Should a Salesperson be Punished after a Huge Sale?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, May 04, 2015 @ 11:05 AM

punishment.jpg

My wife and I watched with a combination of fascination, sadness and shock as the coach of our son's 12 and under AAU baseball team made them run suicides after the double header they won on Saturday, and again after the double header they won on Sunday.  Why would he punish them after winning four games this weekend?  And how does this apply to sales?  You'll be amazed by what you read.On Saturday, the team had a chance to win both games by the mercy rule (the game ends if one team is ahead by 10 runs or more after 4 innings), but let the other team back into the game both times.  The coach didn't like their effort and execution and taught them a lesson by making them run suicides for 20 minutes after the second game.

On Sunday, the team won the first game, but allowed the other team to tie the second game forcing extra innings.  They eventually had a walk-off win, but once again, he thought they were flat, didn't like their effort, pointed to mental mistakes, and made them run suicides for 30 minutes after the second game.

As his parents, this punishment overshadowed a very impressive ball-crushing performance by our son.  But for the coach, the team's performance comes first.  The coach is paying more attention to behavior, attitude, and effort, than he is to the score.  He believes that by focusing on these three things, he will drive home the lessons he wants them to learn from this.

Shouldn't sales leaders be applying these lessons with their sales organizations?  While the best sales leaders do, in fact, follow this strategy, many sales leaders pay too much attention to sales results - the numbers - while ignoring the significance of metrics and conversion ratios that lead to revenue.

For example, Bob leads the team in sales this quarter with $500,000 in sales and he is praised, recognized, and presented with an award for his outstanding performance.  But it's a sham.  Bob landed one deal the entire quarter instead of the 6 he should have closed.  Although his quota for the quarter was only $300,000 and he killed it, if this deal hadn't come through, he would have been dead last.  Additionally, this deal was forecast for the previous quarter, so he really had nothing going on this quarter.  Had sales management looked more closely, they would have seen that he did not add any new opportunities to the pipeline in the quarter, and had only 6 conversations on just 12 outbound attempts.  Where was his effort?  What's with his attitude?  And where was the behavior?  Should Bob have been the hero or should it have been pointed out that he sucked all quarter and happened to get lucky once?

Clearly, it benefits the entire sales organization to call attention to a big deal and a quota-buster.  We want to make sure that everyone knows that these results can be achieved and should be achieved.  At the same time, if the other salespeople approach Bob and ask how he did it, the opposite effect will occur.  They would learn that it is OK not to make calls, not to have many conversations, and not to convert those conversations to meetings.  Additionally, they would learn that ineffective qualifying and forecasting can pay off, and letting prospects off the hook, not closing the door, and being passive and mentally lazy can work as well.

The scenario with the Bobs of the world is no different than what happened last weekend with the baseball coach.  We can't reward results unless the attitude, effort and execution that led to the results was consistent with those results.  In addition, we shouldn't punish salespeople who put forth the proper effort, attitude, behaviors and execution, only to come up short.  When we identify the most meaningful KPI's, and recognize salespeople for achieving those, the results will come.

[Update - Stick around and read the comments to this article, add one of your own, share it on LInkedIn or Twitter (buttons above the photo) and read this follow-up article.]

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales conversation, Baseball, sales behaviors, sales KPI, sales effort, sales forecast, sales execution

Can You Improve a Kick-Ass Sales Force?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 11, 2013 @ 17:09 PM

Most of the calls and emails which we receive come from companies with flat or declining sales.  However, some of the greatest successes occur when we help companies who are already kicking ass.  

Mark Roberge, Sales VP at Hubspot, is responsible for building one of those kick-ass sales forces and he contributed a guest post to Software Advice on Building a Sales Team the Hubspot Way

When I read the article, I noted a couple of things that I really liked:

  1. They learn very little about sales in the first 30 days.  Mark said, "Instead, they start a blog, create a website, open a Twitter account and begin email marketing campaigns.  By the time training is over, they will rank in Google for a few dozen keywords in their market, have a few dozen followers on Twitter and have written a few dozen blog articles.  HubSpot’s content marketing strategy allows the rep to establish online credibility before even getting on the phone with his or her first prospect."  Cool.
     
  2. A steady flow of inbound leads.  That sure helps new salespeople get started, doesn't it?
Like all kick-ass sales forces, they could do better.  I read a few things that surely aren't as good as they could be and with some tweaking, would significantly improve sales:
  • Mark identified 5 traits that he believes correlate to success and hires salespeople who have these traits.  He identified Coachability, Intelligence, Prior Success, Curiosity and Work Ethic.  While most top-performing salespeople have these qualities, it does not necessarily work in reverse.  For example, top-performing salespeople are also great at developing, building and maintaining relationships.  However, people who are good with relationships do not necessarily become good salespeople.  In fact, most of them don't!  So while it's important to identify predictors of success, predictors that correlate in only one direction will often disappoint.  The problem with the 5 that Mark identified is that none of them speak to either sales DNA, Commitment, Desire or selling skills.  Hubspot has so many leads that their salespeople don't have to be nearly as strong or effective at overcoming resistance as they would if the company were an underdog as described by:
  • Really expensive products or services; 
  • Not the market leader; 
  • Higher priced offerings than their competition; 
  • Have a story to tell; 
  • New product or technology;
  • New company or brand.  
If you are reading this, and your company matches up with any one of my criteria for underdogs, then you couldn't possibly get away with what Hubspot can get away with.  You must have strong hunters who are adept at overcoming resistance, can differentiate by selling consultatively, and ask the kinds of questions that develop respect, allowing prospects to open their mind to the possibility that you can help.
 
  • Hold Them Accountable to a Predictable Sales Process.  I completely agree with the premise, but the example is not a sales process as much as it is a set of metrics measuring conversion ratios.  This too - having a set of KPI's that drives revenue - is extremely important, but you can't choose between KPI's and Sales Process.  You need them both.  I speak with many CEO's who think they have a solid sales process in place and what they actually have are some steps - not necessarily the right ones, and never in the right sequence.  There are two things you can do to determine if your sales process is any good.  The first is the eye test.  Does it always yield predictable results on a predictable timeline?  The second is a graded test.  Use our complimentary Sales Process Grader and get a score!

sales process grader
In summary, Mark has done a great job, written a great article and achieved greatness for Hubspot.  But like any kick-ass sales force, they can do even better.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leads, HubSpot, sales process, sales training, inbound, sales KPI, Mark Roberge

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

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