Hiring Salespeople Should Not be Like a Coin Flip

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 06, 2019 @ 18:02 PM

coinflip

For most companies, hiring the right salespeople has always been problematic.  With the shortage of quality sales candidates, it's now more difficult than ever.  The pressure to fill a role often causes sales management to hire the best from a limited and deficient pool of candidates instead of hiring the right candidate for the role.  The difference is huge, especially if you have a complex sale, a long sales cycle, a high-priced product or service, or a lot of competition.  If you rush to hire someone and get it wrong, three things usually happen.  The first and most obvious is that you will inevitably have to begin the hiring process all over again in several months.  Second is the lost opportunities from having a weak salesperson and for periods of time, no salesperson.  Finally, there is lost revenue from customers who are stolen away, creating negative territory momentum, where the pendulum swings to favor the competition in that territory.

Hiring salespeople does not have to be like a pot luck supper or a coin flip.  If you are selective instead of impulsive, good things will happen.  Take a look at the image below.The spreadsheet shows the difference between one company's top 3 producers and their 3 worst producers.  If you notice the difference in color between all of the green at the top and the red down below, you'll see the findings and competencies that differentiate the two groups.  At Objective Management Group (OMG) we call this a tailored fit.  It's the last of two levels of customization to fine-tune our sales candidate assessment criteria and that is what allows us to make such accurate recommendations and achieve predictive validity.

WFTF

For the real company in this example, from 180 possible findings, 27 clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms.  Of the 27 differentiators, the following were represented:

Candidates who meet at least 80% of these 27 findings WILL succeed in the role.

You can easily hire the best salespeople for the role with help from (1) a predictive sales candidate assessment that provides the equivalent of a crystal ball and (2) having the discipline to be patient enough to wait for the right candidate.  What's holding you back?

There is one more thing you are required to do.  After hiring your salespeople, you must provide them with a comprehensive 90-day on-boarding process so as to assure their success rather than setting them up for failure.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, Sales Candidate, sales assessements, hiring mistake

I'm Sorry But Your Sales Process Sucks

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 01, 2019 @ 11:02 AM

sucky-process

Perhaps you saw this too.  Yesterday, a post appeared in my LinkedIn feed that talked about the power of sales process.  The article was clearly written to support the author's technology application, which helps track sales KPI's; so they should know a little about the topic of sales process.

Towards the end of the article, they provided a sample of what an effective sales process should look like.  The following text is exactly what they wrote:

If you don't have a sales process or aren’t sure what is meant by that, we can help. Start by thinking about your most successful clients. (Or, if you’re new, some of your team’s most successful clients.) What were the different steps that client went through before they became a client?

It might look something like:
Current Customer Referral
Initial Contact
Follow-up Appointment
First Sale
Upsell/subscription

5 Steps?  Yikes!  

I expect clients to have skimpy, lame, thin sales processes but this was from someone attempting to demonstrate their expertise in sales process!

Their recommended process was basically: get a meeting, sell something and follow up for more.  That's not a process, that's simply 3 outcomes.

In addition to initial contact, a solid, customized, formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric, optimized sales process should include all of the milestones that must be reached to get from that initial contact to the first sale.  In my experience with sales process best practices, that would include between 4 and 6 stages, each having between 4 and 8 milestones for a total of somewhere between 16 and 24 milestones.

The video below is a fast, enjoyable walk-through of sales process and methodology.

 

Let's not forget that a solid, customized, formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric, optimized sales process should also have a predictive scorecard built in.  Your win rates will go up and your sales cycle lengths will go down.

If you don't have these things in place, I'm sorry to say that your sales process sucks.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales best practices

An Easier Way to Coach Salespeople - For a While

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 30, 2019 @ 17:01 PM

 easy

One of the challenges that sales managers have is their trepidation around transitioning from very little coaching to daily coaching; and at the same time, moving from coaching light (ineffective coaching) to coaching pro (effective coaching).  Why?  They aren't masters of role-playing and role-playing is one of the primary tools to demonstrate best practices and how effective sales conversations should sound.

As I suggested to a pair of sales managers today, there is an intermediate step they can take.  You can use the following approach to coach to any selling competency but this example helps your salespeople who need to take a more consultative approach.

This is easy - you can do this.

After a salesperson completes a sales call ask, "On a zero to ten scale, with ten being a very consultative conversation and zero being a very transactional conversation, how would you rate your performance?"

They won't say zero because they're supposed to be taking a consultative approach. They won't say ten because they didn't actually take that consultative approach.  They'll respond with a number between four and six.  You're off and running! 

Next you can ask, "Why did you rate yourself a five?"  This causes them to be somewhat introspective about their conversation. "Because I didn't do everything I could have done."

Ask, "What could you have done better?"

Assuming that they answer and identify something they believe would be more consultative, you can ask why they didn't do that.  This is when you'll probably hear something about being uncomfortable and discomfort is where the real coaching takes place.  

"I was afraid to ask that because I was worried they wouldn't like me" (Needing to be Liked is a component of Sales DNA)

"I was uncomfortable asking that because it's not polite to ask about money" (Conditioning that Talking about money is not polite is a component of Sales DNA)

"I was uncomfortable pushing back because I understood their objection" (Understanding means there is a self-limiting belief - a component of Sales DNA)

"I was uncomfortable challenging their outdated thinking because I was worried about how they might respond" (worry means they were emotional - a component of Sales DNA)

In order for you to coach up your salespeople, you'll need to help them push through their discomfort and overcome weaknesses in their Sales DNA.  You should encourage them, give them permission to fail, remind them every day that it's OK if something bad happens, and when they do that which is uncomfortable, praise them and point out that they survived.  Never reprimand for doing something they were uncomfortable with when it yields a negative result.

Look at that - you're actually coaching!

As I mentioned at the outset of this article, this is an easy way to ease into coaching, but this is not a coaching best practice by any stretch.  This is not how you coach up salespeople.  This is not powerful, impactful coaching where your salespeople can't wait for more.  This is simply a starting place.

Would you like to learn how to conduct powerful, impactful, meaningful coaching of your salespeople?  Join me for my March Sales Leadership Intensive.  You can't get better training on how to be an effective sales coach.  Watch a video testimonial.  Watch another video testimonial. Watch me talking about the event from :20 to 1:22 in this video.  Register and save $100.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management training, sales leadership training, coaching salespeople

Great News! The Latest Data Shows That Salespeople are Improving

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 23, 2019 @ 18:01 PM

breaking-news

Some really terrific news came across my desk this week when John Pattison, Objective Management Group's (OMG's) COO, showed me two graphs he had created.  For the first time in recent memory, salespeople as a profession GOT BETTER!

That's right, when we compared the results of the 85,000 or so salespeople that were evaluated in 2018 to the 80,000 or so salespeople that were evaluated in 2017, there was a measurable improvement in overall scores!

Let's review the two graphs below.

In the first graph below you will see the that the blue plot line for 2018 has moved to the right for the middle 50%.  

Sales Percentile 2018 vs 2017

The next graph presents a more familiar looking bell curve. The move to the right for 2018 (shown in blue) is even more apparent in this graph.

Sales Index 2018 vs 2017 v4

It might not seem like much but there are two significant points to consider:

1. The lion's share - probably 99% of this data - is from salespeople and sales candidates prior to receiving professional sales training from any of OMG's partners.

2. An average improvement of 2% by the middle two quartiles is significant.  Remember, this is an average increase for the middle two quartiles (the IQR).  The 2% average is also affected by which company provides the training and coaching and which sales process and methodology are selected.  If 80% of revenue comes from the top 20% of salespeople, then the middle we are talking about here produces about 20% of the revenue. A 10% improvement represents a 33% increase in revenue so a 2% increase in effectiveness would yield a 6% incremental increase in revenue.   For example, suppose you run a $20 million company with a 33% margin and you improve revenue by 6%. That's an increase of $1,200,000 on the top line and $400,000 in gross profit.  Most businesses will take that incremental improvement on top of their expected year-over-year organic growth.  Often times, that improvement is the result of being more effective at selling value and in addition to being 2% more effective overall, salespeople are improving margins by 5 points or more.  In our example above, the gross profit would increase to $456,000.

What can we attribute this improvement to?  If I had to point to one thing, it would be that the coaching by sales managers is finally starting to support, rather than undermine, sales training and sales process.  I'm sure you have your own ideas as to what has moved the needle.  Add your comments to this discussion on LinkedIn.

Finally, we have evidence that the work being done to improve the capabilities of professional salespeople is paying dividends.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales revenue, revenue growth

Do the Least Informed Salespeople Have the Loudest Voices

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 22, 2019 @ 06:01 AM

ignorance

Do the least informed among us have the loudest voices? This article is about salespeople but to set the stage, we'll start with the news.

When I listen to and watch the news, it seems that those on the fringes and representing special interest groups get the most attention, benefit of the doubt, dictate how everyone else should think and act, and cause tremendous tension and stress.  Yet, wherever I travel, whomever I interact with, whatever their story, and regardless of their skin color, religion or national origin, I never see any signs of the friction, division or hate that is amplified by the news media on a daily basis.  Why does the news media continue to deliver stories of hate, invite people of extreme opposite sides to debate, or express so much hate themselves?  When I tune into the news, instead of news, all I hear is screaming, hate and accusations.

Do the least informed among us have the loudest voices? 

Now sales.  Consider two very different salespeople working a new opportunity. 

Rita is a consultative seller and in her first meeting with a prospect, she listens and asks a lot of questions.  She is patient, polite and curious.  She doesn't talk about capabilities, products, prices, but she does ask why the prospect has taken so long to address his problem.  In doing so, she learns about other players in the company, their influence, interference, beliefs and the impact it has had on the prospect.  Rita didn't judge or push; she simply continued asking questions until there was urgency to fix the problem.

Lou is a transactional seller and in his first meeting he tells the prospect about his company, its capabilities, and his products.  He claims that his company is better than everyone else, will be competitive and have the best prices, and then he bad mouths Rita's company.  Lou monopolized the conversation, didn't give his prospect a chance to talk, and his prospect didn't care to ask any questions.

Do the least informed among us have the loudest voices? 

Consider a sales training program with an emphasis on helping the sales force develop a more consultative approach and the ability to more effectively sell value.  Those who agree with the need for sales process, methodology, strategy and tactics quietly embrace this approach.  Those who are threatened by change, who want to maintain the status quo, begin the rebellion, oppose the approach, and challenge the trainer. They hijack the training and little is accomplished. I remember this occasionally happening to me 30 plus years ago but I learned to diffuse it up front.  Today, I still hear stories about this happening to other trainers who haven't figured out how to deal with it yet.

Do the least informed among us have the loudest voices? 

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, news media, opposition

Top 13 Requirements to Help You Soar as a Sales Manager

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 @ 12:01 PM

top-13-requirements

In my last article I shared the top 8 requirements for becoming a great salesperson.  Wow, did that resonate with people and there was a great discussion about it on LinkedIn.  In addition to that, I received a number of emails asking, what are the requirements for becoming a great sales manager?

I'll share those in a moment but first, since they were so popular, a few more "do you remember the first time" questions:

Do you remember your first cell phone that didn't need to be plugged into a roof-mounted antenna or, a little later, the first cordless phones for your home?  Do you remember the first car that allowed you to use Bluetooth instead of holding the handset?

Do you remember your first "portable" computer?  For most people it was a laptop but mine was a Kaypro CP/M based transportable computer that weighed about 15 pounds circa 1984 which I replaced with a Panasonic laptop, with 20 MB of storage circa 1987.

Now for sales management.  Do you remember the first time you coached a salesperson and they told you how helpful your coaching was? Do you remember the first time they asked how soon they could come back for more coaching?  Do you remember when all of your salespeople felt the same way about your coaching?  Do you remember the first time you coached a salesperson on an opportunity they were unlikely to win and they won it because of your coaching?  Do you remember how the rush from coaching a salesperson to a win was greater than the rush you used to get from your own wins?

Of course you don't.  92% of sales managers simply aren't that far along yet.  After all, it's been less than a decade since it became fashionable for sales managers to spend at least 50% of their time on coaching.  For comparison, consultative selling was introduced in the 1960's, was mainstreamed in the 1980's, and is the foundation of most sales training being delivered today. Despite that, only 17% of all salespeople have the consultative selling competency as a strength.  See OMG's statistics for all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

What are the 8 most important requirements for being a great sales manager?

You might be surprised but they are the exact same 8 that I shared for salespeople because you can't become a great coach of salespeople without those 8.  Sure, coaching requires some additional skills but if you can execute on the 8 already listed, you can learn to become a great sales coach.

What else do you need?  Here is my bonus list of 5 additional requirements to become great at coaching salespeople:

  1. Post-Call Debrief - this is a structured debriefing of a call or meeting that has already taken place with the goal of determining why it ended the way it did, which skill gap was was involved, and what in the salesperson's Sales DNA might have caused the skill gap.  This is followed by lessons learned and an action plan
  2. Pre-Call Strategy - this is a structured discussion of an upcoming call or meeting where the salesperson must identify goals for the call, desired outcomes, potential challenges, how those challenges will be addressed, and share how that conversation will sound.
  3. Joint Sales Calls - where the sales manager observes the salesperson and provides real-time feedback.  
  4. Role-play - this is the scariest and most difficult part of coaching and without a willingness to jump and and play any scenario in any stage of the pipeline with any level of decision maker against any competition with any objections is key.  Read more about my thoughts on role-playing.
  5. Patience - Development occurs one day at a time.  You can't and won't coach your salespeople up overnight.  But you should be able to make them incrementally better each and every time you coach them.

So if you're not in the top 8% of sales managers who excel at these 5 bonus requirements, how can you develop mastery of them?

Each year, I open the door to non-clients so that sales leaders like you can attend my top-rated Sales Leadership Intensive.  We spend the better part of 2 days on the 5 bonus requirements listed above.  You will learn how to coach effectively.  You will learn how to coach with impact.  You will do some coaching while you're with us and receive constructive feedback on your efforts.  When you return to your office, you will be able to coach up your salespeople and can expect a 27% increase in revenue!  The secret to our success?  We teach you how to use role play as the primary method of demonstrating the conversation you expect your salespeople to have. We accomplish that by sharing 8case studies - powerful, recorded, real coaching conversations that we dissect, discuss, model and use those to help you develop mastery. If you would like to join us on March 19-20, outside of Boston, there are only 10 seats left as of this writing. You can learn more here.  If you wish to register, use the discount code DKSLIMAY17 at checkout to receive a $100 discount or follow this link to automatically apply the discount code.

Add your comment and join the discussion on LinkedIn.

Watch Selling Power publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner interview me about coaching in this 7-minute video.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

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

The Top 8 Requirements for Becoming a Great Salesperson

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 @ 06:01 AM

remember

If you're young enough, some of the questions in the first few paragraphs won't apply because you haven't experienced the world without the innovations mentioned below.  Don't let that prevent you from reading this because after the milestones, we'll get to the good selling stuff.

For those of you who are my age or older, do you remember the first time you saw color TV?  For me it was the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the early 1960's. Or the first time you watched Cable with more than 6 channels and without snow? Wireless remote controls?  OK, that was all in the 1960's.  Let's skip to the 1980's.

Do you remember the first version of Microsoft Windows?  Computers with more than words and numbers - how cool!  Do you remember what came before Windows?  MS/DOS or CP/M and the commands you needed to know to get the computer to do what you wanted?  How about the 5 1/4" floppy disks that stored a whopping 160KB of data?  

Let's skip to the 90's.  Do you remember the first time you connected to the internet?  I connected through a now defunct service called Prodigy.  AOL had its infancy around that time as well.

Do you remember sending and receiving your first emails?  I remember the pushback I got from OMG Partners who, at the time, didn't want to abandon fax machines to send and receive information.  My first email address was salesguru@prodigy.net.  That was almost 30 years ago!  Do you remember earth's biggest bookstore?  How cool was it when you placed your first Amazon.com order, or later on, read your first book on a Kindle?  Your first look at early HD TV?

Now the turn of the century.  Do you remember when LinkedIn got started?  Most of the people I invited to join my network didn't have LinkedIn accounts yet. You can follow me at linkedin.com/in/davekurlan.

Do you remember reading your first Blog article?  I read one by Seth Godin, became an early subscriber, and in 2005, became one of the very first sales experts to Blog.  This article will be somewhere around #1,750 in the series and since that time my Blog has won 27 awards.

Each of these innovations had the cool effect, as in, "cool! Let's do that again!"  Now we can transition to the same kind of coolness, but in sales.

Do you remember the moment you became a Salesperson?  Not a presenter, Not an order taker, but a true consultative sales professional?

Here are some guidelines to identify the moment you turned professional. 

Do you remember the first time you asked that difficult, frightening, risky question that earned you the business on the spot?  It surprised you.  It wasn't a closing question, discovery question or qualifying question, but a question that changed how your prospect thought of you, completely changed the conversation, and differentiated you from everyone else that prospect had spoken with.

Did you ignore it at the time or can you remember having some awareness of what had just happened, how powerful it was, knowing it was a game changer and looking for opportunities to repeat that experience?

When you consciously began asking these types of questions on every first sales call, you became a bonafide professional salesperson.  Anyone can present.  Anyone can quote.  Anyone can take orders.  Anyone can rattle off specs.  Most can maintain relationships. But taking on the difficult task of becoming truly consultative?  Only the top 5% have mastered that and the next 15% work at it pretty effectively.  The rest?  Not yet.

If you are among the top 5% who have mastered this, congratulations!  If you are working on it as you read this, that's terrific too.  But if you aren't there yet, what must you do to become a master at consultative selling?

Here are the top 8 requirements - selling skills and sales DNA - to become the best

  1. Listening Skills - this goes beyond hearing and focusing.  We're talking about active listening, identifying specific words and phrases that if questioned, will take you wider, deeper and closer to a prospect's compelling reasons to buy.
  2. Questioning Skills - this isn't about having 50 prepared questions.  This is about phrasing your follow up questions to go wider, deeper and closer to a prospect's compelling reasons to buy because you listened effectively.
  3. Tonality - Everyone is capable of asking questions, but not everyone can ask them in such a way so as to not offend.  You need to slow down, get softer, add pauses after each key phrase, smile, and most importantly, your inflection must drop down on the last syllable so that it doesn't sound like a question.
  4. Business and Finance - Behind every problem you uncover, there is usually a financial implication.  You must be savvy enough to help your prospect make that calculation, including hard and soft costs, amortized over the full term of the problem, and agreed to.
  5. You Don't Need to be Liked - There is a difference between being likable, getting people to like you and the 58% of all salespeople that NEED to be liked.  The first two are good while the second prevents you from being able to execute #2 above.  When we look only at elite salespeople, only 18% need to be liked and their average score in this competency is 89% compared with 76% for all salespeople.
  6. You control your emotions - when you are in the moment, and not distracted by your own thoughts, you can listen more effectively as mentioned in #1 above.  63% of all salespeople aren't able to do this, while only  31% of Elite salespeople struggle with this.  Elite salespeople score an average of 86% in this competency while all salespeople score 80% and weak salespeople score 76%.
  7. You are Comfortable Talking about Money - Weak salespeople score just 41%, all salespeople score 58% and elite salespeople score 91%.  60% of all salespeople aren't comfortable with the financial discussion making #4 impossible.  Only 8% of Elite salespeople struggle with this discussion, and 85% of weak salespeople are uncomfortable this.
  8. You follow an effective sales process.  Period.  Consultative Selling is much more difficult than relationship selling which takes forever with no guarantees, or transactional selling which takes no time at all and rarely produces results.  It requires a formal, staged, milestone-centric sales process which incomplete methodologies like Challenger and SPIN don't provide.  Baseline Selling is complete consultative sales process and methodology in one.

Statistics courtesy of Objective Management Group, Inc. which has evaluated and assessed 1,833,093 salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders from  companies, in  industries and  in  countries.  Interested in seeing the results?  See how salespeople measure up in all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.  Want to identify new salespeople who can sell like this?  Check out this accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment here.

Comment?  Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales process, consultative, transactional sales, Relationship Selling

Popularity Polls are Just Like Sales Management Tracking Metrics!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 07, 2019 @ 21:01 PM

polls

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Have you ever watched a news program where they presented poll results, like the number of people in favor of legalizing marijuana?  The poll shows popular opinion, but not the facts, logic, or impact on arrests, the economy, traffic accidents, unemployment, addiction, death rates, etc.  There is a huge difference between people's often uninformed opinions, versus what the facts might suggest.  That's the problem with the statistics I'm going to share in this article.  The stats show what sales managers are doing but those managers are largely uninformed. They don't know what's good for them, haven't been asked or held accountable to doing it differently, and aren't in any way shape or form following best practices.  John Pattison, Objective Management Group's COO, mined some data on salespeople who report to sales managers.  I was appalled by what I saw.  Check this out!

I reviewed data from 17,000 salespeople who reported to 4,000 managers in companies across more than 100 industries and here are some of the most interesting findings (see how 500,000 salespeople score in 21 Sales Core Competencies here):

Tracking, Reporting and Pipeline:

  • Margins are the metric tracked most frequently. 65% of sales managers track that because they need that metric to calculate commissions!
  • 3% of sales managers don't track or report on anything
  • Only 6% of sales managers track cost per sales call
  • Of the 5 pipeline metrics that could be tracked, an average of only 32% of sales managers track 1 or more of them
  • Only 33% of sales managers track closing percentage
  • Only 41% track average order size

I have news for you.  If you don't track closing percentage or average order size, you can't identify the number of opportunities that are required to be added to the first stage of the pipeline each month!

Coaching Environment

The data shows that it's more important that sales managers believe their salespeople trust their intentions, and have strong relationships with their salespeople than what the reality might be.  When sales managers believe there is mutual trust and a strong relationship, it is 300% more likely that their salespeople will be strong or elite.  That's because sales managers with these beliefs coach more frequently, coach longer, and coach more effectively.  See this article for the data that shows that how sales managers who coach frequently and effectively see a 27% increase in revenue.

If you want to become super effective at coaching salespeople, register to attend my Sales Leadership Intensive on March 19-20.  If you want to attend, use DKSLIMAY17 at checkout to receive a $100 discount.  Seating is extremely limited (only 20 seats remaining). If you're like the hundreds of other sales leaders that have attended this event over the past 8 years, you'll quickly recognize that it's the finest training you've ever received.

Sales Leadership CoverSpeaking of sales leadership and coaching, order Keith Rosen's terrific new book, Sales Leadership, from Amazon.com.  You won't be disappointed.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, self-limting beliefs, sales metrics, tracking

Dave Kurlan's 10 Surefire New Years Resolutions For All Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 03, 2019 @ 06:01 AM

new-years-resolutionjpg

Like most people, this year I intend to make good on my New Year’s resolution.  It’s actually more of a life resolution than it is a New Year’s resolution in much the same way that salespeople should make theirs a career resolution. If it’s important enough then it shouldn't be for only one year.

I’ve compiled a list of resolutions that all salespeople should make and follow.  Some will likely surprise you but they are all necessary to become more successful.  Enjoy the 10 most important elements for New Year's Resolutions That All Salespeople Must Make.  Here we go!

  1. Stretch.  Everyone begins the year with goals but they tend to be goals that will either be easy to reach or impossible.  A stretch goal is important but it can’t be some random number.  Sell this much, sell this many, earn this much, or pay this debt won’t work.  The goal must be for something special, important, exciting, and compelling that the numbers will help you achieve.
  2. Believe.  Your stretch goal doesn’t become real until you believe in it.  Think back to when you were younger and obsessed about that bike, game console, go-kart, dress, date, musical instrument, sports win, computer or toy.  You never stopped hoping and wishing and believing and you can't stop believing now.  
  3. Commit.  Now that you have identified something exciting and believe that it can be accomplished, you must commit to it.  Whatever it takes.
  4. Stuffed.  Achieving your goals is dependent on a lot of things but none more crucial than always having a full pipeline.  You can’t sell six if there are only four opportunities in your pipeline.  First determine what it will take to sell one.  Working backwards, how many opportunities are required in each stage of the pipeline in order for you to sell that one using your own conversion ratios?  (Averages are in parenthesis - actual mileage may vary)
    1. Closable - has indicated intent to buy from you at a specific time (2)
    2. Qualified - thoroughly qualified to buy from you at a specific time (4)
    3. Prospects  - there are compelling reasons to buy from you (8)
    4. Suspects - first meeting has been scheduled (12)
      In this typical scenario, 26 opportunities must be in the pipeline at all times in order to sell one in a week, month, quarter or year or whatever your x per y is.  is the number you must sell and y is the time frame, like 4 per month. Multiply the numbers above by x.
  5. Discipline. When you are fully committed to your mission, you will be disciplined.  It means that you will perform the required activities even when you don't want to.  Back in the 1950's, insurance executive Albert Gray said something along the lines of, "The difference between successful salesmen [note - this was his wording circa 1950] and everyone else is that the successful salesmen will always do what they don't want to do while everyone else doesn't."  Discipline also means no distractions.  Identify what can and does distract you and swear off of it during the work day.  Period.
  6. Consistent.  This is about routines.  You must have a business development routine that you follow each day.  Whether you use the phone, knock on doors, send out emails, connect via social media or follow up on leads to generate new business, you must follow the same routine each and every day,
  7. ExceptionsThis is the hidden key.  Make no exceptions.  While my resolution in 2019 is to eliminate flour and sugar from my diet, I know that if I make just one exception I've blown the day.  If I blow the day, I'll rationalize that I might as well blow the week too.  And a blown week becomes a month blown and the plan fails.  Make. No. Exceptions.
  8. Improvement. Commit to self-development and a goal of becoming just 10% better at every aspect of selling. Check out this article to see how a 10% improvement in effectiveness leads to a 33% increase in revenue.
  9. Efficiency.  Commit to using tools that will make you more efficient.  I'm not a big proponent of all-in-one solutions that do everything because they compromise on everything.  These are my recommendations:
    1. Pipeline management - Membrain
    2. Call Efficiency -  Have 5+ conversations per hour with prospects using ConnectAndSell 
    3. Scheduling - YouCanBookMe
    4. Finding Someone's Email - FindThatEmail
    5. Automated Email Reminders - FollowUpThen
    6. Who Best to Introduce you to Targeted Prospects - Reachable
    7. Powerful Task list that synchronizes across all devices and platforms - ToDo
    8. Easily Share large files - WeTransfer
    9. Easily share content with prospects, look great doing it and track when they visit and what they review - Postwire
  10. Trust the process.  Sales process is crucial to success.  Once you have a customized, formal, staged, milestone-centric sales process, trust it.  If the process works and has a built-in custom scorecard, trust it.  It won't steer you wrong.  Review this article on customized scorecards.  Watch the video in this article to better understand what an ideal sales process looks like.

There you have it.  My surefire 10-step resolution to make your new year your best year.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales motivation, sales goals, sell more, new year's resolution

The Top 10 Sales Articles of 2018

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 13, 2018 @ 07:12 AM

top-10

Many of us love traditions, some of us have rituals or superstitions and most of us find comfort in a routine.  Routines are familiar, we don't have to think about it, and it's predictable.

In December I have two traditions with my Blog.  The first is to repost my Nutcracker article - one of my most popular articles and by far, the most read article each December.  I first wrote the Nutcracker article in 2010 and have reposted it for each of the past 8 years. This year I'm simply providing you with the link to the 2016 version, hoping you read one of my all-time favorites.

My other tradition is to list the top articles of 2018 by popularity (views), engagement (comments), and my personal favorites so here we go:

These were the top 5 articles of 2018 by popularity

Salespeople with this Weakness Score 47% Worse at Reaching Decision Makers

The Biggest Reason Salespeople Don't Close More Sales

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better at These Competencies

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

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

 

These were the top 5 articles of 2018 by the number of comments about it on LinkedIn.  You'll notice some repeats...

Latest Data on Sales Coaching is Worse Than Pathetic

Salespeople with this Weakness Score 47% Worse at Reaching Decision Makers

New Data Shows Some Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

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

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

 

And finally, these are my 10 favorite articles from 2018.  Interestingly, only 2 of these 10 can be found on the popularity or engagement lists and the most popular and talked about articles weren't my favorites.  Go figure!

Would Henry Ford be Able to Sell Cars Today?

How I Realized That Selling is Just a Bunch of Crap

Examples of How Salespeople Lose Credibility with Their Prospects

How the Cheesecake Factory Menu Can Make You a Better Closer

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

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

10 Reasons Why Parents of Toddlers Make Better Sales Coaches Than Sales Managers

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

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

Would You Like to be Selling Guns Right Now?

Predictions for 2018 - The Sales Triad Will Provide Record Sales Growth

Happy Holidays!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, sales excellence, Nutcracker, sales science

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,700 Articles

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.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

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

2018 Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs Widget

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader