Which 4 Sales Competencies Best Differentiate Top from Bottom Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 08, 2018 @ 20:10 PM

elite-v-weak

The difference between great salespeople and weak salespeople has been debated for years.  The articles in my Blog typically address these differences with science and data to support to my position. 

For example, In 2018 alone I have written 15 such articles:

New Data Shows That Elite Salespeople are 700% Less Likely to Do This

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

Does Being a Strong Qualifier Correlate to Having a Strong Pipeline?

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Latest Data - Strong Salespeople Score 375% Better Than Weak Salespeople

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

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

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

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

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

New Data Reveals Why Veteran Salespeople Are Not Better Than New Salespeople

Data Shows Most Salespeople are Dinosaurs When it Comes to Social Selling

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

What Happens When You Force a Square Sales Peg into a Round Sales Hole?

Is the Sales Force Getting Dressed Up or are Real Changes Taking Place?

Other Blogs, and far too often, the Harvard Business Review Blog, state these differences using junk science - anecdotal observations.  While those observations can be useful, they do not actually differentiate between good and bad, as much as they are what the authors perceive as commonalities among good salespeople.

I reviewed data from nearly 511,000 sales evaluations and assessments from among the 1.8 million that Objective Management Group (OMG) has produced to date.  I compared 21 Sales Core Competencies (you can see much of that data here) of the top 5% (elite) with the bottom 50% of all salespeople.  Then I identified the 4 competencies with the biggest gaps and you can see those in the image below.

 544Competency

The 4 competencies with the biggest gaps are all tactical selling competencies and on average, the top 5% have these competencies as strengths 544% more often than the bottom 50%. However, the 544% number isn't really the story.  The big story is that that 64% of the top 5% have the Consultative Selling as a strength compared with only 3% of the bottom 50%.  Nearly as big a story is that 91% of the top 5% are strong at the Qualifying competency compared with only 6% of the bottom 50%.  And a whopping 95% of the top 5% are strong at the Value Selling competency compared with only 10% of the bottom 50%.

So what does this mean?

Elite salespeople are twice as likely to have solid pipelines because nearly every one of them are strong at the Hunting Competency.  Then, because they are so proficient at selling value and qualifying their opportunities, a high percentage of a greater number of opportunities close and not because they are better closers!

Weak salespeople - in this case, more than 255,000 of them - are twice as likely to have a weak pipeline, and because they are selling transactionally and not consultatively, they close a very small percentage of a smaller number of opportunities.  That's why they are so ineffective. 

Could there be a better case for why transactional selling doesn't work?  Please tell me if you have one!

The other story here is that it's value selling and qualifying that almost every elite salesperson executes so effectively while only 2/3 of them have learned to excel at a consultative selling approach.

The gaps are clear and if you manage salespeople, the question is how do you coach your salespeople up and close such a large gap?  You must attend my Sales Leadership Intensive and learn to coach to these 4 competencies and more.  And if 30% of your people can't be coached up, use the most customizable, accurate and predictive sales specific candidate assessment to easily identify the top 25%.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales competenices, Great salespeople, difference between good and bad salespeople, empty pipeline, closing deals

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

comparison-1.jpg
Image Copyright BeeBright

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

Sales Podcasts and Video Interviews are Better Than Sales Articles

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

podcast.jpg

Regular readers know that I write a lot - 1,700 articles on sales and sales leadership over the past 12 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 pros and cons 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, that 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 (44,000 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
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - Sales Coaching
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV Video Interview - Selling Value
  • Will Barron - The Salesman Podcast - Video Interview - Is Excuse Making Holding you Back?
  • Kurt Mortenson - Maximize Your Influence Podcast - Audio Interview - Sales Process and More
  • Richard Smith - Refract TV - Video Interview - How to Achieve Great ROI from Sales Training
  • Jonathan Farrington - Top Sales World Roundtable - Audio - Why are Sales Managers So Weak?

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

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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 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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