Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 06, 2018 @ 22:09 PM

science

You must have heard the joke that 73.6% of statistics are made up!

I have read and even reported that sales leaders who coach their salespeople see a boost in revenue of around 27%.  It sounds like a realistic number but I have not seen any science to back it up.  Until now.  Check this out!

OMG has evaluated and assessed nearly 1.8 million salespeople and sales managers from 25,000 companies.  The data in the table below is from a subset of that data where we looked at around 16,000 salespeople who reported to approximately 4,000 sales managers.  The title row shows the percentage of time the sales managers devoted to coaching their salespeople and the 6 rows below that show the average scores for the salespeople that report to those managers.  Sales Percentile is the percentile that a salesperson scored in.  Sales DNA is an overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures.  Hunter, Consultative, Qualifier and Closer are 4 of the 7 Tactical selling competencies that OMG measures.  If you're interested, you can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies and how salespeople score by industry and skill here.

coaching-increase-sales

Do you remember that 27% number?  The first row reveals that sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching salespeople (last column on the right) have salespeople whose sales percentile score is 28% higher than those managers who devoted little to none of their time coaching.  How is that for science to back up somebody's incredibly accurate wild-ass guess?

There's another interesting find in this data.  Average scores for hunting were not further improved after a manager is devoting at least 20% of their time to coaching.  This suggests that sales managers who coach more don't spend their coaching time helping salespeople work on their prospecting skills.

Another interesting takeaway can be seen in the Consultative scores.  This competency shows the smallest gain in average score.  Given how difficult it is to effectively take the consultative approach, this suggests that despite coaching more often, those sales managers lack the consultative skills needed to coach their salespeople on the consultative approach.

If Consultative scores show the smallest gain, where can the biggest gains be found?  Qualifying and Closing.  Sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching have salespeople who score 13% better in Qualifying and 24% better in closing than the salespeople whose sales managers rarely coach.

This data was not filtered by coaching effectiveness so their was no assumption that the coaching was good coaching; only that there was coaching.  What would happen if in addition to the time these managers devote to coaching, they were also becoming more effective at coaching?  The answer is revealed in this article by John Pattison.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, sales improvement, sales core competencies, omg, Closing Sales, sales growth, sales qualification, sales data

Sales Pipeline Data Shows That Most Late Stage Opportunities Just Aren't

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 @ 07:07 AM

pipeline

If you happened to read the article about most salespeople being fired or arrested if they worked in accounting then this is the sequel - Arrested 2!

That article focused on the number of late-stage opportunities in the pipeline.  Objective Management Group (OMG) conducts a pipeline analysis as part of its Sales Force Evaluations.  We ask salespeople to answer nineteen questions on four late-stage, proposal-ready, closable opportunities each.  In addition to looking at and rating the quality of the pipeline, we then go and re-stage their pipeline based on their answers.  It's pretty cool and the re-staging looks like what I described in this article.

The premise is that if we ask for late-stage, proposal-ready, or closable, then 100% of the opportunities should be in either the qualified or closable stage. I looked into the percentage of opportunities that required re-staging sorted by sales percentile and once again, the findings are powerful and insightful.

Take a peek at the table below where you can see the percentage of opportunities that we replaced in each stage, organized by sales percentile.

restaging-percentages

The first thing you'll notice is that without exception, the percentages correlate perfectly with sales percentile.  This is powerful because OMG does NOT use pipeline data to calculate sales percentile. So the opportunity percentages by stage serve to validate of our sales percentile scores in one more way!

Elite (5%) and Strong (15%) salespeople represent around 20% of the population, while around 50% of all salespeople are weak and the other 30% or so are serviceable.  Notice that elite salespeople had 150% more of their opportunities remain in a late stage (qualified or closable) than weak salespeople who only saw 16% of theirs remain late stage.  That's right. 84% of their opportunities were restaged to either the suspect or prospect stages of the pipeline.

As with the other articles that dig deep into the data, this is less of a surprise and more of a confirmation of what most of us have suspected and believed.  But like the data, it goes deeper.  You've heard the expression, "Inspect what you expect" and it is so true with pipeline.  Before you give elite salespeople a free pass, note that even they had 60% of their opportunities restaged!

My takeaway is that organizations must move from pipeline reviews and forecasts, to pipeline inspections and justifications.  Only then will coaching be in the proper context and will forecasts become accurate and reliable.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, omg, sales data

The Latest Data Shows That Sales Managers Are Even Worse Than I Thought

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 @ 06:06 AM

bad-stats

When you watch the news these days, it seems like all you hear is Russia, Immigration, North Korea, FBI, DOJ, liars and leakers, and the latest celebrities to be disgraced by their behavior.  You would think there wasn't anything else going on!

You might be having a similar experience with my recent articles as I have been sharing lots of data about salespeople - to the degree where you might think that nothing else matters.

Today we're diving into sales management and specifically, the Sales Management Coaching Competency. What you read will surely disappoint and shock you and might even cause you to puke in disgust.

Many sales experts have been talking about how important it is for sales managers to not only spend 50% of their time coaching, but for that coaching to be impactful as well.  Sales managers should be coaching to opportunities, and coaching on strategy, tactics, and pipeline.  They should be coaching up their salespeople and they need to be great at it.  But is any of this actually taking place?  Let's take a look.

We'll be digging intoObjective Management Group's (OMG) data from the evaluation of nearly 1.8 million salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders.  For this study, I have mined the data from the most recent 9,000 sales managers to be evaluated along with their teams.

The first table shows the percentage of sales managers who are strong in the Sales Coaching Competency arranged by Sales Management Quotient.

coaching-as-strength

I'm sure you can easily see for yourself that outside of the top 3 percent of all sales managers, expecting sales managers to be effective at sales coaching is pretty much a pipe dream.  Only 10 percent of all sales managers are any good at coaching and most of them come from the strongest 15 percent.

Does it get any better when you look at the frequency of coaching? According to the salespeople who report to these sales managers, the majority of the coaching that takes place is on demand.  The next table shows that when salespeople don't ask for help, few sales managers proactively provide frequent coaching with "never" being the third most common scenario following on demand.  Only 10 percent are getting the daily or multiple times per week coaching we would hope for.  Could that 10 percent be reporting to the 10 percent of managers who are good at coaching?

coaching-frequency

We asked these sales managers how much time they spend on coaching and the next table shows just how grim the coaching situation really is. Read this table from the bottom right and up where you can see that 63% of all sales managers fall into the weak category and slightly more than half of those managers are spending no more than 10% of their time coaching.

coaching-time-spent

24% of all sales managers fall into the serviceable category and 70% of them are spending no more than 20% of their time coaching.  Of the remaining 13% (elite and strong) of all sales managers, just under half are spending no more than 30% of their time coaching. 

After all the preaching, teaching and beseeching, not much has changed in 10 years.  Sales managers aren't spending nearly enough time coaching their salespeople and when they do, the coaching is pathetic.  I recorded this 2-minute video to share my thoughts about the practical reality of widespread lousy sales management.

 

There are a several reasons for this:

  • Many of these sales managers maintain personal sales and their commissions far outweigh their sales management compensation and they don't have the time nor do they want to make the time for coaching.
  • They think that coaching is what happens when they do a ride along or listen in on a phone call.
  • They think that telling a salesperson what to do, helping with pricing or specs, or asking how a call went is coaching
  • They aren't able to execute the single most important and effective element of sales coaching - the role play.

There is an important discussion taking place here on LinkedIn on this article and in the comments, Barbara Giamanco suggested adding three additional reasons to the list:

  • Managers are not given training in how to coach. Since they don't know how to effectively coach they either - don't do it, or do it badly. Plus, it is highly likely that they aren't being coached by their boss either.
  • There isn't a coaching culture that provides the foundation for giving managers the time needed to invest in coaching well and often. In other words, senior leadership doesn't buy into the importance of coaching.
  • The managers themselves don't see the value, so they don't do it.  Like so many things we see in sales today that haven't changed, people seem to keep defaulting to what they've always done even if it isn't working.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.  There were more than 85 comments when I added this link.

More!  I've written a lot about effective coaching.  Here are five of the best articles:

Article

Article

Article

Article

Article

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, omg, sales management competencies, sales data

The Craziest, Most Unusual Sales Selection Criteria and What Really Works

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 09, 2016 @ 11:08 AM

Crazy.jpg

It was just last month that I wrote this hugely popular article about the tech buyer who hated salespeople.  In the first paragraph I mentioned that I had a crazy case of poison ivy.  At about the one-week point, I started searching Google to find anything that might help ease the itching and discomfort. As you might guess, the remedies I found included some very crazy things that common sense would tell you to stay away from.  Well, in the 31 years I've been in the sales consulting business, I have heard some very crazy sales selection criteria too.  When salespeople are hired but don't work out, executives and in some cases, entire industries, stick their head in the sand and call it normal or acceptable.  Life insurance, where turnover can run as high as 90%, is a perfect example of this.  Insurance industry executives say that it's perfectly normal.  However, outside of the insurance industry, most executives will try just about any remedy to stop the discomfort.  Here are some of the craziest I've seen.

A telecommunications company had to hire 300 salespeople.  By the time they called me they had hired 500 but only employed 150 salespeople.  You can do that math but it comes to 70% turnover.  In their case, it got so bad that they added the following selection criteria:

  • firm handshake
  • good eye contact
  • nice smile showing teeth
  • able to survive a round-trip car ride from upstate NY to Boston with the hiring manager

They did not have a clue as to why their salespeople weren't staying or succeeding and were willing to try anything to fix the problem.  Unfortunately, "anything" did not include identifying the real problem, which was the culture, and the sales managers who were doing the selecting and the on boarding.

A SaaS company was turning over SDR's at a rate of 50% and wanted to improve their retention.  They had been hiring from the 25 and under demographic and and decided that young was not quite enough. They "improved" on young by adding recent college graduates to their criteria and turnover went from 50% to 70%.  Apparently the recent grads were a lot smarter than the high school grads and most of them determined that the role wasn't for them earlier in their employment.

A technology company was turning over 100% of its territory sales reps.  They were a startup, with a brand new technology, higher prices than traditional companies in their space, and definitely not the safe decision for tech buyers.  Prospects were resistant to meet with them , resistant to change, and resistant to paying more.  The company's primary selection criteria was to hire salespeople from their top competitors where, they had never faced resistance, always had the lowest prices, and never had any difficulty scheduling meetings. Needless to say, at this new tech company, the salespeople failed with tremendous consistency.

But the winners of the worst sales selection criteria competition are the thousands of companies who believe that hiring people with good personalities will get the job done. While it could get the job done it would be a complete accident, not their personality making a difference.  Sales is more difficult than at any time in our history.  It has changed dramatically in the past 7 years.  Even professional salespeople who were successful ten years ago, are struggling to those results today.  Why would someone who possesses a resume of "great personality" be able to achieve sales success where professionals have failed?

Suppose you need to boil water for your dinner.  While there are many ways to do that, most of us will stick to the method where you simply apply heat to a pot.  You could burn some wood, but the timing would be more predictable if you place the pot on the stove.  Sure, you could add in lighter fluid, gun powder, or dynamite and throw in a match. While those 3 methods will certainly boil the water in a hurry, you won't be very happy with the overall results as you look down upon what's left of your house from your comfortable perch in Heaven.  You boiled the water - congratulations over your complete stupidity and carelessness.

Yesterday, in a LinkedIn group discussion about evaluating salespeople, members were requesting some home-grown survey form from one of the contributors, rather than looking at a professional, time-tested solution.  Stupidity!

Like I wrote in the forum, there are many ways to select salespeople and they all provide some benefit.  However, when there is already a proven, time-tested, accurate and predictable tool available, why would anyone consider the dynamite option?  It's completely customizable, easy to use, and a lot more affordable than adding the equivalent of gun powder - making a sales hiring mistake which, on average, can cost $250,000 or more in soft and hard costs. 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, omg, sales hiring tools, sales selection

Those Who Follow Sales Best Practices Don't Necessarily Become Top Performers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 @ 10:06 AM

best-worst.jpg

You'll regularly find me writing about the science - the data - that differentiates top sales performers from the bottom.  But today, I'll move into the world from which everyone else in this space operates - anecdotal evidence and opinions. 

I will cite two sources for this article:

  • The 130 sales consulting firms that partner with me at Objective Management Group (OMG) and provide our award-winning sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments;
  • The tens of thousands of salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders that I have personally trained.

In both groups of people I have noticed a few things that are common to the tops and not so much the bottoms and I'm certain that if you paid attention, you would recognize some of the same patterns in your organization.

In my experience, The top salespeople in both groups typically attend scheduled training events, Conferences, Webinars, and coaching calls.  They also tend to stay on top of updates, communications, reviews, emails and notes.  While some bottom performers do these things too, it's clear that there is a correlation between the tops and the learning and development activities on which they choose to invest their time.

The question is, are they at the top because they focus, participate, attend and respond; or do they actively participate because they are at the top?  Which one is cause and which one is effect?

Each of the activities I mentioned are best practices of top performers.  It's almost impossible to be a top performer and not do those things, while it is quite easy to not do those things and be a bottom performer.  But that doesn't answer the question of cause and effect.  Let's take a closer look at the bottom performers that do all of those things but still fail to perform.  If they do all of the same things, what holds the bottom performers back?

I didn't begin writing this article with a plan to go here, but as always, it ends up here.  Assuming that an ineffective sales manager isn't to blame, it comes down to the following four things:

  • Lack of Desire for Greater Success in Sales
  • Lack of Commitment to Do What it Takes to Achieve Greater Success in Sales
  • Weak Sales DNA - Strengths Don't Support their Selling Skills
  • Poor Selling Skills - Never Developed or not up-to-date

 I just looked at a few thousand rows of data from the last two weeks.  While 91% of these salespeople had strong Desire, only 59% had the Commitment to do what it takes.  That's a difference maker!  Additionally, only 33% had Sales DNA of 70 or better and only 9% had Sales DNA of at least 82 which is required to support the Challenger Sale.   Worst of all, only 11% had at least 50% of the selling skills we measure.

So even when I try to write an anecdotal piece, I end up returning to the OMG's science behind selling.

Cause and effect?  Salespeople who do the right things don't necessarily become top performers but top performers necessarily do the right things.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, the challenger sale, top producer, sales assessments, objective management group, top performing salespeople

The Phony Baloney Sales Superstar

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 @ 06:04 AM

phony

I was in the car when the call was forwarded to my cell phone.  I didn't recognize the caller and his first statement was, "I have some questions about Objective Management Group (OMG)."  Very Dry.  Very Abrasive.

I was thinking detective, maybe researcher.  I asked, "What kind of questions?" Keep in mind that he hadn't said hello, introduced himself, or explained why he was calling so I was wondering what this was about.

He said, "I took one of your assessments and it prevented me from getting a job.  Is this based on the Myers-Briggs?"

I calmly explained that Myers-Briggs was a personality assessment that reported on 16 dimensions of personality but the OMG assessment he took was sales specific and looked at 21 Sales Core Competencies.

He told me he had problems with the Myers-Briggs preventing him from getting a job once before so it must be based on that. He repeated that it prevented him from getting this job so I asked what led him to that conclusion.  His answers will blow your mind! 

He didn't ask permission or whether or not I had time, but took the next several minutes to tell me what a great salesperson he is, the multi-million dollar deals he has closed, and the quotas he has exceeded by 800%.  He said he had a great interview with this company, but after the assessment, he wasn't called back, so it had to be the assessment that knocked him out.

I explained that the assessment is only a single data point and wouldn't knock out a great salesperson like him.  I asked how he knew it was a good interview and he mentioned a recruiter telling him so.  I asked how many salespeople the company was hiring and he said one.  I asked if it was possible that they had more than one good candidate and if another candidate could have been more qualified or a better fit than he was.  Believe it or not he said, "No."

Then he asked to see his results.

I explained that he wasn't the client and in the United States, clients - employers - were not obligated to share assessment results with candidates.  

He didn't like that answer and asked if there was some other way to get his results.  I explained that if he wanted them badly enough, he could simply pay $400 and retake the assessment on his own.

That's when he said, "That's a lot of money. I'm in between jobs.  That's not fair."

I mentioned that with all of those big deals he sold and quotas he busted, it seemed odd that $400 was a problem for him.

He said that one company still owed him $2.3 million in commissions.  I asked whether his lawyer expected to collect that money and he said his lawyer didn't think he had a case - something about a stupid lawyer...

It's not terribly rare for a candidate to send an email or make a call to their potential employer to whine or complain when they don't think they should have to take an assessment, don't get an interview, or don't get the job.  It is almost unheard of for a candidate to call OMG or me directly.  This is only the second time in the past 8 months!  Just the same, I love this part - it's my favorite.  After the call, I attempt to guess which findings I will see on their assessments, based on how they behaved on the call or in their email.  In this guy's case, I KNEW that I would see:

  • Unlikely to develop relationships early in the sales process (weakness)
  • Doesn't need to be liked (strength)
  • Difficulty recovering from rejection (weakness)
  • Arrogant (weakness)
  • Low Money Tolerance (Weakness)
  • Excuse Maker (weakness)
  • Dillusional (we don't test for this, but if we did...)
  • Poor Outlook (weakness)
  • Low Sales Posturing Score 
  • High Hunting Score
  • Strong Commitment (strength)

While those findings jumped off the pages for me, there was also a low confidence score, meaning that OMG wasn't confident with its overall score for him because he was so inconsistent in his approach to the assessment.  He also had very few selling skills beyond his ability to hunt, only a serviceable Sales Quotient, and he was a poor fit for the selling environment he applied for.  If you want to see a sample of this Sales Candidate Assessment so that you can put all of this into context, you can request a sample here.  If you want to skip right to a free trial, you can request that here.

In most cases, the more insistent that sales candidates are about their sales capabilities, the more likely it is that they are in the bottom 74% and they suck.  In most cases, the only sale they ever make is to the gullible sales manager or HR Director that falls for their lies, claims and exaggerations.

The funny thing is that this candidate was probably right.  In this case, the assessment and its 150 or so sales findings painted an accurate picture of him and alerted the employer that this was a Phony Baloney Sales Candidate who should not be considered for this role.

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, HR, sales weaknesses, omg, objective management group

Starting with the Sales Management Team - Is it a Bad Decision?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 @ 16:08 PM

Sales Management Team

The CEO said, "We really like what you do, your sales force evaluation is exactly what we need, the information, data, science and intelligence that you provide is perfect for us.  This is the right time to move forward, and we're ready to go."  

Waiting for the other shoe to drop, I said, "But..."  

And he said, "But we don't want to evaluate everyone right now.  We want to start with our sales management team."  

I hate being right.  

Small and mid-market companies don't usually request this particular approach because their management teams are usually quite lean and it doesn't make sense for them to take this approach.  But large companies tend to start all of their initiatives with the sales management team, and when that has been completed, move on to the salespeople.  If we were talking about training, I would agree with that approach.  It makes absolutely no sense to train salespeople until the sales managers are on board, bought in, and can expertly coach to the process, methodology, strategies and tactics.  Always start with sales management.

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Companies typically have 5 reasons for starting with the sales managers:

  1. It's how they always do it (my favorite).
  2. To make a smaller investment up front.
  3. To pilot a program and see if they like it.
  4. To begin with a smaller, more manageable group.
  5. To give the managers a head start.

Those reasons all make sense - for training.  But we weren't talking about training, we were talking about the crucial step that precedes training, defines training, tells us who can be trained, what it will take, and how much improvement we can expect.  It tells us where the skill gaps are, where Sales DNA gets in the way and why we lose business.  We were talking about OMG's legendary sales force evaluation.

[-Another related Promo - request a free sample sales force evaluation]

It's wrong to perform a sales force evaluation with only the managers for just as many reasons as it's correct to begin training that way:

  • We get only sales management data. 
  • We get only one part of the sales management data at that - the part provided by the sales managers.
  • This limited data cannot fully explain how the sales force is dealing with the challenges they face.
  • It does not answer the questions as to whether the company is hiring the right people, changes they need to make to their sales selection criteria, if their people are coachable and trainable, and where the skill gaps are.
  • It does not answer the questions as to whether they can sell more consultatively, whether they are capable of finding and closing more new business, shortening their sales cycle, or becoming more effective selling value.  And lots more.

A better way to start a limited sales force evaluation is to begin with a region or team.  Let's review the 5 reasons for starting with the managers again.  Only this time, let's see if we can meet those conditions while including the salespeople.  

  1. It's how they always do it. - Gulp. They'll need to change that!
  2. To make a smaller investment up front. - That still works.
  3. To pilot a program and see if they like it. - That works too.
  4. To begin with a smaller, more manageable group. - That still works.
  5. To give the managers a head start. - That works too.  All the managers can learn from this initial experience.

Are you familiar with the expression, "Life is like a sewer - You get from it what you put into it"?  That analogy won't work here.  But this one will:

sales force is an apple pie

The sales force is like an Apple Pie.  The sales management team is the crust, and the salespeople are the apples and the filling.  If you evaluate only the sales managers, you get crust!

When you evaluate a region or a team - you take a slice of the sales force.  You get the good stuff - apples and filling!

That is always more satisfying, more valuable, and leaves a better taste in everyone's mouth!

 

image Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, omg, Personality Tests, sales assessments

Why You Must Understand This about Desire for Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

desireOne of the most frequent questions we get from clients has to do with the second most important finding on Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales and sales management evaluations.  "This is one of my top salespeople - how can she possibly lack Desire for sales success?"

It's a great question and I hope to explain it fully here.

First, I'll answer the question that you formed with my opening statement.  "What is the most important finding?  It's Commitment for sales success.

Next, we'll set the stage.  We are talking about this issue in the context of an existing salesperson.  If the finding of Lack of Desire was for a salesperson who was failing, a client would say, "Well, that explains it."  Not really.  Their sales competencies and Sales DNA will explain lack of performance.  But the lack of Desire does tell us that the underachieving salesperson is unlikely to improve due to a lack of incentive to change.  However, when a top-performing salesperson lacks Desire, clients don't know what to make of it. They always wonder, "How could that be?"  Well, it's fairly simple how that could be.  In most cases, it's as simple as something must have changed.

I'll give you an example.  This week, I spent two days training a room full of experts from the sales training space.  These experts are some of the 150 or so who provide OMG's evaluations and assessments to clients.  This particular group was made up of veterans - sales experts who have been with OMG for as long as 25 years, so I can't really do sales or product training with this group.  Instead, we work on how they grow, improve, and get to the next level.  These sales experts are VERY successful, yet if we were to evaluate them, I'm certain that based on what I heard in the room this week, we would see Lack of Desire for most of them.

As a group, they were guilty of taking their foot off the gas.  They lost their edge.  Sure, they still generate a lot of business and are still successful, but the edge that got them there, the intensity that kept them there, and the fire that burned hot within them, was more like a pilot light these days.  My job then, was to reignite that fire while they were with me.

So this group presents a terrific example of top-performers who lack desire.  It simply means that the desire that got them there isn't there anymore, but it doesn't mean that they will no longer be successful.

One of the attendees at this week's training directed me to a video by ET, the hip-hop preacher.  This short video is a great example of what strong Desire truly is.  Check it out here, but you might want to skip the ad at the beginning.

When a candidate for a sales position lacks Desire, there are no questions.  Clients simply do not pursue candidates who lack either Desire or Commitment.  Why hire a new salesperson with that issue?

I hope that you better understand why Desire for success in sales:

  • is so crucial in a new salesperson;
  • explains why an underperforming salesperson will not improve; and
  • can so easily wane in a top-performing salesperson after years of success.

Can you personally feel how your own Desire for success in sales, sales management, sales leadership, or executive leadership has intensified or waned over the course of your career?

 

Image from Eric Thomas

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, omg, sales assessments, eric thomas, desire for success

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Great New Salesperson Might Fail

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 @ 09:06 AM

failure

When a great salesperson is recommended by Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment, and this star has a great track record, and great references, should we expect this person to succeed?

Most executives do.

But even though salespeople will tell you that "If you can sell, you can sell anything", that statement is only true some of the time.  Here are some examples of salespeople who are successful in one environment, but usually fail in another:

  1. They were the best in their business at selling high-volume, low-cost products until they went to work for a value-based company and the "beat their best price" tactics were no longer available.
  2. They were the best at selling programs to procurement until they went to work for a company where the sale had to be made in the C-Suite where they were intimidated, unable to speak the language and unable to grasp the importance of strategy, profit and return.
  3. They were the best at selling components to OEM's until they went to work for a company where they had to sell conceptual services and were lost without a product to demonstrate.
  4. They were the best at finding and selling new accounts for a local company until they went to work for a national firm and had to do the same thing, in a brand new territory, working from their home.
  5. They were the best at selling 5-cent parts by the thousand until they went to work for a company where they had to sell 6-figure programs and choked over the amount of money they had to ask for.
  6. They were the best when they were managing, retaining and growing key accounts, and now that they work for a company where they must hunt for new business, they are sucking wind.
  7. They were on top of the pack when they sold services with a six-month sales cycle, but now that they work for a company selling a product in a very short sales cycle, nothing is getting closed.
  8. They were #1 at the last company, working under a hands-on sales manager who was a stickler for coaching and accountability, but the results just aren't there with the new company where they are reporting directly to the President who only responds to the proactive requests of his salespeople.
  9. There was nobody better at getting contracts signed when they sold the product that everyone buys and it was only a matter of who they would buy it from, but now that they are selling things that companies could either do themselves or not do at all, they can't overcome the ambivalence.
  10. They were at the top of the heap working for the large, well-known industry leader where prospects rolled out the red carpet and eagerly bought their products.  Now that they are working for a lesser known company, they aren't able to overcome the resistance that is always there now, but never there before.

Skills and experience are terrific, but track record is extremely misleading!

For example, if you go back and take another look at #4, this is where great salespeople, selling the exact same thing, can suddenly fail because they aren't able to succeed when working remotely from a sales manager who doesn't manage her salespeople very closely.

I reviewed OMG's data on a random set of 4,500 recent sales candidate assessments and only 12% were suitable for working remotely.  BUT…upon closer look, 12% was not representative of the findings for any one company!

Of the companies that required both a remote seller and had enough candidates to make up an appropriate sample size, the distribution of candidates suitable for working remotely ranged from 2% to 75%.  I thought that was rather strange and looked again, but with different filters.  I found that the variations in suitability had more to do with the company, and the difficulty level of the role, than anything else.  When the role was more difficult and their job postings reflected that difficulty, stronger candidates applied and were assessed.  When the role was less difficult and the job postings reflected it, all kinds of qualified and unqualified candidates applied and the assessments reflected that change in candidate quality.  For example, look at these 5 companies, their percentage of suitable candidates, and the difficulty level of the role:

Company Difficulty Level Suitable for Remote
 A  Considerable  75%
 B  Considerable  67%
 C  Some  50%
 D  Moderate  25%
 E  Moderate  2% 

If you throw out company E, the average is 60% suitable, but we also lose 75% of the candidates in the sample, so you can’t do that… 

When the role is not very difficult, the company will attract lower level salespeople, and they will be much less likely to be suitable for working remotely than their much stronger peers.

When you look at all 10 of my examples, you should be able to recognize why it is so important to use a sales-specific candidate assessment that is customized to your company's requirements, determines whether candidates possess the required selling skills, digs into the Sales DNA to determine whether candidates will succeed in your business, and in this role, and makes an accurate, predictive recommendation.

 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales candidates, omg, sales assessment test, sales selection

Top 20 Reasons Why Data May Not be the Key to Boosting Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 @ 16:06 PM

DataI read somewhere that data was the key to boosting sales.  Really?  Says who?

When you look into the "who", it should come as no surprise that it's the companies that provide data analytics that say so.  Don't get me wrong; data (and especially the right data) can be very useful.  But data, by itself, doesn't boost anything.

If you are getting the right data...

  • where opportunities stall in your sales process,
  • why they stall,
  • conversion ratios from first contact to closing,
  • win rates by salesperson and opportunity type,
  • length of sales cycle by salesperson and opportunity type,
  • % of opportunities where there is true traction,
  • % of opportunities that are fully qualified,
  • % of opportunities that get demos, proposals, quotes,

...and you know what to look for, you can discover what and/or who needs to be fixed.  But you still have to fix it.  The data won't do that for you.  And you need to know more than what and who.  You must know why.  And the why could be different for each and every salesperson.

Data can help you identify bottlenecks, trends and problems.  The importance of those cannot be understated.  However, can you actually fix the problem once you know what it is?

For example, one of the common trends, being illuminated by data, is the dropping win rate.  So you know you aren't closing enough business to hit plan.  Why is the win rate so low?

It could be:

  1. Poor sales selection,
  2. Ineffective sales coaching,
  3. Lack of accountability,
  4. Unqualified proposals or quotes,
  5. Unqualified demos,
  6. Inconsistent messaging,
  7. Lack of onboarding,
  8. Skill gap,
  9. Poor consultative selling skills,
  10. Lack of listening and questioning skills,
  11. Lack of effort,
  12. Follow-up,
  13. Pricing,
  14. Inability to sell value,
  15. Rushing through the sales process,
  16. Ineffective sales process,
  17. Poor sales DNA,
  18. Poor closing skills,
  19. Lack of relationships, and/or
  20. Failure to reach decision makers.
Hint:  It's probably not #18 - poor closing skills.  Closing skills aren't required when the earlier stages of the sales process are effectively executed.  The only time when closing skills should come into play is when a properly qualified, closable prospect isn't able to make a decision at closing time.  
Of course there are many, many more possibilities, but these are simply the first 20 that come to mind!  And in case you forgot, these were some of the reasons as to why the win rate is so low.
After you have identified the reason(s), then you must determine how to fix the problem.  If it's simply a single issue, coaching is probably the best course of action, but the salesperson must be coachable and you must be better at this particular issue than your salesperson.  If it's multiple issues affecting multiple salespeople, then training is a better way to go.
The fastest and easiest way to identify all of the issues on your sales force is to have your sales force evaluated.  You can learn more about that by watching this 2-minute video:

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, evaluate the sales force, 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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