How to Make it Easier for Your Salespeople to Sell

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 @ 00:11 AM

The article that addresses the title is a little further down but I would appreciate it if you would please first read the paragraphs before the article.

I want to thank you for reading my Blog.  Whether you've been here for all 850 plus articles or just joined us this month, I hope you find it useful and original.  When I first started posting articles back in 2006 my original goal was to organize my thoughts in order to write my next book - a Sales Management Bible.  Instead, I realized that while I no longer had time to write another book, I did have 10-15 minutes, early each morning, to share my thoughts and experiences, usually based on data and science.

This Blog has been honored with many awards during the past few years, and was nominated for four more this week.  Understanding the Sales Force is nominated for Top Sales & Marketing Blog of 2011.  Winners will be announced in the 2011 Top Sales & Marketing Awards ceremony on December 16.  One of my articles, Money Motivated Salespeople a Dying Breed, was nominated for Top Sales & Marketing Blog post.  

The third nomination places me in the company of these experts, legends and thought leaders:  Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Neil Rackham, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Dave Stein, Jill Konrath, Mike SchultzDr. Tony Allasandra, and I were all nominated for Top Sales & Marketing Thought Leader of the Year.  You could do a lot worse than reading the material that this group cranks out!

Finally, Objective Management Group was nominated for Top Sales Assessment tool.

Jonathan Farrington hosts the 2011 Top Sales & Marketing Award Event along with Gerhard Gschwandtner on December 16. I'll provide registration information as soon as it's available but in the mean time, I wouldn't mind at all if you wanted to take a moment and vote (for me if you want to).  When you vote, you'll have to register first - sorry - and choose a category for your vote.  If you want to vote in the other two - or more - categories after you've voted, click HOME and then select another category.  You can vote as often as you wish but only once per day from the same computer. 

Here are some links to three must read articles you might have missed:

The Difference Between Sales Commitment and Desire 

How Watching a Movie Again Improves Sales Effectiveness 

Sales Process is to Religion as Sales Methodology is to Prayer 

Today's article has been more about me than you and since that's never the intent here, let's change gears.  

How to Make it Easier for Your Salespeople to Sell

If your company is an underdog (what you sell is more expensive than the competition, you have a new company, new technology or new product, you have a story to tell, you are not the industry or market leader, it's 6 or 7 figures, etc.), your salespeople have much more resistance to overcome than those who aren't underdogs.  There are several strategies that can be used to minimize the effect of the resistance your salespeople face.  You can:

  • Train your salespeople to lower the resistance;
  • Train them to overcome the resistance;
  • Do remarkable things that cause you or the company to be recognized, opening the door for your salespeople;
  • Spend millions on advertising so that you become better known;
  • Acquire the better known competitors;
  • Out perform the better known competitors;
  • Lower your prices (you can but I don't recommend it)
  • Get acquired by one of the better known competitors;
  • Have happy clients make introductions for you to highly targeted prospects;

Making the job easier for your salespeople is your number one responsibility after coaching and accountability but most sales managers don't give this challenge much thought.  How about you?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Seth Godin, Neil Rackham, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Guy Kawasaki, Mike Schultz, Dr. Tony Allasandra, jill konrath

Prediction for Your Company's Sales Force in 2011

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 @ 06:12 AM

10 Sales Experts were inducted into the Top Sales Hall of Fame at yesterday's Top Sales Awards event.  They include legends, both living and deceased, like Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracey and Earl Nightingale.  Current legends like Gerhard Gschwandter and Jeffrey Gitomer were honored.  Others who were inducted include Keith Rosen, Bill Brooks, Linda Richardson, Neil Rackham and Dr. Tony Allasandra.

When asked for her prediction for 2011, Linda Richardson said, "Clients won't be looking for sales training.  They want sales force transformation.  They want to know whether they have the right people in the right roles..."

Thank you Linda!  A Hall of Fame sales training company leader saying what I've been saying for 20 years! 

Linda's comments were not really a prediction though.  Jim Collins wrote about how great companies focused on having the right people in the right seats in his 2001 book, "Good to Great". Objective Management Group, founded in 1989, has been helping its partners provide sales force transformations via the insights and findings from its Sales Force Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments for at least 10 years. Years ago I urged all of our partners to provide sales force development instead of sales training so that we could transform sales forces. Perhaps Linda was simply suggesting that she expects to model her business after ours.

This sounds very similar to when mainstream MD's write breakthrough articles and basically say what alternative MD's have been saying for decades.  Three examples are, "Supplement with Omega 3's", "Those prescrtiption drugs will actually kill you", and "Supplement with CoQ10".

Time to take the supplements - I'm against the clock.

Topics: sales training, Sales Force, Neil Rackham, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracey, sales transformation, sales development

Complete Sales Reference Manual - Now Available

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 24, 2010 @ 06:08 AM

mastering the world of sellingThis year I had the opportunity to contribute to a book that would be a compilation on sales.  While sales titles are released almost weekly these days, only a small number of them contain anything new, and most don't raise the bar for the selling industry as a whole. This book is different.

This book includes contributions from 89 sales experts, covering every possible topic, including sales, sales management, sales 2.0, sales process, sales strategy, sales tactics, sales motivation, sales presentations, and sales psychology. It's more like a reference manual!

The book's contributors include legendary stars like Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy, and Dale Carnegie, as well as my contemporaries like Jeffrey Gitomer, Chet Holmes, Jill Konrath, Anthony Paranello, Michael Bosworth and Neil Rackham.

David Riklan and Eric Taylor compiled and edited this compilation of the best that the top sales experts have to offer and, to entice you to order a copy of their book today, they have arranged for you to receive bonus gifts totalling - get this - $2,686.  The book is an outstanding resource and well worth the introductory price of $14.36 on its own.  I contributed to the bonus gifts and from what I've seen of the list, I would order the book just to get my hands on the bonuses!

The book is called Mastering the World of Selling and you can learn more about it and order it by clicking this link.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Neil Rackham, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, dale carnegie, Zig Ziglar, jill konrath, Chet Holmes, Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy

The Top 5 Factors to Predict Sales Turnover

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Mar 05, 2010 @ 05:03 AM

Yesterday, I began a discussion about sales longevity or, if you prefer, turnover.  What are the factors that lead to turnover and how much of that can be predicted?  Start with yesterday's article on How Long Will a Salesperson Stick?

Get ready for a discussion that is backed by data - more Science of Sales Force Management stuff!  Speaking of science, my guest on this week's episode of Meet the Sales Experts, Lee Levitt, had a lot to say about Pipeline Coverage and Shape, metrics and 5 powerful tips for Sales Force Effectiveness.  Click here to listen to the show.

Salesperson Longevity - What Did We Find?

I mined the data and it wasn't easy!  Some of the factors I expected to see just didn't materialize. For example, I assumed that money motivation would make a difference.  Wrong.  Not even a tiny difference. A money motivated salesperson is not even 1% more likely to stick than one who isn't motivated by money.  I assumed that salespeople who were paid mostly on salary might tend to stick around longer than their colleagues who were paid mostly by commission.  Wrong.  I thought that there was a chance that stronger salespeople stuck around longer than weaker salespeople.  Wrong again.

So what did I learn?  Here are the Top Five Factors to Predict Sales Turnover / Longevity

The most important factor in predicting sales longevity is --- EXPERIENCE!  Salespeople with at least 5 years of sales experience are far more likely to stick than those without 5 years of experience.

Factor #2 has little to do with the salesperson but everything to do with Sales Longevity.  It's how closely sales management will manage the salesperson.  Salespeople who were not closely managed simply didn't stick around as long.  I had to draw a conclusion relative to whether the turnover was voluntary or involuntary. I concluded that salespeople who were more or less ignored and also under performing likely reached a point where the company gave up and terminated them. I also concluded that salespeople who performed but were ignored probably left on their own.  But whether or not you agree with my conclusions, don't miss the bigger point.  Closely managing your salespeople leads to sales longevity in your company.

Factor #3 is the compensation plan.  Salespeople who are compensated mostly by commission are more likely to stick than salespeople who are compensated mostly by salary.  Why? Salaried salespeople and those with limited bonus opportunities, reach a point where they need more money.  Does this contradict the money motivation finding?  No.  This is need versus want.  They'll leave when they need more money.  Money motivated salespeople simply want more money and sell more to earn it.

Factor #4 is a reverse factor finding.  Huh?  Objective Management Group (OMG) has a powerful finding called the Figure it Out Factor or FIOF.  It's a score that accurately predicts how quickly a new salesperson will ramp up in their new positions.  A score of greater than 75 identifies candidates in this group.  Well, these same salespeople, the ones who will ramp up more quickly, are LESS likely to stick!  Yes, they'll have an immediate impact, but they will tend to not have sales longevity in your company.  Salespeople with low FIOF scores are the ones who are most likely to stick.  Slow starters, big finishers!

Factor #5 is another reverse factor finding.  OMG has another score called Sales Quotient (SQ) which allows companies to rank their hirable candidates. Strong salespeople have SQ's over 135 and the elite have scores over 145.  But these real strong salespeople - A Players - aren't the ones who are most likely to stick.  Rather, salespeople with SQ's between 110 and 130 - B Players - have the greatest sales longevity.

Summary:The good news is that there are five specific factors that allow us to predict sales longevity.  The bad news is that these factors are inconsistent with the factors that allow us to identify and predict who the top performers will be.  So it raises a new question.  Should you be striving to hire A Players - those with high Sales Quotient and Ramp up Scores or should you be hiring for Sales Longevity - B Players who will stick around longer?

Verne Harnish, the Growth Guy, and I had this very discussion  over email this morning.  He said, "small companies can do both".  He said that "entrepreneurial firms should go after experience - we don't have time to ramp up someone - let the big companies train!" He also said that "companies should go for A players with more than 5 years of experience", something that  both Neil Rackham (SPIN Selling and Rethinking the Sales Force) and Brad and Geoff Smart, (Topgrading) have been saying right along.  However, our data shows that only 16% of the A players with experience stick for more than two years. And that brings us back to the original question. 

What do you think - A's or Longevity?  Should the answer be a direct relation to the length of your sales cycle?  Should you go for longevity when you have a long sales cycle and for A's when you have a short sales cycle? We're interested in what you have to say!

Topics: sales assessment, sales recruiting, sales management, sales candidates, sales turnover, Neil Rackham, topgrading, verne harnish, money motivated salespeople, salespeople, sales experience

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

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