Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 06, 2018 @ 22:09 PM

science

You must have heard the joke that 73.6% of statistics are made up!

I have read and even reported that sales leaders who coach their salespeople see a boost in revenue of around 27%.  It sounds like a realistic number but I have not seen any science to back it up.  Until now.  Check this out!

OMG has evaluated and assessed nearly 1.8 million salespeople and sales managers from 25,000 companies.  The data in the table below is from a subset of that data where we looked at around 16,000 salespeople who reported to approximately 4,000 sales managers.  The title row shows the percentage of time the sales managers devoted to coaching their salespeople and the 6 rows below that show the average scores for the salespeople that report to those managers.  Sales Percentile is the percentile that a salesperson scored in.  Sales DNA is an overall score for 6 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that OMG measures.  Hunter, Consultative, Qualifier and Closer are 4 of the 7 Tactical selling competencies that OMG measures.  If you're interested, you can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies and how salespeople score by industry and skill here.

coaching-increase-sales

Do you remember that 27% number?  The first row reveals that sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching salespeople (last column on the right) have salespeople whose sales percentile score is 28% higher than those managers who devoted little to none of their time coaching.  How is that for science to back up somebody's incredibly accurate wild-ass guess?

There's another interesting find in this data.  Average scores for hunting were not further improved after a manager is devoting at least 20% of their time to coaching.  This suggests that sales managers who coach more don't spend their coaching time helping salespeople work on their prospecting skills.

Another interesting takeaway can be seen in the Consultative scores.  This competency shows the smallest gain in average score.  Given how difficult it is to effectively take the consultative approach, this suggests that despite coaching more often, those sales managers lack the consultative skills needed to coach their salespeople on the consultative approach.

If Consultative scores show the smallest gain, where can the biggest gains be found?  Qualifying and Closing.  Sales managers who devote at least 50% of their time to coaching have salespeople who score 13% better in Qualifying and 24% better in closing than the salespeople whose sales managers rarely coach.

This data was not filtered by coaching effectiveness so their was no assumption that the coaching was good coaching; only that there was coaching.  What would happen if in addition to the time these managers devote to coaching, they were also becoming more effective at coaching?  The answer is revealed in this article by John Pattison.

Topics: sales data, Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, Consultative Selling, sales qualification, Closing Sales, sales core competencies, omg, sales growth, sales improvement

Bad Guys - How We Lost This Deal

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 @ 13:02 PM

lost-the-deal

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Lost deals, as well as sales calls and sales meetings that go south, make up a huge portion of our coaching calls with clients and their salespeople.  After all, everyone can learn a lot more from what went wrong than they can from what went right.  We also coach clients and their salespeople on how to win the deals that are currently in the later stages of their pipelines.  They tend to be overly optimistic, so for a dose of reality, we always ask about what could possibly go wrong.  They rarely know what could go wrong, so we help them out and introduce them to a long list of possibilities.

Today, Murphy's Law made a rare appearance at our company.  My favorite law from Murphy is, "Beauty is only skin deep. Ugly goes straight to the bone." Unfortunately, that wasn't the law that appeared.  Of course, it was, "If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong."  Here's what happened...Last week, we received a verbal go ahead from the CEO of a company and a formal agreement was to be signed today.  There didn't seem to be anything that could derail this deal and in addition, they had tremendous urgency to get started.  They knew they needed help and in my opinion, things were even worse than what they thought.

Last week, they were very excited about what we could do to help and couldn't wait to get started.  We were talking with both the Chairman and the CEO, so we couldn't have gone any higher in the company.  We are uniquely qualified to provide the very specific help that they required in both the short and long term and there was terrific alignment on both sides of the table.

Blindsided

Today, we learned that they were going with another company due to the relationships that two of their outside investors had with the competitor.

Wait a minute...what outside investors?  Isn't the chairman the outside investor?

How did we miss that?  

In an action adventure novel, there is never only one bad guy trying to kill the hero; there are always at least two!  And the mastermind never sends just one team of bad guys, he always sends a backup team just in case his first team fails.  

Remember this!!  It doesn't matter whether we are talking about bad guys or outside investors.  There are always at least two!!

It turns out that there are more than two more outside investors.  Would knowing that last week have changed anything?  Maybe.  We could have asked if the outside investors would have input.  We could have asked to include them in the conversation.  We could have asked if they knew anybody in our business.  We could have asked what would happen if they wanted to work with someone they had personal experience with.  We could have sold them on working with us.  We could have done more than we did.

The Lesson

In professional sales, there is a qualified opportunity and then there is thoroughly qualified opportunity.  On the opportunity in question, we substituted qualified for thoroughly qualified.  It does not help to know that our version of qualified is still at least 10 times more qualified than what the typical salesperson calls qualified.  Does-not-matter-one-bit.  If you miss something, whether or not you should have known about it, you still missed it.  If something catches you by surprise after the fact, you still missed it.  If a new competitor, a new stakeholder, a new issue, a new budget, or even a new time line comes up at the 12th hour, you still missed it.

It's our job to know everything.  We failed because we didn't do our job.

There is yet another way to lose a deal and that's by losing control of your emotions.  Read this article on the Hubspot Blog for more.

Join me for one of the following free presentations coming up in the next couple of weeks:

February 19 at Noon Eastern: How to Hire Your Next Salesperson presented by TAB.

February 26 at 11 AM Eastern: The Magic Behind OMG's Legendary Sales Candidate Assessments presented by Objective Management Group

March 5 at 9 AM Eastern: The Power of Sales Process and Pipeline Management/CRM presented by Membrain and Kurlan & Associates

Finally, the latest issue of Top Sales World Magazine is available today.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales qualification, reaching decision makers, lost sale, lost deal, outside investors

Impact of Sales Process Versus Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 14, 2013 @ 13:05 PM

impactWe are in the middle of the first day of our 2-day Sales Leadership Intensive.  While most attendees admit that they must be more effective at coaching, many who said they have some kind of sales process in place didn't come to the same conclusion.  So, why is it so obvious to sales leaders that they need to improve their coaching, but so elusive that they need to improve their sales process?  

Change occurs in direct proportion to the availability of immediate feedback.  

You get instant feedback from coaching.  Your coaching either makes a profound difference - right here and now - and leads to an otherwise unobtainable sale; or it makes no difference, falls on deaf ears, gets an insincere thank you, and causes a salesperson to avoid future coaching.  

Of course, there is a gray area where coaching is sometimes or moderately effective, but even that provides some immediate feedback.  

With sales process, the feedback is either delayed - by months or years - or non-existent to the point where you can't determine whether your process had any impact on your success or failure.  Without feedback, you lose perspective on whether you have the right stages, steps, milestones, to-do's, or sequence. It might be even more important to get your sequence right than your steps and milestones.  

Here's the catch.  As crucial as it is to be more effective at coaching, coaching conducted outside of an effective sales process and without the context of a staged, optimized sales process may be far less effective than it should be.  [update - Frank just posted this related article]

So, how can you determine whether your existing process is any good?  There's an app for that.  Not really, but we do have a free tool that you can use to find out.  It will give you a score and that comes in the form of immediate feedback.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Coaching, sales management functions, sales qualification

Top 5 Reasons Why Salespeople Don't Qualify Effectively

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 @ 12:04 PM

qualifiedLast week, I posted this article in reference to an Inc. Magazine article that was way off base about Consultative Selling.  It led to a significant number of comments with one of them being this question:

"Dave, in your opinion, with all the training that is available and has been delivered to sales people over the years, how come sales people still fail at executing an effective approach to qualifying a prospect. Forget what we want to call the approach. Just basic fundamentals like asking questions. This is known throughout the selling universe but sales people still suck at this. How come?"

Great question.  Here are my top 6 reasons why:

1. Hidden weaknesses get in the way. The top 7 that impact qualifying are:

  • Need for Approval (making friends is more important than closing business), 
  • Too Trusting (they believe the stalls and put-offs), 
  • Rejection (they won't ask questions that could cause a prospect to reject them), 
  • Discomfort Talking Money (they won't have the financial conversation that goes along with thorough qualifying), 
  • Lack of Commitment (they won't do what it takes, including asking questions that make them uncomfortable) 
  • Non-Supportive Buy Cycle (the way that salespeople buy things doesn't support ideal sales outcomes)
  • Tendency to Get Emotional (I was so excited to close the business so I got right to the point)  

2. Their sales managers are not holding them accountable for qualifying. There isn't much of a reason for them to do anything when nobody is encouraging and/or forcing them do.  
  
3. Their lack of adherance to a formal, structured, sales process allows them to sell by the seat of their pants, and skip directly to a presentation, demo, proposal or quote. That makes qualification an afterthought.  
  
4. If they attempt to qualify, they might learn that the opportunity is not qualified. Oh no - they'll have to find another opportunity to work on!  
  
5. They don't have to qualify because they already know, by reputation, without having to ask, that the opportunity is perfect. Yeah, right.

6. They aren't selling consultatively and as a result, aren't uncovering the compelling reasons for a prospect to spend money.  That creates the urgency for a prospect to take action at which point they'll almost self-qualify.  If they are selling transactionally, prospects typically won't cooperate at the qualification stage because, well, why should they?

Of course there are more, like:

  • Ignorance - Qualify?  What's that?
  • Skills and Tactics - How am I supposed to know how their decision-making process will work?
  • Stupidity - Why do I need to speak with the decision-maker?
  • Naïveté - The buyer told me that I'll be getting the business!
Lack of qualification is viral and chronic and the only way to stop it is to do the following:
  • Evaluate the Sales Force - You must know which weaknesses are at the heart of it and you must be able to identify the skill gaps.  This is not a DIY project!
  • Have a customized, formal, structured sales process developed.
  • Train the sales managers to coach the appropriate way.
  • Provide sales training to overcome weaknesses and solve the skill gap.
  • Make sure the sales training is truly Consultative Selling - no short cuts.
You can begin the challenge of helping your salespeople overcome this problem at our May Sales Leadership Intensive.
dka sales leadership event button

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Coaching, sales management functions, sales qualification

6 Keys to Make All Sales Calls Easy Sales Calls

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 28, 2012 @ 16:08 PM

easySome sales calls just go so well, flow so smoothly and have little to no resistance.  Some have no competition, others have plenty of money and a few allow unlimited access to senior decision-makers.  Some of your sales happen so quickly that you wonder why they can't all be that easy.

Your salespeople can have more easy calls, but you'll have to change up a few things.  

  1. They'll need to qualify much more thoroughly.  Those easy sales were already prequalified, but it wasn't your salespeople who did the thorough qualifying.  The customers just happened to meet all of the criteria.
  2. They'll need to differentiate much more effectively.  Your company was differentiated because your customer had already eliminated your competitors.  They were ready for you!
  3. They'll need to do a better job of selling value.  Your company's value proposition was well-known to your customer before your salesperson called or appeared.

For the prior three things to occur on a regular basis, your salespeople must become proficient at selling more consultatively.  When all is said and done, that means being able to do three things better than your competition:

  1. Listen,
  2. Ask good, tough, timely questions and
  3. Uncover the compelling reasons to buy from you.
Those easy sales were those customers who had compelling reasons to buy from you, but your salespeople may not have known what they were.  Your salespeople must develop superior listening skills, superior questioning skills and a superior ability to continue asking relevant questions until they have uncovered the compelling reasons to buy from you.  Those compelling reasons could be the consequences of problems or opportunities.  Either way, most salespeople fail to learn about the problems and opportunities, never getting close to consequences or, even deeper, to personal feelings.
That's the secret to consistent easy selling.   By easy, I mean that they consistently get the business without much resistance, delay and the advantage of having the lowest prices.  Do your salespeople find the going difficult or easy?  
One of the biggest questions for companies today is the challenge of whether their salespeople can make the transition from transactional selling (demo or present, quote or propose and close) to consultative selling.  A sales force evaluation will answer that question and so much more.

Topics: sales blog, sales culture, sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales qualification, easy selling

Who Should Your Sales Force Call On?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jan 27, 2009 @ 16:01 PM

It's not always obvious.  If your company sells oil drilling rigs to oil companies, then your salespeople know who to call on.  If your company sell luxury cars to wealthy people, you know where to find your prospects. But what if you sell products or services that could be sold to a much broader range of customers or clients?  Who should your salespeople call on then?

Today we conducted an exercise like this at Kurlan & Associates and listed our most recent 50 client companies.  Then we identified potential attributes of those clients that we felt were "good" ones, attributes that could more effectively narrow our focus.

We looked at possible criteria such as:

 

  • Size of the company
  • Title of our client
  • Money spent with our firm
  • Length of the relationship
  • Whether they evangelized internally
  • Whether they evangelized externally
  • Whether they introduced us to new clients
  • The quality of our relationship
  • How happy they were with our firm
When we applied these criteria to the 50 clients we selected, 30 of them met our initial criteria and 14 did not.  Of the 14 that did not, at least half of them failed to meet the criteria because we hadn't worked with them long enough to be introduced to a new client.  Most of the clients were all over the map with regard to their size and how much they spent with us. Some evangelized internally and some externally.  Some did both.  Most were Presidents and CEO's.
 
Then we looked at where these clients came from and we identified the following sources:
 
  • client introduction
  • cold call
  • heard one of us speak at an event
  • web site lead
  • Baseline Selling lead
While all of the sources above were well represented, the majority of the clients came from introductions from other happy clients.
 
Still not having anything conclusive, we had a group discussion and found a single common denominator.  All of the clients we considered "good" (45 of the 50) were fully committed to improving their sales organizations.
 
While that is a nice formula for predicting success with a client, the "committed to improving sales" criteria isn't readily available demographic information.  However, it is a question that can be effectively used for qualifying opportunities.
 
Here's my question for you:  If it benefits you to put your sales force through this exercise, will you be able to identify criteria that makes it easier to target "good" customers?
 
(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan 

 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Salesforce, Sales Force, targeting prospects, prospecting, sales qualification, sales criteria

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

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