5 Sales Hiring Mistakes and Fake Resume Claims

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 10, 2017 @ 06:10 AM

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I always enjoy reading articles that expose things I don't know about topics I enjoy, like 7 Unsung Built-in Gems in Mac OS X. I had the opportunity to provide that kind of training to a dozen or so sales leaders on some of the less obvious findings and relationships in Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments and how to use them. We also discussed which of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that we measure were pertinent to their different sales roles and why.  One of the regional sales managers asked, "What are the 5 Biggest Mistakes that Sales Managers Make When Recruiting Salespeople?"

While that question is quite easy to answer, most companies, including their recruiters, HR professionals, sales leaders and executives are guilty of some or all of the following 5 mistakes:

  1. Their job posting fails.  Most sales job postings all read the same.  Great job, great company, great opportunity, great benefits, blah, blah, blah.  And even if you are using the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet, it won't help at all if your job posting lures the wrong candidates into the pool.  Describe the candidate along with the experiences you hope they had and the capabilities they must have to succeed in your role.
  2. They wait too long to assess their candidates.  If you wait to assess until after you have interviewed, you won't embrace the findings and recommendation on the assessment unless they support how you feel about the candidate.  If you already fell in love with the candidate and the assessment says "Not Recommended" and you ignore the recommendation it will lead to a hiring mistake.  Assess every candidate immediately after you receive their online application or resume and then you won't  accidentally ignore a candidate whose resume suggests a bad fit but whose assessment scores suggest a very capable salesperson for the role.
  3. They don't properly on board.  They say, "We're using the best assessment and the salesperson was recommended so she should know what to do."  Wrong.  Every new salesperson deserves proper on boarding so that you can prepare them for success instead of setting them up for failure.
  4. They don't thoroughly interview the candidate.  It doesn't have to be a long interview but it needs to be thorough.  You need to dig deep behind every resume claim to separate fact from fiction.  Here are the top 5 examples of claims that sound great but actually turn out to be bogus when you learn about the all important context (in parentheses) for the claim:
    1. Top salesperson  (out of 2)
    2. President's Club (for all salespeople who hit 75% of quota)
    3. Grew annual sales in territory by 200% (from $40,000 to $120,000)
    4. Doubled size of the territory in the first year (closed one big deal that was in the pipeline when he arrived)
    5. Uses words like developed, initiated, led, created, or built in reference to sales programs (did not actually sell anything).
  5. They don't set expectations, coach to those expectations and hold the salesperson accountable for achieving those expectations in the first 90 days.

These five mistakes are easy to correct and then companies will experience far greater success and consistency with their new sales hires.  In most cases, the only thing preventing companies from making these changes is the self-limiting belief that "we've always done it this way."

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales candidates, sales selection, sales assessments, OMG Assessment

Applicant Tracking and Sales Candidate Assessments Fit Like Ducks Take to Water

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 21, 2016 @ 06:11 AM

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I was reviewing this page which shows the market share for most of the known applicant tracking systems.  I was impressed with the analysis and with how much of the market share is held by Taleo.  I was also disappointed that there isn't a comprarable study available on sales candidate assessments.  But that's a rant for another day.  Back to the Applicant Tracking analysis.  My first takeaway is that it validated what I knew only anecdotally -that just about every mid-market and large company are using cloud-based applicant tracking systems and smaller companies are quickly moving in that direction too.  It makes sense. If companies are using cloud-based job sites to source candidates, then it only makes sense that they would be integrating applicant tracking as well.

My second takeaway is that with all of these companies sourcing from the cloud and tracking from the cloud, why aren't more of them using the best sales candidate assessment in the cloud?  I have 4 possible answers to that question:

(1) Legal groups in some companies warn against using an assessment for selection puproses.  In an effort to protect their company and its CEO from legal action, they fail to recognize that role-specific assessments do not present any vulnerabilities.  While personality assessments present a legal risk when used for selection, role-specific assessments, like Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments, do not present a risk because they assess to determine whether the candidate has the necessary skills for that specific role.  You can't say that about personality assessmenta.

(2) Some Sales Leaders don't utilize sales candidate assessments because they believe their own instincts and experience will outperform an assessment.  And Sales Leaders do get selection right - about half of the time.  Unfortunately, getting it right doesn't mean that they didn't have turnover. Getting it right should mean that the new salespeople met or exceeded quota.  Using that criteria, 50% right would be a generous number. Ironically, sales leaders could get selection right close to 90% of the time if they used OMG's accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.

(3) Some HR Leaders won't use sales candidate assessments because they have a sense of familiarity with some of the popular personality and behavioral styles assessments.  Ironically, they don't need to stop using those assessments as they do provide some nice information about candidates.  However, those assessments weren't built for or intended for sales and they aren't predictive of sales performance.  Using a predictive sales candidate assessment along side of a familiar personality or behavioral styles assessment will vastly improve sales selection accuracy.

(4) Some CEO's don't use any assessments because they don't belive in them!  I can understand that.  If their only experience with assessments was with a "lighter" assessment - like one of the many versions of the popular DISC behavioral styles assessment, it makes sense that they don't believe that one of those will help improve selection.  But they need to look beyond what they themselves are comfortable with and have experience with and trust their HR and Sales Leaders and do what's best for their company, not what's best for themselves.

Why should a company use applicant tracking and sales candidate assessments to improve their sales selection consistency?  To avoid the cost of a hiring mistake.  For sales hiring mistakes, estimates run from between $100,000 to over $1,000,000. Of course it depends on the role, salary, length of the sales cycle, recruiting, training and development costs, and whether or not a company includes lost opportunities in its calculations.  If you don't know how much a sales hiring mistake costs at your company, you can use this free sales hiring mistake calculatorto figure it out.

Our statistics show that just one hiring mistake will cost between 20 and 50 times the investment you made in a predictive sales assessment.  

For example, let's say that you were going to hire one salesperson.  If you get selection right half of the time, you'll actually hire 2 salespeople to get the 1 that performs.  Your cost to use the assessment was no more than $2,500 and your cost to recruit, hire, train, develop and compensate the salesperson who failed was $65,000 for six months - 26 times the cost of the assessment.

Let's try it with 10 salespeople.  Let's say that you are better than average and only 3 of the 10 didn't make it.  You paid no more than $10,000 to use the assessment and your hard costs for the 3 salespeople who failed totaled $195,000 - 20 times the cost of the assessment.

There really aren't any good reasons to avoid using a proven, accurate, customizable, predictive sales candidate assessment.  What's holding you back?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, sales assessements, hiring mistake, sales selection, personality test

Are Millennials Who Enter Sales Better or Worse Than the Rest of the Sales Population?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 31, 2016 @ 12:08 PM

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Image Copyright: kchung / 123RF Stock Photo

Millennials are more independent, more spoiled, have a shorter attention span, tend to be more into their technology than into people, don't like working traditional hours, and don't enjoy working in traditional ways.  That said, would you expect them to be better or worse suited for selling than the generations who came before them?

I took to the data to see what story it might tell. I found data on more than 43,000 millennials in sales and here is what I learned.  This information should be very helpful for hiring new salespeople and developing them as well.

To get a sense for the actual comparison, I looked at four data sets:

  1. All Millennials
  2. The Top 10% of Millennials
  3. The Top 10% of Salespeople with 10+ years in sales and in their industry
  4. All Salespeople with 10+ years in sales and in their industry

So how do Millennials compare?  

Chris Mott, my trusted colleague and friend, specified the first dashboard - how all millennials scored. Sales Quotient, the overall score, is shown in the top right corner.  108 is weak.  Sales DNA, the combination of strengths, is shown in the middle.  61 represents a salesperson that will not be able to execute sales process, strategies, skills and tactics because the strengths are actually weaknesses.  Commitment, the willingness to do what it takes to achieve greater success in sales is shown in the upper left hand section.  53% represents a lack of commitment.  You'll notice that Handling Rejection and Relationship Building are the only two areas where millennials scored well in the areas of Sales DNA and Selling Competencies.  Scroll down for more.

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After Chris showed me the first dashboard, I populated the next dashboard with veteran salespeople with 10 or more years in sales.  You can see that as a group, they have higher scores in all of the areas we discussed relative to the previous dashboard, except - and this is a head turner - Relationship Building!  Who could have seen that coming?  Interestingly, they score 39% on Responsibility which means they are twice more likely to make excuses than their younger colleagues.  In this comparison, based on their Sales Quotients, the older salespeople are at least serviceable while the Millennials are simply weak.  Scroll down for more.

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The third dashboard represents veteran salespeople again, but this time only the top 10%.  As you can see, the top 10% are elite, with Sales Quotients averaging 142 and Sales DNA averaging 83.  Nearly every score is in the green and all of the scores are higher than either of the two prior groups.  These are the salespeople you want to hire!  And wherever possible, you want to coach up your existing salespeople to be like the top 10%.  Scroll down for more.

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The fourth dashboard represents the Top 10% of Millennials.  It isn't very different from the top 10% of Veteran Salespeople with the notable exception of their respective scores for Figure-it-Out-Factor, or how quickly they will ramp up.  Notice the low score on Relationship Building!  This group scores the highest on Desire, Responsibility, Outlook, Sales DNA and Coachable!!  Scroll down for more.

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It should be clear from this comparison that overall, Millennials are not a great choice for sales.  However, the Top 10% of Millennials are an excellent choice for sales!  So the million dollar question is, when you are hiring salespeople, and millennials are in the mix, how do you determine whether they are millennials of the 108 Sales Quotient or of the 143 Sales Quotient?

I apologize.  That was a trick question. As you can see from the dashboard of all Veteran salespeople, that group only averages a 121 on Sales Quotient. It shouldn't matter whether millennials are in the mix or not. You need the ability to differentiate between the 140's, 120's and 100's with every candidate, and do it as early in the sales recruiting process as possible.  Weed out the undesirable sales candidates in the very first step!  So how can you tell whether you have a 140 or a 108?  Use Objective Management Group's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments. They're built on science and customizable for your business and selling role.  

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, top salespeople, Sales Candidate, sales selection, objective management group, OMG Assessment

The Craziest, Most Unusual Sales Selection Criteria and What Really Works

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 09, 2016 @ 11:08 AM

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It was just last month that I wrote this hugely popular article about the tech buyer who hated salespeople.  In the first paragraph I mentioned that I had a crazy case of poison ivy.  At about the one-week point, I started searching Google to find anything that might help ease the itching and discomfort. As you might guess, the remedies I found included some very crazy things that common sense would tell you to stay away from.  Well, in the 31 years I've been in the sales consulting business, I have heard some very crazy sales selection criteria too.  When salespeople are hired but don't work out, executives and in some cases, entire industries, stick their head in the sand and call it normal or acceptable.  Life insurance, where turnover can run as high as 90%, is a perfect example of this.  Insurance industry executives say that it's perfectly normal.  However, outside of the insurance industry, most executives will try just about any remedy to stop the discomfort.  Here are some of the craziest I've seen.

A telecommunications company had to hire 300 salespeople.  By the time they called me they had hired 500 but only employed 150 salespeople.  You can do that math but it comes to 70% turnover.  In their case, it got so bad that they added the following selection criteria:

  • firm handshake
  • good eye contact
  • nice smile showing teeth
  • able to survive a round-trip car ride from upstate NY to Boston with the hiring manager

They did not have a clue as to why their salespeople weren't staying or succeeding and were willing to try anything to fix the problem.  Unfortunately, "anything" did not include identifying the real problem, which was the culture, and the sales managers who were doing the selecting and the on boarding.

A SaaS company was turning over SDR's at a rate of 50% and wanted to improve their retention.  They had been hiring from the 25 and under demographic and and decided that young was not quite enough. They "improved" on young by adding recent college graduates to their criteria and turnover went from 50% to 70%.  Apparently the recent grads were a lot smarter than the high school grads and most of them determined that the role wasn't for them earlier in their employment.

A technology company was turning over 100% of its territory sales reps.  They were a startup, with a brand new technology, higher prices than traditional companies in their space, and definitely not the safe decision for tech buyers.  Prospects were resistant to meet with them , resistant to change, and resistant to paying more.  The company's primary selection criteria was to hire salespeople from their top competitors where, they had never faced resistance, always had the lowest prices, and never had any difficulty scheduling meetings. Needless to say, at this new tech company, the salespeople failed with tremendous consistency.

But the winners of the worst sales selection criteria competition are the thousands of companies who believe that hiring people with good personalities will get the job done. While it could get the job done it would be a complete accident, not their personality making a difference.  Sales is more difficult than at any time in our history.  It has changed dramatically in the past 7 years.  Even professional salespeople who were successful ten years ago, are struggling to those results today.  Why would someone who possesses a resume of "great personality" be able to achieve sales success where professionals have failed?

Suppose you need to boil water for your dinner.  While there are many ways to do that, most of us will stick to the method where you simply apply heat to a pot.  You could burn some wood, but the timing would be more predictable if you place the pot on the stove.  Sure, you could add in lighter fluid, gun powder, or dynamite and throw in a match. While those 3 methods will certainly boil the water in a hurry, you won't be very happy with the overall results as you look down upon what's left of your house from your comfortable perch in Heaven.  You boiled the water - congratulations over your complete stupidity and carelessness.

Yesterday, in a LinkedIn group discussion about evaluating salespeople, members were requesting some home-grown survey form from one of the contributors, rather than looking at a professional, time-tested solution.  Stupidity!

Like I wrote in the forum, there are many ways to select salespeople and they all provide some benefit.  However, when there is already a proven, time-tested, accurate and predictable tool available, why would anyone consider the dynamite option?  It's completely customizable, easy to use, and a lot more affordable than adding the equivalent of gun powder - making a sales hiring mistake which, on average, can cost $250,000 or more in soft and hard costs. 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, omg, sales hiring tools, sales selection

The One Sales Data Point That Varies Wildly

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 13, 2016 @ 06:06 AM

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In my last article, we discussed big data and big lies in the sales assessment space and touched on OMG's 230,000,000 data points.  Most of the data points are very consistent across cultures and continents, but there is one that varies wildly depending on the role, the country, and the culture.

One of the many OMG findings is "Enjoys Selling."  Recently, we performed an analysis of those salespeople who had Strong Desire and Strong Commitment toward sales success, but who did not Enjoy Selling and were not Motivated.  It is a very rare combination - we see it in only 1 in 400 salespeople - except in countries, cultures and companies where the emphasis is on hiring entry-level salespeople.  Then, the rate of occurrence can be as high as 1 in 200.  Still rare, but twice as likely to occur.  To put this in context, fewer than 5% of salespeople don't enjoy selling, and fewer than 5% aren't motivated.  But only 1 in 400 have both of these as weaknesses, yet still have both strong Desire and Commitment.  Who are these salespeople?  How can they be committed and have strong desire, but not enjoy it or be motivated? Intrigued?

I don't have a scientific answer for this question, but I do have some possibilities.

Some feel obligated to sell.  They are in a family business and they are part of the family.  They feel obligated to a parent, grandparent, spouse, uncle, aunt or in-law.

Some are selling for the first time and they want to succeed - at whatever they do. They are pushing through - not because they enjoy selling and feel motivated to sell - because they have a need to get their careers off to a good start.

Some are aging career salespeople and need to succeed because they are nearing retirement.  They no longer enjoy selling and no longer feel motivated to sell, but they are pushing through out of necessity.

So if this anomaly represents such a small percentage of salespeople, why did I bother to write about it?

Because you might have one of these people working for or applying for a job one day and you should understand the hidden factors that will have an affect on their results.

According to recent Gallop research, there is a 20% improvement in sales when companies select the right salespeople.  OMG can help you select the right salespeople with the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment and the one that has been named the Top Sales Candidate Assessment for 5 consecutive years.

The Tenfold Blog quoted 20 Business and Sales Leaders on what they believe is the #1 Trait of Superstar Salespeople.  It's very difficult to narrow selling down to 1 trait, but 20 of us did exactly that and you can see what we all had to say.  As a reader of this blog, I don't believe that you will be able to agree with half of the 20 quotes!  Compare that with this article on the 10 Differences Between Sales Winners and Losers.

Finally, the list of the Top Sales Books for Summer Reading was released and you can get that here.  Yes, my best-seller, Baseline Selling is on the list again.  When I wrote this article on Sunday evening, it was sitting at #13 on the list of best-selling sales books on Amazon.com despite being published 11 years ago! 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales selection, sales success, gallop, #1 trait of successful salespeople

Sales Selection Experiment - Part 2 - It's Back!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 13, 2016 @ 04:01 AM

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When our son was just beginning to speak and we did something that he really enjoyed, he would say, "Again!  Again!"  

Two years ago, I wrote about a sales selection experiment with a group of college kids and the results were so much fun to read that when they repeated the exercise this year, my first reaction was, "Again!"  I think you're going to really enjoy the conclusions from this year's class!

First, you'll need the back story and results from the first go around and don't worry - it was an extremely short article!

Now that you are familiar with the premise and the first set of results, we must ask whether or not the results will be similar, the same or completely different.  The setup was the same - 5 teams - organized by their scores, and they set out to sell overpriced encyclopedias to homeowners in upscale neighborhoods.  Here are my conclusions from this year:

The students with the highest scores for Commitment to Sales Success sold five times more books than the students with the lowest scores for Commitment.  Once again we see why Commitment is the most important finding.

The team with the highest scores for Desire for Sales Success had both the best win rate and the most wins, but also had the fewest door knocks.  While strong Desire is always a requirement, Desire alone is not enough!

The two teams with the lowest scores for Desire for Sales Success and the lowest Sales DNA / Sales Quotient tied for the lowest win rate and fewest books sold.

The student who had the highest combined scores for Desire and Commitment had the highest win rate and the most books sold.

The five students with the lowest scores for Commitment and the most doors knocked had a combined win rate of 0.  Did they lie about the number of doors they knocked on or simply knock and fail to do what was required after that?

The seven students, or 28%, with the highest combination of Desire and Commitment closed 19 of the 32 sales.

The three students, or 13%, with the highest combination of Sales DNA and Sales Quotient scores closed 5, or 20%, of the 32 sales.

Neither Sales Quotient nor Sales DNA by themselves are enough.  The five who scored highest on each of those scores closed only 6 of the 32 sales.  They must be accompanied by Desire and Commitment!

This study also proved that numbers alone aren't enough to get it done.  The ten students who knocked on the most doors closed only 7 of the 32 sales.

 

 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales assesments, sales selection, objective management group

How to Get Your Sales Message to Resonate Every Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 16, 2015 @ 07:11 AM

 

This is an article about getting your sales message to resonate - every time.  However, before we can discuss that, I need to share a current, real world example.  So bear with me.

Just like the news programs which, before the Paris attack, had been talking mostly about political debates and candidates, I have been discussing various aspects of the science behind sales selection.

Last week, an article I wrote for LinkedIn went viral and included a large number of very good, very insightful comments that took the conversation deeper and wider.  The article makes for an interesting study because the writing followed the same path I took on an article back in March that had completely different results.  Let's compare the two articles, examine what caused the comments to be so dramatically different, and use that to understand getting your sales message to resonate.

In a typical year, there are usually several articles written by people who aren't experts on sales selection, introducing a certain set of criteria that differentiates top from bottom salespeople.  Sometimes they take the same approach and identify several criteria that should be used in sales selection.  When I read these articles and it is clear that they are as wrong as the government is when they try to run health insurance and over-regulate businesses, I usually write a rebuttal article of some kind.

I wrote the first rebuttal article back in March and it caused a literal firestorm of emotionally charged comments, attacks, support and testimonials.  In some ways, it was awesome and in other ways, it was sad.

I wrote another rebuttal article last week and it caused a tremendous number of good, positive, insightful comments.

Both of my articles were similar in that each exposed the gaps and errors in the original articles and I backed it up with science.  But they were received in completely different ways.  What happened?

In March, The Sales & Marketing Analytics Blog ran an article titled "The 8 Things the Top 1% of Reps Do Differently".  It was lame, and the author didn't really know what she was talking about.  My rebuttal article appeared one day later, on my blog, and had typical readership and comments. Then, CustomerThink ran with the article and that's when the firestorm hit.  CustomerThink's Blog is not my audience, and doesn't have the same demographics as my audience.  The first responders were negatively charged, and the second wave of responders were positively charged.  It was an epic online battle!

This is the link to the articles and all of the comments.  It's an awesome read, but the comments make it extremely long!

On November 2, the Harvard Business Review ran an article on the "Best Ways to Hire Salespeople".  This article was as wrong as snow in July and last week I posted my rebuttal article on LinkedIn Pulse.  It's not my personal blog, but similar readers tend to find it - readers who are looking for information like this.  All of the responders were kind and many added to the conversation.  No trolls.  No emotions.  No firestorm.

This is the link to the articles and all of the comments.  It too is awesome, but not nearly as long.

I believe that the difference between the two articles has little to do with the articles themselves, but more to do about audiences.  Deliver the right message to the wrong audience and you'll get killed.  Deliver the right message to the right audience and it will resonate.

The same thing happens every single day in sales.  When salespeople get to people who really care, who have a problem, who will be impacted, who have a financial stake, their message will resonate and they can do business together.  When salespeople get to people who don't care, who have no stake, who won't be impacted, their message will fall on deaf ears and the wrong conversation will ensue.  You know who I'm talking about - Purchasing!  They don't care about anything other than price yet salespeople continue to call on them, trying to deliver messages centered around quality, value and service.  The folks in purchasing, like teenagers, don't care!  Stop calling on them.  You may end up there to get your purchase order, but please don't start there!!!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling to purchasing, sales operations, linkedin, sales selection

How Companies Routinely Screw Up Hiring the Right Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 22, 2015 @ 14:10 PM

The way that most people watch television these days is to fall in love with a continuing series, and then watch the episodes, on demand, when they want to.  I believe that when it comes to reading, Blogs work the same way as TV.  You find a Blogger whose work you like, who writes about things that interest you and you check back often or subscribe via email or RSS.  That is the case with the sales selection series that I've been sharing for a couple of weeks.  This series of articles is about crazy, stupid sales selection and how some executives say that they want to get it right, but won't allow themselves the leeway to actually get it right.  5 articles have already been posted about this and this article represents the sixth chapter.

Let's catch up.  If you haven't read each of the previous installments, you can find them here:

Sales Selection Case History of BigBrains
Benchmarking Misapplied to Sales Selection at BigBrains
Why Companies Always Get Sales Selection Wrong 
The SalesHack Weighs in on the Sales Selection Issue at BigBrains
The Follow Up Conversation with BigBrains Revealed

Why are so many people interested in this particular case history?  Is it because they can laugh at an executive's inability to see the obvious?  Is it because they could possibly be that executive?  Is it because they like all of the data and science?  Is it the comedy?

I am hosting a Webinar on Wednesday, October 28 at 11 AM when we will discuss this case history and how to improve sales selection.  If you would like to listen in and/or participate, you can register to attend here.

This is all very related to sales selection and sales coaching. If you haven't done a great job on selection, there will be much more pressure on the sales manager to perform great coaching instead!  I led a 40-minute presentation on coaching for Handshake and you can view/listen to the archived recording here.

It appears that I'm promoting things so as long as I'm at it, you absolutely must read this article by Hiplead.  They emailed me a link to this article and I wanted to share what they had to say about how you can get significantly more people to read your emails.

Finally, Top Sales Magazine is going from weekly to monthly and from small to big.  The premier issue is available now and you can download it here.  I contributed a feature article on the state of selling.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, objective management, top sales assessment, sales selection

Is Benchmarking or Perfect Fit Analysis More Predictive for Selecting Great Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 07, 2015 @ 05:10 AM

Last week, I published a case history on a company that we nicknamed, BigBrains. Many readers emailed asking if we could perform this analysis for them (yes, in most cases) and whether this would be considered benchmarking (no). In this article, I will actually show you the difference between benchmarking and the Perfect Fit Analysis that we use as proof to clients and to customize Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments. We use the Perfect Fit Analysis to achieve our legendary accuracy when predicting who will and won't succeed in each sales role at each client's company. First, you absolutely must go back and read Part 1 so that you can see how we arrived at a predictive accuracy rate of 83% (on selecting college graduates that would succeed as Sales Development Reps) at BigBrains. While that's actually less accurate than our norm, when it comes to doing it with college grads, I think it's truly amazing! Now, let's compare that result to what happens when benchmarking is utilized.

Benchmarking is the method of choice for assessment companies that produce traditional personality and behavioral styles assessments. Those generic, non-role-specific assessments were never designed for sales, are not really for sales today, and only their marketing makes you think they can be used for sales selection. The only things they ever changed in all of those assessments are the names of the findings. They still measure personality traits and behavioral styles, still ask the same questions that have been asked for decades and those questions are still rooted in a social context, not sales or business. The limitations, as a result of their assessments being non-specific to sales, requires that you test your top performers so that they can look for common traits. Their theory is that after finding commonalities among your top performers, you can look for new salespeople with the same traits and they should perform well.  

Really? Let's try that with BigBrains! Had we benchmarked the BigBrains top performers, we would have started with around 100 findings and scores and narrowed them down to these findings that were common to their top performers. As you can see, all greens (strengths) and all reds (weaknesses), but clearly complete commonality!

I have always known that benchmarking doesn't work for sales, so just for kicks, let's see how their bottom performers scored when we used the exact same findings...

As you can see, (I apologize for being unable to get the columns to align perfectly) the bottom performers have nearly identical strengths and weaknesses to the top performers.  And that is the very reason why, despite the decades long practice of benchmarking top performers, personality and behavioral styles assessments consistently fail to be predictive of sales performance. I've been saying this for 25 years! The problem with looking at only the top performers, and then looking for common personality traits, is that inevitably, the bottom performers will have the same attributes as those you identify in the top performers. Benchmarking to predict sales success will nearly always produce a false positive. As Rocky LaGrone says, "It's like identifying the tallest midget!"

Now let's take a look at how those same findings - which will not be effective for identifying top performers - compare with the findings we actually used as the final criteria for the perfect fit analysis.

Finding

Used in Benchmark
of Top Performers 
and %
of Top Performers with Finding

% of Bottom Performers 
with that Finding

Finding Used in our Final 
Perfect Fit Analysis

Longevity Likely or Highly Likely Yes  - 100% as Strength 50% Yes
Strong Desire for Success in Sales Yes - 100% as Strength 75% Yes w/score >82
Takes Responsibility for Sales Results Yes - 100% as Strength 75% No
Enjoys Selling Yes - 100% as Strength 83% No
Highly Motivated for Sales Yes - 100% as Strength 100% No
Supportive Selling Beliefs  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Supportive Buy Cycle  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No

Comfortable Having a
Financial Conversation

Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >32
Rejection Proof Yes - 100% as Strength 83% No
Sales DNA  Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >62
Closer Competency Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% Yes w/score >32
Farmer Competency Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Sales Posturing Yes - 100%  as Strength 33%  Yes w/score >47
Coachable Yes - 100% as Strength 100% No
Competition Resistant Yes - 100% as Weakness 100% No
High Ticket Seller Yes - 100% as Weakness 83% No
Doesn't Need Prospects to Like Them No n/a Yes w/score >74
Controls Emotions on Sales Calls No n/a Yes w/score >77
Hunter Competency No n/a Yes w/score >66
Consultative Seller Competency No n/a Yes w/score >55
Qualifier Competency No n/a Yes w/score >39
Account Manager Competency No n/a Yes w/score >40
Figure it Out Factor (Will Ramp up Quickly) No n/a Yes w/score >55
Sales Skills % No n/a Yes w/score >41
Sales Strengths % No n/a Yes w/score >54
Sales Weaknesses % No n/a Yes w/score <50

As you can see, most of the findings, that were common to the top performers, were either not used at all or they were modified to be used with a cutoff score. Our Perfect Fit Analysis looks for the findings, scores and cutoffs that differentiate the tops from the bottoms; therefore, we don't accidentally identify findings that bottom performers are likely to have as well. In addition to that is the fact that all of our findings are sales-specific! There is not a single behavioral style or personality trait in the list. You could argue that the need to be liked and controlling emotions are personality traits or behavioral styles, but we aren't asking the questions in a social context - purely in the context of sales calls and meetings - so even those two findings are specific to how they affect salespeople when they are actually selling.

So OMG already has the most predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet, has earned the Gold Medal for Top Sales Assessment for 4 consecutive years, and we can prove it out for every selling role, calling on every level of decision maker, against every type of competition, at any price point, with any sales cycle, with any form of price sensitivity, with any level of resistance, at every company, and in more than 200 industries. And to make sure that it's as predictive as can be, we can conduct a Perfect Fit Analysis too.

Why would you allow the least bit of uncertainty to creep into your sales selection process if you can be both certain and confident when using OMG? Click here to check out OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments and see how much time and money we can save you and your company.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, Sales Benchmarking, sales selection, OMG Assessment

Sales Selection Case History - The Fix for This Insanity Works 99% of the Time

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 01, 2015 @ 21:10 PM

If you had a crystal ball to predict whether or not your next sales candidate would succeed in a difficult selling role at your company, wouldn't you want to use it?  Heck, you would want to look into that thing even if it wasn't a difficult selling role.  But what if you were recruiting kids right out of college?  What would you do then?  Would you just recruit a whole bunch of kids and keep the ones who didn't quit?  Would you hire three times more than you needed and just keep the ones who were successful?  Would you just hire anyone who looked and sounded good and go from there?  What if you could use the crystal ball?  Could that even work with college grads?  Recently, we had an opportunity to study and answer that very question and the results will surprise you!

One company, we'll call them BigBrains, was hiring recent college graduates for an inside sales role where they would schedule appointments for the salespeople.  Lots of calls, a few conversations, and then convert those calls to meetings.  Some companies call these people BDR's, others call them SDR's, some call it Top of the Funnel, and others say it's Inside/Outbound.  Whatever you want to call it, I'm sure we can agree that it is very challenging, there is high turnover, and success is hard to come by.

They turned to Objective Management Group (OMG) and with BigBrains being as smart as they are, didn't believe the great results that others were achieving using OMG to help with sales selection would apply to them because they are different.  They target college kids and they are different.  Did I mention that they are different?  

I hate it when we have to prove over and over again that our sales candidate assessments are truly as accurate and predictive as all of our case studies, white papers, testimonials, awards and validations clearly state.  After all, OMG has legendary predictive accuracy and it's backed by science.  After assessing nearly one million salespeople over the past 25 years, the statistics show that of the candidates that are not recommended, but who brilliant executives hire in spite of that, 75% of them fail within 6 months.  And of the candidates that are recommended and are hired by other, not quite so brilliant executives, 92% of them rise to the top half of their sales force within a year.

So we offered to prove it to BigBrains.  We invited their top 5 and bottom 5 reps to take our sales candidate assessment and then we produced a comparison analysis as proof of concept for BigBrains.  From among our nearly 100 scores and findings, we identified 16 that clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms and when we set the overall cutoff at 69%, 5 of their top 6 would have been recommended and 5 of their bottom 6 would not have been recommended.  For BigBrains, we had an overall predictive accuracy of 83% -  on predicting whether or not recent college graduates would succeed in this difficult SDR role.  In the image below, you can see the scores and findings for each salesperson.  Also note all of the green for the top performers and all of the red for their bottom performers.  Note that most of their bottom performers scored OK on the Hunter competency - the primary competency required for success in a BDR Role.  That's why, if we look at hunting skills alone, we will be fooled half the time.  Why is the closer competency used?  One reason is that they are closing for appointments and meetings.  But the other reason we used it is that the attributes within that competency are clear differentiators between their tops and their bottoms. 

But BigBrains didn't react the way most companies do.  Despite typically high turnover, they felt that OMG was unable to properly tune the assessment for their purposes.  What is normally a no-brainer for just about every company we talk with, caused just the opposite reaction at BigBrains.  They didn't think it would work on the college kids they targeted. 

But didn't we just prove that it would?  Doesn't our 83% trump their 33% 100 times out of 100?  I guess not.  Maybe the math works only 99 out of 100 times.  

Do you believe that they didn't act because they didn't believe the results?  Or that they didn't believe the results could be duplicated?  Or that it was too big of an investment?  Or that they feared something else?

Let's begin with the investment.  It wasn't much of an investment.  We would have saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars that they were paying college kids to fail.  We would have saved them thousands of hours that they were wasting on reviewing resumes, and phoning and interviewing the wrong candidates.  It was going to cost them significantly less than one entry level salary while at the same time, assessing thousands of candidates. It couldn't have been the money.  

Let's tackle whether or not it was duplicable.  Well, we already have a great track record for predictive accuracy and that was proven to be accurate again with their top 5 and bottom 5. So it couldn't have been whether or not it was duplicable.  And they had to believe the results - it was on their very own people.

No.  It was none of those reasons.

They were afraid that we would reject 90% of their candidates.  That's right.  They believed that the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment would recommend not moving foward with 90% of those kids.  Think about it...  Isn't that actually the point - to not move forward with those who we already know won't be able to succeed and/or won't stick around?  But the big executives at BigBrains believed that a 90% rejection rate would mean they would have to find more candidates and that might be too difficult.  Their recruiters would have to work harder.  Their recruiters might feel badly that their candidates didn't make the cut.

So their solution?  The very definition of insanity - just keep doing what they've been doing right along.  While only one third of their recruits might survive and succeed, at least that's the devil they know.  Can you imagine the expense, wasted time, frustration and stupidity of that model?  Continue to Part 2 - the follow-up article on Benchmarking BigBrains!

Their loss can be your gain though.  Just because BigBrains doesn't get it, doesn't mean you need to follow in their footsteps.  You can begin using the same accurate and predictive sales candidate assessments that 10,000 other companies use.  Learn more here.

I wrote a follow-up to this article on the Benchmarking we did at BigBrains.  You'll be even more amazed by what we learned with this exercise!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, objective management, sales selection

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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 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.

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