Driving, Asking Questions, Inside Sales, and Sales Process with a Twist

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 08, 2015 @ 06:09 AM

Here's a quote from an article I wrote that appears now on the SellingPower Blog.  It's an analogy to help you understand why asking questions is so difficult for most salespeople.

"You’ve been driving a car since you were a teenager, but your cars have always had an automatic transmission and you’ve always driven on standard roads. Now we will ask you to drive a much larger car, drive it at faster speeds, on an obstacle course, with people in your way. Oh, and one more thing – for the first time, you’ll be driving a six-speed manual transmission. You might be afraid to take your foot off the clutch and put the car into first gear because, if you’re not careful, you might kill those people standing in front of your car!

"That’s how salespeople sometimes feel when they need to be liked and are expected to ask their prospects some really difficult questions. Salespeople think someone will be killed – and they worry that it might be them!"

Read more of the SellingPower article here.

And this is a quote from an article I wrote that appears on the Membrain Sales blog.

"We would have recommended 6 of their 7 top performers and only 1 of their 9 bottom performers. We would have been correct on 14 out of 16, or 88% which comes within a few percentage points of our usual predictive accuracy of 92%.  This is scientific sales selection. It's a necessary part of an overall scientific approach to sales and the sales force."

Read more of the Membrain article here.

This is a quote from an article on how to increase your sales by 20% by getting your sales process right, published right here on my Blog while most people were finishing up their summer vacation.

"There is a huge misunderstanding when it comes to sales process.  It's a lot like electrical work.  Everyone needs it, but they think that because they know how to change a light bulb they don't need to call an electrician.  Getting your sales process right is a lot more like needing electricity in the middle of a stone wall with no nearby source to tap into.  For you?  Impossible. For an electrician?  It's all in a day's work."

Read more of the article on sales process here.

This is a quote from another article on how to increase your sales by adding a twist to your sales approach.

"Regular readers know that I often champion the cause for a consultative approach to help differentiate and sell value in modern times.  But like I said at the outset, everything old is new again and this sales hack brings some presentation skills back to the early stage of the sales process."

Read more of the article on how to use this "everything old is new again" twist here.

This week's Top Sales Magazine features an article that I wrote 8 years ago!  It explains what integrated sales force development is and this morning, when I saw it in the magazine and reread it I felt that it was ahead of its time in 2007 and extremely applicable in 2015.  You can read that article here.

Finally, I'll be speaking on coaching salespeople at Inside Sales-Boston this Thursday, September 10.  If you're already planning to attend I'll see you there.  Otherwise, if you're in the Boston area, change your plans and catch the terrific lineup of speakers!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales force development, asking questions, inside sales, sales increase, selling power magazine, top sales magazine

The $9 Million Cold Call - Do Salespeople Still Sell That Way?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 18, 2011 @ 10:10 AM

cold callerI just completed an interview on behalf of a client and learned that this candidate landed $9 million in brand new business, from a brand new account over a period of 18 months from - are you ready - a cold call.

I'll be the first to admit that cold calling is more difficult than ever.  It's more frustrating than ever.  It's less productive than ever.  But that does not mean that your salespeople should stop making calls.  Hardly.  Finding new opportunities is more important than ever, but there are alternative methods so that calls are more productive, less frustrating and more effective.

Wasting time trying to reach prospects that never seem to be in?  There's a tool for that.

Trying to figure out how to get someone to take your call?  There's a tool for that.

Frustrated with going back and forth trying to find a mutually convenient time to meet or talk?  There's a tool for that.

Trying to generate more leads?  There is a tool for that.

Need a more salesperson-friendly, elegant CRM replacement/Pipeline Management solution to track progress?  There's a tool for that.

As a matter of fact, there are so many new tools available that it will make your head spin.  The key is to understand which tools will actually help you find/reach/connect/schedule/track new opportunities, as opposed to tools that are more versions of noise - novel or fun to play with but with little gain in productivity.

In the end, your salespeople still need to pick up a phone and make a call.  If the prospect isn't expecting the call, it's a COLD CALL.  Today, there are finally tools to make that a more enjoyable, productive and effective experience.  Is your sales force taking advantage?

Failure to take advantage of new tools, methods, and alternatives to cold calling is a combination of stubborness and sales obsolescence.   

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force development, Sales 2.0, crm, essential sales tools, leads

Top 10 Ways to Increase Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 03, 2011 @ 02:10 AM

top10I'll bet that every CEO, President, Director, VP of Sales and Sales Manager asks the "how can we increase sales?" question on a regular basis.  Do you?

There are as many answers to this question as there are politicians running for US President in 2012.  They include but aren't limited to:

  1. Acquire smaller competitors
  2. Add new product lines and/or services
  3. Expand to new geographies
  4. Add salespeople
  5. Increase advertising 
  6. Raise quotas
  7. Improve Quality
  8. Lower Prices
  9. Land some terrific stories in the press
  10. Develop your Sales Force
I'll bet you can't guess which one I'm going to address here...
Surprise - I'm going with #8 - Lower Prices.  Yes - you can increase sales (and go out of business!) by lowering your prices....so instead, I'm going with #10, OK?
Why does developing your sales force make the most sense?  How about 10 more reasons?
  1. It's more affordable than the other options
  2. It makes it easier to accomplish #4 - add salespeople - and #6 - raise quotas
  3. B players become A's.  C's either become B's or get replaced with A's.
  4. It has an immediate impact.  The majority of the work can be completed in the first year and some of the most important work is completed in the first 90 days.
  5. Organic growth returns much greater profit, much more quickly than acquisitions 
  6. Significant increase in closing percentages
  7. Significant increase in new opportunities
  8. Best practices are instituted and become legacy
  9. Sales Systems and Processes are optimized and become legacy
  10. Improved morale as they become a great, top producing sales team.
Between the global economy, the recession, the internet's effect on buyers' access to information, new selling tools and applications, and the need for an optimized sales process, selling has changed more in the past 5 years than it has in the past 50 years.  Most companies haven't changed their approach and still hope that their salespeople, who succeeded prior to the 2008 crash, will somehow get some momentum.  But what worked in 2006 doesn't work in 2011 and won't work in the years to come.  If you want to grow revenue, the best option is to invest in your selling machine. It's the only one that pays dividends!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales force development, sales management, Sales Coaching, CEO, President, VP Sales, Sales Director

Enough Already with all the Sales 2.0 Talk!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 23, 2011 @ 23:08 PM

When fax machines were first introduced (I remember the day a salesperson cold-called me with an "opportunity" for me to own my own fax machine back around 1987), experts wrote (magazine articles) about the power of the new machine and the many innovative ways it could be used in business.

When email went mainstream, experts wrote about how to integrate and use it for their sales activities.

Today, some experts are making a business out of writing about and teaching only Sales 2.0.  The thing is that Sales 2.0 is not a new way to sell but it is similar to email and fax.

Where Sales 2.0 is the umbrella for the tools that help you get found, it's not really any more than those tools and how to best use them.  Using some of these tools will surely lead to improved effectiveness but it can only happen if the tools are integrated into a sound sales process, used at the right time and used in an appropriate way.

One blogger sent me three emails pestering me to read a Blog article she wrote about her favorite Sales 2.0 tools.  I'm not interested in sending readers to her article because the tools she selected are not essential tools.  They are more like some of the apps one would find for mobile devices that are merely apps for the sake of being an app.

So what are the essential Sales 2.0 tools?

Believe it or not, one that you use every day, that has been around for years, that is worth billions of dollars - Google - but only if you show up on the first page when someone looks for what you sell.  For instance, if you conduct a search for Sales Force Evaluation, Objective Management Group and one of my Blog articles appear in the first two non-sponsored results.  If you conduct a search for Sales Force Development Experts, Kurlan & Associates and another of my Blog articles appear in the first two non-sponsored results.

LinkedIn - but only if you use it.  You must connect to top quality people that you know as opposed to connecting to everyone you know and even those you don't know.  Identify the connections not of yours, but of your contacts, that are in your sweet spot, and get introduced to those people  Join appropriate groups and when possible, participate in the group discussions. Answer questions when you have either the expertise or a strong opinion on the topic.  But use LinkedIn!

People Maps - When you know who you want to be introduced to, People Maps shows a visual representation of the people you know and paths you can take to get introduced.

Blogging is a an activity, and there are many Blogging tools on the market.  I use and recommend Hubspot's incredible platform. For many, Blogging is the most useful of all the Sales 2.0 tools, but if you build it, will they come? Realistically, you must be able to write or contribute frequent, useful, original content, create an identity and set yourself apart or nobody will come.  This Blog?  It generates more than 20,000 visits per month and nearly 200 leads.  While many of those leads are not in our sweet spot, or not ready, there are plenty of quality leads to keep us hopping.

Companies also use Twitter and Facebook but I'm still not sure that they are essential unless you have very frequent (multiple each day) updates that people want to know about.

There are hundreds of other tools - most of them cool - but not necessarily essential.  I'm sure that some of you have your favorites but remember, to qualify as Sales 2.0, it must help you to get found or introduced.

CRM is essential, it reached its peak during the Sales 2.0 era, but it doesn't help you get found or introduced so although it is worthy, I won't devote space to it here.  There are proposal writing apps, slide show creating apps, apps for accessing your apps that are all good, but not really apps to help you get found.

The point is that Sales 2.0 is not new, and we shouldn't be seeing so many articles written about what is essentially the marketing or, more specifically, the inbound marketing side of selling.  That's right. It's marketing, but marketing that some of you can actually participate in.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, sales force evaluation, sales force development, Sales 2.0, crm, essential sales tools

Articles on Sales Training Impact

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 @ 11:09 AM

I've written a number of articles on the issue of maximizing and optimizing sales training, as well as some of the reasons why sales training won't work.  The following articles deal with this topic:

A Salesperson's Terrible Reaction to Good Sales Training

3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Work

Improve Your Sales Force Despite Veteran Salespeople

Top 3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Change Your Salespeople

Why Accidental Sales Training Works More Effectively

Are Sales Leaders More Receptive to Training Than Salespeople?

Are Women in Sales Less Trainable?

What It Really Means When CRM Isn't a Sales Force Priority

Top 10 Sales Training Realities versus What You Believed

How Frequently Do Your Salespeople Practice Selling?

Secrets of Effective Sales Development

Top 25 Prerequisites for Successful Sales Training and Development 

A Toasted Bagel and 5 Minutes to Understand the Impact of Sales Training

The Impact of Sales Training

Teaching Sales in School is Like Learning to Play Golf on the Wii

Why Corporate Sales Training Often Fails to Achieve the Desired Result

Building a Sales Culture - 10 Rules for Success

Creating a Sales Culture

SPIN Selling and Miller-Heiman

Sales Force Development - Is it Training?

What It Takes to Make Your Sales Pipeline Accurate and Predictive 

The Key to Significantly Improve Sales Training Results

Consultative Selling, Commitment and Training Like Oil and Water

What's Missing from the Report That Says Sales Training Doesn't Make Reps Better?

The Common Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden 

Top 3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Change Your Salespeople

Glue - The Missing Element That Makes Every Sales Training Initiative Successful

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales force development, Salesforce, sales development

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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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