2020's Ten Must Read Sales and Sales Leadership Articles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 30, 2020 @ 11:11 AM

TopTen

The year was 2020 and it was an unpredictable year.  There were surprises galore. For example, instead of only bank robbers and anarchists from ANTIFA wearing masks, we were all told to always wear masks.  Instead of forcing myself to be social among extroverts, I was given permission to be socially distant, a not so awful turn of events for an acute introvert like myself.  The stock market lost and gained more than 10,000 points in the same year.  Most companies pushed hard for the last six months attempting to generate enough revenue to offset their lackluster second quarter sales.  All because of the pandemic.  But there was one thing that didn't change.  I still managed to churn out around fifty articles and after 15 years of blogging and almost 1,900 articles to date, I feel like most of the articles from this year were among my best ever.  As has been the custom each December, today we name the top ten articles of 2020 and I hope you'll read every one of them.

The articles from 2020 fell mostly into three categories with some overlap to an obvious fourth category; the pandemic:

Category 1: Research, Data Mining and Assessments (19 articles including 6 that were pandemic-related)
Category 2: Sales and Selling (9 articles including 1 that was pandemic-related)
Category 3: Sales Leadership (17 articles including 8 that were pandemic-related)

There are many ways to vote the top ten articles including:

  • views
  • comments
  • likes
  • engagement
  • personal favorites
  • award nominations/wins
  • appearances on top-10 lists

It's difficult to assign weightings to the list because more views doesn't necessarily mean that people liked or engaged with it, engagement doesn't mean people liked it, lack of comments doesn't mean people didn't like it, awards and top-10 lists are dependent on the people making such designations actually seeing and considering an article, and my favorites won't necessarily be your favorites.  As this is partly scientific and partly subjective I introduce:

The Top 10 Articles of 2020

Best article on How to Conduct an Opportunity Review - This was a fun article to write because I was able to use the political divisiveness as a metaphor to demonstrate the correct and incorrect ways to conduct opportunity reviews.

Best Take-Down of a competitive assessment - Most competitive assessments don't stand a chance against OMG and I simply obliterated Extended Disc in this take-down!  This article was even more fun because you can't make this stuff up! 

Best article on the difficulty explaining the differences between salespeople - Most people can't explain or justify how one salesperson is better than another and are left to rely on revenue as the differentiator.  But revenue is actually the single worst way to compare or differentiate salespeople and sales capabilities.  This article explains why revenue comparisons don't work and presents a better way to make these comparisons.

Best article showing how sales effectiveness changed before, during and after the first recovery from the pandemic - Sales capabilities are sales capabilities, right?  Not when it comes to a Pandemic.  Some scores actually changed throughout the pandemic and into the summer recovery.  This article shows what changed, what stayed the same and why.

Best article on how to be your best selling virtually over video - 6 upgrades that you must make to your virtual/video sales efforts to improve prospects' impressions of you.

Best use of an analogy to explain sales team effectiveness - Regular readers know I love to use analogies and I can turn almost anything into a sales analogy. This was not only one of my best analogies, LinkedIn readers piled on with more examples from this analogy.

Best article on explaining how metrics are used and their importance to sales  - In yet another analogy article, I used pandemic metrics - many that aren't reported - to drive home the importance of having and identifying the correct sales metrics.

Best article showing correlation between a finding and sales success - There are dozens of OMG findings that correlate to Sales Percentile and ultimately, sales success, but the correlation to this finding hadn't been noticed prior to the publication of this article.

Best article on why sales managers are so bad at sales coaching - The data doesn't lie and this article is packed with data about what sales managers do and don't do, as well as how poorly they do it when it comes to coaching.

Best article on what you can do to have a great fourth quarter - While it's too late to impact the fourth quarter of 2020, this article has fifteen specific things you can do which, given the date on the calendar, will impact your first quarter of 2021.

Honorable Mention - these are some of my personal favorites

Most Controversial Article - Trump.

Best use of politics in an article - The first day of the Senate Confirmation Hearing on Amy Coney Barrett was chocked full of examples of how not to convince people to do what you want them to do.

Best article dealing with the Pandemic - How to lead your team in times of crisis.

Best article using historical figures - I wasn't much of a history buff but I did find a way to include FDR and Sir Isaac Newton in this article about fear.

Which article did you like the most?  Which article was most helpfuil?

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, top sales articles, top sales blog, sales hiring assessment, sales effectiveness, Donald Trump, pandemic

New Data Reveals Interesting Differences in Salespeople's Ability to Work From Home

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 25, 2020 @ 10:06 AM

remote-worker

You wake up, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, you open the door and it's freezing cold outside.  Or there is the opposite of that, when there are thick clouds, it's drizzling, you open the door and it's hot and humid as hell!  Things aren't always what they appear to be.   

In early April, during the earlier stages of the virus-required lockdown, I wrote this article about some of the remote selling challenges that companies were experiencing.  Since then, things have improved, especially around the use of video.

However, things are far from perfect, especially around how suitable salespeople are for working from home.  John Pattison, COO of Objective Management Group (OMG), dug into OMG's remote seller data, and learned that similar to the weather, things aren't always what they appear to be.  The table below shows how this data changes according to sales experience.

Remote-Suitability-by-Years-1

As you can see, those with 20-24 years of experience are 32% more suitable for working from home in a sales role than those with 0-3 years of experience.  There are two possible reasons for this:

  1. Inexperienced salespeople need more direction and guidance and don't get it when they are working at home.
  2. Inexperienced salespeople are millennials and aren't as responsible as older and wiser salespeople.

Of course, the real reason may have nothing to do with experience or age, but more to do with the two most important things we measure for remote sellers:

  1. Ability to self-start
  2. Ability to work independently

However, even that can be called into question when we look at the data by geography.  While the differences aren't significant, there are variations by country.

For example, salespeople in North America are 35% more suitable for selling from home than salespeople in northern Europe (think Sweden, Denmark, Norway), !  How do you explain that?  Coincidence?  Hours of daylight in the summer can't keep them out of their swimming pools and off the golf courses?  

In the end, the score matters little but we absolutely must know the score.  Sales managers are the difference-makers when it comes to selling remotely.  If they are proactive and closely manage salespeople who aren't well-suited for it, those salespeople can still succeed working from home.

You should be hiring salespeople right now.  Job postings are getting 400 applications right now!  To find out whether your candidates can sell remotely and whether they will succeed in the role you are filling, use OMG's highly accurate, customizable and predictive sales-specific candidate assessment to help you select your ideal candidates.

Finally, OMG measures salespeople in 21 Sales Core Competencies.  See the competencies and the data here.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales competenices, sales best practices, sales hiring assessment, remote selling

All-Time Top Kurlan Sales Article

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 10:12 AM

sales force evaluation,sales test,dave kurlan,sales candidate assessments,OMG,sales assessements,sales hiring test,sales hiring assessment,objective managementAs promised for today, I'm revealing the single article, from among my former 999 blog articles which my readers voted "best", to be my 1,000th post.  It's not my personal favorite, it's not the most well-written, it's not the most viewed, it's not the most entertaining, it's not the most insightful or the most linked to.  But from among the 15 for which you could vote, this was your choice:

Exposed - Personality Tests Disguised as Sales Assessments

(originally posted on January 28, 2009) 

Yesterday, I met with a longtime client who, in his previous company, used OMG's assessments to identify what needed to change in order to double revenue from $30 million to $60 million.  In his new company, which is already about twelve times that size, he wants to double revenue again.  He said, "I just wasted two years with the _____ assessment."  The assessment to which he referred was a personality assessment marketed as a sales assessment.  He could have referred to any personality or behavioral styles assessment.

Many people are not going to like this article.  I'm about to expose the findings in personality-based and behavioral-based assessments which assessment companies have been marketing as sales assessments for the last dozen years.

First, you'll need to read this piece, Personality Assessments for Sales - The Definitive Case Study.  Really, you need to read it first!

There isn't a tremendous difference between personality assessments and behavioral styles assessments.  Popular behavioral styles assessments, like the various versions of DISC, produce findings along four dimensions (categories) while some personality assessments, like those using the PF16 as their underlying engine or instrument, can measure traits in as many as sixteen dimensions.

But personality assessments and behavioral  styles assessments are not predictive of sales performance.  They don't conduct predictive validity studies, as we do, because their assessments don't predict.  Instead, they conduct construct validity studies, which only show to what extent an assessment measures a specific trait and not necessarily the traits which you want to know about, but the traits which they can actually measure.

So here's the problem.  Their marketing material usually says something like, "Salespeople must be able to Prospect, Question, Manage Objections and Close.  They must have Product Knowledge.  They must be accountable, have drive, be self-starters and be coachable."  You read those words and say, "Yes, yes.  That is exactly what we need."  And the masquerade is on.

As I wrote in the other article, personality-based sales assessments don't really measure what you need to know.  Instead they report on what they can actually measure.  In the table below, I'll list some of the most common "findings" in personality and behavioral styles tests which are marketed as sales assessments, describe what is really being measured and compare that to what Objective Management Group (OMG) measures and reports.

Finding      
 Measures
 OMG Finding
What OMG Actually Measures
Drive or achievement
General need 
to achieve
Desire 
How important it is to achieve success in sales
Resilience 
General ability 
to cope with
adversity
Bravery 
The sales-specific scenarios which will be problematic and the individual's ability to handle them
Rejection  
How the individual
reacts to
not being accepted or
not having their
ideas accepted 
Difficulty Recovering from Rejection  
The impact that "getting hung up on" or "getting a no" will have when they close and how long it may take to recover
Emotions  
Emotional
steadiness 
Ability to Control Emotions 
The likelihood that, when a salesperson is caught off guard or in an uncomfortable situation, they will panic and lose control of the sales call
Sociable 
How comfortable
they feel and how
appropriately they
behave in social
situations  
Bonding and
Rapport   
How quickly they develop relationships with their prospects
Confidence 
Whether they
are a confident
person  
Record 
Collection 
The sales-specific beliefs which support or sabotage their sales outcomes 
Coachable  
Whether they
are open to new
ideas 
Trainable 
Whether they have the incentive to improve their sales competencies 

These are just some of the most common findings.  Since OMG's assessments are so sales-specific, there are literally dozens of findings covering everything which can possibly happen in sales including, but not limited to, prospecting, closing, qualifying, account management, farming, use of the sales process, ability to handle stalls, put-offs, objections and work remotely, growth potential, development needs and more.  What's most important to understand about assessments is that: 

  • The questions in the personality tests are asked in the context of social settings, not sales settings, so none of the findings are sales-specific.
  • Because the findings in personality assessments are not sales-specific, they're not predictive.
  • Personality assessments are generally one-size-fits-all, without regard to your market, its challenges, your competition, your pricing, the resistance which your salespeople will face, your compensation plan and how specific selling strengths and weaknesses will impact those conditions.
  • Assessments of your existing salespeople should be useful for development.  If you don't have sales-specific findings, you're only developing them as people, not salespeople.
  • How is OMG different?  Assessments are only a minor part of an effective sales force evaluation.  The most important part is to be able to learn:
    • What impact sales management is having on the salespeople.
    • Whether you've been hiring the right people.
    • Whether your sales force can execute your strategies.
    • Whether your systems and processes support the sales force.
    • Whether sales management is effective.
    • If you can develop more of a sales culture.
    • Whether the salespeople can make a transition such as account manager types to hunters and closers; presenters and quoters to consultative sales types; transactional sale to a solution sale; etc.
    • Who can be developed?
    • If you're attempting to downsize or rightsize the sales force, which individuals actually have the ability to help you do more with less?
    • How much better can they get?
    • What it will take?
    • What would be the ROI on development?
    • Why do you get the specific results which you get?
    • What is the quality of your pipeline?
    • Etc.
  • When used for hiring and selection, an assessment must be an accurate predictor of sales success for a particular sales role in your particular company, calling on your particular market, with its particular challenges and competition.  A personality assessment won't consistently identify the people who will succeed, while OMG's assessment, with its 95% Predictive Validity, will.  We can differentiate between Recommended (they meet our criteria and yours); Recommended - Ideal (they are recomended and they will ramp up more quickly than normal); and Recommended - Perfect (they are recommended ideal and they meet additional customized criteria which match up with your most effective producers).

In summary, whether you're using a personality assessment, behavioral styles assessment, psychological assessment, or psychometric (describes all of the above) assessment, it's the marketing that's sales-specific, not the findings.  Use them at your own risk.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, omg, objective management, sales assessements, sales hiring test, sales hiring assessment, sales candidate assessments, sales test

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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