Measure Change in Sales Effectiveness without Numbers and Metrics

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 02, 2018 @ 08:02 AM

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We want to get better at selling and as sales leaders we want our salespeople to improve.  We need them to improve.  We hope that training and coaching and sales ennoblement tools will get us there.  We have also been told that there is more than one way to skin a cat but it might come as a surprise that there is more than one way to measure the progress being made by your salespeople.

There are traditional lagging indicators, like revenue generated, and there are traditional forward looking indicators, like new meetings, pipeline value and pipeline quantity compared to a prior period.  Conversion ratios - calls to meetings, meetings to qualified opportunities, qualified opportunities to closable, and win rates, all compared with the same ratios from a prior period.

These metrics tell a story, individually and together, but forward looking indicators tell a more timely story, especially if you have a long sales cycle.  However, as you'll read below, measuring sales progress doesn't stop with metrics because there is another powerful way to get instant feedback on a salesperson's progress.

Sales coaching is the most powerful and direct way to improve sales performance, but only if the coaching is daily and effective.  Only 7% of all sales leaders coach frequently enough and effectively enough so there is much work to do in this area.  The best tool for a sales coach is the ability to role play, providing the fastest route to greater sales success.  This article explains how and why role-playing is the scariest component of sales coaching.

We need to discuss role-playing because it can provide you with instant feedback.  When you role-play with salespeople and ask them to play the part of a prospect, the salespeople/actors will actually mirror the behavior and attitude that they are currently experiencing from their prospects.  If they play a nasty prospect, then you know that is how prospects are treating them.  If they play a tough prospect, then you know that prospects are being very tough on them.  If they play an easy prospect, then you know that prospects are being easy and cooperative.  If you pay attention to the changes in their role-plays over time, salespeople who are improving will play increasingly more cooperative prospects.

Whether good or bad, the behavior that prospects exhibit is a direct result of the flexibility, approach, tonality, questions, conversation and collaboration of a salesperson.  Salespeople are completely responsible for how their prospects behave.

If your salespeople don't seem to be portraying easier prospects each time you coach them, then they aren't getting any better.

Having salespeople play a prospect is one way of getting instant feedback, but you can also have salespeople play the salesperson's part.  This role-play runs 25-minutes but it's a great example of what it should sound like when 2 salespeople role play with each other.  You'll notice that I interrupt whenever the salesperson goes off track, doesn't listen actively, doesn't ask a good question, or otherwise could be more effective.

We spend an entire day on learning the nuances of role-playing as a foundation of sales coaching at my annual Sales Leadership Intensive.  The top-rated annual event is May 22-23 and there were 6 seats left on February 1.  Register here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Sales Coaching, great sales management training, Dave Kurlan, key to growing revenue

Apply Jack Reacher to a Modern Sales Approach

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 @ 16:06 PM

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I'm a big fan of the Jack Reacher thrillers and movies. Perhaps you've seen one of them...

While reading Lee Child's newest Reacher book, "Personal", I saw a huge connection between how the Jack Reacher character survives and succeeds on all of his highs: high-risk, high-stakes, high anxiety missions; and how a successful salesperson survives and succeeds in the sales equivalent of a Jack Reacher story.

One of Reacher's trademark expressions is, "Expect the best but prepare for the worst." That is very consistent with what I have always taught, "Be eternally optimistic about your outcome, but completely skeptical of everything you hear along the way." I believe that regardless of which expression or quote resonates the best, that mindset is essential for surviving and succeeding in sales. Without it, roadblocks, hurdles, surprises, and disappearing acts will knock you off your game as surely as white sticks to rice. That mindset provides a bonus gift too - it will prevent you from ever developing happy ears!

Another of Reacher's trademark expressions is, "The fastest thinker wins." This speaks not only to strategy, but tactics as well. It's not enough to "Let me see what I can do and get back to you tomorrow." You need to be quick on your feet, adapt as your environment changes, respond as your prospect challenges you, and demonstrate your agility on the fly.

Finally, as scary as some selling situations are for some salespeople, as intimidating as some prospects can be, as difficult as some prospects act, and as tough as some of the competition is, selling is not life or death. Although with the way that some salespeople respond to it, you might think it is. You don't need a deadly weapon - just your eyes, ears and mouth as ammunition. Add a modern, predictive and reliable milestone-centric sales process, a modern methodology, and a never-ending supply of questions, patience for listening, and the ability to carry on a conversation with your prospect that nobody else has ever had.

In the end, no matter how bad it seems, no matter how hopeless the circumstances, regardless of the position you are in, with these two expressions and your ammunition having your back, success is not a matter of if, but when.

Reacher is coaching a young CIA agent throughout the new book. I'll be hosting my annual Sales Leadership Intensive - absolutely our top event of the year - on August 27-28 in the Boston area. Check it out and join us for the finest training available on mastering the art of sales coaching.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, handling objections, great sales management training, complex sale, jack reacher

How Sales Has Changed in the Last Five Years and More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 @ 10:04 AM

work together[1]Does everyone get to see your best work?  Probably not.

Your best work probably takes place when you are one-on-one with one of your salespeople, one-on-one with a client, or on the phone.  Chances are, your best work doesn't happen at the sales meeting, in front of your entire sales force, or in front of all of your customer's employees.

Just because most people don't see your best work, doesn't mean that what you are doing isn't important.  You may not get credit for the actual work, but as a result of your good work, a corresponding outcome occurs at a later date, and you'll get the credit you deserve then.

My most important work doesn't always get posted on my own blog.  Such is the case with this article I wrote for the Hubspot Blog on How Sales Has Changed in the Past 5 Years.  

Similarly, an article, in which I wrote about the Importance of Practicing Sales, was reworked for Gerhard Gschwandter's Selling Power Blog.

A third article, with a link to my latest white paper, was originally posted here last year and it has the results of my Trust Project.  It was published this week over at Robert Terson's SellingFearlessly.com Blog.  

Finally, if you want your best work to be even more impacting, and want to feel better about the work you are doing to attract, select, hire, on-board, retain, develop and coach great salespeople, attend my Sales Leadership Event next month in Boston.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, sales summit, sales leadership symposium, Gerhard, great sales management training, selling power

The Latest Tools to Grow Your Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 19, 2011 @ 16:04 PM

Today, rather than one of my analogies stories or case histories, I'm going to let you know about few upcoming events and the latest book launch.

TODAY - If there was just one area where the majority (94%) of salespeople (remember 6% are elite and have this mastered) could improve, it would be at using their listening and questioning skills to carry on effective and appropriate sales conversations that lead to closing business. Mike Schultz and John Doerr, partners at RAIN Group have just released a new book, Rainmaking Conversations, which teaches you everything you need to know about leading masterful sales conversations. And if you purchase the book today from Amazon.com, you can take advantage of a whole bunch of bonus gifts, courtesy of sales experts from far and wide (including one from me), just for purchasing a copy of the book. 

So get your copy at Amazon.com. Then stop by: www.RainGroup.com/Book/Bonuses to pick up all the bonuses. 

MAY - Top Sales World is hosting the 2011 Sales and Marketing Success Conference - an entire week of online presentations for salespeople and sales managers, from the industry's top experts.  The sessions are compelling and the $5 per session registration fees are even more compelling.  Not only that, the proceeds are going to the Red Cross for the Japanese Relief Effort.  The Conference runs from May 9 -13 and my session kicks off day 3.  For more information and to register, click here.

ALSO IN MAY - My top-rated 3-Day Sales Leadership Intensive will be offered again on May 25-27.  You can read all of the details here.  If you manage salespeople or sales managers, and want to master the art of coaching, motivating, sales selection and accountability - and you want to spend 3 days with a lot of personal attention from me, this is the place to be!

Topics: sales leadership training, sales management competencies, sales management boot camp, great sales management training

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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 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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