Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 06, 2018 @ 22:09 PM

science

You must have heard the joke that 73.6% of statistics are made up!

I have read and even reported that sales leaders who coach their salespeople see a boost in revenue of around 27%.  It sounds like a realistic number but I have not seen any science to back it up.  Until now.  Check this out!

OMG has evaluated and assessed nearly 1.8 million salespeople and sales managers from 25,000 companies.  The data in the table below is from a subset of that data where we looked at around 16,000 salespeople who reported to approximately 4,000 sales managers.  The title row shows the percentage of time the sales managers devoted to coaching their salespeople and the 6 rows below that show the average scores for the salespeople that report to those managers.  Sales Percentile is the percentile that a salesperson scored in.  Sales DNA is an overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures.  Hunter, Consultative, Qualifier and Closer are 4 of the 7 Tactical selling competencies that OMG measures.  If you're interested, you can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies and how salespeople score by industry and skill here.

coaching-increase-sales

Do you remember that 27% number?  The first row reveals that sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching salespeople (last column on the right) have salespeople whose sales percentile score is 28% higher than those managers who devoted little to none of their time coaching.  How is that for science to back up somebody's incredibly accurate wild-ass guess?

There's another interesting find in this data.  Average scores for hunting were not further improved after a manager is devoting at least 20% of their time to coaching.  This suggests that sales managers who coach more don't spend their coaching time helping salespeople work on their prospecting skills.

Another interesting takeaway can be seen in the Consultative scores.  This competency shows the smallest gain in average score.  Given how difficult it is to effectively take the consultative approach, this suggests that despite coaching more often, those sales managers lack the consultative skills needed to coach their salespeople on the consultative approach.

If Consultative scores show the smallest gain, where can the biggest gains be found?  Qualifying and Closing.  Sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching have salespeople who score 13% better in Qualifying and 24% better in closing than the salespeople whose sales managers rarely coach.

This data was not filtered by coaching effectiveness so their was no assumption that the coaching was good coaching; only that there was coaching.  What would happen if in addition to the time these managers devote to coaching, they were also becoming more effective at coaching?  The answer is revealed in this article by John Pattison.

Topics: sales data, Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, Consultative Selling, sales qualification, Closing Sales, sales core competencies, omg, sales growth, sales improvement

What Would You Do? Sales Force Attempts to Maintain Status Quo

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 06, 2014 @ 04:01 AM

wrong stuffWarning - this story is disturbing and contains actual quotes from its participants.

The president of a small company, suffering from years of declining sales, asked us to evaluate his small sales force (3 salespeople and sales manager).  He hoped that our data would prove, both to him and his small sales force, that they could grow their revenue to the level of their peak years.

30 days later, when we met to review the findings from the sales force evaluation and answer his questions about potential performance improvements, there was some good news, but most of it was bad.

The good news was that with time (30 months), higher expectations, along with some training and much better coaching, his goals were achievable.  The bad news was that his salespeople were seriously among the worst we have ever evaluated and his sales manager, not much better than his salespeople, seemed disconnected and disinterested from anything other than managing his existing personal accounts.  Did I mention they were the worst we have ever seen?

We also produce individual sales and sales management evaluations for sales team members so that they can better understand their selling strengths and skills, and begin to overcome their selling challenges.  We always ask them to provide some feedback, some of which makes its way back to us.

Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated more than 650,000 salespeople from more than 10,000 companies.  It isn't unusual or unexpected for a salesperson to disagree with a finding or two.  After all, if they were aware of their skill gaps and challenges, they might have attempted to work on them by now.  But in this particular company, everyone on the sales team believed that their sales and sales management evaluations were wrong.  According to this exceptional group of salespeople, all underachieving to the tune of more than 100%, OMG doesn't understand selling...but they do.

Here are just a few of their comments:

From the sales manager:

"First of all, management growth potential of 71%?...this is insulting and demeaning. I seem to have performed pretty well everywhere I have been employed for 44 years while providing pretty well for my family at the time. This is unbelievably pathetic."  [Note - 71% growth potential means he can improve that much and he is deflecting his and the team's pathetic results on our findings.  He also said the following:

"I don’t take responsibility? I do not handle joint calls effectively? How does he know? To my knowledge he has never been on a sales call with me or interviewed me. I do not have a selling system? Ever hear me talk about SIHBC which was taught to me by P&G over 40 years ago..."  [Note - this sales manager is still operating as if it was 1973 and that's what his salespeople were taught to do.]

From his salespeople:

"It's all crap" [Note - The strengths and skills that we identified must be crap too]

"You do not understand our industry.  I am the entire sales department, service department and customer service department for our company."  [Note - he is a bit overimpressed with himself.]

"My sales numbers could improve but my history has proven my abilities."  [Note - another one stuck in the past.]

"Too much talking - really?  Isn't this what we are supposed to do?"  [Note - like I said, stuck in the 70's.]

"The report said I do not have a “consultative sales approach”.  That is what we do every day.  We try to sell value and problem solve.  We do not sell “price” but we sell better results and we do save them money even if our [their products] cost more."  [Note - this salesperson believed that telling people what they should do and why they should do it equates to a consultative approach.]

*******************************************************************************

This isn't normal or expected, so why did it happen at this company and what does the future hold for them?

This is what can happen when salespeople have zero concept of selling; when knowledgeable, technical people are moved into selling roles without being trained to sell; when the sales manager is more interested in selling than managing; when the president doesn't hold the sales manager accountable; and when there isn't a sales culture.

If the president of this company gets serious, replaces the sales manager with a motivated, committed and talented sales manager, and hires strong salespeople to work for the new manager, this company can thrive.  On the other hand, if he sits back and hopes for the same dysfunctional team to suddenly change their behaviors and performance, he will be extremely disappointed.

Was OMG wrong?  Yes!  We predicted that this group could be developed, trained and coached, but the sales manager-led rebellion against change from the status quo undid all of that.  Were we wrong about how bad this sales team was?  Not a chance.  They were statistically at the bottom of all sales teams.

What would you do if you were the victim of a sales manager-led rebellion against change?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, sales management, sales improvement, sales revenue, sales assessments

Why Do Salespeople Forget What They Learn?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 21, 2013 @ 11:08 AM

sellingandgolfI was on the golf course 3 times in the past 7 days.  That's 3 more times than I played in the last 2 years combined!  As you might expect, I was very inconsistent and the resulting score was not surprising.  I was never a good golfer, taking it up just 8 years ago when I turned 50.  However, during the first 3 years, I took weekly lessons, went to the driving range each day, and played quite often in an attempt to become good enough to enjoy it.

Perhaps you can relate to this, not necessarily with golf, but perhaps with something else you may have taken up.

I think there is some commonality with selling, as well as a discrepency.

Some salespeople are fortunate enough to get trained and/or coached.  Maybe it's an all-day seminar, not really training as much as exposure to some different thinking or approach.  We don't expect anything to change from a single day, so why should you?  I went to a short game golf school for a day.  It was awesome while I was there, but 4 years later, I can't do any of the things I learned there.  Comprehensive sales training (8-16 months) leads us to expect dramatic change and a significant increase in sales.

Years later, why would you expect salespeople to have remembered, mastered, and continued to use what they learned?  The fact is that without consistent reinforcement and practice, most salespeople will revert back to what is most comfortable and easy for them.  That's  telling, showing, demonstrating, proposing, quoting and following-up.  They gradually get away from questioning, quantifying, justifying, building value, building a case, qualifying and closing.  They revert to rushing and taking shortcuts.

This is similar to forgetting the essence of the golf swing.  My posture was wrong, my backswing was horrible, my follow-through lacked extension, my feet were moving.  I was in such a hurry to hit it great that I hit it awful.  And salespeople are in such a hurry to close the business that they neglect to sell first!

Training is not an event or a one-year commitment.  It's a never-ending process of gradual improvement with the goal of developing mastery.  Unfortunately, for most companies, it's a much shorter term than that and then they believe that sales improvement has been achieved.

Here are links to a few other articles that I have posted about the similarities between selling and golf:

Putting for Eagle - Going for the Unlikely Close 

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

Hit More Fairways and Close More Sales  

Sales Effectiveness by Borrowing From Best Ball Golf Tournaments

 

 

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales improvement, sales enablement, sales effectiveness

The Latest and Greatest in Sales Force Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 23, 2013 @ 21:04 PM

Spoiler Warning:  This article is about my company and its new product.  Stick around though and I think you'll realize that it's just as much about your company as it is mine.

One of the proudest moments of my professional career occurred Sunday, April 21, 2013, when my team at Objective Management Group (OMG) introduced our brand new Sales Force Evaluation product to 120 OMG Partners from around the world.  That we were in Boston, just one day after the second bombing suspect was captured, made it even more incredible!

OMG's New Sales Force Evaluation Tool Introduced on April 21, 2013

Partners getting their first look and using their phones to vote their approval.

OMG's New Sales Force Evaluation Tool Introduced April 21, 2013

We have introduced our share of evaluation and assessment tools during the past 23 years, but this introduction was completely different.  My team worked tirelessly for nearly an entire year on our latest gem and our Partners received it, with even more enthusiasm than we felt, when we completed the project just 48 hours earlier.

Why all the excitement?

Forget for just a minute how incredibly impressive the product looks.  It's the information that sets it apart from, well, even our previous sales force evaluation product, which was already the best on the planet.  Of the many differences between our new and old products, the one I like the most is this one:  While our old product was findings-centric; the new product is answer-centric.  Why should you care about any of this?

Our Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis answers 4 critical questions about your company:

  • Can our sales force be more effective?
  • How much more effective can we be?
  • What will it take to accomplish that?
  • How long will it take to accomplish that?

If you don't care about the answers to those 4 questions, then you must have already cashed out or retired.

In order to answer those 4 questions, we answer these additional 19 questions along the way: 

  • How Does Sales Leadership Impact Our Sales Force?
  • What Are Our Current Sales Capabilities?  (here is an image of the summary page of this chapter)
OMG Sales Force Evaluation
  • How Motivated Are Our Salespeople and How Are They Motivated?
  • Can We Generate More New Business?
  • Can We Be Better at Reaching Actual Decision Makers?
  • Can We Shorten Our Sales Cycle? 
  • Can We Sell More Consultatively? 
  • Are We Selling on Price and Who Can Become a Value Seller? 
  • Is Our Value Proposition Consistent? 
  • Can We Close More Sales? 
  • Do Our Systems and Processes Support a High Performance Sales Organization?
  • Can We Be More Consistent with Our Sales Process? 
  • How Well Are Our Sales Leadership Strategies Aligned? 
  • Do We Need to Change Our Selection Criteria?
  • Can We Improve Ramp-Up?
  • Can We Improve Our Pipeline and Forecasting Accuracy?
  • Can We Improve Our Sales Culture?
  • Who Can Become More Effective in Their Roles?
  • What Are the Short-term Priorities for Accelerated Growth?
Each thoughtful explanation is supported by plentiful data points.  It's all about the science and if our science can explain the sales performance taking place at your company and how you can improve it, you would have to be an overconfident know-it-all not to be excited about this turn of events.
Speaking of science, if you weren't already following me and OMG, our highly accurate and predictive sales specific tools are legendary.  Our "old" tool won the Gold Medal for Top Sales Assessment Tool in 2011 and 2012.  Our sales-specific evaluations and assessments have been used to evaluate and assess more than 650,000 salespeople and sales leaders in more than 10,000 companies.
 
If you would like to get in line and explore whether it makes sense to have your sales force evaluated in the 2nd quarter, click here and I'll have the appropriate partner follow-up with you.
 
Thanks for reading today - I appreciate it.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales improvement, omg, best sales assessment, top sales assessment, sales development tool

Why Corporate Sales Training Often Fails to Achieve Desired Results

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 08, 2009 @ 12:05 PM

Why do you train salespeople and sales managers?

Some companies want to educate them and improve their skills.  Some feel obligated to provide training while others provide training to improve results.  Some do it to help their salespeople, improve morale and feel good about making it available.  These are all very noble concepts, but usually achieve disappointing outcomes.

Train your salespeople to change your salespeople.  Until THEY change, their beliefs, behaviors, strategies and tactics won't change.  And there's the problem.

Many companies, believing they have the resources (trainers, HR people, sales managers, star salespeople) to provide training, use them. They buy train the trainer programs, have companies develop curriculums for them, and send their internal people to do the training.  When they measure results by education, obligation, morale and good feelings, these programs achieve their goal.  But if they want to change their salespeople's behaviors, what they actually do each day, they will fail.

In order to change salespeople, trainers must be able to do far more than read a script, teach the curriculums, demonstrate the strategies and tactics and perform role plays.  Sales trainers must have a number of competencies beyond sales and training.  There are underlying reasons why salespeople do what they do, why they only do what's comfortable, but not what we need them to do, and trainers must first understand that.  How?  Those insights come from our sales force evaluation.  But the trainers must be able to go further than understanding the beliefs and sales specific weaknesses that prevent salespeople from effectively and consistently doing what they should.  They must also be able to dig deep and cause the salespeople to understand that their lack of success and inability to execute a strategy has more to do with those hidden weaknesses than it does from not having the right strategy or tactic.  The trainer must also be able to help people overcome those weaknesses.

This one fact means that a single training program, and even four over the course of a year, will fail.  It means that salespeople must be spoon-fed, at least twice per month for at least eight months.  Overcoming weaknesses requires as much attention as strategies and tactics and even then, if sales management has not been trained to provide effective coaching and hold salespeople accountable to these changes, it won't work!

So why does so much training not achieve the desired result?  The wrong people are delivering it, there isn't enough reinforcement, the message hasn't been delivered with enough frequency in enough ways for everyone to get it, there isn't enough attention paid to the weaknesses, and management isn't prepared to support it.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales improvement, sales personality test

What Happens When You Develop Sales Competencies?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 10, 2009 @ 08:04 AM

Earlier this week I wrote an article for my Baseline Selling Tips Newsletter.  It was about 
What Sleep Apnea and Sales Improvement Have in Common.  If you don't get my Newsletter, you'll need to read that article in order for the rest of this post to make sense.

OK.  So now you have the gist of the process that your salespeople go through when they are being developed, trained coached and mentored.  And you'll go through that process too as it relates to what sales management must be able to do, sales management systems and processes, metrics, pipeline management, accountability, coaching, motivating, selection and recruiting, sales plans, incentives and compensation, trade shows, etc.

Rush Burkhardt, a sales development expert in Baltimore, sent this comment to me in response to the Sleep Apnea post:

"So, much like the situation regarding sleep apnea, the doctor (sales manager) had to make you believe that if you didn't use the mask (sales process), you'd die (fail to close business ergo lose your job). Fortunately, the doctor was able to convince you about the consequences you'd face if you didn't adhere to his recommendation, and you held yourself accountable! The Sales Manager must convince the Salesperson that there are consequences for lack of adherence, and, more often than not, hold the Salesperson accountable!"

Thanks Rush.  In holding salespeople accountable for change like this, it's important that management is leading by example, demonstrating their commitment, coaching to the process on a daily basis, holding salespeople accountable for application each day and evangelizing the successes of the change. When companies fail to include these steps in development, it is inevitable that they lose momentum and revert back to their old ways.

© Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales training, sales management, selling, Sales Coaching, accountability, sales improvement, selling process, sales excellence, sales tips, salespeople

Will Your Salespeople Change Behaviors to Improve Their Effectiveness?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 08, 2008 @ 21:10 PM

This morning our six-year old son asked if he could dress downstairs in front of the TV instead of upstairs in his bedroom.  I said that whenever we bring his clothes downstairs he never seems to gets dressed, and then we're running late, and everyone gets stressed so, in light of that, he should dress upstairs.  To my amazement, he said, "I've changed!"  He went downstairs, and to my astonishment, got himself dressed before he turned on the TV.

Yesterday, an employee was asked whether she would change and what that might look like. She said she would change and discussed what, specifically, those changes would be.

"I have changed", a belief and a statement of fact, versus "I will change", a belief and a statement of hope, perhaps even a promise.   

All of your salespeople must change too, some much more than others.  Whether you are looking for new behaviors, more consistency, greater toughness in the face of adversity, or simply more hunting, it is ultimately change that you are after.  So which of the two options would you prefer? "I have changed" or "I will change"?

"I have changed", while positive in that change has already taken place, is somewhat limiting because there is an assumption that no further change will take place.

"I will change", where no change has yet occurred, is somewhat more open-ended with regards to how much can change.

There are pros and cons to both and neither is as good an option as "I have changed, will change some more, and will continue to change because I am committed to being the best that I can be.

Can your salespeople change?  Will your salespeople change?  Do you have to change in order for any of this change to take place?

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales, change, sales improvement, sales effectiveness, salespeople

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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 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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