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

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 04, 2018 @ 06:06 AM

dog

In my most recent article, I shared data that showed a chain reaction would occur when salespeople have more than one major weakness in their Sales DNA and the second major weakness is their tendency to become emotional. As a trigger, the first major weakness causes the salesperson to become emotional, at which time their listening skills become compromised.

That article can be found here and as of this writing nearly 6 dozen LinkedIn subscribers have contributed some very insightful comments here.  Their comments inspired me to dig even further and look into the correlation between relationship building that salespeople do and their need to be liked.  In this study, even I was surprised by what I found!

The table I assembled below includes data comprised of 450,000 salespeople from Objective Management Group's (OMG) data on more than 1.75 million salespeople who have been evaluated and/or assessed.

Relationship-Approval-3

The table is sorted by the 5 ranges of Sales PercentileTM with the weakest salespeople in the percentile of 25 or below, and the top 5% in the elite group, with scores of 95 or better.

The second column shows the percentages of those who DO NOT need to be liked arranged by Sales PercentileTM.  You'll notice that those scores correlate perfectly with the Sales PercentileTM, just as they did in this study of the Correlation Between Sales Motivation and Effectiveness.  With the exception of the extrovert column, ALL of the scores in ALL of the columns correlate perfectly with Sales PercentileTM.

Many of the LinkedIn comments referencing the article on Chain Reactions theorized that relationships either were or were not important.  I mined the data on 5 of the key attributes of the Relationship Building Competency and laid them out by Sales PercentileTM in order to compare them to the findings of Not Needing to be Liked.

There are some striking discoveries here, including the fact that the percentage of extroverts positively correlates to sales effectiveness.  In addition, while you can't see it in the table, 78% of the extroverts need to be liked.

Some of the key data points can be seen below.

Relationship-Approval2

Look at the highlighted data for Not Needing to be Liked, Relationship Based Sales Process and Relationships are Key Factors in Closing Business.  While 86% of the weakest salespeople DO need to be liked, only 42% of them have a relationship-based sales process and some believe that the relationship is the key factor.  Do you see it?  Despite NEEDING to be liked, most of them lack the conscious awareness of whether or not they are successfully building a relationship during the sales process. That is one of the key reasons that the weakest group of salespeople are so incredibly ineffective. Some in this group are attention seekers while some are so timid that if you blew them a kiss they would tumble over.  Either way, this is a group that you shouldn't waste time coaching, shouldn't attempt to raise their expectations, and ultimately, shouldn't retain.  Replace these salespeople and use OMG's accurate, predictive, customizable, sales-specific assessment tool.

Conversely, we see that two thirds of the top group, where only 11% need to be liked,  DO have a relationship based sales process while only 1% believe the relationship is a key factor to closing the business.  Do you see it?  They DON'T NEED to be liked but are conscious of the importance of developing a relationship during the sales process.  They know how (mechanical) but don't need to (emotional).

These findings bridge the gap between the two primary groups in the LinkedIn comments. One group implied that relationships didn't matter at all, while the other group said that relationships were extremely important.  It is important to develop a credible, value-based, trusting, respectful relationship, while equally important that salespeople NOT NEED their prospects to like them.

Over the past two weeks I have enjoyed digging into the data and sharing some of the insights that prove and disprove theories while shedding light on the reasons for various sales effectiveness and performance.

Do you have a theory to prove?

Do you have a question that our data could answer?  Leave your question or theory in the comments here or on LinkedIn, or email me at dkurlan@objectivemanagement.com 

I'll be happy to do the digging and share the findings right here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, sales process, Sales DNA, Relationship Selling, sales science

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 30, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

 chain-reaction

I have written extensively about Sales DNA over the years and today we will view Sales DNA from the perspective of sitting inside of a chemistry lab.

Sales DNA is the combination of strengths (or weaknesses) that support (or sabotage) the execution of sales process, sales strategy and sales tactics.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures and includes the 6 most powerful of those strands of Sales DNA in its 21 Sales Core Competencies.  While I usually discuss the impact of these weaknesses, we have never conducted a lab experiment like this before! 

John Pattison, the COO at OMG, built a new tool for us to play with.  It allows us to slice and dice the data in ways never before possible (for us).  I feel like a kid with a new train set but that analogy ages me.  I feel like a kid with a new PlayStation!

The image below shows the average scores for all salespeople in the 6 Sales Core Competencies of Sales DNA.

DNA-pct-strengths-2

 

The average scores for all salespeople are not very good!  The next image shows the percentage of all salespeople who have those 6 Competencies as strengths.  This isn't very good either.

DNA-pct-strengths-1-1

 

You can see all of our data in all 21 Sales Core Competencies and filter it by industry and company here.

Most experiments begin with a theory or a question. My theory is that Sales DNA is similar to a chemical reaction whereby if a salesperson has 2 or more of the 6 above as weaknesses, and #2 is the tendency to become emotional, then weakness #1 will trigger weakness #2. 

A weakness is triggered when salespeople are aware of the need to execute a step, strategy or tactic, like asking a specific question, but are worried that the prospect will dislike them for doing so. As a result, they avoid executing and thereby sabotage themselves.  

DOESN'T NEED APPROVAL:  As a weakness, it causes salespeople to avoid an action when they worry that their prospects won't like them.  Prevents salespeople from asking tough questions, pushing back and challenging their prospects, the core skills to selling like a Challenger.

CONTROLS EMOTIONS: As a weakness, it occurs when salespeople worry, strategize, panic or get excited.  This causes them to get in their own heads, and prevents them from being able to actively listen and ask good questions, the core skills of a consultative approach to selling.

COMFORTABLE DISCUSSING MONEY: As a weakness, salespeople aren't comfortable asking a prospect where their money is coming from, how they might find money they don't have, how they might find more money than what was budgeted, or how to prioritize expenditures to solve their problems.

Let the experiment begin!

The first Competency I tested was Doesn't Need Approval or, whether or not a salesperson NEEDS to be liked.

58% of all salespeople Need to be Liked (a weakness) and their average score is 76 (weak).

When I sliced the data with Controls Emotions you can see what I found in the table below:

Emotions

66% of salespeople who need their prospects to like them become emotional when the weakness is triggered.  2/3 of them!

I wondered how much that percentage might change based on our Sales PercentileTM score so I dug deeper and learned that:

The bottom 25% of all salespeople, almost all of them at 85% - become emotional when the need to be liked is triggered.

For those in the percentiles between 26 and 50, 72% become emotional when the need to be liked is triggered.

Salespeople in the percentiles between 51 and 75 were less likely to become emotional when the need to be liked is triggered.  It happens with 60% of them.

Only 41% of the salespeople in the percentiles between 76-94 (strong) have the need to be liked but when it is triggered, 46% of that group become emotional.

Only 18% of elite salespeople (the top 5%) have the need to be liked but when it is triggered, 24% of them become emotional. 

* * * * 

I ran the same experiment on Comfortable Discussing Money.  As with the need to be liked, 60% of all salespeople have this as a weakness.  

67% of those who are not comfortable discussing finances become emotional at the moment the money weakness is triggered.  Again, it's two thirds of them!

As with the need to be liked, the percentage changed according to Sales PercentileTM so here is what happens:

78% of the salespeople in the bottom 50% become emotional when the money weakness is triggered.

59% of the salespeople in the percentiles between 51 and 75 become emotional when the money weakness is triggered.

Only 34% of salespeople in the percentiles between 75-95 are uncomfortable discussing money but when the weakness is triggered, 41% of that group become emotional.

Only 8% of elite salespeople (the top 5%) are uncomfortable talking about money, but when the weakness is triggered, 17% of them become emotional. 

Upon the triggering of the first weakness, these findings show that for most salespeople with more than 1 major weakness along with the tendency to become emotional, the emotions weakness is triggered as part of a chain reaction.

The data also confirms that nearly all of the weakest salespeople (Sales Percentile below 25) have these weaknesses (and more) and the 1st weakness almost always triggers the 2nd weakness.

Finally, the data confirms that very few of the salespeople in the elite top 5% have these weaknesses and when they do it is far less likely for the 2nd weakness to be triggered with the 1st.

When everyone on the sales force receives the exact same sales training and coaching, these findings explain why top salespeople continue to succeed while poor salespeople fail to show measurable improvement

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, Sales DNA, sales statistics, emotional, need to be liked, talking about money, sales data

Salesperson's Terrible Reaction Part 2

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 @ 10:10 AM

weaknesses.jpg

I posted a very short article where I discussed one salesperson's reaction to a great sales role play.  I received a number of emails telling me how helpful the video, story and lessons were.  

The article highlighted Self-Limiting beliefs or negative self talk. Today we will take it a step further and discuss the other things that could have been at play - hidden weaknesses - and the interference they cause salespeople while selling to their prospects.  Like chains, salespeople are only as strong as their weakest link...

The salesperson (let's call him Fred) really believed – from conviction – that the approach was too direct.  I had challenged his personal values and when you challenge someone’s values they will usually dig in their heels. 

Suppose someone else in the room felt exactly the same way as Fred, but wasn't as comfortable confronting me as Fred was.  Would that have been any different?  Yes, it certainly would!  Their fear of confrontation would suggest that they have a need to be liked - technically known as Need for Approval - a very common, yet hidden sales weakness that prevents salespeople from asking questions and pushing back for fear that the prospect will not like them anymore.  I don't believe that Fred has this weakness or he would have been too uncomfortable confronting me and digging in his heals in front of the group.  He was definitely not uncomfortable when he made his case!

Need for Approval affects more than half of all salespeople but only 6% of elite salespeople have the weakness while 78% of weak salespeople have it.  That says a lot, doesn't it?

To say that Need for Approval gets in the way of selling is an understatement.  This weakness alone can interfere with the execution of every stage of the sales process.  For example, it's crucial that modern salespeople have the ability to take a consultative approach in order to differentiate themselves from the competition.  A consultative approach requires asking a lot of questions, pushing back, punching holes, and sometimes, gently confronting. Salespeople with the need to be liked simply will not do that.

When Fred reacted, we were in a role play where we were having a financial conversation.  His reaction could have been triggered by his own discomfort talking about money, a hidden weakness that prevents salespeople from having financial conversations.  Salespeople with this weakness often skip over financial qualification steps and can't dive in for a deeper discussion when there is a challenge finding enough money to pay for what needs to be bought.  Those salespeople often under or over propose because they always fail to learn exactly how much money their prospects will spend with them.

Today it is more difficult than ever to be successful in sales.  The most important take away from these examples is that when salespeople further complicate the modern challenge of selling with their own weaknesses, success becomes even more unlikely and difficult to achieve.

Make sure you read Dan McDade's article - part 3 in his lies or myths series - on sales and marketing alignment.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, sales process, sales qualifying, hidden sales weaknesses, EQ

Sales Assessment Findings and Cultural Differences

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 12, 2012 @ 08:10 AM

cultural differencesI was in Istanbul this week, speaking to nearly 250 sales and business leaders.  I learned that Turkey didn't participate in the global economic crisis as they're simply growing all the time.  My audience wondered how cultural differences affect our assessment findings and seemed quite satisfied with the explanation.  I'll repeat it here.

If we can agree that selling is simply helping people to buy from you, regardless of industry, product, service or geography, then what exactly is different from one culture to another?

There are many cultures where you must be from "there" in order for people from "there" to buy from you.  Don't believe me?  Some examples of "there" exist right here in the USA!  Maine, Alabama, NYC and the Midwest.

There are other cultures where you must determine which meal is most appropriate for business to be conducted - breakfast, lunch or dinner?  Do you bow, kiss, shake hands or nod?  How should you dress?  What should you order?  Is dining together a requirement?  Should you accept an invitation to their home?  How long should you discuss your families before it's appropriate to begin discussions about business?

Beyond the the obvious cultural differences which can be found on many websites, when it comes time to actually sell, the selling doesn't change much.  That said, do the findings on our assessments change according to culture?  The only thing which changes is whether a weakness has the same power to intefere with performance.  For example, Need for Approval (the need to be liked) has tremendous power to hold back salespeople  in North America, where 63% of all salespeople are burdoned with it.  It prevents salespeople from asking a lot of questions, tough questions, pushing back and challenging their prospects.  Salespeople with Need for Approval are affected throughout the sales process.  By comparison, the same finding in Asia, where cultures are based on respect, have little impact on salespeople's effectiveness, even though the finding is still accurate.

The biggest issue with assessment findings and culture is with our two most important findings: Desire for Sales Success and Commitment to Sales Success (one more here).  In some cultures, a much higher percentage of salespeople lack Desire and Commitment.  When companies learn that their salespeople lack Desire or Commitment, they immediately want to blame culture; but that's the easy way out.  It certainly might be consistent with the culture of their company, but not something the company must endure, even on the other side of the globe.  Leadership must simply decide that if it wants to build a better sales culture, they better begin with Desire and Commitment becoming mandatory requirements.

Speaking of requirements, findings, sales assessments, candidates and culture, I have updated my hugely popular White Paper, The Science of Salesperson Selection.  If you would like an updated copy, click here

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, sales management, Sales Coaching, white paper, istanbul

2 Keys to Selling Success from Ann Romney and Chris Christie

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 29, 2012 @ 06:08 AM

ann romney and chris christieAnn Romney gave a great speech at the Republican National Convention.  She wrote it specifically for her intended audience of women, connecting herself and her husband, presidential candidate Mitt Romney, with that audience, and it worked.  They loved her.  

She was a tough act to follow, but Chris Christie successfully followed with a terrific speech of his own.

Speaking of love, one talking point which I heard loud and clear from Christie was that the people of this country need to choose respect over love.

I have been delivering that message for more than 20 years, not to citizens who must vote for a candidate, but to sales leadership, sales management and salespeople who let their need for approval - their need to be liked - interfere with every facet of what they do.

Salespeople who have need for approval have a difficult time asking questions, pushing back and challenging their prospects.  This affects them at every stage of the sales process, from overcoming early resistance, to scheduling meetings, to selling consultatively, to qualifying and to overcoming putoffs at closing time.

Sales Managers, who have need for approval, find it difficult to be consistently firm - think lack of accountability - and it's even more challenging to coach salespeople to ask better questions via roleplay.

Sales Leaders, who have need for approval, often have organizations where everybody likes them, but not quite enough to perform for them.  They have an especially difficult time replacing non-performers and holding Sales Managers accountable.

Chris Christie said that "we the people" need to choose respect over love and the love will come.  The key word is choose.  We have free will, which means that we can choose.  When we choose respect, by nicely asking tough questions, pushing back with permission and challenging the status quo when appropriate, we usually earn the respect of others.  They will be your friend if they like you.  They will buy from you if they respect you.  Which would you prefer?

You probably know which salespeople, working for you today, have need for approval, but it's not so easy to identify candidates who have that major weakness.  That's where OMG's legendary, accurate, predictive Sales Candidate Assessments enter the picture.  

Topics: sales competencies, sales blog, sales culture, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, chris christie, ann romney, GOP and sales, sales presentations, objective management group

Basketball and the Difference Between Sales Studs and Sales Duds

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 14, 2012 @ 09:05 AM

Baseketball is like salesI heard former NBA all-star and current ESPN basketball analyst, Bruce Bowen, talking about Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics.  He characterized Garnett as one of the toughest competitors on the court, unlike some younger, very talented players who aren't as competitive and don't know how to close out games.  He said the difference is that Garnett is trying to win while the less competitive players are trying to make friends.

I've been talking about Need for Approval being one difference between the elite 6% of salespeople and the bottom 74% of salespeople for years, but this is the first time I have heard of the affliction as a differentiator in sports.  In one of my books - it was probably Baseline Selling - I discussed how it would play out if the pitcher had need for approval from the batter and vice versa.

Why is Need for Approval such a differentiator?

In the discussion about Kevin Garnett, Bowen said that Garnett doesn't care what other players think about him. Given his reputation as a shut-down defender, we can interpret that as he doesn't care if other players have a problem with him being tough, unrelenting, unfriendly, angry and passionate on the court. He isn't going to smile at an opponent, ask how he's doing or praise him for a nice play. He doesn't care if his opponent has a problem with that.

In sales, the elite 6% don't care what prospects and customers think about them, as long as they are thinking about them. They don't need to be best friends or have a relationship outside of work. That allows them to ask tough questions, challenge strategies and comments, and push-back when appropriate. These are behaviors that the bottom 74% of salespeople aren't able to do because they care so much about what their prospects and customers think about them. They worry that, if they ask too many questions or push-back, their prospects and customers won't like them anymore.

Who says that those prospects and customers like them now?

Because they don't ask tough questions and don't ever push back or challenge anything, we can be certain that they aren't having the type of conversations that add value.  And if they aren't adding value, their prospects and customers probably don't respect them.   

Do you know which of your salespeople have need for approval and how to deal with it?

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, Sales Coaching, sales motivation, difference between top salespeople and the rest, sales competition

Salespeople Become More Effective Part 2

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 @ 08:09 AM

baseline selling process Yesterday's article discussed the possibility for salespeople to develop weaknesses AFTER being assessed and during the period of comprehensive sales training, coaching and development.  Today, we'll discuss some of the areas where you should see fairly early improvement, as well as the areas where you need to see it but may not.

The first problem that you must take care of is the elimination of Excuse Making so we should see Excuse Making as one of the first weaknesses to become a strength.  That should be followed by issues like being Too Trusting of Prospects, Not Being Goal Oriented, Not Asking Enough Questions, Ineffective Listening, Assuming and Failure to Uncover Real Budgets.

Some of the issues that take longer to resolve are Consistently Following the Sales Process, overcoming Need for Approval and changing the way your salespeople buy things (Non Supportive Buy Cycle).  Unfortunately, these three issues are perhaps the most important of all.  So how do we handle the challenge of knowing that these three take longer, yet needing these three to resolve more quickly than normal?

The key is Sales Process.  You must talk about Sales Process and, assuming it's been formally developed, structured, optimized and introduced, include it in every daily coaching and development call so that the backdrop for your conversations is "Where in the process are you?"  In Baseline Selling, that would sound like "Which Base are you on?"

By making the Sales Process the backdrop for each conversation, it won't take as long to get your salespeople consistently following the process.  The next challenge is for them to effectively execute each of the steps in the process.  These conversations will expose the sales challenges that develop as a result of their Need for Approval and Non Supportive Buy Cycle.  The more chances you have to demonstrate how those weaknesses sabotage their efforts and lead to undesirable results, the more attention those weaknesses will get from your salespeople and awareness and attention leads to overcoming those weaknesses.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, Sales Coaching, Sales Force, sales management functions, sales weaknesses, sales assessments, non supportive buy cycle

The Secret - The Ancient Scrolls and its Impact on the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 24, 2009 @ 12:03 PM

Al Turrisi was kind enough to give me a book called the Power of the Kabbalah.  Its ancient scrolls originated around 4,000 years ago, inspired The Secret and predates Moses and the Bible!  Since this book is not the Kabbalah itself, rather a Cliff Notes version, it tends to read more like a self-help book. It is far more powerful than a self-help book though as it points to a number of rules that will cause a transformation in one's life.

Seven of the desired behaviors are consistent with the philosophies in Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball as well as Objective Management Group's Sales Assessments:

The importance of Desire. Read the Top 10 Factors for Salespeople to Overachieve.

It's not about you.  Over the past several months I have found myself telling an awful lot of salespeople and sales managers that it's not about them.  It's even become a finding in Objective Management Group's Sales Manager's Evaluation - The It's All About Me finding.

Need for Approval or what happens when you need people to like you.  This is the second most powerful weakness in all of selling. Here's an article about that.

Becoming Emotionally Involvedor reacting instead of proacting.This is the third most powerful weakness in all of selling. I wrote an article about this.

Resistance or the great challenge that presents itself rather than an obstacle.  I wrote a an article about this earlier this month and another one a couple of years ago.

Certainty or having faith that what you say, ask, or do will get the desired outcome.

Doing What's Uncomfortable.  I wrote an article about this a while back too.

Many of the articles I linked to were Baseline Selling Tips.  Speaking of Baseline Selling, this is the third anniversary of the publish date of the book, a good reason to reread or order it.

So in summary, simply by having your salespeople overcome their sales weaknesses, doing the very things they are uncomfortable doing, having faith in their abilities and having a strong desire for success will cause those very same people to experience life changing experiences.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, Baseline Selling, assessments, sales skills, Salesforce, Sales Force, Changing_Behavior, over achievement, sales weaknesses, Motivation, sales core competencies, assessment, sales evaluation, over achieve, improve sales performance, sales winners, overachievers, sales assessment test, Baseline_Selling, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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