Top 4 Reasons a Great Salesperson Can Fail at Your Company

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 09, 2014 @ 13:10 PM


Earlier this week, I spoke to a great audience of sales leaders at the EcSell Institute Fall Sales Coaching Summit in Dallas where my topic was, How to Hire a Great Salesperson that Will be Great.
I asked the attendees if they had ever hired a great salesperson that still failed and everyone there said, "Yes!"  I asked if anyone could explain how or why a great salesperson could fail, and the group offered up many guesses, but weren’t able to come up with my top 4 reasons. Here they are:

1. They can’t replicate the environment in which they had their success.  For example, suppose that Company X is a huge, well-known enterprise with a model that calls for salespeople to visit with buyers, quote on programs, and come in with the lowest price – regardless of margin.  One salesperson, Joe, has the biggest of those accounts and backed by a pricing model without a bottom, he is their best salesperson by far.
Now let’s pretend that in order to succeed at your company, your salespeople must call on the C-Suite and your prices are higher than your competition.  To make it even more interesting, your company is not very well-known, and your product offerings are new.  Joe, formerly the best salesperson at Company X, applies for a position in your company, and with his winning personality and track record of #1 finishes, you hire him.  This is how one company’s great salesperson can fail at your company.
2. Great is relative.  Let’s use Joe for this example too.  By now, you can see that Joe is more lucky than great.  He was working for the right company, at the right time, and had the best customers.  When compared with the other 150 salespeople in Company X, order takers at best, Joe appears to be great.  I wrote about great being relative earlier this week in this article.

3. They weren’t great at all.  You were feeling some urgency, you needed to fill a position in an important territory, and Joe (with his winning personality, award-winning fictional resume and tremendous interviewing performance) comes along.  It’s love at first meeting.

4. Your Culture is in the way. Sometimes it's just not a good fit and other times the company's on boarding, training, accountability and coaching aren't strong enough to get a new salesperson, even a great one, over the hump to where they are consistently bringing in new business.
The thing is that, in 2014, there is absolutely no reason for companies to be so inept when it comes to hiring salespeople.  Sure, you’ve hired some salespeople that have worked out.  But you’ve also hired salespeople that didn’t work out.  Hit or miss is not a model for success.
So why do companies continue to go it alone, make the same mistakes and continue to hire the wrong salespeople?
Ego.  “I’ve done this a hundred times – I don’t need any help.”  “I know how to recruit salespeople – I don’t need any help.”  Do you know what else this is?  It meets the definition of stupidity.
You can get help building a world-class, sales-specific, recruiting process which, when followed, will save time and money, and consistently result in great sales hires.  At Objective Management Group (OMG), we call that process STAR and most of our certified partners can provide that help.
whitepaper banner You can use a predictive, accurate, sales-specific, candidate assessment at the top of the sales candidate pipeline.  This quickly and accurately identifies the candidates that you do want to interview by phone and in-person while eliminating the candidates that will likely fail in the role for which you are hiring.  OMG’s Sales Candidate Assessment has been voted the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the World for 3 consecutive years.
In our latest version, we added video camera icons alongside all of the findings on the dashboard.  Click and I’ll explain the finding!  When it comes to the actual recommendation, there are more than 500,000 possible combinations that make up the video you will see!  Even better, if you need to hire great salespeople, click the image below for a free trial.
Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial You can use online applicant tracking to gather additional information to help you streamline the process, and determine which of the recommended candidates have the right background for success.  We partner with
ALL of your management issues will disappear when you hire the right salespeople. Truly great salespeople don’t need to be managed, they don’t need to be replaced and you don’t need to babysit them!  All of your time can be spent coaching them up and helping them become even greater.
Isn’t it time that you stop repeating a process that is broken and get the help and tools that will make you a hiring genius?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, sales candidates, hiring mistake, sales selection

Keys to Improved Sales Performance - Part 2 of 4

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Sep 03, 2014 @ 07:09 AM

sales potential

This is the second in a four-part series that will run this week.

See Part 1 here. This is Part 2.

If you are like most folks, you were away for at least part of the summer, took as many long weekends as you could, and worked fewer hours on the days you actually did work.  As part of getting the work done, you deleted as many emails as you could where a reply wasn't required and visited fewer websites and blogs.

That means you missed a lot of what we were discussing this summer.  This series will catch you up in a hurry.

Four days, four categories, with related articles.  Easy.

The Sales Recruiting and Selection Articles

Sales Selection and Recruiting remain a crucial function in improving sales performance.  After all, don't most of the sales performance problems just go away when you get hiring right?  And if that's true, why are so many leaders and companies so resistant and cautious about employing time-tested and proven best practices to improve in this area?  Read on for more...

Top 10 Reasons Why Your Great New Salesperson Might Fail 

Top 10 Sales Recruiting Lessons to Hire Great Salespeople 

What Percentage of Sales Candidates Are Hired? 

Look for Potential in the Next Generation of Sales Hires 

As Good as Your Last Successful Hire - 10 Tips for Consistency 

Share your opinions and let us know what you think about the challenges of recruiting and selection, the shortage of candidates, and the importance of getting it right.


Image Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, Sales Candidate, sales test, personality test

As Good as Your Last Successful Hire - 10 Tips for Consistency

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 @ 13:07 PM


Most executives struggle at maintaining any kind of successful momentum when it comes to consistently hiring salespeople who actually succeed.  It's easy to hire a great salesperson who, when all is said and done, sucks.  It's difficult to hire any salesperson who, in the end,  performs great.  

Let's leave the world of sales and look at my favorite topic for analogies, baseball, and although it's very difficult this year, my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox.  

Under first-year GM, Ben Cherington, the 2012 Red Sox were horrible.  They finished last after 10 years of playoff appearances and World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.  Ben inherited part of that team, but he engineered the draft, trades, signings, releases and promotions that became the final design of the 2012 Red Sox. 

The very same GM made questionable moves during the following off-season, and most experts predicted that the Red Sox would continue to be a team that wasn't very competitive.  The Red Sox fooled everyone and finished first, winning the American League championship and 2013 World Series.  Boston Strong.

A few more off-season moves led to the 2014 team, destined to finish last again.  It will be the first time in Major League Baseball history when a team would go from worst to first and back to worst during three consecutive seasons.

Most fans are wondering how the genius of 2013 could have ended up with such a horrible team just one year later.  Experts point to a lot of possible reasons, but most neglect that this was the same GM who led the 2012 team to a last place finish.

Is he the genius of 2013, or the incapable GM of 2012 and 2014? 

The answer is probably neither, but only time will allow us to judge fully.  [This just in, today he traded Jon Lester and Johnny Gomes for Yuenis Cespedes]

Back to sales.

When a company hires a salesperson who turns out to be awesome, the sales leader is a genius for knowing this person would succeed.  When a company hires a salesperson who turns out to be horrible, the sales leader couldn't have known things would end up this way.  After all, the candidate had a track record of success.

There are 10 things you can do to hedge your bets:

  1. Create and stick to a best practices, sales-specific, recruiting process.
  2. Use and don't vary from a validated, predictive, sales-specific, candidate assessment.
  3. Attract the right candidates with a killer job posting.
  4. Develop strong, sales-specific, interviewing skills.
  5. Identify specific selection criteria and stick to them.
  6. Design a powerful, meaningful, structured, onboarding program for new salespeople.
  7. Improve sales coaching skills and spend more time coaching.
  8. Improve your ability to hold salespeople accountable to agreed-upon KPI's.
  9. Check references.
  10. Prepare new salespeople for success instead of setting them up for failure.
In the end, you're only as good as your last successful hire.  Just ask Ben Cherington!
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Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, Sales Candidate, red sox, ben cherington, sales selection

Look for Potential in the Next Generation of Sales Hires

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 @ 10:07 AM

potentialThe Harvard Business Review finally published a relevant article that I agreed with!  Yeah HBR.  Much too frequently, their articles on selling are written by out-of-touch researchers with little field experience and lots of theories.

21st Century Talent Spotting points to coming talent shortage and the importance of hiring for potential.  The article also instructs readers to evaluate using a predictive tool.  

Resumes tell you where a candidate has been, how long they stayed, and what they did.  References verify that information.  Interviews spotlight the candidate's presence, show their ability to make first impressions, present, and answer questions.  Track records represent their past performance.  With all of that information about their past, how can you possibly gauge potential when hiring for your sales force?

Objective Management Group (OMG) has three candidate assessments that provide companies with exactly that for sales, sales management, and sales leadership (VP/Sales Director).

While personality and behavioral styles tests tell you about a candidate's make-up, OMG's assessments tell you about their Sales DNA, Sales Competencies, Will to Sell (Desire, Commitment, Motivation), and Potential.  Yes, potential.  Make-up is nice to have.  DNA, Competencies, Will to Sell and Potential are must-haves.  OMG is uniquely able to determine and accurately predict whether or not a candidate's combination of will, competencies, and DNA will allow them to succeed in a particular sales role, in your business and industry, selling to your ideal decision-maker, against your competition, with your pricing, sales cycle and challenges.  It's all about potential.

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Findings Related to Potential 

There are eight findings that point to potential:

  1. Growth Potential - how much improvement we can expect from this point forward.
  2. Trainable - whether or not the candidate has the incentive to change and adapt.
  3. Coachable - whether or not the candidate is open to constructive criticism and believes there is room for improvement.
  4. Competency Scores - 8 scores, competencies and tables show both the gaps in each competency as well as the skills that must be developed.
  5. Sales DNA - 6 scores and findings show the gap for each element of Sales DNA and pave the way for improvement.
  6. FIOF - the Figure it Out factor shows how quickly a particular candidate will ramp up and begin selling consistently.
  7. Compatibility - this shows how compatible a candidate is with your selling environment.  The more compatible, the shorter the learning curve.
  8. Longevity - this predicts the likelihood of the candidate still being with you at the point in time where they produce a 5X Return on your investment in them.
  9. Recommendation - this finding predicts whether or not the candidate will succeed in this role.  It's predictive, accurate and lets you know which candidates are worthy of your time throughout the rest of the sales recruiting process.

We believe that hiring for potential is smart hiring.  But beware, the greater the potential, the longer the wait for results.

If you're looking for a candidate to have an immediate impact, you'll want to select a recommended candidate with a lower score on Growth Potential.

Image Copyright: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, hiring sales candidates, sales selection, sales assessments

Top 10 Sales Recruiting Lessons to Hire Great Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 08:07 AM

sales candidatesOne of the first emails I came across this morning was a LinkedIn update telling me that 16% of my network had started new jobs.  16%.  That's one of every 6.25 people I am connected to.

That brings us to this question.  Who's in a LinkedIn network?

I'm very selective about who I connect to on LinkedIn.  Some would suggest that you should connect with as many people as possible.  I'm of the belief that you should connect with people who you know and who know you.  I believe that you should also connect with those who fit the profile of your customers and/or clients as well as the people who can connect you with them.  

I receive twenty requests to join someone else's network for every one I send out, and I don't accept invitations from people I don't know unless they are connected to my target audience. I admit it, I'm a LinkedIn snob.

So with all that said, 16% of my small network, with fewer than 1,000 connections, still means that after we account for those people who I know, but aren't in my target demographic, more than 125 CEO's, Presidents, HR Directors, Sales Directors and Salespeople took new jobs.  2 of them left my company, a bunch of them left clients, and another bunch took jobs with clients.

This is actually very consistent with what we see and what our clients see when recruiting for positions.  There are plenty of senior sales candidates out and about, getting fed up, discouraged, mistreated, and terminated.  At the same time, very few of them have the competencies required to be effective in sales management and sales leadership roles.  You must be extremely selective and that's where it helps to have an awesome Sales Management or Sales Leadership Candidate Assessment like Objective Management Group (OMG) offers.  It is of enormous help in filtering the good-looking candidates from the strong, competent candidates.

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When it comes to sales candidates, there is a certifiable shortage.  Sure, if you post an ad, you'll get resumes, but most of the available (I can't call it talent) candidates are of poor quality.  


We have several tricks that we use to find and attract top talent (I share an awful lot in my blog posts, but we get paid for our best stuff), but the real lessons are these 10:

  1. You must be patient.  Wait for the right one and don't compromise.
  2. Don't hire because of a resume or references.  The success may not be transferrable.
  3. Don't disqualify because of a resume.  It may not be their fault.
  4. Don't disqualify because of a failure.  It could have been cultural or industry-specific.
  5. Track record is good, but not a guarantee of future performance.
  6. It comes down to Motivation, Competencies, Capabilities, Sales DNA and Fit and those must be measured, not claimed or guessed at.
  7. Everything you think you know about recruiting salespeople is probably only half right.
  8. If you don't use an accurate, predictive, sales-specific Candidate Assessment, you'll have better luck spinning the wheel.
  9. Most recruiters are no better at spotting and/or recommending good sales candidates than you.
  10. A good, new salesperson, without formal, structured on-boarding, direction, accountability and coaching, is just as likely to fail as a lousy salesperson.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, Sales Candidate, sales test, personality test

Case History - Achieve Lowest Turnover in the Entire Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 27, 2014 @ 16:05 PM

turnoverFrom time to time, I get pretty cool emails that make me want to write positive articles instead of negative ones.  Today, I got one from an OMG (Objective Management Group) Partner, who wanted to let me know what he learned from one of his clients at a company that you all know quite well (but whose name will be withheld).

He wrote, "They have the lowest turnover of all the departments."

That's good, right?  Maybe not.

The Question That Must be Asked

Why would an enterprise (that has standardized on OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment, had OMG customize it for every sales role in the company, and has terrific data from its first year of use) have one department with significantly lower turnover than all the others?

Could it be any of the following 10 Reasons?

  1. Difficulty of the Role,
  2. Capabilities of the Different Sales Managers,
  3. Differences in the Various Selling Profiles,
  4. Differences in the Criteria for a Recommendation on the Assessment,
  5. Varying Interviewing Skills,
  6. Varying Expectations,
  7. Differences in Team/Department Cultures,
  8. Demand for the Different Products/Services,
  9. Varying Degrees of Competition Across Departments, and/or
  10. Luck of the Draw.

In most companies, each of those possibilities are always in play.  However, in this particular company, it wasn't any of them.

The Actual Reason

In reality, it was a very simple difference and you could say that this department was being really smart or that the other departments were being stupid.  

OMG's customized Sales Candidate Assessments could say that a candidate is recommended, not recommended or worthy of consideration.  They could also indicate that a candidate is recommended ideal or recommended perfect.  Each of these 5 possible recommendations is extremely accurate and predictive.

The department with the lowest turnover followed the recommendations, remained patient, and did not hire any candidates that were not recommended.  The other departments thought they knew better despite very strong statistical evidence to the contrary.  Our statistics AND THEIRS showed that 75% of the candidates who were not recommended, but hired anyway, failed within 6 months.  Why would anyone, anywhere go against a powerful statistic like that?  They're Smarter-Than-Us-Professionals, I declare - or STUPID.

You don't have to reinvent the wheel.  You don't have to be creative.  You don't need magical powers.  And you don't need to perfect your gut instinct.  Just use a tool that is proven to work consistently and reliably, and use it the way it was intended to be used.  And when it comes to sales selection, you'll be in good shape.

Image Copyright: sorapop / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales candidates, sales turnover, objective management, sales selection

Finding the Right Sales and Sales Management Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 22, 2014 @ 12:05 PM

selectionI read this terrific post from our friends at about the best sources for candidates in general.  It certainly applies to sales candidates as well.  Not only are the best sources a moving target, but the candidates themselves can be looked at the same way.

Five years ago, we may have started with, two years ago, and today, we may start with  That represents two major sourcing shifts in just 5 years.  In the same period of time, there have been major shifts in the quality of sales candidates, in the roles those candidates will fill, and the capabilities we need those salespeople to possess.

For example, just 7 years ago, a company may have needed salespeople who could hunt and/or close.  While that still could be true today, it's also possible that inside sales might replace the need for hunting, and a good consultative seller could add enough value to the prospect, his/her business, and the buying process so that great closing skills aren't required.  The competencies of an inside salesperson, hunter, closer, consultative seller and even account manager are vastly different, so it is imperative that we not only define those competencies, but use tools to measure them.  Assessments are the logical choice, but it should be more and more obvious that a personality assessment can't possibly measure the different sales capabilities that would cause one to be effective in one of these roles and ineffective in another.  Objective Management Group (OMG) measures sales-specific capabilities, has configurations for all of the various sales roles, and further customizes those configurations for the specific business, market, competition and decision maker to be called or visited.  Its recommendations are extremely accurate and today it even identifies the intangibles that could cause an otherwise mediocre salesperson to succeed.  

If you would like to learn more about how OMG's sales candidate assessments can help you select the right salespeople, I am leading a complimentary webinar on the magic of the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment.

June 5
11:00 AM Eastern
Register here

Seven years ago, a company may have wanted sales managers who were task masters, holding salespeople accountable to top of the funnel metrics.  While that could still be true today, a company should be looking for a sales manager who is an extremely effective sales coach, who spends 50% of the available time coaching and developing salespeople.

As sources shift, requirements change, and the capabilities of the available candidates become less than what we require, it's more important to develop a sound sales recruiting process that is repeatable, transferrable and delivers consistent results.  In this case, results must equate to successful salespeople and sales managers who achieve and even overachieve.  

This level of consistency and success requires a change in beliefs, a desire to change the status quo, an exasperation with previous attempts and results, and embracing new ways to improve results.  Unfortunately, there are still many executives who have unrealistic expectations about their ability to recruit and select, and that if they do what they have done before, the result will change for the better.

It's not that difficult to get sales selection right, but it does require discipline, patience, process, tools and tremendous sales interviewing skills.

Let us know when you're ready to take that plunge.

Image Copyright: harishmarnad / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales candidates, sales test

Top 5 Reasons You Don't Get More Strong Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 @ 05:03 AM

strong sales candidatesClients frequently ask about the percentage of candidates recommended by Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment and why it is so low.  When clients are feeling the urgency to hire salespeople and too many candidates are not getting recommended, their knee-jerk reaction is to change the customized criteria on the role configuration so that more candidates can be recommended.  In this case, "more" would mean more like the ones they already have instead of more like the stronger ones they said they wanted to hire...

There are many possible reasons why a large percentage of candidates are not being recommended.  Here are some to consider:

  1. Expectations - Clients expect at least half of the candidates to be recommended so the actual percentage is low compared to expectations.  The actual percentage depends on the level of difficulty for the role and the custom requirements specified by the client.  See the normal range of recommended sales candidates.
  2. Compensation - Clients often set the difficulty level of the job really high, hoping to get an extremely strong salesperson.  But they fail to change the compensation, keeping it the same as what they were paying mediocre salespeople.  The result is that only mediocre salespeople apply for the position and when the strong ones don't apply, they can't take the assessment or get recommended!
  3. Customization - Clients go crazy specifying custom criteria and then they don't include the criteria in the job posting.  Then mediocre salespeople apply for the job and don't meet the criteria in the assessment.  The requirements should be included in the job posting!
  4. Contradictions - Criteria that only a strong, experienced salesperson could possibly possess is included in the job posting.  But so is compensation consistent with a mediocre salesperson.  Result?  A reduction in the overall number of candidates because the pool of candidates who meet both the criteria AND can live with the limited compensation is very small.
  5. Industry-Specific - Many executives still believe that their next salesperson must come from their industry.  For some reason, the very people who feel that way, tend to be from the industries that have the worst salespeople.  Nobody gets recommended!
  6. Profiling - (I know the title said "Top 5", but it sounds better than "Top 7".)  Clients create an image of the salesperson they want that makes it sound like profiling.  They want someone young (not EEOC compliant, of course), with a degree, 5 years experience, motivated, energetic, memorable, attractive, well-dressed, professional, trustworthy, and polished.  What does all that have to do with selling effectiveness?  The only one of those 11 items that will impact sales is whether or not they are trustworthy.  Of course, the posting attracts the very candidates that are like this and the wrong salespeople send their resumes and most aren't recommended!
  7. Bad Memory - Clients quickly forget why they chose this assessment in the first place.  They were sick and tired of hiring salespeople who don't work out.  Better to identify the right salespeople in the first place rather than roll the dice.  That good, confident feeling lasts about a month and when the position isn't filled, they long for the good old days when they could fool themselves for a few months while they hope that their latest gamble pans out.

If you want better salespeople, you need to do the work to make sure you attract better salespeople.  You must also exhibit patience while waiting for the right strong salespeople to come along.  They may not be in your first or second round of candidates.

Don't forget to register for Wednesday's Webinar, Leading the Ideal Sales Force Part 2.  I'll be hosting along with my panel of sales experts.  We start at 11 AM Eastern and it will run no longer than 1-hour.

We'll be discussing the following 3 topics:

Blindspots - When Salespeople Finally Have Better Conversations
Blindspots - Fighting for The Candidate You Love 
Blindspots - We Finally Have a Working Pipeline

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, stronger sales candidates, hiring great salespeople, sales candidate assessment

Are You Any Good at Evaluating Sales Talent?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 @ 17:02 PM

MLB Hall of FameWell, are you?

I'll bet you are.  You can probably spot an energetic, motivated, likable, memorable, polished, polite and attractive salesperson from a handshake away.  Aren't those the ones you like best?  Aren't those, especially when they have industry background, the ones you hire?  And don't they all perform just swell?  

No?  Why not?  After all, they met all of your criteria, didn't they?

In baseball, they call it the 5-tool player.  This is the kid who can run, field, throw, hit for average and hit for power.  These kids are the can't miss prospects.  They get drafted in the first round and become perennial All-Stars and Hall-of-Famers.  What's that?  They don't?  Why not?  They have all of the tools...

In the NFL, only 13 players in the Hall of Fame were selected with the first draft pick.  13!

In the NBA, only 8 players, selected with the first pick since 1991, are in the Hall of Fame.

In the MLB, only 5 players, selected in the entire first round (28 picks in the round each year) between 1965 and 1982, are in the Hall of Fame.  That's 5 of 476 first round picks!

There's talent, and then there's the ability to utilize one's talent and most sports talent evaluators are no better at this than most sales managers.

In sports, coaches, GM's and player personnel directors can evaluate skills, but it's more difficult for them to evaluate a player's makeup and how that will translate to performance at the highest levels.

In sales, managers can evaluate soft skills, like the ones I listed in the first paragraph, but not strategic and tactical skills, and not sales DNA, their sales makeup, and how that will translate to performance at their company and in a specific role.

For sales, there are quality tools that can be utilized to help with sales selection.  One such tool is Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment.  It's simply more predictive of sales success in any number of roles and environments than any other tool or assessment.

But the assessment is only as good as the pool of candidates, and that is influenced by the job posting and where that posting is placed.  Most postings are horrible and most are not placed using ideal strategies.

But even the posting is only as good as the role specification and I've never seen a sales manager or HR director get this correct on their own.

Getting selection right depends an awful lot on selection criteria and being able to identify it during a sales interview.  Interviewing salespeople is completely different from interviewing candidates for any other role in a company, so it's no wonder that so few HR professionals and sales managers excel at this.

So, you can evaluate talent.  You just can't predict whether that talent - their personality - will translate.  Use some world-class tools to help you get the job done effectively!

Do you need to transform your sales force?  My article on sales transformation appears on the Selling Power blog.  See it here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales candidates, sales assessments, objective management group, sales transformation, selling power

Global Warming, Social Selling and The Sales Force of Tomorrow

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 08, 2014 @ 04:01 AM

global warmingGlobal Warming is a trend.  Its impact on our future and the role that humans played are both hot topics and subjects of great debate.  In my opinion, the globe has been warming since the end of the ice age.  Humans, with their man-made factories and ozone-depleting products, had nothing to do with the origins of global warming.

The origins of Social Selling go back to early human life too, although, the tools that have given social selling its name are relatively new.  Social Selling is also a trend.  The role it plays and its impact on the future of selling are also hot topics and subjects of great debate.

For example, you only need to read this article and the links within it to get a sense for how strong the opinions are and how much passion is driving those opinions.

Proving that social selling is having a positive effect on results is one of our greatest challenges.  In my opinion, the challenge is the data iself.  Social selling experts use data from the marketing, inbound and inside sales groups with whom they work.  As you might expect from groups who spend all of their time at the top of the sales funnel, there has been a positive impact on their ability to add opportunities to the pipeline.  If every other ratio remains the same, then more opportunities will translate to more sales and greater revenue.  

Experts who work with traditionally built sales forces look at their data and don't see the same impact, especially on win rates and sales cycle length.  The obvious takeaway is that social selling's greatest early success is not only its ability to help sellers move more opportunities into the pipeline, but to do it more passively compared with more traditional methods.

That doesn't mean that social selling has no place or impact on the traditional sales force.   Let's look at the impact from a different perspective.  How does Social Selling affect A's differently from how it affects B's and C's?

Let's start with A players which, according to our data at Objective Management Group (OMG), represent the top 6%.  They are great salespeople, performing at elite levels, and if you provide them with great new tools, they still will be performing at an elite level.  There won't be a statistically significant difference.  

How about the C players which OMG defines as the bottom 74%?  These salespeople are mediocre at best and that's being polite.  When I'm not being as kind, I would say that the bottom 74% just plain suck!  If you provide this group with great new tools and direct them to make use of the tools and methods, they would still be crappy salespeople.  Most prospects would decline to engage (just as they would with their traditional approaches) and the impact of social selling would be statistically insignificant.

That leaves the B's.  OMG defines them as the 20% of salespeople who rank between the elite and the crappy.  They are very good salespeople.  This is the group where we would see the most significant change in results from social selling.  These salespeople understand that Social Selling, used effectively, gives them an edge and this group will leverage anything and everything to improve their results.

Some might say that while this makes sense, it represents such a small percentage of salespeople that it can't have a significant impact.  That is short-sighted thinking.  It only represents a small percentage of salespeople when a company has a poor track record with recruiting and sales selection.  If more focus and attention were given to this aspect of building a kick-ass sales force, the entire team would have ONLY A's and B's.  There would be no tolerance for C's!

As with nearly every sales metric, results are directly correlated to the caliber of the salespeople.  When companies emphasize selecting the right people, most challenges (from the use of CRM, to following a sales process, to meeting and exceeding quotas) fade away.

In 2014, focus on upgrading your sales force, not on integration of tools.  The correct salespeople won't need to be led to the promised land.  They already work there!  The more immediate question is, how do you know whether or not you have accurately graded your salespeople?  After all, the only salespeople you can compare them with are those that have worked for you.  How would they compare with the other 650,000 salespeople that OMG has evaluated and scored?  Of even more importance, what will you do if you learn that the salespeople you thought to be A's and B's are really B's and C's?  We have sophisticated algorithms that tell us which C's can be saved and developed and which C's can't.  Isn't it time to learn the truth about your sales force?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales recruiting, sales candidates, social selling, sales selection, sales assessments, objective management group

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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.

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