10 Selling Scenarios When You Must Slow Down

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 07, 2017 @ 07:02 AM

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By now, surely everyone has written their Super Bowl articles, drawing inspiration from the game, the comeback and the records to make their points.  In my business, it's rare when someone isn't an optimist but I'm a realist and the realist in me kept saying how improbable it would be - even for Tom Brady and the Patriots - to come from that far behind and tie it - never mind win it - against a team as powerful as the Falcons.  But the Falcons' defense was not accustomed to staying on the field for such long stretches and after the Patriots finally tired them out, the Patriots were able to repeatedly drive down the field at will and claim the historic victory.

I read many articles and quotes after the game but the one that works best in this Blog is a quote from 2016 Cy Young Award Winner, Rick Porcello.  He said:

[When I find myself behind in baseball] There are two things you can do. You can think about how insurmountable it is to overcome or you can think about what you can control. That’s getting strike one on the next hitter and going from there.

I felt like there was a comparison there. [Brady's] thought process and why he’s so good is that he’s able to slow those situations down and focus on the present and what’s in front of him. That’s really hard to do, especially in a game of that magnitude.

And of course, we can easily translate that into the language of sales.

Rick Porcello's thoughts about the importance of slowing down in certain situations and focusing on the present apply to the following 10 sales and sales leadership scenarios.  Slow down:

  1. When sales calls and meetings aren't going as planned
  2. When an important account is making threats about leaving
  3. When a large opportunity is slipping away from you
  4. When your sales have fallen behind your forecast
  5. When you are conducting a discovery call with a new prospect
  6. When debriefing a salesperson on a recent sales call or meeting
  7. When you just heard what you wanted to hear, but you need to question it
  8. When you are qualifying an opportunity
  9. When you feel that you must blow up an opportunity
  10. When you you feel like it's time to bail out on an opportunity

Noah Goldman, Host of The Enterprise Sales Podcast, interviewed me about all of this today.  Listen here.

Nurturing the ability to slow down on demand is one of the greatest skills you can develop.  It goes hand in hand with patience.  You can't have too much and you can't have too little.  One thing that can help, especially on a discovery call, is to have a large number of questions that you can use if the conversation requires it.  This infographic from Hubspot, that was made with Visme, should help you along!

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, Sales Coaching, sales forecasts, super bowl 51

Another Powerful Reason Why Salespeople Struggle to Become Great Sales Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 02, 2017 @ 16:02 PM

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Image Copyright Grinvalds

Ryan changed jobs and companies this week when he started in his new role as Business Development Manager.  When I congratulated him on his new job he wrote back the following:

"You were 110% on the money back when I became a first time sales manager. You told Stuart and me that my biggest challenge would be in not being able to understand why the hell sales reps working for me just didn't do what I did when I was selling, and what I asked them to do, since I always did what was asked of me when I was a field rep for Stu. Totally on the money, that drove me crazy every day."

We talk a lot about the mistake so many companies make when they take their best salespeople and make them sales managers.  While it's not always a mistake, the most commonly discussed reasons include:

  • Inability to replace that salesperson's significant revenue
  • Lack of sales management skills
  • Lack of recruiting skills
  • Lack of coaching skills
  • Lack of skills around accountability
  • The new sales manager might not be able to get salespeople to sell the same way
  • Things that made this person successful as a salesperson might not be duplicable
  • Resistance to move away from selling and reluctance to allow salespeople to make their own mistakes

In addition to those 8 reasons, Ryan's note highlights the single most frustrating chain of events to impact new sales managers.

New sales managers have a tremendous sense of optimism when they embark on the next chapter of their careers.  They believe that their sales success is duplicable and all they have to do is show their salespeople what they do and their salespeople will be able to do it.

Nothing could be further from the reality of the situation.

For starters, the former sales managers might be successful more because of their intangibles than having mastered 21 Sales Core Competencies.  

Their salespeople could have weaknesses in their Sales DNA that would prevent them from doing what their new sales managers can do.  When Sales DNA fails to support effective selling, Sales Managers can show and tell until they are blue in the face and their salespeople still won't be able to replicate their words and actions.

Their salespeople could be deficient in their Will to Sell, their tactical selling competencies or their understanding of business and finance.  There are many possible factors that cause 77% of all salespeople to suck and most sales managers, lacking effective coaching and training skills, are simply not equipped to overcome them.  At some point in their first year, the reality of their situation becomes more obvious and they default to the only solution they know for increasing sales.  Themselves.

They turn their salespeople into bird dogs and whenever there is a decent opportunity that isn't a slam dunk, they show up or get on the phone and help their salespeople close the business.  While this does serve as a short-term solution, it's not a very good long term strategy. The sales manager takes all of the credit, the salespeople fail to improve, they feel demotivated and unimportant, and eventually leave.

There is no shortcut to sales management success.  Sales Managers must develop the necessary skills to coach effectively so that they impact deals that their salespeople close, impact profit, win rates, retention, morale and revenue.  

If you or your sales managers need to develop this rare ability to coach up a sales team, won't you join me for my top-rated Sales Leadership Intensive?  I offer it only once each year and it's coming up on May 17-18 outside of Boston.  There is still time to plan your attendance,  and you'll leave the two days finally understanding and possessing the ability to impact a sales force.  Learn more here.  Use the discount code DK-Blog-Subscriber to receive a $100 discount off the price of a ticket.  We limit attendance to only 25 sales leaders so register early or, like we used to say at the end of each Red Sox baseball season, wait until next year!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, best sales management training, best sales leadership training, sales core competencies

7 Reasons Why Salespeople Underperform and How Sales Leaders Can Coach Them Up

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

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Day after day and call after call, I hear the frustration from sales managers and sales leaders who have at least one thing in common.  They know that their salespeople could and should be doing better.

For almost ten years and regardless of how the US economy has performed, reports continue to show that only 50-60% of reps are hitting quota.  That's nothing to be proud of and the sales leaders who call and email have come to the realization that try as they might, they have been unable to coach up half of their salespeople.

These are smart, talented, experienced sales leaders, who work for companies with excellent reputations, great products and wonderful customers.  So why does nearly every sales leader struggle with the problem of under performing salespeople?  The biggest problem is that there isn't one reason - there are many - and I'll share them with you now.

  • Selection - When you hire the wrong salespeople, it becomes clear that the fit isn't very good.  The salespeople might be wonderful people, but when they are wrong for the role or lack the capabilities required to succeed in the role, failure is the norm and it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible to coach them up.
  • On Boarding - Some companies lack a comprehensive on boarding program and instead of preparing new salespeople for success, the new salespeople are setup for failure.
  • Messaging - I've seen the results from the sales force evaluations of more than 11,000 companies and 1 million salespeople. One thing I have observed in nearly every one of those companies is the utter lack of consistency in their messaging. Whether it's the value proposition, brand promise or elevator pitch, each salesperson tends to say something completely different from everyone else.  
  • Sales DNA - Some salespeople are good relationship builders, have a solid set of skills, but lack the necessary Sales DNA - the set of strengths that support successful sales outcomes - to be effective.  It is very difficult for a sales leader to coach up a salesperson when the issue is Sales DNA.  If you have salespeople, and you have repeatedly had to coach them on the same issues, it's more than likely Sales DNA that is causing the problem, not a skill gap.
  • Training - A lot of companies don't provide their salespeople with professional sales training and of the companies that do, it's important to know that a lot of the sales training that is out there isn't very good.  Why?  A lot of it is incomplete, outdated, focuses on the wrong things, and most of it ignores the issues of Sales DNA.  There are 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Sales Training must thoroughly cover all 21 of those competencies - in context - through role play - and more.
  • Coaching - This is it.  The big differentiator.  The one thing that can make up for mediocrity.  You know that coaching now accounts for 50% of any sales leader's role.  The problem is that there is coaching, and there is coaching that has an impact.  How do you know if your coaching is having an impact?  Your salespeople will be begging you for your time.  Opportunities on which you coached your salespeople are getting closed - by them, not you.  They are getting stronger, better, more confident and meeting and exceeding their quotas.
  • Sales Process - I've written about sales process 31 times because it's that important.  When salespeople don't have a proven, predictable sales process to follow they will fail much more often than they need to.  And the coaching must take place within the context of the sales process.

If coaching is the single most important sales leadership competency that will have the greatest impact, and you aren't having that impact on each of your salespeople, every single day, and in every coaching conversation, what can you do?

Dedicate yourself to becoming the best sales coach on the planet.  Period.  The challenge is in finding the right place to start.

I can help.  My annual Spring Sales Leadership Intensive is coming up May 17-18 outside of Boston and in those two days we will explain, show, demonstrate, listen, watch and discuss how to coach - for impact.  You will leave us with the ability to coach - for impact - and feel so good about your ability to grow and develop your salespeople.  

If that's not enough, we have a kick-ass coaching application that will help after the intensive training.  Click here to learn more about the event.  If you would like to attend, you can use my special discount code to save $100.  Use the code DK-Blog-Subscriber.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales core competencies

Top 3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Change Your Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 @ 11:11 AM

I get asked this question a lot: "We've tried sales training before and it didn't really change anything. Why didn't it work?"

It's a common frustration and often explains why companies try it once and don't go back, or why they use a different company every year.  There are three powerful reasons why sales training won't work, and what you can do that will make it work everytime.  To explain why it doesn't work, I recorded this 3-minute video to save you from having to read a long article.

So what can you do to make sure that sales training works?  These are the four most important factors:

  1. Evaluate Your Sales Force so that we know exactly which competencies need to be addressed through training.  Canned, off-the-shelf training won't address the real issues if you don't know what they are!
  2. Invest in 90-days of sales management training and coaching to help them coach to the content and incorporate Sales DNA into the coaching.
  3. Make sure that the frequency of your training is at minimum twice per month for at least 6 months - or more.
  4. Make sure that the training company and specifically the trainer know how to get your salespeople engaged and committed to change.  This isn't school, you're not providing education, you're investing in training your salespeople to achieve different results than they are getting today.  It's about change.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, CEO, sales management training, VP Sales

What Sales Managers Do That Make Them So Ineffective

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 @ 14:07 PM

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Earlier this week I wrote an article on why so many sales managers are so bad.  In today's article, I'll share what makes them so ineffective.  The easiest way to explain this is to start with a baseball analogy.

Our son, who is now 14, is a very talented baseball player.  In addition to me, he has been coached in some capacity by approximately 15 other baseball coaches with varying degrees of effectiveness.  Some were very good, and some were very bad.  Not because they were bad people, but because they simply didn't know what they didn't know.  Here is an example of a bad coach from when our son was 12 years old.  The pitcher (not our son) was not throwing strikes and had walked 3 straight batters.  The coach yelled out, "throw strikes!"  Now if these were high school kids and the pitcher was trying to be too nibble, that instruction, or just, "Pound the zone" might work.  But 12 year-olds are still learning to pitch so asking for an outcome without providing instruction isn't very helpful.  Next the coach yelled, "Fix your mechanics!"  Again, if the pitcher knew which mechanics and/or how to fix them it might be helpful but of course, he didn't.  The next thing the coached yelled was, "Make an adjustment!"  I wasn't coaching this team so there wasn't anything that I could do, but I knew what should have happened.  If the coach actually knew which mechanics needed to be adjusted he would have called time out, walked to the mound, and had a chat.  He could have shared any one of the following examples of adjustments to pitching mechanics:

  • You're rushing - slow down your delivery
  • You're not pushing off the rubber - use your legs!
  • You're throwing across your body - turn your chest toward home plate before your arm comes around
  • You're not finishing your pitches - follow through
  • There is too much movement - pitch from the stretch 
  • You're releasing the ball too early, too late, too high, too low.
  • You're not extending your arm - throw down hill
  • You're over throwing - don't throw it as hard
  • You're holding the ball too tight - loosen your grip a bit
  • You're too anxious - breath!

And if the coach was oblivious to the mechanics, but still insisted on yelling out to his pitcher, he could have simply yelled out some encouragement! In lieu of instruction, at least encouragement will motivate, and not demotivate.  Now let's make the transition from baseball to sales management.

Sales Managers are usually guilty of the exact same thing.  We've all heard sales managers ask salespeople to:

  • Close more sales
  • Qualify them better
  • Make more appointments!
  • Ask better questions
  • Ask for more money
  • Go back and try again!
  • Get it closed before the end of the quarter
  • Give them an incentive!

How many sales managers know how to actually coach their salespeople?  How many of them can debrief in such a way that they can identify exactly where a sales conversation went south?  Identify which key question didn't get asked or followed up?  Role play how the conversation should have gone?  Role play how the next conversation should sound? Identify why a prospect was stuck on price when the goal was to sell value?  Determine why the prospect lacked urgency?  Figure out why the salesperson was unable to reach the decision maker?  Understand what in the salesperson's Sales DNA interfered with executing the sales process?  Learn which skill gap was responsible for the outcome?

Typically, most Sales Managers are not any better at providing coaching on the mechanics of selling than volunteer baseball coaches are at providing coaching on the mechanics of hitting or pitching.  We have a long way to go!

One of the challenges facing some companies is that many old school, veteran salespeople don't understand why they need to change their approach, change expectations or even participate in training and coaching.  With the world around them changing at breakneck speed, they appear to be blind to to it all.  Despite global competition, prospects who don't need a typical salesperson calling on them, and the need to sell value instead of price, these salespeople refuse to admit that anything has changed.  To make matters worse, their sales managers are often afraid to challenge them.  They are concerned that the salesperson's may quit if feathers are ruffled or worse, the sales manager will get terminated if a veteran salesperson complains to the C Suite.  It's an awful situation and it's made worse when weak, unqualified and ineffective sales managers are put into these roles.

We need a revolution!  I don't want to sound like Bernie but that is truly what is needed with the current state of sales management.  Will you be a leader, a follower or a resistor?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, Baseball

Why So Many Sales Managers are So Bad

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 25, 2016 @ 06:07 AM

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I see bad ones everywhere I look. They are not usually bad people and they might not have been bad salespeople, but they are usually so ineffective in their role as sales managers.  We will discuss some of the reasons and share an example next!

One reason that sales managers are ineffective is that many of the articles, information and guidelines about sales management practices are so bad!  Why?  Because so many of the people who write the articles are not experts on sales management! For example, for a couple of months the folks over at Pipedrive.com have been asking me to link to their article on sales management.  They told me that I failed to include the definition of sales management in this article on hiring salespeople and that if I pointed to their article on sales management it would fill in the gap.  

If I were writing opinion pieces for a baseball audience (that would be so much fun for me!) I wouldn't have to define baseball and because I write opinion pieces for a sales leadership audience so it doesn't make sense for me to define sales management.

Anyway, I clicked the link they provided, read it and unfortunately much of what is in their article is either outdated or not part of the core role of a modern sales manager.  From the definition, where they failed to mention that 50% of a sales manager's role is coaching, to the compensation, where they were off by as much as 50%, it just didn't resonate.  Given what they sell, I understand their need to build it around pipeline, but still.  Is it any wonder that when information like this is distributed to potential sales managers, that (1) it could attract the wrong people to the role, and (2) they could begin with a false sense of understanding of the requirements of the role?

I've written about the sales management role a lot and while I can't point to each of the 500 or so articles from here, one article has the essence of what sales management is all about and it's one of my 10 most popular articles of all time - the top 10 sales management functions.  Earlier in this article I mentioned that coaching is now 50% of a sales manager's job.  This article discusses the percentage of sales managers who have the necessary coaching skills while this article talks about why coaching salespeople is so scary for sales managers.

Two more reasons for ineffective sales management:

  1. Sales management is a full-time job but many sales managers who continue to sell, make it a part-time job.  Whether the choice to sell is theirs or management's, it's a bad choice because their first priority will always be their customers, their sales and their commissions.  Coaching, for development and to impact revenue, will be an afterthought.
  2. Executive Leadership often fails to understand what sales managers should really be doing with their time. As a result, they allow the sales managers to define their role, often resulting in less than ideal choices.

A couple of important links:

Hubspot Sales VP, Pete Caputa, compiled a great list of the top 33 sites for free sales and sales training videos.  Thanks for including me Pete!

An online war of words between me, a tech buyer who wrote an outrageous comment to my article on why more salespeople suck, and my readers exploded last week.  After I wrote an article in response to his comment about why he doesn't need salespeople, he wrote some very aggressive responses to the reader comments and the article and things got very interesting from there!  You can check out that lively discussion right here and please add your own comment to the page.  You might hear back from Todd!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, Sales Coaching, sales management functions, pete caputa, pipedrive, sales management role

Which Thoughts Affect How Successful You Will be in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 @ 08:06 AM

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I finished reading Game 7 - Ron Darling's book on the final game of the 1986 World Series, and I'm half way through Shoe Dog - Nike creator Phil Knight's memoir.  They're similar books because each devotes so much ink and analysis as to how their own thinking and beliefs - both positive and negative - shaped their actions and outcomes.  Read them and imagine sales instead of baseball and entrepreneurship, and both books will help shape the ideal thought process to support selling!  I highly recommend both books.  I wrote a lot about beliefs in selling in both Mindless Selling and my best-seller, Baseline Selling.  As a matter of fact, when Objective Management Group (OMG) measures this, only 45% of the sales population have 80% or more of the possible supportive sales beliefs and only 6% (elite territory) have better than 87% of the possible supportive sales beliefs!

We're half way through 2016 and I've posted 60 more articles to my Blog.  I used to measure the effectiveness of an article by the number of reads, but these days, that's more a measure of whether the title or first sentence successfully got a reader to click through.  Today, I think a better measure of an article's overall impact is the number of LinkedIn shares it receives.  As I usually do every six months, I listed the top ten articles from January through June ranked by LinkedIn shares.  Chances are that you didn't read them all so here goes:

#1 - Breaking News - More Salespeople Suck Than Ever Before

#2 - Must Read - This Email Proves How Poorly the Bottom 74% of Salespeople Perform

#3 - Learn How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

#4 - The 5 Questions That Get Prospects to Buy so You Don't Have to Sell

#5 - How Boomers and Millennials Differ in Sales

#6 - Sales Coaching and the Challenges of Different Types of Salespeople

#7 - What do you Blame When Salespeople Don't Schedule Enough New Meetings?

#8 - What Percentage of Sales Managers Have the Necessary Coaching Skills?

#9 - How Wrong are Company Methods to Rank and Compensate Salespeople? 

#10 - Why Uncovering Pain Doesn't Close the Sale with a CEO and the 3 Conditions You Do Need

While those were the most shared, there are a couple that should have been shared more often but weren't:

The 3 Most Important Questions about Sales Process

It's Coming Sooner Than You Think - 5 Keys to Prepare Your Sales Force for the Recession

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Coaching, Top Performer, sales performance, self-limiting sales beliefs, sales compensation, linkedin, uncovering pain, phil knight, nike, ron darling

Help is Here for Salespeople Who Find Themselves as the Underdogs

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 @ 19:04 PM

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You or your salespeople are on a call.  Is it an uphill battle?  Do you feel like you need some luck to win the business? Are you up against an incumbent - and your prospect is happy with them?  Are there too many competitors - and you are having trouble getting noticed?  Does the prospect claim to only care about price - and you aren't the lowest?  Do they just want a proposal or a quote - and you feel like you need to provide it to them?  Do you have trouble winning most of the time?  Do you almost always face resistance of some kind? Is it difficult to simply get a meeting?I wrote an article for the SellingPower blog where we discuss the challenges of being an underdog. Read it to now to learn how you can outsell the big companies.

Another one of my articles was named the Top Sales Blog post of the week.  If you missed it, I explained how coyotes show us the importance of external motivation.

Sales VP's, Sales Directors, Regional Sales Managers, National Sales Managers, Local Sales Managers, CEO's, Presidents, Channel Sales Directors, Inside Sales Managers, Board Members and more come from companies of all sizes and industries to attend our Annual Sales Leadership Intensive (where we limit attendance to fewer than 30 attendees) in May.  Every graduate says that this is the-best-training that they have ever attended.  We focus on showing, demonstrating and training sales leaders to coach salespeople in the most impactful and effective way, and nobody does this like we do.  Coaching is how you impact important deals.  Coaching helps you develop salespeople.  Coaching leads to revenue growth.  Nothing - and I mean nothing - has a greater impact on the sales organization than when you spend half of your time coaching and you conduct coaching the right way.  If you would like to join us, we would love to see you there.  This embedded discount code/link will give you a special 30% discount. [Update - Sold Out]

There was a tremendous amount of interest in these ten articles over the past 4 months:

Uncovering Pain Doesn't Close the Sale and the 3 Conditions That Will

On Our Doorstep - 5 Keys to Prepare Your Sales Force for the Recession

Why More Salespeople Suck Than Ever Before 

Why Company Methods to Rank and Compensate Salespeople Are All Wrong?

Proof of How Poorly the Bottom 74% of Salespeople Perform

One of These Two Assessments is More Predictive of Sales Success

The Challenges of Coaching Different Types of Salespeople

How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

Why This is Such a Great Sales Book

Sales Performance Improves When You Stop Worrying About Your Words

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, effective sales leadership, sales management seminar, closing more sales, beating the competition

What Percentage of Sales Managers Have the Necessary Coaching Skills?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 13, 2016 @ 06:04 AM

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I am often asked to explain what we look for when we evaluate Sales Managers.  At this point, most experts agree that a good Sales Manager will spend half of their time coaching up the salespeople.  Recently, I was asked to share some statistics about sales management coaching - the percentage of sales coaching skills that most Sales Managers have and the amount of time they spend.  So let's stop talking about the article and start sharing the statistics!

In a recent mining of data on approximately 100,000 Sales Managers evaluated by Objective Management Group (OMG), they have on average 43% of the Sales Coaching Competency and only 39% of all Sales Managers have at least 50% of the Sales Coaching Competency.  Only 7% have more than 75% of the Sales Coaching Competency and only 3% spend at least 50% of their time coaching their salespeople.

And that's just the sales coaching competency!

It gets better when we look at accountability, motivation and recruiting...

68% of Sales Managers have at least 50% of the attributes of the Accountability Competency and 16% have at least 75% of those skills.

90% of Sales Managers have at least 50% of the attributes of the Motivation Competency and 21% have at least 75% of those skills.

68% of Sales Managers have at least 50% of the attributes of the Recruiting Competency and 26% have at least 75% of those skills.

When you consider that Sales Managers with less than 75% of the attributes of any of these competencies are ineffective at the competency, that's a lot of sales management ineffectiveness.

Overall, 18% of all sales managers should not be in the role and 34% can't be trained up.

Sales Managers and sales leaders have an opportunity to get coached up themselves by attending my annual Sales Leadership Intensive where the training is on - you guessed it - these competencies and we focus on the sales coaching competency.  It's the best training on how to effectively coach salespeople that you can attend anywhere!  Learn more here.  If you would like to attend, you can  use this special code to get the special discount.  Just click the code : SLI-DK-UTSF [Update Sold Out]

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, sales management training, sales manager, sales management seminar

Top 5 Conditions For B2B Prospects to Buy Your Services

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 @ 19:03 PM

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There are five specific events, points in time, and conditions when it is appropriate to ask for help.  Before I explain those, let me go to my favorite source for analogies - baseball - to show how this is true.  A quick Google search indicates that I have woven baseball into 435 of my articles - nearly one third of them, so why baseball again?  

When I wrote Baseline Selling in 2005 (as I write this article 10 years later, the book is still ranked #10 on Amazon.com in the sales category!), I identified 53 baseball terms, scenarios, and conditions that were analogous to selling.  And that was well before I began weaving in sales management scenarios!

So first a little baseball and then the sales analogy.  A fastball hit me square in the knee today.

When our son turned 11, he had become a pitcher and since I wasn't a pitcher when I was younger, I knew that I could not teach him the proper mechanics of pitching, so I got him a pitching coach.

I have been coaching him in baseball since he was old enough to stand and when he turned 12, he stopped listening to me.  "I know Dad!"  "Stop Dad!"  "Just pitch it to me, Dad!"  When he stopped listening to me, I got him a hitting coach that he would listen to so that he could continue to develop as a great hitter.

When he turned 13, I could no longer play catcher to his pitcher.  I have bifocals, making it extremely difficult to track a hard-thrown knuckle curve ball from 60 feet away in the dim spring light at the end of a long, hard work day. Today, when that fastball hit me square on my knee, I knew that I needed to find someone that he could pitch to so that he doesn't have to worry about killing me!

This spring, as he nears his 14th birthday, he has been invited to play on the high school varsity baseball team despite only being in the 8th grade.  This will present a whole new challenge for him and require even more repetitions, in even more areas of the sport.  I don't have enough time to work with him as often as he would like.  I got him some more help.

Top 5 Conditions:

  1. Exceeds my capabilities
  2. Not listening to me anymore
  3. Can't do it anymore
  4. Limited bandwidth
  5. And if I lacked having some to call, then Lack of Resources

If you sell an outsourced service, you can replace #2 with "not scalable."

But this message is primarily for the Presidents, CEO's, Sales Leaders and Sales Managers who don't recognize numbers 1-5 above.

There are so many companies whose revenues are not coming close to reaching their potential because their leaders fail to recognize the 4 scenarios above.  In addition, some sales leaders believe that if they have to get help from the outside, it makes them appear weak.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In my experience, when companies bring us in to help and revenues begin to soar, it makes the sales leaders look like the heroes!

Let's look at them again.

Exceeds my capabilities - You need to coach your salespeople up, but you can't coach them to be any better than you were.  The key is to recognize that while you may have been a good salesperson, you may not have been a great salesperson, and may not have had your success selling the way that salespeople must sell in modern times.  Modern selling requires a consultative approach where salespeople are the value.

Not listening to me anymore - It happens in sports where managers and coaches are fired because their players have stopped listening.  Salespeople stop listening too - they tune-out their sales leaders - when they have heard it all before.  It is very difficult to coach someone up when they aren't listening to what you are telling them.

Can't do it anymore - Sales leaders often reach a frustration level where it is no longer possible for them to provide the kind of coaching that their salespeople require.  They sense that it just isn't working, is wasting time, and they stop.

Limited bandwidth - Coaching should consume 50% of a sales leader's time.  At least 20 hours per week of good, quality, impactful coaching.  Yet most sales leaders don't have nearly that much time to coach.  This week, I spoke with a Sales VP who reads this blog and he has 12 direct reports with more on the way.  Even if he could spend 50% of his time coaching, how can he possibly provide thorough coaching to 12 people in 20 hours per week?

Sales teams must perform.  And increasing goals, plans, budgets, expectations and quotas place additional pressure on sales leaders to get the most from their teams.  Can we really expect sales leaders to accomplish that without help?

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales consulting, Baseball, outsourcing

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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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