9 Reasons Why Salespeople Lack the Urgency Necessary to Succeed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 @ 04:09 AM


Mass.-Environmental-Police.jpg

I was in the right-hand lane of very slow moving traffic because of a lane closure ahead, marked by orange cones.  I was along side the cones in the lane where traffic was merging left.  All of a sudden, a police siren and flashing lights were upon me but I had nowhere to go.  Cars were in front of me and to the left of me with cones to the right and the cop was right on top of my rear bumper.  He moved into the lane closed off by the cone, rolled his window down and screamed, "Get out of the way!"

But, from what?

He stopped his Ford F150 along the guard rail inside the coned off lane, turned off his lights and sirens, and put his truck in park.  He was working a private detail, was 5 minutes late and was with the Massachusetts Environmental Police.  I couldn't believe it.  He turned on the lights and sirens, reserved for code 3 emergencies and traffic violations, just so that he could park - and he screamed at me.

You're probably wondering what in the world this scenario has to do with selling but it does, and in a big way.

There was money on the table and the cop was feeling tremendous urgency to make sure he didn't lose the money.

I coach a lot of sales leaders and their most common frustration is that they can't understand why their salespeople don't seem to have the same urgency as they did when they were selling. Their salespeople lack urgency when returning calls and emails, lack urgency booking appointments with people they've been asked to meet, lack urgency when it's time to follow up, lack urgency when the deal needs to be closed, and lack urgency building their pipelines.  The opposite of the cop. 

So while I found the cop's behavior unacceptable, it's exactly the behavior that money motivated salespeople will exhibit, sometimes to the point of rude and obnoxious.

In my experience, there are several possible reasons behind this lack of urgency.  They include, but aren't limited to these 9 reasons:

  • Expectations - their managers have not been crystal clear as to what exactly they expect their salespeople to do.
  • Need to be Liked - Their need for approval is very strong and they don't want to appear to be a pest or a nuisance which in their mind could cause the prospect to dislike them, so they back off.
  • Intrinsically Motivated - They are motivated by being part of something bigger than themselves, mastery, love of selling, and job satisfaction so the expected behavior is inconsistent with how they are motivated.
  • Fear of Failure - When salespeople are afraid of failing it causes a sort of paralysis as they ask themselves, what if I fail?
  • Rejection - Similar to the failure issue,  they are worried about being rejected and when they try to avoid being rejected, the results don't follow.
  • Lack of Desire - Their desire for sales success isn't strong enough to get them to do what needs to be done.
  • Lack of Commitment - They aren't willing to do whatever it takes when what it takes is more difficult, scary or inconsistent with their beliefs.
  • Compensation - Their comp plan is weighted heavily toward salary so they are already being paid - whether or not they do what you need and expect them to do.
  • Perfectionist - Perfectionists don't do anything until they are certain it will be done perfectly.  In the mean time, they procrastinate.

Would you like to suggest a 10th possible reason?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, closing, urgency, Pipeline, follow-up calls, police

Selling Value - Everything You Always Wanted to Know

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 03, 2014 @ 23:12 PM

value

Copyright: kchung / 123RF Stock Photo

Some news stories just don't go away.  Today those stories include Ferguson, Bill Cosby, ISIS and The NFL's Domestic Abuse Problem.  There is also Obamacare, Immigration and Ebola.  They remain in the news more because the media continues to milk these stories then readers demand to know more.

When we look at the sales stories of the recent past, the topics that sales experts continue writing about are Social Selling, Inbound Marketing, LinkedIn, Twitter, CRM and Lead Nurturing.  They remain in the news more because the writers are attempting to sell their own services that happen to support those topics more than readers demanding to read more about it.  There's nothing wrong with these topics of course, but sales experts should be addressing topics more closely aligned with helping sellers sell, instead of so much space being devoted to what takes place at the top and above the top of the sales funnel.

So if not those topics, then what should we all be writing about - all the time - that would be a real difference maker for salespeople?

I believe that it's the importance of and ability to sell value.  Why, you ask? 

Selling value is the one thing that all salespeople, operating without benefit of the lowest price, absolutely, positively, must be able to do well in order to consistently earn the business.  

Despite the need to effectively sell value, it happens to be one of things that salespeople do very poorly. The importance of selling value isn't going away, but sales experts are not spending enough time talking about it, writing about it, explaining it, or providing training on it.  The most critical aspect of this topic is understanding the many factors that support a salesperson's ability to sell value.  Selling value isn't a specific thing that one says or does, as much as it's an outcome of several other things.  According to Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics (close to one million salespeople assessed), of the 6 most important factors required to sell value, most salespeople have, on average, only 2 of them as strengths or skills.

This is such an important topic that last week I hosted a broadcast on Selling Value in Modern Times.  If you would like to watch it, run time is 46 minutes.

According to a Google search on my blog, I've written about or mentioned selling value, in some way, shape or form, 766 times in the past 10 years.  Here are 10 of my favorite articles on selling value and when you extract the major points from each, it provides a very nice collection of guidelines for selling value:

Closing and Negotiating Challenges - Symptoms of Another Selling Problem

This Simple Strategy Will Sell Your ROI and Value Proposition Every Time

Why This is Still a Great Selling Sales Book After 10 Years

Price Quotes and the Inability of Salespeople to Sell Value

The One Thing Most Salespeople Are Unable to Do

Why There is No Value When You Provide Value Via Special Pricing

Top 10 Outcomes When Salespeople Screw Up Selling "Value Added"

Top 5 Sales Issues Leaders Should Not Focus On

This is the One Thing Missing from the New Way of Selling

Do You/Should You Have a Complex Sale?

Top 10 Reasons Why Salespeople Let Price Drive the Sale

How to Add Value to Your Sales Offering

New Metrics for the Sales Force - Unusual Thoughts for Unusual Times

Boston Ballet and Money Tolerance - What it Means to Your Sales Force

As I mentioned above, selling value does not stand on its own.  You should now understand that from the value selling broadcast and the articles above,  there are several other factors that contribute to selling value.  Unless salespeople are able to effectively integrate all of the necessary factors (Sales DNA, sales process, strategy and tactics), then the end result will always be salespeople that are only able to talk about value, instead of actually becoming the value.

I'll be hosting a webinar on December 10 at 11 AM Eastern Time.  We'll be discussing the 5 Hidden Factors that Determine the Fate of Every Sales Force.  Selling Value is certainly one of those factors!  It will run for about 45 minutes.  If you would like to attend you can register here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, crm, twitter, Pipeline, linkedin, social selling, selling value, Lead Nurturing, top of the funnel, Bill Cosby, Value Proposition

Top 10 Reasons For Inaccurate Forecasts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 @ 07:02 AM

sales pipelineFor double article Friday, in addition to my Sales Pipeline Nazi article, I have the following bonuses for you:

For those of you who wanted to attend the Webinar on the Sales Candidate Analyzer, here is a link to the recording.

WittyParrot has just released the Top 50 Sales Productivity Tips ebook with 50 Experts, including me, offering their advice.  Download it here.

And the March Issue of Top Sales Magazine is available!  It includes an article from me and several other noteworthy sales writers.  You can download your copy here.

**********

The Sales Pipeline Nazi

When I wrote this article, the Northeast corner of the US was being walloped by yet another snowstorm, which in this case, was very accurately forecasted.  At the same time, the first email I saw today had a link to a very funny video – a spoof of a Pipeline Review being run by Hitler.  Here is a link to that video on You Tube.

So the storm and the video led me to the following thoughts.

We joke a lot about sales forecasts being no more accurate than weather forecasts, but everything is relative.  An inaccurate forecast of cloudy won’t have much of an impact on anyone, but an inaccurate forecast of sunny and warm might.  An inaccurate forecast of flurries might not cause a problem if they don’t materialize, but an inaccurate forecast of a foot of snow – in either direction – has serious consequences.

Inaccurate sales forecasts are legendary.  Here are the 10 most common reasons why salespeople, sales managers, Sales Directors and CEO’s suffer from this: 

  • They lack a formal, staged, criteria-based pipeline.
  • They lack a functional, sales-specific CRM or Pipeline Management application.
  • Their sales process is not integrated into the CRM/Pipeline Management application.
  • Salespeople have the power to suggest the likelihood of closing.
  • Salespeople have the power to override the application’s weighting of an opportunity.
  • Salespeople fail to LIVE in the CRM application, providing infrequent updates, causing most report and dashboard data to be outdated.
  • There is a lack of accountability for keeping the application up-to-date - not weekly, not daily, but in real-time!
  • The data being entered is not being inspected by management.
  • Nobody cares about getting it right.
  • The concept of pipeline management has not been integrated into the culture.

As for the weather, we learn to live with those inaccurate forecasts by preparing for the worst.  We also learn to check back often, get an updated forecast the night before, the morning of and right before that outdoor event, trip to the airport, or 6-hour drive.  What if our salespeople did that?  What if sales managers did that?

If sales forecasts are truly like weather forecasts and we have learned to make the best of the weather, why can’t we simply employ the same strategies and tactics to sales forecasts?  Why can’t we get updates, check-in, check back, verify and re-verify?  Why can’t we get it right?  Why don’t we get it right?

In my opinion, there are a combination of factors at play that discourage salespeople from taking the steps that I just mentioned:

  • Laziness – “It’s too much work!”
  • Fear of Rejection – "When I check back, what if they changed their mind?”
  • Need for Approval (Need to be Liked)  - “They might not like me anymore.”
  • Fear of being wrong – “How could I live with myself?”
  • Pressure to find new opportunities – The only time hunting takes precedence over anything!
  • Consequences of removing an opportunity and its related value from the forecast and/or pipeline – “It’s much better to slide the opportunity to next month than the alternative.”

We must get sales forecasting right.  And we can.  If one company can do it, all companies can do it.  But it takes a commitment, from the top down, to make it work.  It takes work after the commitment has been made.  If the first 9 reasons, from my list at the beginning of the article, are properly addressed and the appropriate commitment has been made, then any company wishing to have an accurate sales forecast can have one. 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, crm, Pipeline, membrain, salesforce.com, sales forecasts

Sales Force Motivation - Learn From the Red Sox Miraculous Comeback

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 17, 2008 @ 17:10 PM

By now most of you probably know that the Boston Red Sox pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Post Season Baseball history, coming back from a 7-0 deficit in the 7th inning to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-7.  But as exciting as that was, the story is about the fans.

If you observed the Tampa Bay fans during game 1 in St. Petersburg and game five in Boston, you would have observed some very tense, anxious people.  Yet if you paid any mind to the Red Sox fans in the three games they lost and prior to their comeback in game 5, they didn't seem very upset at all.

Those worried, upset Tampa Bay fans looked just like the Red Sox fans did in 2003 and 2004, when the Red Sox hadn't won a world series in 86 years.  But now that they have won two world series in the past four years, the fans were calm, they've been there.

When salespeople have plenty of opportunities and have experienced plenty of difficult sales cycles, it's not such a big deal when an important opportunity dies.  But if it's a salesperson that has very few quality opportunities or one who hasn't experienced very many deals that went sour, they react - badly - by getting quite emotional, discouraged, and upset.

The cure? Have your salespeople stuff the pipeline.  Prospect like hell. Work those opportunities.  The weak opportunities may die away but there will always be good ones on which to focus.  And don't discount the possibility that even the deadest of opportunities could miraculously come back from the dead.  Especially in big companies where the decision makers leave for greener pastures and get replaced with executives who do want to do business with you!

This can be a discouraging time.  It's important to keep your salespeople motivated and the best way to do that is to keep them busy.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales, selling, discouragement, Pipeline, sales cycle, frustration, winning sales, losing sales

Top 10 Factors for Getting Salespeople to Overachieve

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Feb 04, 2007 @ 15:02 PM

Here is a video where I discuss creating a culture of overachievers.

 

There isn't a single key to overachieving, so I'll list my top 10 factors for helping salespeople overachieve.  I'm sure I've written about each of these topics at some point in the past, but I'll put them all together here:

Goals - I'm talking "raise the bar, stretch, out of the comfort zone, more than the typical 15% increase in sales" type goals here.  You must raise expectations in order to celebrate superior performance.  Don't forget two things: (1) that a forecast and plan come from the goals; not the other way around; and (2) goals are derived, not from the company, but from the individual's income requirements, based on the bills that accompany life's obligations and desires.

Incentives - including compensation, contests, commissions, awards and prizes.  Incentives bridge the gap between corporate carrots and the personal goals we just discussed.  If an individual has the goals but the company's compensation isn't designed to reward superior achievement, the incentive to perform can not be maintained.  If the company has a rock-solid compensation plan but the goals are wouldn't excite Dr Phil, the personal incentive to perform will be AWOL.

Managing the Pipeline - a Visual Pipeline makes it significantly easier to manage the pipeline but the key to managing the pipeline effectively is working with your critical ratios.  Think monthly goal, closing percentage, average sale and length of the sell cycle. Let's say that your salesperson has a six month sell cycle, a $100,000 monthly goal, a $20,000 average sale and a 25% closing percentage. Effectively managing the pipeline requires that your salesperson places 20 (5 $20,000 sales x 4 at 25% closing) new opportunities worth of total of $400,000 (25% of $100,000) into the pipeline 6 months in advance of the monthly goal (if the goal is for July then the opportunities must enter the pipeline in February).  Get that to work and the outcomes are all but guaranteed.

Accountability - This is such an important factor in over achievement.  You must hold each salesperson accountable to something measurable (like the number of conversations required to book the number of sales calls required to identify those 20 new opportunities) every day.  Even more importantly, you must have consequences for failure to meet those requirements and consistently follow-through whenever necessary.  Develop the nerve for full accountability and you're nearly there!

Motivation - This is the combination of Goals and Incentives. In essence, does the salesperson have a strong enough Desire and Commitment to do whatever it takes - every day - to reach the goals?  When they don't, it's your job to motivate them by knowing what each salesperson's goals are. I'm not talking income requirements or gross sales here, I'm talking planes, boats and cars; big houses, vacation homes, golf trips, world travel, home theaters, fantasy camps, exclusive events, etc.

Self Starter - Last week I posted an article that discussed what it takes for salespeople to succeed in a remote location.  Those factors, whether salespeople are more effective when working independently or as part of a team; and whether they require supervision or can work without it; help to determine whether they are self-starters.  If not, you must start them up every day, twice daily or as often as it takes.  If you have self-starters, you are one lucky manager.

Skills - The more the better, but let's focus on the most important skill sets for overachieving.  Your salespeople must be able to hunt for new opportunities, identify the most qualified and be able to close them.  Anything else they can do is a bonus!

Urgency -  I wrote about Closing Urgency in January.  Your salespeople must have enough urgency to get their opportunities closed, when they become closable, even when their prospects are trying to put them off.

Weaknesses - Unfortunately, there are weaknesses that will neutralize all of the previous 8 factors.  There can be dozens of weaknesses that could impact performance but none are so powerful as these five:  Non Supportive Buy Cycle, Need for Approval, Tendency to Become Emotionally Involved, Money Issues, Self-Limiting Record Collection.

Coaching and Training - Your coaching must support any training initiative and help salespeople overcome their weaknesses, develop skills and master the selling process.  While most training will be conducted by sales development experts from outside your firm, the coaching absolutely takes place from within.  Pre-call strategizing and post-call debriefing, with every salesperson, every day.

This list of factors is not all inclusive but it's a good start.  You can build a sales force of over achievers if you incorporate not some, but all of these factors.

© Copyright 2007 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: selling, accountability, Motivation, Pipeline, Performance, Compensation, Featured

More on the Pipeline

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Sep 04, 2005 @ 07:09 AM

I recently wrote about the importance of a balanced pipeline but, in that article, didn’t comment on the required size of the pipeline.  Size will vary by company, industry, average order, and salesperson but I’ll attempt to provide a common formula that should work for everyone.

Start with the number of accounts or sales that must be closed in a month, quarter, or in the case of really long sell cycles, year.  Let’s assume that for the period in question, we need to close 2 accounts.  Using the visual pipeline (baseball diamond and four-quadrant overlay) I spoke about in the prior article, this would likely require 3 in the “closeable” category, 4 (at 50% closing) in the “qualified” category, 6 in the “prospects” category and 8 in the “suspects” category.  It further means that for every one account you expect to close the pipeline must have 4 new “suspects” and 10 total opportunities.  Based on the ratios in your business, modify the formula as required and you’ll have a properly sized and balanced pipeline in two months.

© Copyright 2005 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: accountability, Pipeline

Pay Attention to the Pipeline

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 30, 2005 @ 08:08 AM

You have no idea how many companies pay such poor attention to the pipeline. Not in your company you say? You know what’s in there? Good for you. I’ll bet you don’t know, with any degree of accuracy, which opportunities will close, when they’ll close and for how much they will close. I’ll bet you don’t know how long some of the opportunities have been in the pipeline. I’ll bet you don’t know whether each of your salespeople have enough opportunities in the pipeline. Oh, you do know that one? Sorry. That’s right. None of them have enough opportunities in the pipeline. And lastly, I’m sure you don’t know whether each salesperson’s pipeline is balanced. What is a balanced pipeline?

First, you can’t tell if the pipeline is balanced unless you can visually see what’s in there in some way other than a report or a spreadsheet. My favorite way to look at a pipeline is to overlay the pipeline on a baseball diamond. Each of the base paths represents a different category of prospect. Suspects – those with whom an appointment is booked line up on the first baseline. Prospects, those who have need, a compelling reason to buy and, what I call S.O.B. Quality (you’ll have to buy my upcoming book to learn about that) are on the second base path. Completely qualified prospects (criteria in the new book) show up on the path to third base and all of the closeable prospects line up on the third base line.

Once you have assigned each opportunity in your pipeline to the appropriate place on the baseball diamond, you can visually see your all of your potential new business, where the revenue is sitting and what will really close. More importantly, you can see whether the pipeline is balanced. A balanced pipeline will typically have two to three times more suspects than closeable opportunities. If the one you are looking at does not, there isn’t enough prospecting for new business taking place. Try doing that with a spreadsheet!

© Copyright 2005 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: accountability, Pipeline

Be Still My Pipeline

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, May 01, 2005 @ 08:05 AM

We evaluated a sales force this week that had pipeline problems. Most companies have pipeline problems; they simply lack the awareness to recognize how serious those problems are. Of even more concern is how long it takes to fix a faulty pipeline.

From 50,000 feet, there can be only two obvious pipeline issues: Not enough opportunities and poor pipeline quality. Yet it's rare when the executive team can blame lack of growth on the pipeline. Instead they site things like changing market conditions, the economy, competition, complacency among veteran salespeople, long sell cycle; and sometimes they even admit that the sales force isn't closing very consistently. But blame the pipeline? Not usually.

We ask salespeople to choose 4 opportunities on which they are currently ready to quote or propose or one where they already did that and are waiting for a decision. We ask them approximately 20 questions about each opportunity and then we perform our pipeline analysis.

When salespeople have difficulty coming up with 4 opportunities we know there is a quantity issue. Even in a company where one huge sale per year per rep would be enough, the salespeople must be working on several opportunities. And when multiple closes per quarter, per month, per week or per day are the goal, there should always be numerous opportunities at this stage in the selling cycle.

A pipeline with poor quantity suggests possible lack of goals and plans, expectations not being communicated or executed, the likelihood of excuse making and a probable lack of accountability by sales management. In addition, I could assume that the company has salespeople who are living off repeat business from existing customers and management may even incorrectly identify these salespeople as top performers - one of my biggest pet peeves. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the company has selected salespeople who just aren't wired for prospecting because their hidden weaknesses won't support the activity. Since the pipeline should be an advance measure of whether the sales force has enough opportunities to meet future sales goals, companies must be able to rely on the quantity of the pipeline to manage activity.

A pipeline with lack of quality is quite a different issue because management cannot use the pipeline in the manner for which it is intended. The pipeline, when properly filled and filtered, should provide management with a crystal ball connecting future revenue to a future point in time. And the filtering or qualifying process should be an excellent source of material for coaching from sales management. When our analysis suggests lack of quality, it means that the qualifying being performed by salespeople and sales managers is elementary at best. It rarely includes much more than asking a question about budget and decision making, two issues from as many as 20 required to completely qualify of a prospect.

So pay attention to your pipeline and you'll be able to take advantage it. Fill and and filter your pipeline and it will become the predictive tool it should be!

(c) Copyright 2005 Objective Management Group, Inc.

Topics: Management, Pipeline, Lessons

View All 1,600 Articles

About Dave

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

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

Search the site

 

Audio Book
Top 30 on Kindle
Top 100 on Amazon

Awards

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Blog Post - Bronze

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Assessment Tool - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader

Other Great Sites

top sales world

Evan Elite Promotion New

 alltop