Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 @ 20:10 PM

gold-nuggets

I had a chance to review the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study and extracted some fascinating data.  I thought it might be interesting to take their data, overlay some of Objective Management Group's (OMG) data, and see what we can take away from that.

Tick-Tock.  The report reveals that open sales positions remain so for an average of nearly 4 months and 9 months pass before a new hire achieves full productivity.  That's over a year!  This particular finding is a moving target and somewhat reflective of the relatively small number of proactive sales candidates and far smaller percentage of good ones.  The report shows that only 22.6% of organizations believe that hiring is an organizational strength, so this recruiting performance shouldn't surprise anyone.  OMG has a finding called FIOF (Figure it out Factor) which correlates to how quickly a candidate will ramp up to speed. Candidates who come up to speed more quickly than typical sales candidates score 75 or better and only 25% of all candidates have this as a strength.   

Not Nutritional.  Western diets are notorious for their inclusion of unhealthy, unnecessary, processed, fatty food instead of healthy whole foods.  Similarly, companies listed sales requirements for new salespeople that were filled with unnecessary requirements (ie., business degree from a university, college degree of any kind, STEM degree, industry sales experience, emotional intelligence, etc.) instead of strong and broad capabilities in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  This suggests that companies still lack a basic understanding of what causes salespeople to succeed.

Tooling.   An equal number of companies use candidate assessments as those who don't.  However, those who do use assessments have 61% quota attainment and 14.6% attrition, versus 49% quota attainment and 19.8% attrition for those who don't use assessments.  Companies that use assessments are 25% more successful at quota achievement and that data is not even for any particular assessment.  Imagine how much better the results are for the companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments. Data from companies who have hired salespeople that were recommended by OMG shows an attrition rate of only 8% and quota attainment of 88%.  

Put Me in Coach.  Just 10% of the companies said that coaching was a strength.  That jives pretty well with OMG's data from its evaluations of more than 25,000 sales forces.  Only 10% of all Sales Managers have the Sales Coaching competency as a strength but most of that group are in the top 20% of all sales managers.

Two-Step.  38% of companies reported that they have a sales process.  Respondents appeared to be overly optimistic as OMG's data shows that only 27% of companies actually have a formal, structured sales process.

Right Down the Pipe.  20% claimed that pipeline management is a strength at their company but that claim is even more optimistic than the dance above.  Remember, their report is built from a survey so it's vulnerable to optimistic misstatements.  OMG's sales force evaluation data reveals that the actual number is 8%!

In conclusion, I'm still disappointed that these numbers aren't improving more quickly.  I believe that there are several reasons for this, but my top 3 are:

  • Too many sales leaders have large egos that don't allow them to ask for or receive help, believing that they and they alone are responsible for, and capable of moving the needle
  • The C Suite often delegates responsibility for change but change won't occur until the commitment to change is demonstrated to the sales organization from those at the very top of the company
  • Many companies are well intentioned about change but don't always make the best choices and don't always see those choices through.  Exhibit #1 is CRM.  My observation of CRM selection, installation, training, customization, integration, acceptance, and adoption is that it has been nothing short of an industry-wide cluster fuck.  Please excuse my language.

Of course there are more reasons than these 3 but most of them, when looked at objectively, can be traced back to these three.  For example, we can consider the people, coaching, training, strategy, systems, processes, expectations, accountability, motivation, culture, and more, but as soon as you seek the cause we must look to the original three reasons.

In the end, it's not usually an unwillingness to spend money to improve sales selection, provide the right tools, hire the right sales leaders, consultants and trainers.  It's the lack of unconditional commitment to get it right.

Join the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales recruiting, sales hiring, sales process, sales pipeline, Sales Coaching, Dave Kurlan, cso insights, sales recruiting failure, sales opportunities

How to Achieve Short-Term Explosive Growth from your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 @ 10:09 AM

explosive-growth

Explosive Growth.  Positive Momentum.  Better Morale. Greater Confidence. Improved Capabilities.

Wouldn't you just love using those phrases to describe your sales force?

We know from the data in this article that according to Objective Management Group (OMG), sales managers who spend at least 50% of their time coaching have salespeople who are 28% more effective.

We know from OMG's data in this article that sales managers who are effective at coaching have salespeople who are 16% more effective.

And we know from the same data that sales managers who spend at least 50% of their time coaching AND are effective at coaching have salespeople who are 49% more effective. 

That's 49% more effective!

So what would a 49% bump mean to you and your company and what will it take to get there?

For your coaching to have that kind of impact takes dedication and practice.  It's not easy.  But if you want to be recognized for the growth, impressive revenue bump, and subsequent increase in earnings, it is well worth the effort.

Let's work backwards.  Coaching is effective when salespeople consistently:

  • Rave that the coaching was incredibly helpful
  • Ask how soon they can be coached again
  • Respond by doing exactly what they were coached to do and getting a positive result
  • Discover at least 2 lessons learned from a coaching conversion
  • Grow the quantity and quality of their pipeline
  • Shorten their sales cycle
  • Improve their closing ratio

And you will become an effective sales coach when you are able to effortlessly:

  • Debrief recent sales calls by working your salespeople backwards through the call
  • Punch holes in the information your salespeople provide
  • Identify the two reasons (cause and effect) for each sales call that did not achieve the desired outcome.
  • Role-play any scenario, at any point in the sales process, playing the part of the salesperson
  • Provide your salespeople an appropriate plan of action to implement the lessons learned
  • Hold your salespeople accountable for the changes they agree to

Those are two good sets of guidelines but guidelines alone won't be enough to transition you from where you are today to where you need to be.  It's all about how to be more effective and you can't learn that from a list.

That's why so many sales leaders attend my annual Sales Leadership Intensive.  I usually offer that annually in the spring but we sold out with a waiting list in May so we are offering a fall session this year.

It's two intense days with me and my team.  At least half of those two days are devoted to mastering the art of coaching salespeople. This is not material you have ever heard or learned before.  You'll also leave with a sales process, appropriate metrics and keys to holding your salespeople accountable to change.  The session is limited to just 24 people and there are 15 seats available as of September 15. 

This. Will. Work.

Clear the dates - October 29-30.

Learn more here.

Use this special link to receive a 30% discount when you register.

The event will take place west of Boston at our training facilities in Westboro MA.  The best nearby hotel is the Doubletree Hotel just a mile down the road.  I hope you'll join us!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Sales Coaching, sales management training, sales leadership training, Dave Kurlan, sales data

Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 06, 2018 @ 22:09 PM

science

You must have heard the joke that 73.6% of statistics are made up!

I have read and even reported that sales leaders who coach their salespeople see a boost in revenue of around 27%.  It sounds like a realistic number but I have not seen any science to back it up.  Until now.  Check this out!

OMG has evaluated and assessed nearly 1.8 million salespeople and sales managers from 25,000 companies.  The data in the table below is from a subset of that data where we looked at around 16,000 salespeople who reported to approximately 4,000 sales managers.  The title row shows the percentage of time the sales managers devoted to coaching their salespeople and the 6 rows below that show the average scores for the salespeople that report to those managers.  Sales Percentile is the percentile that a salesperson scored in.  Sales DNA is an overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures.  Hunter, Consultative, Qualifier and Closer are 4 of the 7 Tactical selling competencies that OMG measures.  If you're interested, you can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies and how salespeople score by industry and skill here.

coaching-increase-sales

Do you remember that 27% number?  The first row reveals that sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching salespeople (last column on the right) have salespeople whose sales percentile score is 28% higher than those managers who devoted little to none of their time coaching.  How is that for science to back up somebody's incredibly accurate wild-ass guess?

There's another interesting find in this data.  Average scores for hunting were not further improved after a manager is devoting at least 20% of their time to coaching.  This suggests that sales managers who coach more don't spend their coaching time helping salespeople work on their prospecting skills.

Another interesting takeaway can be seen in the Consultative scores.  This competency shows the smallest gain in average score.  Given how difficult it is to effectively take the consultative approach, this suggests that despite coaching more often, those sales managers lack the consultative skills needed to coach their salespeople on the consultative approach.

If Consultative scores show the smallest gain, where can the biggest gains be found?  Qualifying and Closing.  Sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching have salespeople who score 13% better in Qualifying and 24% better in closing than the salespeople whose sales managers rarely coach.

This data was not filtered by coaching effectiveness so their was no assumption that the coaching was good coaching; only that there was coaching.  What would happen if in addition to the time these managers devote to coaching, they were also becoming more effective at coaching?  The answer is revealed in this article by John Pattison.

Topics: sales data, Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, Consultative Selling, sales qualification, Closing Sales, sales core competencies, omg, sales growth, sales improvement

Do the Best Sales Managers Have the Best Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 27, 2018 @ 17:08 PM

sales-team

We all see the effects that strong leaders have when they surround themselves with either strong, mediocre or weak people.  What happens when strong leaders inherit a mixed team?  What happens when they hire a mixed team?  What happens when we ask the same questions about weak leaders?

I dug into a subset of data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations of the salespeople who report to more than 15,000 sales managers to determine whether the best sales managers actually have the best salespeople.  I was surprised and disappointed by what I found.  Check this out!

In the first table, you'll notice that salespeople reporting to elite sales managers are 14% stronger overall than those who report to weak sales managers.  That's good, but why isn't there a larger gap?  I'll answer that question shortly.

mgrs-to-sp-comparison

The second table clearly shows that strong sales managers have 25% more elite and strong salespeople reporting to them than elite sales managers. How can that be explained? And the relatively small gap from the first table?

mgrs-w-elite-spI have a simple explanation that you may or may not agree with.  Elite sales managers have so much confidence in their abilities, that they refuse to give up on mediocre salespeople.  They believe that given enough time they can coach everyone up.  Along the same line of thinking, elite sales managers also tend to believe that they don't have to hire A players because as long as the salespeople they select have a great personality and industry knowledge, they believe they can train and coach them to become strong performers. Because of that, elite sales managers tend to take shortcuts at hiring time as evidenced by their lower scores for recruiting.  Without a doubt, they should be using an accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessment like OMG's award-winning tool.

While the best sales managers do tend to have better salespeople, the contrast is not nearly as sharp as most of us would expect it to be, but explains why leaders don't understand when strong sales manager's teams are not significantly more effective than weak sales manager's teams.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Sales Coaching, sales performance, sales effectiveness, Consultative Selling, hunting, Dave Kurlan, objective management group

Latest Data - Strong Salespeople Score 375% Better Than Weak Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 18, 2018 @ 08:07 AM

bryce-harper3

Some of you might have seen Bryce Harper's incredible last-minute barrage of home runs in the 2018 All-Star game. It's one of the highlights of summer!  Today I give you a barrage of my own with three killer videos and a powerful data-packed article.  

All 3 videos and the article use data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluation and assessments of nearly 1.8 million salespeople.  You can see some of the actual data for yourself.

First up, this article that I wrote for Selling Power, has data that shows how strong salespeople score 375% better than weak salespeople in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Join the discussion of this data on LinkedIn.

Second in my barrage, the video below explains why the need to be liked is such a serious handicap in sales.

 

 

Third in my barrage, this video explains why 80% of salespeople aren't getting to decision makers and what to do about it.

 

 

Finally, my barrage ends with this video explaining why most sales managers aren't effective at coaching.

 

 Photo via Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports Images

Read more at: https://nesn.com/2018/07/did-bryce-harper-cheat-to-win-2018-home-run-derby-cubs-fans-think-so/

Topics: sales data, Dave Kurlan, reaching decision makers, need to be liked, Sales Coaching

New Data - Are Experienced Sales Managers Better Sales Managers?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 25, 2018 @ 06:06 AM

best-worst-sm-image

Last week I wrote a revealing article which showed that Sales Managers are even worse than I thought when it comes to coaching their salespeople.  That article stimulated this great conversation on LinkedIn

Following that article I dug further into the same 9,000 rows of data to look at the role that tenure and experience have on sales management effectiveness. Who do you think are more effective - newer or more experienced sales managers?

I looked at four of the twenty-one sales management competencies:

  • Coaching
  • Motivating
  • Accountability
  • Pipeline Management

My goal was to see if there was any correlation between their tenure and/or experience and their sales management effectiveness.  Please review the table below where the average scores in 4 sales management core competencies can be seen for various levels of experience, along with averages for the those 4 competencies and a weighted average.

best-worst-sales-managers

It's clear from the average scores that experienced sales managers are only marginally better than inexperienced sales managers in 3 of the 4 competencies, faring worse only in Motivating.  However, those scores change dramatically when we look beyond sales management experience.  

If we look at sales managers who also have been with the same company and in the same industry for at least 25 years, you'll see that the scores are 20% worse than for sales managers with similar sales management experience who were with different companies and in different industries during those 25 years.  Those with 253 experience grew up in those companies/industries, were risk averse, and by not leaving/moving, were not exposed to new/better practices.  As a result, they have simply repeated what they were taught by their ineffective sales managers from 2-3 decades ago.

Compare that with new sales managers who are also new to their companies and new to their industries. Despite having at least 20 fewer years of experience and little in the way of legacy knowledge as a foundation, they average 13% higher scores than those with so much more experience.  In fact, column 2 shows that all newer sales managers, regardless of company tenure or industry experience, fare better than all veteran sales managers in column 3.

Finally, average scores can be deceiving and as we all know, coaching is the most important of the competencies.  In the last row, we used a weighted coaching score worth double the coaching points and the overall scores still showed that veteran sales managers who experienced multiple companies and industries were stronger overall than any other group.

What happens if we look at the same data using Sales Management Quotient to differentiate?

best-worst-sm-smq

Interestingly, the largest concentration of elite sales managers is in the same group - those with 25+ years of sales management experience who did not stay with the same company or industry.  Those who grew up in just 1 company clearly have the smallest representation in the elite category with just 1%.  The reverse is true as well.  The experienced sales managers who moved around have the smallest percentage of weak sales managers while those who stayed with one company have more than double the percentage of weak sales managers.

When it comes to sales management capabilities, the amount of experience can be a negative if the kind of experience that makes a difference.

As a whole, these findings also serve to validate a reason that companies look to experts OUTSIDE of their own industry for help.  Sales experts with experience in multiple industries bring far more innovation, best practices and practicality to their consulting, training and coaching.

Topics: sales management function, sales management effectiveness, Sales Coaching, Dave Kurlan

The Latest Data Shows That Sales Managers Are Even Worse Than I Thought

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 18, 2018 @ 06:06 AM

bad-stats

When you watch the news these days, it seems like all you hear is Russia, Immigration, North Korea, FBI, DOJ, liars and leakers, and the latest celebrities to be disgraced by their behavior.  You would think there wasn't anything else going on!

You might be having a similar experience with my recent articles as I have been sharing lots of data about salespeople - to the degree where you might think that nothing else matters.

Today we're diving into sales management and specifically, the Sales Management Coaching Competency. What you read will surely disappoint and shock you and might even cause you to puke in disgust.

Many sales experts have been talking about how important it is for sales managers to not only spend 50% of their time coaching, but for that coaching to be impactful as well.  Sales managers should be coaching to opportunities, and coaching on strategy, tactics, and pipeline.  They should be coaching up their salespeople and they need to be great at it.  But is any of this actually taking place?  Let's take a look.

We'll be digging intoObjective Management Group's (OMG) data from the evaluation of nearly 1.8 million salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders.  For this study, I have mined the data from the most recent 9,000 sales managers to be evaluated along with their teams.

The first table shows the percentage of sales managers who are strong in the Sales Coaching Competency arranged by Sales Management Quotient.

coaching-as-strength

I'm sure you can easily see for yourself that outside of the top 3 percent of all sales managers, expecting sales managers to be effective at sales coaching is pretty much a pipe dream.  Only 10 percent of all sales managers are any good at coaching and most of them come from the strongest 15 percent.

Does it get any better when you look at the frequency of coaching? According to the salespeople who report to these sales managers, the majority of the coaching that takes place is on demand.  The next table shows that when salespeople don't ask for help, few sales managers proactively provide frequent coaching with "never" being the third most common scenario following on demand.  Only 10 percent are getting the daily or multiple times per week coaching we would hope for.  Could that 10 percent be reporting to the 10 percent of managers who are good at coaching?

coaching-frequency

We asked these sales managers how much time they spend on coaching and the next table shows just how grim the coaching situation really is. Read this table from the bottom right and up where you can see that 63% of all sales managers fall into the weak category and slightly more than half of those managers are spending no more than 10% of their time coaching.

coaching-time-spent

24% of all sales managers fall into the serviceable category and 70% of them are spending no more than 20% of their time coaching.  Of the remaining 13% (elite and strong) of all sales managers, just under half are spending no more than 30% of their time coaching. 

After all the preaching, teaching and beseeching, not much has changed in 10 years.  Sales managers aren't spending nearly enough time coaching their salespeople and when they do, the coaching is pathetic.  I recorded this 2-minute video to share my thoughts about the practical reality of widespread lousy sales management.

 

There are a several reasons for this:

  • Many of these sales managers maintain personal sales and their commissions far outweigh their sales management compensation and they don't have the time nor do they want to make the time for coaching.
  • They think that coaching is what happens when they do a ride along or listen in on a phone call.
  • They think that telling a salesperson what to do, helping with pricing or specs, or asking how a call went is coaching
  • They aren't able to execute the single most important and effective element of sales coaching - the role play.

There is an important discussion taking place here on LinkedIn on this article and in the comments, Barbara Giamanco suggested adding three additional reasons to the list:

  • Managers are not given training in how to coach. Since they don't know how to effectively coach they either - don't do it, or do it badly. Plus, it is highly likely that they aren't being coached by their boss either.
  • There isn't a coaching culture that provides the foundation for giving managers the time needed to invest in coaching well and often. In other words, senior leadership doesn't buy into the importance of coaching.
  • The managers themselves don't see the value, so they don't do it.  Like so many things we see in sales today that haven't changed, people seem to keep defaulting to what they've always done even if it isn't working.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.  There were more than 85 comments when I added this link.

More!  I've written a lot about effective coaching.  Here are five of the best articles:

Article

Article

Article

Article

Article

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales data, Sales Coaching, sales management competencies, Dave Kurlan, omg

10 Reasons Why Parents of Toddlers Make Better Sales Coaches Than Sales Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 24, 2018 @ 18:05 PM

toddler

Toddlers watch Sesame Street, play with blocks, take baby steps, constantly ask 'why', eat food that has been cut into tiny bite size pieces, love to start with dessert, and love to have fun.  Their parents make sure they are comfortable, help them overcome their fears, work to prevent resistance and emotional meltdowns, and teach them as they go about their business.

What does any of this have to do with sales and sales leadership?  Read a bit more and I'll explain.

This week I hosted my annual Sales Leadership Intensive where CEOs, COOs, Sales VPs and Directors, Regional Sales Managers, Field Sales Managers, Front Line Sales Managers and Inside Sales Managers come to become great at coaching salespeople.

They learned some of these concepts:

  • Baby Steps - instead of going from A directly to Z, go from A, to B, to C, and so on until you eventually, and easily get to Z - your desired outcome.  This pertains to the actual coaching, the role plays that are part of every coaching conversation, and actual sales calls.
  • Sesame Street - based on the segment with 4 pictures and one of them doesn't belong, you learn to recognize what's missing from the debriefs of your salespeople, in sales role plays and in actual sales calls.
  • Red Blocks - the few words and phrases out of many stated by salespeople in coaching, in role plays and by prospects that are candidates for follow up questions.
  • Why - the thought process that drives every question in sales coaching debriefs, sales role plays and actual sales calls.
  • Bite-Sized Pieces - instead of trying to get your salespeople to eat the entire elephant, have them eat it one bite at a time.  They can't work on all of their weaknesses and skill gaps at once so help them identify one they agree with and have them go to work on that.
  • Comfortable - keeping your salespeople comfortable, or recognizing and managing resistance during coaching and sales conversations, are the best examples of sales as an art form.  There are no successful coaching or selling outcomes when resistance is high.
  • Start with Dessert - the key to successful sales coaching debriefs is to begin at the end and work backwards.
  • Fears - These self-limiting beliefs are responsible for salespeople who self-sabotage their outcomes because they are afraid that their prospects will get upset with them. 
  • Fun - making sure that sales coaching conversations are fun will keep your salespeople coming back for more.

Parents of toddlers do these things all day long while sales managers, most of whom struggle mightily with coaching, do not.  Only 7% of all sales managers are effective at coaching.  They don't do it often enough, don't do it with all of their salespeople, don't do it effectively, don't achieve memorable outcomes, don't make it fun, don't provide tactical and strategic coaching, don't debrief,  and don't role play. So what do they do?  When it comes to their coaching, mostly they waste everyone's time.

Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Sales Coaching, role play, effective sales leadership, Dave Kurlan

Glue - The Missing Element That Makes Every Sales Training Initiative Successful

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 @ 06:02 AM

glue.jpg

I still conduct a limited amount of training with some of my personal clients. We work with companies in more than 200 industries, from startups to multi-billion dollar corporations, that call on every possible vertical and decision maker, in nearly every geography across the globe.  I find that even the most seasoned and resistant of salespeople get to this point: When they realize how much more there is to selling, how much more effective they can be, how much more business they could generate, how they don't need to have the best price, and how much easier selling can be, they become eager learners.  That brings us to the question to be answered in today's article: If most salespeople become eager learners and embrace good sales training, why don't all companies experience equally tremendous revenue growth from sales training?

Some companies simply don't experience an increase in sales from sales training.  The difference between the those that do and those that don't usually lies with leadership.  When sales training is driven by leadership, revenue grows.  When the training is simply approved, but not driven by leadership, revenue rarely improves. 

The symptom of this is how seriously sales management takes its role of supporting the training.  When sales managers hold their salespeople accountable to change and consistently coach to the sales process and content, even mediocre sales training will have a positive impact.  However, when sales managers fail to hold their salespeople accountable for change and don't consistently coach to the process and content, even the best sales training in the world won't have as much impact as it should.

The key to successful sales training has less to do with the sales training itself but everything to do with two other things:  (1) Leadership's engagement; and (2) training and coaching sales managers to help them expertly execute the coaching and accountability of their salespeople.  Sales Managers are the glue that holds everything together.

Let's go to my two favorite analogies - my son and baseball - to provide examples for what we are discussing.

My son has been the subject of dozens of analogies for my articles, and lessons from his baseball experiences are always my favorites.  You can read 30 of those analogies in my ebook, 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales.

He's a high school sophomore and in addition to his varsity baseball team and the college showcase team he will play for this summer, he has a hitting coach who works with him for 3 hours each Saturday and a New York Mets minor league catcher works with him for 30 minutes each week.  The coaching holds him accountable for applying and practicing the adjustments that are unique to him. With the coaching, he's a super star.  Without the coaching, he would be progressing like every other player on the roster. 

We take the sales management element and the importance of great coaching, very seriously.  That's one of the reasons we offer our corporate sales leadership training to non clients each year.  This year's annual Sales Leadership Intensive is fast approaching.  It's May 22-23, outside of Boston, and even though it is still almost 90 days away, I have just 2 seats remaining.  If you/and or your sales leaders would like to become great sales coaches, coach up your salespeople, and grow revenue, this is the even where you can make that happen. [Update - this training is sold out as of March 5, 2018]

And in the shorter term, you can join a panel of experts on this subject on a TopSalesWorld roundtable tomorrow, February 27 at Noon Eastern.  Register here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales management role, Sales Coaching, sales management training, Dave Kurlan, sales leadership

Measure Change in Sales Effectiveness without Numbers and Metrics

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 02, 2018 @ 08:02 AM

improvement.jpg

We want to get better at selling and as sales leaders we want our salespeople to improve.  We need them to improve.  We hope that training and coaching and sales ennoblement tools will get us there.  We have also been told that there is more than one way to skin a cat but it might come as a surprise that there is more than one way to measure the progress being made by your salespeople.

There are traditional lagging indicators, like revenue generated, and there are traditional forward looking indicators, like new meetings, pipeline value and pipeline quantity compared to a prior period.  Conversion ratios - calls to meetings, meetings to qualified opportunities, qualified opportunities to closable, and win rates, all compared with the same ratios from a prior period.

These metrics tell a story, individually and together, but forward looking indicators tell a more timely story, especially if you have a long sales cycle.  However, as you'll read below, measuring sales progress doesn't stop with metrics because there is another powerful way to get instant feedback on a salesperson's progress.

Sales coaching is the most powerful and direct way to improve sales performance, but only if the coaching is daily and effective.  Only 7% of all sales leaders coach frequently enough and effectively enough so there is much work to do in this area.  The best tool for a sales coach is the ability to role play, providing the fastest route to greater sales success.  This article explains how and why role-playing is the scariest component of sales coaching.

We need to discuss role-playing because it can provide you with instant feedback.  When you role-play with salespeople and ask them to play the part of a prospect, the salespeople/actors will actually mirror the behavior and attitude that they are currently experiencing from their prospects.  If they play a nasty prospect, then you know that is how prospects are treating them.  If they play a tough prospect, then you know that prospects are being very tough on them.  If they play an easy prospect, then you know that prospects are being easy and cooperative.  If you pay attention to the changes in their role-plays over time, salespeople who are improving will play increasingly more cooperative prospects.

Whether good or bad, the behavior that prospects exhibit is a direct result of the flexibility, approach, tonality, questions, conversation and collaboration of a salesperson.  Salespeople are completely responsible for how their prospects behave.

If your salespeople don't seem to be portraying easier prospects each time you coach them, then they aren't getting any better.

Having salespeople play a prospect is one way of getting instant feedback, but you can also have salespeople play the salesperson's part.  This role-play runs 25-minutes but it's a great example of what it should sound like when 2 salespeople role play with each other.  You'll notice that I interrupt whenever the salesperson goes off track, doesn't listen actively, doesn't ask a good question, or otherwise could be more effective.

We spend an entire day on learning the nuances of role-playing as a foundation of sales coaching at my annual Sales Leadership Intensive.  The top-rated annual event is May 22-23 and there were 6 seats left on February 1.  Register here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Sales Coaching, great sales management training, Dave Kurlan, key to growing revenue

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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 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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