How Companies Choose Sales Training Companies is Backwards

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

reverse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Copyright iStock Photos

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

Is Your Sales Force More Like a Dunkin', Starbucks or Panera Drive Thru?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 21, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

starbucks

On a frigid New England morning, I pulled into a Dunkin' drive thru and noticed that there were only ten cars ahead of me and that meant that it shouldn't take more than five minutes to get through the fast-moving line.  Contrast that to the Starbucks drive thru.  There were five cars ahead of me and that could take from ten to fifteen minutes because of how long it takes to prepare beverages at Starbucks.  That ten to fifteen minutes is a freakin' dream come true compared to Panera Bread.  I don't know if you have Panera Bread where you are but I love the food at Panera.  However, if there was ever a restaurant chain that shouldn't have a drive thru window, Panera, at least the one in my town, fits the bill.  When I pull into the Panera line, I see that there are two cars ahead of me and I know for certain that it's going to take twenty minutes to get through their line.  At lunch time I order ahead using their app but on that cold New England morning I'm not getting out of the car so I'm going to live or die by the drive thru.  Yet despite the intolerable wait times and ridiculously bad customer service, I return time and time again.  All it takes is to reset my expectations so that I no longer get upset with the twenty-minute wait.

This all begs the question, is the sales force at your company more like the Dunkin', Starbucks, or Panera drive-thru?  Today's article will explain how to answer that question.

If your sales force meets or exceeds budget and the revenue flows through the pipeline easily and consistently, then you have a Dunkin'-like sales force.  It only seems to take a couple of people to make a Dunkin' line zip right along so your sales force is mean and lean and gets the job done.

If your sales force meets budget, but it takes a lot of hand-holding, pressure, accountability, hard work and additional reps to do it, you have a Starbucks-like sales force.  It seems to take at least four baristas to move a Starbucks line along but they make it happen.

If you have to lower your expectations, and the sales force still fails to meet budget, then you have a Panera-like sales force.  You don't have enough reps, those you do have under-perform, most projected closes are delayed, and your win rate is very low.  It seems that Panera has a single employee taking drive thru orders, making the food, packaging the order, collecting the money and handing over the order before miserably taking the next order.

The reality is that those three drive thru lines perfectly describe most sales forces.  

Do you remember the old ads for the car rental companies?  Hertz advertised that "We're number one."  Avis marketed that because they were number two, "We try harder."

I would say the same is true for the Starbucks-like sales force.  While Dunkin' is like the Apple sales force selling iPhones, with people waiting in line to place their orders, the Starbucks-like sales force tries harder.  They have to work for every order and since their products are more expensive, they must utilize the more difficult consultative approach, and sell value to generate revenue.

Consultative selling is more difficult because it depends on the two skills that most salespeople have not come close to mastering; listening and questioning.

As you can see below from ten of the twenty-one selling competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) measures, only 15% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength.  Only the Closing competency has a smaller percentage of salespeople who are strong in the competency.  And this isn't from some small sample size.  This is data from the evaluations and assessments of 1,937,474

selling-competencies-1

Let's drill down into a few of the ten attributes of the Consultative Seller competency.  We find that only:

  • 27% of salespeople have listening skills as a strength
  • 24% have Asks Enough Questions as a strength
  • 41% have Asks Good Questions as a strength.

It's pretty ugly.

The Starbucks-like sales force has mastered the consultative approach but most sales forces have not.  What does it take to move from "have not" to "have mastered?"

Lots and lots of training and coaching on consultative selling in the context of a consultative sales process.  And you should have your sales force evaluated by an OMG-Certified sales expert to properly set expectations as to how long it will take, who can improve, how much improvement to expect, and how much more revenue you should expect.  And that's just on the Consultative competency.  You should want to know that about all twenty-one sales core competencies!

Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales, sales process, sales leadership, panera, dunkin, starbucks

Salespeople in Small Companies are 43% Better at This and Other Salesenomics Insights

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 06, 2020 @ 20:01 PM

statistics

You seek out the best products, best stores, best websites and best experiences.  Doesn't it make sense to wonder about where you can find the best salespeople?

I asked Objective Management Group's (OMG) COO, John Pattison, to dig into some of our data from the evaluations of 1,932,059 salespeople from  companies and provide me with some scores.

I reviewed the data and have a number of very interesting and surprising Salesenomics conclusions to share.

For this exercise, we looked at large (more than 100 salespeople), mid-market (30-100 salespeople) and small/medium (fewer than 30 salespeople) companies.  Then we gathered average scores for each of the 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as Sales Percentile.

It turns out that you'll find more excuse making at larger companies where salespeople scored 43% worse than in small companies.  Why?  Excuse makers aren't nearly as exposed in large companies as they are in small companies, with more layers of management between themselves and those who might call them out for it.  While salespeople from small companies are the weakest overall, they are much less likely to make excuses.  They'll suck without placing blame!

Large companies are also where you'll find salespeople who are more comfortable talking about money and having the kinds of financial conversations that are so necessary for sales success.  Salespeople in large companies scored 21% better in this competency.  Why?  Large companies often sell high-ticket products and services to other large companies and when salespeople aren't comfortable having those financial conversations they fail.  With high-ticket sales, quotas are quite large and when salespeople are missing quota, they are missing by millions, not thousands!  That makes it difficult to stay under the radar.

Large companies have salespeople who are far less likely to use social selling, scoring 39% worse than salespeople at smaller companies!  Salespeople at large companies have an easier time scheduling meetings than those in smaller and lesser-known companies. Think rolling out the red carpet!  But social selling isn't the only thing they don't use.  They are also the worst at using CRM!  The executives who invested millions on their CRM must be absolutely thrilled over that finding.  It tells them that they aren't the only ones frustrated with CRM adaptation and compliance.

The best salespeople overall can be found in mid-market companies where the average sales quotient is ten points higher than in small or large companies.  This makes sense too because those are the companies that take sales training and coaching most seriously.  Many large companies buy sales training but don't really care if it changes anything because they're just checking off a box.  Many small companies don't want to pay for sales training because they're afraid it won't change anything.  But many mid-market companies need it, want it, pay for it, and care tremendously about the outcomes.

The most rejection proof salespeople can also be found in mid-market companies.  It makes sense because that's where you'll find the best hunters!  Mid-market companies also have salespeople who are better at selling value, taking a consultative approach to selling and qualifying.

Salespeople who have the worst scores in Presentation Approach can be found at small companies.  That's where you'll also find salespeople who are less likely to follow the sales process.  I believe this is because there is far less discipline at small companies.

I didn't stop there.  I also looked at sales percentile by industry.

The best?  Commercial Real Estate with an average Sales Percentile of 54%.  The worst? Transportation and shipping with an average Sales Percentile of only 35%.

That's a 55% difference!  It makes sense though.  Many of the commercial realtors that have called on me have attempted to take a consultative approach even though there were still some that began conversations by asking for my lease expiration date.  That transactional approach can be seen with shippers too.  All of the shippers that have called on us seem to be unaware that there are any buying criteria other than price!

So what does all of this mean?  

It means that no matter where we look, how we look at it, how we slice it and dice it, and how many findings we dissect, most salespeople are still guilty of sucking and most companies are still guilty of allowing them to remain sucky.

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn discussion thread here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales competenices, crm, sales statistics, sales analysis, sales data

Dave Kurlan's Predictions for Sales Organization in 2020

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 16, 2019 @ 10:12 AM

2020

Before I can make any predictions for 2020, let's start with these ten simple truths about selling for proper context.

 

ONE:  Selling is not as difficult or as simple as many would have you understand.  

TWO: While there are certainly nuances that influence how selling changes based on the target audience and complexity, selling is essentially the same whether it is technology, pharmaceuticals, capital equipment, financial services, cars, components, accounting or any of 200 other industries.

THREE: Selling is about opening people's minds, changing people's minds, and getting them to take action.

FOUR: Effective Selling requires a well thought-out sales strategy, sales process, sales methodology and appropriate sales tactics.

FIVE: Salespeople can be easily sabotaged by weak Sales DNA.

SIX: One skill that all salespeople must have is the ability to lower resistance.

SEVEN: Salespeople must be likable and trustworthy.

EIGHT: Salespeople must be willing work hard.

NINE: Salespeople must be motivated enough to overcome challenges, competition, negativity and difficult prospects.

TEN: Salespeople must be fearless.

Regular readers know that my company, Objective Management Group (OMG), has evaluated 

1,927,898 salespeople from companies.  We measure 21 Sales specific Core Competencies which you can learn more about here.

With the context firmly in place, we can discuss my predictions for 2020.

CRM - Every senior executive I speak with is frustrated with their investments in mainstream CRM. No exceptions.  If they bought Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, or Oracle, they have salespeople who hate it, have to be nagged to update it, don't use it at all, and worst of all, they aren't getting the realtime insights or views into the actual pipeline that prompted the investment in the first place.  I think this is the year that companies finally begin pulling the plug and cutting their losses on the big CRM applications, and start over with smaller, sales-specific opportunity and pipeline focused applications.  I believe that any company that wants their sales process, complete with dynamic playbook and scorecards fully integrated into CRM should choose Membrain.

VILT - More companies will choose Virtual Instructor Led Training despite the evidence that live, interactive sales training is far more effective.  Why?  VILT is much less expensive!  But it might be several years before companies recognize that just like CRM, going the way of the popular trend doesn't move the needle on sales and profits and will eventually result in a wasted investment in the wrong training.  Selling can be taught via VILT, but it must be demonstrated over and over until salespeople can execute what they learned.  That means live role-playing and not scripted actors. Your salespeople must be able to play the part of the difficult prospect that they face each day and challenge the trainer to have the realtime conversation that will change minds.  It simply isn't possible with VILT. 

AI - Artificial Intelligence will continue to grow in popularity and acceptance because, once again, the sellers of AI say it's the next thing you must have.  AI can be very helpful automating tasks on the marketing side, where bots might be able to replace salespeople when it comes to conversations via email. But if you have a complex sale, the last thing in the world that you would want is to substitute a bot for a skilled salesperson! 

Evaluations and Assessments -  As with CRM, I think this is the year that companies will realize that you must use pre-employment assessments for effective sales selection.  I believe that they will finally come to recognize that personality assessments and behavioral styles assessments aren't predictive of sales success.  Objective Management Group (OMG), winner of the Gold Medal for the Top Sales Assessment eight consecutive years, leads the way in accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments but for every one of the 29,000 companies that use OMG, there are 172 that don't (of five million B2B companies).  I don't know if it is naivety, ignorance, stubbornness or stupidity, but there is plenty of science that suggests this must change.

Consider this graphic. 

quota-attrition-1

In the graphic above, only 49% of reps achieve quota at companies that don't use pre-employment assessments.  That increases to 61% at companies that do use pre-employment assessments, and 88% at companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.

The same holds true for turnover.  It's 19% when companies don't use pre-employment assessments, 14% when they do, and only 8% when they use OMG.  That's why OMG has won the gold for 8 consecutive years!

Growth: The economy is booming and the only question is whether your salespeople can outsell your competition.  For each opportunity your salespeople work on in 2020, only one company will have the lowest price. If that's not you, then you must become really effective at selling value.  This is the year that companies will become serious about making that happen, investing in sales training that stresses a consultative and value based approach, grounded in sales process.

Change: Sales leaders and sales managers will have to do better in 2020 but how can we reach them?  If you look at those who follow these important hashtags on LinkedIn, it seems that the people who could make a difference are missing in action:

#salesleadership 5,067

#salesleader 268

#salesleaders 367

#salesmanagement 9,054

#salesmanager 3,046

#salesmanagers 608

#salesprocess 4,651

#salespipeline 121

In a great 2020 economy, companies will have the cash to make smart decisions, invest in quality training and tools, and coach up their salespeople to beat the competition but it will take engaged, proactive sales leaders to make it happen!

What do you think?  Leave your comments on the LInkedIn discussion for this article.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales assesments, crm, Sales DNA, sales predictions, VILT, Artificial Intelligence

The Most Successful Negotiation is The Negotiation That Isn't Needed

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 09, 2019 @ 05:12 AM

driving-in-the-snow

The last few years it seems that each time it snows, even a little, they cancel school.  Are school officials convinced that parents and bus drivers will put kids' safety in jeopardy because snow is falling?  They weren't worried about such things when I was growing up  and back then, we didn't have cell-phones, all-wheel drive, anti-lock breaks, traction control, all-weather radials, blind spot warning, collision warning or lane assist!  Winter drivers are better equipped to deal with snow than at any time in history so cancelling school every time it snows doesn't make any sense.

Another thing that doesn't make any sense is the "Negotiate" step I see in the sales processes of most companies.  Why is it there?  Why are we negotiating?  What are we negotiating? How are we negotiating?  The only thing that's clear is when we are negotiating and apparently, it occurs just prior to closing.  Like cancelling school when it snows, it doesn't make any sense.

If we begin with the concept of why we are negotiating, it might answer the what and how questions too. If our salespeople are thoroughly qualifying, and they get their prospects to agree to share their budget, agree to a dollar amount or range, or better yet, that they'll spend more to do business with us, we should never have to negotiate prices, fees or cost.  Is that step in most sales processes?  It sure as sh*t should be!

So if we shouldn't be negotiating the price, are we negotiating terms?  In my experience, when salespeople qualifying properly, only terms need to sometimes be negotiated.  In the normal world, sellers set their terms; not buyers.  But in Bizarro sales world buyers (at most big companies) try to bully sellers into agreeing to their ridiculous terms. 

This week, one company said that their terms are Net 75.  I said, "I'm sorry, but we can't solve your problem and be your bank.  Our terms are due on receipt of invoice and it's non-negotiable." 

They said, "Oh, OK."

I could have said, "If you can get us 50% on receipt of invoice, we'll let you pay the balance net 30.  Would that have been a negotiation?  Of course it would.  But it would be the exception, not the rule, and it wouldn't require a negotiation step in the sales process!

The existence of a step in the sales process requires that we must always execute this step.  The belief that we must negotiate price, terms, deliverables or anything else puts salespeople in a situation where they are expected to sacrifice profitability.  And companies wonder why their margins are being squeezed.

According to data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments of 1,925,985 salespeople, only 13% of all salespeople have the Negotiator competency as a strength. Only 13%!!  If you force your salespeople to negotiate, most of them will give away the farm!  OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies and while the Negotiator competency isn't one of the 21, you can see the data on the 21 Sales Competencies and how you and your salespeople compare here,

Instead of negotiating, your salespeople should be mastering selling value.  Selling value completely neutralizes the need for negotiating and while fewer than 50% of all salespeople have the Value Seller competency as a strength, that's a lot better than the percentage of salespeople who can negotiate.

Stop telling your salespeople to negotiate and get them the training and coaching they need to effectively sell value.  The most successful negotiation is one that never occurs.

What do you think?  Leave your comments on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, negotiating, selling value

The Top 15 Sales and Sales Leadership Articles of 2019

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Dec 04, 2019 @ 13:12 PM

best-of-2019

Just when it seems that I don't have any more articles to write, another year has passed and I've now surpassed 1,800 articles on my Blog.  As with any other year, some are really good and some aren't as good but I try to inject my style of using analogies because everywhere I look I see a correlation to sales and sales leadership.

For example, as I look out the window, Dinger, our Golden Doodle, is trying to find a good place to do his business in the snow.  He picks a spot, rejects it, chooses another, rejects it, and circles around and gets distracted, and asks to come back inside without having done what he went out there to do.

To me, that sounds like a lot of salespeople!  They sit at their desk, open their list of prospects, come up with reasons not to call or follow up, finally choose a prospect they feel good about calling, get distracted by an incoming email, get a cup of coffee, go back to the computer, choose another contact, get distracted again, this time by social media, and leave for lunch without having done what they were supposed to do.

After reviewing the 50 or so 2019 articles, I have chosen the top 10 articles based on views, comments here and comments and likes on LinkedIn and Twitter..  Most of these articles rely on statistics from Objective Management Group and/or correlate to strong analogies.  Enjoy!

10 Most Popular Articles (Views, Comments and Likes)

1. The 14 Lies Preventing Salespeople from Getting Their Prospects into a Buying State of Mind

2. Change in Approach Leads to 304% Increase in Sales Effectiveness

3. The Top 8 Requirements for Becoming a Great Salesperson

4. How Big of a Role Does Age Play in Sales Effectiveness

5. The Best Salespeople are 2733% More Likely to Have This Than the Worst Salespeople

6. How All Those Trucks ion the Road Can Help You Stop Discounting

7. New Data Shows That Top Salespeople are 2800% Better at Disrupting the Flow

8. Sales Process and Why So Many Salespeople Lose Their Way

9. How to Transform Your Sales Pipeline Today

10. The Best Salespeople are 791% Better at This Than Weak Salespeople

The Red Sox are my favorite baseball team but they didn't make the playoffs this year.  It doesn't always work out that my favorite teams are champions!  Similarly, five of my favorite articles from 2019 failed to make it into this year's top 10.  

My Favorites from 2019

1. The New Salesenomics

2. Did You Know That the Beatles Taught us about Selling

3. Your Last Chance to Make a Good First Impression

4. A Tale of Three Squirrels and Their Human Counterparts in Sales

5. New Data Reveals a Powerful New Score for Sales Effectiveness 

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales pipeline, sales performance, sales effectivnes

Sales Process and Why So Many Salespeople Lose Their Way

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 @ 19:10 PM

driving-rain

Last night I was on Interstate 90, the MassPike, driving home from the airport in a wind-driven rainstorm.  It was so bad I couldn't see the white lines that divide the three lanes nor could I see the Jersey barriers dividing the eastbound from the westbound traffic.  It was almost as scary as the plane's rocky decent from 30,000 feet in gale-force winds last night or driving in a blizzard! 

The inability to see where I was and where I was going is what most salespeople experience when they sell.  Most salespeople don't have a formal, structured, milestone-centric sales process to follow so they can't possibly know where they are, and where they need to go.  

Consider the following alarming statistics from Objective Management Group's evaluations and assessments of 1,908,143 salespeople with regard to sales process:

sales-process-2

As you can see, only 45% of all salespeople are strong, and only 27% of the bottom 50% are strong.  The top 5% are 850% stronger than the bottom 10%.

Veteran salespeople should be - and are - nearly twice as strong as newer salespeople.  

Going back to my opening paragraphs, 55% of all salespeople fail to see where they are and where they are going during their sales calls, meetings, and sales cycles.  And since most companies do not have their sales processes properly integrated into their CRM applications, navigation is difficult even when there is a process.  And equally frustrating is that most existing processes are missing key stages and key milestones, and are not properly sequenced so that the process can build on itself.

Lighting and reflectors on the highway allow you to navigate with confidence, move more quickly, and maintain more control.  Shining the light on sales process will accomplish the same thing.

Contribute your comments to the LinkedIn discussion on this article.

 

Image copyright iStock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, omg, sales stats

How to Know if You Are You Really Selling Consultatively

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 03, 2019 @ 20:06 PM

consultative-2

Most of the CEOs and sales leaders I speak with agree that their sales organizations need to be more effective at taking a consultative approach to selling. At the same time, they insist that they talk about it often and that their salespeople are doing OK with a consultative approach.  OMG's Sales Force Evaluation usually reveals that they aren't doing much more than talking about it, as their scores for the Consultative Seller competency are quite low.

How can you determine if you or your team are being effective at using a consultative approach?  I created this list of outcomes that would be true if your consultative approach was working effectively.  You and/or your salespeople are :

  1. Having much better, very different conversations
  2. Experiencing prospects who are much more engaged
  3. Witnessing your prospects becoming emotional
  4. Watching prospects take shortcuts to give you their business
  5. Being thanked for your help by your prospects
  6. Realizing that price is no longer an issue
  7. Finding it easier to get and keep the decision maker engaged throughout the sales process
  8. Seeing your sales cycle becoming shorter
  9. Getting excited over higher win rates
  10. Finding your competition becoming irrelevant
  11. Bonus - Closing occurs naturally.

Speaking of closing, Graham Hawkins shared a post on LinkedIn which listed all of the known closing techniques. He noted that his close rate is through the roof and he doesn't need to use any of those closes any longer because when you are selling consultatively, the sales close themselves.

He is completely correct because the top 5% of all salespeople in the world have mediocre scores for closing (55%) and very strong scores for consultative selling (77%).  Looking at this data another way, only 24% of the top 5% are strong closers but 60% are strong at selling consultatively.

If you're truly selling consultatively, you won't have a problem with the buyer journey either.  Whether you call it the buyer journey or the buyer-seller journey, there are things you need to consider.  

The buyer journey is a slippery slope. The journey is completely separate from the sales process,   When salespeople align with the journey, they become facilitators, and when they facilitate, they are the same as everyone else and become commoditized.  When salespeople use a consultative sales process, the buyer journey is completely neutralized.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, closing, buyer journey, win rates

Salespeople Make This Mistake - The Dumb Question I Was Asked in a Hotel Restaurant

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 14, 2019 @ 21:02 PM

doubletree

I pulled up to the entrance of the Doubletree Hotel, greeted Chris, and we walked into the hotel restaurant.  As we approached the table, a well-meaning server asked, are you an Honors member?  I said, "yes."  

A moment later she returned and said she couldn't find me in the system.  She asked me to spell my name, went back to her computer, and returned again, saying, "I can't find your reservation in the system."

I explained that I wasn't a hotel guest and we were here for breakfast.  "Oh, then you'll have to pay for your breakfast!"  

"OK," I said.  After all, I was expecting to pay for breakfast!

Can you imagine how much simpler it would have been if her first question was, "Are you staying with us?"

Salespeople make the exact same mistake.  How do I know?  I can prove this with several examples.

Personal - In any given year, I might engage in role-play with as many as 500 salespeople and before they know any better, and sometimes after, they nearly always begin with the wrong question.  And it's not limited to only the wrong opening question, there are tremendous odds that they'll ask the wrong follow-up questions too.

Evaluation Data - Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated and assessed 1,833,484 salespeople from companies.  If we zoom in on the data related to asking questions, we find the following differences between elite salespeople and weak salespeople.

Elite salespeople are twice as effective as weak salespeople at asking good questions. 
Elite salespeople are three times more effective than weak salespeople at asking tough questions.
Elite salespeople are twice as effective as weak salespeople at asking enough questions.

These three questioning skills are attributes of the Consultative Selling competency, one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures.  See them here and see how you stack up.

Another Sales Core Competency, when it appears as a weakness, prevents salespeople, even those with good questioning skills, from asking the questions.  Salespeople who Need to be Liked are unable to ask a lot of questions, ask tough questions, or have the difficult conversation that nobody else has had with their prospect. 

Elite salespeople are four times more effective in this competency than weak salespeople!

Pay attention to your questions.  If they don't move the conversation closer to uncovering a prospect's compelling reason to buy, don't ask the question.  At the same time, don't skip over important questions and milestones - it rarely works. 

Remember that milestones are the foundation of a staged, consultative sales process and it's difficult to be effective if you attempt to sell without one.

Contribute to the discussion of this article here on Linkedin.

Finally, I leave you with two offers.

Steven Rosen interviewed me for his Fireside Chat series and sales leaders will find our discussion extremely beneficial.  Register here to watch this episode when it's released on February 19 at Noon Eastern Time.

My awesome 2-Day Sales Leadership Intensive is filling up fast.  As of February 15 there are just 7 seats remaining for the March 19-20 event. First come, first served.

Learn more here.

Here's a two-minute video of me explaining why the event is rated so highly.

 

Here's a testimonial from a recent participant.  

 

Here's a quick video with a bunch of participants.

 

I would love to see you there!

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, asking questions, best sales assessment

I'm Sorry But Your Sales Process Sucks

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Feb 01, 2019 @ 11:02 AM

sucky-process

Perhaps you saw this too.  Yesterday, a post appeared in my LinkedIn feed that talked about the power of sales process.  The article was clearly written to support the author's technology application, which helps track sales KPI's; so they should know a little about the topic of sales process.

Towards the end of the article, they provided a sample of what an effective sales process should look like.  The following text is exactly what they wrote:

If you don't have a sales process or aren’t sure what is meant by that, we can help. Start by thinking about your most successful clients. (Or, if you’re new, some of your team’s most successful clients.) What were the different steps that client went through before they became a client?

It might look something like:
Current Customer Referral
Initial Contact
Follow-up Appointment
First Sale
Upsell/subscription

5 Steps?  Yikes!  

I expect clients to have skimpy, lame, thin sales processes but this was from someone attempting to demonstrate their expertise in sales process!

Their recommended process was basically: get a meeting, sell something and follow up for more.  That's not a process, that's simply 3 outcomes.

In addition to initial contact, a solid, customized, formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric, optimized sales process should include all of the milestones that must be reached to get from that initial contact to the first sale.  In my experience with sales process best practices, that would include between 4 and 6 stages, each having between 4 and 8 milestones for a total of somewhere between 16 and 24 milestones.

The video below is a fast, enjoyable walk-through of sales process and methodology.

 

Let's not forget that a solid, customized, formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric, optimized sales process should also have a predictive scorecard built in.  Your win rates will go up and your sales cycle lengths will go down.

If you don't have these things in place, I'm sorry to say that your sales process sucks.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales best practices

Subscribe via Email

View All 1,800 Articles

About Dave

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

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

Vendor Neutral Certified 100 SalesTech Vendor Objective Management Group

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

MVP2018_badge_winner_SPC

Leaading Sales Consultants 2018

2019-Silver-BlogIndi
9 Consecutive Years!

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver


2019-Gold-AssessTool
9 Consecutive Years!

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

Top 50 Sales & Marketing Blog 2019

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