Sales 102 - The Pitch Deck, the Price Reduction and the Data

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 @ 09:09 AM


Recently I met with a CEO whose salespeople were not closing enough business.  We had just evaluated their sales force and I had the answers as to why their sales were so underwhelming.  Before we could explain what was causing their problem, the CEO said something along the lines of, "We are going to create a new pitch deck and reduce our prices. That will solve the problem!"  

They weren't suggesting a small price change either.  It sounded like an 80% reduction and their reasoning overlapped with one of the contributing issues that we identified.  Their salespeople weren't reaching decision makers which raises more questions.  Why weren't they reaching decision makers and could anything be done about it?  Would lowering their prices solve the problem or did the issue go deeper than that?

It's not terribly unusual when salespeople are unable to reach decision makers but there are always several potential reasons as to why:

  • Tactical - they simply don't know how to get the decision makers engaged in the conversation
  • Conceptual - they don't think they need to
  • Sales DNA - their weaknesses won't allow them to ask to get the decision makers engaged
  • Commitment - they give up when the going becomes too difficult for them
  • Fear - they aren't comfortable speaking or meeting with that level of decision maker

What did the data from the sales force evaluation tell us?

In the case this company, the salespeople didn't believe they needed to reach the decision makers.  As it related to reaching decision makers, their Sales DNA was OK.  Commitment and Fear factors were OK too.  So if they didn't believe they needed to, isn't that lack of direction, inspection and accountability on the part of management?

The other big issue for this sales force was their Sales DNA as it related to money and decision making.  To the salespeople, the amount they were asking for was, "a lot" but the new reduced amount will probably be a lot too.  They also "understood" when their contact stalled to talk with a decision maker who would routinely not be interested in spending that much money.

The Solution

The appropriate solution would be for us to help their salespeople become more effective at getting the decision makers engaged in the conversation and at selling the value of their offering, while helping management coach to those outcomes.  

Lowering the Price

Their reasoning for lowering the price is that the contacts their salespeople are talking with would supposedly have the authority to spend the lesser fee without requiring approval from the decision makers.

Can that work?   

In my experience, if the salespeople don't reach decision makers it won't matter how much they are charging.  They'll continue to hear the same stalls, especially if they continue to begin their first meetings with the pitch deck!  The pitch deck is simply a crutch that turns a potential two-way conversation into a one-way presentation and that makes matters worse instead of better.  If they do convert more often with the lower price, they'll still have to close 5 times as many deals to bring in the same revenue.  So if they are closing 1 of 10 today, and they close 3X more deals but at 1/5 the fee, they will lag 65% behind their previously unacceptable run rate.

On the other hand, if they become effective reaching decision makers, their sales cycle will be significantly shorter, their win rate will improve by 3-5X and at the original fees, their revenue will increase by 3-5X as well.

Hermann Simon wrote the bible on pricing and questions related to how your product or service should be priced can be answered in his book, Confessions of the Pricing Man.

"The question to be answered is, should they do what's easiest and lower the fees, or do what's best for the company and fix the problem?"

It's an obvious choice unless you're the one who has to make the choice, with the future of the company depending on the decision.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, Sales DNA, pricing, selling value, OMG evaluation, pitch deck

Learn How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 01, 2016 @ 06:02 AM


Would you believe me if I told you that in a recent sales force evaluation, nearly 50% of the 300 inside salespeople were not in the right role?  Recently, we evaluated a large inside sales force and I thought it might be interesting to share some of the more unusual findings that were responsible for this sales team's inability to achieve the revenue goals that the company expected from them.It isn't uncommon to learn that salespeople are not in a role for which they are best suited, although it isn't as easy to determine in sales forces when there may be only one role - like territory sales.  On the other hand, when we evaluate a company with multiple selling roles, our analysis will identify the best role for each salesperson and, as I mentioned at the outset, most on this sales force were not in the right selling role!

This particular sales force was interesting in other ways too. 100% had strong Outlook (we never see that even in much smaller teams), 92% were Coachable and 82% had strong Desire.   As good as that sounds - and it is very good for a large sales force - 47% lacked Strong Commitment. I wrote an award-winning article about the difference between Desire and Commitment here.

Understanding the huge difference between their Desire and Commitment levels, it should not surprise you that the sales managers mirrored the salespeople with their Desire and Commitment scores.  You won't have any difficulty determining whose teams had most of the salespeople that lacked Commitment.

A big part of almost any inside sales role would require finding new customers and that was true with this company.  I'm going to share one of the most interesting findings from the evaluation. It is symptomatic of the Commitment problem and is one of the reasons as to why so few of their salespeople were in the right role.  In the image below, you'll see that there was a near-even distribution of the four groups into which we categorize salespeople when it comes to finding new business.  And in case you aren't sure, even distribution in this area is not good.


  • 21% will hunt for new business without being asked.
  • 30% would hunt for new business if their sales managers held them accountable.
  • 24% will follow up on a lead, but won't engage in proactive hunting.
  • 24% will not hunt, no matter what, ever.

Training and coaching will not change those percentages, but will improve the skills of the 51% that do or would hunt.  The percentages are reflective of their Sales DNA which, in this case, does not support hunting activities.  48% of them lack the Sales DNA which supports hunting for new business!  That explains a lot, doesn't it?  

This company had a well-known value proposition - you've undoubtedly heard it - but they recently changed it.  The image below shows that their salespeople  were generally not using either the old or the new value proposition in their selling!

inside-sales-value-prop.jpgI know we haven't mentioned a single sales competency or selling skill, but suffice to say that this sales force was extremely weak in the area of skills.  So weak, it isn't even worth sharing the scores for competencies like Consultative Selling, Qualifying, Presenting, Posturing, Account Management, Sales Process, Relationship Building, CRM Savvy, Social Selling, etc.  Instead, let's look at one of the findings that explains why this group was not improving.  In the image below, you'll see that Excuse Makers outnumbered those who take responsibility and the sales managers were even worse than the salespeople.  I'm sure you can guess whose teams most of the excuse makers were on...


Here is a link to a very short article and video where I explain the huge impact of excuse making.

I'll share one more of the many interesting findings from this evaluation.  Notice from the image below that despite the fact that this company positions itself as providing value, most of the salespeople are not comfortable with their pricing.  The majority believe that they must have the lowest prices in order to succeed.  The sales force is out of alignment with the company's value proposition!!  Here is a great article that describes how quoting prices undermines selling value.inside-pricing.jpg

These examples are just 5 out of dozens of interesting findings that we shared with their executives.  Without learning about these issues, they would have continued going down the wrong path and expanded the sales team's general ineffectiveness.  Read about the impact of scaling sucky sales.  

What about your sales force?  Do you have the right salespeople in the right roles?  Are your salespeople actually capable of executing your plan?  Can they provide the growth that you need them to achieve?  There are two ways to find out.  The first is to wait 12 more months and measure results against expectations. How has that worked out in the past?

The second way is to evaluate your sales force and learn how their capabilities align with your goals, expectations and timeline to discover what, if anything, needs to change.  Learn more about a sales force evaluation here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, Sales Force, inside sales, sales effectiveness study, new business, OMG Assessment

Do Salespeople Leverage the Ideal Moment in the Buying Process?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 @ 04:02 AM

This winter in the northeastern USA, we have been getting hammered with snowstorm after snowstorm.  This is what it looked like as the sun was rising yesterday morning.

the morning after
It was perfect.  A winter wonderland.  The glow.  White before it browns.  And lots of it.

This my friends, is what it feels like the morning after you close a big deal.  Everything is perfect.  A sales wonderland.  The glow.  Black before it turns red.  And lots of it.

For the salesperson, there is no better moment than the one that occurs immediately after the deal has been completed.  It's the closure that captures and rewards all of the work, effort, energy and resourcefulness that went into getting the deal closed.  And for large, complex sales, that could include conversations that began taking place up to two years earlier.

The customer experiences much the same sense of peace, joy and excitement.  It has gone on for just as long, may be just as important, and the customer finally got what they wanted.  Better still, it's too early for anything to have gone wrong yet.

You can relate to the customer side.  Think of the day that you finally got the car you always wanted.  I'm not talking about your 8th Lexus or your 5th Beemer.  I'm talking about THE car.  Do you remember that?  And what about the day you got the house you finally wanted?  I'm not talking about the first house.  I'm talking about the BIG one, or the summer house.  Do you remember that?  And it was before you discovered the flaws, bugs, or quirks that would drive you nuts.

The moment after it's all closed is the perfect moment for both salesperson and customer, and it can only go downhill from there.  So why do salespeople fail to leverage that moment?

Testimonials, referrals and introductions would be examples of how one can leverage the brand new, happy-as-can-be customer.  But for some reason, salespeople prefer to wait until the customer is happy.  It must be a different kind of happy that they wait for...  Are they waiting to meet the customer's expectations?  Isn't meeting expectations a step or ten lower on the excitement scale than the morning after?  Isn't there a lot that can go wrong between now and then? 

Why leave things as important as testimonials, referrals and introductions to chance?  And why leave it to others - you know - manufacturing, design, engineering, shipping, customer service, billing, IT, the consultants, delivery service, technicians and anyone else that might need to get involved to complete the customer experience.  If you get a referral at that point, it's a testimony to your company.  If you get a referral the morning after, it's a testimony to you.

Do yourself a favor, leverage the moment, and fill your pipeline with opportunities generated from your customers, who are feeling the love, and willing to rave about you.


Register for Leading the Ideal Sales Force Part 2, on March 12 at 11 AM ET.  (Here is a link to the recording of Leading the Ideal Sales Force Part 1 in case you were unable to attend. 

WEBINAR SERIES - Baseline Selling Open Enrollment

Begins Today (February 20) for 12 Weeks
More Information: 
WEBINAR - How to Get the Most from OMG's Sales Candidate Analyzer Tool
February 26, 11 AM ET
SALES 2.0 CONFERENCE IN PHILADELPHIA - What to Ask To Determine If You Need to Implement Sales Force Transformation
March 10 
ECSELL SALES COACHING SUMMIT IN CHARLOTTE NC - What Does Commitment to Sales Success Mean?
April 15
EO AUSTIN TX - How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle and Close More Sales
April 23
Email me 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Force, sales tips, getting referrals

How to Run a Killer Sales Incentive Contest

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 05, 2014 @ 23:02 PM

contestYesterday, we had a fairly sizable snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow and it reminded me of this article from last winter.

Also yesterday, in my article on the importance of rallying cries, I promised to discuss incentive programs.

Incentive programs are still very powerful as long as you make sure they don't last for more than 90 days.  There are other factors that can make the difference between an effective and ineffective program.  Consider the three most important concepts:  Everyone must believe that they can win the contest, there should be more than 1 winner, and the rewards must be motivating enough for them to go into overdrive to win one.

Let's begin with how you get them to believe they can win.

It's easier than you think.  Just don't base your contest on revenue.  When a contest is based on revenue, everyone knows, well in advance, who the likely winner will be.  So if not revenue, then what?  That's also easier than you think.  What would you like your salespeople to do more effectively?  Find new business?  Fill the pipeline?  Then base the awards on behaviors that you want to change.  And when you base it on more than one behavior, your salespeople will believe they have a chance to win!  Consider some or all of the following:

  • Most new meetings scheduled,
  • Most new opportunities added to the pipeline,
  • Most referrals and introductions received,
  • Most new accounts or customers,
  • Most new sales (that's number of new sales closed, not revenue),
  • Most leveragable new account, and/or
  • Biggest new opportunity added to the pipeline.

Won't every salesperson believe that there is at least one of those that they can win?

What about the award or prize?  How can you make that compelling enough so that they WANT to win?

That's also much easier than you think.

Eliminate any award, reward or prize that they can buy for themselves.  That gets nobody motivated.  Instead, focus on things that either wouldn't be practical, or wouldn't be safe for them to buy with family money.  For instance, some of your salespeople would simply love to participate in a week-long sports fantasy camp, but most of them would feel way to guilty to actually spend the money and go away for a week of fun.  However, if they were to win it, that changes everything.  Another way to get them excited about the payoff is to ask them to choose their prizes.  Give them a range and have them pick!

Finally, there are websites that will run your contests for you.  They're called gamification sites and you can find some of them here.

So keep it short, have multiple winners, reward the behaviors you want to change, don't reward revenue, offer guilt-free prizes and you'll have the killer contest that gets everyone motivated, excited and working hard.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Force, sales motivation, sales contest, gamification, sales incentives

What is the Best Sales Model for Your Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 @ 12:01 PM

sales model

This is the 10th article in a January series on the Architecture of the Sales Force.  Here are the others:

Earlier this month, I wrote this article about Sales Methodology and today's article focuses on successful Sales Models.  I previously wrote this article about sales models in 2011.

On its own, the concept of a sales model can be confusing, especially when you mention it in the same breath as sales process and sales methodology.  However, when the word "successful" precedes sales model, it lends more clarity to its purpose.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), we have a model that we share with all of our Certified Partners (the companies that provide our award-winning sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments to you).  It clearly shows them what is required in order to generate $1 million in annual revenue.  They don't work for us, so they aren't required to follow our model, but many do and some demand that each producer in their firm follow our model to the letter. 

So what are the components of an effective model and how can they be applied to your business?

Target - A useful sales model should start with your ideal customer.  Who are they?  Where can they be found?  What are their unique characteristics?  What size are they?  In what vertical can they be found?  Why are they your targets?

Revenue - Next, the model should identify what a typical customer would spend in the course of a year, as well as the product make-up on which they would typically spend it.

Activity - Finally, the model should specify what is required of a salesperson to close one customer.  You can work the math backwards as you fill in the blanks.  Note that this not only could, but likely is, different for each salesperson in your company:

To get 1 closed, a salesperson would have to generate __ proposals or quotes, conduct 
__ demos or presentations, qualify__ opportunities, gain traction with  __ quality opportunities (possible result of the first meeting), schedule a first meeting with __ potential opportunities, have __ short conversations by phone, the result of making __ attempts/requests to connect from calls, walk-ins, introductions, LinkedIn requests, leads, etc.

While the ratios to complete the "to sell one" model may be different for each salesperson, you should attempt to settle on a set of ratios that define your best salespeople.  Rather than thinking how unrealistic those ratios could be for your less effective salespeople, allow it to raise the bar, set new expectations and allow sales management to coach and hold salespeople accountable to that level of performance.

After you have identified the ratios to sell one, they should be multiplied by the number of accounts, deals or sales that each salesperson must achieve this year in order to hit their quotas or expected revenue.  The yearly model might look like this:

7500 Attempts/Requests
1500 Conversations
150 New Scheduled Meetings/Calls
100 Quality Opportunities
75 Qualified Opportunities
68 Demos/Presentations
54 Proposals/Quotes
18 Closed

Quickly, convert those annual numbers to the daily or weekly version - it looks much less overwhelming!  A weekly version would look like this:

   155 Attempts/Requests
   31 Conversations
   3 New Meetings Scheduled
   2 Quality Opportunities
   1.5 Qualified Opportunities
   1.35 Demos/Presentations
   1 Proposal/Quote
   0.35 Closed

You may be wondering how this is any different from the days of making 40 cold calls/day. This is completely different.  Those days were about the number of dials and connects and that's all they were about.  And everybody was asked to so the same dialing.   The reality today is that this model might not require any cold calls to generate those 31 Conversations each week.  6 conversations per day could be achieved in a number of ways without having to make cold calls.  On the other hand, a new salesperson in a new territory might have to make cold calls in order to quickly make progress.  The most important thing to understand is that this is a complete model and not just an appointment scheduling model!

Also remember that this will be your model for success.  When your sales managers have the discipline to hold their salespeople accountable to consistently execute your model, while using your sales methodology to follow the sales process, you will overachieve your corporate revenue goals without exception as long as you have considered any changes in your assumptions.

A successful 2014 starts with the right model, a well-chosen sales methodology and a customized, optimized sales process.  You can't expect your sales force to succeed while they continue to sell by the seat of their pants and you can't choose only one or two of the three components presented here.  You need all three in much the same way that a baseball pitcher must have good velocity (model), good secondary pitches (methodology), and good command (process).  He can have two out of the three and it still won't be enough for him to reach the major leagues.

If you enjoyed this series of articles, I am leading a panel of experts in a complimentary webinar on February 5 at 11 AM Eastern called Leading the Ideal Sales Force.  Register.

I am leading a webinar introducing OMG's Candidate Analyzer, an awesome web tool available to users of OMG's Sales & Sales Management Candidate Assessments.  I'll be showing everyone how to access the tool and how to use it.  February 26, 11 AM Eastern.  Register.

I will be speaking at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 10.  Register.

I will be speaking at the EcSell Sales Summit in Charlotte on April 15.  Register.

Image credit: johnkwan / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales model, sales methodology, Sales Force

How Frequently Does Fear Play a Part in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 06, 2013 @ 06:11 AM

fear eraseOne of the many things that holds salespeople back, prevents them from reaching their potential, stops them from crashing through quotas, doesn't allow them to exceed expectations and never has them succeeding beyond everyone's wildest dreams is their fear of failing.

Fear of failing doesn't affect everyone that sells. The elite 6% are certainly immune to it, and most of the next 20% aren't affected too much by it either.  But the remaining 74% - the group that basically sucks - battles the fear of failing on a daily basis.

That fear - and most salespeople aren't even consciously aware of it - prevents them from:

  • Making prospecting calls,
  • Making enough prospecting calls,
  • Getting through to decision makers,
  • Pushing back on put-offs,
  • Challenging a prospect's thinking, plan, or position,
  • Asking tough questions,
  • Having the difficult conversation,
  • Talking about finances,
  • Qualifying,
  • Asking about competition,
  • Getting past happy ears,
  • Closing,
  • Dealing with objections,
  • And more...

Here are some symptoms that you might be able to recognize:

  • When salespeople have good intentions, but lousy follow through,
  • When salespeople have good plans, but poor time management,
  • When salespeople have plenty of time, but a tendency to procrastinate,
  • When salespeople are regularly unable to reach closure on their opportunities,
  • When salespeople have a need to rationalize what they did and didn't do,
...chances are they have just experienced a bout of fear of failing.

The ironic thing is that you simply can't fail. The only failures possible in selling are:

  • The failure to act,
  • The failure to express yourself,
  • The failure to ask good questions,
  • The failure to state your business,
  • The failure to aggressively chase your dreams,
  • The failure to do everything in your power to succeed,
  • The failure to be proactive,
  • The failure to allow yourself to succeed,
  • The failure to think positively,
  • The failure to sell ethically,
  • The failure to grow and improve,
  • The failure to practice,
  • The failure to ask for help, and
  • The failure to follow your sales process.

I am certain there are more - many more - but you get the gist...

It's the fear itself that causes failure, not the actual act of doing.  The paralysis from the fear causes failure, not the act of engaging.

Qualifying is one of the things that salespeople fear quite a bit.  Qualifying involves asking questions that could yield responses they don't want to hear.  Instead, they have happy ears.  We know how important qualifying is and Pete Caputa, Sales & Marketing VP at Hubspot, proves that qualifying improves closing percentages with the metrics data that he included in this recent post.  

My regular readers and clients will notice that qualifying occurs rather early in Hubspot's sequence.  I didn't send you to that article to modify your sales process; only to embrace the power of qualification.  Please continue to qualify between 2nd and 3rd base!

Sales Managers should review that qualifying data and make sure that their own salespeople are qualifying thoroughly, qualifying when they should, and qualifying every sales opportunity. 

As a matter of fact, Sales Managers should be making final plans to attend my Sales Leadership Intensive, being held at the Westin Copley Hotel in Boston on November 14-15.   We still have a few seats left, so don't be afraid, there is nothing to fear, and join us for two amazing days where you will learn to be more awesome at coaching, motivating and leading salespeople than you ever thought possible.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, sales management training, fear of failure

Presidents & CEO's: 4 Out of 5 Sales Managers Are Ineffective!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 02, 2013 @ 12:10 PM

A title like, "Presidents & CEO's: 4 Out of 5 Sales Managers Are Ineffective", will cause some Sales Directors, Sales VP's and Sales Managers to click and read the article.  That's OK, but a spoiler warning:  if you feel threatened by hearing the truth about yourself or your sales team, or would be uncomfortable sharing the truth about you or your team with the President or CEO, you should probably exit this article right now.

4 of 5 sales managers


The actual statistic is more like 82% based on our evaluations of more than 100,000 sales leaders. I wrote something else on this topic earlier this week.

What you don't know about your sales managers may kill your chances to grow sales.  Do you have a way to objectively evaluate sales management performance?  Most companies don't because they don't know and/or don't have a set of ideal performance metrics or expectations to measure against.  The top 10 Sales Management Functions.

Objective Management Group can answer all of the questions you have about your sales management team and its impact on revenue.  We can even answer the questions you haven't realized you need to ask.  It's a no brainer, but there's a catch...

That same 82% of sales managers, along with many Sales VP's and Sales Directors, will think to themselves, "No way.  I don't want any part of an analysis that will show how ineffective I am..."  And half of all Presidents and CEO's think, "Sales stuff - I delegate that down to my Sales Leaders."


For everyone: Does this thinking truly help your company grow?  

For Sales Leaders: Is your comfort level more important than your results?

For Sales Managers: Does identifying and fixing an area where you need to improve help or hinder your star power?

For Sales Leaders: Can getting the answers you need - often the difference between more of the same and dramatic growth - really be a threat to you?

For Sales Managers: Does getting help really make you appear weak...or smart?

For CEO's and Presidents: Does it sometimes make sense to take control rather than delegate?

If sales aren't where you want and/or need them to be and you don't know why, our Sales Force Evaluation is exactly what you need, right now, and the only tool that can provide objective, accurate, scientific explanations as to why you are getting these results, while recommending what you need to do to change results. 

And now you start thinking:

"I don't have the time."

"We have other things going on right now."

"We don't believe in stuff like this."

"We don't like consultants."

"We are in transition."

"We have internal people for that."

Stop thinking like that!  Take a deep breath and make an exception.  Do what 10,000 other companies have done.  Find out what you don't know about your sales organization today.  You should know whether the current group of salespeople can execute your plan, how much they can increase sales, and what your team will need to do to achieve that growth.  A no brainer.

If you want to know more, Email me. Or, if that's too threatening, here are some less threatening options:

Learn more.

Read a Case History.

Request a Sample (make sure you select sales force evaluation SEIA)

Review the 20 Conditions That Demand a Sales Force Evaluation




Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Force, evaluation, CEO revenue

Sales Leadership Challenges to Having a World Class Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 18, 2013 @ 06:06 AM

World-Class Sales Organization.

We hear those words a lot.  Some companies aspire to it.  Others claim to be there already.  You are more likely to hear claims like those from a large enterprise, but you have better odds of actually finding it in a small-to-midsize company.

World-Class Sales Organization.

Some would say it's a description of a company's people.  Others would suggest it has more to do with results.  Many would say it's about the size of the sales force.  And a few would point to sales leadership and discipline.

World-Class Sales Organization.

The top team of sales strategists at my sales leadership consulting and training firm, Kurlan & Associates, set out to define what a world-class sales organization is and we developed this model.

World Class Sales Force

There is an important distinction to be made here.  At a large company, there could be one or more individuals responsible for each category in the model.  In a small business, one person (and sometimes fewer than that) may be responsible for all categories.  And in many companies, some of those categories are placed under the direction of people who aren't qualified  to lead them.  In other companies, there are huge gaps where some (or all) of one or more categories are missing.

Let's discuss the challenges of this model in a smaller company where there may be a half dozen salespeople reporting to one sales manager.  How is one person supposed to handle:

  • Sales Leadership 
  • Sales Architecture
  • Sales Infrastructure
  • Sales Talent Management
  • Sales Enablement
  • Sales Human Capital
Some of the help, which we provide in small and mid-market companies, occurs when some (or all) of these pieces are missing altogether, or when they have been undefined or improperly executed.
We are nearly halfway through 2013, so this is a good time to determine where the gaps exist in your sales organization and then deal with them.  It's not as important that you get it right, as it is that you have the above in place.  You can get them right over time.

Speaking of time, we're on the cusp of summer which begins on June 21 and it can't come quickly enough for me!  Nancy Bleak, author of Conversations That Sell, has published her 3rd Annual List of sales books you can bring to the beach.  We are proud and thankful that Nancy has chosen to include my best-seller, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball on her list.  We also encourage you to include Frank Belzer's terrific book, Sales Shift, on your summer reading list.
If you found this article helpful, you might find these articles on the subject of sales leadership helpful too:

Help is Here for Salespeople Who Find Themselves as the Underdogs

How Coyotes are at the Heart of Sales Motivation

What Percentage of Sales Managers Have the Necessary Coaching Skills?

Quadruple Dittos Motivate Your Sales Team to Achieve

Latest Debate Had Some Great Sales Leadership Examples

The Secret to Coaching Salespeople and Why It's So Scary 

The Conversation Sales Leaders Must Have with Salespeople

Connecting the Dots on Sales Management

Verne Harnish's Rant and 3 Sales Leadership Issues

The Most Important Sales Issues Heading into 2015

Keys to Improved Sales Performance - Part 4 of 4

The Real Problem with the Sales Profession and Sales Leadership

Why Sales Leaders and Salespeople Get Frustrated

Top 10 Sales Leadership Tips From 2013 - So Far

Top 5 Sales Leadership Articles of 2013 - So Far

How Much Sales Development Can Leadership Do In-House?

Sales Leadership Challenges to Having a World Class Sales Force

Sales Leadership Observations about Pipeline and Terminations

Sabermetrics for Sales Leadership - Projecting Sales Revenue

Disagreement Over Sales Leadership Best Practices?

The Sales Leadership Landscape - A Different Perspective

Are Sales Leaders More Receptive to Training Than Salespeople?

Sales Leaders Got These Issues All Wrong

Sales Strategy and Tactics - Thoughts from the Super Bowl

What Sales Leaders Don't Know About Ego and Empathy

Sales Leadership - a Balancing Act to Achieve Compliance and Quotas

Sales Leadership - It's Not About the Title

Sales Leadership - 6th of the 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions

Sales and Sales Leadership Lessons from Lou Piniella and the Umpire


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Force, sales enablement, sales architecture, world class sales organization, sales talent, top sales books, sales infrastructure, sales strategy

Are Your Strategic Partnerships Your Passive Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 @ 08:01 AM

partnerToday, more than ever before, strategic partnerships, both formal and informal, are an important element of conducting business.  They exist at all levels, including these 10:

  1. Insurance agencies electing to provide a particular insurance carrier's policies,
  2. Marketing firms and their choice of printers, photographers and trade show booth fabricators,
  3. VAR's determining which hardware and software to integrate for their customers,
  4. A CEO's inner circle of advisors and resources,
  5. The directors of a company's board and their commitment to making introductions,
  6. The business networking group to which a salesperson belongs,
  7. A payroll company's partnership with a benefits provider,
  8. The attorneys, accountants, and insurance agents who work together to help clients,
  9. The distributors that resell a manufacturer's products and
  10. The referrals and introductions which happy customers make for their sales reps.

There are so many more examples.

Who are your formal and informal strategic partners? 
Whom do you recommend?
Who recommends you?
While many of you are using LinkedIn to accomplish some of the above, it just isn't the same as having real-life, real-world business relationships!  Get off the computer, on the phone and make this happen!
One of the most challenging areas of generating revenue is finding new business.  Shouldn't one of your priorities be to establish alliances who can lead to fufilling, profitable two-way partnerships with as many people and companies as possible?
At both Objective Management Group and Kurlan & Associates, one of my roles is to identify strategic partners.  Not necessarily the biggest.  Not necessarily the most well-known.  Not necessarily the one with whom everyone else wants to partner.
Instead, we want to make sure that a strategic partner is a company who:
  • Has people we know and trust,
  • Cares as much as we do about our clients and their challenges and
  • Can provide the ideal, complimentary solution in a related area - one that extends beyond our core competency of sales force development.
Let me introduce you to a few of the companies with whom we are proud to partner:
  • Everyone needs powerful, but easy-to-use pipeline management which emphasizes sales process, requires a minimal number of clicks and data entry, and has powerful out-of-the-box reporting and dashboards.  Our strategic CRM Partner understands this and has designed the best application that I have ever customized and used.  Please meet the Project Manager at Membrain, Henrik Oquist.  Contact Henrik .
  • Everyone needs marketing and lead generation help.  Whether the exposure and leads come from inbound, internal, outbound, print, internet, email, social sites, events, PR, collateral, or advertising, one thing remains constant.  There must be alignment between sales and marketing, a gap which increases in size in accordance with the size of most companies.  Our strategic Marketing Partner understands the importance of marketing and sales being aligned, and the role which they work to creatively support to drive sales and revenue.  Please meet the Founder and CEO of PENTA Communications, Inc.Deborah Penta.  Contact Deborah.
  • And everyone needs to make the most of their prospecting time.  Few salespeople, especially selling executives, have the time to get on the phone and dial the names on their lists.  That's where our strategic calling partner comes in.  They handle the dialing and you and/or your salespeople simply complete the conversations - a week's worth in an hour!  Please meet the Founder and CEO of ConnectLeader, Senraj Soundar.  Contact Senraj.
Over the coming weeks and months I'll introduce you to some more people whom you should know.  What will you do to strengthen the mutual quality of your formal and informal strategic partnerships?  Can they be your passive sales force?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Force, crm, strategic alliances, strategic partners, pipeline management tool, sales & marketing alignment

When Sales Leaders Don't Lead With Their Strengths

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 05, 2012 @ 14:11 PM

Today I received a request for all of my articles to date which reference Objective Management Group's Sales VP/Director Assessment.  I conducted a quick search and found - what?  None!  Out of nearly 1,000 articles, I hadn't referenced OMG's Sales VP/Director Assessment even once!  I'll fix that right now.

Unlike our sales and sales management assessments, which are usually performed as part of a sales force evaluation at the request of an executive, most VP assessments are requested by the VP's themselves.  There are some pretty interesting components to it, so I'll discuss some of the more intriguing ones here.

Compared with a sales management assessment, where the sales manager must be tactical, the VP must be more strategic, so we have a Strategic Thinking dimension.  Our VP assessment also integrates a component of our Leadership Assessment, the Key Management Dynamics, where we can determine how well the VP has developed the Strategy Style, one of the nine Leadership Styles which we measure.

We also measure and identify the sales VP's tendency to default to any of eight competencies over the others when they need to grow revenue.  It becomes interesting when a VP scores high in one competency but defaults instead to a different competency (one where they scored lower) to drive revenue.  And isn't it powerful to finally be aware of that, learn why, and change?  When sales leaders default to a competency that isn't their best, they can become frustrated when the desired changes and revenue do not occur.  Not only that, when they aren't aware of a skill gap in the competency they chose, it can alienate sales managers and salespeople.  For instance, when a sales leader scores high in Coaching and low in Motivation and chooses to fire up the sales team to grow sales, it will not work as effectively as if coaching had been chosen.

When VP's request this assessment, they can use it as a self-coaching tool or as a coaching road map by an outside sales leader.  But more than a self-development tool, it explains the strengths which are supporting sales leadership excellence, points out the weaknesses which may be responsible for not driving sales and growing salespeople (at their current or prior companies) to achieve their fullest potential.

If you are interested in getting yourself evaluated as a Sales VP or Director, just send me an email and I'll make sure that one of my experts contacts you ASAP.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Force, sales leaders, assessment, people problems, sales issues

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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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