Sales Science and Data Win the Day

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 15, 2017 @ 08:06 AM

science-and-data.jpg

Image Copyright bowie15

As we close in on closing out the first half of 2017 (already!) this is when I share the best articles from the first six months.  Today, it's more difficult to read that article, watch that video, listen to that audio tip or pay attention to any of the great material that is being written by experts so this is a way to catch up and read the best of the best.

There were some really great articles from the first half of the year.  I'll share the top 3 by views, the top 3 by shares and the top 3 by engagement but you'll instantly notice that whether it's views, shares or engagement, sales science and data - stuff you can sink your teeth into - win the day.

Top 3 Articles sorted by most read:

The Official 2017 List of 21 Sales Core Competencies 
How Your Salespeople Measure Up in the 21 Most Crucial Sales Competencies for Modern Selling
New Analysis Shows the 5 Biggest Gaps Between Top and Bottom Sales Performers

Clearly, readers were most interested in science and data!

Top 3 Articles sorted by most shared:

How Your Salespeople Measure Up in the 21 Most Crucial Sales Competencies for Modern Selling

Top 10 Tips to Help You Sell More And Get More Done Than Anyone Else This Year Part 1

7 Reasons Why Salespeople Underperform and How Sales Leaders Can Coach Them Up

 

Top 3 Articles sorted by most engagement:

Top 10 Tips to Help You Sell More And Get More Done Than Anyone Else This Year Part 1

New Analysis Shows the 5 Biggest Gaps Between Top and Bottom Sales Performers

What B2B Companies Must Learn from 10 Reasons Why Amazon is Destroying Retailers

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales science

More Junk Sales Science in HBR Blog

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 14, 2015 @ 15:04 PM

science

What do donuts, chips, cake and ice cream have in common with some of the articles that are written and published about salespeople, sales selection and assessments? That's right, they are all junk and junk is bad for you to consume. Over the years, there has been no better source of junk science written about sales and salespeople than the reputable Harvard Business Review Blog. Recently, they put out another absurdly awful piece, this one written by sales consultant, Steve Martin. As most of these articles do, "What Separates the Strongest Salespeople from the Weakest" attempts to use personality and conditions to differentiate the two groups. This comes on the heels of another horrible article I called out in March 2015, which led to this amazing epic debate on the science of sales, sales assessments, and sales selection. This is why this latest HBR article is yet another example of junk science.The sample size of his research was 800 salespeople plus more than 1,000 interviews he has conducted. In this case, his research consists of a survey, and surveys are not a source of qualitative or quantitative data. As far as the interviews go, if each salesperson was asked identical questions, then they actually would be surveys, and if they were asked different questions, then it's not scientific! Compare his sample size to the nearly 1 million salespeople that we have assessed at Objective Management Group (OMG).

He said the information provides interesting insights.  Insights are opinions - a far cry from the conclusions that come from science.

He identified 6 differentiators:

Verbal Acuity - Martin said that top performers were more articulate and communicated their messages more effectively - 11th and 12th grade skills versus 8th and 9th grade skills. I agree that words are important, messaging is crucial, and presenting in a way that works for the prospect is critical. But it's not about scores in English composition. It's about being concise, simple, and targeted - things that can happen only when salespeople have good listening skills. We've all seen articulate salespeople fail, and we've all seen simple-minded salespeople succeed. 11th and 12th grade communication skills are not predictive and not what should be measured. We should be measuring listening and questioning skills. Top salespeople are great listeners and ask great questions. Those two capabilities cannot only be measured, but they are the causation for verbal acuity .

Achievement Oriented Personality - Martin said that 85% exhibited this personality, which included Goal Orientation, participation in high school sports, and being power users of CRM.  These behaviors are symptomatic, not sources of causation. We all know salespeople who bury themselves in technology, played sports and are goal-oriented, but who can't sell space heaters in Alaska.  At OMG, we measure Strong Desire for Sales Success, and Strong Commitment for sales success, along with Motivation for sales success.  This is not the catchall finding of Drive, but sales-specific measures which are responsible for the behaviors that Martin observed. In the end, for findings to be useful, we must be measuring the right things!

Situational Dominance - He talks of the salesperson who is relaxed and able to guide the conversation. Maybe. But you can't measure that. What you can measure, and what is proven to accomplish the same outcome as the customer taking the salesperson's advice, are Consultative Selling Skills. Martin said test scores for situational dominance were 20% higher for top-performing salespeople, but that's not a big difference. When we look at consultative selling skills, there is a huge delta between top and bottom performers. The general population has on average 21% of the attributes of a consultative seller. The top 26% of all salespeople have more than 56% of those attributes, while the bottom 74% have fewer than 12%!

Inward Pessimism - Martin said that 2/3 of the top performers had inward pessimism. We might be in alignment on this one. We call it healthy skepticism or not being too trusting - not accepting at face value that which a prospect says. According to OMG's statistics, 86% of all salespeople are too trusting, but only 56% of the top performers have the healthy skepticism. I agree that Inward Pessimism is measurable and found in top performers, but his number is not consistent with OMG's data.  Additionally, when this finding is combined with an individual that does not need to be liked, and who has over-the-top assertiveness, we have an individual who comes across as condescending and arrogant - not someone we would want selling for us!

Sales Management Impact - I'm sorry, but sales management impact is not a differentiator between top- and bottom-performing salespeople.  If it were, a sales manager would not have both top- and bottom-performing salespeople!   Sales managers can have a tremendous impact on sales performance overall, especially when they spend half of their time coaching, and when their coaching skills are top-notch, but in most cases, the top salespeople became top salespeople independent of the sales manager.

Sales Organization Influence - Martin stated that 39% of top performers versus 23% of bottom performers were held accountable. That is not a very big difference. Of greater significance is that he said 60% of the top performers are not being held accountable, meaning that the top performers are likely to perform regardless of whether or not they are being held accountable. Being a top performer is not sales organization dependent!

###

There are significant differences between top and bottom performers, but you won't find them in the HBR article or any others like them.  With nearly 1 million rows of data, across more than 200 industries with sales organizations of every size, shape and configuration, the differences reported by OMG between top and bottom sales performers can be seen in both a macro and micro view.  And our data does not come from surveys or interviews!

From a macro view, we can look at OMG's Sales Quotient. This score, between 0 and 173, weighs 4 findings that make up a salesperson's will to sell, the 5 most important Sales DNA findings, and the 6 most important Selling Competencies.  The elite 6% of sales performers have Sales Quotients of 140 and higher.  The next 20% have Sales Quotients above 129, and the remaining 74% typically underperform.

From a micro view, each finding (over 100) is sales-specific, and together, they are extremely predictive of sales success. Unlike personality and behavioral styles assessments where the names of the findings are modified to appear (marketing) as if they actually measure sales skills and behaviors, OMG actually does.

But don't take my word for this, experience it for yourself. A sales force evaluation provides you with answers to 26 difficult to answer questions about your business and the sales force that is your economic engine. OMG's award-winning sales candidate assessments will accurately identify only those salespeople who will succeed in the particular role you have identified for them.

It's important to differentiate between the best and the worst, but you need the right tools to help. Without those tools, you'll find yourself coming up with insignificant differentiators like those identified in the HBR article, or in the Epic Debate. Stay with science and you can't go wrong. Follow faulty conclusions and you'll have more hit or miss sales selection results with an emphasis on miss.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, harvard business review, hbr blog, sales selection, sales science, objective management group

Epic Debate on the Science of OMG's Sales Assessment

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 09, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

 trial

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Sometimes things happen in ways that you never plan for.  Last week, a blog post appeared on another site that listed, 8 Things that the Top 1% of Salespeople Do Differently.  In response, I posted a simple counter argument on my blog.  The extremely popular article was syndicated by CustomerThink.com, where the conversation picked up comments from both doubters and supporters alike.  It was a perfect storm except in this case, it was more like Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments on trial.  You won't believe some of the things that were said!  In my opinion, that very conversation is now the ultimate, defining conversation comparing the science behind OMG's award-winning sales assessments, to gut instinct, faith, intuition and experience.  The conversation explored whether or not the science was accurate, valid, predictive, consistent, and reliable.  The contrarions weighed in, the know-it-alls spoke up, and eventually, the supporters arrived in droves.  If you read only one article/discussion on sales selection tools in your lifetime, this must be the one.  Read and Join the discussion here, but I warn you, it contains a LOT of very compelling and highly-charged reading.

In February, I wrote another extremely popular article which won awards for best article of the day, week and month.  Depending on where it appeared, it had a title of either The 25 Ways That Selling Has Changed or How Dramatically Has Selling Changed?  One of the comments, by Chris Bealle, CEO of ConnectAndSell, asked a similar question about sales management, so last week I wrote How Dramatically Has Sales Leadership Changed for EcSell Institute's in advance of their Spring Coaching Summit (I'll be there speaking about The Four Keys to Selling Value).

As OMG celebrates its 25th year of pioneering, growing and perfecting the science of sales evaluation and sales assessments, I will have a lot more to say on this subject...starting right now.  For many years, Neil Rackham has long been considered the father of sales research.  After all, his body of work includes research on more than 10,000 salespeople, he wrote SPIN Selling, and he has had an impressive career on this side of sales.  As someone who loves comparison data, I would like to remind people that my data and research at OMG is nearing 1 million salespeople evaluated and assessed.  That's almost 100 times more data than Neil Rackham has and I have used it to write several award-winning White Papers.  He has sold more copies of SPIN Selling than I have of my book, Baseline Selling, but he had a 20-year headstart on me...  By the way, if you haven't read Baseline Selling, it continues to be a very popular 5-star read and I receive notes from people every single day telling me how much they love it and the impact it has had on growing their revenue.  Have you read Baseline Selling?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, personality, top sales books, sales selection tool, Validation, sales science, OMG Assessment, Customer Think

Science and the Length of Your Sales Cycle

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 09, 2013 @ 07:10 AM

When Objective Management Group (OMG) evaluates a sales force, 1 of the 26 questions we answer for clients is, Can You Shorten Your Sales Cycle?" 

We have some science behind that and as part of the analysis we conduct on a sales force, we can determine whether they have the skills and sales DNA for that to become a reality.

There are 11 factors that contribute to determining whether a salesperson or sales force can shorten their sale cycle, not including the factors that determine whether or not a salesperson is trainable and/or coachable.

In the screen shot below, this real sales force (names have been changed) has, on average, only 3 of the factors.

Shorten Sales Cycle Factors

One of the 11 factors, that has a great deal to do with the length of the sales cycle, is whether or not the sales force and/or the salespeople have an effective sales process.  As you can see from the image above, nobody was following an effective sales process.  Another really important factor is exactly what salespeople actually believe - what they think - relative to the sales cycle.  In the next screen shot, you might be able to read some of the beliefs that this sales force had around the sales cycle:

SLBeliefsThose two factors alone are enough to double the length of a sales cycle!  There are still 9 more factors that have an impact; however, just from what we've discussed and reviewed so far, it's obvious that this company's sales cycle is M-U-C-H longer than it needs to be.

That gives you a sense for how we go about answering questions for companies.  But there is an additional way!

At my sales consulting company, Kurlan & Associates, we use, love and strongly recommend Membrain as a sales pipeline tool.  They have awesome pipeline analytics that are available right out of the box.  Check out the next 2 screen shots that have to do with - you guessed it - sales cycle length!

Sales Cycle Age

This screen shot basically shows that this company has almost no chance of closing an opportunity beyond 51 days.

Sales Cycle Time in Phase

This screen shot shows that opportunities, that spend more than 10 days in any stage, rarely close.

Sales Science:  When you combine the contributing factors to a long sales cycle and then provide salespeople with actual statistics that show what happens when they allow the sales cycle to extend, we can change behaviors.  When we provide an effective sales process, milestones, qualifiers and effective sales strategies and tactics, we can change results.

Are you using all of the science that you can get your hands on to radically change the way your sales force performs?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, crm, Sales DNA, pipeline management, sales science

View All 1,600 Articles

About Dave

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

Search the site

 

Audio Book
Top 30 on Kindle
Top 100 on Amazon

Most Recent Articles

Awards

 2016 Top Sales & Marketing Individual Blog - Bronze

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Blog Post - Bronze

2016 Top Sales & Marketing Assessment Tool - Gold

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

Dave Kurlan Top 50 Sales Influencer 2015

Sales Pro Insider Blog

Top 50 most innovative sales bloggers

Top100Strategic

Top100SalesInfluencersOnTwitter

Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame Inductee

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

Other Great Sites

top sales world

Evan Elite Promotion New

 alltop