Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 23, 2018 @ 06:07 AM

best-worst2

Professional athletes have one trait in common - they are all very athletic and their skills are among the top several hundred in the world in their particular sport.  For example, in Major League Baseball, there are 30 teams with 25 players each, making those ball players the top 750 in the world.  Dig a little deeper and in each sport there is an even smaller subset of players who are all-stars. Among the top 750 baseball players in the world, just 34, or just a little shy of 5% of that group are named to the all-star team each year.

Professional salespeople have one trait in common - they are all professional salespeople.

Since there are 16 million of them in the USA alone, they are hardly a rare breed and everyone knows someone or a lot of someones who are in sales.  However, once we look at salespeople as a profession, much like sports, around 5% are all-stars.  The difference between an all-star baseball player and a bench player or substitute for one of the 30 teams is that the all-star hitter consistently crushes the ball, the all-star pitcher consistently dominates hitters, and the all-star closer consistently shuts down hitters in the final innings of play.  

In sales, we don't have substitutes, but we have lots of weak salespeople who are far less effective than subs.  First, there are so many of them it would be like including all 2,500 or so minor league players (A, AA, and AAA leagues), 1,110 or so independent league players who aren't good enough to play for a minor league team, all 50,000 or so college baseball players, and all 500,000 or so High School players and you still wouldn't come close to the 8 million inferior salespeople in the USA!

That said, there are some things that the elite salespeople do which weak salespeople aren't able to do and it doesn't involve hitting a baseball.

The table below which shows how comfortable salespeople are when it comes to money and related discussions with their prospects, including whether or not they are speaking with the actual decision maker.

talking-money

There are so many take aways from this!

  1. Strong across the board correlation to Sales Percentile
  2. Elite salespeople are score 613% higher in the competency Comfortable Talking about Money
  3. Elite salespeople score 86% higher in Money Tolerance - their concept of how much is a lot of money
  4. Elite salespeople score 23% higher in the competency Buying Habits Support Selling Value - they buy value instead of buying based on price
  5. Elite salespeople score 74% higher at uncovering actual budgets
  6. Elite salespeople score 55% higher in the competency reaching actual decision makers.

When you put it all together, elite salespeople are 200% more likely than their weaker colleagues to succeed at selling value, while having a financial conversation, with a decision maker.  Put another way, a weak salesperson has very little chance of having any kind of financial discussion or even reaching a decision maker.

That begs the question, why do so many companies put up with having so many weak salespeople?

You can see data for hundreds of thousands of salespeople in more than 200 industries in all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  If you want to get serious about selecting and hiring better salespeople you can take OMG's accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment for a test drive here.

Join the discussion of this data on LinkedIn.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, reaching decision makers, elite salespeople, talking about money, sales data

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

Sales Pipeline Data Shows That Most Late Stage Opportunities Just Aren't

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 @ 07:07 AM

pipeline

If you happened to read the article about most salespeople being fired or arrested if they worked in accounting then this is the sequel - Arrested 2!

That article focused on the number of late-stage opportunities in the pipeline.  Objective Management Group (OMG) conducts a pipeline analysis as part of its Sales Force Evaluations.  We ask salespeople to answer nineteen questions on four late-stage, proposal-ready, closable opportunities each.  In addition to looking at and rating the quality of the pipeline, we then go and re-stage their pipeline based on their answers.  It's pretty cool and the re-staging looks like what I described in this article.

The premise is that if we ask for late-stage, proposal-ready, or closable, then 100% of the opportunities should be in either the qualified or closable stage. I looked into the percentage of opportunities that required re-staging sorted by sales percentile and once again, the findings are powerful and insightful.

Take a peek at the table below where you can see the percentage of opportunities that we replaced in each stage, organized by sales percentile.

restaging-percentages

The first thing you'll notice is that without exception, the percentages correlate perfectly with sales percentile.  This is powerful because OMG does NOT use pipeline data to calculate sales percentile. So the opportunity percentages by stage serve to validate of our sales percentile scores in one more way!

Elite (5%) and Strong (15%) salespeople represent around 20% of the population, while around 50% of all salespeople are weak and the other 30% or so are serviceable.  Notice that elite salespeople had 150% more of their opportunities remain in a late stage (qualified or closable) than weak salespeople who only saw 16% of theirs remain late stage.  That's right. 84% of their opportunities were restaged to either the suspect or prospect stages of the pipeline.

As with the other articles that dig deep into the data, this is less of a surprise and more of a confirmation of what most of us have suspected and believed.  But like the data, it goes deeper.  You've heard the expression, "Inspect what you expect" and it is so true with pipeline.  Before you give elite salespeople a free pass, note that even they had 60% of their opportunities restaged!

My takeaway is that organizations must move from pipeline reviews and forecasts, to pipeline inspections and justifications.  Only then will coaching be in the proper context and will forecasts become accurate and reliable.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, omg, sales data

Latest Data Shows Most Salespeople Would be Fired or Arrested if they Worked in Accounting

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 02, 2018 @ 06:07 AM

jailed

It's summer so they're digging up streets, repaving roads, and repairing bridges.  That leads to epic traffic jams, long commutes and tremendous amounts of frustration.  And you're late!  I've been doing my best impression of the digging, without the paving and repairing.  Ten of my last fourteen articles have been based on Objective Management Group's (OMG) data from the evaluations of 1.8 million sales professionals and like the road work, we're gonna dig some more today!  

In this article, we will look to determine whether there is a correlation between sales percentile, sales pipeline and sales performance.  And as has been the case with the last ten articles like this, the data is sure to surprise.

OMG includes a pipeline analysis as part of every Sales Force evaluation it conducts. We ask each salesperson 19 questions about four late-stage, proposal-ready/closable opportunities currently in their pipeline.  In the table below, the percentage of salespeople who actually had 4 late-stage opportunities on which they could report are sorted by Sales Percentile.

Percentile-PipelineAlmost half of the elite and strong groups, representing the top 15% or so percent of all salespeople, had 4 late-stage opportunities while only a third or so of the serviceable salespeople and just 21% of the weak salespeople (half the population) had 4 late-stage opportunities in the pipeline.  It should come as no surprise at all that stronger salespeople have more quality opportunities in their pipelines.

The table below shows correlation between sales percentile, sales process and sales performance.  

Percentile-Process-PerformanceThere is a strong correlation between sales percentile and sales process. 86% of the elite salespeople (5% of the sales population) and 70% of strong salespeople (11% of the sales population) have the Sales Process Competency as a strength.  It drops off quickly and significantly for serviceable salespeople (34% of the sales population) and dramatically for weak (50% of the sales population) salespeople.  Is it any wonder that only 20% of weak salespeople have Sales Process as a strength?

The most interesting finding was in the area of performance.

While the percentages do correlate to Sales Percentile, the way companies report sales performance is insightful. In the table above, read the column on performance backwards. Companies report that 36% of elite salespeople aren't performing.  In other words, they believe that they "should do better!"  The finding is even worse for strong salespeople where companies say that 43% should do better.  Companies say that 53% of the serviceable salespeople are performing and 40% of the weak salespeople are performing.  This is crazy and it's all about expectations.  Expectations of the best salespeople are incredibly high, while expectations of the crappy salespeople are incredibly low.  For example, take a look at this screen shot of one small company's revenue by salesperson, and whether or not the company believes the salespeople are performing.

performance

As you can see, the company says that their top 2 salespeople, generating approximately $20 million between them, are not performing, while they say that their worst salespeople, generating a little more then $6 million combined from 3 of them, are performing.  Crazy, right?

Quotas continue to go up for the salespeople who perform until they can no longer hit the numbers. Meanwhile, in a race to the bottom, quotas are adjusted downward for crappy salespeople until they hit a mutual area of pathetic.  Some of us intuitively knew that this insanity was occurring, and now we can show proof of this with the data.

We can do so much better than this.  Why do so many executives protect their worst salespeople?  We hear things like, "Their customers love them."  "They serve a purpose."  "They have legacy knowledge."  "They're family."  "I recruited him here from another company we both worked for."  "They're not really costing us anything."

If these crappy salespeople and their protective bosses worked in accounting they would have been fired or jailed for this kind of performance!

What will it take for companies to demand the same performance from all salespeople that they get from their best salespeople?  Better recruiting and selection, better training, better coaching and better accountability.  And what will it take for those things to happen?  Don't hold your breath.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales pipeline, sales performance, sales data

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.

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

Sales Playbook and CRM Problems - What the Data Tells Us

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 06, 2018 @ 08:06 AM

pollen

I can't remember a spring where the pollen was worse than in 2018.  You go to the car wash and an hour later your beautiful car is covered in yellow crud and you're out $20.  A waste.

Perhaps you have an irrigation system with a rain sensor that tells the controller that your lawn and flower beds don't need to be watered today because it is pouring outside.  Yet, when you look out the window you see that the sprinklers are running despite the existence of a rain sensor.  A waste.

Did you ever spend hours assembling a child's toy only to watch it sit unused until the kid outgrew it and you gave it away?  Waste.

For years I noticed that most people never touched the manuals, handouts, CD's, card decks, and books that were distributed to them for the training programs in which they participated.  How many books, studies, manuals and reports have you received that sat and collected dust, reside on your hard drive or in the cloud and remain unopened to this day?  In my office, I have 6 shelves full of books that I never read and probably won't read half of the books on my Kindle either!  Waste.

That leads me to the growing demand for Sales Playbooks.  Companies want them, get excited about them, believe they are important, pay tens of thousands of dollars for them, and invest many hours collaborating for a successful final document.  You won't believe the wasteful things that happen next!

Over the past several years, I have witnessed two Sales Playbook creation scenarios repeatedly play out.

  • The executives who are most adamant about wanting to collaborate engage early but then fail to invest the time and effort necessary to provide the data, sample reports, knowledge, expectations, metrics and other information required to create a powerful and useful playbook.  They lose interest and without the necessary company-specific information, they end up with a playbook that is more generic so they don't bother to distribute the book to their salespeople.
  • Collaboration takes place as expected, a great playbook is created, and after distributing it to their salespeople, the books are never again opened or referenced.

In my experience, there is a sense that as long as the company issues a check to pay for the creation of the playbook, they can check the box and move on to their next project.  Check for a check.  They believe that getting the project started is more important than getting the project finished, seeing it through and assuring that the book is utilized according to expectations.  Waste.

I am a big fan of Membrain, the sales enablement application that manages pipeline with a focus on sales process and opportunities with integrated CRM.  Not only do they have a version with Baseline Selling built in, their interface is designed specifically for the creation of playbooks within the sales process.  Each milestone can be a separate playbook, with drop-downs, calculations, conditions, if-thens, cause and effect, instructions, examples and more.

Why invest in a stand alone playbook that either won't be completed or won't be used when there is such a terrific sales enablement application that allows you to integrate all of the desired components in one place?

I will no longer invest time to collaborate with senior executives to compile playbooks when Membrain is a significantly better alternative.  I am happy to help companies integrate playbook and sales process within an application like Membrain. Salespeople that live in Membrain are more able to drive their opportunities forward and manage their pipelines.

The biggest challenge with CRM/Opportunity/Pipeline Management applications is that most salespeople hate them and resist using them.  Want proof?  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and one of them is CRM Savvy. Look at the data below from a subset totaling 450,000 salespeople that were evaluated in the past 5 years.  

crm-usage

The data, showing 3 attributes of the CRM Savvy competency, clearly shows that while the majority of salespeople use CRM, stronger salespeople are 56% more likely to use it than weaker salespeople.  Fewer than 40% of salespeople embrace CRM and fewer than 10% actually live in their CRM application. Living in CRM is a best practice so what does that tell you?  It means that if your salespeople aren't choosing to live in your CRM application, you chose the wrong freaking CRM application! 

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, crm, sales playbook, sales data

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 30, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

 chain-reaction

I have written extensively about Sales DNA over the years and today we will view Sales DNA from the perspective of sitting inside of a chemistry lab.

Sales DNA is the combination of strengths (or weaknesses) that support (or sabotage) the execution of sales process, sales strategy and sales tactics.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures and includes the 6 most powerful of those strands of Sales DNA in its 21 Sales Core Competencies.  While I usually discuss the impact of these weaknesses, we have never conducted a lab experiment like this before! 

John Pattison, the COO at OMG, built a new tool for us to play with.  It allows us to slice and dice the data in ways never before possible (for us).  I feel like a kid with a new train set but that analogy ages me.  I feel like a kid with a new PlayStation!

The image below shows the average scores for all salespeople in the 6 Sales Core Competencies of Sales DNA.

DNA-pct-strengths-2

 

The average scores for all salespeople are not very good!  The next image shows the percentage of all salespeople who have those 6 Competencies as strengths.  This isn't very good either.

DNA-pct-strengths-1-1

 

You can see all of our data in all 21 Sales Core Competencies and filter it by industry and company here.

Most experiments begin with a theory or a question. My theory is that Sales DNA is similar to a chemical reaction whereby if a salesperson has 2 or more of the 6 above as weaknesses, and #2 is the tendency to become emotional, then weakness #1 will trigger weakness #2. 

A weakness is triggered when salespeople are aware of the need to execute a step, strategy or tactic, like asking a specific question, but are worried that the prospect will dislike them for doing so. As a result, they avoid executing and thereby sabotage themselves.  

DOESN'T NEED APPROVAL:  As a weakness, it causes salespeople to avoid an action when they worry that their prospects won't like them.  Prevents salespeople from asking tough questions, pushing back and challenging their prospects, the core skills to selling like a Challenger.

CONTROLS EMOTIONS: As a weakness, it occurs when salespeople worry, strategize, panic or get excited.  This causes them to get in their own heads, and prevents them from being able to actively listen and ask good questions, the core skills of a consultative approach to selling.

COMFORTABLE DISCUSSING MONEY: As a weakness, salespeople aren't comfortable asking a prospect where their money is coming from, how they might find money they don't have, how they might find more money than what was budgeted, or how to prioritize expenditures to solve their problems.

Let the experiment begin!

The first Competency I tested was Doesn't Need Approval or, whether or not a salesperson NEEDS to be liked.

58% of all salespeople Need to be Liked (a weakness) and their average score is 76 (weak).

When I sliced the data with Controls Emotions you can see what I found in the table below:

Emotions

66% of salespeople who need their prospects to like them become emotional when the weakness is triggered.  2/3 of them!

I wondered how much that percentage might change based on our Sales PercentileTM score so I dug deeper and learned that:

The bottom 25% of all salespeople, almost all of them at 85% - become emotional when the need to be liked is triggered.

For those in the percentiles between 26 and 50, 72% become emotional when the need to be liked is triggered.

Salespeople in the percentiles between 51 and 75 were less likely to become emotional when the need to be liked is triggered.  It happens with 60% of them.

Only 41% of the salespeople in the percentiles between 76-94 (strong) have the need to be liked but when it is triggered, 46% of that group become emotional.

Only 18% of elite salespeople (the top 5%) have the need to be liked but when it is triggered, 24% of them become emotional. 

* * * * 

I ran the same experiment on Comfortable Discussing Money.  As with the need to be liked, 60% of all salespeople have this as a weakness.  

67% of those who are not comfortable discussing finances become emotional at the moment the money weakness is triggered.  Again, it's two thirds of them!

As with the need to be liked, the percentage changed according to Sales PercentileTM so here is what happens:

78% of the salespeople in the bottom 50% become emotional when the money weakness is triggered.

59% of the salespeople in the percentiles between 51 and 75 become emotional when the money weakness is triggered.

Only 34% of salespeople in the percentiles between 75-95 are uncomfortable discussing money but when the weakness is triggered, 41% of that group become emotional.

Only 8% of elite salespeople (the top 5%) are uncomfortable talking about money, but when the weakness is triggered, 17% of them become emotional. 

Upon the triggering of the first weakness, these findings show that for most salespeople with more than 1 major weakness along with the tendency to become emotional, the emotions weakness is triggered as part of a chain reaction.

The data also confirms that nearly all of the weakest salespeople (Sales Percentile below 25) have these weaknesses (and more) and the 1st weakness almost always triggers the 2nd weakness.

Finally, the data confirms that very few of the salespeople in the elite top 5% have these weaknesses and when they do it is far less likely for the 2nd weakness to be triggered with the 1st.

When everyone on the sales force receives the exact same sales training and coaching, these findings explain why top salespeople continue to succeed while poor salespeople fail to show measurable improvement

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, Sales DNA, sales statistics, emotional, need to be liked, talking about money, sales data

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About Dave

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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