Fine Tune Your Sales Force as You Optimize Your Computer

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

laptopI love my Macbook Pro.  It's four years old which means I've had it for three years longer than any Windows laptop I ever owned.  That said, it was beginning to underperform, slow down, and choke.  Yesterday, at around 4 AM, I decided to regroup and deal with those issues.  First, I evaluated the problem, and identified the biggest memory hogs and performance sapping programs.  Next I downloaded Memory Clean and Disk Doctor to free up some space and memory.  Then I downloaded the Mac-specific apps for QuickBooks, Wunderlist, Calendar Pro, and MailTab Pro so that I wouldn't have to keep my biggest memory hog, Chrome, always running with all four of those cloud applications permanently open in the browser.  Then I deleted about 10,000 sent items from Outlook, repaired the machine's permissions, restarted the laptop, and it was performing to expectations again.  I was excited about what I had accomplished in such a short time!

That process isn't very different from what executives must do with an underperforming sales force.

  • Evaluate the Sales Force to identify the real reasons for the underperformance, to what degree the issues are causing problems, and which individual underperformers can be saved.  Identify the changes that need to be made under the hood to bring in more new business, increase the win rates, shorten the sales cycle, and determine the increase in performance that will come as a result.
  • Install the most useful and helpful sales applications, pipeline management and analytics to drive performance.
  • Optimize the Sales Process so that it is milestone-centric, properly sequenced, timed and weighted to make the forecasts more reliable.
  • Coach up the sales management team so that they have more of an impact when they coach their salespeople.
    Sales Leadership Intensive 
  • Thoroughly train the sales force on new business development, sales process, consultative selling, qualifying, selling value, differentiation, closing and relationship-building.
  • Upgrade the sales force by developing a sales-specific recruiting process that includes predictive sales selection through a sales-specific candidate assessment.  This must eliminate the guesswork, and instead, consistently result in each new hire being a strong salesperson who will succeed in your business.
    Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial 

I was able to identify the problems with my laptop, optimize it and get it performing well again in just a few hours.  However, it will take several months and probably longer to accomplish the same thing with your sales force.  At four years, my laptop had already far exceeded my expectations for performance and longevity.  Your sales force will produce and eventually meet and exceed your expectations for many years to come, and certainly for a lot longer than four years.

The biggest difference between the laptop and the sales force is not the time it takes to achieve improvement.  It's the time it takes to recognize the limitations and refuse to accept those limitations or say, "It is what it is."  Don't be overwhelmed by the changes that must be made, do bring in a trusted outside expert to evaluate, guide, help and train, and don't overthink it. 

The cost?  That's easy!  How much are you wasting on your worst salesperson?  You already have the money to make the required improvements.  Less is nearly always more.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, grow sales, sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales leadership training

Sales Lessons from Baseball's 2013 World Series

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 29, 2013 @ 05:10 AM

2013 World SeriesI love comparing baseball with selling.  It all started in 2004 when I began writing my best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball.  Several readers emailed me this week to ask why I hadn't yet written anything about the World Series, especially when my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, are participants.  I said it had to "hit" me first.

It's the eve of Game 6, but people are still debating the final plays and resulting call that ended Game 3.  If you have been hiding in a cave, the final out of the game occurred when Allan Craig, who appeared to be an easy out at home plate, was called safe due to obstruction by Red Sox' third baseman Will Middlebrooks.

Most fans in Boston still can't believe or accept that the game ended under such bizarre circumstances.  It reminded me of salespeople who continue to bemoan what they perceive to be bad decisions by prospects who awarded business to competitors.

Instead of bad or wrong calls and decisions, I believe that it's critical to frame decisions that don't go our way as tough decisions rather than bad or wrong decisions.  "Bad" is a judgment and leads to debate, while "tough" forces us to move on to lessons learned and action steps.  It is far more productive.

If you have been watching the Playoffs, you may have noticed the statistics showing Red Sox players who had key hits in the post season and the slumps that they endured before they came up big.  At the time of their big hits:

Jarrod Saltimaccia was 0-4 before his walk-off, game-winning single in Game 2 of the ALCS.

David Ortiz had been 0-6 in the ALCS before his game-tying grand slam in Game 2.

Jonny Gomes was just 5-33 in the post season and 0-9 in the World Series before his game-winning, three-run homer in Game 4 of the World Series.

Mike Napoli was 0-6 before his game-winning homer in Game 6 of the ALCS.

These guys stepped up and came up big despite their struggles.  Ortiz and Napoli went on tears after their key hits.  

Both examples in today's article really examine how players react to adversity.  You have salespeople who also must overcome adversity.

The big question with sales forces (especially salespeople) is can your non-performers step-up and become performers?  At Objective Management Group, we use science to determine and accurately predict whether your B's and C's can become A's and B's.  Track record, recent sales and gut instinct won't do it.  That's not science.  We consider measurable sales findings that are highly predictive of future performance.  John Farrell, Red Sox Manager, said his team is winning these games and coming through in the clutch "because of their will to succeed and their desire for success."  Among other things, we measure those two characteristics in salespeople to help determine whether your B's can be coached up and your C's can be saved.

Of course, it's not enough to know if they can be saved.  You also need to know how much better they will perform, what it will take in terms of training and coaching, and how long it will require to get them there.  We do that!  So, as in baseball's 2013 Playoffs, can your struggling salespeople step up and become the performers you need them to be?  Let us help you find out!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, grow sales, Baseline Selling, sales performance, coach your B's, save your C players

Vote the Best Top Article on Sales and Sales Management

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 @ 00:12 AM

This is a pretty exciting time for us.  We reviewed 1,000 articles which I've posted on this Blog since 2006 in an effort to present you with the Top 15 Sales Articles of the past six years, and later this week, the Top Sales Article of the last six years.  It was not quick, easy, fun or obvious.  They aren't necessarily the most viewed and they do not have the most inbound links.  But we did pick fifteen of the more serious articles.  Some are articles backed by science and some are assessment comparisons.  Five are on selling and two are articles where I debunked other published articles.  Missing are the articles with analogies, humor and comparisons to children, but other than that, it's a nice cross-section.

You can do one of three things with this post:

  1. Ignore it.
  2. Read and learn from some or all of the Top 15.
  3. Read the Top 15 and vote on your favorite to influence future topic choices. [Voting ended on 12-19-2012]

THE TOP 15 BLOG ARTICLES

  1. What's the Difference Between Sales Commitment and Motivation?
  2. 10 Sales Competencies of Steve Jobs
  3. What is the #1 Sales Competency and How Many Salespeople Have it?
  4. Selling Power Hits and Then Miss the Mark on Sales
  5. Harvard Business Review Hits and Then Missed the Mark on Sales
  6. Effective Selling Can't Occur Until Salespeople Perfect This
  7. Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments
  8. Tale of Two Assessments - Comparing Value
  9. Ultimate Comparison of Top Salespeople versus Salespeople That Fail
  10. The Sales Assessment that Dave Kurlan Developed
  11. Top 10 Steps to Recruit Strong Salespeople
  12. Only 11% of Salespeople Do This at the End of a Sales Call
  13. How to Close the Big Sales that are so Difficult to Close
  14. What Makes Salespeople Stand Out from the Crowd?
  15. The Science of Achievement Applied to Sales Success

Topics: sales blog, Dave Kurlan, grow sales, sales force evaluation, top sales articles, sales backed by science, salesforce blog, sales assessments

What the Huge Patriots Win Teaches us About Sales Momentum

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 @ 12:11 PM

pats beat jetsPerhaps you watched the Thursday night Thanksgiving Day football massacre between the New York Jets and the New England Patriots.  The Patriots scored 35 unanswered points in the second period and scored 3 touchdowns in one 52-second period of time.

Unbelievable!

Incredible!

Unheard of!

The more common reaction though is, "How quickly it all unraveled for the Jets."  We heard more of that than, "How quickly it all came together for the Patriots."  That's because humans love talking about people when they are down.  Why talk about how fortunate the Patriots are when we can talk about how unfortunate the Jets are?

Let's focus on fortune for a moment.  If you were watching that football game, it was completely uneventful up until those three quick scores.  It went from uneventful to explosive in just 52 seconds.  The same fortune can be realized by a salesperson, sales team or company, even when it seems that none is forthcoming. That's the point of today's post.  Sales and revenue can materialize very quickly. Momomentum - both good and bad - as in the football game, can build very quickly as well and success is all about building positive momentum.

So, what does it take for sudden sales, monumental momentum and ridiculous revenue? 

Consistency.  You must be consistent - about holding your salespeople accountable for consistently adding the right number of opportunities to the pipeline, moving those opportunities through the stages of the pipeline, following the steps of your sales process, qualifying , and providing both needs and cost appropriate solutions.

The wins (which can come suddenly) build positive momentum and lead to championship years.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, grow sales, sales growth, sales revenue, closing more sales, sales success

Sales Prospecting on Steroids

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 @ 06:09 AM

With all of the articles written about sales and cold calls being dead (I usually write the counter arguments to that.  How would you find new business if the only thing you could rely on was a lead?) it was a breath of fresh air when Michael Strickland, my guest on this week's edition of Meet the Sales Experts, spoke about prospecting on steroids.  His five tips for sales success in today's economy are:

  1. Review your prospecting strategy - prospecting on steroids - redouble everyone's efforts
  2. Have a signature communication - own a channel - communicate your value proposition
  3. Leverage technology - CRM - to identify and manage opportunities
  4. Have a web presence - make sure people can find you by Googling you
  5. Identify all of the weaknesses in the sales organization - fix them.

Michael, the former banker, turned banking consultant, turned sales consultant, turned Vistage chair also spoke about how executive teams and sales teams spend 97% of their time planning and only 3% of their time doing.  He strongly suggested reversing those percentages.

"Action conquers fear.  Make a strategic decision to grow."  That was his comment when asked about the fear that has paralyzed so many businesses, causing them to wait and see what happens, rather than do something about their slumping sales force and revenue. 

Listen to the showContact Michael Strickland.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, grow sales, sales management, prospecting, cold calling, fear of failure, sales evaluations, steroids, sales tests, michael strickland, identify weaknesses, sales assessments

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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, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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