Glue - The Missing Element That Makes Every Sales Training Initiative Successful

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 26, 2018 @ 06:02 AM

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I still conduct a limited amount of training with some of my personal clients. We work with companies in more than 200 industries, from startups to multi-billion dollar corporations, that call on every possible vertical and decision maker, in nearly every geography across the globe.  I find that even the most seasoned and resistant of salespeople get to this point: When they realize how much more there is to selling, how much more effective they can be, how much more business they could generate, how they don't need to have the best price, and how much easier selling can be, they become eager learners.  That brings us to the question to be answered in today's article: If most salespeople become eager learners and embrace good sales training, why don't all companies experience equally tremendous revenue growth from sales training?

Some companies simply don't experience an increase in sales from sales training.  The difference between the those that do and those that don't usually lies with leadership.  When sales training is driven by leadership, revenue grows.  When the training is simply approved, but not driven by leadership, revenue rarely improves. 

The symptom of this is how seriously sales management takes its role of supporting the training.  When sales managers hold their salespeople accountable to change and consistently coach to the sales process and content, even mediocre sales training will have a positive impact.  However, when sales managers fail to hold their salespeople accountable for change and don't consistently coach to the process and content, even the best sales training in the world won't have as much impact as it should.

The key to successful sales training has less to do with the sales training itself but everything to do with two other things:  (1) Leadership's engagement; and (2) training and coaching sales managers to help them expertly execute the coaching and accountability of their salespeople.  Sales Managers are the glue that holds everything together.

Let's go to my two favorite analogies - my son and baseball - to provide examples for what we are discussing.

My son has been the subject of dozens of analogies for my articles, and lessons from his baseball experiences are always my favorites.  You can read 30 of those analogies in my ebook, 63 Powerful Sales Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales.

He's a high school sophomore and in addition to his varsity baseball team and the college showcase team he will play for this summer, he has a hitting coach who works with him for 3 hours each Saturday and a New York Mets minor league catcher works with him for 30 minutes each week.  The coaching holds him accountable for applying and practicing the adjustments that are unique to him. With the coaching, he's a super star.  Without the coaching, he would be progressing like every other player on the roster. 

We take the sales management element and the importance of great coaching, very seriously.  That's one of the reasons we offer our corporate sales leadership training to non clients each year.  This year's annual Sales Leadership Intensive is fast approaching.  It's May 22-23, outside of Boston, and even though it is still almost 90 days away, I have just 2 seats remaining.  If you/and or your sales leaders would like to become great sales coaches, coach up your salespeople, and grow revenue, this is the even where you can make that happen. [Update - this training is sold out as of March 5, 2018]

And in the shorter term, you can join a panel of experts on this subject on a TopSalesWorld roundtable tomorrow, February 27 at Noon Eastern.  Register here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales management training, sales management role

B2B Salespeople Send 16,000+ Unqualified Proposals Each Day!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 29, 2017 @ 21:11 PM

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If you have a role in sales or sales leadership then what could be better than knowing exactly how you and/or your salespeople REALLY compare with the other salespeople in your industry or in the world?  Could anything be more fascinating than a visual or infographic depicting how effective your sales force is at various aspects of selling?  And what if these visuals could demonstrate that B2B salespeople create and send more than 16,000 inappropriately timed proposals each day?  Cool, huh?  More on that data in a minute.

Earlier this year we introduced a free public site where you could actually see how your salespeople compared in each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Recently, we improved the site so that in addition to average scores and comparisons in each competency, you can see the percentage of salespeople that have each competency as a strength.  Check it out here!

I love some of the new infographics we have developed to show clients the capabilities of their sales force.  For example, check out this slide that visually tells the story of how their sales force sells.  The number in each pie chart is the average score in each competency and the colors indicate the percentage of salespeople that have that competency as a strength, weakness or in between.  For example, the highest average score for this sales force is for the value seller competency but only 1/3 of the sales force has value seller as a strength.

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This is a cool slide.  It shows the 8 sales leadership competencies that we measure in the outer ring and his tendency by rank outside the ring. When a tendency is not aligned with a strength we have a problem.  For example, in this slide, strategic thinking is green - a strength - but strategy is ranked 6th out of 8 as a tendency and recruiting - a weakness - is ranked 1st out of 8 in his tendencies.  Those are both problems!  Gene should be spending much more time on strategy and much less time on recruiting.

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We reevaluate a sales team after a year or so and this is how we show the change in a particular competency.  In this slide the average score increased from 39 to 47 in the Consultative Competency and there were improvements in most of the attributes and half of the salespeople now had this competency as a strength.

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My favorite slide is the one where we restage the company's pipeline according to what's real.  In the slide below,  we looked at 717 late stage proposal ready opportunities.  If they were all truly late stage, the visual would have looked like the umbrella stand in the middle image.  However, our analysis caused 36% of the opportunities to move back to the suspect stage and 33% of the opportunities back to the prospect stage.  Only 27% were actually closable and another 4% were qualified.  This company prematurely sent 494 unqualified proposals!

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This company is not unusual.  If their 239 salespeople produced 494 unqualified proposals, then how many inappropriately timed proposals do 4.5 million B2B salespeople produce?  A little more half are in inside sales roles that handle the top of the funnel.  That leaves around 2 million B2B salespeople who are making 4,133,891 premature unqualified proposals per year or 16,535 per day!

We have around 50 more infographics like these that help to visually show how well equipped a sales force is to compete, win more business and grow revenue.  We identify all of the gaps and issues to be addressed and recommend a plan of action to accelerate sales effectiveness. 

 Most importantly, we provide answers to the questions that companies cannot answer on their own.  If this interests you, excites you or is something you want us to do at your company, just email me and I'll forward it to the appropriate person.

Image Copyright iStock

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales force evaluation, sales leadership, sales core competencies, OMG Assessment, sales proposal

How to Simplify Coaching Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 19, 2017 @ 11:05 AM

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Image Copyright ColorCarnival

We just completed a two-day Sales Leadership Intensive and that's always a great experience for the sales leaders who attend.  The focus is on coaching salespeople for impact and everyone learns what it takes to become so effective at coaching salespeople that they ask for more. 

It's been a long time since I have written an article that mentioned our son, the baseball player.  He's really good, and we have dozens of video clips of him performing at a high level. But baseball doesn't always produce highlights.  Failure is a part of baseball too and if he struggles at the plate, the very first thing he does is watch the video to see what he did wrong.  We study the video together and when that isn't enough to fix the issue, we head outside and I pitch to him until he makes the necessary adjustments to get back on track.  

When you take sales coaching, baseball, watching video and put it all together, what do you get?

You get the post-call debrief - the most powerful tool for great sales coaching.

The post-call debrief is a structured coaching conversation where we compare the outcome to the goal and work backwards to determine when the call or meeting went off the tracks and why.  We identify the skill gaps and/or weaknesses that were responsible, and capture lessons learned.  Next we strategize getting the opportunity back on track, if possible,  and role play what the next conversation should sound like.

When Michael and I review video together it is very much like the post-call debrief.  We slow down the at-bat, analyze his approach, pick apart the swing, identify the thing or things that caused an undesirable outcome, and determine what must change so that it doesn't happen again.  Then we go out and practice it.  This is a good swing

When I review a sales call with a salesperson, it is the same as studying baseball video.  We slow down the call or meeting, analyze the approach, pick apart the conversation, identify the thing or things that caused the undesirable outcome, and determine what must change so that it doesn't happen again.  Then we role-play it, or in other words, practice it.  

The problem is that most sales managers do not really coach and those who do, don't do it often enough or well enough.  Shouldn't professional salespeople get the same quality and frequency of coaching that amateur and professional athletes get?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, Baseball

Which Salespeople are Easier to Train - Millennials or Veteran Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 @ 06:04 AM

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We brought home a puppy and we had him completely housebroken in 4 days.  He's really smart and we've done this before, a combination that makes it nearly impossible to screw up.  To see him go to the door and touch it with his little paw, whimper when he is in his crate, go outside and do his business, and run back to the door is great. But it got me wondering, why is training a puppy relatively fast and easy while it is so much harder and takes so much longer to train salespeople?

The puppy only has to learn a handful of behaviors that he can repeat without the variables that affect salespeople.  There's no resistance, objections, competition, fear, rejection, budget or decision-making issues and the puppy is eager to learn and please.  Millennials are eager to learn and tend to be less resistant to change while veteran salespeople must first be sold on why they need to change.  Even then they may resist for a while.  And what they must learn in order to become more effective is quite comprehensive.

I was comparing the average scores in 6 Sales DNA Core Competencies and was very surprised to discover that the scores for sales candidates were a few points higher than the scores for salespeople at companies where we conducted a sales force evaluation.  Millennials make up a good portion of the candidates. Typically, they are recent college graduates with no sales experience and applying for BDR roles.  My first thought was that if sales candidates had higher scores and millennials were part of that group, then the non-millennials surely have scores that are even higher.

After considering that for a while another thought came to mind.

Most companies complain that there aren't enough sales candidates out there and most who are looking for sales positions suck.  The reality is that they aren't all bad and a large percentage of the salespeople who are applying for new positions are passive candidates. They were recruited. It seems that while there are a lot of crappy salespeople out there right now, they don't take the assessment when prompted, but the good sales candidates do!

An unintended benefit of having your sales candidates take OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment is that it is not only accurate and predictive, many of the the bottom 77% filter themselves out by not even completing it. And the millennials?  Many of those who apply for sales positions actually have Sales DNA that supports selling even though their scores in the 7 tactical Sales Core Competencies are low.  You can always teach the tactical competencies!

You can learn more about the sales candidate assessment here.  Once there you can check out samples, start a free trial and sign up.

If you're not hiring salespeople right now but you're interested in learning how your salespeople measure up in the 21 Sales Core Competencies, or you just want to see how salespeople score in each competency, you can check out our data here.  Warning:  The stats site is very cool and you might not want to leave.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales leadership, sales core competencies, accurate sales assessment

Successful Movie Franchises and the 10 Keys to Impactful Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 03, 2017 @ 06:04 AM

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Image Copyright Natalia_80

What are your thoughts about Atlantis?  Intrigued by the lost continent, I have read a lot about it over the years, including the book, Atlantis Beneath the Ice, which revealed where Atlantis is actually located.  Cool!  On a recent vacation I managed to read 5 books and 3 of them were from an Atlantis-themed trilogy.  This particular series was pure science fiction but there is no fiction whatsoever when we explore the connection between successful book and movie series and effective sales coaching.  They share the very same premise and it is actually quite simple to grasp.

There are many book series and movie franchises that go well beyond a 3-volume Trilogy.  Does James Bond 007 ring a bell?  There have been 26 of those so far!

They key to any successful series is not only the popularity of the first installment, but how badly that first story leaves you wanting more.  The first book not not only has to be really good, but you must feel disappointed that it came to an end!

That's the sign of great sales coaching too.  Today's coaching session must be so good that the salesperson does not want it to end.  Not only that, but the salesperson can't wait to come back for more coaching.  Now, be honest with yourself for a moment.  Assuming that you regularly and consistently coach all of your salespeople, is your coaching so powerful that your salespeople can't wait for another session with you?  It should be.

Sales leaders that coach effectively, impact deals and increase revenue by 28%.  What would a 28% increase in sales mean for you?

It makes sense that great coaching has a great impact, but only 8% of all sales leaders are able to coach effecitvely.  And only 28% of all sales managers spend 50% or more of their time coaching which tells us two more things:

  1. 72%, or most sales managers do not spend enough time coaching
  2. Assuming that the 8% who are effective are equally distributed between the 28% group and the 72% group, only 2.25% of all sales leaders spend enough time and are really good at it.

Yikes!

One might think that the lack of time invested in coaching is the easiest to fix but for sales managers who also maintain territories and accounts, it's not that simple.  However, that doesn't mean it can't be done.  Hire a salesperson to take those accounts and get busy doing what sales managers are supposed to do!  Coach.

As for the nuances of effective coaching, the 10 keys to success are the ability to:

  1. Develop a coaching culture - without that the coaching won't work.
  2. Coach your salespeople every day - it's the repetition that makes the difference.
  3. Debrief as often as you pre-call strategize.
  4. Identify where in the sales process the opportunity went off the rails
  5. Identify whether skills, Sales DNA or both that were at fault
  6. Effectively role play how the call or meeting should have progressed and teach at the same time.  
  7. Effectively role play how an upcoming call or meeting needs to sound
  8. Reach impactful lessons learned from each coaching session
  9. Impact deals without being on those calls
  10. Help your salespeople become stronger and more effective with each passing day

"Without question, the single, most difficult skill for sales leaders to master, is the ability to play the salesperson's role, while selling to a prospect of any title, at any point in the sales process, for any kind of opportunity, with any level of resistance and against any and all competition."

Why is it so difficult?  Because your lousy salespeople get into lousy scenarios - ones which you, a good salesperson, consistently managed to avoid because you were, well, good!  Your salespeople find themselves in those situations every day, those are the scenarios for which they will play the prospect, and you must demonstrate two things through role play.  

  1. How to avoid those scenarios
  2. How to turn around those scenarios

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, best sales leadership training, effective sales coaching

Veteran's Great Quote Makes News and Has Terrific Lessons for the Sales Profession

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 21, 2017 @ 14:02 PM

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Disclaimer:  This is not a political post even though I quoted someone with a political opinion.  The entire article is about sales.

On my way to the office, I was listening to FOX News when they cut to a diner in Jacksonville, Florida to interview some of the patrons there.  One of the people interviewed was Stanley, a Veteran who said he had two messages he wanted to share.  He said, "To the media, don't make in-depth assumptions from shallow observations.  And to the obstructionist democrats, we have a saying in the military.  When the horse dies, dismount and quit riding that dead horse."  

I might not have nailed his quote word for word, but I'm sure I captured the gist of it. Just think of the sales lessons that can be taken from this!  The short video below is from the FOX interview and below that I will share some lessons for the sales profession.

Don't Make In-Depth Assumptions of Shallow Observations.  Salespeople make more assumptions of a prospect's buying potential and readiness than you can imagine.  They observe what appears to be interest and then, instead of uncovering their compelling reasons to buy, thoroughly qualifying and building a case, they assume the prospect is "good" and will "probably" do business, hastily create a proposal, forecast the business to close, and then spend most of their time in the act of futile and ineffective follow-up.  Result?  Dead opportunity.

When The Horse Dies, Dismount.  Salespeople with nothing but dead opportunities in their pipeline are pretty much dead themselves.  We are seeing inadequate pipelines in many companies and there are multiples reasons for it.  They include, but aren't limited to: 

  • Lack of accountability
  • Lack of clear expectations
  • Confusion over whose job it is to find new opportunities
  • Unwillingness to make cold calls
  • Over-reliance on social selling

Salespeople who include their dead opportunities in the pipeline are reluctant to archive them for several reasons.  They include, but aren't limited to:

  • Fear of letting go
  • Repurcussions of an empty pipeline
  • The reality that without those opportunities they will have to prospect
  • Fear of rejection
  • Alternate facts
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Poor Outlook
  • Ineffective Hunting skills

I believe that Stanley shared two great, shallow quotes that deserve more in-depth analysis!

Speaking of News, here are some other things you should be aware of.

My thoughts and a fantastic Wharton School of Business video on why sales leaders fear predictive assessments appear on LinkedIn Pulse. Read and watch it here.

My Annual Sales Leadership Intensive - the best two days of training on the planet on how to be an elite sales coach - is coming up on May 17-18.  Learn more here. If you would like to attend, use discount code DK-Blog-Subscriber.

Earlier today, I presented a 30-minute session on how OMG's Tailored Fit is not only different from benchmarking, but makes benchmarking silly and unnecessary.  It was very fast-moving, had lots of data, a good story line and a sneak peak at the magic of the OMG sales selection tool.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, sales pipeline, selling tips, lost sales opportunities, fox news

Another Powerful Reason Why Salespeople Struggle to Become Great Sales Managers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 02, 2017 @ 16:02 PM

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Image Copyright Grinvalds

Ryan changed jobs and companies this week when he started in his new role as Business Development Manager.  When I congratulated him on his new job he wrote back the following:

"You were 110% on the money back when I became a first time sales manager. You told Stuart and me that my biggest challenge would be in not being able to understand why the hell sales reps working for me just didn't do what I did when I was selling, and what I asked them to do, since I always did what was asked of me when I was a field rep for Stu. Totally on the money, that drove me crazy every day."

We talk a lot about the mistake so many companies make when they take their best salespeople and make them sales managers.  While it's not always a mistake, the most commonly discussed reasons include:

  • Inability to replace that salesperson's significant revenue
  • Lack of sales management skills
  • Lack of recruiting skills
  • Lack of coaching skills
  • Lack of skills around accountability
  • The new sales manager might not be able to get salespeople to sell the same way
  • Things that made this person successful as a salesperson might not be duplicable
  • Resistance to move away from selling and reluctance to allow salespeople to make their own mistakes

In addition to those 8 reasons, Ryan's note highlights the single most frustrating chain of events to impact new sales managers.

New sales managers have a tremendous sense of optimism when they embark on the next chapter of their careers.  They believe that their sales success is duplicable and all they have to do is show their salespeople what they do and their salespeople will be able to do it.

Nothing could be further from the reality of the situation.

For starters, the former sales managers might be successful more because of their intangibles than having mastered 21 Sales Core Competencies.  

Their salespeople could have weaknesses in their Sales DNA that would prevent them from doing what their new sales managers can do.  When Sales DNA fails to support effective selling, Sales Managers can show and tell until they are blue in the face and their salespeople still won't be able to replicate their words and actions.

Their salespeople could be deficient in their Will to Sell, their tactical selling competencies or their understanding of business and finance.  There are many possible factors that cause 77% of all salespeople to suck and most sales managers, lacking effective coaching and training skills, are simply not equipped to overcome them.  At some point in their first year, the reality of their situation becomes more obvious and they default to the only solution they know for increasing sales.  Themselves.

They turn their salespeople into bird dogs and whenever there is a decent opportunity that isn't a slam dunk, they show up or get on the phone and help their salespeople close the business.  While this does serve as a short-term solution, it's not a very good long term strategy. The sales manager takes all of the credit, the salespeople fail to improve, they feel demotivated and unimportant, and eventually leave.

There is no shortcut to sales management success.  Sales Managers must develop the necessary skills to coach effectively so that they impact deals that their salespeople close, impact profit, win rates, retention, morale and revenue.  If you or your sales managers need to develop this rare ability to coach up a sales team, won't you join me for my top-rated Sales Leadership Intensive?  I offer it only once each year and it's coming up on May 17-18 outside of Boston.  There is still time to plan your attendance,  and you'll leave the two days finally understanding and possessing the ability to impact a sales force.  Learn more here.  Use the discount code DK-Blog-Subscriber to receive a $100 discount off the price of a ticket.  We limit attendance to only 25 sales leaders so register early or, like we used to say at the end of each Red Sox baseball season, wait until next year!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, best sales management training, best sales leadership training, sales core competencies

Sales Podcasts and Video Interviews are Better Than Sales Articles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

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Regular readers know that I write a lot - 1,700 articles on sales and sales leadership over the past 12 years.  I'll be the first to admit that the articles are not all award-winners but readers find most of them helpful, entertaining, and good enough to keep coming back.  And a few dozen of them have won awards.

But are the articles better than say, a lively podcast on the same topic?  A television interview?  A radio interview?

There are pros and cons to both.  The advantage of the articles is that you know what you are getting because you can see it and you know how long it will take to read since the vast majority take only a few minutes.  Interviews and podcasts run much longer, most ranging from 30-60 minutes but the advantage is that you can really hear and/or see the message come to life so much more than with the written word. Why?  I'm a better speaker than writer!

Over the years there have been a number of interviews that I am proud of, that were well done and are worth listening to and watching.  A good interview is so dependent on the interviewer, the questions they ask, and their ability to go off script and let the conversation flow.  

It is finally time to devote an article series to podcasts and interviews.  Here are the top interviews with me from the last several years:

  • Barb Giamanco -  Video Interview - How to Improve Closing Ratios
  • Noah Goldman - The Enterprise Sales Podcast - on Closing, Patience, Slowing Down and Tom Brady
  • Aaron Ross - Predictable Revenue - Podcast
  • Barb Giamanco - Sales Hardtalk for Top Sales World - Podcast - Selling Value
  • Lori Richardson - Score More Sales - Audio Interview - The Future of Sales
  • Will Barron - Salesman Red - Video Interview Traits of a Great Salesperson (2016 Gold Medal Winner)
  • Michael Mason - Smart Sales Pro Audio Interview Sales DNA (one of my favorites)
  • Will Barron - Salesman Red - Video Interview Why Salespeople Struggle
  • Frank Visgatis - Sales Rehab Podcast Audio Interview Get Prospects to Buy From You More Often
  • Evan Carmichael - EvanCarmichael.com Video Interview The Pitch
  • Jim Lobaito - Biz Talk Radio Audio Interview Sales Selection
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV Video Interview A New Guide for Selling Value
  • Stu Heinecke - How to Get a Meeting with Anyone - Audio Interview
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview Build & Manage a Great Sales Force
  • Jason Kanigan - Audio Interview Magical Phone Prospecting Tactics 
  • Jonathan Farrington - Top Sales World - Audio Interview - Why Sales Managers are not More Effective
  • Evan Carmichael - Video Interview - Selling Value
  • Sales Mastery Summit - Video Interview - Sales Pipeline
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - Sales Leaders Need to Create Value (44,000 views)
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - What to do with Millennials
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - How to Create a Predictive Sales Model
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - How to Adapt to the Massive Changes in Selling
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - Sales Coaching
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV Video Interview - Selling Value
  • Will Barron - The Salesman Podcast - Video Interview - Is Excuse Making Holding you Back?
  • Kurt Mortenson - Maximize Your Influence Podcast - Audio Interview - Sales Process and More
  • Richard Smith - Refract TV - Video Interview - How to Achieve Great ROI from Sales Training
  • Jonathan Farrington - Top Sales World Roundtable - Audio - Why are Sales Managers So Weak?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Great salespeople, selling value, sales podcast

7 Reasons Why Salespeople Underperform and How Sales Leaders Can Coach Them Up

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

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Image Copyright 123RF

Day after day and call after call, I hear the frustration from sales managers and sales leaders who have at least one thing in common.  They know that their salespeople could and should be doing better.

For almost ten years and regardless of how the US economy has performed, reports continue to show that only 50-60% of reps are hitting quota.  That's nothing to be proud of and the sales leaders who call and email have come to the realization that try as they might, they have been unable to coach up half of their salespeople.

These are smart, talented, experienced sales leaders, who work for companies with excellent reputations, great products and wonderful customers.  So why does nearly every sales leader struggle with the problem of under performing salespeople?  The biggest problem is that there isn't one reason - there are many - and I'll share them with you now.

  • Selection - When you hire the wrong salespeople, it becomes clear that the fit isn't very good.  The salespeople might be wonderful people, but when they are wrong for the role or lack the capabilities required to succeed in the role, failure is the norm and it becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible to coach them up.
  • On Boarding - Some companies lack a comprehensive on boarding program and instead of preparing new salespeople for success, the new salespeople are setup for failure.
  • Messaging - I've seen the results from the sales force evaluations of more than 11,000 companies and 1 million salespeople. One thing I have observed in nearly every one of those companies is the utter lack of consistency in their messaging. Whether it's the value proposition, brand promise or elevator pitch, each salesperson tends to say something completely different from everyone else.  
  • Sales DNA - Some salespeople are good relationship builders, have a solid set of skills, but lack the necessary Sales DNA - the set of strengths that support successful sales outcomes - to be effective.  It is very difficult for a sales leader to coach up a salesperson when the issue is Sales DNA.  If you have salespeople, and you have repeatedly had to coach them on the same issues, it's more than likely Sales DNA that is causing the problem, not a skill gap.
  • Training - A lot of companies don't provide their salespeople with professional sales training and of the companies that do, it's important to know that a lot of the sales training that is out there isn't very good.  Why?  A lot of it is incomplete, outdated, focuses on the wrong things, and most of it ignores the issues of Sales DNA.  There are 21 Sales Core Competencies.  Sales Training must thoroughly cover all 21 of those competencies - in context - through role play - and more.
  • Coaching - This is it.  The big differentiator.  The one thing that can make up for mediocrity.  You know that coaching now accounts for 50% of any sales leader's role.  The problem is that there is coaching, and there is coaching that has an impact.  How do you know if your coaching is having an impact?  Your salespeople will be begging you for your time.  Opportunities on which you coached your salespeople are getting closed - by them, not you.  They are getting stronger, better, more confident and meeting and exceeding their quotas.
  • Sales Process - I've written about sales process 31 times because it's that important.  When salespeople don't have a proven, predictable sales process to follow they will fail much more often than they need to.  And the coaching must take place within the context of the sales process.

If coaching is the single most important sales leadership competency that will have the greatest impact, and you aren't having that impact on each of your salespeople, every single day, and in every coaching conversation, what can you do?

Dedicate yourself to becoming the best sales coach on the planet.  Period.  The challenge is in finding the right place to start.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, sales leadership, Sales Coaching, sales core competencies

The 4 Top Sales Leadership Articles to Boost Sales Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 05, 2016 @ 11:08 AM

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There have been at least 2 lists published of the sales books you should read on the beach this summer so we are not going there!  But summer is for sun and fun and some of the best things in life happen during the summer.  As a result, we miss some of the best work-related things because we aren't working as many hours, may be in catch-up mode and not have the time to get to everything we would get to during cooler months.  With that in mind, some of the best articles you haven't read were published this summer!

I'm going to share four of them right here, tell you why the article will help today, and you can decide whether or not to read it.

Buyer Who Has No Use for Salespeople - This has been the most popular article of the summer.  It started with a buyer who contributed an outrageous comment on another article and this article began as my formal response.  But many readers commented, attacked him and he returned and attacked back so it morphed into a very entertaining read.  The key here is that it exposed what happens when weak salespeople fail to bring value to their customers and prospects.  This article is a must read.

Sales Process and Shoes Analogy - This sounds stupid but this short article links to the finest article I have ever written on sales process.  You must read it if you have even the slightest doubt as to whether your sales process is perfect as it is.

Ineffective Sales Managers - This is really two articles and the link on your left links to the second.  The link to the first article appears in the first sentence.  The first article discusses the many reasons why most sales managers are so ineffective and the second article provides examples of how they do things wrong, and what they could be doing instead.  There is also a great baseball analogy and you know how I like those!

Digital or Analog - This is an interesting read on the different approaches that newer companies - often in the technology space - take, versus older, traditional companies - often in manufacturing or distribution - and how they get to a common middle ground.  Read this is to compare what you have in place to best practices.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, sales leadership, top articles on sales and selling

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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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