Bugged by the Difference Between Great and Lousy Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 21, 2015 @ 09:07 AM

bugged.jpg

Yesterday, I noticed a large, furry, dead bug on the hood of my car. It seemed to be attached to the outer lip of the hood - like the edge of a cliff - right where the hood drops down to the grill. I got out of the car to remove the chunk of dead fur and I was shocked to see how wrong I was. It was dead all right, and it was furry. I'm not a tall person, so I wasn't sitting high enough in the car to notice the distance between the bug and the lip of the hood, but my estimate was off by more than 2 feet! What I thought I saw was completely different from reality.

When salespeople don't call high enough into a company, they experience the exact same thing. What they believe they are seeing and hearing is quite different from what they would see and hear if they were higher up, talking with an executive that can communicate the entire story, rather than the partial view and limited information they get from a middle manager. This is Vertical Reach.

One area where vertical reach has a huge impact is selling value. I wrote a very important article on the role that emotions play in selling value for the Selling Power site last week.  

The ability to truly sell value is one of the competencies that elite salespeople have, but ineffective salespeople don't.  I have data from the nearly 1,000,000 salespeople and sales managers that have been evaluated or assessed by Objective Management Group (OMG). Regular readers have read about the elite 6% and the bottom 74%, but today I want to provide some additional eye-opening statistics that differentiate the very good from the not-so-good salespeople. What makes them different?

That's the question that most behavioral scientists and personality assessments don't answer. They usually find traits, styles or qualities that are common among top performers, while failing to realize that bottom performers have those exact same qualities - qualities that brought them into sales in the first place. They don't see that the bug is 2 feet short of the lip.

OMG clearly differentiates the top performers - the studs - from the bottom performers - the duds. Not only are there findings that differentiate top sales performers from those at the bottom, but some of those findings tend to vary by company, industry and selling role.

For example, in one company, top inside sales performers had sales DNA scores of better than 65, while their bottom performers had Sales DNA scores of below 57; top performers had Sales Posturing scores of over 45, while bottom performers all scored below 37; and top performers had qualifying scores of over 60, while bottoms all scored below 50.  Tops had Figure it Out Factor scores of over 75, while bottoms scored below 63; and compatibility scores were over 72 for tops and under 68 for bottoms. These are just a small sampling of the differences.

In another company, top outside sales performers had scores above 78 for being able to stay in the moment, while bottoms were under 67; tops didn't need people to like them, all scoring over 75, while bottoms scored below 62; tops had scores above 83 for Desire for success in sales, while bottoms had scores below 75;  tops had Sales DNA over 63 and bottoms were below 49; tops had closer skills over 33, while bottoms had scores under 22; tops had account management skills of better than 50, while bottoms had scores under 40. Again, these differences are just a small sampling.  

Those two examples are consistent with the variations we find in every sales force evaluation and very useful when it comes to identifying new sales candidates who will succeed in a specific role at their specific company.  And in case you don't think the differences in scores are significant, consider the difference between a baseball player with a batting average of .300 versus one who hits .270.  The .300 hitter is a perennial all-star while the .270 hitter is rarely known outside of his home market.

Returning to the bug on the hood, there is a much larger difference than what you might see with your own eyes when comparing the elite 6% and the bottom 6%.  For instance:

  • 93% of the elite have strong commitment to sales success compared with only 33% of the bottom.
  • 94% of the elite take responsibility for their results and don't make excuses compared with only 20% of the bottom.
  • 78% of the elite don't need their prospects to like them compared to only 6% of the bottom.
  • 98% of the elite are very comfortable talking about finances compared to only 2% of the bottom.
  • 79% of the elite have supportive sales beliefs compared to none at the bottom.
  • 76% of the elite have supportive buying behaviors compared to 8% of the bottom.
  • 95% of the elite are rejection proof compared to 18% of the bottom.
  • 77% of the elite have most of the attributes of a hunter compared with only 31% of the bottom.
  • 100% of the elite have strong desire for sales success compared with none at the bottom.

As you might suspect, there are dozens of additional differences. For example, elite salespeople have, on average, more than 80% of all possible good Sales DNA, while those at the bottom have less than 55%. [Click toTweet] The impact of those 25 points is HUGE! It's the difference between executing a sales process and methodology versus having only the ability to talk about it.

There are many great reasons to evaluate a sales force. Being able to accurately predict which new sales candidates will succeed at your company is only one of them. One of the best reasons to evaluate is to learn which underachievers can become A players, what it will take, how long it will take, and how much improvement you can expect. Of course, you would also learn which underachievers will never get any better than they are today and why.

Today, we sell in very different times than a few years ago. A sales force evaluation helps us understand which of your salespeople have adapted - who is truly selling value instead of price and who can learn? Who is truly taking a consultative approach and who can learn? Whether the sales force has what it takes to shorten the sales cycle and improve the win rate and why? These are just a handful of popular reasons to evaluate the sales force today. Interested in getting some of your pressing business questions answered? 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, top sales performer

Can the Worst Salespeople be Saved?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

failure2

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo

Recently, I was asked to explain what a company can do with the bottom 74% that I write about so frequently.  It's a great question...and I will share several examples...Depending on the size of your sales force, the relative effectiveness of your sales coaching, the degree to which you embrace sales best practices, and your track record at selecting and hiring only A players, your sales force might not have a top 6%, next 20% and bottom 74%.  Nope.  It could be better - or worse.  Your sales force might have salespeople that are all in the top 26% or all of your salespeople might belong to the bottom 74%.  What's interesting is how that plays out.

For example, let's look at a business where the sale is fairly easy, like providing snack food to convenience stores, where salespeople in the bottom 74% can get that job accomplished without a problem.  Take another business, where the salesperson must sell a 7-figure consulting deal, to the C-Suite, against formidable competition, with a sales cycle that could take 12 months or more, and a salesperson from the top 26% probably won't be good enough.  For this scenario, a person will need to come from the top 6%!

With that as a foundation, let's take a deeper look at the bottom 74%.  First, there are two things we need to acknowledge:

  1. You probably don't know if any of your salespeople are in the bottom 74% unless you have had your sales force evaluated by Objective Management Group (OMG).  The only accurate observation that you can make without our data is that they are either performing or not performing at your company.  You can guess that the performers are in the top 26% and the non-performers are in the bottom 74%, but both guesses might be very wrong.
  2. You absolutely need to know if your non-performers can be saved.

With that said, let's pretend that you do have some salespeople from the bottom 74% who aren't performing, and that isn't acceptable to you.

Focusing on the data representing the bottom 74% of the  salespeople that we evaluated and studied, it shows that 14% of this group should not be in sales at all.  30% of this group are not trainable, can't be saved and won't ever change - no matter what you do.  Take a look at this sample slide below, which has an analysis of one company's non-performing salespeople and you'll see that in this particular company, 70% of the underperforming salespeople can't be saved, while 1 (green check) and perhaps 2 others (yellow flags) are savable.

 savable

There is good news though.  Statistically, 56% of the bottom 74% can be saved under the following circumstances.  The company must have:

  • The luxury of time
  • Energy to spare
  • Desire to see these people succeed
  • Patience to wait for it
  • Effective sales coaching
  • Financial resources to wait for them to become productive and to pay for their training, coaching and development. 
Plan for it to take around 18-24 months of training and coaching to help these ineffective salespeople become productive.  In comparison, salespeople in the top 26% can improve on their existing skills and strong performance in as little as 4-8 months of the right training and coaching.


Sometimes, talking about the bottom 74% makes the state of sales seem a lot worse than it is.  If improved performance is one of the things that you need to achieve, it's entirely possible with salespeople in the bottom 74%.  You simply need the data to make a good decision.  Learn more about a sales force evaluation by clicking the image below.

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales under achievement, salespeople that don't sell,

Beach Ball of Death Predicts Lack of Sales Growth

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

Every Mac owner knows about the dreaded beach ball of death.  For those who have never experienced the Mac equivalent of a computer crash, a beach ball that won't stop spinning appears on the screen and when it's more than a simple application crash, the death reference implies impending doom to the Mac itself.  This is what it looks like:

spinning-beach-ball

During the summer, beach balls can also be seen floating among fans in the center field bleachers at Fenway Park. This is especially true when the Red Sox are losing or playing a particularly boring game.  Death quickly comes to those beach balls when players, security guards or grounds crew stab the beach balls with a bullpen rake!

floating-beach-ball

And then there is the beach ball I want to share today - the sales beach ball of impending doom.  You might be wondering how there could even be a sales beach ball, never mind one that spells impending doom; but, there is.

Last week I saw it for the first time on a slide from a deck that Objective Management Group (OMG) prepares when we evaluate a sales force.  This particular slide answered the question, "Why Aren't We Generating More New Business?"

Here's the slide:

slide-new-business-w-beach-ball
Do you see the beach ball at the bottom in the center of the slide?  If it was all green, that would mean that the salespeople would be capable of finding new business and building a better pipeline.  But it is far from being all green.  There is a lot of red and coral, suggesting that there is an even bigger problem than anything that a change in behavior, strategy or tactics might solve.  Let's take a closer look at that beach ball and the legend that accompanies it:

slide-sales-beach-ball-of-doomThat big red area tells us that 33% of their salespeople are classified as People for the Ethical Treatment of Prospects (PETP).  Like their friends at PETA, who protect animals, the members of this group have a strain in their Sales DNA that prevents them from hunting prospects for new business.  In addition, the coral area tells us that 17% are fishermen.  They won't hunt either, but if a prospect bites, they'll reel in the opportunity.  The most a company could hope for is that the coral group of salespeople will follow up on leads.  The light green is represented by another 33% who will prospect if only a sales manager would hold them accountable.  But if you scroll up and look at the right-hand side of the slide, you'll see that sales management's ability to hold their salespeople accountable also falls into the red.  When all is said and done with this question about finding new business, only 17% of their salespeople will voluntarily go out on hunting expeditions. 

As presently constituted, their ability to find new business is extremely limited - a sales growth beach ball of impending doom.

This slide represented only one of more than two-dozen difficult business questions that we answer where we use science to explain why companies get the results they get, whether or not the sales force is capable of improving their results, and to what degree those results can be improved.  Are you interested in learning more about a sales force evaluation?

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales growth, sales prospecting, objective management group, revenue growth, OMG Assessment

Super Bowl 49: Salespeople That Win vs Lose

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 @ 06:02 AM

SuperBowl49

We just watched the Patriots and the SeaHawks battle it out in Super Bowl 49.  Just 8 minutes into the game, it was obvious that second efforts would be the rule of the day.  Then, with less than two minutes left to play, we witnessed THE CATCH - requiring a fourth or perhaps even a fifth effort - that put the SeaHawks in a position to win.  It wasn't meant to be, as the Patriots came up big on defense with a key interception to earn the victory.

As I write this, we're expecting yet another 12-18 inches of snow, on top of last week's blizzard.  Tomorrow, in the thick of the storm, I'll be training Objective Management Group's (OMG) 30 newest partners.  Many of them are struggling to reach Boston because the same storm that is bearing down on us is wreaking havoc across the Midwest today.  But one by one, they are getting here.  Second efforts.  And on our end, we needed to make a number of alternate arrangements to get everyone here safely.  Second efforts, and more.  Which brings us to selling.  How many salespeople do you think make appropriate second efforts?  

I'm not talking about when salespeople are pestering prospects who have no interest.  I'm talking about when salespeople are told they lost; or the article from a couple of weeks ago when a salesperson closed the deal and then lost it when the prospect had a change of mind.

OMG has a lot of statistics on second efforts.  All of the elite 6% and many of the next 20% are able to make a second effort.  But the majority of the bottom 74% can't.  And it's not for a lack of skills, it's because of their Sales DNA.  There are several strands of Sales DNA that make it next to impossible for most salespeople to step up, push back and take control of their destiny:

  • 54% of Salespeople have Need for Approval - A salesperson's need to be liked prevents them from asking a lot of questions beyond a no, and especially tough questions or challenging their prospect.
  • 86% of Salespeople are Too Trusting - A salesperson who is too trusting will accept at face value what their prospect says and when they hear it's a "no", they accept that and won't consider a need to push back.
  • 72% of Salespeople Have Difficulty Recovering from Rejection - Salespeople who struggle to overcome being rejected are typically in no kind of shape to quickly bounce back and make a second effort.
  • 18% of Salespeople Lack Commitment - It takes tremendous commitment to do whatever it takes to succeed in sales.  Salespeople who possess only conditional commitment -  the salesperson agrees with what must be done, it's not too difficult, and it's not too scary - will totally bail out after a "no".  It's too difficult for them to overcome.
  • 84% of Salespeople have Self-Limiting Beliefs - When salespeople are told, "No" and they believe that it's "Not polite to push back," that belief will stop most salespeople in their tracks.

When I was a young salesperson in the 1970's, the very first professional sales training video (actually film back then) that I watched starred the legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi.  The topic?  Second Efforts.  Tonight I found a 1:15 second clip from that timeless video on YouTube.

Second Efforts can be the difference between a loss and a win.  Would you like to know which of your salespeople are capable second efforts?  It's part of a sales force evaluation from OMG!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales weaknesses, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, second efforts, vince lombardi, green bay packers

Fix Your Mediocre Pipeline for Accurate Sales Forecasts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 26, 2015 @ 13:01 PM

Most salespeople don't pay too much attention to this.  Even though we perform a pipeline analysis and restage the pipeline with every individual sales evaluation and comprehensive sales force evaluation we conduct, we typically discuss this exclusively at the executive level.  So imagine my surprise when a salesperson sent along his lessons learned from a session on closing deals and included this...

He said, "I went back to your evaluation to see exactly how you restaged my pipeline...You said the quality of my pipeline opportunities was:
U-Toronto - Medium 
Mt. Sinai - High
New York Genome - Medium 
Columbia - Low

If this is how your method determined the order - then it was spot on...On both the low and high ends. Columbia has fallen completely off the radar while Mt. Sinai has progressed to the proposal and closable stage.  U-Toronto and NY Genome are still progressing forward slowly - with additional presentations required and much more qualifying work needed by me. 
I staged the pipeline today and:
Columbia is a only a suspect
U-Toronto is a prospect  
New York Genome is qualified and
Mt. Sinai is closable" 
So what exactly took place?  Two months ago, this salesperson answered 19 questions about each of 4 late stage opportunities that were - and this is the key - considered to be proposal ready and closable.  After we analyzed the data, we rated the quality of those 4 opportunities as you saw above, and then restaged them as you can see below.  Keep in mind that if they were truly late stage - proposal ready and closable - his pipeline would have looked like an umbrella stand base:
pipeline1-1
However, based on what we learned from our analysis of his answers, instead of his pipeline looking like an umbrella stand base, it looked more like a top!  The image below is what his supposedly late stage pipeline really should have looked like:
pipeline2-2
Obviously, that's quite a difference!
The ability to place your opportunities in the proper stage of the pipeline is the key to a predictive pipeline and accurate forecast.  Gerhard Gschwandtner of Selling Power Magazine recently interviewed me about this very topic and you can watch the 5-minute video right here.
"Is your pipeline a reliable predictor of future revenue?" is just one of 19 important questions we answer when we evaluate a sales force.  And while it's quite helpful to see the actual quality and restaging of your pipeline, the additional 18 questions/answers/insights are usually even more important to most clients.  You can learn more about a sales force evaluation by clicking the image below.
evals .

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales pipeline, sales assessments, objective management group, sales forecast

Leading a Sales Force is Even More Like Baseball

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 06, 2014 @ 12:11 PM

baseball

I miss baseball already.  Although I can't watch it right now, I still think about it.  I look forward to next season when, together with my wife, we'll watch our son strike out other kids, hit lots of home runs, and improve his baseball skills while playing close to 100 games!  I don't look forward to the seats...  

I've written plenty about the similarity betwen baseball and selling, but today I'm writing about the similarity between baseball and sales leadership.  If you're not a baseball person, you might not see the same things that I see, most of which can be applied to leading a sales force.  For example,

there are five levels of professional baseball:  a short season A team, a full-season A team, and then, as the player becomes adjusted and ready for the two higher levels in the minor leagues; AA and AAA.  Then, if and when he's good enough, he'll be promoted to the Majors.  

Most people can see the differences in the caliber of play when comparing a Little League game to a high school game, or a college game to a professional game.  Most people aren't able to recognize the differences between each of the 5 professional levels.  They may be watching a minor league game, but it sure looks like professional baseball to them - without the 35,000 people in the stands rooting for their team.  Pitchers make the pitches, hitters hit the ball, run the bases, and everyone make the plays.  It is professional baseball, but in the minor leagues, pitchers don't command their secondary pitches.  While they already have a major league-ready fast ball, they have not yet mastered the ability to throw their curve ball, change up or slider to the exact spot it needs to go.  Hitters in the minor leagues are able to hit a fastball with authority, but may not be  able to recognize, adjust to, and hammer breaking pitches.

The exact same difference exists between sales experts like me and sales leaders like you.

Most sales leaders can easily differentiate between salespeople who are awful and those who are not awful.  They have difficulty differentiating one awful salesperson from another.  If you're asking yourself why I'm placing this in the context of awful, rather than good, it's because 74% of the sales population is awful!

Based on Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics, a sales force of 10 would typically have:

  • 0 elite salespeople who make up the top 6%,
  • 2 good salespeople who make up the top 26%, and
  • 8 salespeople who are awful, making up the remaining 74%.

A typical sales leader looks at the sales force and can differentiate between the 2 good and 8 bad, but isn't able to explain why.  Sure, they can point to sales numbers and activity, but those aren't reasons, as much as differing results.

It's very difficult to coach someone up when you don't know the cause of their ineffectiveness.

For example, let's take 3 awful salespeople who are each underperforming at a company we recently evaluated:

  • Bob has a full pipeline, but despite all of the opportunities, his win-rate is pathetic.
  • Mary has a nearly empty pipeline, but closes most of the opportunities she does uncover.
  • Bill has a poor pipeline - half way between Bob and Mary - but most opportunities get stuck and don't move through to closure.

You can easily determine that Bob is a successful hunter, but an awful closer.

You can easily determine that Mary is a successful closer, but an awful hunter.

You can easily determine that Bill isn't very good at anything.

Now let's pretend that they are your salespeople.  That shouldn't be a stretch because you probably have 3 salespeople who look like this.  

Do you know why this is happening?  Do you know how to figure out why it is happening?  Do you know that a seminar on prospecting or closing won't change anything?  Do you know what is in their Sales DNA, their Will to Sell, or their Sales Skill Sets that are responsible for these outcomes?  Do you know if they're even trainable?  Do you know if they're really coachable?  Do you know if you're any good at developing salespeople with these mysterious issues?

Of course you don't know.  You're not even supposed to know.  If you did know, they would each have been either fixed (because you knew what to fix and how to fix it) or replaced (because you knew it couldn't be fixed or you weren't capable of fixing it).  Right?

That example is only one of the reasons to evaluate your sales force.  Here are some more.

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales force evaluation, Baseball, sales development

Did our Sales Evaluation Uncover Part-Time Job Selling Drugs?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 @ 09:10 AM

pot

A salesperson was arrested for growing pot and selling it. Can you believe it?

Recently, the same man participated in OMG's Sales Force Evaluation at the company where he worked.  The evaluation showed that he was a very strong salesperson with tremendous selling skills, but it also identified a few telling issues:

  • He wasn't motivated to earn additional money;
  • He didn't enjoy the selling that he was doing for this company;
  • He wasn't committed to his sales success;
  • He wasn't trainable or coachable;
  • He was unlikely to stick around.

The salesperson was terminated following his arrest. 

If you read a sales evaluation with findings like these on a successful salesperson that worked for you, would you discount them?  Disagree with them?  Challenge the evaluation?  Challenge the individual?  After all, it's not that unusual for a successful salesperson to no longer be motivated by earning more money, but it is very unusual when a successful salesperson no longer enjoys selling and isn't committed to sales success.

We know how accurate the evaluations are, so we urge our clients to challenge the individuals in question.  However, since the evaluations uncover hidden issues and the clients weren't previously aware of those issues, quite often they will challenge the evaluation since they "know" the person and the findings "just couldn't be accurate".

This doesn't happen very frequently, but it does happen.  Why do you suppose managers prefer to push back on the findings rather than the person?  Do they know their salespeople that well or are they blinded by that person's results?  Is the performance even a result of that person's efforts or are they reaping the benefits of the hard work of the company, the prior rep, lucrative existing accounts or some other factor they aren't responsible for?

It's fine to push back on findings and evaluations, but when the evaluation is as accurate as OMG's, one needs to push back on the salesperson too.

Topics: sales assessment, sales force evaluation, enjoys selling, sales assessment testing, money motivated, sales development, personality assessment

Are Salespeople Also Joggers?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 @ 11:09 AM

jogger

As I drove to work today, I passed 4 joggers, all with different styles, paces and appearances.  As usual, I saw the similarities between what I observed and the sales profession.

Jogger #1 was an overweight man, in his 50's, working very hard, but not going very fast or far.  He had lots of unnecessary motion and wasted energy, was wearing himself out, and showing little in the way of results.  He instantly reminded me of the salesperson who works lots of hours, always seems to have enough to keep quite busy, but never seems to get his opportunities moved through the pipeline to closure.

Jogger #2 was a middle-aged woman who was moving in slow motion.  Until that moment, I did not believe anyone could run that slowly!  She reminded me of salespeople who never seem to get new opportunities into their pipelines because they lack the urgency necessary to get on the phone and make calls. 

Jogger #3 was the model of efficiency, with good speed, pace and motion.  He reminded me of a salesperson who has a purpose, stays focused, and accomplishes his goals.

Jogger #4 was actually sprinting.  He was pushing it to the limit, exhibiting good form and clearly able to outrun the field.  He reminded me of an elite salesperson - the top 6% - that start out fast in the morning, quickly get their calls made, get results from those calls, and then conduct effective sales calls, meetings and presentations.  These salespeople have consultative selling skills, make it look easy, and close the majority of their fully-qualified opportunities, crashing through goals and quotas.

What kind of salespeople/joggers populate your sales force?

Most sales organizations, regardless of size, lack enough #4s and that's not even the real problem.  The actual problem is that most sales leaders and their CEO's are OK with that!  They accept it as part of business.  Think about how many other sales problems must frustrate executives like that.  How many of those issues would go away if they hired better salespeople?

It's never too late to change perspectives.  It's never too late to start hiring the right salespeople.  Consider OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  Yesterday, I led a tour that discussed The Magic Behind OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  You can view the 20-minute presentation here.

It's never too late to learn about your existing salespeople either.  Wouldn't you like to know whether or not you have future #4s that simply need to be better trained and coached?  It's never too late to learn whether your #1s and #2s will never change.  And don't you want to know why, as a sales organization, you aren't finding and closing more business?

You need sales force intelligence.  Not intelligence that you get for your sales force, like Hoovers, but intelligence on your sales force, like Objective Management Group.  That's where a sales force evaluation comes in.  Can your underperformers be saved?  Can your performers improve?  Have you been selecting the right people?  How must that change?

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How can your salespeople more effectively find, convince, qualify and close more new business?  Your ability to impact sales through improvement and change is dependent on having the right answers to the right questions.  Objective Management Group asks and answers 19 critical business questions about your sales force to provide you with the needed intelligence on your sales force that leads to better decisions, increased sales and improved win-rates, sales cycles and selection.

Executives tend to be just like those joggers too.  Only a small percentage make use of the available intelligence to improve revenue generation and profit.  The rest make a lot of noise, vary between the status quo and constant change, and exert lots of wasted efforts for minimal gain.  Which type are you?

Image Copyright: bowie15 / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, sales candidate assessments, OMG Assessment, top sales performers, jogging,

Starting with the Sales Management Team - Is it a Bad Decision?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 @ 16:08 PM

Sales Management Team

The CEO said, "We really like what you do, your sales force evaluation is exactly what we need, the information, data, science and intelligence that you provide is perfect for us.  This is the right time to move forward, and we're ready to go."  

Waiting for the other shoe to drop, I said, "But..."  

And he said, "But we don't want to evaluate everyone right now.  We want to start with our sales management team."  

I hate being right.  

Small and mid-market companies don't usually request this particular approach because their management teams are usually quite lean and it doesn't make sense for them to take this approach.  But large companies tend to start all of their initiatives with the sales management team, and when that has been completed, move on to the salespeople.  If we were talking about training, I would agree with that approach.  It makes absolutely no sense to train salespeople until the sales managers are on board, bought in, and can expertly coach to the process, methodology, strategies and tactics.  Always start with sales management.

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Companies typically have 5 reasons for starting with the sales managers:

  1. It's how they always do it (my favorite).
  2. To make a smaller investment up front.
  3. To pilot a program and see if they like it.
  4. To begin with a smaller, more manageable group.
  5. To give the managers a head start.

Those reasons all make sense - for training.  But we weren't talking about training, we were talking about the crucial step that precedes training, defines training, tells us who can be trained, what it will take, and how much improvement we can expect.  It tells us where the skill gaps are, where Sales DNA gets in the way and why we lose business.  We were talking about OMG's legendary sales force evaluation.

[-Another related Promo - request a free sample sales force evaluation]

It's wrong to perform a sales force evaluation with only the managers for just as many reasons as it's correct to begin training that way:

  • We get only sales management data. 
  • We get only one part of the sales management data at that - the part provided by the sales managers.
  • This limited data cannot fully explain how the sales force is dealing with the challenges they face.
  • It does not answer the questions as to whether the company is hiring the right people, changes they need to make to their sales selection criteria, if their people are coachable and trainable, and where the skill gaps are.
  • It does not answer the questions as to whether they can sell more consultatively, whether they are capable of finding and closing more new business, shortening their sales cycle, or becoming more effective selling value.  And lots more.

A better way to start a limited sales force evaluation is to begin with a region or team.  Let's review the 5 reasons for starting with the managers again.  Only this time, let's see if we can meet those conditions while including the salespeople.  

  1. It's how they always do it. - Gulp. They'll need to change that!
  2. To make a smaller investment up front. - That still works.
  3. To pilot a program and see if they like it. - That works too.
  4. To begin with a smaller, more manageable group. - That still works.
  5. To give the managers a head start. - That works too.  All the managers can learn from this initial experience.

Are you familiar with the expression, "Life is like a sewer - You get from it what you put into it"?  That analogy won't work here.  But this one will:

sales force is an apple pie

The sales force is like an Apple Pie.  The sales management team is the crust, and the salespeople are the apples and the filling.  If you evaluate only the sales managers, you get crust!

When you evaluate a region or a team - you take a slice of the sales force.  You get the good stuff - apples and filling!

That is always more satisfying, more valuable, and leaves a better taste in everyone's mouth!

 

image Copyright: andreypopov / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales performance, omg, Personality Tests, sales assessments

Sales Blogging - Do As I Say, Not as I Do

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 01, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

hipocriteIt's a big problem with many of the sales blogs you read.  One-person sales consulting firms, self-appointed experts, telling, but not doing, what they say.

If you were to read through each of the 1,150 articles I have posted on this blog since 2006, and organize, sort, create a flow and edit it all into a Sales Management Bible, we would have one enormous how-to guide.  Although that was the original plan in 2006, it is no longer on my radar.  I have introduced, questioned, preached, urged, and forced a lot of issues, but I always check myself to make sure that my words do not fall into the "do as I say, but not as I do" trap of many consultants.

Keeping that in mind, Objective Management Group (OMG) held its quarterly Rockefeller Habits meeting this week.  We go to market through a global network of certified partners - our channel - and we spent considerable meeting time talking about them.  As we always do, we further refined our criteria for what constitutes a good partner, redefined our cut-offs and set the wheels in motion to say our goodbyes to those who don't make the cut.  OMG is not a company that has tolerance for non-performers.

We also spent some time identifying where our best Partners come from and I was surprised to learn that most of them had been reading this blog and either decided to add our suite of world-class Sales Force Evaluation and Candidate Assessment tools to their offerings, or start their own sales consulting businesses.  

If that describes you, please send me an email!

The rest of you should be doing the following at least on an annual basis:

  • Evaluate your sales force.
  • Identify the differences between top and bottom performers - request a sample Sales Force Evaluation.
  • Replace bottom performers who can't be coached up.
  • Commit to hiring people who are better than your current top performers - request a sales candidate assessment sample too.  Register for this free June 5, 2014,  11 AM ET, webinar on the Magic of OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.
  • Constantly refine your onboarding process, expectations and execution.
  • Improve your sales coaching capabilities.
  • Get tougher about accountability.
  • Develop and refine strategies and tactics for improved effectiveness.
  • Train, coach, train and coach some more.

It's not very difficult to upgrade the quality of your sales force or channel.  But many find it difficult to start - to take action - to take the steps listed above that properly position them to upgrade the sales force or channel.  That's because most people find it difficult to have the tough conversations, deliver the tough messages and put the tougher policies in place.  Accountability.  Execution.  Not what most people are best at.  But it's never too late to start...

But before you can start, you need information - you need answers - you need to evaluate your sales force so that you know where your sales force could be more effective, how much more effective they could be, and what must change.  It means knowing whether you truly have the right people in the right roles, whether they are going about things in the right way, and whether the right things are in place to support a high-performing sales force.

Evaluate and thrive!

Image credit: photoman / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, evaluate the sales force, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

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About Dave

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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