The Bearded Lady, My Shaving Pattern and Your Sales Pipeline

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 08, 2019 @ 06:08 AM

bearded-lady

I can grow a pretty decent five o'clock shadow  - above my upper lip and only after about a week.  Unlike the bearded lady at the circus, when it comes to facial hair, there's really not much there!

Can you think of something else which, at first glance, appears to be OK but upon closer inspection, there's really not much there?

Did you guess sales pipelines?

As I wrote about a month ago, 46% of salespeople fail to maintain a full pipeline but most salespeople don't even know how many opportunities must be in the pipeline for it to be full.  

46% is very similar to the percentage of reps that make their quota each year.  Coincidence?

This is really a hunting issue and as I wrote in last month's article, only 33% of all salespeople have hunting as a strength.

So what are hunting-averse salespeople to do?

Cold emails don't work very well.  Want proof?  I get at least a half-dozen cold emails each day just from companies trying to sell a service to book meetings by using email, LinkedIn and Twitter.  I delete those emails.

Cold calls still work the way they always did but not until you reach a decision maker.  Most salespeople give up after four attempts but today it takes between six and fifteen attempts to actually get through.

Outsourced and semi-automated cold calls work if you outsource them to a company that's good at it - like ConnectAndSell - who also offers automated dialing.  They dial multiple names on your list at the same time until someone answers and then the salesperson takes over the call.

An inside team of Sales Development reps can book meetings if you're willing to make the investment and settle for the underwhelming results.  They might be able to average 1.5 meetings booked per week. If they do it on their own, salespeople should be two to three times better.  Of course, if you already have a flow of inbound leads, SDR's can follow up on those leads as they come in.  Immediate follow up has a significantly better chance of converting.  For most salespeople, even with the aid of an SDR-scheduled meeting, the pipeline isn't full.  They need to supplement - but probably aren't doing that.

Woody Allen said that 80% of success is showing up.  While good messaging beats lack of messaging, showing up wins the day over those who hide.

That applies to cold calls.  There aren't many salespeople who are good at making cold calls but those who are committed to making them, are disciplined about it, and call until they reach their targets, succeed because they did what most salespeople won't do.  Here are some good reasons to get back into the habit of picking up the phone, punching in a number and pressing send:

  • Your competition is not making calls
  • You can control how many prospects you dial
  • You can control how many conversations you have
  • You won't have to compete for eyeballs like you do with email or social  media
  • You can get your prospect engaged on a phone conversation
  • You can close for an appointment if you get them engaged
  • You can quickly build a strong pipeline just by showing up (on the phone)

You will crush:

  • Your quota
  • Your best earnings year
  • Your colleagues
  • Your competition

Just pick up the phone and start dialing it!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, hunting, sales prospecting, booking meetings

Beach Ball of Death Predicts Lack of Sales Growth

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 11, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

Every Mac owner knows about the dreaded beach ball of death.  For those who have never experienced the Mac equivalent of a computer crash, a beach ball that won't stop spinning appears on the screen and when it's more than a simple application crash, the death reference implies impending doom to the Mac itself.  This is what it looks like:

spinning-beach-ball

During the summer, beach balls can also be seen floating among fans in the center field bleachers at Fenway Park. This is especially true when the Red Sox are losing or playing a particularly boring game.  Death quickly comes to those beach balls when players, security guards or grounds crew stab the beach balls with a bullpen rake!

floating-beach-ball

And then there is the beach ball I want to share today - the sales beach ball of impending doom.  You might be wondering how there could even be a sales beach ball, never mind one that spells impending doom; but, there is.

Last week I saw it for the first time on a slide from a deck that Objective Management Group (OMG) prepares when we evaluate a sales force.  This particular slide answered the question, "Why Aren't We Generating More New Business?"

Here's the slide:

slide-new-business-w-beach-ball
Do you see the beach ball at the bottom in the center of the slide?  If it was all green, that would mean that the salespeople would be capable of finding new business and building a better pipeline.  But it is far from being all green.  There is a lot of red and coral, suggesting that there is an even bigger problem than anything that a change in behavior, strategy or tactics might solve.  Let's take a closer look at that beach ball and the legend that accompanies it:

slide-sales-beach-ball-of-doomThat big red area tells us that 33% of their salespeople are classified as People for the Ethical Treatment of Prospects (PETP).  Like their friends at PETA, who protect animals, the members of this group have a strain in their Sales DNA that prevents them from hunting prospects for new business.  In addition, the coral area tells us that 17% are fishermen.  They won't hunt either, but if a prospect bites, they'll reel in the opportunity.  The most a company could hope for is that the coral group of salespeople will follow up on leads.  The light green is represented by another 33% who will prospect if only a sales manager would hold them accountable.  But if you scroll up and look at the right-hand side of the slide, you'll see that sales management's ability to hold their salespeople accountable also falls into the red.  When all is said and done with this question about finding new business, only 17% of their salespeople will voluntarily go out on hunting expeditions. 

As presently constituted, their ability to find new business is extremely limited - a sales growth beach ball of impending doom.

This slide represented only one of more than two-dozen difficult business questions that we answer where we use science to explain why companies get the results they get, whether or not the sales force is capable of improving their results, and to what degree those results can be improved.  Are you interested in learning more about a sales force evaluation?

evals

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales growth, sales prospecting, objective management group, revenue growth, OMG Assessment

Getting Emotional at Dunkin Donuts, and Over Social Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

daydream

As I approached the window of my local Dunkin' Donuts, the woman said, "How are you today?"  I paid her and then replied, "I'm fine, and you?"  My response had an extreme delay.  Then she asked if I needed a tray, to which I replied, "No....Sorry, yes."  I was faster this time - with a trick question like whether or not I needed a tray, I had to be quick on my feet!  But I gave her the wrong answer.  Of course, I needed a tray for 3 coffees.

What happened to me?  Was I experiencing symptoms of the early stage of dementia?

My sudden inability to comprehend what was taking place is what happens when your mind is elsewhere.  It happens to salespeople when they aren't able to stay in the moment, maintain complete focus on what their prospects are saying, and respond without thinking several moves ahead or, more typically, about what they want to talk.  It's a form of being emotional.

I wrote about becoming emotional last week in this very popular articleThe Top 5 Mistakes Salespeople Make When Under Pressure.  While both are examples of becoming emotional, we get there in two very different ways!  If you are daydreaming, you are in your own head, and if you are getting frustrated, you are in your own head.  Neither scenario bodes well for selling.  For that matter, it's extremely difficult to coach a salesperson if you are in your own head.

Speaking of coaching salespeople, my annual Sales Leadership Intensive is fast approaching!  It's just 3 weeks away.

September 10 - 11 |  Boston Area  |  2 Days of intense sales leadership training  

If you have any interest in attending, please send me an email and I'll make special arrangements for you.

You might have missed the article that I wrote on Friday last week.  (I never got so many "out of office" messages!)  It was an important article on Why Inbound Cannot Replace Selling and you should read it before the next paragraph.

Not too long ago, the only options for prospecting were either to pick up the phone or knock on a door.  In the 70's and 80's, I would do almost anything to knock on a door rather than call on the phone.  It wasn't very efficient but, back then, I was more comfortable and more effective face-to-face.  Times change and today I would choose the phone over door knocking 100% of the time.  But while there were only 2 options in the 70's and 80's, today there are many more.  Social Selling allows us to connect using Twitter, LinkedIn, email, blogs, Facebook,Google and more.  The problem occurs when people use the newest 6 options instead of the phone.  Ideally, they should be using the newest 6 options in conjunction with the phone.

When people find something they like or an approach that is more comfortable for them, they tend to embrace it to the point of obsession.  But effective selling has never been about what is most comfortable or popular.  Successful selling is about what works most effectively, most of the time, for most people.  They call it Best Practices.

Image Copyright: dundanim / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales best practices, emotional, social selling, sales prospecting

Inc Magazine Gets it Wrong on Sales Prospecting

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, May 31, 2013 @ 01:05 AM

I have to question Geoffrey James for an article that he recently posted on Inc. Magazine's online site.

He opens the article by saying that for most companies "the ability to find potential customers is the difference between growth and bankruptcy."  His opening might be a bit of an exaggeration.  The reality is that it could be the difference between growth and lack of growth because most companies that aren't growing aren't going bankrupt.

In his article, he shares a systematic approach for prospecting "loosely based upon a conversation with Thomas Ray Crowel."  My interpretation of his use of the word "loosely" is that he contributed his own opinions to this systematic approach.  That makes the article all the more disappointing.

In the fifth step of the prospecting call, he says that if the prospect sounds interested, you should skip the script and jump right to the close.  Really?  Isn't this a prospecting call?  He makes it sound more like telemarketing than prospecting for appointments or meetings.  It certainly doesn't apply to a complex B2B sale!

He also suggests that you create a qualifying script using the old - very old - method of authority, budget and need.  If you are selling something that requires authority and budget, then you'll require more than need to get them to spend their money and you certainly wouldn't be able to jump right to the close.  Why would we want to qualify this early?  Until we have heard that they have a compelling reason to buy, they won't have an incentive to answer any qualifying questions!

This systematic approach (250 cold calls/week) is based on a salesperson making cold calls all day.  That in itself is very archaic and when it is performed as a full-time function, it's usually by the lead generation team, not salespeople.  After all, if the salespeople are making 250 calls per week, when would they have time to conduct their scheduled sales calls and meetings?

Geoffrey's subtitle for the article is a "step by step approach for building up a sales pipeline."  Lead generation people don't have pipelines and people who close on the first phone call don't have them either.  His steps and examples are not consistent with salespeople who actually build sales pipelines!

If you need to connect with business prospects and build a sales pipeline, read Frank Belzer's terrific book, Sales Shift.  His book has some truly relevant, modern, effective and efficient methods for finding and closing new business - the new way.  And if you want to pound the phones and dial for dollars, my book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball, has a terrific prospecting section and you can get some terrific tips on reaching 1st base at the Baseline Selling site.

You can also find some good articles on prospecting right here on my Blog.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales shift, frank belzer, cold calling, geoffrey james, sales prospecting

Salespeople Must Use & Embrace Life's Most Embarrassing Moments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 @ 11:09 AM

embarrassedCan you remember that time, back in school, when you did something so embarrassing that you wanted to run away and hide forever?  Of course you do - it was all about you.  But I will wager any amount of money that you are the only one who remembers.  The others who were there that day and anyone you might have told have long forgotten.  It - wasn't - about  - them.

The same phenomenon applies to selling.

You and your salespeople have made dozens of horrible, embarrassing calls to prospects and companies.  While you and your salespeople remember your act of extreme failing, the prospects don't.  They wouldn't remember you, your salespeople or your horrible attempts if their lives depended on it.  Doesn't that mean you could try again and nobody would be the wiser?

Why not make it next month's initiative?

With prospects whom you thought you'd never call again:

  • Prize for most conversations,
  • Prize for most (qualified) meetings scheduled ,
  • Prize for most opportunities entered into the pipeline,
  • Prize for most accounts closed/opened/sold,
  • Prize for the largest sale and/or
  • Prize for the first sale.
Everybody wins!

They won't remember.  Treat it like a first call.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales targeting, sales prospecting, sales incentives, sales contests

Every Sales Assessment Tells a Story - This is Fred's Story

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Dec 18, 2011 @ 22:12 PM

underachieverWhen his boss couldn't understand why Fred wasn't performing, we performed a sales force evaluation and among the things we focused in on was Fred.

Fred's Sales DNA was generally quite good but when it came to his selling skills, there were a few problems that explained everything.

  1. ALL of his skills were top of the funnel skills - in other words, he could prospect and find opportunities but he did not have any skills to gain traction, move the opportunity forward, and get the opportunity closed.
  2. He was not suitable for working independently. He needed to be part of a team.
  3. He was not a self-starter.  He needed a daily prod from a sales manager.
So while the original question was "How come?", the new question is "Is there any hope?"
In Fred's case, the skills can be developed through the appropriate training, the problem with self-starting can be solved with some pro-active sales management - twice daily accountability calls - and the working independently problem can be solved with joint sales calls.
That's Fred's story.
Would you like to hear my story?  Recently I was interviewed by Aaron Ross, for his Predictable Revenue Blog.  This was a little different from most of the interviews of me because we strayed from sales and covered music and fatherhood too.  Click here for the interview.
What's the story behind your non-performers?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, closing, training, sales prospecting, sales assessments

Derek Jeter Shows Salespeople How to Convert Leads to Opportunities

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 13, 2010 @ 15:05 PM

Derek Jeter running out a ground ballDerek Jeter, the leader and all-star shortstop for the New York Yankees, goes all out running hard to first base on every ball he puts into play.  As a result, it's easy for management to expect the same kind of hustle and effort from everyone on the team.  After all, if the star does it, then everyone should do it. Other teams?  Not so much.  David Ortiz of the Boston  Red Sox never runs hard on a ground ball so what does management say to a younger player who also fails to run hard?

The sales force has similar issues.  If your Star Salesperson prospects like crazy it makes your job very simple.   You just point and say "Do what she does and one day you'll get the same results".  Then you hold your salespeople accountable to those expectations, let your top performer lead by example and watch what happens.  But the reality is that most of your Star Salespeople aren't really stars, don't do what stars do and live off of business they developed years ago or worse, off business somebody else developed years ago.  Then what?

Speaking of the grunt work, I read a statistic from one company that showed that they didn't get long term customer value from leads until 6-10 follow up attempts were made. 

SIX TO TEN ATTEMPTS!!!

That's just to get to first base. (Shameless Baseline Selling tie-in there)

How many of your salespeople are giving up WAY before 6 attempts?  

How many of your salespeople simply aren't working leads thoroughly enough?

Tell your salespeople that they're going to have to start running hard to first base on every ball/lead that they put into play.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales management, Closing Sales, Sales Accountability, derek jeter, converting leads to appointments, lead conversion, sales prospecting

If Your Salespeople Can't Prospect They Will Be Marginalized

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 @ 23:03 PM

That's according to Ken Edmundson, my guest on yesterday's edition of Meet the Sales Experts.

He said that business as we see it today is the new normal and that for most companies, taking business away from the competition is the only avenue for rebuilding sales and growth.

Ken said that 80% of all the new business created by professional salespeople takes an average of 18 months to create! 

He said that 75% of the salespeople he trains had made only 4 attempts over 4 months before giving up.

And he said that 21% will hang in there - they're rejection proof and resiliant - but they become pests that prospects won't want to speak to.

The remaining 4% - looks pretty close to my elite 6% - do it right.

Speaking of the elite, here's something you and your salespeople might be interested in.

It's the World's Greatest Salesperson Contest and to enter you just submit a video, via YouTube, of you are selling a Red Brick! Follow that link for contest premise and details.

Click here to Listen to the Radio Show.  Click here to contact Ken.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, sales contest, ken edmundson, sales prospecting

Leads for the Sales Force - Not

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Dec 14, 2008 @ 23:12 PM

I received an email last week from a LinkedIn connection promting his new super duper lead engine that connects salespeople with the most powerful buying influences in the world.

Wow.

I'll be the first to agree that if you're buying a list, one that actually contains the contact information for CEO's, Presidents and other top officers can be much more helpful than a list that targets middle managers.  But let's stop there. 

First, a list with the names of CEO's and Presidents won't help anyone who sells products or services that top executives don't buy.

Second, and let's not fool ourselves on this, these are NOT LEADS!!!  They never were and they never will be.  Call them what they are.  They are names on a list and if hand them to your salespeople and call them leads they'll stop calling after about 5 conversations - lousy leads.  If you let them know that they are simply a tool to help them identify potential customers you'll be in much better shape. Just be sure that they know how to make calls like this. The "how" is the key. If they aren't great at this then it's clearly a waste of time.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales leads, Salesforce, Sales Force, cold calling, sales prospecting

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

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Individual Blog -  Silver

Top Sales Awards 2018 - Article/Post -  Silver


Top Sales Awards 2018 - 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

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