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

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 07, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

compelling

Whichever way you turn, wherever you look, and whatever you listen to there is data.  Polls, surveys, metrics, analytics, analyses, white papers, graphs, charts, infographics, tables, spreadsheets and more.  There is data everywhere.  5 of my last 10 articles were based on data and I know that my regular readers love the articles that are based on data so I am writing about data again today.

Objective Management Group (OMG) recently expanded the Consultative Seller competency which represents 1 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

I took a look at the first thousand rows of data that came through and made some more cool discoveries that I will share below.

Let's start with the Consultative Seller Competency.  As you can see in the image below, the average score for all salespeople is 44%, which means that the average salesperson possesses fewer than half of the necessary attributes of the Consultative Seller.  As you can see from the green slice of the pie chart below, only 22% of all salespeople have this competency as a strength.  Even the top 10% of all salespeople only score an average of 65%.  This is the competency where most salespeople are the crappiest.

cons-comp

The question is why are most salespeople so ineffective at this competency?  If they aren't being professionally trained and coached, that would explain a lot of the bad scores because only around 7% of all sales managers are capable of providing the kind of coaching that would help their salespeople become effective consultative sellers.  I'm guessing that even some outside trainers and coaches aren't effective enough to move the needle on this competency.  But there is more to this than meets the eye.  Let's look at what happens when salespeople are being effective versus ineffective at consultative selling.

Please look at the next image below.

issues-1

These 3 pie charts show how effective these 1,000 salespeople are at uncovering issues by looking at 3 specific sales process milestones:

  1. Whether reasons to buy are uncovered or not
  2. Whether those reasons are actually compelling enough to buy or they only created interest
  3. Whether the salesperson created enough urgency so that the prospect must buy or it was simply nice to have.

This tells us A LOT!

While 84% of these B2B salespeople are able to uncover business issues or reasons, only 33% are able to continue asking questions long enough to uncover compelling reasons to buy as shown in the second pie chart.  There is an enormous difference between a business issue and a compelling reason to buy something to solve it.  As you can see from the third pie chart, uncovering business issues leads to a condition where 73% of prospects find the offering is simply nice to have, while 12% of these salespeople leverage those compelling reasons to a condition where prospects must have the solution.  There is a huge difference between nice to have and must have.

Consider this recent article on reaching decision makers where the data showed that only the opportunities where salespeople met with the actual decision makers reach the proposal ready and closable stages.  We have a similar scenario here where the salespeople who uncover compelling reasons to buy are 56% more likely to move their opportunities to the proposal ready and closable stages.

This huge selling gap can be fixed but it isn't one of the easy ones.  Uncovering compelling reasons to cause prospects to believe they must have your solution requires advanced active listening and questioning skills, as well as Sales DNA to support its use.  The best trainers, coaches and consultants who offer their expertise in this area agree that it will usually take 8-12 months for a sales team to make the transition from where they are today to the kind of selling I described above.  However, the return on that investment of time and money is amazing!  When salespeople are finally able to sell in this manner, sales always sky rocket!

Topics: Consultative Selling, closing more sales, listening and questioning, sales excellence, Dave Kurlan, OMG Assessment

Improve Your Win Rate and Shorten Your Sales Cycle by Doing This

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 12:04 PM

improve-win-rates

In September I wrote this article on the difference between asking good, tough and great questions.

I included examples all three types of question in the article.

There is also a proper sequence:  Good question.  Tough Question.  Great question.

You will get immediate feedback on how effective your questions are:  Your prospects will say, "Good question" when you ask one.  They will say, "Great question" when you ask one.  And they will stop and struggle before answering one of your tough questions.

Many salespeople make the mistake of preparing questions in advance. Salespeople who do that might be able to stumble onto one good question.  But great questions and tough questions must be spontaneous and in response to something your prospect already said when they answered prior questions.  

I'll share a role-play from a training program that wonderfully demonstrates what I'm talking about as well as the kind of listening skills required in order to ask good, tough and great questions. 

The role-play sheds much needed light on what salespeople tend to do on their calls, even when they have been trained to use a consultative approach to selling.  Instead of listening, they skip ahead, and rush to the close.  Ironically, the proper approach is counter intuitive. You will shorten your sales cycle, improve your win rate and gain traction by slowing down, while speeding up leads to longer sales cycles and lower win rates.

The role-play runs for about 26-minutes but please don't let that discourage you from listening.  You'll learn so much about listening and asking questions, you'll learn just how impactful role-plays can be, and you'll better understand the the most useful approach to training salespeople; powerful, interactive role-plays.

You can watch and listen to the role-play here.  The actual role-play begins at around 50 seconds in.  Early on I reference developing SOB Quality.  You can learn more about what SOB Quality means by watching this 3-minute video.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: asking questions, active listening, listening and questioning, Dave Kurlan, role play, sales training, effective sales coaching

Solitaire and Modern Sales Training - What Should it Cover and Include?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 06, 2014 @ 05:10 AM

 training
Image Copyright: convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

I've been playing one of those Solitaire games on my iPad and I can routinely score in the neighborhood of 2 minutes and 30 seconds, with my best time being just under 2 minutes.  I thought I was doing pretty well until I realized that my wife routinely scores between 1 minute and 1:20 seconds with her best scores (not score) being under 1 minute.  She has scored as low as 48 seconds.

If not for my wife, I would have thought I was a real pro at Solitaire!

This is exactly how many CEO's, Presidents and Sales VP's view their sales forces.  Without anything or anyone with whom to compare, they form their judgements on sales effectiveness in a vacuum.  I routinely hear things like, "We have a custom sales process.", and "We've been working on consultative selling."  Yet, after a sales force evaluation has been completed, those same companies are routinely found to have been lagging, not leading, in those areas.

When it comes to providing sales training for your sales force, what exactly, should modern training include?

You've read a few too many sales blog posts, watched a few too many sales videos, and read a few too many sales books.  You even might have downloaded some white papers, checked out some websites, and talked to some sales experts.  Many are left with a sense of confusion, because what you think you need is different from what people are talking about, and everyone is talking about you needing something different.  Is anyone right?  Is everyone right?  Is it possible that nobody is right?

Let's discuss the single most imporant thing you should be providing to your sales force right now and how modern sales training should address it.

How must your sales training change and what should it include?  Certainly, the training should depend on whether it's inside inbound, inside outbound, appointment setting, inside with responsibility for the entire sales cycle, major accounts, account management, territory sales, vertical sales, channel sales or traditional sales.

It's true - the training should change for every role.

However, there is one constant, that should be front and center of every training program, regardless of your sales process or methodology, or the sales role, frequency, intensity, or duration of the training.

Regardless of how you find your opportunities, selling begins when the first contact, lead or email can be converted to a conversation, either by phone,  face-to-face or the video conference hybrid.  Once you are selling, then regardless of which stage in the sales cycle you are in, or your sales role, the very next thing that will take place is a stage-appropriate conversation.

All training, regardless of role, must demonstrate how to have powerful, eye-opening, attention-getting, brand-differentatiating conversations.  Better conversations than this prospect has had with any salesperson - ever.

And what are conversations?  They are the result of the flow that occurs when salespeople utilize advanced listening and questioning skills.  In order to train salespseople to have stage-appropriate conversations, the emphasis must be on listening and questioning.  

Of course, training must be more than only conversations.  However, without training and drilling and demonstrating and role-playing and practicing and mastering and applying and improving those conversations, the steps and milestones of the sales process would be only checkmarks on a list.  And the sales methodology, strategies and tactics that are used to move from milestone to milestone would become mostly useless concepts.

Are you providing this kind of sales training to your salespeople right now?  You did it last year?  Good.  What about this year?  You must continue to train salespeople because left to their own devices, the bottom 74% will always go back to their default approach.  You can't take your foot off the accelerator!  Are you providing the kind of sales training that will help your salespeople crash through quotas and goals?  Are your salespeople becoming exponentially better - always?  

Are your salespeople even capable of learning to sell the way I described here?  Shouldn't you find out whether or not they have the potential to sell this way?  Which of your salespeople can improve and sell that way is just one of the many pieces of sales intelligence you get when you have your sales force evaluated by Objective Management Group (OMG).

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales methodology, sales training, listening and questioning, sales force evaluations

Professional Sales and the All-Star Jazz Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 @ 08:08 AM

jazzOne of the most amazing musical performances I ever witnessed took place about 9 years ago in New Orleans.  We had front row seats at a small venue that advertised an "all star jazz band".  The first musician to arrive was the guitarist, who sat polishing his axe (guitar).  Next, the drummer arrived and introduced himself to the guitarist.  Then the bass player arrived and introduced himself to the first two.  The next to arrive were the saxophonist and trumpeter.  They did as the others did, shaking hands and setting up. Someone mentioned to the guitarist that this was a jazz gig, not a rock gig, and he should get his other guitar out.  The guitarist nodded and took out the more appropriate equipment.  Finally, at one minute before 8 PM, the organist walked on stage, introduced himself to the other five musicians, mentioned that he was the musical director, handed out the arrangements, sat at the organ, and at 8 PM, yelled, "one, two, three, four" and the band began to play.  They had not only NEVER PLAYED together before, they didn't even KNOW each other!  Despite that, they were tight, in sync, confident, flexible and completely aware of the expectations, where they were in each tune, and what they had to do to make each song sound like they had rehearsed it together a dozen times.  It's their masterful ability to listen, observe and improvise within a defined structure.

If you want to know what professional salespeople should be able to do, it's exactly that! 

They should be able to walk into any meeting, at any time, at any stage of a sales process, and any stage of the buying process, having never met a participant, and within minutes, be in sync, confident, flexible and completely aware of the expectations, where they are in the sales process, and what they must do to move that sales process forward to a successful outcome.  It's their masterful ability to listen, observe, and ask unscripted (improvised) questions within a defined structure (sales process).

Professional Selling is just like being in the All-Star Jazz Ensemble.  It's being so good and so experienced, that one can perform perfectly, on demand, in any environment, despite tremendous pressure, regardless of product knowledge and expertise.

How many of your salespeople have this capability?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Coaching, listening and questioning, sales management function, sales mastery

Sales Velocity - 6th of the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That are Key to Building a Sales Culture

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 @ 17:10 PM

This is the 6th is my series of articles on the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies That Are Key to Building a Sales Culture.

SLOW DOWN TO SPEED UP

Your salespeople can't wait to do the things at which they are:

  • most competent
  • most comfortable
  • having the most fun
  • in control
  • in the spot light

The problem with all of that is with what they do:

  • present
  • demo
  • tell your story
  • provide capabilities
  • give references
  • do proposals
  • give quotes
  • use company resources

and when they do it:

  • as soon as they can!

When your salespeople do what they are most comfortable with and most adept at, and they do it early in the sales cycle, they fail to develop any urgency for action and the result is an opportunity that doesn't gain traction, move, or close.

In the process I introduced in Baseline Selling, all of the above activity would take place between 3rd Base and Home Plate, but your salespeople are doing it between 1st Base and 2nd Base.  

So what should they be doing between 1st and 2nd Bases?

  • slow down
  • ask more questions than anyone else
  • ask better questions than anyone else
  • ask tougher questions than anyone else
  • listen
  • care
  • identify problems they can solve
  • develop a relationship
  • demonstrate their expertise (through questions, not presenting)
  • develop trust
  • slow down some more
  • when they think they've asked enough questions, continue asking questions

The slower they go between 1st and 2nd Base, the more quickly the sales cycle will flow.  If you want to shorten their sales cycle, get them to slow down!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, Sales Force, Closing Sales, sales cycle, listening and questioning

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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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