proposition when it's the company that should be front and center.  Explaining how what we do, or how we are different, impacts the prospect is equally important.

  5. Breadth - Salespeople should communicate the breadth of the offering or differentiation but too often, they ramble through their value proposition and elevator pitches, something that is never very effective.

  6. Succinct - As important as it is to show breadth, it is even more important to be succinct. Fewer words communicate a value proposition or elevator pitch much more effectively.

  7. Expertise - The company and salesperson have expertise and if not for their expertise, why buy from this company?  Since so many salespeople suck, many buyers are making their decisions based on price instead of value. Good messaging is required to communicate and demonstrate a company's expertise, an element that can help neutralize a price-driven buyer and provide prospects with information they can use to justify buying from a company that doesn't have the best price.

Now that you've reviewed the elements of effective elevator pitches and value propositions, what must you do to improve yours?

Comment on the LinkedIn thread for this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling value, Value Proposition, messaging, elevator pitch

New Data Shows That Top Salespeople are 2800% Better at Disrupting the Flow

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 @ 17:09 PM

current

Fish, rafts, kayaks, canoes, sailboats and swimmers all find much more success when they are moving with the wind or the current rather than going against it.

Unfortunately, the same isn't necessarily true in sales.

Most salespeople who are struggling with large companies and all of the meetings, procedures, stakeholders, vendor options and criteria, find it easier to just go with the flow - the current - and wait and see how it all shakes out.  Following the "current" results in a future outcome rather than a "current" outcome.  In other words, current = future.

On the other hand, when salespeople are confident enough to ask questions, challenge their process, and nicely push back, they will not only differentiate themselves from their competition,  they might be able to disrupt the current, move themselves to the top of the list, and get a current outcome instead of a future outcome.  In other words, anti-current=current.

There are three keys to succeed with this approach.

The first key to having success with this approach is whether or not you need to be liked.  This is not about whether you can get people to like you.  This is about whether you NEED people to like you.  They are two completely different things and NEEDING people to like you is a huge barrier to disrupting the flow. 

Consider that 79% of the top 10% of all salespeople DO NOT need to be liked, while only 8% of the bottom 10% have this as a strength.  

The second key to having success with this approach is whether or not you can stay in the moment.  The opposite of being able to stay in the moment is when you talk to yourself, worry, get excited, or strategize on the fly. 

66% of the top 10% of all salespeople are able to stay in the moment while only 10% of the bottom 10% have this as a strength. 

The third key to having success with this approach is whether or not you understand and agree with their buying process.  68% of the top 10% of all salespeople have a supportive buying process and therefore, don't understand why the prospect needs to comparison shop, look for a better price or think it over.  By contrast, only 2% of the bottom 10% of all salespeople have a supportive buying process as a strength.  

When we take the average of these three elements of Sales DNA, 71% of the top salespeople have these strengths and only 2.5% of the worst salespeople have these strengths. These three are huge differentiators between studs and duds! Top salespeople are twenty-eight times more likely to disrupt the flow and get a current outcome.

Those elements of Sales DNA are just three out of a total of twenty-one Sales Competencies that are measured by Objective Management Group. You can see them graphed here.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, selling tips, objective management group

Using the Most Powerful Sales Tool to Get What You Want

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 16, 2019 @ 06:09 AM

blacklist

My wife and I have been binge watching a TV series called Blacklist which rivals 24 for its drama and intensity.  James Spader stars as international bad-guy Ray Reddington.  He's on the top of the FBI's most-wanted list but works with the agency to help them track down bad-guys that are as bad as he is.  Somehow, he gets the FBI to help him get what he wants and he gets the bad guys to give him what he wants from them.  Everybody gets what they want because he is so good at using leverage.

Leverage is the most powerful tool in your sales tool box because with leverage comes urgency and after you have urgency your prospect will qualify so easily you won't believe it.  They'll ask, "What do you need from me?"

That brings me to a recent LinkedIn post by Andy Paul.  I've never disagreed with anything Andy wrote before but this one is just plain wrong.  He wrote that you should talk about money up front.  Read his post here

The problem with qualifying up front for money is that you haven't yet built a case.  It's like walking into a doctor's office and when you sit in her chair the first thing she says to you is, "You're going to need surgery and it will cost $25,000."  Talk about getting your resistance up!  On the other hand, if you told her that something hurts, and she does a complete examination, blood tests, and x-rays and then says, "You're dying but surgery will save your life and it will cost $50,000, you'll say, "When should I be here?"

Want proof?  The top 10% of all salespeople take a consultative approach, sell value and then qualify in that order.  Those who talk about money up front all fall into the bottom 10% of all salespeople.  They are the sucky ones!  You can check out the stats here.

Building a case is important because it allows you to develop the leverage you need.  You develop leverage by uncovering compelling reasons to buy, learning about personal impact, and monetizing what you uncovered.  It isn't easy and it isn't for rookies.  But if you try to qualify for money up front, without having built your case, you'll have:

  • a transactional conversation instead of a consultative one
  • a resistant prospect instead of a cooperative one
  • left money on the table because you weren't able to sell value
  • lose more than you win
  • not differentiated yourself from the competition
  • fallen victim to taking the easy path which leads to difficult-to-get results instead of the hard path which leads to easy-to-get results

Nothing will get you what you want faster than having leverage.  Make sure you never forget that!

Share your comment on the LInkedIn discussion for this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, omg, building value, selling value

Change in Approach Leads to 304% Increase in Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 09, 2019 @ 06:09 AM

track

You're famished and someone suggests that you go on a 2-day fast!

You're late, it's a two-hour ride by car to your destination and someone suggests that you walk!

You're exhausted and ready for a nap and someone suggests you should clean out your basement!

You've decided to eat better and lay-off carbs, and someone suggests ordering pizza!

These are all crazy opposites of what you were focused on and they cause you to ask, "whaaat?"

So now you'll understand how I responded when, during a two-day training program, I was asked about messaging for a talk track.

A talk track?  Given that we are trying to get them to take a more consultative approach to selling, shouldn't we be working on a listening track?

Salespeople don't think in terms of listening.  They think like, "OK, I'll ask a few questions so that I can talk about what I know."  There it is - the talk track.  They think they can control the call when they're talking.  They can't.  They think they can lead and direct the prospect.  They can't.  They think that they're selling.  They aren't.

But a listening track - now we're (not) talking! Listening informs our next question.  Listening helps us direct the conversation with our next question.  Listening puts us in control because we're the one asking the questions!

My favorite video for the power of asking questions is this one from the comedian Louis CK.  [note - after 11, 271 views I received an email complaining about my use of a Louis CK video clip to illustrate the power of questions. Louis CK took advantage of women, admitted it and this reader was offended that I used his material.  For this I apologize.  I was not and am not condoning Louis CK's behavior.]

 

 

The top 10% of all salespeople are 304% more effective at listening and asking questions than the bottom 10%.  Good salespeople don't need talk tracks.  They use listening tracks to ask great questions.  

How do you get yourself to ask better and better questions?  Leave your comment in the LinkedIn discussion.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, asking questions, Listening

You're Normal and Your Sucky Salespeople are Probably Normal Too!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 03, 2019 @ 16:09 PM

normal

Do salespeople report up to you?  Do you get frustrated with half to three quarters of them?  

Is it a good day when a new opportunity is added to the pipeline?  Is it a better day when they close a new piece of business?  Do you wish you could double or triple the amount of activity, number of opportunities and deals that close?

Are they generally good people and you feel like they don't deserve to be terminated?  Do you like them too much to give them an ultimatum?  

When you try to coach them, do you get frustrated because they say they understand but when they talk with a prospect or customer they don't do what you coached them to do? 

Do you think it's you?

Have you resigned yourself to the fact that they aren't going to improve?  When you look at it objectively, are they helping your competition more than they are helping you and your company?  

You're not crazy and it's not you - at least it's not your fault that you haven't been able to fix them.  The data from Objective Management Group proves that from the 1,894,193 salespeople that have been assessed and/or evaluated in 21 Sales Core Competencies, 50% of them just plain suck and another 25% are merely serviceable.  In other words, it's exactly what you probably have on your sales force today.

One of the reasons your salespeople can't do the things you ask and suggest is their Sales DNA.  If it's weak, and it probably is, there can be as many as six major weaknesses that prevent them from executing sales process, methodology, strategy and tactics.  That makes it nearly impossible for sales managers who don't know or understand the role of Sales DNA to coach up their salespeople.

You might be one of the sales managers or sales leaders who fall into the 93% that don't coach enough and don't coach as effectively as required.  Since you're in the majority, there's nothing to feel bad about.  You simply haven't been shown how to make coaching salespeople a magical experience.  But it doesn't have to be that way.  There is help available and I would like to personally invite you to attend the magical two-day event that will change everything, show you how to fix your salespeople, change your life and increase your earnings.

Attending this program will get you a 28% increase in sales - quickly and easily - by applying what we teach and demonstrate.  We will show you the magic ingredients to effectively coach your salespeople each day.  What would a 28% increase in revenue mean for your budget, earnings and career?  Watch this video.

 

Follow in the footsteps of the hundreds of sales leaders who came before you and join us for two days on November 13 and 14 in Jersey City.  Learn more here.

We hope to see you there!   Bonus for my readers! Use this link to register and save $100!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales management training, sales leadership training, sale leadership, OMG Assessment

Did You Know That The Beatles Taught us About Selling?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 26, 2019 @ 06:08 AM

beatles

While this should be a fun, end of summer article I'm guessing that you don't actually believe that the Beatles taught us about selling.

The Beatles recorded 18 songs where the lyrics talked about selling plus I included two bonus titles by other artists to bring the total to 20!

The Beatles. 

Can you name the song that went on and on about building relationships?  Of course you can.  It was:

I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND 

Can you name the song about prospects who refuse to schedule a first meeting or appointment with a salesperson?

YOU WON'T SEE ME (Time after time you refuse to even listen)

Are you getting the hang of it?  What must salespeople do to accelerate the sales process?  For this the Beatles recorded:

SLOW DOWN

The Beatles wrote a song about price objections too!

IT'S ALL TOO MUCH

They wrote a song describing the alarm that sales managers sound with their salespeople who have stale and/or stuck opportunities in their pipelines:

YOU'RE GONNA LOSE THAT GIRL

And they wrote one for the day after when salespeople learn that their sales managers were right about those opportunities:

YESTERDAY (all my troubles seemed so far away) 

The Beatles recorded a song by the same name as one of their movies about salespeople who, after the previous two days and titles, needed to rebuild their pipeline.  It was called:

HELP (I need somebody, help, not just anybody, h-e-l-p)

Sometimes selling is easy because there is low hanging fruit from renewal business and call-in business.  The song they recorded for that was:

COME AND GET IT

You might remember their legendary song about negotiating called:

WE CAN WORK IT OUT

They even recorded a song for long sales cycles where the decision makers change over time called:

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD (that leads to your door)

Some salespeople make the mistake of calling on prospects repeatedly over a span of years, despite the fact that the prospect has never, ever bought anything and never, ever will.  The Beatles recorded a song about that too, called:

YOU NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY

I asked the salespeople that I coached to  develop wish lists, and then reach out to their network to learn if anyone knows an executive at one of the wish list companies.  The Beatles recorded it first but Earth, Wind and Fire had a bigger hit with this song: 

GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE

Too many salespeople feel like they've won when the only thing that happened was that they were considered for an opportunity, like when they receive an RFP or RFQ.  They actually thank their prospect for the opportunity to be considered!  In honor of that, the Beatles recorded:

I'M HAPPY JUST TO DANCE WITH YOU

Today, salespeople send out a lot of unanswered emails.  The Beatles anticipated this more than 50 years before it happened when they recorded:

NO REPLY

Salespeople are often guilty of developing Happy Ears where they hear what they want to hear, even if it isn't true or factual.  This often gives them a false sense of hope so for this problem, the Beatles recorded:

DON'T LET ME DOWN

One thing that hasn't changed in years of selling is prospects that make a decision to not make a decision, forcing ineffective salespeople into follow up mode.  The Beatles were thinking about that decades ago when they recorded:

I'LL BE BACK

One of the most important skills that salespeople must develop is the ability to listen and ask questions.  Not surprisingly, the Beatles recorded:

TELL ME WHY

Unfortunately, many salespeople don't ask those questions, won't push back, won't challenge a prospect's thinking because they are afraid the prospect won't like them anymore. As a result, they choose to ignore it and move on.  The Beatles covered that with:

LET IT BE

Now for the two bonus songs.  Can you name the song that makes it obvious that if you talk to the wrong person, you won't close the deal?  That song would have been:

SYVIA'S MOTHER by Dr. Hook where he wants to talk to Sylvia can't get through because her mother is playing gatekeeper.

Can you name the song about salespeople who try over and over to sell something that their prospect has no intention of buying because they don't have the problem that the salesperson's product solves?  That would be:

HONKEY CAT by Elton John where he talks about trying to find gold in a silver mine and like trying to find whiskey in a bottle of wine.

Your turn.  Can you name a song - by any artist - that describes selling?  Leave your comment in the LinkedIn thread.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling tips, sales tips, the beatles

How Big of a Role Does Age Play in Sales Effectiveness?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 @ 16:08 PM

young-v-old-image

I'll be 64 in November which means that just like everyone else, I'm getting older. 

There are certain things that younger people do that change when they get older.  For example, younger adults :

  • go to bars and night clubs but tend to choose dinners out or nights at home binge watching TV when they become more mature
  • go to concerts but tend to choose movies when they get older
  • backpack across the US or Europe but tend to choose cruises as they age
  • want freedom at work but are more open to structure and accountability when they become more mature
  • focus on themselves but tend to focus on their children and then their grandchildren when they become older

The same applies to salespeople.  Young salespeople (0-2 years experience) tend to wing it, while older salespeople (20 or more years experience) tend to be more skilled and structured.  Want proof?  Let's dig into the data.

young-v-old

On average, older salespeople are 105% more likely to be strong and effective than young salespeople.

But let's dig even deeper.  The biggest differentiator between younger and older salespeople is the Qualifier competency.  Older salespeople know that if they don't qualify, they may be wasting their time, while younger salespeople are so thankful for the interest, they might skip qualifying altogether.  Look at the specific attributes of the Qualifier competency below. 

young-v-old-qualifier-1

Notice that as we keep digging, one finding stands out as a difference maker and in the case of the Qualifier competency, it's self-limiting beliefs where older salespeople are 213% more likely to have supportive beliefs around qualifying than their younger counterparts.

If we dig in on self-limiting beliefs, we'll find that two self-limiting beliefs that stand out:

  • It's not polite to talk about people's money
  • I need my prospects to like me.

Those two self-limiting beliefs alone show that older salespeople are  on average 55% more effective than younger salespeople.  I wrote much more about self-limiting beliefs last month in this article.  There are 21 Sales Core Competencies that Objective Management Group measures.  You can see them here and learn how you compare.

It's not surprising to find that old salespeople are more effective than young salespeople but it is very surprising to learn that the biggest differentiators are not skill related. They are Self-Limiting Beliefs which are part of Sales DNA.  If you look at the attributes that make up the Qualifier competency, you'll see that there isn't much difference between young and old salespeople on the skill-related attributes where young and old suck equally:

  • Meets with Decision Maker
  • Uncovers Actual Budget
  • Knows the Decision making process
  • Knows the Decision making criteria
  • Asks about Everything

On average, there is only an 8% difference between old and young on the 5 skill-related attributes.  That doesn't say much for the older salespeople who simply didn't improve over their 20 plus years in sales.

Would you like to comment?  Leave it on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales qualification, sales effectiveness, age difference

The Bearded Lady, My Shaving Pattern and Your Sales Pipeline

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 08, 2019 @ 06:08 AM

bearded-lady

I can grow a pretty decent five o'clock shadow  - above my upper lip and only after about a week.  Unlike the bearded lady at the circus, when it comes to facial hair, there's really not much there!

Can you think of something else which, at first glance, appears to be OK but upon closer inspection, there's really not much there?

Did you guess sales pipelines?

As I wrote about a month ago, 46% of salespeople fail to maintain a full pipeline but most salespeople don't even know how many opportunities must be in the pipeline for it to be full.  

46% is very similar to the percentage of reps that make their quota each year.  Coincidence?

This is really a hunting issue and as I wrote in last month's article, only 33% of all salespeople have hunting as a strength.

So what are hunting-averse salespeople to do?

Cold emails don't work very well.  Want proof?  I get at least a half-dozen cold emails each day just from companies trying to sell a service to book meetings by using email, LinkedIn and Twitter.  I delete those emails.

Cold calls still work the way they always did but not until you reach a decision maker.  Most salespeople give up after four attempts but today it takes between six and fifteen attempts to actually get through.

Outsourced and semi-automated cold calls work if you outsource them to a company that's good at it - like ConnectAndSell - who also offers automated dialing.  They dial multiple names on your list at the same time until someone answers and then the salesperson takes over the call.

An inside team of Sales Development reps can book meetings if you're willing to make the investment and settle for the underwhelming results.  They might be able to average 1.5 meetings booked per week. If they do it on their own, salespeople should be two to three times better.  Of course, if you already have a flow of inbound leads, SDR's can follow up on those leads as they come in.  Immediate follow up has a significantly better chance of converting.  For most salespeople, even with the aid of an SDR-scheduled meeting, the pipeline isn't full.  They need to supplement - but probably aren't doing that.

Woody Allen said that 80% of success is showing up.  While good messaging beats lack of messaging, showing up wins the day over those who hide.

That applies to cold calls.  There aren't many salespeople who are good at making cold calls but those who are committed to making them, are disciplined about it, and call until they reach their targets, succeed because they did what most salespeople won't do.  Here are some good reasons to get back into the habit of picking up the phone, punching in a number and pressing send:

  • Your competition is not making calls
  • You can control how many prospects you dial
  • You can control how many conversations you have
  • You won't have to compete for eyeballs like you do with email or social  media
  • You can get your prospect engaged on a phone conversation
  • You can close for an appointment if you get them engaged
  • You can quickly build a strong pipeline just by showing up (on the phone)

You will crush:

  • Your quota
  • Your best earnings year
  • Your colleagues
  • Your competition

Just pick up the phone and start dialing it!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, hunting, sales prospecting, booking meetings

How All Those Trucks on the Road Can Help You Stop Discounting

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 05, 2019 @ 06:08 AM

discount

We've been doing a lot of traveling this summer to baseball tournaments (30-second video showing how one playoff game ended), college baseball showcases and back. During these travels, one thing has become abundantly clear.  Trucks and construction.  Lots of trucks.  Lots of construction.  Lots of congestion on the roads because of all those tractor trailers. 

If you heard that inventory levels are low, it's certainly not because companies have stopped buying.  It's because the supply chain is busier and stronger than ever and as a result of all of the buying, our roadways are jammed with trucks shipping products to distributors, retailers, warehouses and fulfillment centers.  Don't believe a word of it when you hear an economy related objection or put-off.  Business isn't off, inventories aren't purposely low, money isn't tight, companies aren't on buying freezes, and the economy isn't tanking.  If you aren't reading or hearing how historically great the economy is right now, you're listening to, watching or reading the wrong news outlets. Business is booming and procurement departments would like nothing more than for you to buy into the fake news, hoping that your next move will be an incentive. 

I have an awful lot to say about incentives to buy! The occurrences are as predictable as the 6pm news beginning exactly at 6pm.  If you have opportunities in the pipeline during the last week of the month, the last week of the quarter and the last two weeks of the year, and your prospects showed a strong likelihood of moving forward, they'll be sitting back waiting for a call from a salesperson or sales manager to sweeten the pot so that you can get this deal in before the end of whenever.  How lame.  

Why do we need salespeople if their only method of getting business closed is to offer a time-sensitive discount? Nor do we need sales managers and sales leaders spending their time offering discounts.  Anyone, from any department, from any background, who is capable of having an adult conversation, is capable of making the, "Have I got a deal for you!" call.  Even worse is when it occurs via email.

The practice of end-of-month, quarter and year incentives must stop.  If salespeople aren't strong enough to sell and close the deal on its own merits, then companies should either hire stronger salespeople or train and coach up the existing salespeople so that they are providing much needed expertise and solutions, to prospects with problems who haven't been able to solve them on their own or with their current vendors.  This describes a consultative approach.  The timely discount is a transactional approach.

I know what you're thinking.  "We do take a consultative approach and when they don't buy at closing time it's then that we offer a discount."  That's actually quite transactional and you do that because your consultative approach is simply not consultative enough or not consultative at all.

Only 41% of all salespeople have consultative selling as a strength.  But it's worse than it looks.  Only 3% of the bottom half of all salespeople have strong consultative skills.  Just about half of all salespeople do not have the skills to take a consultative approach!

It's similar with selling value.  Only 41% of all salespeople have selling value as a strength and this is also worse than it looks as only 11% of the bottom 50% of salespeople have strong value selling skills.  Just about half of all salespeople do not have the skills to sell value!

If we look at the Sales DNA behind those two competencies, the bottom half have Sales DNA of only 28%!  That totally sucks.  Instead of having the selling strengths to support a consultative and value-based approach they have selling weaknesses that sabotage their attempts to sell that way.

The data isn't from some lame survey.  This is Objective Management Group (OMG) data from the evaluations and assessments of 1,885,255 salespeople from companies.  You can see the data for yourself and even see how you compare in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

All the blame for discounting does not fall on salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders.  CEO's must accept their share of the blame for setting precedent.  The sooner that CEO's shut the door on incentives, the sooner companies will stop suggesting that "we might be able to do better."  When salespeople give prospects some hope that they will be competitive, in the ballpark, meet or beat any legitimate quote, or might be able to do better, value selling goes right out the window and in the prospects' eyes, if you then can't meet those expectations you lied.  Only a CEO has the power to end that ill-advised strategy.

Join the discussion and leave your comments on the LinkedIn thread for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, closing, discounting, value selling,

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

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Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

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Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Individual Blog -  Silver

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver


Top Sales Awards 2018 - Assessment Tool -  Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blog 2019

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

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Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



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