One Thing Your Company Must Do Right Now to Increase Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 13, 2020 @ 12:05 PM

cherry-picking

Most in the cherry-picking news media are continuing to pound us with bad stuff: record unemployment, 80,000 dead, lockdowns into August, 30 trillion in debt, economy will be slow to recover, you'll be jailed if you open your business too soon, schools to remain closed in September, people will die, etc.  But there is good stuff going on that they aren't talking about because, for the most part, the media doesn't care about sharing the good stuff.  It's bad for ratings.   

For example, since the 30 million who temporarily lost their jobs are receiving unemployment at more than 100% of what they were earning before, they aren't facing the hardship the media would lead you to believe and the money is there for a reboot when it comes.  But the really good news is for companies that are able to hire salespeople.  Consider this!

Do you have cash on hand?  Do you have access to cash?  Money is almost free right now so don't discount traditional borrowing!  If you can invest some money, now is definitely the time to hire salespeople.  Whether you want to expand your geographical coverage, the verticals you call on, the audience you sell to, the products you offer, want more saturation in your existing space, or want to upgrade the quality and performance of your existing sales force, THERE WILL NEVER BE A BETTER TIME TO HIRE SALESPEOPLE.  EVER.

Consider the following statistics from Objective Management Group (OMG), who have assessed 1,972,665 salespeople.HIRING-PANDEMIC

You are looking at historical shifts in statistics!

If you can find a way to spend the money now (cost of tools and 3-months salary), and you use OMG'S predictive sales candidate assessment, you will see some incredible swings:

Your sales candidate pool will increase in size by 600.  Yes.  They are out there!

The number of sales candidates completing their sales candidate assessments will increase by 958% because it is an employer's market.  Just three months ago it was a candidate's market.

The overall assessment recommendation rate will decrease by 45% because there are a lot of crappy salespeople out there right now. Also, you will be able to raise the bar on the minimum requirements for a recommendation because there are a lot of good salespeople out there too.

Because of all the available sales talent right now, you will be able to identify and hire your salespeople 450% more quickly.

While the fixed cost for a sales candidate assessment license remains the same, the relative cost per assessment decreases by 958% and your annual compensation drops by 11% due to supply and demand.

Even if the market you sell to is sluggish right now, that won't be the case by the end of the summer.  Don't wait until then to hire!  Everything will shift again by Labor Day.  Both supply and quality of available sales talent will decrease as demand increases, the time to hire will increase, and the time to onboard your new salespeople will take longer as well.  DO. THIS. NOW.

Your current and new salespeople will face unprecedented challenges in the form of delayed closings, resistance to being sold anything at all, and resistance to spending more money than anyone has to.  This resistance will come in the form of stalls, put-offs, objections, excuses and sob stories.  Your current and new salespeople must have the skills to differentiate, take a consultative approach and sell value if you are to have any chance of maintaining your margins.  If your salespeople move forward armed with only the limited skills they had prior to the pandemic, your win rate and margins will be crushed.  YOU MUST EVALUATE YOUR EXISTING SALES FORCE, DETERMINE HOW BIG THE SKILLS GAPS ARE, AND PROVIDE THIS CRUCIAL SKILLS TRAINING NOW.  If you wait, you will find yourself fighting to survive from the back of the pack.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, grow sales, recruiting salespeople, hiring salespeople, sales test, personality test, recovery

The New York Times' Misleading Article on Assessments and Their Use Cases

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 03, 2020 @ 13:03 PM

NYTimes

I'm not usually late but I'm really late on this topic!

Back in September The New York Times, which is often accused of publishing fake news, published an interesting article comparing personality tests to astrology.  The story included specific assessments like The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, The Hartman Personality Profile (Color Code), Plum, and DiSC.  Myers-Briggs reports on sixteen dimensions of personality, the Hartman Profile has four dimensions of personality, Plum uses AI to predict cultural awareness, teamwork and communications, and DiSC has four dimensions of behavioral styles.

I had so many reactions to this article and I have attempted to collect and assemble them into a coherent article that I believe will be worth your while.

THE EXAMPLES: To base an entire article on four assessments is like writing about the automobile industry and using a GMC pick-up truck, a Ford Focus, a Dodge Challenger and a Jeep SUV as examples without mentioning that there are 60 brands which include foreign and domestic, high-end cars, muscle cars, limos, low-end cars, electric cars, three sizes of SUV's, coupes and sedans, exotic cars, trucks and more. Four examples do not come close to helping you understand the choices or capabilities of assessments.

THE COMPARISON: To suggest that assessments are like astrology is like saying that small businesses are hobbies for those who own them.  Some of them are, but most are full-time, profitable ventures that provide their owners with a nice lifestyle.  Some of the 100 assessments are probably like astrology but not the mainstream assessments.

THE USE CASES: The article provides both good and bad examples of use cases but the theme of this article seems to be that assessments will help to maintain good cultural fit and matching up skills to jobs.  The problem is that personality and behavioral styles assessments don't identify skills - they identify traits and tendencies!  You can't match traits and tendency to specific jobs as they are job agnostic.

CULTURAL FIT: Cultural fit is important and some assessments can certainly help to achieve and maintain that but surely you want more than cultural fit for your salespeople.  When it comes to hiring salespeople, you want to know, before you hire them, that they will succeed in the intended role.  But those four assessments, and most of the 100 assessments on the market, cannot possibly make that prediction because they don't measure sales competencies.  Personality and behavioral styles assessments measure traits and tendencies and while some attempt to adapt those findings for sales, the conclusions are leaps of faith at best, and like playing pin the tail on the donkey at worst.

PSYCHOMETRIC TESTS: The author used the term "psychometric" tests" 8 times without explaining what a psychometric test is.  According to Job Test Prep, a psychometric test, "is any activity or assessment that is conducted in order to evaluate a candidate's performance and includes, but is not limited to, skills, knowledge, abilities, personality traits, attitudes and job/academic potential.  There are many psychometric test styles and formats with 3 main areas....aptitude tests, behavioral tests and assessment centers."  In others words, all pre-employment assessments fall under the category of psychometric tests!  Eric Shapiro, who is quoted throughout the article, said, "If I was the United States czar of psychometric tests, there’d need to be some evidence base."

WHAT THEY WROTE ABOUT VERSUS REALITY: There is only one assessment that:

  • Was built for sales
  • Was created by a sales expert
  • Measures all 21 Sales Core Competencies each with approximately 10 attributes
  • Is backed by Science
  • Has been externally validated three times in the last eight years
  • Has been internally validated 210 times in the last five years
  • Uses predictive validity (findings correlate to on-the-job performance)
  • Has been used to assess and/or evaluate salespeople
  • Will accurately predict how a salesperson will perform in the specific role
  • Has a sliding scale where the criteria for a recommendation becomes more difficult to achieve as the difficulty of the role increases
  • Is customizable for the industry/business/selling role
  • Has an optional second layer of customization based on a top/bottom comparison/analysis of your existing salespeople
  • Has 88% of recommended/hired sales candidates attain quota
  • Has an attrition rate of only 8% from recommended/hired candidates

I am describing Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment

It is not a horoscope.

It does not measure cultural fit.

It is not a personality assessment.

It is not a behavioral styles assessment.

It does not use colors.

It does not measure cognitive ability.

It does not measure anything other than sales capabilities.

Below is a sample dashboard from page 2 of a 21 page sales candidate assessment.

dashboard

Using OMG is a no brainer!  Watch this 2-minute video to see how easy it is to get started assessing your sales candidates!

 

 

Comments?  Type them on the LinkedIn discussion thread for this article.

Image Copyright  iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, assessment, hiring salespeople, Personality Tests, sales selection

An Inside Look at Why 3 Good Salespeople Failed and 3 So-So Salespeople Succeeded

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 09, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

failure

You hired a great salesperson that didn't work out.  You hired a so-so salesperson that did work out.  You hired another great one that kicked ass, and another one that was so-so.  That's the story of hiring salespeople.  It's mostly hit or miss with an emphasis on miss.

In this article I'm going to share an actual example that illustrates why this happens so frequently.  I'll show you tangible differences between three salespeople who succeeded and three who failed in the same role at the same company.

Most of the time when we perform these analyses the differences are usually seen inside of the 21 Sales Core Competencies - the performers are strong in the necessary competencies and the failures are not.

So let's dig into some data, shall we?

One of the ways that Objective Management Group (OMG) customizes a role configuration to recommend the ideal salespeople for a particular role is to conduct a top/bottom analysis.  We attempt to identify 15-20 scores or findings that differentiate the top salespeople from the bottom salespeople.  In small companies we use three tops and three bottoms.  In mid-size companies we use five tops and bottoms and in large companies ten tops and bottoms.

We manually analyze and compare those top and bottom salespeople against 280 scores and findings to identify those which differentiate the tops from the bottoms.  As I mentioned, the differentiations are usually found in the 21 sales core competencies or the attributes within those competencies.

Yesterday, I completed one of these analyses and the salespeople who were failing appeared to be stronger salespeople than those who were succeeding.  That's not good!  But I've learned stay with it, not give up too soon, and remember that if I'm patient enough the differences will shine through.  That's how it happened with this team but many of the differences weren't in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  They were simpler, more basic, and more behavioral.  Check out the screen shot below and I'll recap it in beneath the image where you can see a sea of green at the top and a sea of red at the bottom.

top-bottom-Jan-2020

There were nineteen findings identified that were differentiators.  Only half came from the 21 Sales Competencies, like:

  • Sales DNA  (average of 6 Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >76
  • Supportive Buy Cycle (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >56 
  • Comfortable Discussing Money (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of 100 
  • Handles Rejection  (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >60
  • Hunting (a pure selling competency) Score of >50 
  • Account Management (a selling competency) Score of >66
  • Prospects Consistently (an attribute of the Hunter competency)
  • Gains Trust Early (an attribute of the BuildsTrust competency - not one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies)
  • Makes Decisions (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)
  • Will Uphold Margins (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)

It was more unusual to see the following findings as differentiators.  These are more behavioral and are well outside the 21 Sales Competencies.  As you read through them you can clearly see why salespeople with decent selling skills would fail when these findings appear as weaknesses:

  • Time and Organizational Skills
  • Self-Starter
  • Works independently
  • Business Minded
  • Prior experience calling on SMB's
  • Prefer to be recognized for achievements
  • Previously sold into a very competitive marketplace
  • Figure it Out Factor >61 (a compilation of 10 findings that predict a quick ramp-up)
  • Compatibility with the Role's selling requirements - score of >67

If they can't get started, organized and work on their own, in a remote selling role, the chances of success are nearly zero, regardless of skills!

The minimum required scores for success change by role, company, industry, target customer, price points, competition, difficulty, complexity, sales cycle, resistance, and more.

The three salespeople from the company above that were failing didn't have bad selling skills.  Remember, I looked at 280 findings and their selling skills were good to excellent in many of the 280 findings.  But it's not if they can sell; it's if they will sell!  The Sales DNA scores, and the non-sales skill findings combine to show us that their tops WILL sell and their bottoms only CAN sell.

When a company has a way to measure can vs. will they can hire with confidence.  It's like having a crystal ball.

Every top/bottom analysis looks different and as a result, every role configuration for sales candidate assessments is different. The findings we incorporate are different and the minimum required scores are different. Success in one role, at one company, in one industry, with various levels of difficulty, complexity, calling into certain verticals or geographies, selling with certain price points against various levels of competition and various sales cycle lengths, all serve to uniquely change the requirements for success used in the role configuration.

A sales-specific, customizable, accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment like the one that OMG provides is the crystal ball for 29,000 companies and it's why OMG was just awarded the gold medal for Top Sales Assessment by Top Sales World for the 9th consecutive year.

You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

You can checkout OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments here.

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn thread for this discussion.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, top performers, OMG Assessment

Good Sales Recruiting is Like Selecting Movies and TV Shows

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 05, 2019 @ 10:11 AM

prime-video-screen-shot-bb-alt-d1f4ae787d684f6bb141e35884e187de

Do you like movies and TV Shows?  I love them!

How do you go about selecting the next movie or show you will watch?  Do you look for a specific show, watch the trailer and if you like the trailer, watch it?  Or, do you look at all of the new releases, or everything in a particular genre, narrow down the selections, watch several trailers, and finally choose one?

Most people use the second scenario which, by the way, is a very good approach for selecting and hiring salespeople.  Unfortunately, that's not how most companies go about it.

You need to cast the net as far and wide as you can to generate a large candidate pool.  Then you need to assess all of the candidates in the pool.  Most companies either don't use assessments, don't use the right ones, or wait until the final interview to ask candidates to take the assessment.  Improper use affects quota attainment and attrition.  See the stats below:

quota-attrition-1

As you can see from the slide, companies that don't use assessments have a 49% quota attainment rate, compared to 61% for companies using assessments and 88% for companies using Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive sales-specific assessment.  Isn't that compelling?

Consider these actual use results from an OMG user below:

use-graph

This global company, which hires around 30 salespeople per year, is not only the picture of consistency with the number of assessments used, but recommendation rates are within the normal range for roles considered to have significant difficulty.  More importantly, look at the number of candidates they had to assess in order to hire the 29 who had the sales capabilities to succeed in the company's various sales roles!  That's why you need to cast the net far and wide.  910 might seem like a large number but it's only 18 candidates per week spread among their many global locations.

if your typical candidate pool has many fewer candidates and you don't use an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment, it's no surprise as to why your sales recruiting efforts are hit or miss with an emphasis on miss.  When you hire salespeople, they are all supposed to meet or exceed expectations for pipeline building and revenue generation.  It shouldn't be cause for celebration when they do!

Assessing all of your candidates up front allows you to focus on only those candidates who are recommended for the role, saving time and money that would be wasted calling and interviewing candidates who don't have what it takes or wouldn't be a good fit for the role.

You can retool your sales recruiting process and the adoption of a sales-specific, accurate and predictive assessment is one of those changes you can quickly and easily make.

Share your comments in the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, recruiting salespeople, hiring salespeople, sales selection, sales assessments, OMG Assessment

Six Overlooked Factors When Hiring Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 11, 2019 @ 14:04 PM

turnover

This week I've been sick with my annual bout of asthmatic bronchitis - fun stuff - and the question I've been asking myself is, "how long will it last this year?"  Historically, it's takes 2-4 weeks for this to subside and it sucks big time during that 2-4 weeks.  But thinking about time frames got me thinking about one of the universal timelines and challenges facing companies everywhere.

How long should it take for a new salesperson to become successful and why do so many of them fail?

There are six factors in total but let's begin with those on the client-side:

  1. The length of your sales cycle
  2. The length of your learning curve
  3. A Transition period

If you have a six-month sales cycle, a three-month learning curve and it takes 3 months to transition from their old world to your business, that translates to 12 months of pipeline building before you can reasonably expect your new salesperson to start closing business.

On the salesperson side, there are also three factors:

  1. Length of their runway (cash or safety net to survive a transition that doesn't guarantee as much money)
  2. Degree of urgency (how much urgency they feel to get off to a great start)
  3. The theory of relativity  (the more difficult your business is compared with their old business, the shorter the runway becomes)

If your new salesperson has a six-month runway, medium urgency, and selling in your world is more difficult than the world from which they came, there is a negative six-month gap and it's pretty clear that the salesperson will fail.

These factors are but a handful of the factors that go into successful sales selection strategies.  If you select the right salespeople up front, you'll experience much less turnover, fewer delays to growing your revenue, and build stronger sales teams.

Objective Management Group offers the most predictive, accurate and customizable sales-specific candidate assessment on planet earth. You can check it out here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring salespeople, sales talent, sales selection

Great Example of Why Sales Success Is Not Always Transferable

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 @ 09:04 AM

experience

Would a NFL Quarterback make a good MLB pitcher?  Would a star MLB hitter be a great Pro Golfer?  Would an all-star NBA Center be an effective Lacrosse player?

Right now, an event is occurring on the world stage that shows, in a very persuasive way, why success in sales isn't always transferrable from one company, industry or role to another.

For example, a startup storage technology company hired all the salespeople they could get from the most well-known and well-respected company in their space.  The leadership team expected that these experienced and credible salespeople would leverage the new company's great new technology and cause sales to take off like a rocket for Storageville (made up name).  It didn't happen.

Another company hired a Sales VP from a well-known Fortune 1000 company and believed that his experience would make it easy for him to build a top-performing sales organization like the one he ran at Fortuneville (made up name).  It didn't happen.

These two examples aren't exceptions to the rule.  They are the rule.  But the rule to what?  I'll explain the context for the rule and explain the event that serves as such a great example.

In our first example, a start-up - that means UNDERDOG - hired salespeople from the #1 company in their space.  The problem with salespeople who work for the biggest and best companies in the world is that they don't have to be very good salespeople.  They don't encounter much resistance because they rarely face opposition to a first meeting and often have the red carpet rolled out for them when they arrive.  They don't actually need to sell because buying from them is the safe decision and buyers don't get fired for choosing #1.  And they don't need to sell value because their company's deep pockets allow them to discount and "buy" market share.  When those salespeople move over to the startup they quickly find themselves overmatched for what they are about to encounter.  Suddenly, prospects don't want to schedule meetings, are very resistant, believe there is tremendous risk in trying something new, and won't commit to anything.  The salespeople, never having faced this level of resistance before, don't really know how to overcome or manage it and they quickly fail in a very big way.

In our second example, the hotshot VP arrives with much fanfare but quickly learns that while expectations are great, resources are scarce and he has one fewer layer of management between him and his team.  He is not a roll up your sleeves kind of guy and hasn't actually performed the kind of coaching that this sales team requires to help them overcome the resistance that he never had to face.  While the average tenure of a Sales VP is around 18 months, he's gone after just 10 and the company is back to the drawing board.

And then, the biggest and most obvious example of all.  An individual who successfully ran a huge enterprise unexpectedly changed industries, roles and organizations.  He was the sole decision maker at his previous company but now he has a much larger and empowered leadership team and can no longer make the decisions without support from others. He trusted his family to the most important leadership roles at his prior company but he has struggled to hire and retain leaders that are aligned with his vision in the new organization.  Everyone in his prior company was on the same team and supported and executed the business plan. In the new organization, there are those who seek to undermine his authority, goals and plan, and he has enemies and opponents actually working for him.   

Only time will tell whether this person achieves the same level of success as President of the United States or he goes up in flames and fails to complete his term in Governmentville (made up name).  But make no mistake about it.  On the public stage for all to see is the greatest example of how success in one company or industry does not necessarily translate to success in another.  The challenges are different, the resources are different and the levels of resistance vary most of all.

The next time you decide to hire, my 3 rules of thumb will make your experience simpler and more successful:

  1. Target candidates who have already done what you need them to do.  If you are an UNDERDOG then find someone who has already done exactly what you need for another UNDERDOG.
  2. Only you can determine whether or not you like someone well enough for them to join your team.  Use OMG to help you select those who will succeed in a sales, sales management or sales leadership candidates at your company.  It's been the most accurate and predictive sales specific assessment on the planet for 7 consecutive years.
  3. Assess immediately after candidates complete an online application.  Use the assessment's recommendations to determine who you will invest time interviewing.  The worst thing you can do is fall in love with a candidate who later turns out to be not recommended.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, predictive, sales assessments, sales success, Donald Trump

Increase Odds of Successful Sales Hire by 368%

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 06, 2017 @ 16:11 PM

 

competency-1

A Harvard Business Review study proved that using pre-employment assessments increased the probability of a successful hire from 13% to 72%.

I read that exact statement in a marketing promo for a search company and as they hoped, it got my attention. I thought the premise would make for a good article. I began by searching Google for the source of that quote and low and behold, I couldn't locate it. I can't say for sure that the study doesn't exist or the percentages aren't correct but I could not find a single thing that correlated to that quote.

Of course it makes sense that no such statistic exists

 because with assessments making that much of a difference, it would be a no-brainer for every company to use them and on what planet are the chances of success only 13%?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has an extremely accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment with very impressive statistics. Until seeing the statistics above, I hadn't attempted to use OMG's existing success stats in that fashion. We know that 75% of the candidates who are not recommended by OMG, but hired anyway, fail inside of 6 months. We know that 92% of the candidates who are recommended and later hired rise to the top half of the sales force within 12 months. If we use those two related statistics we would get a probability increase of 368% (25% to 92%). But in this case, we have already been told that the likelihood of success for the candidate that was not recommended was only 25%.

Instead, what if we take the two generic rates of success in hiring salespeople? The first says that 50% of all salespeople hired will turnover. That doesn't mean that the other 50% will succeed, only that they won't turnover! In the case of 50% turnover compared with 92% success, that's an 84% improvement. The second rate of success tells us that based on around 50% of all salespeople hitting their quotas for the last several years, half of the people who don't turnover will succeed. That's 25% - still double our fake 13%. Compared with a 92% success rate, that's a 368% improvement.

The latest data out of OMG shows that 5% of all salespeople are elite (Sales Quotient over 140) and the next 11% are strong (Sales Quotient over 129). Those two groups represent only 16% of all salespeople, down from 23% just 2 years ago. If only 16% of all salespeople are any good, you will need a better way to identify them when their resume and/or online application hits your screen and you better know who they are before you decide to interview anyone. That's where an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment comes into play. OMG's is very customizable and with its accuracy and predictive quality, you'll save a lot of time and money by identifying the candidates who will succeed very early in your sales recruiting process.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, hiring salespeople, accurate sales assessment

Can Preventing Hiring Bias Benefit the Sales Hiring Process?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 @ 18:08 PM

hiring-bias.jpgImage Copyright iStock Images

Sometimes things which at first sound really good turn out to be not all that great.  Take the recent eclipse for example - can you say overrated?  Much ado about nothing?

Ken Leeser, a regular reader, suggested that I check out this article on eliminating bias from hiring.  That sounded like it would be a really good thing until I considered this.

You're hiring and you need to identify the ideal salesperson for a particular sales role and you need someone to sell enterprise solutions to the C-Suite.  Aside from all of the other requirements, you'll need to find someone who has done this before.  But if you don't have access to employment history, you have no idea what they've sold and who they've sold it to so you can't determine if they have done this before.  And since you won't be able to guess how old they might be you won't know if they are mature enough to call on the C-Suite.  In order to be efficient in your selection process you'll need to apply some hiring bias!

How about if you need to identify candidates to sell nylon stockings to convenience stores, supermarkets and department stores.  Ideally, you would probably prefer a woman for this role but if names are hidden to prevent hiring bias, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time interviewing older men.  In order to be efficient in your selection process you'll need to apply some hiring bias!

How about if you need to identify candidates for a BDR/SDR top of the funnel role?  In this case you would probably not care whether your candidates were male or female but since most of the people in these roles are recent college graduates, you would want to see how recently they graduated from college.  But if that information is hidden to prevent hiring bias, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time interviewing experienced salespeople who would have no interest in a role like this.

What if you need to identify candidates to sell rock crushers or some other heavy duty equipment that requires physical strength to push, pull or drag the equipment around at demos?  In this case you would probably prefer to hire a younger male who is in excellent physical condition.  Not being able to view prior employment and having experience hidden to prevent hiring bias would make it impossible to identify people who might fit the description of what you would need, causing you to waste everyone's time.

What if you need to identify a salesperson who is physically located in the territory you need represented?  An address, hidden to prevent hiring bias, would prevent you from filtering on the appropriate candidates, causing you and your candidates to waste a tremendous amount of time.

The concept of preventing hiring bias is a good one but when it comes to hiring salespeople I have bias against it.

At the same time, if this is where the world is heading, it's another great reason to use Objective Management Group's (OMG) predictive sales candidate assessments.  Using these up front early in the recruiting process allows you to identify those who will succeed in the given role, eliminating a tremendous amount of the time you would otherwise be wasting.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, sales assessments, hiring bias

Has the Sales Profile of an A Player Changed Dramatically?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 03, 2016 @ 12:02 PM

 wrong-1.jpg

Recently, a number of readers asked me to review two articles which they thought were right up my alley.  Apparently they thirst for one of my specialties - poking holes in articles that are just plain wrong about hiring salespeople.  It's not that I enjoy ripping articles apart, it's just that I don't have any tolerance for authors who either don't know what they are talking about, don't have any science backing them up, or use examples that can't be replicated across industries, markets and geographies.  Shall we dig in?

We'll begin with an article from Sales Benchmark Index which in itself is a surprise because Greg Alexander and his team typically write great articles that are usually challenge-proof. If Dan Perry were more specific, and cited the particular assessments and tools to which his theory applied, then The Myth of the Ideal Hiring Profile would be fine as is.  Instead, he used a broad brush leaving readers to believe that all assessments are outdated.  Most personality and behavioral styles assessments were never designed to be used for sales selection, but not wanting to ignore an opportunity, these mostly old social instruments were adapted by using sales-like labels for their findings.  But make no mistake; the findings are still the same age-old social findings that have no connection to business or sales and therefore, are not predictive of sales success.  Clearly, these profiles are all useless and outdated for the specific role of sales selection.  But not all assessments are outdated or adapted for sales.

That brings us to his other point; that the profile for an A player has changed dramatically in the past 12 months.  I could agree with a statement that said sales has changed dramatically in the past 8 years, but really in the last 12 months?  Here are 25 Ways it has changed...  In sales, A players (the elite 6%) have only needed to add some social selling skills and use of tools to their repertoire.  They already bring to the table the selling package required to succeed in sales in 2016 and beyond.  They build relationships, follow a milestone-centric sales process, use a consultative approach, ask the tough questions, qualify thoroughly and get business and accounts closed.  The group of salespeople that has changed the most are B players, who needed to close their skill and Sales DNA gaps.  You can suggest that C's have had the most changes to make, but the thing with C's is that what they most need to change, they actually change the least.  That's why they are C's!

Finally, if you want to use a sales assessment/selection tool that was designed for sales, is more accurate and predictive than any other assessment on the planet, is customizable for any modern sales role, and evolves as selling evolves, then you'll want to become one of the 11,000 companies that rely on Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments.

 

Moving on to my favorite target, Harvard Business Review, I have to challenge Frank Cespedes again.  I last challenged Frank and HBR in November of 2015 with the very popular article, How Wrong is the Harvard Business Article on How to Hire Salespeople.  Their current collaboration, Hiring Star Salespeople Isn't the Way to Grow, was a very interesting read. The article wasn't really about hiring stars as much as it was about how to scale a SaaS business and I was in agreement with most of that.  My issue - and it's the same issue that I had with the November article - is that the authors insist that hiring salespeople should be based on their ability to complete the tasks they have identified.  

Selling is not task-oriented as much as it is milestone-oriented and that's when we are discussing sales process.  The real magic in selling is when the sales process is integrated with the sales methodology - the consultative approach required for the conversation to flow seamlessly from stage to stage and milestone to milestone.  While there are tasks involved during a sales cycle: following, calling, sending, showing, providing, sharing, explaining, etc., a salesperson's ability to execute on those tasks is dependent upon their underlying selling skills and Sales DNA.  Tasks are an oversimplification of the art and science required to be successful in selling. And whether you want to scale, grow at a moderate pace, or maintain your revenue, your salespeople - both new and veterans alike - must be able to execute consistently and effectively in their roles.  How can you determine whether sales candidates have what it takes?  Once again, I urge you to check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  How can you determine whether your existing salespeople can execute your plan and what is required to develop their capabilities?  Check out the OMG Sales Force Evaluation

Topics: Dave Kurlan, harvard business review, hiring salespeople, HBR, sales benchmark index, sales assessments, objective management group, frank cespedes, sales a players, greg alexander

Is Benchmarking or Perfect Fit Analysis More Predictive for Selecting Great Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 07, 2015 @ 05:10 AM

Last week, I published a case history on a company that we nicknamed, BigBrains. Many readers emailed asking if we could perform this analysis for them (yes, in most cases) and whether this would be considered benchmarking (no). In this article, I will actually show you the difference between benchmarking and the Perfect Fit Analysis that we use as proof to clients and to customize Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments. We use the Perfect Fit Analysis to achieve our legendary accuracy when predicting who will and won't succeed in each sales role at each client's company. First, you absolutely must go back and read Part 1 so that you can see how we arrived at a predictive accuracy rate of 83% (on selecting college graduates that would succeed as Sales Development Reps) at BigBrains. While that's actually less accurate than our norm, when it comes to doing it with college grads, I think it's truly amazing! Now, let's compare that result to what happens when benchmarking is utilized.

Benchmarking is the method of choice for assessment companies that produce traditional personality and behavioral styles assessments. Those generic, non-role-specific assessments were never designed for sales, are not really for sales today, and only their marketing makes you think they can be used for sales selection. The only things they ever changed in all of those assessments are the names of the findings. They still measure personality traits and behavioral styles, still ask the same questions that have been asked for decades and those questions are still rooted in a social context, not sales or business. The limitations, as a result of their assessments being non-specific to sales, requires that you test your top performers so that they can look for common traits. Their theory is that after finding commonalities among your top performers, you can look for new salespeople with the same traits and they should perform well.  

Really? Let's try that with BigBrains! Had we benchmarked the BigBrains top performers, we would have started with around 100 findings and scores and narrowed them down to these findings that were common to their top performers. As you can see, all greens (strengths) and all reds (weaknesses), but clearly complete commonality!

I have always known that benchmarking doesn't work for sales, so just for kicks, let's see how their bottom performers scored when we used the exact same findings...

As you can see, (I apologize for being unable to get the columns to align perfectly) the bottom performers have nearly identical strengths and weaknesses to the top performers.  And that is the very reason why, despite the decades long practice of benchmarking top performers, personality and behavioral styles assessments consistently fail to be predictive of sales performance. I've been saying this for 25 years! The problem with looking at only the top performers, and then looking for common personality traits, is that inevitably, the bottom performers will have the same attributes as those you identify in the top performers. Benchmarking to predict sales success will nearly always produce a false positive. As Rocky LaGrone says, "It's like identifying the tallest midget!"

Now let's take a look at how those same findings - which will not be effective for identifying top performers - compare with the findings we actually used as the final criteria for the perfect fit analysis.

Finding

Used in Benchmark
of Top Performers 
and %
of Top Performers with Finding

% of Bottom Performers 
with that Finding

Finding Used in our Final 
Perfect Fit Analysis

Longevity Likely or Highly Likely Yes  - 100% as Strength 50% Yes
Strong Desire for Success in Sales Yes - 100% as Strength 75% Yes w/score >82
Takes Responsibility for Sales Results Yes - 100% as Strength 75% No
Enjoys Selling Yes - 100% as Strength 83% No
Highly Motivated for Sales Yes - 100% as Strength 100% No
Supportive Selling Beliefs  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Supportive Buy Cycle  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No

Comfortable Having a
Financial Conversation

Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >32
Rejection Proof Yes - 100% as Strength 83% No
Sales DNA  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >62
Closer Competency Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >32
Farmer Competency Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Sales Posturing Yes - 100%  as Strength 33%  Yes w/score >47
Coachable Yes - 100% as Strength 100% No
Competition Resistant Yes - 100% as Weakness 100% No
High Ticket Seller Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Doesn't Need Prospects to Like Them No n/a Yes w/score >74
Controls Emotions on Sales Calls No n/a Yes w/score >77
Hunter Competency No n/a Yes w/score >66
Consultative Seller Competency No n/a Yes w/score >55
Qualifier Competency No n/a Yes w/score >39
Account Manager Competency No n/a Yes w/score >40
Figure it Out Factor (Will Ramp up Quickly) No n/a Yes w/score >55
Sales Skills % No n/a Yes w/score >41
Sales Strengths % No n/a Yes w/score >54
Sales Weaknesses % No n/a Yes w/score <50

As you can see, most of the findings, that were common to the top performers, were either not used at all or they were modified to be used with a cutoff score. Our Perfect Fit Analysis looks for the findings, scores and cutoffs that differentiate the tops from the bottoms; therefore, we don't accidentally identify findings that bottom performers are likely to have as well. In addition to that is the fact that all of our findings are sales-specific! There is not a single behavioral style or personality trait in the list. You could argue that the need to be liked and controlling emotions are personality traits or behavioral styles, but we aren't asking the questions in a social context - purely in the context of sales calls and meetings - so even those two findings are specific to how they affect salespeople when they are actually selling.

So OMG already has the most predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet, has earned the Gold Medal for Top Sales Assessment for 4 consecutive years, and we can prove it out for every selling role, calling on every level of decision maker, against every type of competition, at any price point, with any sales cycle, with any form of price sensitivity, with any level of resistance, at every company, and in more than 200 industries. And to make sure that it's as predictive as can be, we can conduct a Perfect Fit Analysis too.

Why would you allow the least bit of uncertainty to creep into your sales selection process if you can be both certain and confident when using OMG? Click here to check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments and see how much time and money we can save you and your company.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, Sales Benchmarking, sales selection, OMG Assessment

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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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