A Call to Action for the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 21, 2009 @ 11:01 AM

Al Gore has become more famous for his call to action against global warming than he ever was as Vice President of the United States.

Pope John Paul II was noted for his "stand up for life" call to action.

The charities that you support have calls to action that either inspire you or embarass you into giving.

Yesterday, Barack Obama included a call to action in his inaugural speech.

In this week's Baseline Selling Tip, I redirected the President's call to pick yourself up and dust yourself off - to your salespeople. It might not be what they want to hear, but it sure is what they need to hear.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales motivation, call to action, Economy, Obama, selling in the recession

Stimulate the Economy - Get Your Salespeople Selling!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 12, 2008 @ 23:11 PM

I was interviewed on two different radio shows today.  Jim Lobaito interviewed me about the impact that the economy is having on sales on his weekly business show and David Leopold interviewed me for his live Internet radio show, Let's Talk Small Business.

I agree to these interviews and post often to the blog because I believe that in this economy we need to constantly raise expectations, set the proper, positive mindset, provide increased coaching, step up our accountability and upgrade our sales forces.  It is our responsibility to do what we can to fire up the economy by getting our salespeople to sell more effectively and stimulate the flow of money.  Are you doing your part by turning others onto this blog and others like it?  Are you sharing?

I've been interviewed dozens upon dozens of times and Leopold's interview was the best.  His great questions got me talking about things I don't usually get to talk about.  unfortunately, when I clicked the link to the show, it was the most amateur presentation I've seen to date. There was a video of a partially obscured David Leopold, sitting in a chair, holding the telephone up to a microphone.  It's an extremely low quality, low volume, difficult to hear recording, yet it's some of the best 40 minutes you'll hear of me! If you want to give it a look/listen you can find it here.  Today (11/12/08) it's the first listing on his site but if you're finding this post at some point in the future you'll have to find it down the list which is sorted by most recent.  Let me know what you think...

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan


Topics: sales assessment, sales, selling, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, sales motivation, sales performance, sales evaluation, Sales Accountability, salseforce, Economy

What Have Your Salespeople Been Listening To?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 @ 00:10 AM

In my position as a sales development thought leader and expert I get to hear what many salespeople in many industries are encountering for resistance. In the last few weeks I've heard way too much about deals getting suspended due to spending freezes.  Have your salespeople been hearing this?

I've also been hearing about deals that have been delayed, requests for lower prices, appointments cancelled because projects were being put on hold, and closed deals getting cancelled.  What have you been hearing?

The worst part of hearing a lot of this talk is that it doesn't take long for B and C players to believe it, become demoralized and expect to fail.  You can't allow that to happen.  All of the discussions with your salespeople must be positive, must be about what you can control, and must celebrate something.  Is the economy lousy?  Sure.  But business is still being conducted, and even in companies where there are spending freezes, they are still making purchases.  In reality, there is no such thing as a spending freeze except for being something that top management tells bottom management.

While some of the things your salespeople are listening to are conditions that can't be countered, most of the things your salespeople are hearing can be! How much of what they are hearing is convenient, easy excuses, something prospects hope your salespeople will understand and buy into?  How many of the prospects are simply bluffing?  How many of these stalls, put-offs and objections can be overcome with more effective sales processes, better strategies and more powerful tactics?  How many of your salespeople are actually equipped to sell in an economy as difficult as this one?

While it's easy to fall into the trap of telling your salespeople what you need them to do, most aren't capable of doing more than they've done before, against greater competition and resistance, without changing something.  So what would need to be changed?  You'll have to evaluate the sales force to find out but there isn't a better time to do that!

What is your opinion?

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, sales, Baseline Selling, selling, Salesforce, objections, sales objections, Economy

Cyclical Economy - What Does it Mean for the Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 23, 2008 @ 18:10 PM

Cyclical. The first problem with cyclical is that I don't know how to spell it.  I suppose I could have also tried spelling it "cyclicle". That version got  red underlined in red in my blog editor too.  My next issue with a cyclical economy is making sense of it.  Here's my attempt:

Cyc - lic - cal

Cyc - First you get sick, don't want to go to work, can't handle another sales call with one of your salespeople taking stalls and put-offs because of the economy.

Lic - Then you lick your wounds, wonder if you should look for another career, but decide to stick it out.

Cal - That culminates in a recovery, where because you recommitted to sales excellence, you outsell your competition.

I know.  Stick to writing insightful, timely, thought leading sales advice.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Economy

Tom Peters - Sales Excellence

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 22, 2008 @ 06:10 AM

My team was watching Tom Peters at the Fortune/Gazelles Growth Summit yesterday.  Tom always has a lot to say, some of it new, some not, but always good.  Even though he is a scientist type, I belive he is a sales & marketing guy at heart.  Try some of these one liners on for size:

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting ‘GERONIMO!' "-Bill McKenna, professional motorcycle racer

Tom applied it to business but think of the implications if you can drive this message home to your sales force! My comments follow each one of his one liners.

"Across the Board Cuts are Dumb"


"Minimize Cuts in Training Costs"

That's right -it's more important than ever to focus on your salespeople and customer service people!

"Beware of such things as sales travel cuts and ad cuts"

Go Tom!

"Excellence now, more than ever"

If you become excellent in this economy, you'll blow the doors off of your competition when companies and people start spending money again.

"Women are better salespersons than men"

Objective Management Group has data on almost 400,000 salespeople that we have assessed.  About 80% of them are male. Our data shows that a greater percentage of the females are good salespeople compared with the percentage of males that are good salespeople.

"How can a high-level leader like _____ be so out of touch with the truth about himself? It's more common than you would imagine. In fact, the higher up the ladder a leader climbs, the less accurate his self-assessment is likely to be. The problem is an acute lack of feedback [especially on people issues]." -Daniel Goleman (et al.), The New Leader 

I see this all the time.  Presidents lamenting over their sales force when, so often, the Presidents are the problem!

"Being aware of yourself and how you affect everyone around you is what distinguishes a superior leader." -Edie Seashore (Strategy + Business #45) 

"Do something scary every day"

Reminds me of the comment I've so often written - the biggest difference between sales winners and everyone else is that winners choose to do what they don't want to do.

So today, have a greater sense of how you either positively or negatively impact your sales force, get each of them to do something they don't want to do, have them return to the office all beat up and increase your emphasis on sales training to assure continued, consistent sales excellence.

 (c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan



Topics: sales competencies, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales excellence, sales personality, Tom Peters, Economy

Signs That the Economy Will Soon Improve

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 21, 2008 @ 22:08 PM

We saw it coming.  It happened last summer, the tell tale tip off that hinted at how bad the economy had become.  One of our most popular services, something we call Express Screen Licenses, showed a dramatic drop off.

Express Screens are what we call our world-class sales candidate assessments.  Licenses allow clients to use them on an unlimited basis for a year.  The drop off could only indicate three possible scenarios:

  1. clients had stopped hiring salespeople
  2. clients were cutting back on their spending
  3. clients were dissatisfied with our service

Even though we were extremely certain that scenario #3 was not in play, we explored the option thoroughly and concluded that dissatisfaction was as far from the real reason as the age difference between McCain and Obama.

Our research into the drop off also revealed that clients had stopped hiring salespeople for two reasons:

  1. the salespeople they hired using our assessments were succeeding and they didn't need to hire any more.
  2. their plans to hire additional salespeople were placed on hold because they were being conservative and cutting back on their spending.

Today's article isn't about being more aggressive in the current economy, although I'm certain to cover that topic in an upcoming post. Today's article is about this week.  The dog days of August during an uncertain economy. 

We saw it again.  It happened this summer, the tell tale tip off that things are turning around, that CEO's are feeling confident enough to resume hiring salespeople.  Express Screens Licenses have shown a significant upswing and there are suddenly many more in the pipeline.

While Express Screen Licenses are a fairly small part of our company's revenue, they are a huge factor in our client's hiring successes and a major indicator of economic health.  If what we saw in the middle of this summer is as predictive as what we saw in the middle of last summer, the economy will begin to improve within 12 months and should be humming again sometime after that.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan 

Topics: recruiting, sales candidates, Economy, sales assessments

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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