The Best Solutions for Hiring Great Salespeople for Your Company

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 28, 2020 @ 12:08 PM

plane

Would you fly on a huge jet from Minneapolis, Minnesota to St. Paul, Minnesota, usually a 15-minute drive?

Would you take a train between intersections of the same city block, usually a 2-minute walk?

Would you take a bus to the bottom of your driveway - usually a 1-minute walk or less?

Would you walk from Boston to Miami - a 3-hour plus plane flight?

These are all examples of inappropriate solutions to the simple question, "What is the best way to get there from here?"

How about the simple question, "What is the best way to assure that the salespeople I am about to hire will succeed in the chosen role?"

An OMG Partner pointed me to this article which has 7 assessment solutions. 6 of the recommendations are every bit as inappropriate as the solutions to my travel questions.

There are three additional questions that must be asked in order to answer the primary question that asks the best way to hire the right salespeople:

Are assessments in general good enough to identify those salespeople?  There are many types of assessments, including intelligence, honesty and integrity (illegal in some US states), personality (challenged in the courts), behavioral styles, cognitive ability and of course, skill-specific tests.  Because most of these assessments can be provided to any potential employee and are not specific to sales, the answer is a loud and resounding NO.

Are personality assessments good enough to identify those salespeople?  Personality assessments are not role-specific so they have been challenged in the court.  The dimensions and findings in Personality assessments are not predictive of anything and there is no specific personality type (including Meyers-Briggs, 16PF, DiSC, and Caliper which were all mentioned in the article) that indicates that one is a better salesperson than another.  Again, the answer is a loud and resounding NO.

Is OMG's sales-specific assessment a personality test?  Despite its inclusion in the article's list of 7 assessment solutions, Objective Management Group (OMG) is NOT a personality assessment. OMG provides a sales-specific assessment that measures a sales candidate's capabilities in all 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as several additional sales-specific competencies. Does it help identify the right salespeople because it is sales specific?  That is part of the reason but the more important reason is that OMG is validated using Predictive Validity.  Predictive. Validity.  Most validations show that an assessment is properly constructed and will provide consistent and reliable results. That is Construct Validity. On the other hand, Predictive Validity correlates the findings to on-the-job performance.  It is not enough though to simply identify good salespeople; you must identify the right salespeople for the role or roles in question.  Configurations for each role are customized so that the ideal salespeople are recommended for the company's specific role(s).  Right people in the right seats.  It's about getting sales selection right.  OMG has proven its accuracy and track record in sales selection having just passed 2 million sales assessments in 30,000 companies.  In the case of OMG, the answer is a loud and resounding YES.

Here's another question.  Why only 30,000 companies?  If OMG is that predictive and accurate, shouldn't it be used in 3 million companies?  I don't think there are 3 million B2B companies that qualify but certainly there are 300,000.  So again, why only 30,000?

There are 3 answers that deserve consideration.

Ego.  Far too many sales leaders believe that their gut instinct is more accurate than some assessment.  Given that the overall success rate for hiring salespeople is hit or miss with an emphasis on miss, they couldn't be more wrong.  Of the candidates who were not recommended, but clients hired them despite OMG's warning, 75% failed inside of 6 months.  Of the candidates who were recommended and eventually hired, 92% rose to the top half of the sales force within 12 months.

Knowledge.  Far too many HR leaders believe that their expertise is in hiring and either don't need an assessment or they choose one they are familiar with, like DiSC, Caliper, Predictive Index or Myers-Briggs.   The reality is that only 14% of all HR professionals understand how assessments work.

Stupidity.  At some large companies, in-house counsel has banned the use of assessments.  While they often justify their own existence, this stupid practice occurs out of ignorance.  While attorneys are protecting their clients from law-suits alleging discriminatory hiring practices, only personality assessments have been successfully challenged in court.  Remember, OMG is not a personality assessment - it's sales-specific, or in other words, a role-specific assessment which is perfectly legal to use, has never been challenged in court, and shows no adverse impact on protected minorities.

If you aren't already using them, check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  You'll improve your sales hiring success rate immediately!

If you aren't familiar with all 21 Sales Core Competencies, check out some of the data here.

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Topics: sales assessment, sales hiring, assessments, hiring salespeople, sales testing, sales hiring process, hiring mistake, sales hiring tools, predictive sales test

Why it is so Difficult to Compare Sales Effectiveness from One Salesperson to Another

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 14, 2020 @ 20:07 PM

Tvariables

Today we'll discuss how to measure sales effectiveness of different salespeople despite there being so many variables to confuse the matter.  You can scroll directly to that topic or, if you don't mind, please read my 3 paragraphs of context.

In 1990, I founded Objective Management Group (OMG), and now, thirty years later, we are on the verge of evaluating our two millionth salesperson.  When my leadership team planned for 2020, we predicted that we would reach the two million mark sometime in June. But then the pandemic hit, companies weren't assessing many sales candidates for most of March, April and May, so our celebration will likely be delayed until early August.

Whether we measure our success in units, currency, rows of data, experiences, visibility, or reams of paper used (pre pandemic), achieving two million sales assessments is quite an accomplishment.  On the other hand, if we compare it to where we had hoped to be at this point, (the BHAG we set in 2007 was 14 million) it was a failure of epic proportions.

But there is a more important part to this story than the number of salespeople assessed or whether that number is an achievement or a failure. How can we measure sales success on sales teams, across companies and, most importantly, in sales candidates?

To answer those questions, it's helpful to  know that we built the finest, sales-specific assessment on planet earth.  Our sales force evaluations are amazing and our sales, sales management and sales leadership candidate assessments are incredibly accurate and predictive.  I'm extremely proud of what we built and how we continue to improve it every single day.  That's more important to me than whether or not we hit our BHAG. And that brings us to the question of how to measure sales effectiveness.  It's like the 2 million versus 14 million comparison only different.  

Let's review a few examples:

Compensation varies wildly by industry.  A top industrial salesperson earns close to $100,000 but a mediocre technology salesperson earns $135,000.  Who is better?  Who is more valuable?

A mediocre regional territory salesperson might inherit a territory generating $15 million per year and watch it contract to $14 million per year while a salesperson building a new local territory might generate $750,000 his first year.  Who is better?  Who is more valuable?

A salesperson makes one huge sale for $1 million while in the same company, one of her colleagues closes 14 sales totaling $650,000.  Who is better?  Who is more valuable? 

An account manager manages 87 accounts that generate $4 million while in the same company, a sales development rep makes 56 dials a day, books 5 new appointments per week, builds a pipeline worth $2 million and closes 2 new accounts per month.   Who is better?  Who is more valuable?  

We see these contradictions all the time when we evaluate sales forces.  The company judges performance and effectiveness by the amount of revenue next to the salesperson's name but that's only a measure of who is responsible for the most revenue.  It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a measure of who is the better salesperson, who is contributing most to growing the company, or who is having the most impact.

Let's review some differences that become important when you are recruiting salespeople.  Suppose that all of your candidates claimed to have been the #1 salesperson in their prior companies.  Being #1 has different meanings depending on whether they sold:

  • Snacks - to convenience store managers, grocery chain buyers or Walmart
  • Nuts and bolts - to manufacturing engineers, auto repair shops technicians, or Granger
  • Janitorial supplies -  to small retailer owners, property managers, or Microsoft's facilities VP
  • Windows - to homeowners, builders, lumber dealers or Home Depot
  • Furniture - to consumers, furniture store owners or the Marriott
  • Generators - to power an RV, an entire house, a grocery store or Mass General Hospital
  • Engines - to lawn mower manufacturers, motorcycle manufacturers or GMC
  • Software - to a doctor's office, a clinic, a hospital or the Federal Government
  • Audit services - to the owner of a small professional firm, the president of a medium size company or the CFO of Apple

I could go on and on with examples like these where even the same product becomes a very different sale depending on who it's being sold to.  

Fortunately, OMG has a Sales Percentile score which is based on the combined weighted scores of 21 Sales Core Competencies before being compared to those two million other salespeople.  It's the single factor that neutralizes the differences between industries, competition, territories, pricing, complex and simple sales cycles, difficult (cold-calling) and easy (account management) roles, and targeted decision makers.  Sales Percentile allows you  to compare and/or rank sales capabilities!

This is useful when you're trying to rank sales candidates who come from varying backgrounds because let's face it - you're just guessing!  Sales Percentile is your answer.  In the sample sales candidate assessment below, this salesperson's sales percentile score of 100 means that this salesperson is better than 100% of the salespeople in the world!  And even with a 100, he still has a weakness!

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Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales cycle, sales effectiveness, #1 salesperson, sales percentile

How Companies Choose Sales Training Companies is Backwards

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 11, 2020 @ 06:02 AM

reverse

Do you partake of dessert prior to eating your appetizer?  Do you eat your dinner in the morning and have breakfast at night?  Would you prefer to have the builder complete the finish work on your new house prior to framing it and installing the roof?  Would you back your car out of the garage before opening the garage door? (I've actually done that by accident - twice!)

It's all quite silly.  You wouldn't think of doing those things in that order but that's how most companies choose sales training companies.  After 35 years in the sales training industry, I'm qualified to comment on this silly behavior, and explain why companies have it all backwards.

If your company is going to partner with a third-party to help increase sales, the actual sales training component should be the last of the various services to be delivered.  What services should be delivered prior to sales training?  

First, a complete sales force evaluation to identify the gaps, problems, challenges, and most importantly, the reasons why your sales results are what they are. This allows you to set realistic expectations for growth by understanding who is capable of improvement, by how much they can improve, and what will be required in the way of training and coaching to achieve that growth.  If you provide training without conducting the evaluation you might as well just write the check and spare everyone the time, effort and aggravation.

Second, sales process.  Your sales process must be customized and optimized because training must introduce your formal sales process and all of the content must be delivered in the context of the process.

Third, sales management training and coaching. If you want the sales training to work, then your sales managers must be trained and coached so that they can coach to the content in the context of the sales process. If your sales managers won't or can't coach consistently and effectively, the training won't stick and the changes won't take place.

Fourth, tweaks to your sales operations infrastructure.  You don't want to start tweaking things after sales training has begun.

Fifth, Upgrades.  Some of your existing salespeople won't be part of your future and knowing who they are in advance from the intelligence of the sales force evaluation allows you to replace them before, not during the sales training. 

Of course, there are other variables, like how the training will be delivered, support materials and technology, the effectiveness of the trainer, how many training sessions a program will include, the topics that will be covered, how much role-playing will be included to demonstrate what good conversations sound like, and homework assignments.  If you make the mistake of rolling out sales training instead of the sales force evaluation as the first step, you won't have the MRI of the sales organization, or a sales radiologist to read the MRI, so it would be like ordering surgery from a menu instead of receiving the proper needs-based treatment.

Where do you find such a sales radiologist?  Objective Management Group (OMG) partners with 300 of the best sales experts in the world who all provide those services as part of an OMG Sales Force Evaluation.  Sure, there are other assessment companies and other team reports but nothing compares with what OMG offers.  Not a single one is able to do the in-depth sales-specific analyses of your team that OMG provides.  Request a sample Sales Force Evaluation

Some of the analyses that OMG includes in a Sales Force Evaluation:

  • Role Analysis (right people in the right roles)
  • Pipeline Analysis (quality and restaging)
  • Sales Process Analysis (thoroughness, sequence, milestones and adherence)
  • Development Analysis (scope, friction, opportunity and timeline)
  • Analysis of 6 Sales DNA Competencies (do strengths support sales process, strategy, tactics?)
  • Analysis of 10 Sales Capability Competencies (selling skills)
  • Sales Management Coaching Analysis (skills, environment, frequency, topics, effectiveness)
  • Sales Leadership Analysis (competencies and effectiveness)
  • Messaging Analysis (elevator pitch and value proposition)
  • Analysis of 5 Will to Sell Competencies (can vs will sell)
  • Industry Comparison Analysis in all 21 Sales Core Competencies
  • Systems and Processes Analysis (sales operations)
  • Priorities for Growth (areas to focus on and training and development requirements)

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales force evaluation, sales training

How to Raise the Incomes of Minimum Wage Workers Without Wealth Distribution or Socialism

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 05, 2019 @ 19:06 PM

robin-hood

Hang in there - this will be an article on sales - but you need to get through the big set up.

Bernie Sanders spoke at a Walmart shareholders meeting and criticized the company for not paying higher wages.  He said that a company owned by the wealthiest family in the USA, should be able to pay $15/hour.  Bernie and some of his colleagues believe in wealth redistribution, conjuring up images of Robin Hood stealing from the wealthy and giving it to the poor.  Walmart says the average wage of their hourly workers is $17.50.

Bernie and his pro socialism friends believe that people who have built successful business enterprises should be penalized for their success while capitalists believe that their success allows them to reinvest in their businesses and create new jobs and great new products and services.  Wages will rise as a result of supply and demand and right now, demand outweighs supply. Ask anyone who is hiring salespeople or computer software engineers and they'll tell you how much wages are increasing!

Not stated, but implied, is that minimum wage employees are forced into those low paying jobs and the wealthiest Americans are to blame.  Why can't low hourly wage workers seek and earn better paying jobs?  Is it lack of skills?  Lack of motivation?  Lack of commitment?  Lack of education? Lack of opportunity?  Lack of training?

Why not sales?  Selling is a profession that employs 16 million in the US alone and for most sales jobs, especially with today's lack of candidates, there is a laundry list of qualifications that are NOT required:

  • college degree (an archaeology degree won't be much help)
  • HS diploma (not usually required for B2C but usually required for B2B)
  • experience (lots of entry level sales roles available)
  • skills (they can be taught)
  • money (not many straight commission jobs being offered)
  • professional appearance (lots of inside sales roles to be filled)

Instead of wealth redistribution, why can't we offer entry level sales positions to all who are willing to do the work to raise their incomes from $7.50/hour to as much as $53,000?  According to Salary.com, that's the total average entry level sales compensation being paid right now.

There is no shortage of sales trainers out there so there would be plenty of help available to train inexperienced salespeople.  The government could even pay for some of those training programs. OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment accurately predicts sales success - even for those without sales experience! And every company has sales openings.

The single most common issue revealed in my daily emails is, "Dave, how can we get more salespeople into our recruiting pipeline?  Where can we find more sales candidates?  Why aren't salespeople responding to our job postings?"

I looked into some of the progress being made by 9 of my personal clients who are currently recruiting salespeople and discovered that despite the lack of candidates, in the last 12 months they have managed to assess 1,919 candidates, 20% were recommended, 25% were worthy of consideration, and 55% were not recommended.  Buried in those average recommendation rates, 2 companies had more than 85% of their candidates recommended and 2 had 0% recommended.  4 companies had more than 70% that were not recommended.  While difficulty levels will affect recommendation rates, that is surely not the case here.  The companies with high recommendation rates had job postings that described their ideal candidates while the companies with low recommendation rates had job postings that described Joe or Mary weak candidate.

You might not think that these recommendation rates would help much if only 45% of this group would be recommended or worthy but if we look at only the lowest difficulty levels - entry level - the combined rates will be closer to 75%.

There are ample opportunities to assimilate low hourly wage workers into B2C sales positions, have them assessed, hired, on boarded, trained and deployed.  On the other hand, wealth redistribution would cause massive layoffs, inhibit innovation, stifle R&D, limit consumer spending, stop the booming economy, crash the stock market and cause a major recession.  Other than that it's a terrific idea.

What do you think?  Add your comments to the LinkedIn discussion here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales assessments, bernie sanders, wealth redistribution

Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 @ 20:10 PM

gold-nuggets

I had a chance to review the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study and extracted some fascinating data.  I thought it might be interesting to take their data, overlay some of Objective Management Group's (OMG) data, and see what we can take away from that.

Tick-Tock.  The report reveals that open sales positions remain so for an average of nearly 4 months and 9 months pass before a new hire achieves full productivity.  That's over a year!  This particular finding is a moving target and somewhat reflective of the relatively small number of proactive sales candidates and far smaller percentage of good ones.  The report shows that only 22.6% of organizations believe that hiring is an organizational strength, so this recruiting performance shouldn't surprise anyone.  OMG has a finding called FIOF (Figure it out Factor) which correlates to how quickly a candidate will ramp up to speed. Candidates who come up to speed more quickly than typical sales candidates score 75 or better and only 25% of all candidates have this as a strength.   

Not Nutritional.  Western diets are notorious for their inclusion of unhealthy, unnecessary, processed, fatty food instead of healthy whole foods.  Similarly, companies listed sales requirements for new salespeople that were filled with unnecessary requirements (ie., business degree from a university, college degree of any kind, STEM degree, industry sales experience, emotional intelligence, etc.) instead of strong and broad capabilities in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  This suggests that companies still lack a basic understanding of what causes salespeople to succeed.

Tooling.   An equal number of companies use candidate assessments as those who don't.  However, those who do use assessments have 61% quota attainment and 14.6% attrition, versus 49% quota attainment and 19.8% attrition for those who don't use assessments.  Companies that use assessments are 25% more successful at quota achievement and that data is not even for any particular assessment.  Imagine how much better the results are for the companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments. Data from companies who have hired salespeople that were recommended by OMG shows an attrition rate of only 8% and quota attainment of 88%.  

Put Me in Coach.  Just 10% of the companies said that coaching was a strength.  That jives pretty well with OMG's data from its evaluations of more than 25,000 sales forces.  Only 10% of all Sales Managers have the Sales Coaching competency as a strength but most of that group are in the top 20% of all sales managers.

Two-Step.  38% of companies reported that they have a sales process.  Respondents appeared to be overly optimistic as OMG's data shows that only 27% of companies actually have a formal, structured sales process.

Right Down the Pipe.  20% claimed that pipeline management is a strength at their company but that claim is even more optimistic than the dance above.  Remember, their report is built from a survey so it's vulnerable to optimistic misstatements.  OMG's sales force evaluation data reveals that the actual number is 8%!

In conclusion, I'm still disappointed that these numbers aren't improving more quickly.  I believe that there are several reasons for this, but my top 3 are:

  • Too many sales leaders have large egos that don't allow them to ask for or receive help, believing that they and they alone are responsible for, and capable of moving the needle
  • The C Suite often delegates responsibility for change but change won't occur until the commitment to change is demonstrated to the sales organization from those at the very top of the company
  • Many companies are well intentioned about change but don't always make the best choices and don't always see those choices through.  Exhibit #1 is CRM.  My observation of CRM selection, installation, training, customization, integration, acceptance, and adoption is that it has been nothing short of an industry-wide cluster fuck.  Please excuse my language.

Of course there are more reasons than these 3 but most of them, when looked at objectively, can be traced back to these three.  For example, we can consider the people, coaching, training, strategy, systems, processes, expectations, accountability, motivation, culture, and more, but as soon as you seek the cause we must look to the original three reasons.

In the end, it's not usually an unwillingness to spend money to improve sales selection, provide the right tools, hire the right sales leaders, consultants and trainers.  It's the lack of unconditional commitment to get it right.

Join the LinkedIn discussion of this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales recruiting, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, sales opportunities, cso insights, sales recruiting failure

Are Millennials Who Enter Sales Better or Worse Than the Rest of the Sales Population?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 @ 12:08 PM

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Image Copyright: kchung / 123RF Stock Photo

Millennials are more independent, more spoiled, have a shorter attention span, tend to be more into their technology than into people, don't like working traditional hours, and don't enjoy working in traditional ways.  That said, would you expect them to be better or worse suited for selling than the generations who came before them?

I took to the data to see what story it might tell. I found data on more than 43,000 millennials in sales and here is what I learned.  This information should be very helpful for hiring new salespeople and developing them as well.

To get a sense for the actual comparison, I looked at four data sets:

  1. All Millennials
  2. The Top 10% of Millennials
  3. The Top 10% of Salespeople with 10+ years in sales and in their industry
  4. All Salespeople with 10+ years in sales and in their industry

So how do Millennials compare?  

Chris Mott, my trusted colleague and friend, specified the first dashboard - how all millennials scored. Sales Quotient, the overall score, is shown in the top right corner.  108 is weak.  Sales DNA, the combination of strengths, is shown in the middle.  61 represents a salesperson that will not be able to execute sales process, strategies, skills and tactics because the strengths are actually weaknesses.  Commitment, the willingness to do what it takes to achieve greater success in sales is shown in the upper left hand section.  53% represents a lack of commitment.  You'll notice that Handling Rejection and Relationship Building are the only two areas where millennials scored well in the areas of Sales DNA and Selling Competencies.  Scroll down for more.

Millennials-All.jpg

After Chris showed me the first dashboard, I populated the next dashboard with veteran salespeople with 10 or more years in sales.  You can see that as a group, they have higher scores in all of the areas we discussed relative to the previous dashboard, except - and this is a head turner - Relationship Building!  Who could have seen that coming?  Interestingly, they score 39% on Responsibility which means they are twice more likely to make excuses than their younger colleagues.  In this comparison, based on their Sales Quotients, the older salespeople are at least serviceable while the Millennials are simply weak.  Scroll down for more.

Veteran-Salespeople-All.jpg

The third dashboard represents veteran salespeople again, but this time only the top 10%.  As you can see, the top 10% are elite, with Sales Quotients averaging 142 and Sales DNA averaging 83.  Nearly every score is in the green and all of the scores are higher than either of the two prior groups.  These are the salespeople you want to hire!  And wherever possible, you want to coach up your existing salespeople to be like the top 10%.  Scroll down for more.

Veteran-Salespeople-Top-10.jpg

The fourth dashboard represents the Top 10% of Millennials.  It isn't very different from the top 10% of Veteran Salespeople with the notable exception of their respective scores for Figure-it-Out-Factor, or how quickly they will ramp up.  Notice the low score on Relationship Building!  This group scores the highest on Desire, Responsibility, Outlook, Sales DNA and Coachable!!  Scroll down for more.

Millennials-Top-10.jpg

It should be clear from this comparison that overall, Millennials are not a great choice for sales.  However, the Top 10% of Millennials are an excellent choice for sales!  So the million dollar question is, when you are hiring salespeople, and millennials are in the mix, how do you determine whether they are millennials of the 108 Sales Quotient or of the 143 Sales Quotient?

I apologize.  That was a trick question. As you can see from the dashboard of all Veteran salespeople, that group only averages a 121 on Sales Quotient. It shouldn't matter whether millennials are in the mix or not. You need the ability to differentiate between the 140's, 120's and 100's with every candidate, and do it as early in the sales recruiting process as possible.  Weed out the undesirable sales candidates in the very first step!  So how can you tell whether you have a 140 or a 108?  Use Objective Management Group's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments. They're built on science and customizable for your business and selling role.  

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, top salespeople, Sales Candidate, sales selection, objective management group, OMG Assessment

Five Great Lessons That Apply to Every Company That Hires Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 02, 2015 @ 09:11 AM

I turned sixty years old today and everyone is asking me how it feels to be sixty.  To be honest, it feels exactly the same as it felt to be fifty-nine - which is essentially the same as it felt to be 40.  Nothing has changed.  And speaking of nothing changing, nothing has changed over at BigBrains where two updates have come my way.  The first came from someone who knows the real identity of BigBrains and suggested that I refer to them as ShitForBrains instead.  She must have met them!

The second update came from the OMG Partner who is working with BigBrains.  His email was a riot and even though he is very frustrated with their inability to make smart decisions, he sees the humor in all of this too. He signed off with, "Some people have to cut off their nose to spite their face. &^%$# amazing!"

There are some really good lessons that are beneficial to all executives and from companies of all sizes and industries. I'll share the top five lessons here:

If you haven't read the prior posts about BigBrains, Benchmarking, our Perfect Fit Analysis, and their reasons for being so stupid, this post has links to each of the other articles.

BigBrains is finally using our Sales Candidate Assessment, and instead of hiring business development reps, the subject of 6 previous posts, they are using it to hire salespeople.  There is still a problem though...  BigBrains is interviewing first (wasting lots of time and money) and assessing later. So of course, when they assess their final candidates, the assessment results are coming back as not recommended and they can't understand why.  

LESSON #1:  You will never be able to determine from an interview whether a candidate possesses enough Desire and Commitment for success in sales, whether their Sales DNA is strong enough to succeed in support this skills, and whether they have the sales capabilities to get the job done.  

LESSON #2: You must assess candidates at the earliest stage of the recruiting process to filter out those who won't succeed in the role and identify those candidates with whom you should spend your time talking.

LESSON #3: Some of the candidates that you choose to not include in the process should be included because their sales capabilities make up for whatever it is that you don't like about their resume.  Some of the candidates that you choose to include in the process should not be because their sales capabilities are not consistent with what you liked about their resume.

LESSON #4: If you interview prior to the assessment, you will fall in love with your candidates and then, if the candidate is not recommended, tend to dismiss the assessment results because they differ from what your heart is telling you.  Assess first and you will only be able to fall in love with quality candidates, and, perhaps of greater importance, be EEOC Compliant.  When using assessments, all candidates must be assessed.

LESSON #5:  Nobody, regardless of how long they have been interviewing and hiring salespeople, is smarter than OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.  You just can't beat the track record, predictive accuracy and uncanny insights.

Lack of significant change as your age increases is a good thing.  Lack of change when you're attempting to get sales hiring right is not.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Sales Recruiting Process, hiring sales candidates

Part 4 - The Real Story Behind the Sales Selection Fiasco

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 21, 2015 @ 09:10 AM


The 2016 MLB playoffs are in full swing, so forgive me if I refer to baseball for exactly the 100th time in the past 11 years and 1,350 Blog articles.  Clutch hitting - at bats in pressure situations that usually occur late in the game - has been studied a lot in recent years. While the sabermetricians say there isn't much of a difference in the overall statistics, there are individual players who have significant differentials between their clutch and non-clutch performances.  This week, we uncovered such a differential in sales!

Objective Management Group (OMG) produces nearly 200 findings that come from our ability to measure sales capabilities and there is tremendous consistency within the data.  Earlier this week, while mining the data from  salespeople, we found an anomaly.  Over the past 25 years, only our measurement of motivation has changed enough to be statistically significant and it wasn't a change in the percentage of salespeople who are motivated, as much as it was a shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation.

But this week we discovered a statistical difference between those salespeople who currently work for a company whose sales force was evaluated, and those sales candidates who were applying for sales positions.

One of our findings is Enjoys Selling. We found that while 88% of the salespeople that were part of a sales force evaluation enjoy selling, an astounding 97% of the sales candidates enjoy selling. Can you explain the difference?

Of course, there are several possible explanations:

  • The candidates are lying.
  • The candidates are different.
  • The candidates aren't as complacent.
  • The candidates actually want to be in sales.

Let's explore the last possibility.  If that were to be true (that they actually want to be in sales), does that mean that the existing salespeople don't want to be in sales?

The 9% differential represents approximately 9,000 salespeople.  I think it's fair to assume that of all of the salespeople whose companies had moved them into a sales role,  9,000 of them were not enjoying sales.

The real story here is why executives decide that people like Bob (usually engineers or product experts) should be salespeople.  The Bobs of the world are consistently among the least effective salespeople and aren't as valuable in their selling roles as they were in their prior roles.

STOP moving people into sales because they know stuff!  Move people into sales when they ask to be moved into sales AND when they have enough supportive Sales DNA to help them succeed in that role.  The skills can be taught over time.

Of course, this is only a single data point and it's part of a much bigger issue in and around sales selection.

I've been writing about this for the past two weeks and prior to today's article, there were 3 other articles that preceded this one.  If you start with this article on LinkedIn Pulse, it links to the two other important sales selection articles in the series.

Chad Burmeister, VP of sales at ConnectAndSell and the primary author of the new book, SalesHack, added this article on his Blog, SalesHack, after a follow-up conversation with the CEO of BigBrains.

After writing these articles about his company, BigBrains, their CEO's take was to suggest that we develop a new assessment that would be customized for the SDR role at his company.  That's right, consider this:

  • We were successful in predicting 83% of their top and bottom performers.
  • They were no more successful at selection than a coin flip.

They had 3 other successful people that would not have been recommended because they weren't really interested in sales, didn't enjoy selling, and lacked desire for success in selling.  Because of those 3 anomalies, they want an entirely new assessment that would identify more sales candidates like those 3, instead of the time-tested and proven assessment that consistently identifies top performers in SDR roles in more than 11,000 companies.

Go figure!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales selelction

Did You Know That There is a Season for Hiring Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 @ 05:09 AM

I live in the Boston area and there are some things that I know will always be true about the seasons.  School buses start rolling in September, fall foliage peaks in October, the first freezing cold days arrive in late November, snow storms are routine by mid-December, the coldest, driest days are in January, the snowiest month is in February, the days begin to get longer in March, the snow has melted so that baseball can be played in April, flowers blossom and leaves appear on the trees in May, summer weather arrives for good in mid-June, it turns as hot as the fireworks in July and the weeds thrive and attempt to choke out the plants in August.  

Did you know that when it comes to hiring salespeople, there are also seasonal trends we know to be true ?

It's as certain as the ice storm we seem to get every year right around the New Year.  The first graph below is a running total of the number of sales candidates assessed since 2009.  Beyond the obvious trend towards more, which has more to do with Objective Management Group (OMG) than hiring, you should be able to notice the many peaks and valleys.

If we look at the same data in a different way, those peaks and valleys will make more sense.  In the next graph we separated the data by year (the different colors represent the years 2009 - 2015) and month (1-12). If you look closely, you can see that March and October are the seasons for hiring salespeople!  You can also see a few other things that are reflective of conditions in the economy.  Note how the peaks did not occur in 2010, because the economic recovery had not yet kicked in. And note how with the exception of March, the number of candidates is down in 2015.  This is not about OMG, but it is about the current shortage of sales candidates.

On first blush, it's easy to mistakenly believe that more candidates are looking to change jobs during March and October.  But the reality is that more companies hire salespeople in the last first and last quarters. How do I know?  OMG has an uptick in licenses and subscriptions sold during March and October.  So, if we are closing in on October and most companies hire salespeople in October, shouldn't you be thinking about doing that too?

What's that?  You don't need any salespeople? Are you sure?  When 50% of salespeople don't make quota and 30% of salespeople can't be trained, some simple math would suggest that 15% of your sales force should be replaced each year. Perhaps it's time to replace your worst performer(s).

It's also important to see that you will have less competition for those candidates if you hire in July, September, and the Winter months.

If you don't already use OMG to get sales selection right, this would be a great time to start!  Plans start at just $99 per month and you can use this link to learn more and subscribe.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales selection tool, hiring sales candidates, sales assessment test

Why My Golfing May be Just Like Your Sales Recruiting

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 14, 2014 @ 07:10 AM

golfing

Image Copyright: deklofenak / 123RF Stock Photo

On the rare occasion that I have the opportunity to golf, it doesn't matter what I choose for clubs, balls, gloves, tees or clothing.  At this point in my life and very short golfing career, just being out with a friend is good enough for me and if we count his strokes, and my lost balls, our final scores might even be competitive!

That's how some companies recruit salespeople.  It doesn't matter who they are, where they come from, if they have selling skills, and whether or not they have any experience.  These companies treat sales recruiting like the instructions on their shampoo bottle - they rinse and repeat.  

This approach is a self-fulfilling prophecy which, because of their willingness to accept anyone who will take the job, is guaranteed to fail. Nearly every recruit will fail quickly and they will find themselves restarting the recruiting process again a short while later.

When it comes to finding and selecting new salespeople, you can choose the easy path and have consistently poor outcomes, or take the more challenging path and have consistently good outcomes.

When you look at it that way - easy gets you bad and difficult gets you good - there isn't much reason for continuing to do it the easy way.  Of course, if you have always done it that way you may not be willing to change...

What makes the difficult way so difficult?

You'll need a lot more of the right candidates, and a few great tools to help with selection.  

One client, hiring for an inbound sales role, assessed nearly 1,000 candidates in the past 12 months and that was just the beginning!  

Another client needed to identify a needle in a haystack.  They needed an extremely capable salesperson that could sell big deals to the C-suite of enterprise size companies AND the winning candidates would also need to have highly evolved technical skills.  Nearly 200 candidates were assessed for that role.

A third client assessed around 250 sales candidates for an inside sales role while a fourth client assessed more than 2,000 candidates for a traditional outside sales role.

Each of these clients saved huge amounts of time by doing the following 10 things:

  1. They assessed first and asked questions later.
  2. They used a very accurate, sales-specific assessment that is incredibly predictive of success in a sales role.
  3. They did not look at the resumes or contact any candidate that was not recommended by the assessment.
  4. They used online applicant tracking for candidates to collect experience-based information to further filter which candidates would be contacted.
  5. They interviewed the recommended candidates with the right experiences by phone for 5 minutes.
  6. They scheduled face-to-face interviews with the best of those candidates and only then ran their normal recruiting processes.
  7. They selected, hired and on-boarded great salespeople.
  8. They coached, directed and guided these great salespeople, holding them accountable to appropriate KPI's from day 1.
  9. They significantly reduced turnover, increased ramp-up time and exceeded goals for sales revenue.
  10. They did not have to start the recruiting process again.

This was all made possible by the use of one, very customizable, very useful and accurate sales candidate assessment.  It works for every sales role.  It works in every industry.  It will work for you too.  If you would like to take a test drive, click the image below for a free trial!

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales candidates, sales selection, sales assessments, OMG Assessment

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight 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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