How to Achieve Short-Term Explosive Growth from your Sales Team

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 14, 2018 @ 10:09 AM

explosive-growth

Explosive Growth.  Positive Momentum.  Better Morale. Greater Confidence. Improved Capabilities.

Wouldn't you just love using those phrases to describe your sales force?

We know from the data in this article that according to Objective Management Group (OMG), sales managers who spend at least 50% of their time coaching have salespeople who are 28% more effective.

We know from OMG's data in this article that sales managers who are effective at coaching have salespeople who are 16% more effective.

And we know from the same data that sales managers who spend at least 50% of their time coaching AND are effective at coaching have salespeople who are 49% more effective. 

That's 49% more effective!

So what would a 49% bump mean to you and your company and what will it take to get there?

For your coaching to have that kind of impact takes dedication and practice.  It's not easy.  But if you want to be recognized for the growth, impressive revenue bump, and subsequent increase in earnings, it is well worth the effort.

Let's work backwards.  Coaching is effective when salespeople consistently:

  • Rave that the coaching was incredibly helpful
  • Ask how soon they can be coached again
  • Respond by doing exactly what they were coached to do and getting a positive result
  • Discover at least 2 lessons learned from a coaching conversion
  • Grow the quantity and quality of their pipeline
  • Shorten their sales cycle
  • Improve their closing ratio

And you will become an effective sales coach when you are able to effortlessly:

  • Debrief recent sales calls by working your salespeople backwards through the call
  • Punch holes in the information your salespeople provide
  • Identify the two reasons (cause and effect) for each sales call that did not achieve the desired outcome.
  • Role-play any scenario, at any point in the sales process, playing the part of the salesperson
  • Provide your salespeople an appropriate plan of action to implement the lessons learned
  • Hold your salespeople accountable for the changes they agree to

Those are two good sets of guidelines but guidelines alone won't be enough to transition you from where you are today to where you need to be.  It's all about how to be more effective and you can't learn that from a list.

That's why so many sales leaders attend my annual Sales Leadership Intensive.  I usually offer that annually in the spring but we sold out with a waiting list in May so we are offering a fall session this year.

It's two intense days with me and my team.  At least half of those two days are devoted to mastering the art of coaching salespeople. This is not material you have ever heard or learned before.  You'll also leave with a sales process, appropriate metrics and keys to holding your salespeople accountable to change.  The session is limited to just 24 people and there are 15 seats available as of September 15. 

This. Will. Work.

Clear the dates - October 29-30.

Learn more here.

Use this special link to receive a 30% discount when you register.

The event will take place west of Boston at our training facilities in Westboro MA.  The best nearby hotel is the Doubletree Hotel just a mile down the road.  I hope you'll join us!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

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

How to Eliminate the Need for Sales Motivation, Accountability and More!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 @ 14:04 PM

challenging.jpg
Image Copyright Sezer66

Sales Management is challenging.  With coaching accounting for 50% of the role, it doesn't leave much time for anything else.  Yet pipeline management, along with the ability to motivate, recruit and hold salespeople accountable are also required.  For many sales managers, those four activities simply aren't much fun.  But what if I told you there was a way to completely eliminate the need to manage the pipeline, motivate, recruit and hold salespeople accountable?  There is and I'm going to share it with you!

When 100% of your sales force is comprised of salespeople from the top 23% of the sales population, you won't have to motivate them because they are all self-motivated.  You won't have to hold them accountable either because they'll hold themselves to a higher standard than you would.  And because they will all perform, they will meet and exceed quota, goals and expectations so they won't need to be replaced.  That means you won't have to spend any time recruiting.

So how do you develop a sales force made up of only the top 23 percent?

Coaching.  Very easy for me to say but siginificantly more difficult to execute.

In this article I wrote about why sales coaching is so scary.

In this article I discussed why sales coaching is so difficult.

And this article explains why great salespeople struggle with becoming great sales managers.

Please read read those three articles.

Done? Then you probably know how you compare in the area of being able to utilize role-playing as a primary means to effective coaching salespeople.  Fewer than 10% of sales leaders can do this effectively.

Topics: Sales Coaching, sales motivation, Sales Accountability, sales recruiting, sales leadership training, sales management training, Dave Kurlan

Why Half of the Sales Force Resigned This Month

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 08:05 AM

hate.jpg

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Half of the company's 20 salespeople have left voluntarily in just the last month and the CEO wants to know why everyone is resigning.  He wants Jeff, his sales manager, coached up and needs to recruit replacements.  He has tremendous urgency to get this moving and believes that Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment will help him select good salespeople that will stick around.  But there is a hidden problem that the CEO is unaware of and even the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet - ours - won't overcome the issue.  It's worse than you can imagine!  It turns out that the sales manager is causing everyone to leave.

OMG had conducted a sales force evaluation a month earlier and the following issues were among dozens attributed to Jeff:

  • His salespeople don't trust him, so they won't trust his intentions or his coaching advice.
  • His salespeople don't respect him, so they won't perform for him or value his coaching.
  • He doesn't have relationships with his salespeople, so they won't share their concerns with him.
  • He has 86% of the attributes we look for in the Accountability Skill Set without complimentary Motivational or Coaching Skill Sets making him quite the task master/dictator.
  • None of his salespeople are comfortable working for a sales manager that places tremendous pressure on them to perform.
  • He only spends 10% of his time coaching, so there is pressure without any support.
  • He does not know what motivates his salespeople.

Any one or two of these findings alone would not be the end of the world, but when one sales manager has all 7, you realize that Jeff is hated!  That's why the salespeople are leaving - and fast.

So here is the question.  Do you urgently work to train and coach Jeff before he blows up the rest of the team or do you find a replacement for Jeff?

Of course, it depends on the rest of the team, but in my experience, it would be crucial to eliminate Jeff from the equation and look for a replacement at the same time that you are replacing the salespeople that have already departed.  If you were to retain Jeff, and make the faulty assumption that Jeff could be fixed, you could lose the rest of the team while you are doing repairs and run the risk that he would alientate the sales candidates that are interviewing for the available jobs.  If your company is big enough and the community is small enough, word could easily get out that your company is not a very good place to work, making it difficult to attract good salespeople for years to come.  

The bigger question is, how was the CEO so completely unaware of Jeff's failings and the salespeople's immense dislike for him?

The combination of a hands-off CEO (as in unapproachable) and a powerful (remember the accountability skill set) sales manager create the perfect storm for a scenario like this.  It's crucial for CEOs to be visible, approachable, involved and committed to the success of the sales force and clearly, that was not evident at this company.

Sales Managers often fail to have the desired impact on the sales force.  In most cases, they have not been trained or coached to lead a sales force, rarely understand what is expected of them, lack the skills to effectively perform in the role, and don't have a clue how to get people to follow them, perform for them or grow.

If you are a sales manager, did you get the equivalent of four years of college to prepare you for your role?  If you are a Sales Director or VP with sales managers reporting to you, did you provide them with that kind of training and development?  If you are a CEO, do you have people in sales management roles who have not been adequately trained to have an impact?

I'll be hosting my annual, top-rated, Sales Leadership Intensive on August 27-28, 2015 in the Boston area.  Click here for more details.  It would be very cool to have you and/or your people there!

For more information on OMG's Award-Winning Sales Candidate Assessments:

Request Samples

Free Trial

Subscribe

 

 

Topics: sales management, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales candidate assessment, sales test, problem sales manager

Fine Tune Your Sales Force as You Optimize Your Computer

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 18, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

laptopI love my Macbook Pro.  It's four years old which means I've had it for three years longer than any Windows laptop I ever owned.  That said, it was beginning to underperform, slow down, and choke.  Yesterday, at around 4 AM, I decided to regroup and deal with those issues.  First, I evaluated the problem, and identified the biggest memory hogs and performance sapping programs.  Next I downloaded Memory Clean and Disk Doctor to free up some space and memory.  Then I downloaded the Mac-specific apps for QuickBooks, Wunderlist, Calendar Pro, and MailTab Pro so that I wouldn't have to keep my biggest memory hog, Chrome, always running with all four of those cloud applications permanently open in the browser.  Then I deleted about 10,000 sent items from Outlook, repaired the machine's permissions, restarted the laptop, and it was performing to expectations again.  I was excited about what I had accomplished in such a short time!

That process isn't very different from what executives must do with an underperforming sales force.

  • Evaluate the Sales Force to identify the real reasons for the underperformance, to what degree the issues are causing problems, and which individual underperformers can be saved.  Identify the changes that need to be made under the hood to bring in more new business, increase the win rates, shorten the sales cycle, and determine the increase in performance that will come as a result.
  • Install the most useful and helpful sales applications, pipeline management and analytics to drive performance.
  • Optimize the Sales Process so that it is milestone-centric, properly sequenced, timed and weighted to make the forecasts more reliable.
  • Coach up the sales management team so that they have more of an impact when they coach their salespeople.
    Sales Leadership Intensive 
  • Thoroughly train the sales force on new business development, sales process, consultative selling, qualifying, selling value, differentiation, closing and relationship-building.
  • Upgrade the sales force by developing a sales-specific recruiting process that includes predictive sales selection through a sales-specific candidate assessment.  This must eliminate the guesswork, and instead, consistently result in each new hire being a strong salesperson who will succeed in your business.
    Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial 

I was able to identify the problems with my laptop, optimize it and get it performing well again in just a few hours.  However, it will take several months and probably longer to accomplish the same thing with your sales force.  At four years, my laptop had already far exceeded my expectations for performance and longevity.  Your sales force will produce and eventually meet and exceed your expectations for many years to come, and certainly for a lot longer than four years.

The biggest difference between the laptop and the sales force is not the time it takes to achieve improvement.  It's the time it takes to recognize the limitations and refuse to accept those limitations or say, "It is what it is."  Don't be overwhelmed by the changes that must be made, do bring in a trusted outside expert to evaluate, guide, help and train, and don't overthink it. 

The cost?  That's easy!  How much are you wasting on your worst salesperson?  You already have the money to make the required improvements.  Less is nearly always more.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, grow sales, sales process, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales leadership training

The Real Problem with the Sales Profession and Sales Leadership

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 01, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

The folks over at Insight Squared recently posted this interview with me.  It touched on sales management, but there wasn't enough time to do it justice.  I have written about sales management a lot in my Blog over the past 7 years with at least 75% of the roughly 1,100 articles on the subject.  If you are a new reader, there is a lot of material to sift through.  Start with my article series by scrolling down the left-side navigation panel.

In the context of best practices, the sales management role is now 50% coaching.  The problem is that according to data from Objective Management Group, 82% of sales managers make very ineffective coaches.  Just yesterday alone we had conversations with sales managers who:

  • Weren't able to recognize what their salespeople were doing wrong;
  • Had the ability to listen in to sales calls, but weren't doing so;
  • Heard how bad their salespeople sounded on the phone, but weren't able to correct them;
  • Struggled to onboard new salespeople, but hadn't realized that lack of sales experience added at least a year to the ramp-up period;
  • Couldn't identify who their most effective salespeople were;
  • Were afraid to present critical feedback to their best salespeople;
  • Couldn't terminate their worst salespeople;
  • Couldn't differentiate between nice and friendly, versus nice and effective;
  • Didn't have the time to spend with new salespeople.
There is very little of the right modeling taking place for sales managers of the future.  They weren't exposed to it as salespeople.  They weren't trained to do it when they became sales managers, and as a sales manager said to me last week, "I can't come to your Sales Leadership Intensive because when I was hired, the expectation was that I would be able to do all of that stuff."
Are you serious?  You're expected to be an effective sales manager or leader, but you know you aren't a master at sales coaching.  You know you could have a tremendous impact on the sales force if you became a better coach, and you don't attend the very program that could help because it was expected that you could coach effectively when you took the position?  You do know that doctors, attorneys, teachers and other skilled professionals are not only expected, but required to continue their education, attend workshops and conferences, and learn the latest from the greatest minds in their field.  Sales managers, when compared with doctors, attorneys or teachers, have not had years of education and training in the field, but probably less than 10 hours of training in their field.  Why do they believe that:
  • they don't need the help,
  • their boss would have a problem with them getting better,
  • they already know it all,
  • they can't take the time,
  • it's not important?
This is a prime example of what is wrong with the sales profession in general.  There are no requirements to enter the field, no requirements to get promoted, and no expectations of self-improvement.  While there may be exceptions in some companies and certain industries, overall, it's an embarrassment.  What can we do about that?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales leadership intensive

Major Changes in Buying Require Major Changes in Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 02, 2013 @ 08:05 AM

Sales ShiftLast week I wrote this article and talked about how much selling has changed.  But in that article, I only mentioned the need to differentiate and sell consultatively.  The articles I wrote and mentioned here talk about it greater detail.  But to really understand how completely sales has shifted, you absolutely must read Frank Belzer's new book Sales Shift: How inbound marketing has turned sales upside down making it more difficult and more lucrative at the same time".

Frank has not only written the entire story, but goes really deep and wide on the impact of social selling and how you can and should leverage tools and resources like LinkedIn, inbound marketing, blogging and more.

I'm especially excited about Frank's book because he has worked alongside me at Kurlan & Associates since 2008 when these changes first began to take shape in a lasting way.  As you know, 2008 was also the year the economy collapsed and that says a lot about Frank.  Anyone who can survive a start in the sales development business during the worst economic climate in decades has to be strong.

If you want to know more about Frank's book, there is a great interview with Frank here.  If you would like to order Frank's book - and you should - you can get it here from Amazon.

Finally - if you would like to master the art and science of managing, coaching and developing salespeople in these changing times, this is the last call for our spring Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston May 14-15.  You can read about the event here and check out the testimonial videos here and here; but if you would like to attend, there isn't much time.  I recommend that you just drop me a line instead and we'll make the arrangements for you.  You'll get to work with Frank and me and 3 other great experts on my team.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales shift, frank belzer, sales management seminar

Sales Managers Must Make Sure That This Never Happens

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 @ 07:09 AM

truck in the mirrorYou are driving down the highway and see an enormous truck in your side mirror.  The truck is moving very fast - twice your speed - and closing in quickly.  You continue to look in the mirror and because of the way your side mirror is shaped, it appears that the closer the truck gets, the more likely it seems that the truck will simply run right over you.  You accelerate a little, keeping watch on that mirror and then it happens.  You miss the sharp bend in the road and drive off the cliff.

This short story is the real-world equivalent to something which often occurs with your salespeople.  There are new opportunities to be targeted, as well as opportunities which already populate the pipeline.  The most promising of the existing opportunities seem to get most of the salesperson's attention.  One particular call causes the salesperson to become so excited that she devotes the rest of the week to developing an appropriate solution, value proposition, ROI, proposal and presentation.  She is so focused on this opportunity that she forgets all about what is up ahead.  Post-presentation and proposal, she begins making follow-up calls and over the course of the next month goes into full-chase mode.  When it finally sinks in that this prospect is not returning calls, has gone missing, and won't be buying anything from her soon, it's too late.  She neglected to continue filling her pipeline, has neglected to line up new opportunities, not stayed in touch with other opportunities in her pipeline and drove off the cliff.

It happens all the time.

It's not the salesperson's fault.

That's what sales managers are supposed to be doing.  Sales Managers must not only help, but hold their salespeople accountable to being focused on the right activities and behaviors, at the right time, on the right opportunities, and for the right reasons.  They must also provide coaching on each opportunity so the salesperson can see what is in front of them and avoid falling off the cliff.

Last call for my Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston, October 3-4, when we will spend 2 days working on things like this together.  If you want to attend, skip the online registration and email me directly.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, coaching, sales management, sales leadership training, seminar, workshop, program, boston

Getting Excited About New Sales Opportunities

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 @ 11:09 AM

Why do salespeople get more excited about big sales opportunities than they do about strong sales opportunities?  I don't know about you, but I get much more excited about an opportunity which has a strong likelihood of closing than a big one that at best has less than a 50% chance.  What about you?

Salespeople are generally too optimistic and not skeptical enough about what they are hearing.  Objective Management Group's (OMG) statistics, on more than 600,000 salespeople who've been assessed, show that 86% of them are too trusting of what people tell them.  This affects their ability to recognize put-offs like, "Sounds good. Call us next week."  More often than not, a prospect says those things to end a call or meeting with no intention of buying (especially next week!)  Yet equally often, the salesperson hears something completely different, like, "I'm going to close this next week!"  And of course, that leads to them getting excited about a closing opportunity, it goes into the forecast, and then it fails to materialize.

Speaking of getting excited about future events, and this being the season of fall television premieres, here is a list of some upcoming public events when you can see/hear me live:

Date
Event
Location
Register
9-26-2012
What's Preventing Your Sales Force
From Over-Achieving?
Webinar
click
10-3 & 4-2012
Sales Leadership Intensive
Boston
click
10-10-2012
Transform Your Sales Force
into a Consistent Revenue Machine
Istanbul
click
10-24-2012
Consultative Selling 3.0
Washington DC
click
11-9-2012
Hire, Manage and Develop
Great Salespeople Using the 
Power of Assessments 
Miami FL
click

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales leadership training, live, appearances, seminars, workshops

Are Sales Leaders More Receptive to Training Than Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 16, 2012 @ 19:05 PM

training dayWhen a room full of sales leaders arrive for two days of intensive training, there are many things that can and do happen.  Here are ten of them:

  1. They can and do resist the training if they were sent there.  If they chose to come on their own, resistance never occurs!  Fortunately, the resistance fades away by the end of the first day.
  2. They can and do see the magic of how proper sales coaching should be conducted.  
  3. They can and do pick and choose what to embrace and bring back to their offices and teams.
  4. They can get a much better grasp on what it takes to make their sales force change-ready, but some won't take the time to do so.
  5. They can understand the subleties of how to shape their sales environment, but it's not as exciting as mastering sales coaching.  So, even though one can't coach effectively without shaping their environment, some will fail to execute that important step.
  6. They can and do see the power, efficiency and magic of a well-thought-out, time-tested, proven, customized, optimized sales process.  But old habits are hard to break and some still want to demo and present too early in the new process!
  7. They can and do get a much better understanding of how to effectively motivate their various salespeople, but some will forget most of it by the time they return to their office.
  8. They can and do understand how to more effectively and consistently find, assess, interview, select, hire, on-board and retain better salespeople, but some would rather work harder and longer and do what they have always done instead of trusting that a time-tested, proven, customized, efficient sales recruiting process will make it as easy as advertised.
  9. They can and do learn the power of the daily huddle as a great way to hold their salespeople accountable to the KPI's that will drive revenue.  However, some will ease into this by conducting a weekly huddle, mistaken in their belief that weekly will work as effectively as daily.
  10. They can and do learn the power of a staged, criteria-based pipeline and what it takes to keep it filled.  Most will implement this upon their return.
If it sounds like some people waste their time by attending, that isn't true.  What actually happens is that they fear that they can't do everything that they hear (not enough time and too much work), so they determine what is most important (or most comfortable) and resolve to do that.  It's not a waste at all.  It's simply the sales leader being guilty of some of the same "I can't" issues that their salespeople have.
Here are ten suggestions that will make participation a success if you decide to attend an intensive sales leadership training event like this:  
  • Embrace instead of resist.
  • Focus instead of getting distracted.
  • Participate instead of observe.
  • Be early instead of late.
  • Take fewer detailed notes, but focus more on concepts.
  • Apply everything, not just with what you like or feel comfortable.
  • Listen with your sales force in mind.
  • Ask questions, ask for help, enter into discussions.
  • Complete all exercises which are intended to help you apply the lessons to your sales force.
  • Perform the overnight assignments so that you won't be left behind.
You can get more out of these two days than from your entire sales leadership career, but you must be present and in the moment for the entire two days.
Can the next event help you?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales management training, sales leadership training

Why Most Companies are Struggling to Grow Revenue

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 @ 09:04 AM

sales training dave kurlan picChris Scirpoli, of Invoke Selling, managed to engage me for nearly 15 minutes in a power-packed, fast-paced, video interview that covered a tremendous amount of ground in a very short period of time.  He did the mandatory, "Tell me about your background.", but he left nearly 13 minutes for me to elaborate on the greatest challenges to sales managers and salespeople, and the various approaches that can be implemented to solve these challenges.  Because of the questions which he asked, it was one of the better interviews with regard to content.  You can watch the interview here.  If you liked that, you'll really like the Sales Leadership Symposium in Boston next month.  

Dan Perry, writing at Sales Benchmark Index's Sales Force Effectiveness Blog, wrote that "The single biggest problem with sales today is sales reps are mismatched to the buyer.  They think like a sales rep and not like a buyer."  

Well, Dan, I don't agree and I have the statistics to back me up.  If you were to interview buyers (we don't call them that in 2012, we call them procurement specialists today), I'm sure they would agree with me because they don't want to be sold anything by anybody!  They want total control, want to squeeze every last dime from you, and don't want to share any information that might help a salesperson gain an edge.  

The biggest problem with salespeople today (I can back it up with the data from Objective Management Group, which has assessed more than 550,000 salespeople) is that 63% are not reaching decision-makers and 58% begin the sales process with procurement.  In general, the sales population doesn't possess the skills to sell consultatively (on average, salespeople have only 21% of the attributes of the consultative skill set), to uncover compelling reasons to buy and to use those compelling reasons as leverage, and to differentiate themselves. That leverage causes decision-makers to tell their procurement people to do business with your company (the company that stood out).  If your salespeople can differentiate themselves to such a degree that a decision-maker wants to buy from you, it's the internal decision-makers that must sell the procurement folks, not your salespeople!  When the opportunity finally arrives at procurement, only the terms need to be negotiated.

Don't believe everything you read.  Just because it's printed, doesn't mean it's good.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management training, sales leadership training, selling to procurement, selling to purchasing, selling to buyers, sales benchmark index, sales assessments

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,700 Articles

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.

Email Dave

View Dave Kurlan's LinkedIn profile View Dave Kurlan's profile

Subscribe 

Receive new articles via email
Subscribe
 to the Blog on your Kindle 

 

 

Most Recent Articles

Awards

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2017 - Article/Post - Gold
 Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2017 - Assessment Tool - Gold

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 -  Bronze - Thought Leader

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Podcast - Gold

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Webinar - Gold

Top Sales & Marketing Awards 2015 - Bronze - eBook/White Paper

2018 Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blogs Widget

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter



Hubspot Top 25 Blogs

 

Free Tools

Sales Process Grader

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Sales Ghost Calculator

Sales Force Grader

Sales Hiring Mistake Calculator

FREE Recruiting Process Grader