How Learning to Drive Can Help You Achieve Sales Mastery

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 09, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

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Image Copyright 123RF Stock Photo

I was on the phone with a client who spent some time telling me about how he follows the sales process, prepares the questions he wants to ask, makes sure he remembers to thoroughly qualify, prepares and plans his presentations and considers all of the possible objections he may encounter along the way.

That's all well and good - but it's too complicated.  It's much more like driving a car.  Let me explain:

When you learned to drive a car, you had to think about safety, where your two hands were to be placed on the wheel, where your feet can find the accelerator and break pedals, when to use your directionals, how to use the rear and side mirrors, when to turn use your high beams, the rules of the road, and if it was standard transmission, how and when to shift and use the clutch.  And that was before you actually drove anywhere!

Of course today, you don't give any of that a thought.  You didn't forget it. You learned it, internalized it, embraced it, and finally mastered it.  Mastery is the art of not having to think about what you are doing.  Most drivers can listen to the radio, carry on a conversation and navigate to their destination without giving a single thought as to how to drive the car.  Selling is the same.

At some point, salespeople are presented with the company's sales process, its stages, and the milestones of each stage.  If they are receiving effective sales training, they will also be trained on the methodology or conversation required to seamlessly move from milestone to milestone, along with the strategies and tactics to ask questions, build a case and get people to buy from them.   It's the same as when you learned how to drive and first sat in the driver's seat of your parents' car.  You were required to take professional driving lessons, drove your parents around in between lessons, and eventually (most of you) mastered driving a car.  Some people taking driving a bit further and go on to become professional drivers, including the best on the planet - NASCAR drivers.

Salespeople must go through the same process, including the professional instruction, practice and desire to be the best on the planet.  Most salespeople skip the parts in between learning (initial training) and mastery (effective selling) - internalizing and embracing - the two things that must occur prior to mastery.  The only way to get from learning to mastery is to practice!  Role play!  For more on role playing, see this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales mastery, sales effectiveness

10 [More] Tips to Help You Sell More and Get More Done Than Anyone Else Part 2

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 05, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

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To start the year off I posted My Top 10 Tips to Help you Sell More and Get More Done Than Anyone Else. I received so many thank you notes and emails expressing appreciation for that post that I decided to share 10 more tips for those who have the capacity to become even more efficient.

1.  Browser Bookmarks - I use the Chrome browser but I believe you can do this with IE and Safari as well.  There are approximately 300 websites that I visit. Some, like Membrain, Google Sheets, LinkedIn and online Banking are opened multiple times each day, while I might visit other sites once per quarter.  Most of the sites are applications and tools for the business but some, like restaurant menu pages, simply give me quick access to what I need.  I use a bookmarking system that saves me a tremendous amount of time.  I have 8 folders on the bookmark bar of the browser.  They include:

  1. Most Used
  2. Email/Access
  3. Business
  4. Health/Fitness
  5. T & E
  6. Web Tools
  7. Servers/Content
  8. Audio/Video/Presentation Tools

Each of those folders has shortcuts and/or additional folders that contain shortcuts to the pages I frequent.  For example, this screen shot shows my Most Used Folder where you can see 6 additional folders, with shortcuts.  Cash and Checking has 6 shortcuts, Blog has 9, OMG has 15, DKA has 19, Google has 5 and Wunderlist has 2.

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My homegrown bookmarking system saves me huge amounts of time. I know exactly where to click to get instant access to the pages.

2. LastPass - You can save even more time if you don't have to log in to the sites you visit!  LastPass, a Chrome Extension, not only saves the user names and passwords for all of your sites, but it will also log you in automatically!  Nothing to type, nothing to click!

3. Adobe Echo Sign - If you need to get contracts signed, there are a number of applications available for doing that and I have found advantages to doing just that.  First, people tend to quickly sign electronic documents while PDF's attached to emails must first be printed, reviewed, signed, scanned, and resent. Sometimes those get forwarded to legal departments where they get lost. The work involved in getting a PDF signed, compared to the relative simplicity of getting a document signed electronically, is profound.  If it's from Adobe, the email message is far less likely to be deleted than one from other online document signing applications and Adobe Sign reminds people to sign if they haven't gotten around to it so it's fast, easy and brainless.

4. iMacros - If you need to do something online - and repeat it often - then iMacros, another Chrome extension, is your solution.  In my case, I regularly score certification tests taken by OMG Partners and their employees.  The scoring process involves navigating to Survey Monkey, logging in, going to the survey that holds the answers, browsing to the most recent submission, opening ToutApp, and loading the Certification email template.  IMacros automates all of those steps so that I only have to select Certification from the iMacros menu and the application does all of the clicking for me until both of those pages are displayed on my browser.

5. TextExpander - Are there words, phrases and sentences that you frequently type?  As I mentioned in part 1, I often type, "Would you mind using this link to my calendar to find and schedule a mutually convenient time for us to talk/meet?"  With TextExpander, I simply type ";cal" and the application types that question into the email for me!  Think about all of the typing you can save with this application!  Click the image below to watch this 10-second video demonstration.

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6. Reachable - Have you ever wasted time attempting to determine the best way to connect to someone on LinkedIn?  Like, who knows that person or who might know them the best?  Reachable leverages your social media connections and does that for you in seconds!

7. Cloud Servers - I don't save anything "on" my computer's hard drive anymore because I need to access my files from whatever device I am using - desktop, laptop, iPhone, iPad or somebody else's device.  Cloud servers allow you to do that - quickly and easily.  I use Dropbox because the Dropbox folder appears in the file menu of my computers where I am most likely to access those files and the files are synced between my computers.

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8. Toofr - Have you ever wasted time trying to find somebody's email address?  Toofr actually accomlishes that for you!

9. Jabra Pro - Do you receive as many calls on your cell phone as you do on your office phone but prefer to use a headset?  I use the Jabra Pro bluetooth headset which connects to your desk phone, cell phone and if you want, your computer so that you can talk to Siri or dictate a Google search - all via Bluetooth.  One headset - three sources.  It switches seamlessly between the 3 devices so that you can simply get stuff done!

10. Snagit - Do you ever need a picture, screen shot or a video of your screen?  Snagit does that with ease.  The video of me using TextExpander was created in seconds with Snagit

 I hope these additional 10 time-saving tips to help you sell more and get more done than anyone else were helpful.  If you have any tips that help you sell more, please add them to the comments.  Part 3 in the series has 7 more tips.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales effectiveness, sales productivity, sales efficiency

Top 10 Tips to Help You Sell More And Get More Done Than Anyone Else This Year Part 1

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 03, 2017 @ 09:01 AM

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We attended the organizational kick-off meeting for the team with whom our 14-year old son will be playing travel baseball this year.  The organization is run by former MLB pitcher Brian Rose and one of the memorable things he said at this meeting was, "There will always be someone working harder than you."  He said, "If you take a day off, someone else will be still be working" and, "If you want to be the best you have to work harder than everyone else."   Mark Cuban said, "Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you."

I've always outworked everyone in my own companies so both of these quotes resonated with me. At the same time, hard work alone isn't enough.  You must also be smart and efficient about what you work hard on.  For the first article of 2017, I thought it would be helpful if I shared how I get more done than anyone else I know.

Like many CEO's of small companies, I wear many hats.  As the CEO of Kurlan & Associates & Associates, a global sales consulting firm, I run the business, produce revenue, handle accounting, meet with the leadership team, have some personal clients, conduct some of the training, and do some keynote speaking.  As the CEO of Objective Management Group (OMG), the leading provider of sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments, I am the chief innovator for product development, select firms that will represent OMG outside of the Americas, coach OMG's partners, meet with my leadership team, and do some keynote speaking.  Running two companies isn't a 16-hour a day load, but 12-hour days are common.  So how do I get it all done?  Here are my top 10 keys to outworking everyone:

  1. Say no.  One of the important things I picked up from business guru and Gazelle's CEO, Verne Harnish, is that you must identify 3 things that you won't do anymore.  I carry that theme forward on a daily basis and as opportunities, events, projects and tasks are presented to me I say no to those things that don't support either the business goals, core offerings, or personal goals and values. 

  2. Calendar.  A functional calendar allows me to visually see my day, week and month.  I manage the calendar myself and don't let assistants anywhere near it.  Not only that, but entries are color-coded so that I can quickly and easily determine whether I am maintaining a balance between the two companies, between sales and delivery, and between work and family.  This is very important: I block out time, in advance, for getting work completed in between calls, appointments and meetings.  In addition to the color coding, my calendar is synced between my iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro and iMac computers.  I use Google's Calendar syncing as the engine and on my mobile devices I have the Readdle app, and on my computers I use CalendarPro for Google.  

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  3. Automation.  I save time and aggravation by using an online scheduling tool.  Instead of going back and forth with someone to identify a time that we can meet or talk, I provide them with a link to my calendar.  I write in an email, "Would you mind using this link to my calendar to find and schedule a mutually convenient time for us to talk/meet?"  I embed a link to the scheduling tool which, in this case, is an app called ScheduleOnce.  You have no idea how easy this is, how much time it saves, and the thanks I get for making it so easy.

  4. Lists.  I believe that my mind is sharper than it's ever been.  Sharp doesn't necessarily mean that I can remember everything I need to do each day, week and month, and you can't arbitrarily decide which things to write down and which things to remember.  So I have a no exception policy where everything I need to do is committed to a list.  As with the calendar, I use a list that syncs between my computers and mobile devices and my choice is the Wunderlist app.  I use Wunderlist because it has folders, an unlimited number of lists that can be included in each folder, and each list accomodates a sub list, notes and attachments.   I also utilize the due date and reminder options and sort the items in my lists by due date. I would be lost without Wunderlist.  

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  5. Auto Responder.  I turn on my email's auto responder whenever I will be unable to respond to emails for 6 business hours or more.  I don't want to appear unresponsive and my message tells people who they can contact in my absence and when they can expect to hear back from me.  I don't have to apologize when I finally do respond and that saves unnecessary typing as well.

  6. Rituals. In order to be productive, I know that I must wake up at the same time each morning.  My default is 5:30 AM, which gives me an hour to respond to emails that came in overnight.  I usually have a number of emails from OMG's overseas partners, as well as CEO's who choose to work late rather than start early.  Most of my articles are written during this one-hour window in the morning as well.

  7. Anti-Meeting.  Most meetings are time wasters so I don't schedule many.  I have two 10-minute morning huddle calls, one for the leadership teams of each company, at 8:15 AM and 8:30 AM and most of what needs to be communicated in either direction is accomplished during that time.  I have a weekly product development meeting for OMG, a weekly sales/client projects meeting for Kurlan, and monthly and quarterly leadership meetings for OMG.  Less is more.

  8. Anti-Travel.  Some travel is unavoidable but most of what I do can be done by phone, video conference, file share, internet based collaboration and more.  Everyone is busy, travel wastes enormous amounts of time and money and it takes you away from family.  Travel is a last option, not a first option.

  9. Email.  To limit incoming email that requires responding, there are a few things that help a lot.  First, unsubscribe to everything that creates noise.  Spam is impossible to unsubscribe from but if that's the only stuff in your junk folders you can do a quick review and mass delete each day.  In order to do that, it's crucial that you first add senders that you want/need to hear from, but that might end up in your junk/spam folders, to your safe sender list.  With that accomplished, you should utilize the Rules function of your email to automatically move emails that you receive every day, like newsletters, to a newsletter or subscription folder.  I also have folders called "Waiting" and "Action."  When I am waiting for a response from someone, I blind copy myself and move it to the waiting folder, and when someone is waiting for me to do something that email gets moved to the action folder and added to a list.  I never save emails in my inbox.  Instead, there are folders for every client and partner, for marketing, accounting, tools, subscriptions, etc., and emails that need to be saved are moved to the appropriate folder.  Having thousands of emails in your inbox is not efficient!

  10. Family.  Nights and weekends are for family.  Family dinners and watching our son's baseball and basketball games are my number 1 evening priority - not work.  If I am behind, I may take an hour or two to catch up at night, but not until after we have spent quality time together at dinner.

I have 10 more tips on getting more done here.

Do you have any tips that contribute to getting more done than anyone else?  Add them to the comments below!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, time management, sales effectiveness, sales efficiency, working harder

Most Salespeople Are Wrong about the Concept of Being Willing to Walk

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 @ 10:10 AM

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At some point in most training programs we talk about being willing to walk away.  In addition to being part of a Kurlan led sales training program, the willingness to walk away is a major focus of any training program on negotiation as well.  But most people in sales don't really understand the concept of being willing to walk, how it plays out, and what to do when you get there.  I would love to share my thoughts on this below.

I have a couple of concepts that must be understood prior to a discussion on the willingness to walk.  First, you must abandon any hope of making the sale. Read this short, but important article about giving up hope.  Second, you must be taking a consultative approach.  Read this article about how consultative selling is different and why salespeople struggle with it.  With those two concepts as the foundation, we can discuss being willing to walk away.  

I remember coaching a salesperson who was number one at his company.  He had just finished providing the background on an opportunity that didn't go as planned and he was so proud that he had walked out on the CTO.  

The problem is that being willing to walk is not actually walking out!  It's when you are willing to walk out - but you don't.  

When you reach the point that you would want to walk out you simply begin asking the questions, challenging the thinking, and/or pushing back on your prospect - only now you have nothing to lose.  Of course, you should have been asking the good, tough, timely questions right along but you either weren't comfortable, didn't think you needed to, or thought you had asked enough questions.  So now you have a second chance.  What would you say, do or ask if there was nothing on the line, no business to lose, no prospect to become upset and no boss to question your effort?

Salespeople tend to use willingness to walk as an excuse to give up on a prospect or opportunity.  Being willing to walk is a mindset, not an actual departure!  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales effectiveness, willing to walk, sales confidence

The Crucial Selling Skill That Nobody Talks About

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 @ 20:10 PM

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Image Copyright 123RF Stock Photo

Earlier this week I received an unsolicited email from the founder of a company who introduced himself and asked me to try his new tool for speakers.  By itself, this was not unusual because I receive 20-25 unsolicited emails per day. They want to optimize my website, sell me SEO services, provide me with online marketing tools, sell me the latest SaaS program, provide a guest article for my Blog, buy advertising on my Blog, sell me leads, book appointments for us with prospects, or show me the latest sales enablement tools.  Unlike most, this particular email was actually formatted and the sender signed his complete name, title and company.  But let's talk about the biggest, most surprising thing about this sender that brings us to the topic of today's article.

Just three days later I received a follow up email from the same sender and the subject line read, "Good By from [company name withheld].  The body of the message began with, "I was looking forward to helping you but I haven't received a response to any of my emails...so I will be removing you from my contact list."

I couldn't care less because the tool looked lame and if he thought that he was going to hurt my feelings with his threat to remove my name he is as stupid as he is impatient.  And patience is what I want to talk about today.

"Patience is the most important selling skill that nobody ever talks about.  You can visualize patience on a pendulum where on one side there is an excess of patience and on the other, tremendous impatience."

When there is an excess of patience it always results in the salesperson accepting an endless number of stalls and put-offs, thereby lengthening the sales cycle, and shrinking the win rate.

When there is an excess of impatience, as we observed with the email sender, there will be a disproportionate number of prospects who become turned off, pissed off, or off-ended.

In a perfect selling world, salespeople must be able to walk the fine line between patience and impatience.  They must be able to challenge and push back on stalls and put-offs, but do so with kindness and professionalism so as not to cause a prospect to feel pressure.

We can't call the skill Patience because that implies having too much patience.  But the correct balance of patience is the key to pipeline velocity, shorter sales cycles and higher win rates.  I call this the ability to Manage Patience.

And the best news?  In the coming months we will add Manages Patience to Objective Management Group's (OMG) already feature-rich, acutely accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.  You can subscribe, get a free trial, or request samples here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales excellence, sales effectiveness, long sales cycle, win rates, managing patience

I Admit it - Why Words in Selling Really Are Important

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 05, 2016 @ 06:10 AM

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In the past I've written about how words aren't that important.  Here are two such articles:

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/sales-performance-stop-worrying-about-the-words-you-say

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/effective-selling-is-less-about-the-words-and-more-about-how-you-say-them

But today, I'll play politician, reverse my position, and talk about why words are very important.  I've written about the importance of words before too.  http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/tabid/5809/bid/101263/Specific-Words-are-So-Crucial-to-a-Sales-Conversation.aspx 

When it comes to words, there was probably nobody more clever than the comedic genius George Carlin.  The video below is the funniest and best example of his use of words.  Watch that and then we'll talk about how the same premise applies to sales.

It seems to me that the same thing that George talks about has happened in sales.  Today we have phrases like:

  • Sales Velocity
  • Sales Enablement
  • Chief Sales Officer
  • Chief Revenue Officer
  • Unique Value Proposition
  • Buyer Journey
  • Sales Process
  • Sales Methodology
  • CRM
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Positioning Statements
  • RFP's and RFQ's
  • Scope of Work
  • Consultative Selling
  • Sales Model
  • Quantification
  • Qualification

Have we complicated this process or what!  Salespeople are now called any one of the following:

  • Sales Consultant
  • Account Executive
  • Major Account Executive
  • VP Major Accounts
  • Representative
  • National Account Manager
  • Distribution Manager
  • Manufacturer's Representative
  • Product Specialist
  • Inside Sales Representative
  • Field Sales Manager
  • Territory Sales Manager

Things were much simpler when we were all peddlers!  We sell.  Some of us are better than others.  Some of us have a more difficult sale than others.  Some of us have a more complicated sale than others.  Some of us enjoy the challenge more than others.  But when it comes right down to it, all of us are peddlers.

"The more you can simplify what you are saying, the better your chance that prospects will understand what you are selling." Dave Kurlan

Don't miss these:

Barb Giamanco interviewed me for the first edition of this fall's Sales Hardtalk series.  You can listen to the podcast on selling value here.  Shimon Abouzaglo, President of the Value Selling and Realization Council, also interviewed me about selling value and specifically, how you can develop salespeople to become value sellers and hire salespeople who already have the ability to sell value.  You can listen to that presentation here.

The October issue of Top Sales World is available today.  You can download your issue here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales interview, sales effectiveness, Top Sales World, words in sales, george carlin

Big Data and Big Lies Have Arrived in the Sales Training and Assessment Space

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 03, 2016 @ 07:06 AM

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I've been trying very hard to find the time to write this article.  I always have plenty of material, but I just couldn't wait to write this particular article, and I've been waiting for nearly 24 hours since the idea was triggered by an email.  24 hours may not seem like a lot of time, but for me, once I decide to do something, I want to do it right then.  But before I could write, there were meetings, an important award ceremony where our son was named Middle School Male Athlete of the Year, and of course, the dinner celebration that followed.  We are so proud!  I hadn't realized it, but he has become to athletics what Objective Management Group (OMG) is to assessments, and my wife's company, PENTA Communications, is to marketing.  All three of us are committed to being the best at what we do.  

Yesterday I received an email that you might have received too.  It was a promotion from Top Sales World (TSW) to download a "Free Big Data-Driven Sales Training Report for Your Industry."  TSW was simply the messenger in this case, with the provider being The Sales Board.  Like many of you, I clicked through and saw that their report was based on their assessments.  And this is where it got really interesting for me!  Their website read an awful lot like OMG's - only the numbers were very different...

They say that they have assessed 400,000 salespeople from 3,500 companies and they measure 5 critical selling skills that are predictive of success.  That gives them more than 1 million data points.  Good for them.  They claim that "no other company has developed big data comparable to this enormous database of skill measurement and corresponding performance change."  Absolutely Incredible!  So why am I ticked off, but not impressed? 

If you're a regular reader, then you know I mention the source and size of OMG's database whenever I provide statistics from OMG.  So I need to do that again here.  OMG has assessed more than 1 million salespeople from more than 11,000 companies (in the same period of time) and we measure all 21 Sales Core Competencies.  And since there are an average of about 10 attributes in each of the 21 Competencies, that would give us 210 million data points!  Even though OMG's data points dwarf theirs by 210 times, their lie about their big data being the biggest source anywhere is only a footnote.

I want to talk about the 5 selling skills that they say are critical and predictive of success.  I would argue that while their 5 are useful, selling skills alone are not predictive of anything!  We have assessed tens of thousands of salespeople who have incredible skills, but some:

  • Lack Sales DNA - They lack the strengths that support their ability to execute those skills.
  • Lack Commitment to sales success - They won't do what it takes and give up when it gets difficult.
  • Lack Desire for sales success - It's not important enough to them to do what it takes.
  • Don't enjoy selling - It's not enough fun - it's more of a job.
  • Have a Low Figure it Out Factor - They can't connect the dots quickly enough to succeed.

Those are examples of salespeople who can, but don't.  The weaknesses cause salespeople with great skills in all areas of selling to fail to achieve.  How helpful are their 5 skills (buyer/seller relationships, gaining commitments, sales planning, presenting and questioning skills) when a salesperson won't hunt or qualify? 

Everything is relative, so I'm sure that when hunting isn't required, and qualifying isn't important, and a consultative approach isn't necessary (a transactional sale), then salespeople with those 5 skills are more effective than salespeople without them.  Even questioning skills, which are so crucial to a consultative approach that enables salespeople to differentiate themselves from the competition, can't be executed by a salesperson whose Sales DNA doesn't support it.

Okay.  My rant is done.

Message to The Sales Board - stop lying on your website!  You can't help it if your assessment is inferior, but at least be truthful about your place in the sales assessment world.

Speaking of assessments, I'll be the tourguide for a fast-paced presentation on Tuesday, June 7, at 11 AM Eastern, where you can learn all about the real magic behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  Register to be part of it!

And speaking of email promotions, do you remember BigBrains case history I wrote about last fall?  Yesterday I also got an email promotion from them and this one will knock your socks off.  If you remember the study or went back and just read it, you know that their SDR's aren't very good.  And they didn't want to do anything to hire better ones or train the ones they had.  But they are offering training to companies who want to learn how they do it.  Is that like Donald Trump offering lessons on how to be politically correct?  Or Obama offering lessons on how to execute on a world-class foreign relations policy?  Or Hillary on how to give speeches without screaming?  I'm sure you get the point.  Stupid!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales effectiveness

Preppers - Who They are and What They Share with Elite Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 @ 08:03 AM

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I just finished reading Ted Kopel's new book, Lights Out: A Cyber Attack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath.  The book was incredibly well researched and written, but more than that, it scared the crap out of me!  While Kopel asked and thoroughly answered all the questions, it left me with a few questions that I just couldn't answer, and that created a sense of urgency in me.  As you know, urgency leads to action and that brings us to our topic.  Who are Preppers and what do they share with Elite Salespeople?

Preppers are those among us who are prepared to sustain themselves in the event of a natural or unnatural disaster.  They have food and water supplies to sustain them for an extended period of time, may have a local or remote shelter, self-sustaining utilities, and could even be armed.  In the context of the book, they are fully prepared and committed to survive an attack on our electrical grid, water supply, transportation system, nuclear attack or other disaster, as well as protect their home and family from looters and thugs.

One of the distinguishing qualities of elite salespeople is that they are fully prepared and committed to survive any attack against their company, product, offering, proposal, solution, price or existing customer.  If you are a fan of the Netflix series House of Cards, then you will see those same qualities in the President and First Lady, Frank and Claire Underwood.  While you should find them to be ruthless, manipulative, corrupt and unethical, they always seem to find a way to survive each and every attack against them.

Salespeople cannot be any of those things, and elite salespeople manage to fend off and survive attacks while selling with integrity.  They control their emotions, push back gently but with confidence, ask questions to uncover the truth, easily talk about money, are rejection proof, don't empathize with stalls, put-offs, excuses or bluffs, and have very healthy skepticism. Additionally, they have tremendous listening and questioning skills, a great sense of timing, follow a proven and effective sales process, and continually improve, practice and refine their selling skills.

You can find elite salespeople like that in the same way that you find mediocre salespeople!  They are usually among your pool of candidates, but are often eliminated early (for being too aggressive, having typos on their resumes, not having the background you are looking for, trying to reach a decision maker, asking too many questions, etc.).  One way to identify them early and not accidentally reject them is to use Objective Management Group's (OMG) incredibly accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments.

Elite salespeople make up 7% of the sales population and strong salespeople represent an additional 16%.  You don't have to put up with mediocrity and you can choose not to.  

Recently, Pete Caputa, VP at Hubspot, posted this terrific article on 7 bad actors on every sales team. It's appears on the Hubspot sales blog.

Stu Heincke, author of How to Get a Meeting with Anyone, interviewed me for his Chicago Radio Show.  Listen to the Podcast here. 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, sales effectiveness, elite salespeople, ted koppel, qualities of great salespeople, lights out

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

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 @ 06:03 AM

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You remember the last recession - the great recession - right?  I remember that in November of 2008, the business stopped coming in as if someone had turned off the faucet.  Bam!  We lost a third of our revenue overnight - and we were prepared for it!  I predicted the last recession as early as September of 2006 with this article and in the summer of 2008 with this article.

In my business, I can see two trends ahead of others and I began seeing both of those factors begin to kick in last month.  Do you know what  they are?

The first is sales candidates.  For about two years, there has been a very significant shortage of great candidates.  But that began to change last month, when in the areas where it has been most difficult to find good sales candidates and sales management candidates, we are now beginning to see more of them express their interest.  Why?  Things are not looking all that rosy where they are working and they are out ahead of the curve looking to make a change.

The second is spending freezes.  We are starting to see the larger companies put all unnecessary spending on hold - they are hoarding cash again - and when that happens, the economy stops growing, begins to shrink and bam - we are in a recession.

I sure hope I'm wrong, but the signs tell me I'm right.  So what does this mean for you?  These are the top 5 things you must do right now:

  1. You had better sell your ass off while you can because we just might have another 2-3 year dry spell.  It's not a coincidence that by the time the 2008 election took place, we were deep into it.  And what's coming up at the end of 2016?  Right.  And with the way the election is shaping up, our choices might not be the ones that we had envisioned.  If things continue the way they are heading, the choice will be the guy who is bad for business or the guy who is bad at being presidential.  (Just an observation, not a political stance!)
  2. You must be better at differentiating, selling consultatively, selling value, qualifying and closing than ever before.  On the line are the opportunities sitting in your pipeline today.  If you fail to get them closed because you skipped a step or two, or you accepted a put-off, you might not get that business closed until 2019!
  3. Prospect like never before.  Get every possible new opportunity into your pipeline while prospects are still willing to meet with you, talk with you and share with you.  Then see #2.  The window won't be open for very long.
  4. Salespeople who do OK when things are good, tend not to do so well when things take a turn for the worse.  If you have any salespeople that suck when it comes to getting people to spend money when they don't want to, then now is the time to get them trained.  Do not put this off.  Training for reasons like these is not  a nice to have, it can mean the difference between killing it in a recession and being killed.
  5. Coaching!!  Sales leaders must become masters at coaching - now - because the one thing that can make a difference is constant, effective, non-stop, coaching.  Impact every opportunity.  Grow every salesperson.  The timing is perfect as my top-rated annual Sales Leadership Intensive is coming up in May.  Attend this comprehensive two-day coaching extravaganza and you should be able to coach your salespeople through a recession.

Get ready because here it comes!

Topics: sales pipeline, Closing Sales, sales effectiveness, long sales cycle, sales win rates, recession of 2016

The Holidays Help to Differentiate Good from Bad Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 07, 2015 @ 06:12 AM

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If you are anything like me, there are certain times of year that cause or allow feelings or sensations from years ago to come pouring back.  For me, it's the first day that smells like spring; the first snow of the winter; opening day of the baseball season; and burning leaves.  Each of these brings me back to my childhood and specific days or occassions that I associate with these milestones. Christmas has that effect on me and when it comes to sales in December, there is one article which, because of popular request, I have reposted for six consecutive years.  Why?  I'm not sure why it has remained so popular or why the analogies work so well, but the difference between good and bad salespeople can be explained very easily in this article.This year, I published it on LinkedIn Pulse and you can see it here.

After you read it, please return here for a few important notes:

I'll be leading two free presentations for Rapid Learning Institute on the topic of interviewing salespeople and how to be more effective at selection.  You can learn more about "Signs Your Candidate Will be a Bust" here.

This is also the time of year where we review and vote on your favorite articles from Understanding the Sales Force in 2015.  

The 5 I am nominating are:

How Wrong is the Harvard Business Review Article on How to Hire Salespeople?  
30 Reasons Why 1 Million Sales Jobs Will be Obsolete 
The Next Big Game Changer in Sales 
Rebuttal to What Elite Salespeople Do Differently 
Are We Wasting ourTime on LinkedIn? 

Each of these articles had thousands of views and were shared hundreds of times. 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, sales effectiveness

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years.  Dave's Blog earned a Bronze Medal in 2016 and this article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016. Read more about Dave.

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