Sales Motivation - Boston Celtics are the Hungriest Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 13, 2008 @ 21:03 PM

Cedric Maxwell, former Boston Celtic basketball star, and current Celtic radio broadcaster, was the guest on Boston's WEEI today.  He was talking about the Celtic's new big three, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Max said that Garnett, Pierce and Allen are hungrier veterans because they haven't won anything yet, unlike some of their counterparts in the NBA.  He said that their hunger, more than their talent, is the big differentiator that is making the Celtics the team to beat this year.

When Maxwell reminisced about the Celtics of the 80's, he said that Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish and himself had not won in college while the Lakers' Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had all won championships in college.  When those two great teams went head to head, the Celtics had the edge because they were the hungrier team.

So, if the teams measure up on talent, it's hunger that sets them apart.

When Objective Management Group evaluates sales forces or screens sales candidates, our single most important finding, more important than the selling skills we find, is hunger, or, what we call Desire, how badly the salespeople or sales managers want to succeed in their sales or sales management career.

When you have hungry salespeople, their incentive to improve and overcome obstacles is much greater than when your people aren't so hungry, lack the incentive to change, and you can't count on them to improve.

I always knew that selling was just like baseball, but now I know that selling is just like basketball too.

 (c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Motivation

Focused Sales Efforts Temporarily Improve Sales Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Mar 09, 2008 @ 23:03 PM

Every company has people whose sales competencies are not fully developed. Perhaps their salespeople don't find enough new opportunities.  Maybe they don't ask for referrals often enough.  It's possible that opportunities languish in the pipeline for too long.  There are a number of reasons for results like these, from weaknesses that prevent your salespeople from performing as desired, to sales management's ineffective motivation, setting of expectations, coaching and accountability.

There are short periods of time when you can cause those underdeveloped competencies to temporarily appear developed. Al Williams, author of All You Can Do is All You Can Do, said, "You can do anything for 30 Days".  For instance, if you are frustrated over the lack of new business, a focused new business effort can  serve as a band-aid and cause a temporary change in behavior and results.  Let's assume that you want to significantly increase the number of new opportunities in the pipeline.  Schedule a one, two, three, or five-day blitz where the only activities that will take place are those that will generate new opportunities.  Have all of your salespeople come in off the road and pretend they are on vacation but instead of hitting the beaches on some warm, sunny island, put them on the phones.  Have them call prospects they failed to sell, prospects with whom they failed to get appointments, prospects they never called on before, and customers/clients who can refer them to new prospects, etc.

Micro manage this blitz, give out awards if you see fit, and make sure the entire company is focused on the goal.  Make sure that all of your employees support the focused sales effort by not distracting the salespeople from what they need to do over this short period of time.

Remember, this strategy is only a band-aid, it doesn't solve the underlying problems and, like any rubber band, will return to it's original state as soon as the pressure is released. 

My company, Objective Management Group, is running such a blitz this week as our coaches focus their efforts on identifying potential, quality resellers for our assessments.  If you know a sales expert, trainer, guru or author; or someone whose expertise is in HR, assessments or management consulting, and you think we should talk to them, drop me an email with their contact information or have them fill out this form.

(c) 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: accountability, leadership, Motivation

Top 10 Articles for Growing Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 28, 2007 @ 21:11 PM

I thought it would be a good idea to point you to my top articles for growing sales.  Some of you haven't been reading this Blog since the beginning, and the best articles are not necessarily the most recent nor the most popular, so it's pretty difficult to identify them from the 400 plus posts I've compiled in the last four years.

You'll also see that my top 10 consist of more like 30 - I couldn't narrow it down any further!

I categorized them as follows:


The Bagel Post (a Recent Favorite)
The 90 Day Ramp-Up Post (a Must Read)
The Sales Process Post
The Sales Force Development Post (a Must Read)
The Over Achievement Post (a Must Read)
The Impact of Sales Training Post
Management's Guide to the Top 10 Differences Between Winners and Losers

Sales Process - What Have You Gotten Away From?


The Sales Management Functions Post
The Post on Creating More of a Sales Culture
The CEO Alert Post
The Italy Post (My Favorite)
The 80/20 Rule Post (a Reader Favorite)
The Push Back Post (a Reader Favorite)

Over Achieving on the Sales Force - We Have it Wrong 
10 Steps for Your Salespeople to Survive and Thrive in the Recession


The How are Assessments Used Post
The Dave F'd Up Post Part I and II (click the link in part 2 to read part 1) 
The Can Sales Assessments Predict Performance Post

Data Points Tell a Story - Prospects Buy Happy Endings

Tale of Two Assessments - Comparing Value 

Personality Assessments for Sales - The Definitive Case Study

Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments

The Make it Simple Post 
The Listening Skills Post
The Lexus Post 
The How to Coach a Salesperson Post

The Original Salespeople are Like Children Post


The High Turnover Post
The Hiring Efficiency Post
The 10 Tips for Hiring Stronger Salespeople Post
Fact Based Reasons Why New Salespeople Fail - Data Points

Hiring Salespeople is Like Baseball Expansion

Misleading Statistics and Hiring the Wrong Salespeople



The What to Do When You Get Push Back Post
The Time Management Post 
The Shake Up Calls Post

 Sales Pipeline Can Provide Sight for Blind Executives


Do you have a favorite?

© Copyright 2007-2009 Objective Management Group, Inc.


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Topics: Baseline Selling, coaching, recruiting, accountability, leadership, Motivation, assessment, Featured

The Robb Report - Remedy for Salespeople Who are Complacent

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 26, 2007 @ 23:11 PM

I was reading the Robb Report yesterday and it featured 21 Unique Gifts for that special someone this Holiday Season.  Of course, these gifts start at around $1 million and go up from there.  One of the things I always liked about reading this monthly magazine for the wealthy is its ability to humble me.  Whenever I think I'm doing OK, all I have to do is look in there and see homes, cars, boats, planes, jewelry, adventures, vacations, and even phones that are out of reach.  Yeah, I saw an ad for a cell phone that I thought was really awesome, went on line to find out where to buy it and read that this cell phone sells for $7500.

The things I see each month in this magazine keep me focused on what I want next.  It got me to wondering about your salespeople and specifically, the group that exhibits signs of complacency.  What would happen if you had them reading the Robb Report?  What would happen if you had them read any kind of enthusiast magazine?  What would happen if you gave them an assignment to read the magazine and pick out something that was featured or advertised that they would love to do or have that they either couldn't afford or couldn't justify right now?  And what if you had them set that as their 2008 goal?  And then help them determine how much they'd need to sell in order to reach the goal.  What would happen to their complacency if you held them accountable all of next year?

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: Motivation

The Impact of Unhealthy Relationships on a Salesperson

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 12, 2007 @ 23:11 PM

Our five-year old son, a frequent subject on this Blog, has two girlfriends.  This is one area in which he does not take after his dad!  While he loves being with both of them, Mary drives him nuts while Sally simply causes him to float on air.  He isn't really aware of how each girl impacts his behavior after he being with her, but we sure are!  He can be moody after being with Mary while he tends to behave like an angel after spending time with Sally.

I know adults who are affected this way too, the difference being that they usually possess an acute awareness of who makes them feel the way they feel.  But what happens when one of your salespeople has a Mary (or a Bob) in his life?  His moods can be unpredictable, his self-esteem so low that he bails out at the first sign of resistence, and his ability to focus is inconsistent.  He may spend time in his office being unproductive and you will see very inconsistent results at best.  You may even be aware of the problem, able to understand the cause and effect of it all, although unable to help.

So what can you do if you have a salesperson whose unhealthy relationship is impacting his performance?

Make the office his safe place, where he can get away from it all.  Make it the place where he has the ability to perform in such a way that he can feel good about himself.  Encourage him to throw himself into his work.  Give him recognition when he earns it.  Be the person he can share his problems with.  But don't, under any circumstances ignore the situation.  Make sure he fully understands the impact of the relationship on his performance and get him to agree to leaving his hurt feelings outside the office door.

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: Motivation

Curt Schilling's Contract Has Implications for the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 08, 2007 @ 15:11 PM

If you follow baseball you probably heard that Curt Schilling's new contract for next year includes $2 million for meeting weight incentives.  For $2 million even I could be motivated to lose 20 pounds! And therein lies the deeper message.

Everyone can be motivated to do things they don't like to do and for many salespeople, selling includes a lot of the little things that make many of them uncomfortable, like:

  • cold calls
  • asking for money
  • closing
  • asking tough questions
  • confronting the brutal facts
  • selling value instead of price
  • qualifying thoroughly

There are many, many more examples I could add to the list but in the interest of my time I won't.  The point is, that all of your salespeople, would do those things for $2 million.  The question is, if they'll do it for $2 million, they'll do it, but what will it take?  Learn the answer to that and you have the key to motivating your salespeople to do what they don't like to do and that's the difference between over achievers and everyone else.

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: Motivation

10 Steps to Create More of a Sales Culture

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 18, 2007 @ 19:10 PM

I spoke to a very lively group of 130 CEO's in Cincinnati today and the question about creating more of a sales culture came up.  There are several steps to accomplishing this:

1. You must realize that the very people you would like to change chose to do what they currently do and probably won't choose to do what you would like them to do - sell.

2. Only a small percentage of those people are suitable for taking on any part of a sales or business development role.

3. You must be able to identify that small percentage of people.  Using an appropriate Objective Management Group Assessment Tool will help.

4. You must clearly communicate your desire to create more of a sales culture to the people that you'd like to be more sales aware.  Explain.  Perhaps you want branch managers at a bank to go out and find local business customers, order takers to become proactive by making outgoing calls, or professionals to bring new clients into your firm.  In any of these cases, the biggest mistake is that management usually fails to communicate this expectation to the very people they would like to change.

5. Someone who understands what needs to be accomplished as well as how to accomplish it must be in charge of this initiative.

6. You must provide the chosen people with the training they'll need to succeed in this strange new world of selling and business development.  The assessment tool from item 3 will help you with this step too.

7. You must clearly define what it is they should do and how often they should do it.

8. You must get buy-in from the people that will participate.

9. You must be clear as to how their success will be measured.

10. The person from item 5 above must hold the participants accountable to doing what they agreed to do in the context of item 9 above.

Topics: Motivation, Featured

Why Salespeople Fail and How You Could Have Predicted It

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 28, 2007 @ 06:09 AM

The senior level salesperson was hired with a $130,000 base salary plus bonus - very high compared with the rest of the industry.  He was expected, with minimal support, direction or supervision, to add new distribution and end-users.  After all, he had enjoyed tremendous success while engaged in similar activities within the industry.

In a recent meeting, there were discussions on what to do with this salesperson.  In his first year, he had only minimally increased sales, bringing in only a little bit more than his salary.  While he did build a pipeline, he had failed to close most of what was stuck inside. And he was spending his days on airplanes, touring the country, rather than spending any time building momentum in any one territory.

It's really a very simple problem.  The company he came to work for was a small, little known manufacturer in need of distribution and end-user accounts.  The companies at which this salesperson had prior success were with brands you know well, that everyone in the world already carried, with established distribution.  All he had to do was grow what had already been established by others before him. After all, how much new distribution had to be created for Oscar-Mayer Wieners?

In the new position with the small company, distributors had to be convinced to carry a product that there customers weren't asking for.  He needed to create need by opening end-user accounts.

As you can see, the new position required him to actually sell, while the old position only required him to have a presence, maintain relationships and attempt to grow what already existed. 

He lacked the experience needed for this position and his prior income and experience at well-known companies masked all of that.

This happens at companies all the time when they hope to recreate the success one enjoyed at another company.  But you have to look at what you'll need them to do and compare that with what they were expected to do before.  In this case, one is not the same as the other and the failure of the $130,000 man could have been easily predicted.

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: coaching, recruiting, accountability, Motivation

Salespeople and the Momentum Factor

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 28, 2007 @ 06:08 AM

Momentum seems to be a force when it comes to sales performance.  When Bob gets on a roll, new opportunities fill the pipeline, move along fairly quickly and close at the first opportunity...until the momentum changes.  When Bob goes on vacation, gets distracted, becomes busy with deliverables or gets sick, it's a whole different Bob.  Suddenly the new opportunities are hard to come by, existing opportunities languish in the pipeline or worse, are removed from the pipeline.

So what can you do about the Bobs that work for you?   Let's use the bases in Baseline Selling as stages of the pipeline where 1st base is a new suspect (appointment booked), 2nd base is a new prospect (need it, have compelling reasons to buy it, there are compelling reasons to buy from you and you have successfully differentiated your company from the competition), 3rd base is a completely qualified opportunity and home plate represents a closed deal.  If you're tracking, among other things, the number of new suspects, new prospects and base moves, you will always see the drop-off coming.  When any of those numbers are zeros for a couple of weeks, the momentum has changed and, depending on the length of your sales cycle, you are that many weeks or months from trouble.  Worse, if you wait until that point in the future where the business dries up to do something about the problem, it will be a similar length of time, the length of your sales cycle, before the business begins to come in again.

Your job is to track those numbers, recognize the momentum shift before it causes a problem and manage Bob more closely.  More closely than daily?  Yes!  Hourly if you have to.  How many hitless games does it take before a major league batter is in a slump?  (I couldn't find an answer so perhaps it's time to call on Jeff Angus, author of Management by Baseball, and the Management by Baseball Blog, again. The last time I asked him to weigh in he came back with some wonderful statistics and comments.) I'm going to guess that three games, the point at which a hitter would be hitless in his last twelve or so at bats, is a bonafide slump.

What does that hitter do?  Extra batting practice, review videos, and more batting practice.  How is this different from what salespeople, in the midst of a slump, do? 

When a momentum shift impacts any of your salespeople, get that salesperson  back into the action!  Get Bob on the phone.  Get Bob in front of customers and prospects.  Force Bob's hand.  Demand a list of the 20 prospects Bob would contact next and a date for completion.  Listen to Bob on the phone.  Go with Bob into the field.  Get Bob reengaged and hold him accountable.

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: coaching, accountability, Motivation

Consistent Sales Performance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 07, 2007 @ 08:08 AM

What does it take for a company to achieve consistent, predictable sales performance?  It takes consistency from its salespeople.

What does it take for a company to receive consistency from its salespeople?  It takes discipline - two kinds - where you not only have disciplined salespeople but you also have disciplined sales managers, forcing their less disciplined salespeople to be disciplined.

And what exactly drives this discipline?  Urgency. They must feel it and you must feel it too.  If your salespeople don't possess the internal urgency to make things happen, then they must feel the urgency from you in the form of pressure and accountability.  The key is that the urgency must come from somewhere!  And if you don't feel the urgency, then what will cause you to make your salespeople feel that urgency?

Give yourself - and your salespeople - the urgency test.  Who has it?  How does that correlate to performance, consistency and sales results?  What has to change?

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: Motivation

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About Dave

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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