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

Do the Least Informed Salespeople Have the Loudest Voices

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 22, 2019 @ 06:01 AM

ignorance

Do the least informed among us have the loudest voices? This article is about salespeople but to set the stage, we'll start with the news.

When I listen to and watch the news, it seems that those on the fringes and representing special interest groups get the most attention, benefit of the doubt, dictate how everyone else should think and act, and cause tremendous tension and stress.  Yet, wherever I travel, whomever I interact with, whatever their story, and regardless of their skin color, religion or national origin, I never see any signs of the friction, division or hate that is amplified by the news media on a daily basis.  Why does the news media continue to deliver stories of hate, invite people of extreme opposite sides to debate, or express so much hate themselves?  When I tune into the news, instead of news, all I hear is screaming, hate and accusations.

Do the least informed among us have the loudest voices? 

Now sales.  Consider two very different salespeople working a new opportunity. 

Rita is a consultative seller and in her first meeting with a prospect, she listens and asks a lot of questions.  She is patient, polite and curious.  She doesn't talk about capabilities, products, prices, but she does ask why the prospect has taken so long to address his problem.  In doing so, she learns about other players in the company, their influence, interference, beliefs and the impact it has had on the prospect.  Rita didn't judge or push; she simply continued asking questions until there was urgency to fix the problem.

Lou is a transactional seller and in his first meeting he tells the prospect about his company, its capabilities, and his products.  He claims that his company is better than everyone else, will be competitive and have the best prices, and then he bad mouths Rita's company.  Lou monopolized the conversation, didn't give his prospect a chance to talk, and his prospect didn't care to ask any questions.

Do the least informed among us have the loudest voices? 

Consider a sales training program with an emphasis on helping the sales force develop a more consultative approach and the ability to more effectively sell value.  Those who agree with the need for sales process, methodology, strategy and tactics quietly embrace this approach.  Those who are threatened by change, who want to maintain the status quo, begin the rebellion, oppose the approach, and challenge the trainer. They hijack the training and little is accomplished. I remember this occasionally happening to me 30 plus years ago but I learned to diffuse it up front.  Today, I still hear stories about this happening to other trainers who haven't figured out how to deal with it yet.

Do the least informed among us have the loudest voices? 

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, news media, opposition

The Top 8 Requirements for Becoming a Great Salesperson

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 14, 2019 @ 06:01 AM

remember

If you're young enough, some of the questions in the first few paragraphs won't apply because you haven't experienced the world without the innovations mentioned below.  Don't let that prevent you from reading this because after the milestones, we'll get to the good selling stuff.

For those of you who are my age or older, do you remember the first time you saw color TV?  For me it was the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in the early 1960's. Or the first time you watched Cable with more than 6 channels and without snow? Wireless remote controls?  OK, that was all in the 1960's.  Let's skip to the 1980's.

Do you remember the first version of Microsoft Windows?  Computers with more than words and numbers - how cool!  Do you remember what came before Windows?  MS/DOS or CP/M and the commands you needed to know to get the computer to do what you wanted?  How about the 5 1/4" floppy disks that stored a whopping 160KB of data?  

Let's skip to the 90's.  Do you remember the first time you connected to the internet?  I connected through a now defunct service called Prodigy.  AOL had its infancy around that time as well.

Do you remember sending and receiving your first emails?  I remember the pushback I got from OMG Partners who, at the time, didn't want to abandon fax machines to send and receive information.  My first email address was salesguru@prodigy.net.  That was almost 30 years ago!  Do you remember earth's biggest bookstore?  How cool was it when you placed your first Amazon.com order, or later on, read your first book on a Kindle?  Your first look at early HD TV?

Now the turn of the century.  Do you remember when LinkedIn got started?  Most of the people I invited to join my network didn't have LinkedIn accounts yet. You can follow me at linkedin.com/in/davekurlan.

Do you remember reading your first Blog article?  I read one by Seth Godin, became an early subscriber, and in 2005, became one of the very first sales experts to Blog.  This article will be somewhere around #1,750 in the series and since that time my Blog has won 27 awards.

Each of these innovations had the cool effect, as in, "cool! Let's do that again!"  Now we can transition to the same kind of coolness, but in sales.

Do you remember the moment you became a Salesperson?  Not a presenter, Not an order taker, but a true consultative sales professional?

Here are some guidelines to identify the moment you turned professional. 

Do you remember the first time you asked that difficult, frightening, risky question that earned you the business on the spot?  It surprised you.  It wasn't a closing question, discovery question or qualifying question, but a question that changed how your prospect thought of you, completely changed the conversation, and differentiated you from everyone else that prospect had spoken with.

Did you ignore it at the time or can you remember having some awareness of what had just happened, how powerful it was, knowing it was a game changer and looking for opportunities to repeat that experience?

When you consciously began asking these types of questions on every first sales call, you became a bonafide professional salesperson.  Anyone can present.  Anyone can quote.  Anyone can take orders.  Anyone can rattle off specs.  Most can maintain relationships. But taking on the difficult task of becoming truly consultative?  Only the top 5% have mastered that and the next 15% work at it pretty effectively.  The rest?  Not yet.

If you are among the top 5% who have mastered this, congratulations!  If you are working on it as you read this, that's terrific too.  But if you aren't there yet, what must you do to become a master at consultative selling?

Here are the top 8 requirements - selling skills and sales DNA - to become the best

  1. Listening Skills - this goes beyond hearing and focusing.  We're talking about active listening, identifying specific words and phrases that if questioned, will take you wider, deeper and closer to a prospect's compelling reasons to buy.
  2. Questioning Skills - this isn't about having 50 prepared questions.  This is about phrasing your follow up questions to go wider, deeper and closer to a prospect's compelling reasons to buy because you listened effectively.
  3. Tonality - Everyone is capable of asking questions, but not everyone can ask them in such a way so as to not offend.  You need to slow down, get softer, add pauses after each key phrase, smile, and most importantly, your inflection must drop down on the last syllable so that it doesn't sound like a question.
  4. Business and Finance - Behind every problem you uncover, there is usually a financial implication.  You must be savvy enough to help your prospect make that calculation, including hard and soft costs, amortized over the full term of the problem, and agreed to.
  5. You Don't Need to be Liked - There is a difference between being likable, getting people to like you and the 58% of all salespeople that NEED to be liked.  The first two are good while the second prevents you from being able to execute #2 above.  When we look only at elite salespeople, only 18% need to be liked and their average score in this competency is 89% compared with 76% for all salespeople.
  6. You control your emotions - when you are in the moment, and not distracted by your own thoughts, you can listen more effectively as mentioned in #1 above.  63% of all salespeople aren't able to do this, while only  31% of Elite salespeople struggle with this.  Elite salespeople score an average of 86% in this competency while all salespeople score 80% and weak salespeople score 76%.
  7. You are Comfortable Talking about Money - Weak salespeople score just 41%, all salespeople score 58% and elite salespeople score 91%.  60% of all salespeople aren't comfortable with the financial discussion making #4 impossible.  Only 8% of Elite salespeople struggle with this discussion, and 85% of weak salespeople are uncomfortable this.
  8. You follow an effective sales process.  Period.  Consultative Selling is much more difficult than relationship selling which takes forever with no guarantees, or transactional selling which takes no time at all and rarely produces results.  It requires a formal, staged, milestone-centric sales process which incomplete methodologies like Challenger and SPIN don't provide.  Baseline Selling is complete consultative sales process and methodology in one.

Statistics courtesy of Objective Management Group, Inc. which has evaluated and assessed 1,833,093 salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders from  companies, in  industries and  in  countries.  Interested in seeing the results?  See how salespeople measure up in all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.  Want to identify new salespeople who can sell like this?  Check out this accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment here.

Comment?  Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales process, consultative, transactional sales, Relationship Selling

Dave Kurlan's 10 Surefire New Years Resolutions For All Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 03, 2019 @ 06:01 AM

new-years-resolutionjpg

Like most people, this year I intend to make good on my New Year’s resolution.  It’s actually more of a life resolution than it is a New Year’s resolution in much the same way that salespeople should make theirs a career resolution. If it’s important enough then it shouldn't be for only one year.

I’ve compiled a list of resolutions that all salespeople should make and follow.  Some will likely surprise you but they are all necessary to become more successful.  Enjoy the 10 most important elements for New Year's Resolutions That All Salespeople Must Make.  Here we go!

  1. Stretch.  Everyone begins the year with goals but they tend to be goals that will either be easy to reach or impossible.  A stretch goal is important but it can’t be some random number.  Sell this much, sell this many, earn this much, or pay this debt won’t work.  The goal must be for something special, important, exciting, and compelling that the numbers will help you achieve.
  2. Believe.  Your stretch goal doesn’t become real until you believe in it.  Think back to when you were younger and obsessed about that bike, game console, go-kart, dress, date, musical instrument, sports win, computer or toy.  You never stopped hoping and wishing and believing and you can't stop believing now.  
  3. Commit.  Now that you have identified something exciting and believe that it can be accomplished, you must commit to it.  Whatever it takes.
  4. Stuffed.  Achieving your goals is dependent on a lot of things but none more crucial than always having a full pipeline.  You can’t sell six if there are only four opportunities in your pipeline.  First determine what it will take to sell one.  Working backwards, how many opportunities are required in each stage of the pipeline in order for you to sell that one using your own conversion ratios?  (Averages are in parenthesis - actual mileage may vary)
    1. Closable - has indicated intent to buy from you at a specific time (2)
    2. Qualified - thoroughly qualified to buy from you at a specific time (4)
    3. Prospects  - there are compelling reasons to buy from you (8)
    4. Suspects - first meeting has been scheduled (12)
      In this typical scenario, 26 opportunities must be in the pipeline at all times in order to sell one in a week, month, quarter or year or whatever your x per y is.  is the number you must sell and y is the time frame, like 4 per month. Multiply the numbers above by x.
  5. Discipline. When you are fully committed to your mission, you will be disciplined.  It means that you will perform the required activities even when you don't want to.  Back in the 1950's, insurance executive Albert Gray said something along the lines of, "The difference between successful salesmen [note - this was his wording circa 1950] and everyone else is that the successful salesmen will always do what they don't want to do while everyone else doesn't."  Discipline also means no distractions.  Identify what can and does distract you and swear off of it during the work day.  Period.
  6. Consistent.  This is about routines.  You must have a business development routine that you follow each day.  Whether you use the phone, knock on doors, send out emails, connect via social media or follow up on leads to generate new business, you must follow the same routine each and every day,
  7. ExceptionsThis is the hidden key.  Make no exceptions.  While my resolution in 2019 is to eliminate flour and sugar from my diet, I know that if I make just one exception I've blown the day.  If I blow the day, I'll rationalize that I might as well blow the week too.  And a blown week becomes a month blown and the plan fails.  Make. No. Exceptions.
  8. Improvement. Commit to self-development and a goal of becoming just 10% better at every aspect of selling. Check out this article to see how a 10% improvement in effectiveness leads to a 33% increase in revenue.
  9. Efficiency.  Commit to using tools that will make you more efficient.  I'm not a big proponent of all-in-one solutions that do everything because they compromise on everything.  These are my recommendations:
    1. Pipeline management - Membrain
    2. Call Efficiency -  Have 5+ conversations per hour with prospects using ConnectAndSell 
    3. Scheduling - YouCanBookMe
    4. Finding Someone's Email - FindThatEmail
    5. Automated Email Reminders - FollowUpThen
    6. Who Best to Introduce you to Targeted Prospects - Reachable
    7. Powerful Task list that synchronizes across all devices and platforms - ToDo
    8. Easily Share large files - WeTransfer
    9. Easily share content with prospects, look great doing it and track when they visit and what they review - Postwire
  10. Trust the process.  Sales process is crucial to success.  Once you have a customized, formal, staged, milestone-centric sales process, trust it.  If the process works and has a built-in custom scorecard, trust it.  It won't steer you wrong.  Review this article on customized scorecards.  Watch the video in this article to better understand what an ideal sales process looks like.

There you have it.  My surefire 10-step resolution to make your new year your best year.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales motivation, sales goals, sell more, new year's resolution

Why are Half of All Sales Reps Still Missing Quota in a Booming US Economy?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 10, 2018 @ 05:12 AM

booming-economy

Around this time ten years ago, the US economy was famously tanking.  I remember it well as revenue at Objective Management Group dropped by more than 30%, almost overnight.  During 2008 and 2009 more than half of all US sales reps were missing quota and considering the circumstances, that didn't seem to shock anyone.  But during a slow crawl back to respectability between 2010 and 2016, and soaring revenue during 2017-2018, the percentage of reps making quota has not only remained flat, but the percentage hasn't even returned to pre 2008 rates.  This article attempts to explain why.

Here are 12 possible reasons that don't attribute everything to the completely useless 80/20 rule:

  1. Companies are setting unrealistic quotas, basing increases on nothing other than the belief that "Our revenue should be soaring too"
  2. The quotas are realistic for the territory but the reps aren't up to the challenge as only 5% are elite, 20% are strong and 25% are serviceable.  50% of all salespeople suck anyway!
  3. As the market for sales candidates has dried up, companies are lowering their standards and hiring crappy salespeople to keep territories staffed.
  4. The wealth of Inbound leads, most of them nothing more than contacts, have made salespeople incredibly lazy.  Only 24% of the bottom half have the Hunting competency as a strength.
  5. Only 14% of the bottom half of all salespeople have and/or follow a formal, structured Sales Process.  In other words, they wing it.
  6. The ever-increasing difficulty reaching decision makers has left salespeople with pitiful pipelines.
  7. Only 10% of the bottom half of salespeople are providing, demonstrating or selling value, resorting to price as they fail to differentiate
  8. Salespeople are still taking a transactional approach to selling instead of learning and embracing the more desirable consultative approach to differentiate themselves from the competition. Only 3% of this group has the Consultative Seller competency as a strength.
  9. Salespeople are mistaking "nice to have" for "must have".  When they only get their prospects to "nice" they fail to create urgency, making it difficult to get decision makers engaged or money approved, with opportunities stalling in the pipeline.  Only 20% of the bottom half of all salespeople have reaching decision makers as a strength, only 9% of that group has the  Qualifier Competency as a strength, and only 22% of this group has the CRM Savvy competency as a strength.
  10. Lack of Commitment - 53% of the bottom half of all salespeople lack the commitment necessary to do what it takes to achieve success. When it becomes difficult, they do what's easiest and most comfortable instead of what is required.
  11. Excuse Making - Even worse, 66% of the bottom half of all salespeople make excuses, rationalize their outcomes, preventing improvement.
  12. Sales DNA - In order to execute sales process, methodology, strategy and tactics, salespeople must have strong Sales DNA. The bottom half of all salespeople don't, as only 3% of them have Sales DNA that is strong enough to help them execute.

If the bottom 50% are this bad in all 21 Sales Core Competencies, then what are the bottom 50% good at?  They may have tremendous product knowledge, decent presentations skills and some great relationships, but they aren't very good at selling.  They are really order takers.  If they work for the best-known company, the low price leader, or the incumbent vendor, then it might be enough. But if they work for an underdog it's simply not enough to get the job done.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, reps making quota, selling value, differentiating yourself, order taker

Would Henry Ford be Able to Sell Cars Today?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 28, 2018 @ 21:11 PM

Fords-model-t

Cars were in the news this week when GM announced they were closing plants in the USA and President Trump pushed back.  So it got me wondering...

What would Henry Ford think if he were alive today?  I'm thinking that he would ask, "What the hell happened to my motor car and what are all these SUV's, crossovers, smart cars, hybrids and electric cars?  And what are all these pictures, icons, buttons, knobs and dials for?"  I think he would also say, "So let me get this straight.  You need to pay for a government issued license and pass an exam to operate it?  You need to register the motor car with the government and pay for that too?  You need to buy insurance before you can use it?  You have to pay an excise tax to your city or town to maintain ownership? And they sell for how much?  Holy shit!  What did they do to my Model T?  I innovated a car, not a home on wheels!" 

Ford was the entrepreneur who founded Ford Motor Company after the turn of the last century but Karl Benz, from Germany, actually invented the motor car.  I would venture to bet that Ford was the better salesman!

My Grandfather sold cars back in the day when you had to teach someone to drive it before they could buy it.  Whether in my Grandfather's day, or today, cars are a big investment and customers must jump through a lot of hoops to buy a car.  Sure, they're a necessity.  Sure, they can be a symbol of success.  Sure, the auto industry has leveraged financing and leasing to make them affordable for everyone.  But do we have to buy them every 3 years?  We don't have to but we do it anyway to the tune of more than 17 million vehicles sold in the United States in 2017.  While that pales in comparison to Apple's 217 million iPhones sold in 2017, their phones are a fraction of the cost of a car, although they can set you back as much as or more than a monthly car payment.

For some, cars are a necessary evil, a means of getting from point A to point B when public transportation, bicycles or walking won't do.  But most people just love to buy new cars.  You're familiar with the new car smell.  I knew a guy who bought, traded in and bought again every 3 months!  That's how long it took for the elation of driving a new car to wear off.  Or maybe it was the smell.  For me, after 2 years I'm usually ready to buy again.

Car salespeople aren't very good at selling and for the most part, they don't even conduct the actual closing. The only challenge that car salespeople seem to have - and it's not an easy challenge for salespeople to overcome - is that the entire automobile industry is an example of a transactional, price-based model.  

If weak auto salespeople can sell 17 million expensive cars a year despite all of the hoops, why do B2B salespeople struggle to close relatively inexpensive products and services?  Auto salespeople are order takers.  Their customers will buy a car from someone and it's just a matter of from whom.  That's not very different from most B2B customers who will also buy from someone.  As a matter of fact, around 75% of B2B salespeople are order takers.  Do they get the business because of their special relationships?  Their discounted prices? Their superior products? Are they actually helping their prospects reach the conclusion that there is greater value from buying from them?  In the 75% group, it's probably price, product or relationship.  For the top 25%, it's probably their ability to guide their prospects to the correct conclusion.

What do the top 10% do differently from the bottom 10%?  Almost everything!  You can see those differences here where you can compare our data from the most recent 500,000 or so sales assessments.  

The best salespeople have superior Sales DNA, don't make excuses, have strong commitment and excel at selling value and closing.  Back in Henry Ford's day, it was more like a Field of Dreams experience - build it and they will come.  That still seems to hold true for cars and iPhones but for everyone else, it's a different story.  Today, you'd best be able to follow a milestone-based sales process, differentiate by taking a consultative approach, sell value, thoroughly qualify and close.

Image copyright Britanica.com

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process

How I Realized That Selling is Just a Bunch of Crap

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 30, 2018 @ 23:10 PM

crap

Those are strong words and probably quite surprising coming out of my mouth but I'll explain it all.  Earlier this week I was leading another Sales Leadership Intensive and during a break it came to me.  

I was emphasizing how important it is to role-play as part of every coaching conversation and that's when I realized that what I was sharing was a bunch of crap.  I even looked up the quantity required to qualify as "a bunch" and I stick by my use of the word.  Selling is just crap and here is what I mean by a bunch of it.

Consultative approach, strong RelationshipsActive listening, and follow the sales Process. CRAP.

But for it to be a bunch of crap, we need more crap, so:

Keep your prospects Comfortable, lower their Resistance, Ask lots of good questions, and use Positioning statements. CRAP.

Challenge your prospects, help them Reveal their problems, speak with Authority, and be Prepared for anything. CRAP.

Establish Credibility, be Rejection-proof, and don't seek their Approval when asking Probing questions.  CRAP.

Uncover their Compelling reasons to buy, Remain unemotional, be Animated and sell value instead of Price.  CRAP.

Discover Consequences, Relax, and help them Articulate how it impacts them PersonallyCRAP.

Calculate ROI, and Anticipate their Pushback.  CRAP.

A big bunch of CRAP.

Don't worry - I'm not going to write a new book on selling called CRAP Selling.  There are already two well-known sales methodologies that use 4-letter acronyms, like Neil Rackham's SPIN Selling, and Jill Konrath's SNAP selling.  But if you want a popular sales solution that features both sales process and sales methodology rolled into one, then order my best-selling book on modern selling, Baseline Selling. I promise that there isn't a single reference to CRAP and after 13 years, it's still ranked #15 on Amazon.

baselineThis video compares Baseline Selling to SPIN Selling, the Challenger Sale, Solution Selling and Sandler.  If you've heard about Baseline Selling over the past 13 years and haven't read the book, listened to the audio book or attended Baseline Selling training, what the heck are you waiting for?  If you aren't familiar with Baseline Selling, the book is a simple way to start.  And if you're in sales and you like baseball, you have found a match made in heaven.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales process, sales methodology, SPIN Selling, SNAP Selling

Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 @ 20:10 PM

gold-nuggets

I had a chance to review the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study and extracted some fascinating data.  I thought it might be interesting to take their data, overlay some of Objective Management Group's (OMG) data, and see what we can take away from that.

Tick-Tock.  The report reveals that open sales positions remain so for an average of nearly 4 months and 9 months pass before a new hire achieves full productivity.  That's over a year!  This particular finding is a moving target and somewhat reflective of the relatively small number of proactive sales candidates and far smaller percentage of good ones.  The report shows that only 22.6% of organizations believe that hiring is an organizational strength, so this recruiting performance shouldn't surprise anyone.  OMG has a finding called FIOF (Figure it out Factor) which correlates to how quickly a candidate will ramp up to speed. Candidates who come up to speed more quickly than typical sales candidates score 75 or better and only 25% of all candidates have this as a strength.   

Not Nutritional.  Western diets are notorious for their inclusion of unhealthy, unnecessary, processed, fatty food instead of healthy whole foods.  Similarly, companies listed sales requirements for new salespeople that were filled with unnecessary requirements (ie., business degree from a university, college degree of any kind, STEM degree, industry sales experience, emotional intelligence, etc.) instead of strong and broad capabilities in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  This suggests that companies still lack a basic understanding of what causes salespeople to succeed.

Tooling.   An equal number of companies use candidate assessments as those who don't.  However, those who do use assessments have 61% quota attainment and 14.6% attrition, versus 49% quota attainment and 19.8% attrition for those who don't use assessments.  Companies that use assessments are 25% more successful at quota achievement and that data is not even for any particular assessment.  Imagine how much better the results are for the companies that use OMG's accurate and predictive sales-specific candidate assessments. Data from companies who have hired salespeople that were recommended by OMG shows an attrition rate of only 8% and quota attainment of 88%.  

Put Me in Coach.  Just 10% of the companies said that coaching was a strength.  That jives pretty well with OMG's data from its evaluations of more than 25,000 sales forces.  Only 10% of all Sales Managers have the Sales Coaching competency as a strength but most of that group are in the top 20% of all sales managers.

Two-Step.  38% of companies reported that they have a sales process.  Respondents appeared to be overly optimistic as OMG's data shows that only 27% of companies actually have a formal, structured sales process.

Right Down the Pipe.  20% claimed that pipeline management is a strength at their company but that claim is even more optimistic than the dance above.  Remember, their report is built from a survey so it's vulnerable to optimistic misstatements.  OMG's sales force evaluation data reveals that the actual number is 8%!

In conclusion, I'm still disappointed that these numbers aren't improving more quickly.  I believe that there are several reasons for this, but my top 3 are:

  • Too many sales leaders have large egos that don't allow them to ask for or receive help, believing that they and they alone are responsible for, and capable of moving the needle
  • The C Suite often delegates responsibility for change but change won't occur until the commitment to change is demonstrated to the sales organization from those at the very top of the company
  • Many companies are well intentioned about change but don't always make the best choices and don't always see those choices through.  Exhibit #1 is CRM.  My observation of CRM selection, installation, training, customization, integration, acceptance, and adoption is that it has been nothing short of an industry-wide cluster fuck.  Please excuse my language.

Of course there are more reasons than these 3 but most of them, when looked at objectively, can be traced back to these three.  For example, we can consider the people, coaching, training, strategy, systems, processes, expectations, accountability, motivation, culture, and more, but as soon as you seek the cause we must look to the original three reasons.

In the end, it's not usually an unwillingness to spend money to improve sales selection, provide the right tools, hire the right sales leaders, consultants and trainers.  It's the lack of unconditional commitment to get it right.

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales recruiting, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, sales opportunities, cso insights, sales recruiting failure

The Top 12 Factors that Cause Delayed Closings and What to Do About Them

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 25, 2018 @ 09:09 AM

delays

Over the past 3 months, my wife and I have been up and down the east coast driving our son to and from baseball tournaments and college showcases.  Invariably, each drive back home has taken twice the time it should have because of road construction.  On Sunday, Waze, my favorite navigation app, said that the drive would take just 2 hours and 32 minutes. 4 traffic delays because of road construction delayed us for another 2 and 1/2 hours.  Delays, delays, delays.  Nearly every coaching call with a salesperson is about a delayed closing.  Nearly every coaching call with a sales manager is about a salesperson with a delayed closing.  Everyone wants to know what to do about the delayed closing but that's the wrong question.  Everyone should be asking these two questions instead.

  1. Was it really delayed or were we overly optimistic about if and when this opportunity would close?
  2. What steps can we take to prevent delayed closings?

When I begin working with companies, most delayed closings are simply a case of the salesperson and sales manager deciding that the opportunity was closable and would close on a certain date.  This assertion was most often made up out of thin air with little to no facts to back it up.  Upon further inspection it was clear that these were not closable opportunities so the delays were not based in reality.

How can we prevent delayed closings?  I will list the 12 most important factors for preventing delays at closing time along with some links that further explain what I mean, how to do it more effectively, and/or provide statistics.  Please keep in mind that the list of factors is not a menu.  You can't choose the factor that seems easiest enough to fix and believe that anything will change.  You must fix all of them!  For example, suppose you need to loose 30 pounds, and are told to avoid breads, pastas, processed foods, snacks and pastries. If you decide to eliminate only bread, not much will change.  However, if you eliminate all of the processed foods the weight will come off quickly and easily.  The same is true with selling.  If you fix all 12 of the factors below, you will not only shorten your sales cycle, you will quickly and easily improve your win rate too.  Here they are:

  1. Not consistently executing a formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric sales process 
  2. Failing to get the prospect to "must have" or beginning the process with a demo, but failing to get beyond "nice to have"
  3. Not reaching the decision maker early enough in the sales process
  4. Failing to create urgency because compelling reasons to buy were not uncovered
  5. Failing to differentiate by not having the difficult conversation
  6. Needing prospects to like you.
  7. Failing to build a case and sell value instead of price
  8. Failing to uncover the actual budget
  9. Failing to thoroughly qualify the prospect's ability to buy from you
  10. Not bringing up potential objections earlier in the sales process
  11. Not learning about the competition and how you compare
  12. Not pushing back or challenging conventional or out-dated thinking

You probably noticed at least 3 common factors missing from the list above:

  1. Closing - closing is overrated
  2. Presentation skills - you already know how to do that well.
  3. Relationships - you are probably pretty good at this too.

We shouldn't be talking about delayed closings at all.  Instead, we should be talking about 2 things:

  1. How to shorten the sales cycle and improve the win rate by consistently executing these 12 factors to achieve greater success than ever before and how to coach salespeople up so that they can sell this way.
  2. How to select new salespeople that already have the ability to sell this way!

Image Copyright iStock Photos 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, closing tips, selling skills

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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, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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