How to Get the Entire Sales Force to Change - Now

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 27, 2009 @ 13:07 PM

Let's discuss how difficult it is to change.

Let's start with a result of change:

In one week I:

  • lost 8 lbs.
  • stopped taking all of my toxic prescription medications and over the counter remedies
  • got my energy back
  • lost 3 inches around my waist
  • fit into my clothes again
  • discovered great flavor in foods that I previously didn't like
  • don't feel bloated anymore after eating

To make this even more dramatic, I was the person who, although usually quite open to ideas and criticism, was totally resistant when it came to food.  Quite simply, I loved my food, I wouldn't give up my favorites, and I couldn't imagine going without bread or ice cream.

Why and how this happened are not as important as what happened.

Most people don't change because they are:

  • afraid of it,
  • uncomfortable with it,
  • don't want to give things up, or
  • don't want to take things on.
For me it was the latter two.

But one day, inspired by my wonderful wife, in one dramatic moment, I made a decision.  And it was a decision that I intended to commit to, without exception.  You see it's the exceptions that can get you in trouble...."just this once"..."I deserved it"..."I've already blown today, this week, this month, etc."...

Anyway, the final goal may take some time to accomplish but the change takes place immediately.  And the initial results of that change provide the ongoing motivation to continue.  The food I was worried about missing?  After three days I didn't care anymore.

Now lets discuss your company and the sales organization.  What have you been afraid to change?

  • Evaluating your Sales Force?
  • implementing an Effective Recruiting Process?
  • Installing Sales Force Automation?
  • Making Your Sales Systems and Processes more effective? 
  • Developing Your Salespeople?
  • Holding Salespeople Accountable?
  • Daily Coaching?
  • Getting Salespeople to Resist Presenting?
  • Getting Salespeople to ask better questions?
  • Being tougher?
  • Overcoming weaknesses like Need for Approval and Rejection
  • Bringing in an Outside Sales Development Expert?
  • Spending Money?
  • Replacing non-performers?
  • Terminating relationships?

There really isn't a hard part. There's simply a decision and once you've made it you're already working on the good stuff so you don't have much time to think about the decision, what you've given up, what you've taken on, your fear or your discomfort.  Nike had it right all along.  Just do it.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales motivation, resistance to change, sales evaluation, Sales Accountability

Sales Are Probably Down if You're Doing These Three Things...

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 26, 2009 @ 13:06 PM

"When your market isn't growing, it is not business as usual and holding your breath and hoping is not the right strategy."  This according to Casey Coffman, my guest on the most recent episode of Meet the Sales Experts.  He went on to say that if you sell the same thing, to the same people, the same way that you did 16 months ago, he would be shocked if your sales aren't down.

Casey talked about the importance of confidence, courage and conviction, especially in this economy and he shed some light on CEO's who are still stuck in hunker down mode - paralyzed - not doing anything to reverse flat or declining revenues. He said, "Employees leave when they don't see a way they are going to win.  If we do this we will win, versus, simply staying busy."

Coffman suggested that companies use this period to trim fat, hire, and retool a best in class sales force so that they can take advantage of being able to make changes that in good times they wouldn't be able to make, where in these times you must.  He suggested new approaches, new systems, new strategies, new tactics.  He suggested thinking six months out, and putting pressure on your process instead of your people.

Great advice from a great expert.  Listen to the show hereContact Casey here.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management, sales evaluation, sales expert, casey coffman, sandler, sales trainer, sales assessments, sales development

Top 6 Reasons Why Most Sales Training Doesn't Work

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 24, 2009 @ 21:06 PM

If you invest in sales training, especially now, you also need it to work now, not in 12 months.  Why does it take so long for most sales training to make a difference and why does most sales training fail to make the difference you expect? There are a lot of possible reasons and I'll attempt to explain them here.

  • Sales trainers want to sell sales training so they skip or gloss over the more important issues like
This is why it's so important to work with a sales development expert - someone who takes an integrated, thoughtful approach to the sales force.
  • Sales training is too difficult to understand and apply and trainers make it even more difficult with their complicated processes, non-intuitive tactics and tricks. Instead, they should make it as simple as possible by making it memorable, intuitive, and easy to apply. 
  • They tend to demonstrate their strategies and tactics through role play, which is fine, but their role plays demonstrate more tactics than what they have already taught.  They should never include more in the role play than their audience has learned from them.  Here is an example.  You take a seven year old to the movies.  If it's an age appropriate movie, rated G or PG, all of the previews are age appropriate and the seven year-old gets it - all of it.  However, if you take the seven year-old to a PG-13 movie, then the previews are a bit overwhelming. The seven year-old can tell you whether it seems exciting, funny or scary, but the seven year-old doesn't understand the theme, content or mature dialog. They haven't been exposed to that stuff yet.  Same thing with your salespeople.  If the trainer has already exposed them to the basics, and includes only the basics in role play, the salespeople get it.  It's age appropriate.  But if the trainer includes material that the salespeople haven't been exposed to, they can only tell you whether they like it or it seems scary.  The role play is a bit overwhelming because they haven't been exposed to that stuff yet.
  • Some of the sales trainers just aren't that good. They fail to relate, engage, understand, entertain and change the salespeople they are training.
  • Much of the content isn't that good.  Some of it is just plain outdated while much of the other content around isn't complete, only focusing on certain parts of the sales cycle.
  • Some of them only know strategies and tactics but they don't understand the laws of cause and effect.  They can't get to the real reasons why salespeople fail to execute the strategies and tactics.

There are at least as many more reasons but this article is already longer than it should be.  We'll just call it part 1 and I'll circle back with part 2 at a later date.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales leadership, Sales Tactics, sales management training, sales evaluation, sales trainers, Selling System, sales strategy, selling skills, sales test

Sales Assessment Says He's Weak but He Made President's Club

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 11, 2009 @ 20:06 PM

Yesterday a well meaning Sales Manager, in defense of his salesperson, asked me how a salesperson who made "Club" could possibly assess so poorly.  It's a great question with a dozen or more possible explanations.  Here are some: 

  • One or two big hits - exceptions rather than sustained performance
  • Existing accounts grew
  • Accounts were inherited
  • Had help closing his accounts
  • Been in the industry for a long time and was well known and well respected
  • Owns the biggest accounts
  • Owns the richest territory
  • All renewal business
  • Large portion of call-in business
  • Opportunity knocks - in the right place at the right time
  • Had the opportunities in the pipeline forever and they finally closed
  • Had exceptional marketing support to generate interest and leads

Rather than asking how someone who has achieved success could assess so poorly, what if I asked this tried and true question:  If you take away all of his existing business, customers,  sales manager, leads, call-ins and pipeline, and told him he had six months to go out and find and close 50% of a year's quota, how would he do?

Tomorrow (June 12, 2009) on Meet the Sales Experts my guest will be Bill Murray. Visit Meet the Sales Experts at 12 Noon ET to hear Bill live. 

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales performance, sales evaluation, sales profile, President's Club, sales test

How Many Salespeople Shouldn't be in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 07, 2009 @ 21:05 PM

Our certified sales development expert in Singapore, Ray Bigger, of Think8, asked if we had data on what percentage of salespeople should be considered for a different role.  Of course we do, Ray! In this case, a different role doesn't mean a different sales role, it means that they suck so bad and have such a small upside, they shouldn't be in sales - period. And if we're going to talk about salespeople that should be either redeployed or relieved of duty, we should also know the stat for salespeople that aren't trainable.  In this case, not trainable has no relation to how good they are, it refers only to whether they have the incentive to change and improve as salespeople.  Look at the graph below:

 

In the graph, you can see that there are about twice as many salespeople that should be redeployed as there are strong salespeople and about twice as many untrainable salespeople as there are that should be redeployed.

The statistics show that:

22% are not trainable
10% should be redeployed
6% are elite

If you have a sales force, you already know if you have one of the 6%.  But do you know if you know which of your salespeople can become 6%ers?  And do you know which ones fall into the redeploy and can't train categories?  They may not be who you think they are.  You have to evaluate your sales force in order to find out.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, Salesforce, sales evaluation, sales personality test

What is Causing Your Salespeople to Fail in this Economy?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Apr 23, 2009 @ 16:04 PM

Do you have a salesperson like Bob?

Bob was very anxious over what to write to a suspect that blew him off.  The prospect canceled an appointment and was vague about whether or not he would reschedule.  This stopped Bob in his tracks and he literally spent an entire day getting feedback on what his email should say.  Not only is Bob wasting time, it is time that could be spent finding and identifying additional opportunities, moving existing opportunities along and connecting with customers or clients and collecting referrals.  So what causes Bob to do this and could we have predicted this behavior?

In this scenario, Bob is emotionally involved - not with the suspect himself - in the drama of both the rejection and the upcoming response to his soon to be sent email.  However, the emotional involvement is not the problem, it's merely a symptom.  There are two problems:

  1. The first is his lack of recovery from the rejection of the canceled appointment.  Everyone gets rejected but how long it takes to recover is more important than the actual "fear" of rejection. 
  2. The second is Bob's Need for Approval. He is so worried about how his suspect will respond to the email, that he is putting tremendous, unnecessary effort into the actual letter. It's likely that if Bob recovered from the rejection more quickly, the need for approval may not have kicked in either. 

Let's pretend that Bob didn't have this trouble recovering from rejection.  Without it, he would have been in a position to deal with his suspect's cancellation on the phone, in real time, as it happened, and either rescheduled or ended this opportunity right then and there.  However, even without the rejection problem, his need for approval may have prevented him from confronting the suspect for fear that his suspect would be offended and go away.

So what do we have instead?  A suspect that has likely gone away anyhow, and Bob wasting an entire day on a letter that may very well be irrelevant.  Sound like an unlikely scenario? Both the actual scenario and the hypothetical scenario happen every day to tens of thousands of salespeople, maybe even yours!

Can these behaviors be predicted?

Yes! The Tendency to Become Emotionally Involved, Need for Approval and Difficulty Recovering from Rejection, specifically in sales situations, are standard findings in Objective Management Group's suite of sales assessments.  More important than the findings though, are your ability to manage salespeople with these issues.  How you get your salespeople to navigate their day, despite weaknesses like these, defines how effective you are as a manager.

Do you know which salespeople are likely to fall victim to the myriad of possible scenarios?

Do you know how to prepare them?

Do you know how to help them use their strengths to compensate?

Do you know which role plays to engage them in so that they say, ask, and do the right things when suspects and prospects trigger the weaknesses?

Do you know how to hold them accountable to applying and executing those role plays in real sales calls?

In the current economy, you must be able to consistently succeed in that style of coaching and accountability with each of your salespeople because with the resistance they encounter each day now, those weaknesses will cause certain failure rather than sometimes interfere with success.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales, Emotionally Involved, sales weaknesses, failure, sales evaluation, rejection, selling salespeople

Don't Make Assumptions About Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 31, 2009 @ 14:03 PM

I have previously shared many instances of sales candidate assessments coming to life with their email, voice mails and interview antics following the taking of our assessment.  While the following email is another example of that, it is an even better example of what happens when a skeptical client finally realizes it:

The client wrote:

"...You'll recall I questioned the criteria we were screening for, and asked you if I had missed the mark, principally because we received a "no" recommendation on [the] rep one of our partners was considering hiring.  ...His e-mail note to me is a terrific example of what one should never do, particularly when irritated. It gives me newfound credence in the validity of your test, and sound evidence that with this guy they probably got it right.  The test said he has trouble controlling his emotions. I felt this was an odd evaluation based on the fact that this guy is a former Army Ranger, and ought to be disciplined and controlled. The test said he didn't take rejection well. I don't believe anyone takes it well, but I figured a 17 year sales professional had probably learned to deal with it. The test said he was prone to inappropriate follow ups with prospects. His e-mail to me is about as inappropriate as any I have ever seen. Finally the test said the candidate isn't as strong as he thinks he is. I concur. I am copying his e-mail here:"

Next came the candidate's email:

"I answered a survey for you at least three to four weeks ago and received no further information. Is your follow up usually this unprofessional and non existent or is this just an aberration?  If you have the courage to call you know how to reach me."

So the candidate's tendency to become emotional was triggered by the rejection he felt.  While his follow up was, in fact, inappropriate, the finding of "Inappropriate Follow Up" really refers to getting into chase mode because the candidate didn't close when the closing opportunity presented itself or attempted to close too early.

The more important lessons come from the two assumptions made by the client:

  • Trained military men don't become emotional - Sure they learn to take orders and dodge bullets without reacting.  However, when things go wrong, they are as vulnerable to becoming as emotional as anyone else. 
  • Veteran salespeople don't feel rejection.  If all it took to develop the ability to quickly recover from rejection was time on the job, the insurance companies and copier companies, industries that historically choose young people for their new salespeople, would hire veteran salespeople instead.
  • We shouldn't make any assumptions about any salespeople other than those that appear in black and white on Objective Management Group's Sales Candidate Assessment.  If we do, we are very likely to make a hiring mistake.
  • Track record is not a likely indicator of success in sales unless you are duplicating all of the candidate's prior conditions including existing customers, target customer by title, external competition, internal competition, pricing policy, resistance to overcome, economy, industry, product quality, sales management, and company reputation.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, sales evaluation, sales interview, sales test

The Secret - The Ancient Scrolls and its Impact on the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 24, 2009 @ 12:03 PM

Al Turrisi was kind enough to give me a book called the Power of the Kabbalah.  Its ancient scrolls originated around 4,000 years ago, inspired The Secret and predates Moses and the Bible!  Since this book is not the Kabbalah itself, rather a Cliff Notes version, it tends to read more like a self-help book. It is far more powerful than a self-help book though as it points to a number of rules that will cause a transformation in one's life.

Seven of the desired behaviors are consistent with the philosophies in Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball as well as Objective Management Group's Sales Assessments:

The importance of Desire. Read the Top 10 Factors for Salespeople to Overachieve.

It's not about you.  Over the past several months I have found myself telling an awful lot of salespeople and sales managers that it's not about them.  It's even become a finding in Objective Management Group's Sales Manager's Evaluation - The It's All About Me finding.

Need for Approval or what happens when you need people to like you.  This is the second most powerful weakness in all of selling. Here's an article about that.

Becoming Emotionally Involvedor reacting instead of proacting.This is the third most powerful weakness in all of selling. I wrote an article about this.

Resistance or the great challenge that presents itself rather than an obstacle.  I wrote a an article about this earlier this month and another one a couple of years ago.

Certainty or having faith that what you say, ask, or do will get the desired outcome.

Doing What's Uncomfortable.  I wrote an article about this a while back too.

Many of the articles I linked to were Baseline Selling Tips.  Speaking of Baseline Selling, this is the third anniversary of the publish date of the book, a good reason to reread or order it.

So in summary, simply by having your salespeople overcome their sales weaknesses, doing the very things they are uncomfortable doing, having faith in their abilities and having a strong desire for success will cause those very same people to experience life changing experiences.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Need for Approval, Baseline Selling, assessments, sales skills, Salesforce, Sales Force, Changing_Behavior, over achievement, sales weaknesses, Motivation, sales core competencies, assessment, sales evaluation, over achieve, improve sales performance, sales winners, overachievers, sales assessment test, Baseline_Selling, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

Personality Assessments - They Still Don't Get it

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 @ 12:02 PM

On the heels of these three articles:

The following email was recently forwarded to me.  As you read it, look at the descriptors which the client references in the personality assessments.  They're not sales descriptors, so in essence, we have another example of an assessment which claims to be measuring one thing, but actually is measuring another:

"The reports I got from OMG on candidate [name omitted on purpose] are radically different from those I received from CPQ in Bradenton, FL and from MySalesTest.com (PXT for cognition and Interests; PSI for personality and behavior).  Both CPQ and MySalesTest.com rate him highly on topics such as Prospecting Skills (industriousness/energy, persistence, enterprising, drive) Closing skills (assertiveness, decisiveness, persistence), Internal vs. External Motivation (manageability, accommodation, independence, self-reliance),Occupational Interests, Selling Style (cognition and sociability) and Team Player (Sociability, Attitude, Accommodation, People Service, and Competitiveness).

OMG rates [his name] poorly on most of these same topics. The bottom line is that two scientifically reliable and valid tools are consistent with our face-to-face experiences in 4-5 interviews with [his name] and/or me. This afternoon [another name] is going to interview with [his name] and [another name]. If those interviews go well I intend to hire young [his name]."

You should have been able to see from that email just how disconnected the descriptors are from sales!  Here was my response:

"Of course they're different!

Prospecting - Personality and Behavioral assessments can't really be predictive on prospecting because they don't actually measure prospecting.  Look at the descriptors below (above in this post) for prospecting.  None of those have any influence on either will they prospect (vs. call reluctance) or will they be effective (skills).

Closing - Personality and Behavioral assessments can't really be predictive on closing because they actually don't measure closing in a sales context.  Look at the descriptors below (above in this post) for closing - assertiveness and decisiveness aren't measured in the context of selling or buying, just in general.  It's quite different from what happens in a buyer-seller context.  It's the same for persistence - theirs is a general finding, not sales-specific. 

Motivation - Personality and Behavioral assessments can't really be accurate on motivation because they don't actually measure motivation in a sales context.  Many people who work for your company are motivated, driven employees, but they may not have any desire to sell.  Motivation for sales must be measured in a sales context. 

Bottom Line - You already fell in love with the candidates and will default to whichever assessment supports your belief.  Our sales-specific assessments are the most accurate predictors of sales success on the planet and they've been scientifically measured and validated too. But we've gone the extra mile and conducted Predictive Validity - how predictive the assessment is of job performance, not just Construct Validity (whether the assessment actually measures what it sets out to measure)."

The nice thing about this email thread is that it allows you to read specific examples of how these assessments fool you into thinking they're relevant.  Do you get it now?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales evaluation, Management Assessment, personality test, personality assessment

Former IBM Pro Lashes Out Over Sales Assessment

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 17, 2009 @ 06:02 AM

A CEO of a fairly large-sized but under-performing OEM asked us to evaluate his sales force.  One of the three regional managers, who assessed as poorly as any regional manager could, called to complain about his results.  In addition to calling me a toad, Bob said that in the eighties he used to sell and manage at IBM and he led the top performing team.  He finished by letting me know that we didn't know what we were talking about and, by the way, he would be picking me up at the airport for the kick-off of their national training initiative.

It was a quiet ride (his choice) to the site of the training, where, for the first three hours, Bob stood in the back of the room, stoic, arms folded, attempting to intimidate me through his thick, black glasses. (I don't think it's possible to accomplish the intimidation thing with me but he did try really hard!)

At the lunch break Bob approached me and said, "You know, I've learned more about sales and sales management in the last three hours than I ever learned at IBM.  I've reconsidered what I said to you on the phone.  Your assessment was right on.  I don't have the skills or the strengths you've been talking about.  At IBM, we were the market leader, people wanted to buy from us and all I had to do was leverage our position in the marketplace.  I apologize for giving you a hard time.  But you're still a toad."

Even today, brand leaders, price leaders, and technology leaders all have a false sense of sales and sales management competency.  Are they truly succeeding because of their sales and sales management effectiveness?  The true tests always come when these successful sales executives leave to take a position at a company that is under performing.  Can they repeat the magic?  Can they extend their track record?  Can they add another success to their resume? 

Most find out, and rather quickly, that it ain't so easy to join an underdog and succeed without a deep set of sales competencies, disciplines, strategies and tactics.  Sadly, the executives that hire them find out too, that when they hire a sales or sales management star from a well-known company, their expectations will often fail to be met.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales skills, sales strategies, Sales Tactics, sales evaluation, IBM, OEM, sales manager, regional sales manager, sales disciplines, sales assessment test, sales test

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,800 Articles

About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight 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.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

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



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader