Eliminate Delayed Closings Once and for All

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 14, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

leavesA long time ago I realized that in the suburbs outside of Boston, new leaves reach full size each Spring on May 11.  This year, with the cold April we endured, May 11 came and went and the leaves were delayed.

That said, spring leaves on May 11 are exponentially more predictable than pipeline opportunities.  Why might an opportunity not close when it was forecast to?

Technically, there are seven possibilities:

  1. Closes as forecast and you win.
  2. Closes when forecast and you lose.
  3. A short delay that you will close
  4. A short delay that someone else will close
  5. A long delay that you will close
  6. A long delay that someone else will close
  7. A delay of any duration that results in no decision.

And why might those conditions apply?

  • Your CRM application wasn't configured to properly calculate the projected close date
  • Your sales process/CRM application does not include a scorecard that scores and predicts a win
  • The opportunity was not thoroughly qualified because the salesperson:
    • didn't know how
    • wasn't aware of the need
    • fear or discomfort
    • ignored what the prospect said
  • The salesperson had happy ears

The statistics on 1.7 million salespeople evaluated and assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG) show us that only 27% of all salespeople have the Qualifier Competency as a strength.  The top 10% of all salespeople only have an average of 77% of the attributes of a Qualifier and all salespeople average 53%.

The same statistics show us that only 30% of all salespeople have the CRM Savvy as a strength.  And the top 10% of all salespeople only have an average of 64% of the attributes of CRM Savvy and all salespeople average 43%.

And 27% of all salespeople have the Milestone Centric Sales Process as a strength while the top 10% of all salespeople only have an average of 66% of the attributes of the Sales Process Competency and all salespeople average 49%.

Of the nearly 6,000 candidates that were assessed in the past 4 weeks for sales positions, 38% of them "think it over" when making major purchases.  That makes them vulnerable to prospects who wish to think it over at closing time, extending the sales cycle, and causing a delay. because they "understand."

See OMG's statistics in all 21 Sales Core Competencies and filter by industry as well as your company.

Preventing delays can't always be avoided but more thorough qualifying makes a huge difference.  The key is asking more questions.  When you think you have asked enough, there are always a few more you can ask.  For example, in this article, the difference between "nice to have" and "must have" are often the difference between delays and closes.  This article shows that the when salespeople meet with the actual decision makers they are 56% more likely to close the business.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: qualifying, delayed closings, steps in a sales process, sales CRM, Dave Kurlan, OMG Assessment

Is it Your Salespeople or Did You Make a Bad Decision?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 @ 12:10 PM

carbucknjalopy.jpg

Consider buying a car that had an insanely cheap price, with every option you could imagine, as well as options that you never thought you could use.  Nice!  But, you can't drive it until you hire an after market specialist to install instrumentation on the dashboard, a steering wheel, brakes, and gas pedal in the driver's area.  When you finally accept delivery and take it for a spin with your family, everyone hates it, nobody wants to drive with you, and you feel like it wasn't such a great price after all. You can't trade it in, and now you're stuck with it. Sounds impossible, doesn't it?  But for many companies, that is exactly how things are playing out for that purchased this popular application.

Salesforce.com.  

Consider this quote from a client:

"You were right, you know.  Six months ago, when you told us that we wouldn't be happy with the integration of the customized sales process into Salesforce.com, we didn't understand what you meant.  But now we do.  It's clunky, not really part of the interface, the customization cost us tens of thousands of dollars, and it doesn't work the way we need it to.  We are so sorry we didn't listen because that train has left the station."

Companies think they have to buy salesforce.com when, in reality, there are some really great alternatives.  Our favorite is Membrain.  It doesn't cost as much, doesn't require third-party integrators to get it to do what you want, and has perfectly good dashboards out of the box.  There's even a standard configuration for Baseline Selling.  [Speaking of Baseline Selling, I've received so many compliments on the great job of the voice over talent on the new audiobook!  You can order all versions (hardcover, paperback, Kindle, audio) of Baseline Selling here.]

Nobody should be stuck in a CRM application that salespeople don't want to use!  They will be inconsistent at best with regard to entering data, when they should actually be living in their CRM application.  Whether they are inconsistent or invisible when it comes time to enter and update opportunities, you won't have real time data on your dashboard and that makes the application useless to management.  At that point it's like owning a car that has a folding chair for a driver's seat and the car does not have a working speedometer, odometer or gasoline gauge. 

CRM is important.  Accurate forecasts are important.  Visibility into each and every opportunity is important.  Integration of the sales process that must be executed and the stage and milestone on which each opportunity sits is important.  Real time visibility is important.  If it's not working for you, cut your losses and move on.  Isn't that what you would do with an under performing salesperson?

Kitedesk featured me in a Sales Expert interview that you can read here.

I was the guest expert on a Rapid Learning Institute Webinar on the sales candidate interviewing mistakes you must avoid.  You can listen to that Webinar here.

I'll be hosting a 30-minute presentation of my own on October 25 at 11 AM Eastern.  I'll be talking about the 6 Hidden Weaknesses that impact sales revenue!  If you would like to listen in, you can register here.

Topics: salesforce.com, sales process, sales CRM, membrain, Baseline Selling, Dave Kurlan

The 3 Most Important Questions about Sales Process and My Answers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 09, 2016 @ 06:05 AM

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Sales Process is a topic that I have chosen to write about around 25 times over the past 10 years. All 25 articles can all be found in my series on Sales Process.  Lately, we are finally beginning to see some improvements being made in this area.  For example, back in the early 90's, when Objective Management Group (OMG) first began measuring the existence of sales process, only 9% of all salespeople were following one with any degree of consistency and effectiveness.  It was amazing to me that for 20 years, this number failed to change!  But recent statistics are showing that 20-25% of companies and their salespeople are finally following and using a sales process.  Hooray!

With sales process finally getting the necessary attention, we should turn our attention to the three related issues that need to be addressed.  Which sales process should you select, and into which CRM application should it be integrated and how can it be customized?

To help answer the question of which sales process, it's important to understand that there aren't that many to begin with!  Names you might recognize as sales processes, like Challenger, SPIN and Sandler, are really methodologies - not processes.  For example, this short video explains one complete Sales Process - Baseline Selling - and compares it with Challenger, SPIN and Solution Selling.

It should be clear that you need a complete process and it should be customized for your business, what you sell, who you sell to, and the challenges that you face.  If you already have a process, or think you have a process, you can grade it for free using our complimentary sales process grader.

As for the CRM into which it should be integrated, where do I start?

Enterprise-size companies will need to choose Salesforce.com because it's the only platform that will do everything an enterprise-size company needs.

For everyone else, there are lots of choices, and Salesforce.com is probably not the best choice - unless you like spending a ton of money on customization, only to have a clunky interface that salespeople dislike.  And if your salespeople don't like it, they won't live in it, and if they don't live in it, the information on that dashboard, which you paid a fortune to customize, will be as useless as a typewriter.

It's difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to truly integrate sales process into CRM and expect its presence to be useful.  However, there is one CRM application which is perfect for businesses where the focus is sales process, the playbook, the pipeline and the dashboard.  Salespeople love it and that means they will live in it, data will be available in real time, and your dashboard will be predictive!  It doesn't need a whole lot of customization out of the box, and what customization it does require, won't require an integrator.  I think that if you check out the version of Membrain with Baseline Selling pre-integrated into it, you'll want to have it.

Some companies really get stuck when it comes to CRM, swayed by the crowd to move to Salesforce.com, but overwhelmed with the work required to roll out an instance of salesforce.com to their sales force.  Speaking of stuck, the folks over at #Getunstuck asked me to record a short video for them on how I get unstuck and you can check it out here.

Getting back to CRM, I've also written a dozen articles on CRM.  This article on scorecards illustrates the power of having a CRM application that can be easily customized and tweaked as you go along and gain more information.  Another article discusses the 16 problems with CRM.  Finally, this article provides an example of how you can use the information on a CRM dashboard to improve revenue.

Sales process, without a CRM application that can fully utilize it, is solving only half of the problem.  CRM, without a good sales process, yields the same net outcome.  And when both the process and the CRM app are not as good as they could be, you're essentially moving at the speed of water evaporating!  You're slowly moving backwards!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales CRM, membrain, salesforce.com

Sales Pros! 10 Things You Must Do Before Leaving for Summer Vacation

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 01, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

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Copyright 123RF Stock Photo

Are you going to the beach? On a sail? On a tour? To another country? To a lodge? To a resort?  Regardless of your destination or purpose, make sure you bring some good books, disconnect from your email and social networks, and actually use the time to recharge. That's good old common sense. But if you really want to kick some ass when you return from vacation, you'll want to make sure you do these important things too:

  1. Turn on your auto-responders and leave a useful message - do not let it go out with the default note.
  2. Change your voicemail message.
  3. Schedule the first two days following your vacation with Office Time. You'll need it to respond to 300 emails, return 20 phone calls, and go through mail, documents, and issues that may have arisen while you were gone.
  4. Schedule half days of prospecting time for the 3rd-5th days back.
  5. Before you leave, make sure you have meetings scheduled for the other half of days 3-5 after your return.
  6. Before you leave, schedule meetings for your entire second week back. You must complete that before you can leave for your vacation!
  7. If you're like most salespeople, you have more prospects in your dead/lost/stuck folders than in your active pipeline. Contact all of them before you leave and see if anything has changed since the last time you spoke. Let them know that you're heading out for vacation and would love to talk with them in either late July or early August if they think there is a reason or if they would like some help.
  8. Make sure your CRM/Pipeline Management application is completely up-to-date and each opportunity accurately reflects where you are today, what the next steps are, the realistic projected closing date as well as the realistic spend, where you are versus your competition, and the realistic likelihood of closing. Also make sure that the notes for each opportunity are up-to-date.
  9. Check your task lists, calendar, Evernote, CRM and email and be certain that you do not have any outstanding proposals, return calls, follow-ups or promises that slipped through the cracks. It's easier to take care of those things with an apology before you leave, than it is to kiss those opportunities, customers and clients goodbye when you return.
  10. Identify any prospects or customers that could possibly have an issue while you're gone and ask someone you trust to help in case you aniticipated correctly. Prep them and go away without worries.

Have a great vacation and when you get back, please go out and kick some ass.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, sales CRM, sales follow up

Approaching 2015 From a Sales Perspective

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

newyear

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

You’ve made your New Years resolutions to exercise, lay off the carbs, lose weight, be kind, leave the cell phone in another room at night, close the laptop by 7PM, and be an all-around better person. You may have even set your goals for 2015. But what can you do to kick-off the New Year so that 2015 is your best sales year ever? Here are my top 10 tips: 

  1. Go All In on Your Goals and Write a Plan. If you know how much money you want to earn in 2015 and have a compelling reason to earn it, the next step is to figure out how. Subtract your salary as well as commissions on booked and/or residual business to determine the remaining required income. Based on your existing commission or bonus plan, how much new business must you close? How many new sales or accounts are required? What are the metrics to close one – in other words, how many proposals, demos, qualified opportunities, prospects and suspects does it take? Multiply that by the number of new sales or accounts required. You now have the activity required. Divide that by the number of selling days in the year. That gives you your daily metrics. Chapter 3 in my Baseline Selling Field Guide will step you through this entire process. Finally, where will that business come from? How much of that is already in your pipeline and how much of it must be found?
  2. Live in Your CRM. Resolve to begin each day from inside your CRM and specifically, in your pipeline. I love the ready-to-use Baseline Selling version of Membrain for this purpose. From the exercise above, you should know how many opportunities are required for each of four stages of the pipeline. A pipeline with typical conversion ratios might have 12 Suspects, 6 Prospects, 3 Qualified and 2 Closable. Determine how many opportunities must be added to your pipeline, which opportunities need your attention to move forward, and which opportunities are ready to be closed. Use email as a tool to make your pipeline work; not the other way around.
  3. Use the Phone. Use email to confirm dates, times and numbers and exchange agreed upon information. Do what old-school salespeople do and have ALL of your non face-to-face meetings over the phone. Follow my lead and conduct video conferences. Quickly create a page like this one that I built in Postwire for a professional, slick, and impressive way to share necessary documents, collateral and content instead of sending via email.
  4. Improve Your Sales Capability. Skills are only a part of what can make you effective. The truth is that your Sales DNA is an even more critical part of a salesperson’s makeup than skills. Sales DNA is represented by strengths that support your ability to execute, or weaknesses that interfere. My SalesMind CD uses powerful self-hypnosis and affirmations to help you quickly overcome your weaknesses and strengthen your Sales DNA. Quickly improve your ability to ask great questions, push back, talk about money, become rejection-proof, overcome call-reluctance, control your thoughts and emotions, reprogram your self-limiting beliefs, become a better decision maker and much more.
  5. Be Productive. Use powerful web applications or device-specific apps that sync across all of your devices so that you can get more done. I like Wunderlist for tasks, Google Calendar, Evernote for notes, Schedule Once (Membrain users have our own version of this) to make it easy for people to schedule a meeting with you, ToutApp for managing email lists and templates, Hubspot for my Blog and inbound analytics, Google Drive for documents and spreadsheets, Wistia for video, and Dropbox for file storage. Shufflr is great for sharing PowerPoint files with my team as well as quickly and easily building presentations from slides you’ve already used in other presentations. I use Zoom for HD video conferencing and AdobeConnect for my Webinar/Video Broadcast platform. It’s only with email that I use different applications on different devices. On my Mac desktop and laptop, I use Outlook for Mac. On my Android phone, I use MailDroid, and on my iPad, I use Acompli. So while the emails apps are all different, they still sync across all of my devices.
  6. Become a Consultative Seller. I’ve written about this enough. You know what it means. It’s time. Be like Nike. Just do it.
  7. Become a Value Seller. I’ve written a lot about this recently. Check out this series of value selling articles on my Blog.
  8. Follow a Proven, Milestone-Centric Sales Process. Check out this series of articles on Sales Process from my Blog.
  9. Look at that - You skipped over tip #1 – it’s so easy to skip that; I included it twice because it’s really the first thing you need to do in January!
  10. Be More Productive. Use ConnectAndSell to reach more prospects by phone than you ever believed possible. Using their service, you can connect with 7-8 prospects per hour instead of per week.

There you have it.  Follow my 10 tips for getting 2015 off to a good start and this could be your best year ever!  I wish you Happy Holidays and a safe New Year.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, postwire, sales CRM, membrain, selling value

Sales Leadership Observations about Pipeline and Terminations

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Jun 02, 2013 @ 22:06 PM

The Pipeline, The Funnel and the Inaccurate Forecast - It gets a bit scary when people who are experts in one thing write about another.  Today's example was sent to me by OMG partner Mike Shannon.  He sent along a recent BtoBonline.com post by Jeff Perkins.  Jeff suggests that the sales funnel is a thing of the past, but his examples, and therefore reasons, are way off base.  He seems confused about what the sales pipeline or funnel is supposed to do for us.  

His examples are that people change their minds about what they will buy and/or take varying amounts of time to become customers.  

But pipeline isn't about the what or the how long; it's all about tractionmovement, the if and the when.  The funnel or pipeline shows prospects moving from stage to stage in the sales process whether they are buying one or ten, spending $10K or $100K, or buying in 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years.  

Many sales leaders are confused about the pipeline.  After all, the single biggest complaint I hear is the one about inaccurate forecasts followed closely by delayed closings.  The pipeline should be the single most accurate predictor of future revenue.  If your pipeline is not providing you with that information, something is wrong with either your process, your stages, your criteria, your CRM, or your people.  And don't rule out yourself on this one.  Many leaders have simply given up!  You must fix it.  The pipeline should also be a powerful coaching tool.   Is yours?

The Termination, The Cake and the Celebration - I was called into a conference room last week where I found my team waiting for me with a cake.  I asked if we were celebrating our big month, but was told that we were celebrating the one-year anniversary of a firing!  

That particular firing was a huge milestone and it allowed us to build a better team, a better product and a better company.  Sales leaders often fear, delay and sometimes refuse to put termination on the table.  We hear things like, "You need to know that we aren't getting rid of anyone." in the same conversation as "Our numbers are unacceptable."  More importantly, sales leaders often worry that terminations will be viewed as a negative or demotivate the team when, in reality, the opposite is usually true.  Wouldn't a cake and celebration by the remaining and new team members be a good indication of that?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, sales funnel, sales termination, sales CRM

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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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