Do You Know if Your Sales Organization is Digital or Analog?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 04, 2016 @ 07:08 AM

analog-vs-digital.jpg

During our very first conversation with a CEO, the talking path is determined by whether their company is analog or digital.  

Digital companies are typically on the cutting edge in their thinking and actions, their CEO's read content like this, are active on LinkedIn and Twitter, they are aware that selling has changed dramatically, they already have inside sales teams, playbooks, demo decks, sales enablement, online tools beyond CRM and in true digital fashion, they live by their KPI's which count the elements of their work flow.

Analog companies are old school. Analog salespeople still pound the phones to find opportunities, and visit their prospects to close sales. Their CEO's may have a LinkedIn account, but it probably isn't used much, they don't tweet, read online content like this, and most importantly, have little clue about how dramatically selling has changed in the past 5 years.  They may not be aware of the migration to inside sales, typically make little use of selling tools, don't know what a sales playbook is, and in true analog fashion, measure work product, not flow.  

The difference between work flow in a digital company versus work product in the analog company is dramatic too.

Work flow represents a series or flow of actions.  With inbound marketing for example, a company might use a combination of landing pages, email templates and rules to generate the flow of contacts, leads and opportunities, all of which are counted.

Work product represents outcomes.  Analog companies are more likely to measure how hard their salespeople work. Analog versus digital. Counting versus measuring. 

Digital companies usually think that they have it all figured out because they read free content like this, make use of the latest tools, have millennials working their inbound marketing effort, have inside and outside sales, hire expensive sales leaders, and together they built a sales machine.  But when it's not generating enough revenue, the sales machine is broken.

Analog companies aren't really aware that they are old school, but they have recognized that what used to work doesn't appear to be generating the same results today.  Their salespeople struggle to close new business, they are losing important accounts, margins are slipping because their salespeople are unable sell value, and their veteran salespeople are in denial.  Their ability to generate sales by pounding the phones and managing their territories has become inefficient and ineffective.  You can even recognize an analog sales force by looking at them.  With rare exceptions, it's a group of fat, aging, white guys.

In the end, it simply doesn't matter whether a company is analog or digital.  The commonality between them is that their sales organizations are not bringing in enough business and there are several reasons for this - or more!

One of the many reasons for less than stellar revenue is that these companies - both analog and digital - often fail to hire the right salespeople for the role.  That's the easiest of all things in sales to correct.  A simple change to your selection criteria and an accurate and predictive sales tool will drive up your rate of success and consistency with hiring very quickly!

If you are interested in learning how we use *digital magic* to help companies hire the right salespeople, then you might enjoy spending 30 minutes with me next month.  On September 28, I will lead a fast-paced behind the scenes online tour of the magic behind OMG's award-winning sales selection tools.  You can join me by registering here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales assesments, sales consulting, sales selection tool, selling has changed

Did You Know That There is a Season for Hiring Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 @ 05:09 AM

I live in the Boston area and there are some things that I know will always be true about the seasons.  School buses start rolling in September, fall foliage peaks in October, the first freezing cold days arrive in late November, snow storms are routine by mid-December, the coldest, driest days are in January, the snowiest month is in February, the days begin to get longer in March, the snow has melted so that baseball can be played in April, flowers blossom and leaves appear on the trees in May, summer weather arrives for good in mid-June, it turns as hot as the fireworks in July and the weeds thrive and attempt to choke out the plants in August.  

Did you know that when it comes to hiring salespeople, there are also seasonal trends we know to be true ?

It's as certain as the ice storm we seem to get every year right around the New Year.  The first graph below is a running total of the number of sales candidates assessed since 2009.  Beyond the obvious trend towards more, which has more to do with Objective Management Group (OMG) than hiring, you should be able to notice the many peaks and valleys.

If we look at the same data in a different way, those peaks and valleys will make more sense.  In the next graph we separated the data by year (the different colors represent the years 2009 - 2015) and month (1-12). If you look closely, you can see that March and October are the seasons for hiring salespeople!  You can also see a few other things that are reflective of conditions in the economy.  Note how the peaks did not occur in 2010, because the economic recovery had not yet kicked in. And note how with the exception of March, the number of candidates is down in 2015.  This is not about OMG, but it is about the current shortage of sales candidates.

On first blush, it's easy to mistakenly believe that more candidates are looking to change jobs during March and October.  But the reality is that more companies hire salespeople in the last first and last quarters. How do I know?  OMG has an uptick in licenses and subscriptions sold during March and October.  So, if we are closing in on October and most companies hire salespeople in October, shouldn't you be thinking about doing that too?

What's that?  You don't need any salespeople? Are you sure?  When 50% of salespeople don't make quota and 30% of salespeople can't be trained, some simple math would suggest that 15% of your sales force should be replaced each year. Perhaps it's time to replace your worst performer(s).

It's also important to see that you will have less competition for those candidates if you hire in July, September, and the Winter months.

If you don't already use OMG to get sales selection right, this would be a great time to start!  Plans start at just $99 per month and you can use this link to learn more and subscribe.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales selection tool, hiring sales candidates, sales assessment test

The Two Sides of Likable Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

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If you have watched the TV series House of Cards, and if you're at all like me, you may have found yourself rooting for the lead characters, whose lack of character and integrity could make you question why you are rooting for them in the first place.  Recently, we have been watching Homeland, which I find to be a more disturbing series than House of Cards.  The biggest difference for me is that I found the characters in House of Cards to be likable - despite their manipulation, lack of integrity and evil doing.  After just 4 episodes, I haven't seen nearly as much manipulation, evil and lack of integrity in Homeland, but I haven't yet identified a likable character either.

Is it possible that we have the same problem in sales?  Do sales leaders find certain salespeople to be more likable?  Do prospects and customers find certain salespeople to be more likable?  Are likable and integrity intertwined?  Can you have likable salespeople who lack integrity?

Some more questions...

Are likable salespeople always effective salespeople? Can you have high integrity salespeople who aren't likable?  None of us want salespeople who lack integrity working for us or selling to us, and we like to think we are good judges of character.  In this article we will focus on the complication of likable salespeople and we'll answer the integrity question in another article.

There are some very skilled salespeople who are lacking in the likable department and therefore, not as effective as they could be.  There are even more very likable salespeople, that lack selling skills and/or Sales DNA, and aren't able to leverage their likability and as a result, struggle to perform.

The likability factor can also blind their sales managers - causing them to hang on to likable salespeople that don't produce, and replace less likable salespeople that do happen to produce.

Fortunately, there are two groups of salespeople that have very clear attributes and actions.  Those who are likable and have strong selling skills and Sales DNA are in the top 26% of all salespeople.  And those who are not likable, with weak selling skills and/or Sales DNA are at the very bottom.  While it should be obvious that the second group of salespeople shouldn't last very long in any sales organization, we find them everywhere!  The question is why?  It's not like that last group is fooling anybody...

The salespeople that consistently fool people are those who are likable but lacking the necessary skills and/or Sales DNA to be effective.  Their sales managers believe that they are coachable and will come around, improve, figure it out and excel.  Only it doesn't happen as often as it should and sales managers aren't very good at predicting when or to whom it will happen.  And as for the group of salespeople who have the skills and/or Sales DNA but aren't likable, their sales leaders think they're simply lucky and that their success is not sustainable.  They may be correct on that one. 

Either way, it's clear that if you have more likable, skilled salespeople with strong Sales DNA, your company will perform better.  You can identify those salespeople by using the right sales selection tool.

Speaking of likable, Jonathan Farrington is a very likable host and he just posted a very likable audio interview with me here.  Jonathan posed the question, with all of the sales training and sales enablement initiatives, shouldn't companies be doing audits at the front end?  You'll like what you hear!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales selection tool, jonathan farrington, house of cards, homeland

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

One Thing Missing from The New Way of Selling - Part 2

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 02, 2014 @ 06:07 AM

missing in salesYesterday, I read an article that was very consistent with what I was complaining about last week when I wrote The One Thing Missing From the New Way of Selling.  I have tremendous respect for the article's author, Mark Roberge, who has built a great sales force over at Hubspot.  They use Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments to identify the new kind of salespeople who will succeed there.  

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Mark and I go back a long way.  I worked for his dad back in 1973 and his dad worked for me earlier in the current century.  OMG became one of Hubspot's very first customers in 2006 and all of my articles are hosted on their terrific platform.  

I loved Mark's article about the 4 Habits of a New Generation of Salespeople.  You should read the article!  It's a great description of how their salespeople and many inside salespeople operate. It describes mostly young, social salespeople, who sell inside and to marketers who are also mostly social sellers.  

On the other hand, while many inside sales experts are writing terrific articles, they are at the same time attempting to get the entire sales population to do what works so well for inside/inbound sales (and sell their inside/inbound services).  And it does work if you have a suitable product, price range, technology, target market and sales cycle.  It works if you have a dedicated team of top-of-the-funnel inbound marketers.  However, for every company and product where this makes sense, I can name three where it doesn't.  I love the new way of selling.  Just don't proclaim that the new way is the only way.  That's like saying, now that we have developed a spaceship that can take private citizens to outer space, everyone shall commute to work that way.  When commercial airlines made flying affordable enough for everyone, it didn't eliminate buses, trains and cars.  It simply became a better choice for long-distance trips.  We still use our cars to drive 120 miles!

While we are on the subject of old and new, I wrote an article that appears in the new issue of Top Sales Magazine.  You can download the magazine here.  The article, What is the Big Secret That Powers Baseline Selling? includes some video and some terrific explanations of what continues to make the process and methodology work so well for so many salespeople, 10 years after it was written.  And guess which book their salespeople read over at Hubspot?  Yeah, once they have a prospect, they still have to sell...

 

Baseline Selling

 

Selling is still selling and while a lot has changed in the last 10 years, a lot of it hasn't.  I'm a social seller.  Social sellers get found, find prospects and connect using a myriad of social selling tools.  But once a meeting has been scheduled, the social must be dropped in favor of the selling.   A prospect should only be aware of a terrific conversation, but process and methodology must be hidden backstage.

Image Copyright: lianna2013 / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales selection tool, social selling, Mark Roberge, objective management group

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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