How Your Salespeople Measure Up in the 21 Most Crucial Sales Competencies for Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 04, 2017 @ 15:04 PM

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Image Copyright BrianAJackson

Over the years I've debunked a number of articles that cited nothing but junk science. The authors often relied on observation, anecdotal evidence and personal opinion while proclaiming traits, competencies, skills and differentiators between top salespeople and everyone else. Today those articles would qualify as fake news.  My rebuttals to those articles, many of which can be found here, are always based on science.

Speaking of the difference between fake news and real sales science, the next topic downright amazes me and should amaze you too. 

Nearly 22,000 people have viewed the 5 traits of the best salespeople - traits that are purely anecdotal on the author's part - while only around 1,000 viewed the scientific rebuttal. Only 17,000 people viewed the 21 Sales Core Competencies that were updated in 2014, and only 1,000 have viewed the most recent 2017 revision of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Just to be clear, I'm not whining about popularity, traffic or page views.  My Blog has 1.7 million views and dozens of my articles have 15,000+ views.  My best-selling book, Baseline Selling, was ranked 15th on Amazon's list of the Top Sales Books this morning - after 12 years...so I'm not lacking for traffic or readers.

This is really about sales professionals who place more faith in the traits that are consistent with their beliefs, fearing that their actual capabilities won't match up with the science.  People want to see themselves in the most popular, positive way.  They don't want to discover that they might be lacking in 10 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies or have gaps in all 21.

Speaking of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, OMG has a brand new tool that I promise you're gonna love.  

We built a very cool website that you can use to see the average scores for each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, the average scores for your industry and even how your own company compares.  You must check it out - keep reading!

Here's how it works:  

  1. Go to the site and select your industry.  
  2. For each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies, average scores for all salespeople, plus the top 10%, the bottom 10% as well as salespeople from your industry, will be displayed in side-by-side comparisons. If you need further explanations there are videos that provide more detail on each competency.
  3. At any point, during your tour through the 21 Sales Core Competencies, you can request that your own company be included in the comparison - free of charge!  No catch. No conditions.  Simply click on the "learn how your salespeople are doing" button displayed beneath the competencies.  
  4. Fill in the very limited contact information (we don't sell it and we won't call you unless you ask us to) and we'll email a link for your salespeople to be assessed.  
  5. When your salespeople have completed the assessment process, the "Your Company" column in each graph will be populated with the data for your company.  Awesome and easy!  We'll keep you posted about their progress.
  6. Options to gain access to additional detailed data and information will be made available.

The early feedback on this site has been amazing - people love being able to access this data and compare it to their own and I'm sure you'll find it fascinating too!  Enjoy.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales performance, sales core competencies, difference between good and bad salespeople, OMG Assessment, how my salespeople compare, data on salespeople

Are Millennials Who Enter Sales Better or Worse Than the Rest of the Sales Population?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 @ 12:08 PM

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Image Copyright: kchung / 123RF Stock Photo

Millennials are more independent, more spoiled, have a shorter attention span, tend to be more into their technology than into people, don't like working traditional hours, and don't enjoy working in traditional ways.  That said, would you expect them to be better or worse suited for selling than the generations who came before them?

I took to the data to see what story it might tell. I found data on more than 43,000 millennials in sales and here is what I learned.  This information should be very helpful for hiring new salespeople and developing them as well.

To get a sense for the actual comparison, I looked at four data sets:

  1. All Millennials
  2. The Top 10% of Millennials
  3. The Top 10% of Salespeople with 10+ years in sales and in their industry
  4. All Salespeople with 10+ years in sales and in their industry

So how do Millennials compare?  

Chris Mott, my trusted colleague and friend, specified the first dashboard - how all millennials scored. Sales Quotient, the overall score, is shown in the top right corner.  108 is weak.  Sales DNA, the combination of strengths, is shown in the middle.  61 represents a salesperson that will not be able to execute sales process, strategies, skills and tactics because the strengths are actually weaknesses.  Commitment, the willingness to do what it takes to achieve greater success in sales is shown in the upper left hand section.  53% represents a lack of commitment.  You'll notice that Handling Rejection and Relationship Building are the only two areas where millennials scored well in the areas of Sales DNA and Selling Competencies.  Scroll down for more.

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After Chris showed me the first dashboard, I populated the next dashboard with veteran salespeople with 10 or more years in sales.  You can see that as a group, they have higher scores in all of the areas we discussed relative to the previous dashboard, except - and this is a head turner - Relationship Building!  Who could have seen that coming?  Interestingly, they score 39% on Responsibility which means they are twice more likely to make excuses than their younger colleagues.  In this comparison, based on their Sales Quotients, the older salespeople are at least serviceable while the Millennials are simply weak.  Scroll down for more.

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The third dashboard represents veteran salespeople again, but this time only the top 10%.  As you can see, the top 10% are elite, with Sales Quotients averaging 142 and Sales DNA averaging 83.  Nearly every score is in the green and all of the scores are higher than either of the two prior groups.  These are the salespeople you want to hire!  And wherever possible, you want to coach up your existing salespeople to be like the top 10%.  Scroll down for more.

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The fourth dashboard represents the Top 10% of Millennials.  It isn't very different from the top 10% of Veteran Salespeople with the notable exception of their respective scores for Figure-it-Out-Factor, or how quickly they will ramp up.  Notice the low score on Relationship Building!  This group scores the highest on Desire, Responsibility, Outlook, Sales DNA and Coachable!!  Scroll down for more.

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It should be clear from this comparison that overall, Millennials are not a great choice for sales.  However, the Top 10% of Millennials are an excellent choice for sales!  So the million dollar question is, when you are hiring salespeople, and millennials are in the mix, how do you determine whether they are millennials of the 108 Sales Quotient or of the 143 Sales Quotient?

I apologize.  That was a trick question. As you can see from the dashboard of all Veteran salespeople, that group only averages a 121 on Sales Quotient. It shouldn't matter whether millennials are in the mix or not. You need the ability to differentiate between the 140's, 120's and 100's with every candidate, and do it as early in the sales recruiting process as possible.  Weed out the undesirable sales candidates in the very first step!  So how can you tell whether you have a 140 or a 108?  Use Objective Management Group's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments. They're built on science and customizable for your business and selling role.  

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, top salespeople, Sales Candidate, sales selection, objective management group, OMG Assessment

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

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

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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

4 Critical Changes to Go from Failure to Success in Sales Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 @ 13:07 PM

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Today I'm in Florida, preparing to speak at a company's national meeting.  Like many companies, they have not only realized that selling has changed dramatically, but that their salespeople may not have adapted, developed new skills, and changed the way they sell.  If you're a regular reader, active on LinkedIn or Social Media, then you have certainly read about the many ways that selling has changed.  But most senior executives haven't put two and two together yet.  They know that win rates are down and sales cycles are longer, they know it's more difficult than ever before, they see that their salespeople are struggling to meet quotas, but they don't realize the extent to which things have changed.  There are four critical requirements which, together are the difference between success and failure.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we are talking about good salespeople, not bad ones.  There is an elite group of 7% - superstars - a larger group of an additional 16% that are fairly strong, and then the bottom 77% who suck.  We're going to talk about the changes that the top 23% need to make.  While the manner in which the bottom 77% approach selling can significantly change their results, there are issues other than those we will discuss here that limit their success.

1.  Value.  Since there is more competition than ever before and competition puts pressure on margins, it is more important than ever that salespeople have the ability to sell value.  Refer to this article for more on selling value today.  I just analyzed the data from nearly 8,000 OMG (Objective Management Group) sales candidate assessments from earlier this month.  I narrowed it down to 66% who have been in sales for 5 years or more and found that on average, these sales veterans possess only 62% of the attributes of a value seller.

2. Consultative Approach.  It is not possible to sell value unless it is integrated into a consultative approach to selling.  Refer to this article for more on a consultative approach, which helps you to tailor your solution and differentiate you and your company from the competition.  Today, salespeople possess, on average, only 48% of the attributes of Consultative Sellers.

3. Process.  If you can't sell value without a consultative approach, then the same can be said for the approach.  Value and a consultative approach will not work unless they are integrated into a formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric sales process.  Read this great article for more on sales process.  In surveys, most companies say they have a sales process in place. However, our sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments reveal that salespeople possess, on average, only 52% of the attributes required for following a Sales Process.

4. Social.  Cold calling isn't dead but it is on life support.  It takes between 10-15 attempts to reach a decision maker and the conversion rates are falling like a piano dropped from the roof of a skyscraper.  Salespeople must be able to leverage their social networks, get introduced, and reach out to prospects via LinkedIn, Twitter and email to supplement the calls that they make.  Salespeople possess, on average, only 38% of the attributes of a Social Seller.  This one is worse than that score.  More than 1/3 of this group scored below 25%!

What Can You Do?  If you want to dramatically change and improve results, there are three things you can do.

  1. Bite the bullet and have a customized, optimized modern, staged, milestone-centric sales process created for you ASAP!
  2. Get your sales force trained and coached on the new process, a consultative approach to selling value, and social selling.
  3. Hire the right salespeople - those who already possess these capabilities!  The best selection tool is OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  Check out the free trial!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, social selling, selling value

Big Data and Big Lies Have Arrived in the Sales Training and Assessment Space

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 03, 2016 @ 07:06 AM

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I've been trying very hard to find the time to write this article.  I always have plenty of material, but I just couldn't wait to write this particular article, and I've been waiting for nearly 24 hours since the idea was triggered by an email.  24 hours may not seem like a lot of time, but for me, once I decide to do something, I want to do it right then.  But before I could write, there were meetings, an important award ceremony where our son was named Middle School Male Athlete of the Year, and of course, the dinner celebration that followed.  We are so proud!  I hadn't realized it, but he has become to athletics what Objective Management Group (OMG) is to assessments, and my wife's company, PENTA Communications, is to marketing.  All three of us are committed to being the best at what we do.  

Yesterday I received an email that you might have received too.  It was a promotion from Top Sales World (TSW) to download a "Free Big Data-Driven Sales Training Report for Your Industry."  TSW was simply the messenger in this case, with the provider being The Sales Board.  Like many of you, I clicked through and saw that their report was based on their assessments.  And this is where it got really interesting for me!  Their website read an awful lot like OMG's - only the numbers were very different...

They say that they have assessed 400,000 salespeople from 3,500 companies and they measure 5 critical selling skills that are predictive of success.  That gives them more than 1 million data points.  Good for them.  They claim that "no other company has developed big data comparable to this enormous database of skill measurement and corresponding performance change."  Absolutely Incredible!  So why am I ticked off, but not impressed? 

If you're a regular reader, then you know I mention the source and size of OMG's database whenever I provide statistics from OMG.  So I need to do that again here.  OMG has assessed more than 1 million salespeople from more than 11,000 companies (in the same period of time) and we measure all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  And since there are an average of about 10 attributes in each of the 21 Competencies, that would give us 210 million data points!  Even though OMG's data points dwarf theirs by 210 times, their lie about their big data being the biggest source anywhere is only a footnote.

I want to talk about the 5 selling skills that they say are critical and predictive of success.  I would argue that while their 5 are useful, selling skills alone are not predictive of anything!  We have assessed tens of thousands of salespeople who have incredible skills, but some:

  • Lack Sales DNA - They lack the strengths that support their ability to execute those skills.
  • Lack Commitment to sales success - They won't do what it takes and give up when it gets difficult.
  • Lack Desire for sales success - It's not important enough to them to do what it takes.
  • Don't enjoy selling - It's not enough fun - it's more of a job.
  • Have a Low Figure it Out Factor - They can't connect the dots quickly enough to succeed.

Those are examples of salespeople who can, but don't.  The weaknesses cause salespeople with great skills in all areas of selling to fail to achieve.  How helpful are their 5 skills (buyer/seller relationships, gaining commitments, sales planning, presenting and questioning skills) when a salesperson won't hunt or qualify? 

Everything is relative, so I'm sure that when hunting isn't required, and qualifying isn't important, and a consultative approach isn't necessary (a transactional sale), then salespeople with those 5 skills are more effective than salespeople without them.  Even questioning skills, which are so crucial to a consultative approach that enables salespeople to differentiate themselves from the competition, can't be executed by a salesperson whose Sales DNA doesn't support it.

Okay.  My rant is done.

Message to The Sales Board - stop lying on your website!  You can't help it if your assessment is inferior, but at least be truthful about your place in the sales assessment world.

Speaking of assessments, I'll be the tourguide for a fast-paced presentation on Tuesday, June 7, at 11 AM Eastern, where you can learn all about the real magic behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  Register to be part of it!

And speaking of email promotions, do you remember BigBrains case history I wrote about last fall?  Yesterday I also got an email promotion from them and this one will knock your socks off.  If you remember the study or went back and just read it, you know that their SDR's aren't very good.  And they didn't want to do anything to hire better ones or train the ones they had.  But they are offering training to companies who want to learn how they do it.  Is that like Donald Trump offering lessons on how to be politically correct?  Or Obama offering lessons on how to execute on a world-class foreign relations policy?  Or Hillary on how to give speeches without screaming?  I'm sure you get the point.  Stupid!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales effectiveness

What Should You Do When You or Your Company is Disliked in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 @ 06:04 AM

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I know.  Everyone loves you. You are just so likable that it's inconceivable that you could be disliked.  As usual, I see things a bit differently and I'll prove that there is someone that not only dislikes you, but might even hate you.  For example, my company, Objective Management Group (OMG), is universally hated by an entire vertical!   I'll share that with you, but first I must ask you a question.  If you are in territory sales, is there a competitor salesperson gunning for you?  Have you taken business away from anyone?  Do they hate you?  Is there a competitor who is all smoke and mirrors, who can't deliver on what they promise, who still manages to win business at your expense?  Do you hate them?  Do you sell a product or service that can help a company do more with fewer employees?  Do those employees hate you?  It wasn't that long ago when Apple hated Microsoft and Microsoft hated Apple.  Allow me to provide a few examples and then I'll share how to deal with the hate.

One of OMG's products is our legendary, accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment.  Everyone from the CEO down through sales leadership and HR love this tool, but internal recruiters hate it and recruiting firms hate us!  Internal recruiters hate us because they have to work harder to find sales candidates who will be recommended.  It's their job, so they deal with us.  After all, only 7% of all salespeople are elite, and just an additional 16% who qualify as strong.  That means that 77% of the candidates they find suck, usually aren't recommended, and our assessment exposes that.  

For recruiting firms, the hate is even worse.  Their profit depends on a company quickly falling in love with a candidate and when one of their clients wants to use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment, it is not only more difficult, but it takes much longer for them to find the right candidate. That eats into their profit and they absolutely hate that!  One way that recruiting firms deal with this is when they attempt to discredit our assessment.  As you can imagine, that kind of hate isn't much fun because it puts clients right in the middle of that battle.

Over the years, the creative people in our entrepreneurial and innovative economy have been responsible for developing products (think internet-related) and services (think outsourcing) that eliminate jobs.  The employees who are most vulnerable to having their jobs eliminated absolutely hate the companies and their salespeople who provide those services.

Speaking of entrepreneurs, one of the best sites is EvanCarmichael.com and last week, Evan hosted a video interview with me when we talked about assessments, selling, presenting and differentiating.  It was a fun and fast-paced interview and you can see it here.

So what can you do when you there are groups of people who hate you?  Introduce the issue yourself.  You'll need to wait until you have uncovered their compelling reason to buy and then you can ask a question like this one, "An ideal solution is going to eliminate some jobs, and while that will save the company money, how will you deal with the pushback that you're going to get?" or, "A solution that will solve the problem we are talking about will cause this group over here to be quite upset.  How will you deal with the protests you are going to get from them?"

Here are some additional resources.

This article on how to ask questions so that customers buy and you don't have to sell was named one of the top 10 sales blog posts of the month.

This article that I wrote for the SellingPower blog explains how to sidestep price issues so that you can sell value!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, competition, Motivation, Apple, objective management group, selling power, microsoft

Choose Which of These Two Assessments are More Predictive of Sales Success

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 @ 06:02 AM


face-off.jpgThis week, a candidate for a sales position sent along his Predictive Index (PI) assessment so that we could compare it to his sales assessment from Objective Management Group (OMG).  Most people have little sense as to how assessments compare to each other - and even more have experience only with personality and behavioral styles assessments.  I was able to extract the dashboard from OMG's 21 page sales-specific assessment, and the graphics and selling summary from the 3-page Predictive Index behavioral styles assessment.  You might find the comparison interesting!Let's begin with what I was able to extract from PI and focus on the selling summary.  Like most behavioral styles assessments, there is very little that actually has to do with selling and as you can see in the one summary about the candidate's selling ability, there isn't much there that will translate to the field:

PI-Sales-Summary.jpg6 Bullet points - that's the entirety of it - and if you look closely, you'll see that those behavioral styles are really the focus; not the sales words.  Authoritative, driven, risk-taker, flexible, outwardly focused, comfortable expressing ideas or concepts.  As I said, these are not sales-specific capabilities, but they add some sales type language to make it look that way.  It's marketing!

Now let's add their graphics.  Can you predict how this candidate will perform from this information?  Here are the meanings of these findings and what they measure.

PI-Sales-Dash.jpgNow let's take a look at just the dashboard - page 2 - from OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment for the same candidate.

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You can very quickly see that from the top down, the candidate has grit - the Will to Sell (Desire and Commitment for success in sales), borderline supportive Sales DNA (the combination of sales strengths), some very strong sales competencies (hunting, consultative selling, qualifying and posturing), some mediocre sales competencies (closing and account management), and a clear weakness at farming in major accounts.  The overall score - Sales Quotient - is 126 on a scale of 173 - making the candidate serviceable at best.  A strong salesperson (only 20% of these) has a sales quotient of 130 to 139 and an elite salesperson (only 6% of these) has a sales quotient of 140 or higher.  Why is this candidate only a 126 when he has true grit and some great selling competency scores?  It's the Sales DNA.  While this salesperson will be able to add opportunities to the pipeline with his strong hunting skills, and gain some traction with his strong consultative and qualifying skills, his combination of Sales DNA weaknesses will prevent him from being able to talk about budgets and finances, and he will empathize with comparison shoppers, price shoppers, and  prospects that give him put-offs instead of decisions (all 3 of these are from the Supportive Buy Cycle strand of Sales DNA which present as a huge weakness).

He applied for an industrial territory manager role - one that is not very challenging - so he is worthy of consideration - for that role.  However, if this were a more complex sale, selling more expensive products or services to a senior level of decision maker with more sophisticated competition, he would not have been worthy or recommended. 

Which assessment would you rather use?  75% of the candidates that aren't recommended by OMG, who somehow get hired anyway (think love fest) fail inside of 6 months.  92% of the candidates that are recommended and hired rise to the top half of the sales force within 12 months.  That's predictive!

 

Which Assessment is More Predictive?
OMG
PI
My Gut Instinct
Other
Do Quizzes
 

Earlier this week I posted this article about made up statistics.  The stats above are real.  You can learn more about OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment here.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Sales Candidate, predictive index, OMG Assessment

Sales Coaching and the Challenges of Different Types of Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 08, 2016 @ 06:02 AM

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When (other) articles and blogs contain sales statistics, they are often made up.  For example, Andy Rudin wrote this article about made up sales statistics and I recently read this article by Stewart Rogers about made up statistics.  Infographics and videos are two more sources of statistics that are often based more on fiction than fact, yet they still have value, even if the numbers aren't correct.  Here's a new infographic which has useful information, even if the purpose is to promote Fatstax.  Recently a reader directed me to a video on the Harvard Business Review site.  They rarely have accurate, relevant sales-specific information there, so I clicked over with great anticipation.I watched the video on 8 types of salespeople and while I don't agree with there being 8 types, their statistics were fairly consistent with the science and data from Objective Management Group (OMG) which states that there is an elite 6%, 20% that are strong, and everyone else - the bottom 74% - who basically suck.

If you are a fan of the Challenger Sale, the Challenger is one of 5 types of salespeople according to its authors.  In OMG language, the Challenger is one of the elite 6%, with a Sales Quotient of 140 (SQ ranges to 173) or higher and Sales DNA of 83 (ranges up to 100) or higher.  Practically speaking, it means that 94% of salespeople don't have the Sales DNA or Sales Capabilities to sell like a Challenger.

Chuck Mache, says that there are 4 types of salespeople.  While Chuck recommends the Professional for B2B sales, his types are based on personality traits, so there is only a one way correlation.  Someone who has the traits of the Professional is not necessarily a great salesperson, but some great salespeople have the traits of the Professional.  To make that a little easier to understand, a winter storm does not always consist of snow (it could be ice, a wintry mix, or even rain), but snow always comes from a winter storm.

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies, including a salesperson's Will to Sell (4 competencies), Sales DNA (6 Competencies), Sales Capabilities ( 8 competencies) and Systems and Processes (3 Competencies).  When viewed through these lenses, personality traits don't play a part in determining sales success.  If we look at the competencies consisting of only the 8 Sales Capabilities, there are 109,600 possible combinations.  And after factoring in the Will to Sell and Sales DNA, the possible combinations exceed one million.  What I'm saying is that there are more than 4 or 5 or 8 or 12 types of salespeople.  

However, when someone insists that there are certain types of salespeople, I can offer you this.  I have found that when it comes to coaching salespeople, we can place them into one of 11 categories.  Keep in mind that while I can categorize them for coaching purposes, this does not define them as salespeople, and does not correlate to how they approach selling - only how sales managers should approach coaching them.  Here they are:

Talking Tammy - Tammy needs to talk for the first 20 minutes before we can provide 10 minutes of powerful coaching.

Fast Frank - Frank wants only a single question answered in each session and wants to get off the phone ASAP.

Take Away Tom - Tom needs just one take away to feel there was value.

Hit Me Hank - Hank needs to be whacked over the head at some point during each coaching session.

Do it Don - Don must be told what to do and then he’ll do it.

Validation Vicky - Vicky tells us what she wants to do and then needs us to validate that it’s the right approach.

Successful Sandra - Sandra wants us to tweak what already works in order to achieve marginal improvement.

Know-it-All Norm - Norm does not want to be told anything at all.  He needs to figure it out himself.

Timid Tim - Tim needs to have his self-worth validated.

Show Me Shelly - Shelly needs to have her current skill-gap demonstrated.

Broadway Betty - Betty needs to role-play.

I wrote a rebuttal to my 11 types of salespeople that sales coaches encounter.  There is no science to this.  No data.  No statistics.  Like the authors I have criticized over the years, I simply reviewed the files of thousands of salespeople I have coached in the past 30 years, and grouped them into categories based on the types of sales coaching they required.  It is purely anecdotal.  And although it makes sense and can be quite useful, it is entirely lacking in science.  These 11 types are completely unlike what Objective Management Group provides to us.  OMG provides us with the data from the evaluations and assessments of more than 1 million salespeople - a very significant sample size.  And OMG measures so many sales-specific findings that together, they always tell a story about a sales candidate, a salesperson, a sales team, and an entire company.  The story itself isn't science, but the science helps us to tell a story.

While types are entertaining and generally somewhat useful to be aware of, there is no substitute - ever - for real science.

If you want to use science that makes sales selection accurate and predictive, check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

If you want to use science to identify the changes that will significantly grow sales revenue from your existing sales force, check out OMG's Sales Force Evaluation.

Finally, check out cartoonist Stu Heineke's new book, How to Get a Meeting with Anyone.  A number of sales experts, including me, were quoted and there are some great tips, stories and of course, cartoons!

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, the challenger sale, sales types

Five Great Lessons That Apply to Every Company That Hires Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 02, 2015 @ 09:11 AM

I turned sixty years old today and everyone is asking me how it feels to be sixty.  To be honest, it feels exactly the same as it felt to be fifty-nine - which is essentially the same as it felt to be 40.  Nothing has changed.  And speaking of nothing changing, nothing has changed over at BigBrains where two updates have come my way.  The first came from someone who knows the real identity of BigBrains and suggested that I refer to them as ShitForBrains instead.  She must have met them!

The second update came from the OMG Partner who is working with BigBrains.  His email was a riot and even though he is very frustrated with their inability to make smart decisions, he sees the humor in all of this too. He signed off with, "Some people have to cut off their nose to spite their face. &^%$# amazing!"

There are some really good lessons that are beneficial to all executives and from companies of all sizes and industries. I'll share the top five lessons here:

If you haven't read the prior posts about BigBrains, Benchmarking, our Perfect Fit Analysis, and their reasons for being so stupid, this post has links to each of the other articles.

BigBrains is finally using our Sales Candidate Assessment, and instead of hiring business development reps, the subject of 6 previous posts, they are using it to hire salespeople.  There is still a problem though...  BigBrains is interviewing first (wasting lots of time and money) and assessing later. So of course, when they assess their final candidates, the assessment results are coming back as not recommended and they can't understand why.  

LESSON #1:  You will never be able to determine from an interview whether a candidate possesses enough Desire and Commitment for success in sales, whether their Sales DNA is strong enough to succeed in support this skills, and whether they have the sales capabilities to get the job done.  

LESSON #2: You must assess candidates at the earliest stage of the recruiting process to filter out those who won't succeed in the role and identify those candidates with whom you should spend your time talking.

LESSON #3: Some of the candidates that you choose to not include in the process should be included because their sales capabilities make up for whatever it is that you don't like about their resume.  Some of the candidates that you choose to include in the process should not be because their sales capabilities are not consistent with what you liked about their resume.

LESSON #4: If you interview prior to the assessment, you will fall in love with your candidates and then, if the candidate is not recommended, tend to dismiss the assessment results because they differ from what your heart is telling you.  Assess first and you will only be able to fall in love with quality candidates, and, perhaps of greater importance, be EEOC Compliant.  When using assessments, all candidates must be assessed.

LESSON #5:  Nobody, regardless of how long they have been interviewing and hiring salespeople, is smarter than OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  You just can't beat the track record, predictive accuracy and uncanny insights.

Lack of significant change as your age increases is a good thing.  Lack of change when you're attempting to get sales hiring right is not.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Recruiting Process, hiring sales candidates

Part 4 - The Real Story Behind the Sales Selection Fiasco

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 @ 09:10 AM


The 2016 MLB playoffs are in full swing, so forgive me if I refer to baseball for exactly the 100th time in the past 11 years and 1,350 Blog articles.  Clutch hitting - at bats in pressure situations that usually occur late in the game - has been studied a lot in recent years. While the sabermetricians say there isn't much of a difference in the overall statistics, there are individual players who have significant differentials between their clutch and non-clutch performances.  This week, we uncovered such a differential in sales!

Objective Management Group (OMG) produces nearly 200 findings that come from our ability to measure sales capabilities and there is tremendous consistency within the data.  Earlier this week, while mining the data from approximately one million salespeople, we found an anomaly.  Over the past 25 years, only our measurement of motivation has changed enough to be statistically significant and it wasn't a change in the percentage of salespeople who are motivated, as much as it was a shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation.

But this week we discovered a statistical difference between those salespeople who currently work for a company whose sales force was evaluated, and those sales candidates who were applying for sales positions.

One of our findings is Enjoys Selling. We found that while 88% of the salespeople that were part of a sales force evaluation enjoy selling, an astounding 97% of the sales candidates enjoy selling. Can you explain the difference?

Of course, there are several possible explanations:

  • The candidates are lying.
  • The candidates are different.
  • The candidates aren't as complacent.
  • The candidates actually want to be in sales.

Let's explore the last possibility.  If that were to be true (that they actually want to be in sales), does that mean that the existing salespeople don't want to be in sales?

The 9% differential represents approximately 9,000 salespeople.  I think it's fair to assume that of all of the salespeople whose companies had moved them into a sales role,  9,000 of them were not enjoying sales.

The real story here is why executives decide that people like Bob (usually engineers or product experts) should be salespeople.  The Bobs of the world are consistently among the least effective salespeople and aren't as valuable in their selling roles as they were in their prior roles.

STOP moving people into sales because they know stuff!  Move people into sales when they ask to be moved into sales AND when they have enough supportive Sales DNA to help them succeed in that role.  The skills can be taught over time.

Of course, this is only a single data point and it's part of a much bigger issue in and around sales selection.

I've been writing about this for the past two weeks and prior to today's article, there were 3 other articles that preceded this one.  If you start with this article on LinkedIn Pulse, it links to the two other important sales selection articles in the series.

Chad Burmeister, VP of sales at ConnectAndSell and the primary author of the new book, SalesHack, added this article on his Blog, SalesHack, after a follow-up conversation with the CEO of BigBrains.

After writing these articles about his company, BigBrains, their CEO's take was to suggest that we develop a new assessment that would be customized for the SDR role at his company.  That's right, consider this:

  • We were successful in predicting 83% of their top and bottom performers.
  • They were no more successful at selection than a coin flip.

They had 3 other successful people that would not have been recommended because they weren't really interested in sales, didn't enjoy selling, and lacked desire for success in selling.  Because of those 3 anomalies, they want an entirely new assessment that would identify more sales candidates like those 3, instead of the time-tested and proven assessment that consistently identifies top performers in SDR roles in more than 11,000 companies.

Go figure!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales selelction

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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.

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