The Official 2017 List of 21 Sales Core Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 @ 18:03 PM

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Image Copyright Bluberries

These days, changes happen faster than ever and the same can be said about professional selling.  Selling is evolving, the rules of business are changing, there is more information available on line than there was last week and sales organizations must evolve accordingly.

Back in 2014, I introduced what was then the most current version of Objective Management Group's 21 Sales Core Competencies.  But just 3 years later, we have again found it important to modify the makeup of the 21 Sales Core Competencies and I want to share the changes below, along with the data that makes up each competency.

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Sales Posturing has been removed from the Tactical Selling Competencies and over the next several months it will receive a makeover.  In its place, Selling Value, always an important OMG finding, has received a promotion and is now one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Likewise, the Sales Motivation competency has received a promotion and is part of the Will to Sell category, while Goal Oriented has been downgraded to an attribute of the Sales Motivation competency.

But the real news is not a couple of changes to the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  I've written more than 1,600 articles for my Blog since 2006 and most of them reference important data points from the almost 1.1 million salespeople that OMG has assessed.

Drum roll.  Now, for the first time, you can access the same data
that we use to find interesting statistics about salespeople!

That's right.  We have gone from private to public and you can see some of the same amazing findings that I write about.  Not only that, you can slice and dice the data by geography, industry, experience, Sales Quotient, and more.  You can even see how your own salespeople compare to the entire sales population and sales organizations in your industry.  We are very excited to finally share this with you!

Welcome to our free Stat-Finder tool, your ticket to actual sales statistics that are backed by science.  No fake news, no personal opinions, no popularity lists, no personal observations, nothing anecdotal and nothing to be misinterpreted.  Instead, you can see the average scores in 21 Sales Core Competencies for salespeople in more than 200 different industries, who sell everything to everybody, with every possible experience level and skill set, from companies of all sizes, selling to every possible vertical, and decision-making title.  Give it a spin!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, accurate sales assessment, sales statistics, OMG Assessment

Call Reluctance is Just as Popular as Ever!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 07, 2017 @ 09:03 AM

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Image Copyright Christian Chan

Last week I wrote an Article for LinkedIn Pulse that explored some of the statistics related to Call Reluctance.  Many might think that Call Reluctance is a malady that occurred back when salespeople did their own dialing and had to book their own appointments.  The truth is that most salespeople are still expected to dial and in tech companies where BDR's do that dirty work, Call Reluctance is still the primary reason why there aren't enough conversations.  While some are quick to blame the low (as bad as) 15:1 dial to conversation ratio, that number is driven in part by salespeople who don't try hard enough to get their prospects to the phone.  Those with Call Reluctance might even be heard saying, "Sure, put me through to voicemail" or "He's busy?  That's OK.  I'll call back" before breathing a sigh of relief.  How else can you explain the even more incredible industry wide statistic where BDR's book, on average, only 1.5 new meetings per week?

Keep reading for the statistics on Call Reluctance, my take on that, and the Link to the Article.

The LinkedIn article can be found here but the big discussion about the statistics - and whether I made them up - can actually be found on a LinkedIn post where Tony J Hughes shared the article.  There were close to 40 comments at the time I wrote this article so after you read the LinkedIn article, pop over to Tony's share to join the discussion.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, booking appointments, cold calling, phone prospecting

Managing and Overcoming Resistance is the Key to Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 01, 2017 @ 13:03 PM

[Another disclaimer - this is not a political post and I am not taking sides. I am simply using an example from President Trump's recent address to the joint session of congress to illustrate my message about managing resistance when selling.]

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If you watched the address on Tuesday evening or the news coverage on Wednesday morning, you couldn't help but notice that there were three separate and distinct audiences in the hall.  On the right, joyous republicans.  On the left, resistant democrats.  And in the gallery, a mixed group of guests.

Prior to his speech, the media were saying that for Trump's Presidency to be successful,  it was crucial that he must "sell his vision" to America and Congress. 

There were mainly positive reviews of his speech and  most pointed out the distinction between the republican and democrat audience.  But the reviews of the speech aside, did he really sell it?  Continue reading for my analysis.

The reality is that the President only "sold it" to Republicans as well as those Americans who thought his message resonated.  He didn't sell it to the democrats seated in the hall last night.  He didn't sell it to the haters and he didn't sell it to the left - they weren't buying.

Several years ago, I recorded a two-minute video that accurately describes what happened.  Watch it now and then I'll add a few more thoughts.

Since the Republicans were predisposed to like his message, their resistance was low and Trump didn't need to be great last night.  He only had to not screw it up.  

The Democratic Senators and Congressmen were predisposed to dislike the message and since their resistance was sky high there wasn't anything that Trump could have said or done last night to change that.  Even when he modified his position and included policy that Democrats traditionally favor, their resistance remained high.  When Democratic lawmakers were asked how they felt about some of Trump's message being more along the lines of the Democrat's agenda, they criticized him for chaning his position.    That's what real resistance looks like.

Most salespeople encounter prospects with that kind of resistance only when they are making cold calls and then, only because most of them are so inept at lowering resistance! When salespeople finally get an opportunity to meet or schedule follow up calls with their prospects, resistance is rarely close to what we saw last night. But when it is, the following steps must be taken for there to be any hope of success:

  • Be aware of the resistance
  • Stop what you are doing
  • Agree and Take the necessary steps to lower the resistance
  • Offer comforting messages that your prospect can agree with
  • Confirm that resistance has been lowered
  • Ask and receive permission to continue
  • Remain aware of any change in resistance
  • Rinse and Repeat if necessary

Don't resist dealing with resistance!  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, overcoming resistance, resistance to change, sales resistance, Donald Trump

21,000 People Agree That These are the Top 5 Traits of the Best Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 @ 20:02 PM

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Readers are always referring me to articles that list top sales traits, that discuss what makes salespeople great, that name the most important selling skills, or that otherwise contradict the science-based findings and statistics that I share in my articles.

In that regard, today was very much the same when a reader referred me to this LinkedIn article that revealed the Top 5 Traits of the Best Salespeople.  As a matter of fact, I actually found the article refreshing.  First, the 5 traits were admittedly based on observation.  Second, the author asked readers to submit their own top 5.  And third, his five weren't that far off the track from what the science says.  Nice job Bill Golder!

I will list Bill's top 5 below, along with the actual scientific findings they are best aligned with, and provide some context for those findings.  The test as to whether Bill's five are legitimate Top Traits of the Best Salespeople is not whether or not they line up with any of our scientific findings on top Salespeople (we have evaluated over one million salespeople); it's whether or not they actually differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople.  Let's take a look:

Bill's #1 is Naturally Curious. While there isn't a scientific corollary to that, there are some findings and competencies that we can hook it up with.  Natural Curiosity is a nice way of connecting some of the attributes that reside in OMG's Sales Core Competency Consultative Seller.  Asks lots of questions, Asks Great Questions, And Makes No Assumptions are three of the ten attributes of the Consultative Seller competency. On average, salespeople have 54% of the attributes of the Consultative Seller competency but the top 10% of all salespeople average 70%.  It's an extremely important competency and when you consider just how crucial it is, and then consider that the bottom half of all salespeople average only 44% of that competency, you'll immediately understand why so many salespeople suck!  

Top 10% of all salespeople - 70%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 44%
Meets the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #2 is Student and Teacher.  Again, there isn't a specific corollary to that but if you read the paragraph that accompanies #2, you'll see it's the ability to connect the dots and present an appropriate solution to pain points or, what I call compelling reasons to buy.  OMG calls this competency Presentation Approach.  Taking the same route as we did on #1, on average, salespeople have 65% of the attributes of the Presentation Approach competency but the top 10% of all salespeople average 78%.  It's an important competency because it determines whether salespeople are presenting the correct information to the correct people at the correct time in the process. The bottom half of all salespeople average only 58% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 78%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 58%
Meets the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #3 is Loses Fast.  This time there is a direct correlation to the Rejection Proof Competency.  Unlike Fear of Rejection, Rejection Proof measures a salesperson's ability to recover quickly.  Unlike the first two examples which are tactical, the Rejection Proof Competency is part of Sales DNA.  On average, salespeople have 82% of the attributes of the Rejection Proof competency but the top 10% of all salespeople average 94% and the bottom half of all salespeople average 73% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 94%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 73%
Fails to Meet the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #4 is Passionate which directly correlates to OMG's Desire for Sales Success.  This Sales Core Competency is in the Will to Sell (or Grit) category.  On average, salespeople score 82% on Desire, the top 10% of all salespeople score 88% and the bottom half of all salespeople average 77% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 88%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 77%
Fails to Meet the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #5 is Likeable.  OMG has a likeable finding - it's an attribute within the Relationship Builder Competency.  On average, salespeople score 52% on Relationship Building, the top 10% of all salespeople score 53% and the bottom half of all salespeople average 51% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 53%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 51%
Fails to Meet the Criteria to differentiate.

As you can see, the bottom half of the sales population scores well and or within close proximity to the top 10% in three of the traits so those three fail to differentiate tops from bottoms.  But let's not discount how well Bill did at identifying 5 traits that still matter in professional sales!

So which findings best differentiate top salespeople from everyone else?  I wrote about them in an epic article - a Rebuttal (to a junk science article) on What Elite Salespeople Do Differently. 

Finally, many readers missed this article with two great sales lessons.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Great salespeople, sales expertise, personality traits of successful salespeople, top performers, OMG Assessment

Veteran's Great Quote Makes News and Has Terrific Lessons for the Sales Profession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 @ 14:02 PM

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Disclaimer:  This is not a political post even though I quoted someone with a political opinion.  The entire article is about sales.

On my way to the office, I was listening to FOX News when they cut to a diner in Jacksonville, Florida to interview some of the patrons there.  One of the people interviewed was Stanley, a Veteran who said he had two messages he wanted to share.  He said, "To the media, don't make in-depth assumptions from shallow observations.  And to the obstructionist democrats, we have a saying in the military.  When the horse dies, dismount and quit riding that dead horse."  

I might not have nailed his quote word for word, but I'm sure I captured the gist of it. Just think of the sales lessons that can be taken from this!  The short video below is from the FOX interview and below that I will share some lessons for the sales profession.

Don't Make In-Depth Assumptions of Shallow Observations.  Salespeople make more assumptions of a prospect's buying potential and readiness than you can imagine.  They observe what appears to be interest and then, instead of uncovering their compelling reasons to buy, thoroughly qualifying and building a case, they assume the prospect is "good" and will "probably" do business, hastily create a proposal, forecast the business to close, and then spend most of their time in the act of futile and ineffective follow-up.  Result?  Dead opportunity.

When The Horse Dies, Dismount.  Salespeople with nothing but dead opportunities in their pipeline are pretty much dead themselves.  We are seeing inadequate pipelines in many companies and there are multiples reasons for it.  They include, but aren't limited to: 

  • Lack of accountability
  • Lack of clear expectations
  • Confusion over whose job it is to find new opportunities
  • Unwillingness to make cold calls
  • Over-reliance on social selling

Salespeople who include their dead opportunities in the pipeline are reluctant to archive them for several reasons.  They include, but aren't limited to:

  • Fear of letting go
  • Repurcussions of an empty pipeline
  • The reality that without those opportunities they will have to prospect
  • Fear of rejection
  • Alternate facts
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Poor Outlook
  • Ineffective Hunting skills

I believe that Stanley shared two great, shallow quotes that deserve more in-depth analysis!

Speaking of News, here are some other things you should be aware of.

My thoughts and a fantastic Wharton School of Business video on why sales leaders fear predictive assessments appear on LinkedIn Pulse. Read and watch it here.

My Annual Sales Leadership Intensive - the best two days of training on the planet on how to be an elite sales coach - is coming up on May 17-18.  Learn more here. If you would like to attend, use discount code DK-Blog-Subscriber.

Earlier today, I presented a 30-minute session on how OMG's Tailored Fit is not only different from benchmarking, but makes benchmarking silly and unnecessary.  It was very fast-moving, had lots of data, a good story line and a sneak peak at the magic of the OMG sales selection tool.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, sales pipeline, selling tips, lost sales opportunities, fox news

10 Selling Scenarios When You Must Slow Down

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 07, 2017 @ 07:02 AM

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By now, surely everyone has written their Super Bowl articles, drawing inspiration from the game, the comeback and the records to make their points.  In my business, it's rare when someone isn't an optimist but I'm a realist and the realist in me kept saying how improbable it would be - even for Tom Brady and the Patriots - to come from that far behind and tie it - never mind win it - against a team as powerful as the Falcons.  But the Falcons' defense was not accustomed to staying on the field for such long stretches and after the Patriots finally tired them out, the Patriots were able to repeatedly drive down the field at will and claim the historic victory.

I read many articles and quotes after the game but the one that works best in this Blog is a quote from 2016 Cy Young Award Winner, Rick Porcello.  He said:

[When I find myself behind in baseball] There are two things you can do. You can think about how insurmountable it is to overcome or you can think about what you can control. That’s getting strike one on the next hitter and going from there.

I felt like there was a comparison there. [Brady's] thought process and why he’s so good is that he’s able to slow those situations down and focus on the present and what’s in front of him. That’s really hard to do, especially in a game of that magnitude.

And of course, we can easily translate that into the language of sales.

Rick Porcello's thoughts about the importance of slowing down in certain situations and focusing on the present apply to the following 10 sales and sales leadership scenarios.  Slow down:

  1. When sales calls and meetings aren't going as planned
  2. When an important account is making threats about leaving
  3. When a large opportunity is slipping away from you
  4. When your sales have fallen behind your forecast
  5. When you are conducting a discovery call with a new prospect
  6. When debriefing a salesperson on a recent sales call or meeting
  7. When you just heard what you wanted to hear, but you need to question it
  8. When you are qualifying an opportunity
  9. When you feel that you must blow up an opportunity
  10. When you you feel like it's time to bail out on an opportunity

Noah Goldman, Host of The Enterprise Sales Podcast, interviewed me about all of this today.  Listen here.

Nurturing the ability to slow down on demand is one of the greatest skills you can develop.  It goes hand in hand with patience.  You can't have too much and you can't have too little.  One thing that can help, especially on a discovery call, is to have a large number of questions that you can use if the conversation requires it.  This infographic from Hubspot, that was made with Visme, should help you along!

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, sales forecasts, super bowl 51

Another Powerful Reason Why Salespeople Struggle to Become Great Sales Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 02, 2017 @ 16:02 PM

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Image Copyright Grinvalds

Ryan changed jobs and companies this week when he started in his new role as Business Development Manager.  When I congratulated him on his new job he wrote back the following:

"You were 110% on the money back when I became a first time sales manager. You told Stuart and me that my biggest challenge would be in not being able to understand why the hell sales reps working for me just didn't do what I did when I was selling, and what I asked them to do, since I always did what was asked of me when I was a field rep for Stu. Totally on the money, that drove me crazy every day."

We talk a lot about the mistake so many companies make when they take their best salespeople and make them sales managers.  While it's not always a mistake, the most commonly discussed reasons include:

  • Inability to replace that salesperson's significant revenue
  • Lack of sales management skills
  • Lack of recruiting skills
  • Lack of coaching skills
  • Lack of skills around accountability
  • The new sales manager might not be able to get salespeople to sell the same way
  • Things that made this person successful as a salesperson might not be duplicable
  • Resistance to move away from selling and reluctance to allow salespeople to make their own mistakes

In addition to those 8 reasons, Ryan's note highlights the single most frustrating chain of events to impact new sales managers.

New sales managers have a tremendous sense of optimism when they embark on the next chapter of their careers.  They believe that their sales success is duplicable and all they have to do is show their salespeople what they do and their salespeople will be able to do it.

Nothing could be further from the reality of the situation.

For starters, the former sales managers might be successful more because of their intangibles than having mastered 21 Sales Core Competencies.  

Their salespeople could have weaknesses in their Sales DNA that would prevent them from doing what their new sales managers can do.  When Sales DNA fails to support effective selling, Sales Managers can show and tell until they are blue in the face and their salespeople still won't be able to replicate their words and actions.

Their salespeople could be deficient in their Will to Sell, their tactical selling competencies or their understanding of business and finance.  There are many possible factors that cause 77% of all salespeople to suck and most sales managers, lacking effective coaching and training skills, are simply not equipped to overcome them.  At some point in their first year, the reality of their situation becomes more obvious and they default to the only solution they know for increasing sales.  Themselves.

They turn their salespeople into bird dogs and whenever there is a decent opportunity that isn't a slam dunk, they show up or get on the phone and help their salespeople close the business.  While this does serve as a short-term solution, it's not a very good long term strategy. The sales manager takes all of the credit, the salespeople fail to improve, they feel demotivated and unimportant, and eventually leave.

There is no shortcut to sales management success.  Sales Managers must develop the necessary skills to coach effectively so that they impact deals that their salespeople close, impact profit, win rates, retention, morale and revenue.  

If you or your sales managers need to develop this rare ability to coach up a sales team, won't you join me for my top-rated Sales Leadership Intensive?  I offer it only once each year and it's coming up on May 17-18 outside of Boston.  There is still time to plan your attendance,  and you'll leave the two days finally understanding and possessing the ability to impact a sales force.  Learn more here.  Use the discount code DK-Blog-Subscriber to receive a $100 discount off the price of a ticket.  We limit attendance to only 25 sales leaders so register early or, like we used to say at the end of each Red Sox baseball season, wait until next year!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, best sales management training, best sales leadership training, sales core competencies

Sales Excellence: How to Close Anything and Everything in Any Vertical

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

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I was listening to CNN on Satellite Radio and in between rants about the immigration ban, protests, the federal judge who issued a stay, and Trump's first week's worth of executive orders, an advertisement came on promoting How to Close Anything and Everything, no matter what you sell and who you sell it to.  And to make their offer even more enticing - it's being offered for free!  Did you hear it?  It wasn't a promotion for my company...

Closing is awfully important. Nothing happens until the business gets closed.  But most people don't know the real truth about closing.

I am going to share the real truth about closing and it's quite different from what you've read, what you've listened to, what you've watched, and probably from what you've practiced.  Countless books, tapes, videos and podcasts have been devoted to closing techniques.  Thousands of companies deliver seminars and training programs to help salespeople develop their closing skills.  They're all wrong and they have all wasted your time.

I have written 1,600 articles and not once have I shared the closing secret that I am about to share in this article.

Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated and assessed over one million salespeople.  If we review the 21 Sales Core Competencies, zoom in on the 10 Tactical Selling Competencies, and then filter the results to show average scores for elite salespeople - only the top 7% - you will see this:

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Top 7% of All Salespeople

Notice that the best salespeople in the world possess fewer than half of the attributes of the Closer competency - it's their second worst score next to Social Selling (isn't that ironic?).

If closing is so important, then how come the world's best salespeople don't have very good closing skills?

The top 7% have closing skills that are twice as good as the general sales population who average only 23% of the attributes of the Closer competency. 

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All Salespeople

But this isn't about contrast. I told you that I want to share the truth about closing.

The average scores for elite salespeople are very good for Hunting, Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Presenting and Sales Process.  

If you start with an effective sales process and follow it, keep your pipeline filled through consistent hunting, use an effective consultative approach, and thoroughly qualify, the business will simply close and most of the time, you will be the one who wins it.

However, if you don't have an effective, predictive sales process, don't take a consultative approach and don't thoroughly qualify, then the pressure will be on you to be a great closer.  And even if you are a great closer, most of the time, it still won't be enough to get the business.

Some of the companies that have asked me to help were winning an incredibly small percentage of business.  Most of them believed they needed training to improve their salespeople's closing skills when the reality was that they were not executing the milestones and competencies that precede closing.

Winning business is not brain surgery, but developing the skills to execute an effective process, be a consultative seller and qualify effectively takes time and a lot of practice.

Great salespeople do this.  Great sales trainers know how to teach this.  Great sales managers know how to coach to this.  Nike said it best.  Just do it.  

It's not a secret anymore.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Closing Skills, Closing Sales, closing excellence

Sales Podcasts and Video Interviews are Better Than Sales Articles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

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Regular readers know that I write a lot - 1,600 articles on sales and sales leadership over the past 10 years.  I'll be the first to admit that the articles are not all award-winners but readers find most of them helpful, entertaining, and good enough to keep coming back.  And a few dozen of them have won awards.

But are the articles better than say, a lively podcast on the same topic?  A television interview?  A radio interview?

There are pro's and con's to both.  The advantage of the articles is that you know what you are getting because you can see it and you know how long it will take to read since the vast majority take only a few minutes.  Interviews and podcasts run much longer, most ranging from 30-60 minutes but the advantage is that you can really hear and/or see the message come to life so much more than with the written word.  Why?  I'm a better speaker than writer!

Over the years there have been a number of interviews that I am proud of, were well done and are worth listening to and watching.  A good interview is so dependent on the interviewer, the questions they ask, and their ability to go off script and let the conversation flow.  

It is finally time to devote an article series to podcasts and interviews.  Here are the top interviews with me from the last several years:

  • Barb Giamanco -  Video Interview - How to Improve Closing Ratios
  • Noah Goldman - The Enterprise Sales Podcast - on Closing, Patience, Slowing Down and Tom Brady
  • Aaron Ross - Predictable Revenue - Podcast
  • Barb Giamanco - Sales Hardtalk for Top Sales World - Podcast - Selling Value
  • Lori Richardson - Score More Sales - Audio Interview - The Future of Sales
  • Will Barron - Salesman Red - Video Interview Traits of a Great Salesperson (2016 Gold Medal Winner)
  • Michael Mason - Smart Sales Pro Audio Interview Sales DNA (one of my favorites)
  • Will Barron - Salesman Red - Video Interview Why Salespeople Struggle
  • Frank Visgatis - Sales Rehab Podcast Audio Interview Get Prospects to Buy From You More Often
  • Evan Carmichael - EvanCarmichael.com Video Interview The Pitch
  • Jim Lobaito - Biz Talk Radio Audio Interview Sales Selection
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV Video Interview A New Guide for Selling Value
  • Stu Heinecke - How to Get a Meeting with Anyone - Audio Interview
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview Build & Manage a Great Sales Force
  • Jason Kanigan - Audio Interview Magical Phone Prospecting Tactics 
  • Jonathan Farrington - Top Sales World - Audio Interview - Why Sales Managers are not More Effective
  • Evan Carmichael - Video Interview - Selling Value
  • Sales Mastery Summit - Video Interview - Sales Pipeline
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - Sales Leaders Need to Create Value (45,000 views)
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - What to do with Millennials
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - How to Create a Predictive Sales Model
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - How to Adapt to the Massive Changes in Selling

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Great salespeople, selling value, sales podcast

7 Reasons Why Salespeople Underperform and How Sales Leaders Can Coach Them Up

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

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Day after day and call after call, I hear the frustration from sales managers and sales leaders who have at least one thing in common.  They know that their salespeople could and should be doing better.

For almost ten years and regardless of how the US economy has performed, reports continue to show that only 50-60% of reps are hitting quota.  That's nothing to be proud of and the sales leaders who call and email have come to the realization that try as they might, they have been unable to coach up half of their salespeople.

These are smart, talented, experienced sales leaders, who work for companies with excellent reputations, great products and wonderful customers.  So why does nearly every sales leader struggle with the problem of under performing salespeople?  The biggest problem is that there isn't one reason - there are many - and I'll share them with you now.

  • Selection - When you hire the wrong salespeople, it becomes clear that the fit isn't very good.  The salespeople might be wonderful people, but when they are wrong for the role or lack the capabilities required to succeed in the role, failure is the norm and it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible to coach them up.
  • On Boarding - Some companies lack a comprehensive on boarding program and instead of preparing new salespeople for success, the new salespeople are setup for failure.
  • Messaging - I've seen the results from the sales force evaluations of more than 11,000 companies and 1 million salespeople. One thing I have observed in nearly every one of those companies is the utter lack of consistency in their messaging. Whether it's the value proposition, brand promise or elevator pitch, each salesperson tends to say something completely different from everyone else.  
  • Sales DNA - Some salespeople are good relationship builders, have a solid set of skills, but lack the necessary Sales DNA - the set of strengths that support successful sales outcomes - to be effective.  It is very difficult for a sales leader to coach up a salesperson when the issue is Sales DNA.  If you have salespeople, and you have repeatedly had to coach them on the same issues, it's more than likely Sales DNA that is causing the problem, not a skill gap.
  • Training - A lot of companies don't provide their salespeople with professional sales training and of the companies that do, it's important to know that a lot of the sales training that is out there isn't very good.  Why?  A lot of it is incomplete, outdated, focuses on the wrong things, and most of it ignores the issues of Sales DNA.  There are 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Sales Training must thoroughly cover all 21 of those competencies - in context - through role play - and more.
  • Coaching - This is it.  The big differentiator.  The one thing that can make up for mediocrity.  You know that coaching now accounts for 50% of any sales leader's role.  The problem is that there is coaching, and there is coaching that has an impact.  How do you know if your coaching is having an impact?  Your salespeople will be begging you for your time.  Opportunities on which you coached your salespeople are getting closed - by them, not you.  They are getting stronger, better, more confident and meeting and exceeding their quotas.
  • Sales Process - I've written about sales process 31 times because it's that important.  When salespeople don't have a proven, predictable sales process to follow they will fail much more often than they need to.  And the coaching must take place within the context of the sales process.

If coaching is the single most important sales leadership competency that will have the greatest impact, and you aren't having that impact on each of your salespeople, every single day, and in every coaching conversation, what can you do?

Dedicate yourself to becoming the best sales coach on the planet.  Period.  The challenge is in finding the right place to start.

I can help.  My annual Spring Sales Leadership Intensive is coming up May 17-18 outside of Boston and in those two days we will explain, show, demonstrate, listen, watch and discuss how to coach - for impact.  You will leave us with the ability to coach - for impact - and feel so good about your ability to grow and develop your salespeople.  

If that's not enough, we have a kick-ass coaching application that will help after the intensive training.  Click here to learn more about the event.  If you would like to attend, you can use my special discount code to save $100.  Use the code DK-Blog-Subscriber.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales core competencies

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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 a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years.  Dave's Blog earned a Bronze Medal in 2016 and this article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016. Read more about Dave.

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