The Latest Fiction for the Sales Force - No More Hunters and Farmers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 @ 10:09 AM

Today I received an email from Selling Power promoting their latest webinar, The Hunter/Farmer Paradigm is Dead

In 2007 we had to deal with writers proclaiming that sales and the sales force were dead.  The reality of all of that talk was that the people writing about it weren't close enough to sales to know what they were talking about.  Companies with transactional sales don't need salespeople selling their transactional items, but they do need salespeople persuading companies to choose them in the first place.  Then the transactions can be placed via Internet or an inside sales group. That's about the only scenario where the "dead" proclamation even comes close to being accurate.  

Companies selling complex products, design engineered, custom, capital intensive, and higher priced than competition absolutely need salespeople to find opportunities, develop the need, provide value, qualify the opportunity, present the right solution and close the business.  Companies that are underdogs, those that sell professional services, and those with a story to tell absolutely need salespeople.

And today we have more attention grabbing headlines.  While it is Selling Power that is hosting this promotional webinar, it's actually a sales training company that is conducting it.  They go on to say that, "today's economy demands that you leverage all of your available sales talent by helping your sales reps both farm and hunt productively."

That's fine in theory.  It's optimal.  But the reality is that Objective Management Group has statistics from evaluating 450,000 salespeople and it's just not possible.  Here are the facts:

You want all of your salespeople to find new business but 24% of them will never be able to do that.  All of the training that they can provide won't change those people.  They'll have new words and will learn new skills but they still won't actually do it.

You want all of your salespeople to farm but some of them will never be able to do that either.  22% of them can't be trained.  And 45% of them will not close.  Again, they can train them until they're blue in the face but aside from the new words they'll learn, nothing will change for that group of salespeople.

So in a perfect world, where we can be anything we want to be, athletes aren't wired to be scientists, artists aren't wired to be software programmers, and ballet dancers aren't wired to be weight lifters.  Some salespeople aren't wired to prospect - they should be account managers - and some people aren't wired to close - they should be account managers too!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, closing, prospecting, Action Selling, Personality Tests, sales evaluations, sales tests, sales assessments, objective management group, selling power

180 and 360 Degree Assessments on the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 03, 2009 @ 22:06 PM

There are not a lot of companies that undertake 180 degree or 360 degree assessments of the sales force and that's a good thing because there are so many limitations.

The 180 - The salesperson or sales manager does a self-rating on the predetermined competencies and attributes and the individual's boss conducts the same ratings.

The 360 - The sales manager does a self-rating on the predetermined competencies and attributes and both the sales manager's boss and the salespeople that report to the sales manager conduct the same ratings.

So the 180 and the 360 are nearly the same except for the number of people and the vertical depth.

What are the limitations?

  • The assessment is only as strong as the competencies and attributes that have been identified.  Most of these assessments miss more competencies than they include;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to completely understand each competency and attribute;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to know the difference between good and bad in each competency and attribute;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to observe the individual's use of these competencies and attributes in the field;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's ability to honestly score the individual;
  • The assessment is only as good as the scorer's use of the entire range of potential scores.  In other words, if the assessment uses a 1-5 scale, and the scorer uses the entire range of 1-5, there is reason to believe the scores are useful.  On the other hand, if the scorer uses only 4's as the lowest score and 5's as the highest score, it yields little, if any, usefulness.

So even the most thoughtful and comprehensive 180's and 360's are very subjective and have major limitations.  At best, they identify very strong and very weak performers.  At worst, they are a waste of time.

My question is, why would a company bother to go through this time consuming, inaccurate process when there is a very accurate, very predictive, sales specific, time-tested, proven, validated sales force evaluation that can be implemented, analyzed and reviewed, quickly and easily for far less money?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, Sales Force, Personality Tests, sales evaluations, sales tests, sales assessments

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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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