The Keys to Fourth Quarter Sales Success in 2020

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 20, 2020 @ 07:10 AM

You're probably going to hate this article!  I'm going to show you that much of what is transpiring with the Pandemic could be having a greater impact than you realize relative to the future state of your business and you might not like what I have to say.  As always, if you can hang in through some of the preliminary analysis, I'll make the pivot to sales and business.

Each day, the Boston Globe sends an update with metrics that the state of Massachusetts is monitoring with regard to the Pandemic.  The update for October 19, 2020, is shown below:

Notice that the death toll rose by 15. 

Also notice that under "Related" the link to the article warning about gloom and doom over the next 6-12 weeks.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer tweeted this out today:

Back in May, when Massachusetts began reopening, there were between 10-20 deaths per day, and 100-200 new cases per day.  Over the past 5 months, the number of new cases has risen by more than 100 each month to the 827 new cases reported today.  However, during this entire 5 month period, the daily death toll has not exceeded 10-20, the same as it was back in May.  See the two graphs in the next paragraph on media reporting.

Media Reporting - Unfortunately, most media outlets insist on reporting only the number of new cases, but don't tell you that hospitalizations are down  *dramatically*  and deaths have remained steady after dropping to their current low levels.  Check out the CDC's own graph on hospitalization rates between week 10 (early March) and week 40 (early October):

You are reading this graph correctly.  Even among those over 65, hospitalizations are down to just over 5% of those infected with Covid. 

This is the latest graph of US deaths from Covid.

That's right.  Cases way up.  Deaths way down.  You should also check out this data on death counts - click on the graph to see the entire graph.

You read this table correctly too.  The actual number of deaths did not significantly exceed the expected (normal) number of deaths.  Does this mean that the largely elderly population with comorbidity, who died, might have died anyway?  This video shows that the CDC's own data shows that more than 100,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 were not COVID deaths!

If deaths and hospitalization rates are so low, despite cases continuing to increase, why isn't the media sharing this great news? 

After all, we all want good news, we all want to be more optimistic, and we all want the economy to thrive.  What's going on? 

There can be only one answer.  The media wants to continue making President Trump the villain so that he does not win reelection.  If you don't agree with that explanation then please explain why the media never shared any of these graphs and tables with you.  Do you have a better explanation?

Impact on Business - The same media that is misleading you about the Pandemic is also telling us that we are in the midst of the worst economic recession in history, with more jobs lost than ever before, and it will become much worse.  Of course, that's not the case.  Unemployment is down to just 7.9% and that's with most of the travel, tourism and restaurant industries still shutdown or operating at very reduced capacity! 

I participated in a government survey on the impact the Pandemic had on my small business and last week they sent a link to view the results. You can see the results for yourself here but I can save you a tremendous amount of time.  I played around with the variables on the site, recorded my results and one thing became crystal clear.  When I didn't include states like California and Michigan, whose Governors are still trying to keep small businesses shuttered, and I didn't include the two NAIC codes from the industries that were devastated, the rest of us have fared pretty well through the past 7 months!  We're doing OK!  It's important for us to know this fact in order to drive home a fantastic 4th quarter to salvage 2020.

Metrics - The pandemic has called attention to the fact that on a daily basis we are surrounded by key metrics for COVID-19. I can't believe how many companies have still not identified the key metrics that will drive their sales results.  There are either no metrics, the metrics are irrelevant or the metrics are backwards looking.  It's 2020.  Forward looking metrics rule the day.  Get with the program!

Tools - I read this article about the best Chrome Extensions for sellers.  I don't want to criticize the article because it's an accurate list of great applications that you can start from within Chrome.  However, the last thing your salespeople need right now is more tools.  It's noise. A distraction.  Technology for the sake of technology.  There are basic tools that every salesperson should be equipped with and everything else is completely unnecessary.

We're trying to grow the economy all the way back and most of the information being pushed at us isn't helping. We've come a long way since March and we can make even more progress in the fourth quarter if we keep our eye on the ball and don't allow the fear-mongering, agenda-driven media to have their way, negatively influence the masses, and cause another slowdown or worse, shutdown.  Here's what the same Boston Globe sent out today, October 20, 2020.

In summary, Simplify.  Focus.  Metrics. Optimism. Hire Salespeople. Sell. Train. Drive. Fight. Engage.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales effectiveness, sales tools, revenue growth, covid-19, pandemic

Great News! The Latest Data Shows That Salespeople are Improving

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 23, 2019 @ 18:01 PM

breaking-news

Some really terrific news came across my desk this week when John Pattison, Objective Management Group's (OMG's) COO, showed me two graphs he had created.  For the first time in recent memory, salespeople as a profession GOT BETTER!

That's right, when we compared the results of the 85,000 or so salespeople that were evaluated in 2018 to the 80,000 or so salespeople that were evaluated in 2017, there was a measurable improvement in overall scores!

Let's review the two graphs below.

In the first graph below you will see the that the blue plot line for 2018 has moved to the right for the middle 50%.  

Sales Percentile 2018 vs 2017

The next graph presents a more familiar looking bell curve. The move to the right for 2018 (shown in blue) is even more apparent in this graph.

Sales Index 2018 vs 2017 v4

It might not seem like much but there are two significant points to consider:

1. The lion's share - probably 99% of this data - is from salespeople and sales candidates prior to receiving professional sales training from any of OMG's partners.

2. An average improvement of 2% by the middle two quartiles is significant.  Remember, this is an average increase for the middle two quartiles (the IQR).  The 2% average is also affected by which company provides the training and coaching and which sales process and methodology are selected.  If 80% of revenue comes from the top 20% of salespeople, then the middle we are talking about here produces about 20% of the revenue. A 10% improvement represents a 33% increase in revenue so a 2% increase in effectiveness would yield a 6% incremental increase in revenue.   For example, suppose you run a $20 million company with a 33% margin and you improve revenue by 6%. That's an increase of $1,200,000 on the top line and $400,000 in gross profit.  Most businesses will take that incremental improvement on top of their expected year-over-year organic growth.  Often times, that improvement is the result of being more effective at selling value and in addition to being 2% more effective overall, salespeople are improving margins by 5 points or more.  In our example above, the gross profit would increase to $456,000.

What can we attribute this improvement to?  If I had to point to one thing, it would be that the coaching by sales managers is finally starting to support, rather than undermine, sales training and sales process.  I'm sure you have your own ideas as to what has moved the needle.  Add your comments to this discussion on LinkedIn.

Finally, we have evidence that the work being done to improve the capabilities of professional salespeople is paying dividends.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales revenue, revenue growth

Beach Ball of Death Predicts Lack of Sales Growth

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

Every Mac owner knows about the dreaded beach ball of death.  For those who have never experienced the Mac equivalent of a computer crash, a beach ball that won't stop spinning appears on the screen and when it's more than a simple application crash, the death reference implies impending doom to the Mac itself.  This is what it looks like:

spinning-beach-ball

During the summer, beach balls can also be seen floating among fans in the center field bleachers at Fenway Park. This is especially true when the Red Sox are losing or playing a particularly boring game.  Death quickly comes to those beach balls when players, security guards or grounds crew stab the beach balls with a bullpen rake!

floating-beach-ball

And then there is the beach ball I want to share today - the sales beach ball of impending doom.  You might be wondering how there could even be a sales beach ball, never mind one that spells impending doom; but, there is.

Last week I saw it for the first time on a slide from a deck that Objective Management Group (OMG) prepares when we evaluate a sales force.  This particular slide answered the question, "Why Aren't We Generating More New Business?"

Here's the slide:

slide-new-business-w-beach-ball
Do you see the beach ball at the bottom in the center of the slide?  If it was all green, that would mean that the salespeople would be capable of finding new business and building a better pipeline.  But it is far from being all green.  There is a lot of red and coral, suggesting that there is an even bigger problem than anything that a change in behavior, strategy or tactics might solve.  Let's take a closer look at that beach ball and the legend that accompanies it:

slide-sales-beach-ball-of-doomThat big red area tells us that 33% of their salespeople are classified as People for the Ethical Treatment of Prospects (PETP).  Like their friends at PETA, who protect animals, the members of this group have a strain in their Sales DNA that prevents them from hunting prospects for new business.  In addition, the coral area tells us that 17% are fishermen.  They won't hunt either, but if a prospect bites, they'll reel in the opportunity.  The most a company could hope for is that the coral group of salespeople will follow up on leads.  The light green is represented by another 33% who will prospect if only a sales manager would hold them accountable.  But if you scroll up and look at the right-hand side of the slide, you'll see that sales management's ability to hold their salespeople accountable also falls into the red.  When all is said and done with this question about finding new business, only 17% of their salespeople will voluntarily go out on hunting expeditions. 

As presently constituted, their ability to find new business is extremely limited - a sales growth beach ball of impending doom.

This slide represented only one of more than two-dozen difficult business questions that we answer where we use science to explain why companies get the results they get, whether or not the sales force is capable of improving their results, and to what degree those results can be improved.  Are you interested in learning more about a sales force evaluation?

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales growth, sales prospecting, objective management group, revenue growth, OMG Assessment

Do Your Salespeople Have to Give Up Control to Their Prospects?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 @ 09:09 AM

adaptI just read Why Won't Anyone Return My !*#@$% Call by Don Fornes over at Software Advice.  Don's read of the current selling environment, specifically cold-calling, entry point into the sales process, and the table stakes just to play are dead-on.  Most of his conclusions are good as well.

I disagree with his article when he implies that we should be resigned to the fact that there isn't much to be done except building trust until the prospect is ready to engage.  For the under achievers, the largely ineffective 74% of all salespeople, this may be their only hope.  But the best salespeople, the top 26%, won't sit back and take a passive role with their prospects and they shouldn't.  The top 26% have the ability to engage their prospects earlier, redirect their prospects backward in the sales process, position themselves as trusted advisers, and differentiate themselves from their competitors.  All this before they present, close and win.  The passive 74% get in when their prospects are ready and typically present, quote, chase and lose.

So the argument is really dependent on whether you have a:

  • highly skilled, highly trained, high performing sales force whose competencies include consultative selling skills, proactive prospecting skills, sales cycle management, qualifying and closing skills; or
  • circa 20th century sales force whose competencies are limited to presenting, technology, proposals and account management.

In my experience helping companies develop their sales forces to meet the first description, very few of them were aware that their salespeople were so limited as to only meet the second description. 

The world of sales selling has changed dramatically due to the abundance of information and the recent economic meltdown.  Most companies have not adapted to this change and their sales and especially their margins, reflect this trend.

The question is, where is your sales force today, and how big is the gap between there and where you must be to grow revenue, profit and market share?

Objective Management Group's Sales Force Evaluation is a really good place to start....

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales management, sales assessments, revenue growth

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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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