New Metrics for the Sales Force - Unusual Thoughts for Unusual Times

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 @ 21:12 PM

Some unusual thoughts for some unusual times:

Less is more - you will get an increase in sales with fewer salespeople if you choose the right ones to go - and stay - and give them more attention.  The right ones may not be your "best salespeople".

More is less - you will close more sales if your salespeople book fewer appointments but concentrate on more quality appointments.  Quality is not how well your salespeople are received, it's the fit and need of the opportunity.

More is more - you will have more revenue if your salespeople book  appointments with opportunities with more potential. Potential is not the number of 0's in the opportunity, it's the long-term potential of the account.

Lower is higher - you will have a lower percentage of lost opportunities if your salespeople call higher in the company. Higher is not the tallest person they can get to.

Fewer is greater - you will find yourselves in fewer price-sensitive battles if you force a greater number of your salespeople to learn how to really sell value.  Selling value is not teaching them to recite your value proposition!

Bigger is smaller - you will close a bigger percentage of opportunities if your salespeople give proposals to a smaller percentage of prospects.  Proposals don't win sales, good questions do.

Would you like to contribute some sizable competencies of your own?

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, Salesforce, sales performance, sales excellence, sales assessments

Panic on the Sales Force and What to Do About It

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 09, 2008 @ 23:12 PM

What gets you in a panic?  When I was a young, height, water and people were enough to cause shortness of breath, a lump in my throat and a stomach ache.  Today, I still have the symptoms, but not over any of the things that used to bother me.  Today it would take somebody or something threatening harm to my wife, son or me.

What about for you?  What causes a panic of that magnitude for you? I'm asking because I want you to know what it feels like, how difficult it is to function, concentrate, or breath.  Have you been there?

Now let's take your salespeople.  The economy and how it impacts them, either directly or indirectly, is having this effect on about one third of your salespeople right now - today.  Some are worried about job security, some about declining income, others about job performance, and others about their debt.  Some are worried about their retirement plans, others their investments and a few the health of themselves or someone they love.

If at least one third of your salespeople are in this state of panic right now, how effective do you think they are when attempting to sell right in the middle of all this negativity?

Your role changes because of this.  It is now your job to keep their heads on straight, to calm their nerves, to help them function, to keep them positive, to get them motivated, to challenge them to perform, to urge them to fill their pipelines and hold them accountable to all of that.

So far, the only thing that has changed significantly is that the combined pipelines of many companies have been thrown into a holding pattern. The business hasn't canceled or been lost to competitors; it is simply delayed.  The sooner that everyone gets over their initial reaction to the recession and gets back to just doing business, the sooner that money will loosen up and start changing hands again.

It has to start somewhere.  Why not with you?

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan


Topics: sales competencies, sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales motivation, sales excellence

Free Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator Tool

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 08, 2008 @ 22:12 PM

Last week we introduced the Free Sales Force Grader Tool.

Today I am introducing the Free Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator.

This tool calculates the total cost of all of your sales hiring mistakes, including those who no longer call your company home, as well as the under achievers that do.  

It's simple to use, only takes a couple of minutes to answer the questions, and you don't need much data to complete it.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales performance, sales excellence, salesforce grader, sales hiring mistake calculator

Over Achieving on the Salesforce - We Have it Wrong

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 08, 2008 @ 22:12 PM

Believe it or not, our six-year-old son is an over achiever.

He has spelling tests each week and his teacher gives the class bonus words for extra points.  He loves the bonus words and extra points so much that he has duplicated the process on his math tests.

The teacher gives the class 20 math questions each week but (right now they are working on problems like 7 + 4) no bonus questions on the math.  Our son takes it upon himself to add 4 bonus questions (he includes bonus questions like 800 +600) because he feels he can do more.

This begs the question, how do you measure your over achievers?

Does a salesperson over achieve simply because she exceeded her goal?  What if one huge deal, order or account drops in her lap?  Does that make her an over achiever or just lucky?  What if a salesperson misses the goal because a large existing account declares bankruptcy, but brings in much more new business than expected? Does that make him an under achiever?

It's time to identify ways to measure sales performance in a meaningful way, one that places less importance on the gross revenue number, but varying degrees of importance on profit, new business, retention, effort, account growth, fit to the profile, ability to leverage, and client satisfaction.

What can you suggest?

How would you rate these?

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales management, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales performance, sales excellence, over achieve

Dell, The Economy, Their SalesForce and You

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 08, 2008 @ 08:12 AM

Last week I received an email from my Dell representative's sales manager.  It was five paragraphs, and started out great: "

"Many of our customers have told us that, in the wake of this financial crisis, their IT budgets have been reduced, and that their finance organizations are requiring several competitive bids for every purchase.  Let us help you get the most out of your end-of-year budgets." 

If he had stopped there it would have been good for him, for the rep, for Dell and for me.  But he didn't.  He kept going and wrecked everything!  He wrote:

"Our 'refuse-to-lose' commitment to you is to lead with the best pricing we can offer, taking into account your company's total spend with Dell.  We promise to work hard to get you the best value for your company at the best price available.  Our goal is to BEAT every competitive bid you send us.  We're still in search of a bid that we can't beat!"

Again, if he stopped at "best value for your company" he would have been fine but no, he also went so far to offer the "best price available".  Even that wouldn't have been fatal - Dell's best price, as opposed to the best price on the planet - but he finished with "beat every competitive bid".

I'm having a difficult time believing that this is Dell's new strategy.  If it is, it is surely a sign of the times.  It's much easier for me to believe that this is the manager's strategy.  Either way, if you don't have any money, best price, lowest price, lower than that price is still something that you can't afford to pay for. If you do have the money, and you were going to purchase technology before the year ended, Dell would have probably earned this business anyway (this went to loyal Dell customers) at their regular prices.

If you sell by undercutting, you erode your value, modify your market position, change what your brand stands for and turn the market into an even more price sensitive, commodity driven horror show.

What do you think?

Topics: sales competencies, selling, Salesforce, sales performance, sales excellence, Dell

Sales Coaching - The Big Differentiator

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 02, 2008 @ 02:12 AM

What's the difference between great sales coaching and good sales coaching?

Do you talk with your salespeople about strategy, goals, outcomes and potential obstacles?  Do you check with them to make sure they agree?  That's good sales coaching.

To achieve greatness in your sales coaching you must also address the "how" of the strategy. In other words, what will they say, what will they ask, and how will they respond to the potential challenges?  

When your salespeople either don't know what the "how" should sound like, or have a sense of it but it isn't on track, it's your job to help them come up with the appropriate "how".

This is where you need to be more effective than they are.  That's why the best sales coaches were great salespeople in a prior life. This is where you must be able to role play.

Are you a good sales coach or a great sales coach?

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, improve sales, sales excellence

Free Salesforce Grader Tool

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 01, 2008 @ 09:12 AM

How would you like to be able to rate the effectiveness of your sales force?

How would you like to be able to rate their effectiveness and get your score instantly?

How would you like to know the 22 keys to sales force effectiveness and excellence?

And how cool would it be if you could use it over and over and you didn't have to pay for it?

That's what I thought.

Click here to use our Free new Salesforce Grader Tool.

Topics: sales performance, sales excellence, free salesforce grader, sales effectiveness

What Really Creates Sales Excellence?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 13, 2008 @ 21:11 PM

If you are like me, you're receiving email invitations to attend webinars at the rate of 10 to 20 per day.  And you're getting the exact same invitations every single day from the exact same companies.  And some of them promise the solution to all of your sales problems - sales excellence solutions.  Take a look at the invitations I received today alone!

  • IDC - Sales Advisory Service (they provide research reports and hold seminars where they report on their research and provide sales enablement advice)
  • Savo Group (their tag line is "never sell alone" - they tap into your sales teams' knowledge and make it available on demand)
  • Xactly (they have online applications that optimize compensation and incentives)
  • Landslide (they have the best sales workstyle management application so that your salespeople follow your process and enter the appropriate sales cycle information to produce the reports you need to see)
  • Avitage (they provide central storage for and an application for taking the visual and audio nuggets and putting just the right message together so that your salespeople deliver the email/web message that you want them to)

I may not have their messaging the way they want it but it's my sense of what they do. But their webinar announcements all promise to improve sales effectiveness.  Can they?  Do they?  What do you think of when you hear that you can increase or improve sales effectiveness?

What they can't do is make your salespeople any more competent, although Savo and Avitage might disagree.  They can't make your salespeople any more motivated although Xactly might disagree.  And they can't make them any more effective, although Landslide might disagree.

All of these applications are systems which optimize and improve efficiencies, standardization, attention to details, access to information, and how to use the information you get. They don't train and develop your salespeople and the only way to make them better is through evaluation, training and development.  Evaluation identifies all of the people, systems and strategy issues that need to be addressed.  Training is the process by which skills are transferred while development is the process by which their strengths are developed and weaknesses overcome. If you train and develop your people and then utilize these services then yes, you'll improve sales excellence.  These application are far more effective when you've already worked with a sales force development expert, developed a sales process and developed your salespeople.  Then these applications can be aligned with true best practices, as opposed to the practices in place prior to development.

I can tell you first hand how good Landslide is - I use it and recommend it to all of my clients.

I can tell you first hand how insightful Lee Levitt, the  IDC Sales Advisory practice Director, is. I have met Lee and read his articles.

I met Jim Burns from Avitage and saw his demo but haven't used the application yet.

I spoke with someone from Savo Group and saw their demo but haven't used the application yet.

And I haven't met or spoken with anyone from Xactly yet.

What really creates sales excellence?  No one thing - ever. A combination of things - always.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, sales process, sales training, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales excellence, sales evaluation, sales compensation, sales system, Xactly, Avitage, Savo, IDC, sales effectiveness, Landslide

Tom Peters - Sales Excellence

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 22, 2008 @ 06:10 AM

My team was watching Tom Peters at the Fortune/Gazelles Growth Summit yesterday.  Tom always has a lot to say, some of it new, some not, but always good.  Even though he is a scientist type, I belive he is a sales & marketing guy at heart.  Try some of these one liners on for size:

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting ‘GERONIMO!' "-Bill McKenna, professional motorcycle racer

Tom applied it to business but think of the implications if you can drive this message home to your sales force! My comments follow each one of his one liners.

"Across the Board Cuts are Dumb"


"Minimize Cuts in Training Costs"

That's right -it's more important than ever to focus on your salespeople and customer service people!

"Beware of such things as sales travel cuts and ad cuts"

Go Tom!

"Excellence now, more than ever"

If you become excellent in this economy, you'll blow the doors off of your competition when companies and people start spending money again.

"Women are better salespersons than men"

Objective Management Group has data on almost 400,000 salespeople that we have assessed.  About 80% of them are male. Our data shows that a greater percentage of the females are good salespeople compared with the percentage of males that are good salespeople.

"How can a high-level leader like _____ be so out of touch with the truth about himself? It's more common than you would imagine. In fact, the higher up the ladder a leader climbs, the less accurate his self-assessment is likely to be. The problem is an acute lack of feedback [especially on people issues]." -Daniel Goleman (et al.), The New Leader 

I see this all the time.  Presidents lamenting over their sales force when, so often, the Presidents are the problem!

"Being aware of yourself and how you affect everyone around you is what distinguishes a superior leader." -Edie Seashore (Strategy + Business #45) 

"Do something scary every day"

Reminds me of the comment I've so often written - the biggest difference between sales winners and everyone else is that winners choose to do what they don't want to do.

So today, have a greater sense of how you either positively or negatively impact your sales force, get each of them to do something they don't want to do, have them return to the office all beat up and increase your emphasis on sales training to assure continued, consistent sales excellence.

 (c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan



Topics: sales competencies, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales excellence, sales personality, Tom Peters, Economy

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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 medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine 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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