Why You Must Hire Salespeople Right Now

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 04, 2015 @ 17:06 PM

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Forbes conducted a survey of Fortune 500 CEO's and 82% of them said they would be hiring more people within 2 years.  Why should that be important to you?  

To answer that question, let's talk about your KPI's, or Key Performance Indicators.  The reason KPI's are more important than all of your other metrics is because they are, or should be, forward-looking indicators, rather than lagging indicators.  In the consulting and training work that I have done over the past 30 years, I have always viewed the Fortune 500 and their respective strategies as another set of KPI's.  We all remember the economic crash that hit in November of 2008.  But two years earlier, I was training salespeople that sold to Fortune 500's when, all of a sudden, out of the blue, this unexpected feedback began coming to me.

Many salespeople began reporting that there were major delays getting purchase orders on business that had already closed, all the result of spending freezes. In September of 2006, more than 2 years before the collapse actually occurred, I wrote this article about Selling in the Upcoming Recession. The behavior of the Fortune 500, two years prior to the collapse, was a major leading indicator.

When I hear that 82% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are planning to hire more people, I sense confidence, expansion, revenue growth and the need for increased capacity at all levels. And if companies are planning to grow, then that sure as heck shouldn't be limited to the Fortune 500.  

If you want to grow along with the Fortune 500, you'll need to hire salespeople. I know. You don't need any, there aren't any good ones out there, the last 11 times you tried, they failed, and it's too risky. I've heard all of the excuses. So let's dissect them one by one.

You've struggled to hire good salespeople - That means you keep doing the same thing, stupid, and getting the same results.  You need a better sales recruiting process and a very predictive sales selection tool.

Your territories are full - Is that like when the bases are full? You need a heavy hitter to come to the plate and clear the bases. In other words, any time a great salesperson comes along, you should hire that individual and find a spot, especially when it allows you to jettison an underperformer.  How do you know it's a great salesperson? Don't forget that very predictive sales selection tool!

There aren't any good salespeople out there - I don't know if I would agree that there aren't ANY, but there are certainly a lot fewer good salespeople who are actively looking. So what can you do? With a good sales recruiting process, you'll learn to write a job posting that attracts those who are out there, and find the passive job seekers too.

It's not the right time - it's too risky -  It is never risky to hire a good salesperson. Even the worst of the good salespeople bring you something, certainly enough to to pay for themselves. But good salespeople are not expenses.  They are investments, profit centers, and your economic engine! How do you mitigate the risk? You should know the answer if you've been paying attention. Objective Management Group's (OMG) accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments! You can learn more and/or subscribe here.

Let's be like birds and take advantage of the lift they get when they fly behind the lead bird. Let the Fortune 500 lead the way so that we can get behind them and have an easier time of it.

Hire some good salespeople now and let the growth begin!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, sales test, predictive sales test, fortune 500

Why Half of the Sales Force Resigned This Month

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 08:05 AM

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Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Half of the company's 20 salespeople have left voluntarily in just the last month and the CEO wants to know why everyone is resigning.  He wants Jeff, his sales manager, coached up and needs to recruit replacements.  He has tremendous urgency to get this moving and believes that Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment will help him select good salespeople that will stick around.  But there is a hidden problem that the CEO is unaware of and even the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet - ours - won't overcome the issue.  It's worse than you can imagine!  It turns out that the sales manager is causing everyone to leave.

OMG had conducted a sales force evaluation a month earlier and the following issues were among dozens attributed to Jeff:

  • His salespeople don't trust him, so they won't trust his intentions or his coaching advice.
  • His salespeople don't respect him, so they won't perform for him or value his coaching.
  • He doesn't have relationships with his salespeople, so they won't share their concerns with him.
  • He has 86% of the attributes we look for in the Accountability Skill Set without complimentary Motivational or Coaching Skill Sets making him quite the task master/dictator.
  • None of his salespeople are comfortable working for a sales manager that places tremendous pressure on them to perform.
  • He only spends 10% of his time coaching, so there is pressure without any support.
  • He does not know what motivates his salespeople.

Any one or two of these findings alone would not be the end of the world, but when one sales manager has all 7, you realize that Jeff is hated!  That's why the salespeople are leaving - and fast.

So here is the question.  Do you urgently work to train and coach Jeff before he blows up the rest of the team or do you find a replacement for Jeff?

Of course, it depends on the rest of the team, but in my experience, it would be crucial to eliminate Jeff from the equation and look for a replacement at the same time that you are replacing the salespeople that have already departed.  If you were to retain Jeff, and make the faulty assumption that Jeff could be fixed, you could lose the rest of the team while you are doing repairs and run the risk that he would alientate the sales candidates that are interviewing for the available jobs.  If your company is big enough and the community is small enough, word could easily get out that your company is not a very good place to work, making it difficult to attract good salespeople for years to come.  

The bigger question is, how was the CEO so completely unaware of Jeff's failings and the salespeople's immense dislike for him?

The combination of a hands-off CEO (as in unapproachable) and a powerful (remember the accountability skill set) sales manager create the perfect storm for a scenario like this.  It's crucial for CEOs to be visible, approachable, involved and committed to the success of the sales force and clearly, that was not evident at this company.

Sales Managers often fail to have the desired impact on the sales force.  In most cases, they have not been trained or coached to lead a sales force, rarely understand what is expected of them, lack the skills to effectively perform in the role, and don't have a clue how to get people to follow them, perform for them or grow.

If you are a sales manager, did you get the equivalent of four years of college to prepare you for your role?  If you are a Sales Director or VP with sales managers reporting to you, did you provide them with that kind of training and development?  If you are a CEO, do you have people in sales management roles who have not been adequately trained to have an impact?

I'll be hosting my annual, top-rated, Sales Leadership Intensive on August 27-28, 2015 in the Boston area.  Click here for more details.  It would be very cool to have you and/or your people there!

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Topics: sales management, sales management training, sales leadership training, sales candidate assessment, sales test, problem sales manager

Top 5 Keys to Select and Hire Great Salespeople in 2015

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 08, 2014 @ 06:12 AM

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Copyright: swingvoodoo / 123RF Stock Photo

I'm always amused when an email comes through with a message that says something like, "Maybe we should target candidates that aren't recommended" or "Why do so many candidates lack Commitment?" or "Your assessments are only recommending 1 out of every 5 candidates!" or "The questions don't fit the role!" or "Thanks for saving us so much time - we would have hired some of these losers last year!"

I can usually determine, just from the comment of the email, exactly who, by title, must have sent it to us.  Here are some funny examples:

If it's a comment about how few candidates are being recommended, then the message is probably from an internal or external recruiter. 

All but the savviest of recruiters hate Objective Management Group (OMG) because we make their jobs more difficult.  Their job is to find great sales or sales management candidates and OMG only recommends those who are most likely to succeed in the role so, from their perspective, we are "knocking out" too many of their "awesome" candidates.  We do help them succeed at their jobs, but they must deliver more candidates than before to achieve that success.

A comment about how much time we have saved them is usually from the HR Director or VP.  Those Individuals easily recognize how good the recommended candidates are and really appreciate how much time they saved by not having to engage with undesirable candidates.  We make their jobs much easier!

When we read a comment about the assessment questions not fitting a sales role, the email is definitely from a candidate that is either a fish out of water, very inexperienced, or very misguided about professional selling.  Good salespeople never have a problem with fit or context.

Sarcastic comments, like the one above about targeting 'not recommended' candidates, usually come from frustrated CEOs that haven't met with enough good candidates.  Of course, it's easy to place the blame on OMG for quality of candidates because, well, who are they going to blame, their own people?  The quality of the candidates is directly related to the effectiveness of their job posting, where they placed their ads, and how well those postings are working.  OMG assessment recommendations essentially become the feedback on the quality of their sales candidate pool.

Testimonials often come from Sales VPs or Directors that have begun to hire great salespeople.  They recognize how good the candidates have been, they have made their first hires, and the new salepeople that OMG recommended have gotten off to great starts.

Depending on their roles and whether or not achieving their goals has become easier or more difficult, everyone has a different context and perspective of the exact same instrument.

As of this writing, there are some indisputable conditions that everyone must contend with:

  • There is a shortage of good candidates, but they do exist.
  • The more difficult the role and the more capable and expert the salesperson must be, the harder it will be to find "the one".
  • It is taking between 60-90 days to complete the hiring process.
  • The best job sites depend on a combination of geography and the desired capabilities of the salespeople you are hoping to hire.
    • The best candidate, who I personally interviewed in the past 30 days, was sourced from Craigslist.
    • The best overall candidates for a specific geography, that I interviewed in the past 90 days, were sourced from Indeed.
    • The best overall candidates for a non-specific geography, that I interviewed in the past 90 days, were from LinkedIn.
    • The best overall value for sourcing candidates was from ZipRecruiter.
  • You may conduct 5-minute phone interviews with ONLY the candidates that were recommended for the role by the OMG Assessment.
  • You may interview only the best of those candidates from the phone interviews.

Managing your own expectations is key to making this process work.  You must exercise:

  • Patience.  You may have to repeat the process several times to find who you are looking for.
  • No Compromises. If you compromise, you'll be starting all over again in 6 months.
  • Discipline.  Never consider a candidate that is not recommended by the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment regardless of fit.  
  • No Exceptions.  Exceptions compromise the integrity of the sales recruiting process.
  • Speed. Once you have identified a desirable candidate, act swiftly or you will lose that candidate!  I interviewed a great candidate at 2PM on Thursday and recommended him to my client at 3 PM.  At 5:45 PM I received a call and learned that my client had already contacted, met with, interviewed the candidate, and presented a job offer that the candidate accepted.

Finding, selecting, hiring and onboarding great salespeople is more difficult than at any time in the past 20 years.  The only thing that will make it easier is something for which you absolutely won't want to be wishing - a huge economic downturn.  As long as the economy is growing and things are going relatively well, we can deal with it being more difficult to hire.  After all, what good is a glut of candidates if you can't afford to hire them?

Finally, don't forget about EEOC Guidelines.  if you are using OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments, current guidelines require you to assess all of your candidates.  Clients simply purchase a flat-fee license for unlimited use and send the link to every candidate that submits a resume.  Easy!  You're EEOC compliant.

Sales Candidate Assessment Free Trial

Want to hear more?  Listen to this BizTalkRadio interview of me talking about getting sales selection right.

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

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

What Percentage of Sales Candidates Are Hired?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Jul 20, 2014 @ 21:07 PM

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Do you know what percentage of sales candidates eventually get hired?  I posed that very question to Google search and none of the results, that appeared on the first page, answered my question.  Two results pointed to my article from earlier in 2014 that answered the question, "How Many Sales Candidates are Worthy of Being Hired?"

That article addressed several classifications and roles and revealed that, on average, 28% of all sales, sales management and sales leadership candidates assessed were recommended using Objective Management Group's (OMG) assessment.  

 

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It's not quite as simple to figure out how many were actually hired, but we have our ways.  I'll spare you our steps and calculations, but when all was said and done, the data showed that 6% of all candidates assessed were hired.

What Does 6% Mean for You?

In very simple terms, 6% means that 20 candidates must be assessed for each one who is hired.  With an overall recommendation rate of 28%, those 20 assessments will yield approximately 6 candidates who are worthy of your time.  But there is much more to consider.

In order for 20 candidates to take the assessment, you'll probably need 40 to submit their resumes and at least 30 of them to complete an online application.  

We instruct our clients to run a 5-step process where the first 2 steps are to follow a link to an online application, and after completing that, follow another link to the online sales assessment.  The most casual of the applicants will drop out at the online application.  Too much work.  If they can submit a resume and get an interview, they'll take it, but any more effort than that and they'll remain with the company for which they are currently working.  The least qualified will drop out at the online assessment.  Too role-specific.  When they begin to complete the assessment and have difficulty answering all sales-specific questions, they quit, knowing they aren't qualified.

What if You Don't Get 40 Resumes Per Role?

If your flow of resumes is poor, you are probably doing several things wrong.  It's likely a combination of things including, but not limited to your ad title, the ad itself, the compensation, the geography, too much information, the wrong information, who you are targeting, where you are targeting them, etc.  The assessment is only as good as the pool of candidates you find and attract.  That's why a lot of recruiters become frustrated with OMG.  

Why Do Recruiters Get So Frustrated When Their Clients Use OMG?

Recruiters don't want to work any harder than they need to and when an OMG Candidate Assessment is involved, they quickly learn that, of the candidates they send to their clients, the majority (72%) are not recommended.  Recruiting is a lot like real estate sales.  Recruiters tend to send candidates who have curb appeal and a relevant resume, as opposed to candidates who have the required skills and competencies, but might be a harder sell because they lack curb appeal or their resume doesn't scream "hire me!"  The OMG Candidate Assessment differentiates between those candidates quite well, and its accuracy and predictive qualities are legendary.

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What is the Most Effective Way of Using the Assessment?

The assessment is most effective when used very early in the process - as a first or second step prior to reviewing a resume or speaking with a candidate by phone.  Years ago, I observed that most employers used assessments incorrectly.  They were using personality and behavioral styles tests which are not in any way, shape or form predictive of sales success, and they were not being utilized until after they had narrowed the field down to the final 5 candidates.  Unfortunately for them, the 5 they identified were usually not the best 5 to consider.

Used early in the process, companies eliminate the candidates who won't succeed, don't waste time talking with them, and can invest all of their time speaking with and interviewing the strongest sales candidates.  Best of all, those top candidates are identified using a customized, scientific and objective analysis, not one based on resumes and industry experience.  As a bonus, companies who assess all of their candidates are EEOC Compliant, while companies who cherry-pick to assess are being discriminatory.

Isn't it Expensive to Use That Many Assessments?

Several years ago, OMG moved to a subscription model that offered unlimited assessments, providing employers with a financial incentive to use the assessments correctly and efficiently at the beginning of the process.  Subscriptions control costs, get the actual per assessment price to a ridiculously low number, and allow companies to assess every candidate.

Companies, who use OMG for sales selection, enjoy incredible consistencies, reduce their turnover, improve their on-boarding time, and significantly increase their success rate.  That could be you...

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales candidates, sales selection, sales assessments, sales test, personality test

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

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 New-Hire.com 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 Monster.com, two years ago, CareerBuilder.com and today, we may start with Indeed.com.  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

Sales Blogging - Do As I Say, Not as I Do

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 01, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

hipocriteIt's a big problem with many of the sales blogs you read.  One-person sales consulting firms, self-appointed experts, telling, but not doing, what they say.

If you were to read through each of the 1,150 articles I have posted on this blog since 2006, and organize, sort, create a flow and edit it all into a Sales Management Bible, we would have one enormous how-to guide.  Although that was the original plan in 2006, it is no longer on my radar.  I have introduced, questioned, preached, urged, and forced a lot of issues, but I always check myself to make sure that my words do not fall into the "do as I say, but not as I do" trap of many consultants.

Keeping that in mind, Objective Management Group (OMG) held its quarterly Rockefeller Habits meeting this week.  We go to market through a global network of certified partners - our channel - and we spent considerable meeting time talking about them.  As we always do, we further refined our criteria for what constitutes a good partner, redefined our cut-offs and set the wheels in motion to say our goodbyes to those who don't make the cut.  OMG is not a company that has tolerance for non-performers.

We also spent some time identifying where our best Partners come from and I was surprised to learn that most of them had been reading this blog and either decided to add our suite of world-class Sales Force Evaluation and Candidate Assessment tools to their offerings, or start their own sales consulting businesses.  

If that describes you, please send me an email!

The rest of you should be doing the following at least on an annual basis:

  • Evaluate your sales force.
  • Identify the differences between top and bottom performers - request a sample Sales Force Evaluation.
  • Replace bottom performers who can't be coached up.
  • Commit to hiring people who are better than your current top performers - request a sales candidate assessment sample too.  Register for this free June 5, 2014,  11 AM ET, webinar on the Magic of OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.
  • Constantly refine your onboarding process, expectations and execution.
  • Improve your sales coaching capabilities.
  • Get tougher about accountability.
  • Develop and refine strategies and tactics for improved effectiveness.
  • Train, coach, train and coach some more.

It's not very difficult to upgrade the quality of your sales force or channel.  But many find it difficult to start - to take action - to take the steps listed above that properly position them to upgrade the sales force or channel.  That's because most people find it difficult to have the tough conversations, deliver the tough messages and put the tougher policies in place.  Accountability.  Execution.  Not what most people are best at.  But it's never too late to start...

But before you can start, you need information - you need answers - you need to evaluate your sales force so that you know where your sales force could be more effective, how much more effective they could be, and what must change.  It means knowing whether you truly have the right people in the right roles, whether they are going about things in the right way, and whether the right things are in place to support a high-performing sales force.

Evaluate and thrive!

Image credit: photoman / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, evaluate the sales force, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

The Biggest Mistake Executives Make about their Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 @ 15:03 PM

Blood Test or Sales Force EvaluationYesterday, I had my annual physical and my doctor ordered the usual array of blood tests.  It didn't matter that I felt terrific.  It didn't matter that he observed my blood pressure, throat, eyes and ears to be perfect.  It didn't change his mind when he listened to my heart and lungs.  And he was still ordering those tests after he felt for things and didn't find anything.  The tests he can do in his office - basically the eye test - are observations.  How I report to be feeling is my version of the eye test - it's based on my own observations.  And the reason for the blood and urine tests is that we don't know what we don't know.  

Clearly, if you or I don't feel well and that feeling persists for a long enough period of time, we would seek out a doctor.  There would be symptoms.  The doctor's job would be to learn enough, from observations and tests, to identify the cause and make a diagnosis, recommend a treatment and provide a prognosis.

That is pretty much what we do at Objective Management Group (OMG).  In some cases, CEO's, Presidents, HR Directors and Sales VP's seek us out, complain about their symptoms (observations and eye test), we ask some questions and then conduct our sales force evaluation.  They know things aren't right, but they don't know why.  Our job would be to learn enough from the observations, tests and analyses, to identify the causes (diagnosis), recommend a plan of action (treatment), and provide a projected return (prognosis).

In some cases, an executive does not seek us out.  They may have stumbled upon us through what they found on the internet.  They may have read one of my thousands of articles or watched me on a video.  They may have been looking for something else and OMG came up in the search results.  They may have been introduced by a friend or colleague.  Regardless of how they found us, this plays more like the annual physical where they believe that their sales force is fine.  They are happy to talk with an expert, but don't have any symptoms that they can identify or report.  Sales are fine.  

And that, right there, is the single biggest mistake that companies make every single day.  They use revenue as the metric to determine whether their sales force is healthy. 

Sales are fine.  Compared with what?  Sales that aren't fine?  Others in the industry?  Other industries?  What they expected sales to be?  What they needed sales to be?  Their nut?  What sales could have been?  What was forecast?

Sales is always relative to an expectation and is never an accurate barometer of sales effectiveness.  One large sale or account can mask missed metrics, poor conversions, elongated sales cycles and lousy win rates.  Two large sales or accounts can mask a weak pipeline and an entire sales force of underachievers.  Renewals and residuals can similarly skew the numbers in such a way that executives have no idea how ineffective and inefficient their salespeople really are.  And today, with most companies generating inbound leads at a record clip, salespeople don't even have enough time to follow up on all of them.  That too masks the numbers because they certainly have a lot of activity taking place, don't they?

When sales are fine, there is no better time, because there is no pressure or urgency, to evaluate the sales force because it is at that very time that executives don't know what they don't know.

Use our complimentary Sales Force Grader.  Learn more about a sales force evaluation.  Read about a Sales Force Evaluation Case Study.

Image credit: alexraths / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, evaluate the sales force, sales assessments, sales test, objective management group

Validation of the Validation of the Sales Assessment

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Oct 04, 2013 @ 06:10 AM

validatedSome companies need to validate our validation.  Objective Management Group (OMG) uses Predictive Validity - the most time-consuming and expensive form of validation.  Unlike simpler methods of validation, Predictive Validity requires that we prove a connection to on-the-job performance.  The challenge is that our predictive validity is so good, some people just don't believe it and they want to revalidate it themselves.

One of the companies that insisted on validating our validation is moving forward with a license to hire 200 salespeople using our Sales Candidate Assessment.  I'll share the results of their own validation:

They conducted a 7-day pilot in April of 2012 and hired 23 salespeople.  

Our assessment recommended 13 of them, and did not recommend 10.  They reported that 9 of the 10 hired (who were not recommended) failed, and that 12 of the 13 (who were recommended) succeeded.  How do those numbers compare to our historical statistics?  

Historically, 75% of the candidates we don't recommend, who somehow get hired anyway, fail inside of 6 months.  In this pilot, 90% of the candidates that were not recommended failed.

Historically, 92% of the candidates we do recommend, who eventually get hired, succeed.  In this pilot, their success rate was also 92%.

Does it always work out like this?  Of course not.  Some companies just don't have the right sales management, sales process and systems in place so even the best candidates can fail or leave.  On the other hand, some companies, who have been using our processes, systems and tools for a while, consistently exceed these results.

The most common scenario where companies wish to do their own validation is when they are located overseas.  Despite the fact that our expansion overseas began more than a decade ago, some companies located outside of the US don't believe that a US-based tool will work in their country.  They have cultural differences to be sure, but those are more about relationships and the proper times and appropriate ways for people to interact in business settings.  Selling and what it takes for salespeople to succeed doesn't actually vary from culture to culture.  

Some countries lack selling sophistication - they're way behind - and are still selling very transactionally.  But if the company is ready to change, and their markets are ready for them to change, then they must be able to select salespeople who can make those changes as well.

Validation is an interesting process and if you look into it, you'll find that none of the personality or behavioral styles assessments use predictive validity because there simply isn't a correlation between their findings and on-the-job performance.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales evaluation, sales profile, Validation, sales test, 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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