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.

OMG-Sales-Dash.jpg
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

4_salespeople.jpeg

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  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

Is Benchmarking or Perfect Fit Analysis More Predictive for Selecting Great Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 07, 2015 @ 05:10 AM

Last week, I published a case history on a company that we nicknamed, BigBrains. Many readers emailed asking if we could perform this analysis for them (yes, in most cases) and whether this would be considered benchmarking (no). In this article, I will actually show you the difference between benchmarking and the Perfect Fit Analysis that we use as proof to clients and to customize Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments. We use the Perfect Fit Analysis to achieve our legendary accuracy when predicting who will and won't succeed in each sales role at each client's company. First, you absolutely must go back and read Part 1 so that you can see how we arrived at a predictive accuracy rate of 83% (on selecting college graduates that would succeed as Sales Development Reps) at BigBrains. While that's actually less accurate than our norm, when it comes to doing it with college grads, I think it's truly amazing! Now, let's compare that result to what happens when benchmarking is utilized.

Benchmarking is the method of choice for assessment companies that produce traditional personality and behavioral styles assessments. Those generic, non-role-specific assessments were never designed for sales, are not really for sales today, and only their marketing makes you think they can be used for sales selection. The only things they ever changed in all of those assessments are the names of the findings. They still measure personality traits and behavioral styles, still ask the same questions that have been asked for decades and those questions are still rooted in a social context, not sales or business. The limitations, as a result of their assessments being non-specific to sales, requires that you test your top performers so that they can look for common traits. Their theory is that after finding commonalities among your top performers, you can look for new salespeople with the same traits and they should perform well.  

Really? Let's try that with BigBrains! Had we benchmarked the BigBrains top performers, we would have started with around 100 findings and scores and narrowed them down to these findings that were common to their top performers. As you can see, all greens (strengths) and all reds (weaknesses), but clearly complete commonality!

I have always known that benchmarking doesn't work for sales, so just for kicks, let's see how their bottom performers scored when we used the exact same findings...

As you can see, (I apologize for being unable to get the columns to align perfectly) the bottom performers have nearly identical strengths and weaknesses to the top performers.  And that is the very reason why, despite the decades long practice of benchmarking top performers, personality and behavioral styles assessments consistently fail to be predictive of sales performance. I've been saying this for 25 years! The problem with looking at only the top performers, and then looking for common personality traits, is that inevitably, the bottom performers will have the same attributes as those you identify in the top performers. Benchmarking to predict sales success will nearly always produce a false positive. As Rocky LaGrone says, "It's like identifying the tallest midget!"

Now let's take a look at how those same findings - which will not be effective for identifying top performers - compare with the findings we actually used as the final criteria for the perfect fit analysis.

Finding

Used in Benchmark
of Top Performers 
and %
of Top Performers with Finding

% of Bottom Performers 
with that Finding

Finding Used in our Final 
Perfect Fit Analysis

Longevity Likely or Highly Likely Yes  - 100% as Strength 50% Yes
Strong Desire for Success in Sales Yes - 100% as Strength 75% Yes w/score >82
Takes Responsibility for Sales Results Yes - 100% as Strength 75% No
Enjoys Selling Yes - 100% as Strength 83% No
Highly Motivated for Sales Yes - 100% as Strength 100% No
Supportive Selling Beliefs  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Supportive Buy Cycle  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No

Comfortable Having a
Financial Conversation

Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >32
Rejection Proof Yes - 100% as Strength 83% No
Sales DNA  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >62
Closer Competency Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >32
Farmer Competency Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Sales Posturing Yes - 100%  as Strength 33%  Yes w/score >47
Coachable Yes - 100% as Strength 100% No
Competition Resistant Yes - 100% as Weakness 100% No
High Ticket Seller Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Doesn't Need Prospects to Like Them No n/a Yes w/score >74
Controls Emotions on Sales Calls No n/a Yes w/score >77
Hunter Competency No n/a Yes w/score >66
Consultative Seller Competency No n/a Yes w/score >55
Qualifier Competency No n/a Yes w/score >39
Account Manager Competency No n/a Yes w/score >40
Figure it Out Factor (Will Ramp up Quickly) No n/a Yes w/score >55
Sales Skills % No n/a Yes w/score >41
Sales Strengths % No n/a Yes w/score >54
Sales Weaknesses % No n/a Yes w/score <50

As you can see, most of the findings, that were common to the top performers, were either not used at all or they were modified to be used with a cutoff score. Our Perfect Fit Analysis looks for the findings, scores and cutoffs that differentiate the tops from the bottoms; therefore, we don't accidentally identify findings that bottom performers are likely to have as well. In addition to that is the fact that all of our findings are sales-specific! There is not a single behavioral style or personality trait in the list. You could argue that the need to be liked and controlling emotions are personality traits or behavioral styles, but we aren't asking the questions in a social context - purely in the context of sales calls and meetings - so even those two findings are specific to how they affect salespeople when they are actually selling.

So OMG already has the most predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet, has earned the Gold Medal for Top Sales Assessment for 4 consecutive years, and we can prove it out for every selling role, calling on every level of decision maker, against every type of competition, at any price point, with any sales cycle, with any form of price sensitivity, with any level of resistance, at every company, and in more than 200 industries. And to make sure that it's as predictive as can be, we can conduct a Perfect Fit Analysis too.

Why would you allow the least bit of uncertainty to creep into your sales selection process if you can be both certain and confident when using OMG? Click here to check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments and see how much time and money we can save you and your company.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, Sales Benchmarking, sales selection, OMG Assessment

Sales Selection Case History - The Fix for This Insanity Works 99% of the Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 01, 2015 @ 21:10 PM

If you had a crystal ball to predict whether or not your next sales candidate would succeed in a difficult selling role at your company, wouldn't you want to use it?  Heck, you would want to look into that thing even if it wasn't a difficult selling role.  But what if you were recruiting kids right out of college?  What would you do then?  Would you just recruit a whole bunch of kids and keep the ones who didn't quit?  Would you hire three times more than you needed and just keep the ones who were successful?  Would you just hire anyone who looked and sounded good and go from there?  What if you could use the crystal ball?  Could that even work with college grads?  Recently, we had an opportunity to study and answer that very question and the results will surprise you!

One company, we'll call them BigBrains, was hiring recent college graduates for an inside sales role where they would schedule appointments for the salespeople.  Lots of calls, a few conversations, and then convert those calls to meetings.  Some companies call these people BDR's, others call them SDR's, some call it Top of the Funnel, and others say it's Inside/Outbound.  Whatever you want to call it, I'm sure we can agree that it is very challenging, there is high turnover, and success is hard to come by.

They turned to Objective Management Group (OMG) and with BigBrains being as smart as they are, didn't believe the great results that others were achieving using OMG to help with sales selection would apply to them because they are different.  They target college kids and they are different.  Did I mention that they are different?  

I hate it when we have to prove over and over again that our sales candidate assessments are truly as accurate and predictive as all of our case studies, white papers, testimonials, awards and validations clearly state.  After all, OMG has legendary predictive accuracy and it's backed by science.  After assessing salespeople over the past 25 years, the statistics show that of the candidates that are not recommended, but who brilliant executives hire in spite of that, 75% of them fail within 6 months.  And of the candidates that are recommended and are hired by other, not quite so brilliant executives, 92% of them rise to the top half of their sales force within a year.

So we offered to prove it to BigBrains.  We invited their top 5 and bottom 5 reps to take our sales candidate assessment and then we produced a comparison analysis as proof of concept for BigBrains.  From among our nearly 100 scores and findings, we identified 16 that clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms and when we set the overall cutoff at 69%, 5 of their top 6 would have been recommended and 5 of their bottom 6 would not have been recommended.  For BigBrains, we had an overall predictive accuracy of 83% -  on predicting whether or not recent college graduates would succeed in this difficult SDR role.  In the image below, you can see the scores and findings for each salesperson.  Also note all of the green for the top performers and all of the red for their bottom performers.  Note that most of their bottom performers scored OK on the Hunter competency - the primary competency required for success in a BDR Role.  That's why, if we look at hunting skills alone, we will be fooled half the time.  Why is the closer competency used?  One reason is that they are closing for appointments and meetings.  But the other reason we used it is that the attributes within that competency are clear differentiators between their tops and their bottoms. 

But BigBrains didn't react the way most companies do.  Despite typically high turnover, they felt that OMG was unable to properly tune the assessment for their purposes.  What is normally a no-brainer for just about every company we talk with, caused just the opposite reaction at BigBrains.  They didn't think it would work on the college kids they targeted. 

But didn't we just prove that it would?  Doesn't our 83% trump their 33% 100 times out of 100?  I guess not.  Maybe the math works only 99 out of 100 times.  

Do you believe that they didn't act because they didn't believe the results?  Or that they didn't believe the results could be duplicated?  Or that it was too big of an investment?  Or that they feared something else?

Let's begin with the investment.  It wasn't much of an investment.  We would have saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars that they were paying college kids to fail.  We would have saved them thousands of hours that they were wasting on reviewing resumes, and phoning and interviewing the wrong candidates.  It was going to cost them significantly less than one entry level salary while at the same time, assessing thousands of candidates. It couldn't have been the money.  

Let's tackle whether or not it was duplicable.  Well, we already have a great track record for predictive accuracy and that was proven to be accurate again with their top 5 and bottom 5. So it couldn't have been whether or not it was duplicable.  And they had to believe the results - it was on their very own people.

No.  It was none of those reasons.

They were afraid that we would reject 90% of their candidates.  That's right.  They believed that the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment would recommend not moving foward with 90% of those kids.  Think about it...  Isn't that actually the point - to not move forward with those who we already know won't be able to succeed and/or won't stick around?  But the big executives at BigBrains believed that a 90% rejection rate would mean they would have to find more candidates and that might be too difficult.  Their recruiters would have to work harder.  Their recruiters might feel badly that their candidates didn't make the cut.

So their solution?  The very definition of insanity - just keep doing what they've been doing right along.  While only one third of their recruits might survive and succeed, at least that's the devil they know.  Can you imagine the expense, wasted time, frustration and stupidity of that model?  Continue to Part 2 - the follow-up article on Benchmarking BigBrains!

Their loss can be your gain though.  Just because BigBrains doesn't get it, doesn't mean you need to follow in their footsteps.  You can begin using the same accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments that 10,000 other companies use.  Learn more here.

I wrote a follow-up to this article on the Benchmarking we did at BigBrains.  You'll be even more amazed by what we learned with this exercise!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, objective management, sales selection

The Science of Sales Selection vs. the Marketing of Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 07:08 AM

Today I received this email from an OMG (Objective Management Group) Partner after he asked me to run an analysis on a company's top and bottom performers.

He wrote, "After all these years, this is still amazing to me. Thanks Dave, my conversation is Monday and we are getting next steps in place.  Appreciate the help."

So why is that such a big deal?

This is someone who has been an OMG Partner for nearly two decades, is one of OMG's most successful partners, and knows our accuracy and sales-specific findings inside and out.  And he was still surprised at just how accurate the analysis was.  Check out the detailed and revealing graphic below!

 

I started with more than 100 sales-specific findings and narrowed them down to the 18 findings and scores that clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms.  A mistake made by behavioral scientists and sellers of personality and behavioral styles assessments is that they only look at top performers and identify common traits.   They fail to realize that the bottom performers have the same personality traits and behavioral styles as the top performers and none of those traits or styles are predictive of sales performance.

In this company, the bottom performers scored just as well as the top performers on some sales-specific findings.  To accurately identify salespeople that are totally perfect for a role, we must understand the differences between both groups, not the commonalities within one group.

The salespeople in the top 7 rows are their top performers and the salespeople in the bottom 9 rows are their bottom performers.  After I identified the findings, scores and cutoffs that we would use, I color-coded them so that you could clearly see the differences - a sea of green on top and a sea of red on the bottom.

Next, in the last column on the right, I calculated the percentage criteria that each salesperson met and set the cutoff to 67%.  

Using these criteria, we would have recommended 6 of their 7 top performers and only 1 of their 9 bottom performers.  We would have been correct on 14 out of 16, or 88% which comes within a few percentage points of our usual predictive accuracy of 92%.

This is scientific sales selection.  It's a necessary part of an overall scientific approach to sales and the sales force.

What drives me crazy are the marketing people who are writing about sales despite their complete lack of understanding about B2B sales.  They spin their messages to get business executives to think that the only thing that matters today is social selling, email, inbound marketing, and content. They hope that if they make inbound marketing sound easy enough by providing their tools and applications then businesses will buy their services and hire them.  For instance, today I read that we no longer need sales process (untrue), a consultative approach to selling is dead (untrue), and all sales forces need to be completely restructured (generally untrue).  That's just today!  And in the past 2 months, I have read that salespeople are now obsolete (untrue), prospects have completed 57% of their buying process before they meet with salespeople (the number is inaccurate) and people are no longer buying value (untrue).

There is no science backing up these claims, just a group of inbound marketers and an inside sales industry trying to convince you that sales today is is only about inbound and inside.  It is true that low-price, low-cost, high-demand commodities that everyone wants - think B2C and subscriptions - are being sold almost exclusively via online marketing. But even some of those companies, like Hubspot, the King of Inbound, have large inside sales forces following a structured sales process and taking a consultative approach.

I've said this before, but it should be repeated.  If you are not the price leader, market leader, or brand leader;  if you have a new product, new technology, or a story to tell; if you have a long sales cycle, provide custom products, or have a design cycle; or if you are the underdog; you need salespeople, you need a custom, formal, structured, milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process, a consultative approach and skills that salespeople who came 10 years before you didn't have.  It's a fact.  And you can't let Inbound Marketers, Social Sellers or Inside Sales gurus tell you otherwise.  Don't get me wrong.  There is a place for inbound, social selling and inside sales in all of these companies.  They are complimentary pieces, not replacements.  After all, you wouldn't replace a Quarterback with a Kicker - the Kicker is an important complimentary piece to a football team.  

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales candidates, inside sales, inbound, sales hiring test, social selling, objective management group

Trust and Integrity in Selling May Not Be What You Think

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

 

I know someone who is incredibly likable, is always willing to help a friend, will help those in need, but will also manipulate situations to get what he wants.  He is likable and kind-hearted but sometimes low in integrity and I don't always trust him.

I know someone else who has inpeccable integrity.  His integrity is so strong that it makes him come across as self-righteous, pompous and surly.  He is not the least bit likable.  He could not be in sales because nobody would ever buy from him.  And despite his high integrity, I don't trust him at all.

I'm trying to think of someone I know that is both unlikable and low in integrity and outside of the people we hear about in the news, I'm coming up empty.  I guess that's a good thing!

Of course, as far as salespeople go, the holy grail is the salesperson who is both likable and has high integrity.  I believe there are significantly more salespeople in this sales category than the other three categories combined.  This may surprise people who are not in the sales professions because while salespeople constantly fight the stereotype of the snake oil salesperson, more often than not, it's the prospects who lack integrity. They withhold information, bluff, play games, mislead salespeople and outright lie.  There.  I said it.

Last week I wrote an article about likable salespeople and to what degree their likability influences whether or not their prospects buy from them.  One of the questions I asked was whether or not likable and integrity are intertwined.  Also last week, Jonathan Farrington started a discussion in the Top Sales World LInkedIn group that asked if it was more important to be liked in order to win the business.  Most of the people that commented thought that trust and respect were more important.

Three years ago I published a White Paper on Where, When and Why Salespeople Aren't Trusted.  I was very surprised about what I learned in doing the research for that paper not because there is more distrust of salespeople than I could have ever imagined in my worst nightmare, but because of which salespeople are the least trusted and why.

The thing that most people don't get is that salespeople aren't automatically trusted simply because they have high integrity.  Trust and Integrity are not the same.  We could wrongly trust someone with low integrity just as easily as we might not trust someone with high integrity.  Integrity is part of a saleperson's Sales DNA while the ability to build or create trust is actually a skill.  The scary part of what I just wrote is that a person with low integrity can learn the skills required for building and creating trust.  The sad part of what I wrote is that a person with high integrity may not wish to develop the skills required for building and creating trust.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), our sales force evaluations and our sales candidate assessments both measure a salesperson's integrity.  And when we look at their integrity, relationship building skills and likability, we begin to get a picture of their ability to create trust.  Because in the end, nobody will buy from a salesperson they don't trust.

If you would like to find salespeople that not only can sell, but will sell, in your business and to your customer, and you want them to have integrity, be likable and trustworthy, check out the top sales candidate assessment for the past 4 consecutive years.

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Trust of Salespeople, integrity, sales selection

Bugged by the Difference Between Great and Lousy Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

bugged.jpg

Yesterday, I noticed a large, furry, dead bug on the hood of my car. It seemed to be attached to the outer lip of the hood - like the edge of a cliff - right where the hood drops down to the grill. I got out of the car to remove the chunk of dead fur and I was shocked to see how wrong I was. It was dead all right, and it was furry. I'm not a tall person, so I wasn't sitting high enough in the car to notice the distance between the bug and the lip of the hood, but my estimate was off by more than 2 feet! What I thought I saw was completely different from reality.

When salespeople don't call high enough into a company, they experience the exact same thing. What they believe they are seeing and hearing is quite different from what they would see and hear if they were higher up, talking with an executive that can communicate the entire story, rather than the partial view and limited information they get from a middle manager. This is Vertical Reach.

One area where vertical reach has a huge impact is selling value. I wrote a very important article on the role that emotions play in selling value for the Selling Power site last week.  

The ability to truly sell value is one of the competencies that elite salespeople have, but ineffective salespeople don't.  I have data from the nearly 1,000,000 salespeople and sales managers that have been evaluated or assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG). Regular readers have read about the elite 6% and the bottom 74%, but today I want to provide some additional eye-opening statistics that differentiate the very good from the not-so-good salespeople. What makes them different?

That's the question that most behavioral scientists and personality assessments don't answer. They usually find traits, styles or qualities that are common among top performers, while failing to realize that bottom performers have those exact same qualities - qualities that brought them into sales in the first place. They don't see that the bug is 2 feet short of the lip.

OMG clearly differentiates the top performers - the studs - from the bottom performers - the duds. Not only are there findings that differentiate top sales performers from those at the bottom, but some of those findings tend to vary by company, industry and selling role.

For example, in one company, top inside sales performers had sales DNA scores of better than 65, while their bottom performers had Sales DNA scores of below 57; top performers had Sales Posturing scores of over 45, while bottom performers all scored below 37; and top performers had qualifying scores of over 60, while bottoms all scored below 50.  Tops had Figure it Out Factor scores of over 75, while bottoms scored below 63; and compatibility scores were over 72 for tops and under 68 for bottoms. These are just a small sampling of the differences.

In another company, top outside sales performers had scores above 78 for being able to stay in the moment, while bottoms were under 67; tops didn't need people to like them, all scoring over 75, while bottoms scored below 62; tops had scores above 83 for Desire for success in sales, while bottoms had scores below 75;  tops had Sales DNA over 63 and bottoms were below 49; tops had closer skills over 33, while bottoms had scores under 22; tops had account management skills of better than 50, while bottoms had scores under 40. Again, these differences are just a small sampling.  

Those two examples are consistent with the variations we find in every sales force evaluation and very useful when it comes to identifying new sales candidates who will succeed in a specific role at their specific company.  And in case you don't think the differences in scores are significant, consider the difference between a baseball player with a batting average of .300 versus one who hits .270.  The .300 hitter is a perennial all-star while the .270 hitter is rarely known outside of his home market.

Returning to the bug on the hood, there is a much larger difference than what you might see with your own eyes when comparing the elite 6% and the bottom 6%.  For instance:

  • 93% of the elite have strong commitment to sales success compared with only 33% of the bottom.
  • 94% of the elite take responsibility for their results and don't make excuses compared with only 20% of the bottom.
  • 78% of the elite don't need their prospects to like them compared to only 6% of the bottom.
  • 98% of the elite are very comfortable talking about finances compared to only 2% of the bottom.
  • 79% of the elite have supportive sales beliefs compared to none at the bottom.
  • 76% of the elite have supportive buying behaviors compared to 8% of the bottom.
  • 95% of the elite are rejection proof compared to 18% of the bottom.
  • 77% of the elite have most of the attributes of a hunter compared with only 31% of the bottom.
  • 100% of the elite have strong desire for sales success compared with none at the bottom.

As you might suspect, there are dozens of additional differences. For example, elite salespeople have, on average, more than 80% of all possible good Sales DNA, while those at the bottom have less than 55%. [Click toTweet] The impact of those 25 points is HUGE! It's the difference between executing a sales process and methodology versus having only the ability to talk about it.

There are many great reasons to evaluate a sales force. Being able to accurately predict which new sales candidates will succeed at your company is only one of them. One of the best reasons to evaluate is to learn which underachievers can become A players, what it will take, how long it will take, and how much improvement you can expect. Of course, you would also learn which underachievers will never get any better than they are today and why.

Today, we sell in very different times than a few years ago. A sales force evaluation helps us understand which of your salespeople have adapted - who is truly selling value instead of price and who can learn? Who is truly taking a consultative approach and who can learn? Whether the sales force has what it takes to shorten the sales cycle and improve the win rate and why? These are just a handful of popular reasons to evaluate the sales force today. Interested in getting some of your pressing business questions answered? 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, top sales performer

12 Proven Sales Hacks to Increase Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 25, 2015 @ 07:06 AM

success.jpg

It seems that these days, things are changing faster than we can recognize. Cosby is finally out of the news, but the Marathon Bomber is back in. The terrible winter weather is in our rear view mirror, but now we are dealing with droughts and tornadoes! And in our world, Sales 2.0, a term we haven't heard in a while, is making the rounds again. In today's article, we'll talk about the sales improvements that readers are most interested in.

Let's kick things off with the most popular article of the first 6 months of 2015, which talks about how dramatically things have changed in selling. Read this very popular article from earlier this year, which is all about the next change to take place in selling.

On LinkedIn, this article explains one simple change that salespeople and sales managers can make that will significantly improve the pipeline and win rate.

With all that has changed, no single characteristic is more important to selling than an individual's unconditional commitment for sales success. This article explains what committed salespeople do differently.

This popular article compares a bad sales email to a good one and a similar article exposes an ineffective cold call and includes a breakdown as to why it was so bad! This article completes the business development highlights with 3 keys to help convert more of those calls to meetings.

We've covered how to be more effective getting meetings scheduled, so let's move to another popular article that explored the possibility that with everything changing so quickly, consultative selling could already be dead.

One of the biggest challenges that companies are having right now is in attracting, assessing, interviewing and selecting new salespeople. Companies are hiring and it's more difficult than ever to hire a good salesperson. Accordingly, some of the most popular articles of the first 6 months of 2015 were written about hiring salespeople.  

This article explains why 1 million sales jobs will be lost, while this one explains why half of an entire sales force resigned in a single month. Could this happen at your company? Why is it that some great salespeople don't live up to your expectations while others are as good, or better than expected? This article explains how and when that can happen. On the other side of that story are the weak salespeople - those with poor Sales DNA and/or sales skills - who somehow find ways to succeed. This article talks about the intangibles they may possess and why they can't be taught or replicated. To round out the best of the sales selection articles, read this one about the phoney baloney sales candidate and how you can make sure that he doesn't fool you.

Finally, you won't want to click on this one right now. Instead, save it for when you have 30 minutes to read it in its entirety. The article began as a simple rebuttal to some junk science on sales selection and turned into a debate on the science of sales assessments and specifically, put Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales candidate assessments on trial. The people have spoken, but what did they say?

Was today's article helpful? Share it! Tweet it! Comment.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales 2.0, cold calling, sales selection, objective management group, sales emails that work, building the sales pipeline

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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