How March Madness Applies to Salespeople and Your Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 @ 21:03 PM

NCAA-March-Madness.jpg

March Madness is all the rage with college hoop fans glued to their sports news feeds, video highlights, and brackets. In addition to March madness, folks are paying a lot of attention to the US Presidential Primaries, with an audience that's huge in comparison to past election years.  Spring Training began this month and as a baseball fan, I've been waiting for spring training all winter long! These distractions are evident in a number of ways and I can speak to how they affect business, the sales organization and salespeople.

This month, more people are showing up late for online training, showing the effects of staying up late to watch election coverage and debates and seeing how their favorite teams fared the night before.

Prospects have behaved worse than ever.  Salespeople are having even more difficulty reaching prospects and getting calls and emails returned - even from those who have expressed their interest in doing business.

On my own blog, March readership has been upside down with some articles getting only 10% of the views they normally receive.  For instance, here are 4 articles that I can almost guarantee that you didn't read, but that you should have:

Top 5 Conditions for B2B Prospects to Buy Your Services

Top 5 Keys to Prepare Your Sales Force for the Coming Recession

The Strategy That Will Help Nail Your ROI and Value Proposition Every Time

How to Sell to Existing Accounts So That You Don't Lose to the Competition

Salespeople are exhausted.  The salespeople who are selling to me, the salespeople we are coaching, and the salespeople we are training are all a step behind.  They're not quick enough on their feet, they aren't listening effectively, and they are missing openings, important statements and comments.

Even the salespeople who have been scheduled for job interviews are showing up late, missing appointments and have been generally disappointing in their interviews.

I love all of these entertaining things as much as the next person and I'm short on sleep too.  But we can't let that get in the way of what we need to be doing during business hours.  We all need to operate much like a jet airplane ready for take-off.  When it's time, rev those engines, accelerate down the runway, lift off and soar.  The lazy, distracted, zero-urgency, going through the motions pretenders will not have any success - with me or with anyone else.

If you have the skills and the Sales DNA, then you must be focused, disciplined, consistent, committed, motivated and persistent - characteristics that anyone - and I mean anyone - is capable of for 8 hours a day.  If you lack the skills and/or the Sales DNA, then you must use those same characteristics to develop your skills, overcome your weaknesses and become the best that you can be.

You have a choice - be part of the elite 7%; be part of the strong 16% or be part of the crappy 77%.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, Sales DNA, keys to sales success, hyper sales excellence, presidential primaries, spring training

The Importance of Resiliency in Sales and Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 22, 2015 @ 06:04 AM

paul-blart-mall-cop-2

We saw Paul Blart - Mall Cop 2 and laughed a grand total of twice.  It was inept comedy, a horrible sequel and a terrible movie.  Despite that, it was a great example of resiliency as Blart is continually rejected, stopped, ridiculed and put-off, only to ignore those events, bear down and try even harder to accomplish his goals.  From that perspective, the movie, and Kevin James, succeed at demonstrating what it is like to be a salesperson.  Every other employee in a company is provided with a job description, a set of goals or expectations, training if necessary, and then left to do their job.  Nobody will stop them or make it difficult for them to complete their work, as long as they are capable.  Salespeople, on the other hand, must deal with prospects who won't answer their phones or emails, competitors who say bad things about them and their companies, as well as products and services that aren't always the best in quality, value, or the best choice.  Salespeople must demonstrate resiliency in order to succeed, yet one of the components of resiliency is sorely lacking in today's modern salespeople.

Only 34% of all salespeople have strong commitment for success in  sales - down considerably from 58% in 2007. Why?  One reason is that selling is more difficult than it was 10 years ago.  Another reason could be the rapid growth of inside sales teams where, unlike the traditional quota-carrying outside salesperson of years past, members of the inside sales team are often younger, less experienced, and not necessarily committed to a career of sales excellence.

Movies have been a great source of inspiration for me.  In addition to utilizing close to 100 different movie clips to demonstrate various selling and sales management lessons during training, a quick search revealed that I have relied on various movies to offer an analogy in more than a dozen Blog articles over the past 10 years.  Among them are lessons from:

We Bought a Zoo 
Dragnet 
Moneyball 
The Pursuit of Happyness 
The Lion King 
The Peaceful Warrior Movie 
Anti-Trust 
Gravity 
The Secret 
First Knight 
The Blind Side 
Coach Carter 

There are lessons everywhere.  All you have to do is look for them.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, Sales DNA, sales commitment, movies and sales

A Good Look at Bad Salespeople - Companies Don't Get This!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 22, 2015 @ 10:01 AM

goodv.bad

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

This week I received a cold call from one of the worst salespeople ever.  

I get to see the Sales DNA and Sales Competencies of more bad salespeople than anyone on the planet so I know bad when I see it or hear it.  Objective Management Group (OMG) has assessed salespeople and when I compare percentages between the beginning and end of the last ten year period, not much has changed.  74% of all salespeople still suck and I get to see just how bad they suck.  Once in a while I get to experience sucky salespeople up close and personal.  What I am about to share is just such a story.

The caller said she was from [ABC Systems] and asked if I was the person that handled such things.  

Yes, the very first thing she said, did or ask was to qualify me as the decision maker.  No pleasantries, no preliminaries, no questions to see if we had any issues, not anything except, WAS-I-THE-PERSON?  BANT is an ancient qualifying acronym with A standing for authority.  But it shouldn't be used THAT soon in the call!  Even if they were using the ancient BANT method, I was only 25% qualified at that point. That didn't seem to matter to her though because upon learning that she had a decision maker, she stated that she would like to send a rep over to talk with me about it.  I guess she believed that if I'm the guy, then I must be qualified enough to meet with a salesperson.    I said I was happy with our current system and thanked her for trying.  In an effort to salvage the call, she said, "I can assure you that we can save you 40-50% off of what you are currently paying."  So much for credibility.  She didn't know what I was paying for my current system.  For all she knew I might have even been using her system. I do know this:  40-50% savings is a promise she simply can't make.

She was working the top of the funnel as an appointment setter. Those roles are important in a company but if she does make an appointment, can you imagine the poor outside salesperson who shows up for that meeting?  It doesn't matter that it's with the decision maker.  If the field sales rep can't save the decision maker that 40-50% he was promised, the salesperson will fail to meet expectations!  And what other expectations can there be after a cold call like that?  The decision maker will not care how it works, how it's different, or how it's better.  The expectations were set:  How much will this cost?  A sale cannot be any more transactional than that!

So what did she do well?  She made the dial, got me on the phone and got me a tiny bit qualified.  

What did she do poorly?  Everything else.  If she had been evaluated or assessed by OMG, she would have scored OK only as a Hunter, but horribly as a Consultative Seller, a Qualifier, a Closer, an Account Manager or a Farmer.  She wasn't even fun to talk with.  She didn't have any intangibles whatsoever.  She shouldn't have been in this role.

Everyone has sucky salespeople - it's just a matter of how sucky they are.  Companies tend to put these junior/inexperienced/ultra sucky people on the phones to do lead generation/inbound/appointment setting/top of the funnel work and this is a great example of everything that is wrong with that.  Why do companies do this?  It costs too much and is too distracting for their highly paid salespeople to be making these calls.  But salespeople are the very ones who can convert these conversations.  Salespeople are the very ones who want to schedule a quality call, as opposed to an awful call.  Salespeople have a vested interest in the outcomes of these calls.  If only there was a way to have salespeople in the conversations, but not waste their time trying to reach decision makers perhaps once or twice every few hours.

Oh wait.  There is a way!  ConnectAndSell has an amazing service that does exactly that.  As of this morning, the dashboard at the top of their website showed that they had delivered nearly 3 million conversations for their clients.  It really works.  Check them out here.

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, prospecting, Sales DNA, cold calling, lead generation

Does Efficiency or DNA Help to Increase Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

efficiencyThe Salesforce Blog published a new article of mine today - Read How to Create Perfect Sales Conditions.  It's really an article about how to use tools and efficiency to increase your focus and sales.  Speaking of efficiency, Kyle Dougherty, from Prialto, sent me this very cool video today.  Talk about a tool that helps you to be efficient!

Some people have efficiency in their DNA.  Matt Heinz wrote this article for the Hubspot Inbound Sales Blog, asking whether great salespeople are born.  I usually like what Matt writes, but I take issue with this particular article because the science just isn't there for what he wrote.

Compare that article with this article on the same subject.  Or this article, or even this article.

Science has a lot to say about sales selection!  And there's plenty of science available for us to make sales selection more effective, more consistent and more efficient.  

whitepaper banner

And that returns us to where we began this article - efficiency.

Efficiency and effectiveness are choices.  Do things the same way as always and sometimes get it right; or do things in the best possible way and nearly always get it right.  As always, the choice is yours.

 

Image Copyright: feverpitched / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, Salesforce, Sales DNA, born to sell, sales assessments

Science and the Length of Your Sales Cycle

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 09, 2013 @ 07:10 AM

When Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluates a sales force, 1 of the 26 questions we answer for clients is, Can You Shorten Your Sales Cycle?" 

We have some science behind that and as part of the analysis we conduct on a sales force, we can determine whether they have the skills and sales DNA for that to become a reality.

There are 11 factors that contribute to determining whether a salesperson or sales force can shorten their sale cycle, not including the factors that determine whether or not a salesperson is trainable and/or coachable.

In the screen shot below, this real sales force (names have been changed) has, on average, only 3 of the factors.

Shorten Sales Cycle Factors

One of the 11 factors, that has a great deal to do with the length of the sales cycle, is whether or not the sales force and/or the salespeople have an effective sales process.  As you can see from the image above, nobody was following an effective sales process.  Another really important factor is exactly what salespeople actually believe - what they think - relative to the sales cycle.  In the next screen shot, you might be able to read some of the beliefs that this sales force had around the sales cycle:

SLBeliefsThose two factors alone are enough to double the length of a sales cycle!  There are still 9 more factors that have an impact; however, just from what we've discussed and reviewed so far, it's obvious that this company's sales cycle is M-U-C-H longer than it needs to be.

That gives you a sense for how we go about answering questions for companies.  But there is an additional way!

At my sales consulting company, Kurlan & Associates, we use, love and strongly recommend Membrain as a sales pipeline tool.  They have awesome pipeline analytics that are available right out of the box.  Check out the next 2 screen shots that have to do with - you guessed it - sales cycle length!

Sales Cycle Age

This screen shot basically shows that this company has almost no chance of closing an opportunity beyond 51 days.

Sales Cycle Time in Phase

This screen shot shows that opportunities, that spend more than 10 days in any stage, rarely close.

Sales Science:  When you combine the contributing factors to a long sales cycle and then provide salespeople with actual statistics that show what happens when they allow the sales cycle to extend, we can change behaviors.  When we provide an effective sales process, milestones, qualifiers and effective sales strategies and tactics, we can change results.

Are you using all of the science that you can get your hands on to radically change the way your sales force performs?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, crm, Sales DNA, pipeline management, sales science

Get Your Sales Force to Perform Magic and Make Sales Appear!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 05, 2012 @ 13:01 PM

I just finished a great novel called Law of Nines.  A traveler from another world visits Earth in hopes of saving her own world.  They have no technology where she comes from but they do have magic.  Alex, the main character, just can't wrap his hands around the magic.  Jax, the alien, tries to help.  She said, "that little black thing you talk to where messages appear - in our world, that would be magic but we would do it without the black thing.  That box that brings you up and down in a building - to me that's magic.  Those enclosed carriages without horses to make them travel?  Magic."

Neither world could live without what they have but they simply have different names for them.

We don't talk about it much but sales has a lot of magic to it.

We disguise the magic and call it art, but when people are unable to describe how it actually works it must be magic.  Want an example?

Some salespeople have the ability to create unbelievable chemistry and powerful, long-lasting relationships.  While there are tips aplenty for building rapport, the same can't be said for chemistry - connecting.  Those who do it so very well - it's just magic!

How about the salespeople who can consistently overcome resistance? These are the sales pros that can make the disinterested suddenly become interested.  Those who can do it anytime they want can't really explain how they do it so it must be magic!

What about the salespeople who can consistently close the huge deals?  Despite overwhelming odds and tremendous competition, the same small group of sales pros seem to walk away with all the big ones.  They can't really articulate what they are doing differently and why people are doing deals with them because it's magic.

I interview thousands of salespeople a year - mostly very good ones.  But even the good ones can't articulate how they get people to buy from them.  They're even less concious of why people buy from them.  For most, it's really magic.

The question for you is, Do You Believe in Magic (The Lovin Spoonful - 1965)?  How many of your salespeople have the skills and the Sales DNA to develop the ability to perform magic?  What we're talking about here is going beyond the ABC's of selling and taking your sales force on a Magical Mystery Tour (The Beatles - 1967).  It seems that the 60's was a big decade for magic!

There are three varieties of sales forces today.

Type 1 - They all sell by the seat of their pants and the results are consistent with the approach.  Inconsisent, lacking discipline and predictability.

Type 2 - They have been trained on a methodology and there are varying degrees of how many follow it and can apply it.  They are surely better than Type 1 but not nearly as effective as Type 3.

Type 3 - They have been thoroughly trained on model, process and methodology, the entire sales force follows it and can apply it, sales management is able to coach to it and hold their salespeople accountable to it and their results are sky rocketing.

Which variety is your sales force and which would you like them to be?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, Sales DNA, sales magic

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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, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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