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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Image Copyright SIphotography 

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

The Benefits of Completely Bashing Your Competition

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 @ 16:10 PM

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Image Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo 

The circus will be coming to an end in just under 2 weeks.  Everyone has seen at least some of the show and some have seen the entire production, including reruns, reviews, commentary and highlight videos.  In the past 60 days I'm certain that even if you don't live in the United States, you've seen at least part of the circus.  Yes, even you.  I'm referring to the circus known as the 2016 Presidential Election. It has moved from ugly to downright terrifying as we watch two presidential candidates slinging the most horrible attacks on each other.  And the worst part is that most of those attacks are well deserved.  But there is an important selling lesson we can take from all of this.  Does bashing your competition ever work?

While it was expected that we would hear each candidate attack the others in their 3 debates, on Twitter, and in their television advertising, we didn't expect it at the recent Al Smith Dinner in New York City.  It was a festive environment with completely different expectations, but after the two candidates finished telling their best jokes, they each went on the attack. The attacks were not well received and there was even some booing.

Let's take look at how they could have exposed each other's weaknesses and liabilities during a debate and then we'll discuss how you can apply these lessons to selling.

Let's pretend that we are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  For most of us, this will be an incredible test of our acting ability.  It will probably be a disaster.  

Trump has a YUGE supply of potential material about Hillary's lack of integrity, abundance of corruption and foreign policy failures. If he attacks her she will attack back and put him on the defensive and most people find him unlikable when he defends himself.

Hillary has a book full of material about Donald's business dealings, refusal to release his tax returns, lack of knowledge about policy, bad temperament and treatment of women.  If she attacks him, his return attacks will be even more vicious.  There's that as well as the fact that most people don't find Hillary very likable and when she attacks it makes it even worse.

We know what it looks like, sounds like and feels like when they attack each other and we are no longer rooting for them to do so.  We are cringing.  So how would it sound if they proceeded to expose weaknesses and vulnerabilities without attacking?

Donald might say, "I like Hillary, I invited her to my wedding, Bill and I were friends, she has a long history of service to our citizens, and she has always done her very best.  At the same time, most of you have probably heard or read the news reports detailing Hillary's alleged crimes, corruption, lies, cover ups, and deceit.  My opinion about that doesn't really matter, and you can form your own opinions.  Just do the research. Look it up.  Instead, I want to use my time to talk about the issues.  Let's talk about how my plan for a tax reduction will help the economy and benefit the middle class."

Hillary might say, "I've been an admirer of Donald Trump for 20 years.  I've come to know his family and I like them a lot.  We don't always agree but he has supported my campaigns in the past and I have a great deal of respect for him.  However, a lot of people are concerned about Donald's refusal to release his tax returns, his lack of transparency, all of those lawsuits against the failed Trump University, his uneven record in business, the video from a Hollywood set, and the 11 allegations of unwanted sexual advances.  You can make up your own mind about his values and behavior, but I tonight want to talk about my plan to fix Obamacare."

There is a huge difference between an attack and pointing people in the direction of commonly available news stories.  There is a huge difference between complimenting and name calling. You've heard the names and I believe that they are unnecessary.

Applied to selling, it means that you must be complimentary to your competition, ask questions about any dissatisfaction rather than pointing out problems, and don't say that you're better or that they're worse.

For example, at Objective Management Group (OMG) we are often asked to compare our sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments to other assessment brands.  We always agree that the other brand is a good and accurate assessment.  Then we mention the category the other brand is part of.  For example, Myers-Briggs and Caliper are excellent Personality Assessments. DISC and Predictive Index are excellent Behavioral Styles assessments.  While we compliment the brand or the company, we use criticize the category - personality or behavioral styles - to point out that neither type of assessment was built for sales, neither type is predictive of sales success, and neither type measures the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  We always say that the assessment they mentioned is good, and that if they were using (a personality assessment) to determine how well an individual fit within their culture that would be a good use.  Or if they were using (a behavioral styles assessment) to understand the best way to work with and manage an individual that would be a good use.  But if they wanted to accurately predict whether a candidate would succeed in this particular sales role, at this particular company, selling into this particular market, against their particular competition, and at their specific price points, only OMG has the track record, predictive validity and sales expertise do that.

Bashing the competition - even in Politics - doesn't lead to very good outcomes and the same is true in sales.  Play nice!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, election, sales assessments, objective management group, Donald Trump, beating the competition, hillary clinton

A Sales Expert's Take on Who is Most Deplorable

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 19, 2016 @ 06:09 AM

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I was home recovering from a bout of asthmatic bronchitis last week and I got a chance to watch some news shows on television.  That's when I realized how incredibly angry I am about the 2016 US presidential election!

Earlier this month I broke the business rule about not talking about religion when I revealed that God was my greatest secret of sales success.  I thought I might be criticized but instead I received dozens of supportive and encouraging emails.  So, if I can break that rule, why not go one step further and break the rule about politics too?  Specifically, I want to share my opinion on who is the most deplorable and who this entrepreneur/sales expert will support in November. I'll probably lose some readers.  I'm sure the trolls will find me and have their say.  But I'm willing to take that chance because what is taking place right now is completely crazy!

I'll start with Hillary.  I don't like her,  I don't like what she has done, and I don't like the prospects for business if she becomes the next president.  Her policies are bad for business and since this is a business Blog, I'll stick with that.

Donald is next.  I don't like him either but I do love what he stands for.  He stands for change, he's from the outside and he knows how to get things done.  His policies will create jobs so a Trump presidency will be good for businesses.  I'll stick with that.  By the way, back in May I wrote about the Rise of Trump for LinkedIn (a sales article, not an article in support of Trump).

So who is most deplorable?  Hillary has done some pretty deplorable things.  Trump has said some deplorable things.  But if you want to know who is the most deplorable, it's not them. It's the media.

You probably don't have the time or inclination to watch a Trump or Clinton campaign speech.  You might simply be reading headlines or getting little sound bites each day. That's what the media wants because your lack of attention allows the Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC, the biggest Clinton supporters, to take Trump's sound bites out of context and create some powerful anti-Trump headlines that make him out to be a racist.  The Washington Post writes opinion pieces based on these sound bites and every one of those articles is written to make sure we have the appropriate amount of hate for Trump and assure that Clinton gets elected.  CNN puts a political panel together - usually three Clinton supporters who talk about how horrible Donald Trump is. Two Trump supporters are then asked for their responses but are rarely allowed to actually state their opinions.  The hosts cut them off, badger and bully them, and try to make them say what the hosts want them to say.  Don't believe me?

Watch Don Lemon of CNN refuse to let Corey Lewandowski talk,

Watch Chris Matthews of MSNBC bully Rudy Giuliani. 

Watch Don Lemon badger Kellyann Conway on CNN.

And yes, Fox News will sometimes do the same thing - letting Trump supporters speak while shutting down Clinton supporters.  but as you can see in the comments below, this article proves that Fox was anti-Trump throughout the primaries.

When those same media outlets had the opportunity to press Clinton on the email scandal, they simply reported on it. You didn't read opinion pieces in the Washington Post, and CNN and MSNBC kept asking why we were still talking about it.  "Let's move on!" they said.

This is really scary.  This article shows that Google, Apple, Instagram and Twitter are manipulating searches to hide negative Clinton information.  And this is probably the most revealing information of all.  This video proves that the internet is manipulating what you read about Hillary and Donald.

I really don't care which candidate you support and I hope you don't care which candidate I support.  

On the other hand, I really hope you care that the media has so much power to change the narrative.  Last week, CNN's polls showed that Trump had taken the lead over Clinton both nationally and in some swing states.  But CNN spun that around and instead of talking about Trump's momentum, they talked about how he can't possibly win and what it will take to stop him.

Here's an example that is so fresh I'm sure most of you saw it or read it. Trump recently suggested that if Hillary is anti-gun, then perhaps her bodyguards should be disarmed.  If you heard the entire context for his comment then you would know that he was saying that if bad guys are the only ones with guns then we will be in even more trouble than we are now.  The media turned that into Trump's second call for violence against Hillary.  And yes, the same thing happened the first time.  Seriously, the media has put more words into his mouth than there is pollution in the Ohio River.

Today, new polls show Trump increasing his national lead to 7 points and being just one state away from the presidency.  However the NY Times shows Hillary with a 2 point lead.  How can that be?  They are reporting on poll results from 2 weeks ago and not including Gary Johnson in the results!  

When I was growing up, the media consisted of radio, television, newspapers and magazines.  Reporters reported on the story - they weren't part of the story.  Today, the media extends to everything on the Internet they are forcing their agenda on the American people.  It's propoganda, which I wrote about in July on LinkedIn

So I will cast my vote for Donald Trump because he represents what America needs, even if America doesn't particularly like him and the media is hell bent on keeping him out of office.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Donald Trump, cnn, don lemon, chris matthews, media, hillary clinton, msnbc, washington post

Why Salespeople Need to Negotiate and 10 Other Timely Sales Lessons

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 05, 2016 @ 12:05 PM

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Regular readers know that I have written more than 1,400 articles to help them better Understand the Sales Force.  Some of the articles won awards.  A few were stinkers.  I intended for all of them to be very helpful and I believe they are.  Over the years, some of my favorite articles were completely overlooked, getting relatively few reads compared with the most popular articles that were viewed by tens of thousands of people.

Today I wrote an article for LinkedIn that not only explains Donald Trump's rise to presumptive GOP nominee, but identifies ten, great selling lessons associated with his rise.  It doesn't matter whether you love, hate or are neutral to Trump, I invite you to read my observations and lessons and contribute to the conversation.  You can read the Trump article here.

Speaking of lessons, when salespeople miss key milestones in the sales process – and they are often missed – it leads to proposals and/or quotes that rely on guesswork instead of facts, assumptions instead of agreements, and hope instead of acceptance. When salespeople send proposals to their prospects, they hope the proposal will do the selling for them, but it causes one of four things to happen instead. An article I wrote that appears today on the Selling Power Blog identifies those missed milestones and the four things that happen instead.  You can read the Selling Power article here.  

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales lessons, time management, negotiating, sales groups on linkedin, Donald Trump, sellingpower, sales milestones

This Simple Strategy Will Sell Your ROI and Value Proposition Every Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 07, 2016 @ 06:03 AM

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Most salespeople can calculate ROI and explain it to their prospects, but many of them find it equally difficult to articulate that same ROI after they have been presented with a price objection.  They become defensive, review features and benefits, and make the situation worse for themselves instead of better.  We are going to review the case history of a salesperson who had an $85,000 solution that would increase company revenue from $10 million to $20 million.  Despite promising a $10 million gain, he was unable to overcome what he heard from his prospect:  "That's too much money!"  In this article, we willl discuss how it's done.

The prospective client had 30 outlets and needed to grow from $10 million to $20 million, the magic number for the CEO.  At $20 million, volume and pre-payment discounts would increase his bottom line by 10 points or an additional $2 million over and above what the $10 million in organic growth would produce.  $20 million was also the key milestone to sell the business to a strategic buyer and get a 10:1 return on EBITDA.  If ever there was a compelling reason to move forward, this CEO had it.  Unfortunately he was looking at the $85,000 cost as a line item rather than an investment to achieve a $10 million return. Rex, the salesperson, was unable to get him to see the $85,000 through that lens, so he turned to me for help.

I asked Rex what the prospect's average project sold for and learned that it was $35,000.

When you put that in context, that is 10 additional projects, per outlet, per year, to capture the additional $10 million.  And if we break it down even further, it's each outlet, selling just 3 additional projects, every 4 months.  At a 30% margin, it requires only 8 projects in total to break-even or 16 for a 100% return on investment.  That can be achieved when half of their outlets sell 1 additional project in a year!  So what does that tell us?

Rex never put this in context or he would have closed this in about 2 minutes flat.

It also means that the prospect had probably not done the math either.  If he had, then he was betting that Rex's solution wouldn't help half of the 30 outlets sell even one additional project over the entire year.  Rex was betting that his solution would help each of the 30 outlets sell ten additional projects over the entire year.

Articulating this particular ROI is simply about having a discussion on the point spread!

Did the prosopect think so little of the solution that he really believed it couldn't help 30 outlets capture 16 additional projects between them in a year, or did the prospect fail to do the math?

Most of the time, selling has little to do with features, benefits, products or services.  It always has a great deal to do with math - the quantification of the compelling reason to buy - in this case $10 million - and the articulation of the value proposition in the context of the prospect's real world situation - 30 outlets capturing a total of 90 additional projects between them over a year.

Selling is all about the math.

For example, the candidates in the 2016 US Presidential primaries have been presenting their plans and much of that revolves around math. I am not making a political statement here; I'm simply providing three examples of math used by the candidates in their attempts to support (or not support) their plans. The challenge for most of them is that their math doesn't always work and that leads to issues with credibilty, but not necessarily their popularity!

Bernie's plan is about free everything, but when you do the math, free will actually cost taxpayers $1.5 trillion per year.  That math doesn't work.  Donald has used the $58 billion trade deficit with Mexico to demonstrate how he will use that as leverage to get Mexico to pay for a wall.  That math works.  Ted wants a 16% flat tax.  I didn't know if that math worked, so I did some research.  I found that the total of American wages paid is around $10 trillion and the total of corporate revenue is about $16 trillion so at 16% that would generate around $4 trillion in revenue to the US Governement.  The 2016 US Federal budget is $3.5 trillion so that would leave $500 billion surplus to pay down the debt.  If that surplus could be sustained, the debt would take 36 years to pay off!  So does that math work?  Only to balance the budget.  

Learn to do the math and you'll make it so much easier for your prospects to understand your value proposition as it pertains to them.

Watch this 45-minute training video on Selling Value to capture the other pieces of the value selling puzzle.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, roi, EBITDA, building value, selling value, Donald Trump, ted cruz, bernie sanders, unique value proposition

Latest Debate Had Some Great Sales Leadership Examples

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 17, 2015 @ 07:12 AM

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You didn't need to watch too much of the debate or watch for too long before hearing some bizarre examples of what some of the GOP candidates would do if they were elected as the Chief Leader of the United States.  Carly Fiorina doubled down and said she simply would not talk to world leaders, like Vladimir Putin, until she could talk to him from a position of strength.  Chris Christie said he would draw a line in the sand and if Putin crossed it with one of his war planes, Christie would shoot it down.  Trump said he would kill the families of terrorists.  Rand Paul was smug - he knows more than anyone else on the stage and has known it for longer.  Cruz and Rubio debated details of the law.  Carson said the right things - all night - but has very little in the way of outward presence.  He isn't animated enough, passionate enough, or dynamic enough to be the Chief Leader.  Jeb Bush stumbled.  So out of this cast of characters, who was the "leader" who didn't say the wrong thing?I believe that it was Chris Christie with his line in the sand.  He's talking about setting clear expectations and holding accountable those who didn't meet those expectations.  Trump was talking about that too, but Trump's KPI is not within the law!  Christie's line in the sand is a no-fly zone in Syria - and a violation would be a very reasonable KPI to which every country could and should be held accountable.

In other news, today, Rapid Learning Institute sponsored two presentations where I commented on the hidden reasons why your next sales candidate might be a bust.  Both sessions were a big hit!  They posted this article which talked about the takeaways from the first session. 

Evan Carmichael, of EvanCarmichael.com, a great site for entrepreneurs, named me one of the Top 100 Leadership Experts to follow on Twitter, coming in at #59.

Last week, I posted the top 5 Articles from my blog in 2015.  Readers voted and the winner is:  Rebuttal to What Elite Salespeople Do Differently 

This relatively short and simple article turned into the most lively online debate that I have witnessed in the 10 plus years of authoring this blog and I was very proud of all the supporters who took the time to write, explain their positions, and set the record straight.  Thank you all for reading in 2015.

Finally, TopSalesWorld.com is holding their annual Top Sales & Marketing Awards for 2015.  This year I am proud to be nominated and be a finalist in 7 categories:

  1. Top Sales and Marketing Article
  2. Top Sales and Marketing Blog Post
  3. Top Sales and Marketing Blog
  4. Top Sales and Marketing eBook
  5. Top Sales and Marketing Webinar
  6. Top Sales Assessment Tool (Objective Management Group/OMG)
  7. Top Sales and Marketing Thought Leader

The winners will be announced in the December 22 issue of Top Sales Magazine. If you don't subscribe (it's free) you can subscribe here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, topsalesworld, chris christie, GOP and sales, Evan Carmichael, Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina

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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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