Why You Should Care That Sales Motivation Data Correlates Perfectly With Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 12, 2017 @ 21:09 PM

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Image Copyright iStock Photos

What was your reaction when you saw that the water in Tampa Bay was sucked away by Hurricane Irma?  How about when you saw the total eclipse?  Or the Cajun Army rescuing thousands in Houston?  Now, I don't want to equate my news with the enormity of Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma, but when I first saw the data, my reaction was exactly the same.  I said, "Wow - didn't see that coming."

This summer, Objective Management Group (OMG) added and began testing for Altruistic Motivation as one of 3 types of Sales Motivation.  Sales Motivation is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies OMG measures. OMG had been measuring Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation in its Sales Force Evaluations and Sales Candidate Assessments and it recently updated its algorithm for measuring total sales motivation.  You can read more about that here.

Today I was able to look at the 7,500 new rows of data accumulated since this update went live about 8 weeks ago and the data exceeded my expectations.  Take a look at this!

In the table below, you'll see that extrinsic motivation is most prevalent in the top group of salespeople while altruistic motivation is most prevalent in the lowest group of salespeople.  You'll also see the correlation between overall sales motivation and performance.  

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With this data correlating so perfectly, the most important question to ask is, what does it mean?

Recently there have been several articles that suggest we should eliminate commission salespeople and begin paying everyone a salary.  That would REALLY appeal to the bottom 10% with 73% of them being either intrinsic or altruistic.  The majority of the bottom 10%, especially the 35% who are altruistically motivated, should be in customer service.  Customer service doesn't pay as well but that is the role in which they could become top performers by being of service to others.

What do you suppose would happen to the performance of the top 23% when they are faced with being paid the exact same amount as their under performing colleagues?  Say goodbye to their quota crashing performance!

Looking forward, our biggest challenge is that most millennials tend to be intrinsically motivated.  Read this terrific article and look at the data comparing millennials to top salespeople.  While overall motivation is nearly identical in all four groups, millennials have an average Sales Quotient of just 108.  You can see in the table above that a score of 108 puts them in the category of weak salespeople where the overwhelming majority of that are intrinsically motivated.  It's not a stretch to draw the conclusion that the majority of salespeople in the weak category could be millennials.

The best way to incentivize salespeople will continue to be an ongoing topic of discussion.  Those who think that a prospect's interests are best served when salespeople are not on commission are misguided. The reality is that the top two groups of salespeople don't act in a way that makes prospects feel like they are being sold something.  People buy from them because they build relationships, are consultative, listen and ask great questions, and understand the problems that need to be solved.  Weaker salespeople are transactional, rely on presentations and demos, and appear to be more interested in making a sale than solving a problem.  Most of the experts who weigh in on this matter have it backwards.  Like all of the inbound writers who several years ago predicted that sales was dead and inbound was king, these suggestions are nothing more than fake news.

Salespeople who are intrinsically motivated would prefer to be compensated with a salary and perhaps a bonus for performance while extrinsically motivated salespeople would prefer the plan that offered the sky as the limit.

The biggest change for companies is the need to understand how to motivate intrinsics.  Traditional sales motivators like commissions, competition, contests, and awards do not motivate intrinsics. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, would like to change the world, want to achieve mastery, sell because they love it, and do it for personal satisfaction.  How can you motivate them and more specifically, how can you motivate them to become better as a group than their current state of weak?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales motivation, sales compensation, commission sales, sales assessments, altruistic motivation

Can Preventing Hiring Bias Benefit the Sales Hiring Process?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 21, 2017 @ 18:08 PM

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Sometimes things which at first sound really good turn out to be not all that great.  Take the recent eclipse for example - can you say overrated?  Much ado about nothing?

Ken Leeser, a regular reader, suggested that I check out this article on eliminating bias from hiring.  That sounded like it would be a really good thing until I considered this.

You're hiring and you need to identify the ideal salesperson for a particular sales role and you need someone to sell enterprise solutions to the C-Suite.  Aside from all of the other requirements, you'll need to find someone who has done this before.  But if you don't have access to employment history, you have no idea what they've sold and who they've sold it to so you can't determine if they have done this before.  And since you won't be able to guess how old they might be you won't know if they are mature enough to call on the C-Suite.  In order to be efficient in your selection process you'll need to apply some hiring bias!

How about if you need to identify candidates to sell nylon stockings to convenience stores, supermarkets and department stores.  Ideally, you would probably prefer a woman for this role but if names are hidden to prevent hiring bias, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time interviewing older men.  In order to be efficient in your selection process you'll need to apply some hiring bias!

How about if you need to identify candidates for a BDR/SDR top of the funnel role?  In this case you would probably not care whether your candidates were male or female but since most of the people in these roles are recent college graduates, you would want to see how recently they graduated from college.  But if that information is hidden to prevent hiring bias, you might find yourself wasting a lot of time interviewing experienced salespeople who would have no interest in a role like this.

What if you need to identify candidates to sell rock crushers or some other heavy duty equipment that requires physical strength to push, pull or drag the equipment around at demos?  In this case you would probably prefer to hire a younger male who is in excellent physical condition.  Not being able to view prior employment and having experience hidden to prevent hiring bias would make it impossible to identify people who might fit the description of what you would need, causing you to waste everyone's time.

What if you need to identify a salesperson who is physically located in the territory you need represented?  An address, hidden to prevent hiring bias, would prevent you from filtering on the appropriate candidates, causing you and your candidates to waste a tremendous amount of time.

The concept of preventing hiring bias is a good one but when it comes to hiring salespeople I have bias against it.

At the same time, if this is where the world is heading, it's another great reason to use Objective Management Group's (OMG) predictive sales candidate assessments.  Using these up front early in the recruiting process allows you to identify those who will succeed in the given role, eliminating a tremendous amount of the time you would otherwise be wasting.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, sales assessments, hiring bias

The Benefits of Completely Bashing Your Competition

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 @ 16:10 PM

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Image Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo 

The circus will be coming to an end in just under 2 weeks.  Everyone has seen at least some of the show and some have seen the entire production, including reruns, reviews, commentary and highlight videos.  In the past 60 days I'm certain that even if you don't live in the United States, you've seen at least part of the circus.  Yes, even you.  I'm referring to the circus known as the 2016 Presidential Election. It has moved from ugly to downright terrifying as we watch two presidential candidates slinging the most horrible attacks on each other.  And the worst part is that most of those attacks are well deserved.  But there is an important selling lesson we can take from all of this.  Does bashing your competition ever work?

While it was expected that we would hear each candidate attack the others in their 3 debates, on Twitter, and in their television advertising, we didn't expect it at the recent Al Smith Dinner in New York City.  It was a festive environment with completely different expectations, but after the two candidates finished telling their best jokes, they each went on the attack. The attacks were not well received and there was even some booing.

Let's take look at how they could have exposed each other's weaknesses and liabilities during a debate and then we'll discuss how you can apply these lessons to selling.

Let's pretend that we are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  For most of us, this will be an incredible test of our acting ability.  It will probably be a disaster.  

Trump has a YUGE supply of potential material about Hillary's lack of integrity, abundance of corruption and foreign policy failures. If he attacks her she will attack back and put him on the defensive and most people find him unlikable when he defends himself.

Hillary has a book full of material about Donald's business dealings, refusal to release his tax returns, lack of knowledge about policy, bad temperament and treatment of women.  If she attacks him, his return attacks will be even more vicious.  There's that as well as the fact that most people don't find Hillary very likable and when she attacks it makes it even worse.

We know what it looks like, sounds like and feels like when they attack each other and we are no longer rooting for them to do so.  We are cringing.  So how would it sound if they proceeded to expose weaknesses and vulnerabilities without attacking?

Donald might say, "I like Hillary, I invited her to my wedding, Bill and I were friends, she has a long history of service to our citizens, and she has always done her very best.  At the same time, most of you have probably heard or read the news reports detailing Hillary's alleged crimes, corruption, lies, cover ups, and deceit.  My opinion about that doesn't really matter, and you can form your own opinions.  Just do the research. Look it up.  Instead, I want to use my time to talk about the issues.  Let's talk about how my plan for a tax reduction will help the economy and benefit the middle class."

Hillary might say, "I've been an admirer of Donald Trump for 20 years.  I've come to know his family and I like them a lot.  We don't always agree but he has supported my campaigns in the past and I have a great deal of respect for him.  However, a lot of people are concerned about Donald's refusal to release his tax returns, his lack of transparency, all of those lawsuits against the failed Trump University, his uneven record in business, the video from a Hollywood set, and the 11 allegations of unwanted sexual advances.  You can make up your own mind about his values and behavior, but I tonight want to talk about my plan to fix Obamacare."

There is a huge difference between an attack and pointing people in the direction of commonly available news stories.  There is a huge difference between complimenting and name calling. You've heard the names and I believe that they are unnecessary.

Applied to selling, it means that you must be complimentary to your competition, ask questions about any dissatisfaction rather than pointing out problems, and don't say that you're better or that they're worse.

For example, at Objective Management Group (OMG) we are often asked to compare our sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments to other assessment brands.  We always agree that the other brand is a good and accurate assessment.  Then we mention the category the other brand is part of.  For example, Myers-Briggs and Caliper are excellent Personality Assessments. DISC and Predictive Index are excellent Behavioral Styles assessments.  While we compliment the brand or the company, we use criticize the category - personality or behavioral styles - to point out that neither type of assessment was built for sales, neither type is predictive of sales success, and neither type measures the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  We always say that the assessment they mentioned is good, and that if they were using (a personality assessment) to determine how well an individual fit within their culture that would be a good use.  Or if they were using (a behavioral styles assessment) to understand the best way to work with and manage an individual that would be a good use.  But if they wanted to accurately predict whether a candidate would succeed in this particular sales role, at this particular company, selling into this particular market, against their particular competition, and at their specific price points, only OMG has the track record, predictive validity and sales expertise do that.

Bashing the competition - even in Politics - doesn't lead to very good outcomes and the same is true in sales.  Play nice!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, election, sales assessments, objective management group, Donald Trump, beating the competition, hillary clinton

Those Who Follow Sales Best Practices Don't Necessarily Become Top Performers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 @ 10:06 AM

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You'll regularly find me writing about the science - the data - that differentiates top sales performers from the bottom.  But today, I'll move into the world from which everyone else in this space operates - anecdotal evidence and opinions. 

I will cite two sources for this article:

  • The 130 sales consulting firms that partner with me at Objective Management Group (OMG) and provide our award-winning sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments;
  • The tens of thousands of salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders that I have personally trained.

In both groups of people I have noticed a few things that are common to the tops and not so much the bottoms and I'm certain that if you paid attention, you would recognize some of the same patterns in your organization.

In my experience, The top salespeople in both groups typically attend scheduled training events, Conferences, Webinars, and coaching calls.  They also tend to stay on top of updates, communications, reviews, emails and notes.  While some bottom performers do these things too, it's clear that there is a correlation between the tops and the learning and development activities on which they choose to invest their time.

The question is, are they at the top because they focus, participate, attend and respond; or do they actively participate because they are at the top?  Which one is cause and which one is effect?

Each of the activities I mentioned are best practices of top performers.  It's almost impossible to be a top performer and not do those things, while it is quite easy to not do those things and be a bottom performer.  But that doesn't answer the question of cause and effect.  Let's take a closer look at the bottom performers that do all of those things but still fail to perform.  If they do all of the same things, what holds the bottom performers back?

I didn't begin writing this article with a plan to go here, but as always, it ends up here.  Assuming that an ineffective sales manager isn't to blame, it comes down to the following four things:

  • Lack of Desire for Greater Success in Sales
  • Lack of Commitment to Do What it Takes to Achieve Greater Success in Sales
  • Weak Sales DNA - Strengths Don't Support their Selling Skills
  • Poor Selling Skills - Never Developed or not up-to-date

 I just looked at a few thousand rows of data from the last two weeks.  While 91% of these salespeople had strong Desire, only 59% had the Commitment to do what it takes.  That's a difference maker!  Additionally, only 33% had Sales DNA of 70 or better and only 9% had Sales DNA of at least 82 which is required to support the Challenger Sale.   Worst of all, only 11% had at least 50% of the selling skills we measure.

So even when I try to write an anecdotal piece, I end up returning to the OMG's science behind selling.

Cause and effect?  Salespeople who do the right things don't necessarily become top performers but top performers necessarily do the right things.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, the challenger sale, top producer, sales assessments, objective management group, top performing salespeople

Surprising New Data on Salespeople Busts the Myths about Relationship Selling and Social Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 @ 13:06 PM

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If you are a regular reader, you might recall this great article on Selling to a CEO.  In that article, I also mentioned some of the expanded Sales Competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) now measures.  Before April, Relationship Building and Mastery of Social Selling were findings in our evaluations, but now, they are full blown competencies with complete sets of attributes.

I had a theory about salespeople, but didn't have the data to prove it out.  I believed that social selling was a godsend to those in sales who were not great at relationship building - that by utilizing applications like LinkedIn and Twitter, they could reach out to new people, but with the benefit of hiding behind the glass screen. Do you think I was right?  Or wrong?

 Actually, I couldn't have been more wrong!

We took nearly 5,000 rows of data from the past 2 weeks and looked at those two competencies and compared the results.  In the 1st graph, you'll see that the overwhelming majority of salespeople are poor at both, or to put it in my vocabulary, they suck at both!  Just 5% were good at both, 11% excelled at social selling and 16% excelled at relationship building.  

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So I wondered if the data might be skewed based on demographics.  For instance, would the data show that salespeople with more than 10 years in sales are less effective at social selling and better at relationship building?  We filtered the data and removed everyone who had fewer than 10 years of sales experience, leaving us with around 1,850 veteran salespeople.  The graph looked nearly identical to the first graph but the veteran group at 33% was much better at relationship building, 11% - the same as the entire population - had mastered social selling and 8% achieved high scores in both.

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So I wondered what would happen if we looked at the people who were new to sales. This time, we filtered the data and removed everyone who had more than 5 years of sales experience, leaving us with around 2,000 newer salespeople.  This graph also looked quite similar, but there were a few small differences.  Just 2% of the newer salespeople were good at both competencies.  33% were good at relationship building, and surprisingly only 9% had mastered social selling - an even smaller percentage than the veteran group!

 

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 My theory?  Out the window.  Not even close!  Instead we made two even better discoveries from this exercise:  

  1. The majority of salespeople, who aren't very good at relationship building, will be equally poor at social selling.
  2. Although you and I are selling socially, most salespeople - 89% are not effective at social selling! 

Are you surprised by any of these discoveries?  What are your thoughts?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, twitter, Relationship Selling, linkedin, social selling, sales assessments

Has the Sales Profile of an A Player Changed Dramatically?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 03, 2016 @ 12:02 PM

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Recently, a number of readers asked me to review two articles which they thought were right up my alley.  Apparently they thirst for one of my specialties - poking holes in articles that are just plain wrong about hiring salespeople.  It's not that I enjoy ripping articles apart, it's just that I don't have any tolerance for authors who either don't know what they are talking about, don't have any science backing them up, or use examples that can't be replicated across industries, markets and geographies.  Shall we dig in?

We'll begin with an article from Sales Benchmark Index which in itself is a surprise because Greg Alexander and his team typically write great articles that are usually challenge-proof. If Dan Perry were more specific, and cited the particular assessments and tools to which his theory applied, then The Myth of the Ideal Hiring Profile would be fine as is.  Instead, he used a broad brush leaving readers to believe that all assessments are outdated.  Most personality and behavioral styles assessments were never designed to be used for sales selection, but not wanting to ignore an opportunity, these mostly old social instruments were adapted by using sales-like labels for their findings.  But make no mistake; the findings are still the same age-old social findings that have no connection to business or sales and therefore, are not predictive of sales success.  Clearly, these profiles are all useless and outdated for the specific role of sales selection.  But not all assessments are outdated or adapted for sales.

That brings us to his other point; that the profile for an A player has changed dramatically in the past 12 months.  I could agree with a statement that said sales has changed dramatically in the past 8 years, but really in the last 12 months?  Here are 25 Ways it has changed...  In sales, A players (the elite 6%) have only needed to add some social selling skills and use of tools to their repertoire.  They already bring to the table the selling package required to succeed in sales in 2016 and beyond.  They build relationships, follow a milestone-centric sales process, use a consultative approach, ask the tough questions, qualify thoroughly and get business and accounts closed.  The group of salespeople that has changed the most are B players, who needed to close their skill and Sales DNA gaps.  You can suggest that C's have had the most changes to make, but the thing with C's is that what they most need to change, they actually change the least.  That's why they are C's!

Finally, if you want to use a sales assessment/selection tool that was designed for sales, is more accurate and predictive than any other assessment on the planet, is customizable for any modern sales role, and evolves as selling evolves, then you'll want to become one of the 11,000 companies that rely on Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments.

 

Moving on to my favorite target, Harvard Business Review, I have to challenge Frank Cespedes again.  I last challenged Frank and HBR in November of 2015 with the very popular article, How Wrong is the Harvard Business Article on How to Hire Salespeople.  Their current collaboration, Hiring Star Salespeople Isn't the Way to Grow, was a very interesting read. The article wasn't really about hiring stars as much as it was about how to scale a SaaS business and I was in agreement with most of that.  My issue - and it's the same issue that I had with the November article - is that the authors insist that hiring salespeople should be based on their ability to complete the tasks they have identified.  

Selling is not task-oriented as much as it is milestone-oriented and that's when we are discussing sales process.  The real magic in selling is when the sales process is integrated with the sales methodology - the consultative approach required for the conversation to flow seamlessly from stage to stage and milestone to milestone.  While there are tasks involved during a sales cycle: following, calling, sending, showing, providing, sharing, explaining, etc., a salesperson's ability to execute on those tasks is dependent upon their underlying selling skills and Sales DNA.  Tasks are an oversimplification of the art and science required to be successful in selling. And whether you want to scale, grow at a moderate pace, or maintain your revenue, your salespeople - both new and veterans alike - must be able to execute consistently and effectively in their roles.  How can you determine whether sales candidates have what it takes?  Once again, I urge you to check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  How can you determine whether your existing salespeople can execute your plan and what is required to develop their capabilities?  Check out the OMG Sales Force Evaluation

Topics: Dave Kurlan, harvard business review, hiring salespeople, HBR, sales benchmark index, sales assessments, objective management group, frank cespedes, sales a players, greg alexander

What's Missing from the Report That Says Sales Training Doesn't Make Reps Better?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 06, 2016 @ 09:01 AM

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I could not believe my eyes when I read this report.  It was during the break between Christmas and New Years, so perhaps I wasn't as sharp as would be during a regular business day.  Maybe I missed something.  So I reread the report and the words amazed me even further.  The report claimed that salespeople don't improve their skills as a result of sales training.  Really?  Let's take a look.Here's the link to the article at KD Nuggets.

The goal of the report is to sell us on the power of talent analytics - being able to predict pre-hire whether the candidate will be a top performer - or not.  I'm all for that.  That's one of the things that Objective Management Group (OMG) does so well, so I am invested in a good report that supports our business.  But there are so many holes in this report that moths wouldn't be able to sustain themselves for more than a day.

The report is based on two studies; more specifically, the outcomes of training programs at two companies.  At one, the salespeople were actually underwriters - so they weren't really salespeople as much as they were the point of contact for agency salespeople.  Think customer service whose job is to find a way to say, "Maybe."  The second sold internet service to consumers.  So neither company sought or hired B2B salespeople.  After the author established who was studied, the report talks only about the underwriters.  So let's focus first on the underwriters and what the report doesn't tell us:

  • Did the underwriters have sales managers?  My guess is no.
  • Were the sales managers providing sales coaching? Ditto.
  • Who provided the training?  Was it an outside company or employees?
  • What were they trained on?  Was the content relevant to their roles?
  • How long were they trained and how frequently?
  • Was the trainer any good?  I would guess not.
  • Were the underwriters trainable and/or coachable?  
  • Did the trainers understand where Sales DNA would interfere with execution of skills?  I know they didn't.

The author states that the only thing you can do with underperformers, once they have been hired, is to devote resources to making them average.  Really?  If a company doesn't purposely hire an underperformer, don't they still have the option to terminate?

The second graph is quite dramatic at the 12-year point, when you learn that they only had 5 years worth of data and the last 7 years are "hypothetical" with assumed "linear growth."

I've been in the sales development business for more than 30 years and I can tell you this.  Training results differ from salesperson to salesperson, from company to company, from industry to industry, and from marketplace to marketplace. The single biggest variable on whether training will be successful is leadership commitment.  When a CEO, President or other senior authority is visibly driving the initiative, the results will be dramatically better than when that commitment is not visible to the salespeople being trained.  The second biggest variable is whether the participants are trainable and coachable.  The third is that sales managers must be trained and coached to do two things consistently and effectively prior to training the salespeople.  They must be able to coach the salespeople to the content; and they must be able to hold the salespeople accountable for applying what they learned. The capability of the trainer and the content itself come in at fourth and fifth.

We were not told how these variables impacted the training of the underwriters in the report.

Can training fail?  Of course.  Does it fail regularly?  Yes.  However, from personal experience, it is a rarity when properly designed and executed professional sales training fails.  The first step should be an OMG sales force evaluation which, in addition to answering 19 important business questions, shows who we are working with, whether or not they are trainable, and the specific nature of their skill and Sales DNA gaps. Then, when one of OMG's 150 partners provides the training - the right way - it is very rare for training to fail.

The reality is that the report we looked at was not really a study at all. I believe that it was a lame attempt to make a case for talent analytics.  And they are completely right.  When you get sales selection right, most of these issues simply go away.

For the fifth consecutive year, OMG was named the Top Sales Assessment Tool on the planet by TopSalesAwards.  Our predictive accuracy is legendary.  You can check it out here.  And be sure to read this short article on LinkedIn Pulse on the key Difference Between Sales Winners and Everyone Else.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, sales talent, sales assessments

How to Get Prospects to Buy from You More Frequently!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 01, 2015 @ 12:12 PM

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It's a simple concept, really, but 74% of all salespeople aren't very good at getting most people to buy from them.  Even though the concept is simple, it seems really complicated to the group that can't do it.  Of course, most salespeople wouldn't agree that they can't do it, even when their win rates are below 50%.  And in some tech businesses, salespeople seem to be happy with win rates under 20%.  It's incredible that people can become so darn comfortable with mediocrity!  Solving the problem is easy when we have willing participants, so let's discuss how to solve it once and for all.

My article in the December 2015 issue of Top Sales Magazine addresses the issue head on and provides a very simple solution.  You can read how to get prospects to buy from you more often right here and the article is on page 22.

If your challenge is on the sales selection side of things, this article on LinkedIn was named Top Sales Article of the week and this article on LinkedIn addresses willing participants as it relates to sales recruiting and selection.  Frank Visgatis, of Customer Centric Selling, interviewed me for his Sales Rehabs podcast and we talked about -  you guessed it - sales recruiting and selection.  They said it was a great episode.

Top Sales World announced the final nominations for the 2015 Top Sales & Marketing Awards and you can see those nominations here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, sales tips, sales assessments

What You Get When You Accelerate Sucky Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 22, 2015 @ 08:06 AM

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Celebrating Fathers Day, we went to a restaurant of my choosing - an upscale burger place - and it took nearly an hour for the food to come. I asked, "Is it normal for the food to take this long?" I was told, "No, usually it only takes 35 minutes" - for burgers! Granted, they were special, great tasting, artisan burgers, but they were burgers! If this was a romantic dinner for my wife and me, then who cares how long the meal takes? Let's just enjoy the time together. But they had people waiting 45 minutes to be seated. They were scaling and the service kind of sucked.  

Chris Beall, CEO of ConnectAndSell.com says, “Be careful not to accelerate suck!”. That quote appeared today on the High Velocity Sales Blog, where Chad Burmeister wrote a great article about outbound on demand. You should read that article. It can change your world! Anyway, I wanted to elaborate on that quote as it applies to expanding your sales force. 

 

So many companies reach the point where they are ready to scale - exponentially grow their company, revenue, operations, capacity or reach - and to do that, they need to significantly expand sales. Scaling requires that the right sales leader(s), along with the right salespeople are already in place to form a foundation that can be replicated and/or multiplied. When that isn't the case, and it usually isn't, that is when suck gets accelerated.

Most companies set revenue as a milestone for scaling, but revenue can be deceiving. There is a huge difference between $10 million comprising 5 major accounts, versus $10 million made up of 3,000 accounts. The first scenario sounds more like a case where the founders were able to go back and sell their wares to the companies that previously employed them. The second scenario suggests that we have a top performing sales force where the majority of salespeople are capable of finding and closing a large quantity of accounts.  

Attempting to scale in the first scenario will lead the company into a dark hole, while replicating the second scenario should work quite well. Most companies find themselves somewhere in the middle so the scaling process and result are less predictable.

How do you know whether or not your sales force is scalable today? A sales force evaluation will quickly and accurately answer that question.

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How do you get the right salespeople for the right roles? Learn more about the award-winning and incredibly accurate and predictive OMG Sales Candidate Assessments.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, growing a sales team, sales assessments, objective management group, Scaling sales

Chris Cagle - Great Example of Intangibles in Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 18, 2015 @ 06:05 AM

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You probably heard that BB King, the King of the Blues, died last week.  My wife and I met him after a performance in 2007 and the meeting inspired this article on work ethic.  Last week, on a flight from Dallas to Boston, I was sitting next to Country Music star Chris Cagle who told me all about his new business.  You just have to read his story and the great example of intangibles at work.  Cagle was on his way to Boston to perform at Toby Keith's Bar and Grill at Gillette Stadium.  Over the course of four hours, I learned a lot about him, his music and especially his new business.  He told me some of the stories that inspired some of his hit songs and then played the song that inspired one of his most emotional life moments, Probably Just Time.  So I'm listening to his song through my ear buds, on his iphone, when he tells me about his new business.  He started the business so that he could get off the road for good to be home on his ranch, with his wife and kids, full time.

It's a stucco, concrete and stone business, and as passionate as he is for writing, recording and performing his music, he was like a kid with a new toy when he started telling me about the stucco application jobs he was winning.  These aren't small jobs; he was already winning $500,000 jobs and bidding on $10 million jobs.  I asked, "Does being a country star down south help open doors for you?"

He said, "Are you kidding me?  They all say, 'Chris, I'm a huge fan!  How soon can you come over to meet?"

This is what we call an intangible.  Once in a while, a salesperson may not evaluate or assess that well, but could have a track record of success.  When this happens, how do we explain the disconnect between their success and the findings on the evaluation or assessment?  Intangibles.  Sales intangibles can not be taught or duplicated, but when a salesperson has some of these intangibles, success can be achieved with a set of skills that would cause other salespeople with similar skill challenges to fail. 

What are some of these intangibles?

Here is a screen shot from an Objective Management Group (OMG) sales candidate assessment where the candidate had 5 of a possible 12 intangibles (5 is great!).  

Intangibles-1.jpgEven though the candidate fell a bit short on sales competencies and Sales DNA, he was close enough to the cutoff that these 5 intangibles could make a difference and as a result, worthy of consideration.

Being a celebrity can certainly open doors and most salespeople won't ever have that luxury.  But there are some...

ernie-d.jpegLast year I was helping a client find a salesperson for a Rhode Island territory when I received an email from former NBA rookie of the year Ernie DiGregorio.  He had applied for the position and received our email reply asking him to complete an online application and our sales candidate assessment.  His long email explained that he was so well known, and such a great door opener, that an application or assessment was probably unnecessary.  Ernie D, a graduate of Providence College, would have been a very successful door opener.  But the company needed a product specialist/closer, not a door opener, so Ernie didn't really qualify for this position.  The lesson?  Intangibles can make a significant difference, but intangibles alone are not always enough.

Recently, OMG began including intangibles on its sales candidate assessments and sales force evaluations.  Now that it does, intangibles are usually the reason whenever a successful salesperson is missing important sales competencies or sales DNA.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales assessments, bb king, chris cagle, sales intangibles

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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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