How Top Salespeople Anticipate and Manage Resistance

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 29, 2019 @ 16:05 PM

anticipation

Last week Tom Hopkins shared a post on LinkedIn that resembled what I have said so many times.  He said, "The art of selling involves two jobs: Job One is to reduce sales resistance and the other is to increase sales acceptance."

Many readers left comments about the importance of relationships as a means to preventing resistance from going up.

I left a comment that said, "Thanks Tom.  Most salespeople fail to lower resistance because they lack the self-awareness to understand what it is that they might say or do, or how they might act that would raise resistance in the first place.  When salespeople can anticipate and manage resistance, they won't have to work so hard to reduce it so frequently.  All of the comments about the importance of developing relationships to lower resistance and increase acceptance are misguided.  Just look inside your own family dynamics to recognize that relationships don't eliminate or lower resistance.  It might be quite the opposite."

One reader asked me a great question, "How do you anticipate resistance?" 

I thought that was such a great question that we should discuss the topic more fully in this article. Are you familiar with the Carly Simon song from the 70's?  It was even more popular as the theme song for the Heinz Ketchup ads.  Ready?

A great starting point for this discussion is my short 2:34 video on managing resistance.  

So back to the question as to how you anticipate resistance.

Most salespeople are so bad at anticipating resistance that they are frequently doing one of two things:

  1. Missing the signs - their prospects are resistant and they are completely blind to it;
  2. Trying to overcome whatever resistance they do observe by becoming defensive and making the situation worse.

Our two-year old GoldenDoodle anticipates resistance better than that! 

Dinger

The Carly Simon song was, "Anticipation."

Our dog knows that when the rest of the family is out, and my phone plays the familiar sound from the Blink camera, they have returned home and he excitedly runs to the door.  He knows that after he comes back in the house from doing his business he'll get a bone and he sits and waits for it.  He knows that when all of us put our jackets on we'll be leaving the house and he runs into the bathroom where he'll spend the time sleeping.  He knows that when we turn off the news we'll be heading upstairs to bed and he leads the way.  He is a master of anticipation.

Unfortunately, most salespeople are a bit slower on the uptake as they frequently fail to recognize the patterns. 

One of the reasons for that is their poor listening skills. Only 25% of all salespeople emphasize listening over talking and it's no surprise that almost the identical percentage of salespeople listen effectively.  Those who aren't really listening won't hear the building resistance in a prospect's voice.  Salespeople don't listen because they are strategizing in their mind, thinking ahead, considering what's been said, scripting their next move, determining what their next question should be and generally not paying attention. It's not a big jump to go from lack of listening to lack of observing.  If they aren't paying attention via their listening, then they aren't paying attention via observation either. If they aren't observing, they won't see the changes in body language that could signal the building of resistance. When salespeople are busy thinking instead of paying attention, they are not controlling their emotions and staying in the moment as they should.  Only 37% of all salespeople are able to control their emotions.

Let's revisit the self-awareness issue.  Most salespeople aren't consciously aware of how prospects react when salespeople answer a question a certain way, ask a certain question, become defensive, begin blabbing their talking points, dodge questions, move the needle on the bullshit meter, or appear untrustworthy, all cases where their prospects could regularly become resistant.

You've undoubtedly heard the question, "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Wikipedia states that this is a "philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and perception."  The same question is valid when applied to salespeople.  If a prospect becomes resistant and the salesperson doesn't see or hear it, was the prospect truly resistant?

Sales closing rates vary wildly by industry but generally range from as low as 10% to near 50%.  In its evaluations of 1,865,460 salespeople, salespeople scored an average of only 24% in the Closer Competency and only 6% of all salespeople have the Closer Competency as a strength. (See stats on all 21 Sales Core Competencies

Let's play a game of what if.

If 75% of salespeople are not really paying attention, it's reasonable to deduct that resistance goes up in at least half of their sales calls (37.5% of all calls assuming all salespeople make the same number of calls) without the salespeople knowing it.  Failed closings average 70%, and if resistance occurs 37.5% of the time, then in 26% of the cases, resistance is responsible for salespeople losing the sale.

Managing resistance is huge and Tom Hopkins was and is correct when he said that lowering resistance is job number 1.

There is no sales tactic that is easier to learn than how to lower resistance. It's a shame that for most salespeople, it is the sales equivalent of an archeology degree.  They aren't likely to use it.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, overcoming resistance, linkedin, Tom Hopkins, win rates, sales data

The New Salesenomics

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 23, 2019 @ 21:05 PM

 SALESENOMICS

Back in the 1960's it made sense for gasoline prices to be discounted down to the nearest 9/10 of a cent because gas prices ranged between 17.9 to 18.9 cents.  But when gas prices are around $3.00 per gallon, how does 9/10 cent continue to make sense?  Some habits die really hard.

I don't know about you but some things just don't make sense to me.  I loved the Leavitt/Dubner series of books on Freakonomics and thought I could share some interesting sales and sales management data that make little sense.

Nearly 50% of salespeople are willing to work on straight commission but only 7% of companies offer such a compensation plan.

Two of the sales metrics tracked most often are margin at 65% and profitability at 51%.  Surprisingly, only 6% of companies track the cost of a sales call.  Why do companies who care about margin and profitability not care about the cost of a sales call?

Only 34% of companies track win rates, 32% track account retention, and 9% track the percentage of meetings that close; yet 57% track the percentage of salespeople under/over goal and 47% track their top opportunities.  Why would they track their top opportunities but not care about meetings that close or win rates?

49% of companies track the number of opportunities in their pipeline yet only 27% track the quality of those opportunities.  That leads to the low win rates that companies are not really tracking and the inaccurate forecasts that drive CEO's crazy!  

Salespeople reporting to a manager with strong Coaching skills have 26% more closable opportunities in their sales pipelines while salespeople reporting to a manager with strong Accountability skills have 18% more closable opportunities in their pipelines.  On the other side of the fence, salespeople with sales managers who have weak coaching and/or accountability skills saw 77% of their late stage opportunities moved back to one of the earliest stages of the pipeline!

Sales managers with strong coaching skills are 230% more likely to have elite salespeople working for them!  If that doesn't make a case for developing coaching skills, I don't know what does.

Although they should be spending half their time on coaching, Sales Managers spend around half their time split between coaching, accountability and motivation.  How do they spend the other half of their time?  Does it really matter?  Whether it's spent on personal sales, closing reps' deals, putting out fires, or administrative crap, all of it distracts from coaching.

Salespeople with no sales experience – born to sell – have a sales percentile score of 32 with an average Sales DNA score of 61 and an average Will to Sell score of 60.  They fall into the very weak category.  Compare that to salespeople with 5-10 years of experience – trained to sell – who have a sales percentile score of 58 (182% higher) with an average Sales DNA score of 67 (110% higher) and an average Will to Sell score of 66 (110% higher).  Trained to sell beats born to sell.

All of the salesenomics statistics referenced above are from Objective Management Group's (OMG) data warehouse.  OMG has evaluated or assessed 1,863,494 salespeople from companies in countries.

Would you like to see how salespeople score in each of the 21 sales core competencies?  Click here.

Would you like to check out the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment? Click here.

Would you like to discover some more salesenomics?  Check out these articles:

Great News! The Latest Data Shows That Salespeople are Improving 

Data Shows That Only 14% are Qualified for the Easiest Selling Roles

The Wrong Salespeople are Hired 77% of the Time

Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

New Data Shows that You Can Double Revenue by Overcoming This One Sales Weakness

Salespeople With This Weakness Score 47% Worse at Reaching Decision Makers

Which 4 Sales Competencies Best Differentiate Top from Bottom Salespeople?

Where Can You Find the Best Salespeople?

The Top 12 Factors that Cause Delayed Closings and What to Do About Them

Data Shows 1st Year Sales Improvement of 51% in this Competency

Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Do the Best Sales Managers Have the Best Salespeople?

New Data Shows That Elite Salespeople are 700% Less Likely to Do This

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

Does Being a Strong Qualifier Correlate to Having a Strong Pipeline?

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

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

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

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

New Data - Are Experienced Sales Managers Better Sales Managers?

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

Sales Playbook and CRM Problems - What the Data Tells Us

New Data Shows How Relationships and the Need to be Liked Impact Sales Performance

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

Discovered - Data Reveals the Second Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Topics: sales training, Sales Coaching, born to sell, sales metrics, sales data

Data Shows 1st Year Sales Improvement of 51% in this Competency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 18, 2018 @ 13:09 PM

improve

I've written extensively about how salespeople score in 21 Sales Core Competencies. Typically, both the articles and data are shared in the context of the difference between top salespeople and weak salespeople but rarely have I written about what happens after salespeople have been evaluated.

Here's how it usually works.  A company asks their outside sales expert for help growing sales.  As a first step, the expert suggests evaluating the sales force using OMG's incredible suite of tools.  The results are shared and reviewed with the client and anonymous data from the evaluation is added to our nearly 1.8 million rows of data.  That is the data I so often write about and you can see the aggregate scores, sorted by sales percentile, industry or region, at our public statistics site.

Post evaluation, the expert will likely help the company by providing some combination of training, coaching, consulting, recruiting, systems and processes updates in the areas that need to be improved.  As a result, do salespeople actually get better?  That's a direct result of the trainer's/consultant's effectiveness, the company's commitment to change, and the sales managers' ability to coach to the sales process and methodology, all well out of OMG's hands.  However, we do have some insight into how much their salespeople improve.

Approximately one year after the initial sales force evaluation, OMG offers to conduct a checkpoint where change can be measured and now I have the data.

I looked at the before and after scores for eight of the 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as the Reaches Decision Makers, Account Manager and Farmer competencies for a total of 11.  See the table below:

checkpoint-changes

One of the first things you might notice is that scores went down in 2 competencies - Relationship Building and Account Management.  Many salespeople believe that selling is simply having relationships and showing up. Then, when training and coaching targets the more impactful competencies, it's not unusual to see scores actually get worse in the two competencies they previously took for granted.

Another thing you might notice is the significance of change for Closing, Reaching Decision Makers, and Selling Value, a bi-product of what I assume the training and coaching would have been focused on post evaluation.

Twelve months later, there is an overall 18% improvement in scores.  We know that a just a 10% improvement creates a 33% increase ins sales.  Don't believe me?  Check out this table:

10-percent-improvementIf a 10% improvement creates a 33% improvement in revenue, what does an 18% improvement create?  Math is a really important tool in creating value and in this case, math tell us we can expect a 59% increase in revenue.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Closing Skills, sales core competencies, sales data

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

New Data Shows That Elite Salespeople are 700% Less Likely to Do This

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 20, 2018 @ 15:08 PM

urgency-image

How effective are salespeople when it comes to creating urgency?  I'm not talking about salespeople who create urgency by telling their prospects that if they don't order today the price will go up or it won't be available.  I'm talking about salespeople who create urgency by asking questions to uncover problems, the consequences and cost of which, create urgency.

You probably know that most aren't great at it.  After all, with so few salespeople having mastered the consultative approach, it's unlikely that one can achieve urgency using a transactional approach.

The latest data below from Objective Management Group (OMG) shows sales effectiveness relative to sales percentile and ability to create urgency. The following 1-minute video explains the difference between a transactional sale and a consultative approach, along with the differing outcomes.

 

The table below is derived from 1831502 salespeople assessed or evaluated by Objective Management Group, Inc. (OMG).  These findings make up some of the attributes of the Consultative Seller competency.  You can see and interact with data from all 21 sales Core Competencies here.  
urgency-stats

The 1st column in the table above shows the distribution by Sales Percentile, the next 3 columns show the percentage of salespeople in each group and how wide and deep they penetrate to find reasons to buy.  The last 3 columns show the state of buying readiness they achieve and the last column on the right shows the percentage of salespeople who are able to create urgency.

While only half of Elite salespeople are strong at creating urgency, elite salespeople create urgency 326% more often than their weaker counterparts, fail to uncover anything more than interest 700% less often and fail to get beyond "nice to have" 329% less often.

Unfortunately, weak salespeople make up 50% of the sales population and in the US alone, that's 8 million weak salespeople!

Make sure you don't hire any of that group by using OMG's accurate and predictive, sales-specific Sales Candidate Assessments.

Join the discussion on this article on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales assessements, creating urgency, sales data

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 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 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.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales pipeline, sales performance, 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, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

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Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Individual Blog -  Silver

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver


Top Sales Awards 2018 - Assessment Tool -  Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blog 2019

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



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