Which Salespeople are Easier to Train - Millennials or Veteran Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 @ 06:04 AM

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We brought home a puppy and we had him completely housebroken in 4 days.  He's really smart and we've done this before, a combination that makes it nearly impossible to screw up.  To see him go to the door and touch it with his little paw, whimper when he is in his crate, go outside and do his business, and run back to the door is great. But it got me wondering, why is training a puppy relatively fast and easy while it is so much harder and takes so much longer to train salespeople?

The puppy only has to learn a handful of behaviors that he can repeat without the variables that affect salespeople.  There's no resistance, objections, competition, fear, rejection, budget or decision-making issues and the puppy is eager to learn and please.  Millennials are eager to learn and tend to be less resistant to change while veteran salespeople must first be sold on why they need to change.  Even then they may resist for a while.  And what they must learn in order to become more effective is quite comprehensive.

I was comparing the average scores in 6 Sales DNA Core Competencies and was very surprised to discover that the scores for sales candidates were a few points higher than the scores for salespeople at companies where we conducted a sales force evaluation.  Millennials make up a good portion of the candidates. Typically, they are recent college graduates with no sales experience and applying for BDR roles.  My first thought was that if sales candidates had higher scores and millennials were part of that group, then the non-millennials surely have scores that are even higher.

After considering that for a while another thought came to mind.

Most companies complain that there aren't enough sales candidates out there and most who are looking for sales positions suck.  The reality is that they aren't all bad and a large percentage of the salespeople who are applying for new positions are passive candidates. They were recruited. It seems that while there are a lot of crappy salespeople out there right now, they don't take the assessment when prompted, but the good sales candidates do!

An unintended benefit of having your sales candidates take OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment is that it is not only accurate and predictive, many of the the bottom 77% filter themselves out by not even completing it. And the millennials?  Many of those who apply for sales positions actually have Sales DNA that supports selling even though their scores in the 7 tactical Sales Core Competencies are low.  You can always teach the tactical competencies!

You can learn more about the sales candidate assessment here.  Once there you can check out samples, start a free trial and sign up.

If you're not hiring salespeople right now but you're interested in learning how your salespeople measure up in the 21 Sales Core Competencies, or you just want to see how salespeople score in each competency, you can check out our data here.  Warning:  The stats site is very cool and you might not want to leave.

Finally, there are only a handful of seats left for next month's Sales Leadership Intensive.  This top-rated sales coaching event will impress even those who have been to all kinds of sales and sales leadership training.  There's nothing like it anywhere else and we'll show you how to truly coach for impact.   Two days, incredible training, and you'll be able to impact deals and revenue in ways you never thought possible by the time you leave.  If you're interested in attending, read some of my most recent articles and see if you can find a discount code worth $100!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales leadership, sales core competencies, accurate sales assessment

Top 3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Change Your Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 17, 2016 @ 11:11 AM

I get asked this question a lot: "We've tried sales training before and it didn't really change anything. Why didn't it work?"

It's a common frustration and often explains why companies try it once and don't go back, or why they use a different company every year.  There are three powerful reasons why sales training won't work, and what you can do that will make it work everytime.  To explain why it doesn't work, I recorded this 3-minute video to save you from having to read a long article.

So what can you do to make sure that sales training works?  These are the four most important factors:

  1. Evaluate Your Sales Force so that we know exactly which competencies need to be addressed through training.  Canned, off-the-shelf training won't address the real issues if you don't know what they are!
  2. Invest in 90-days of sales management training and coaching to help them coach to the content and incorporate Sales DNA into the coaching.
  3. Make sure that the frequency of your training is at minimum twice per month for at least 6 months - or more.
  4. Make sure that the training company and specifically the trainer know how to get your salespeople engaged and committed to change.  This isn't school, you're not providing education, you're investing in training your salespeople to achieve different results than they are getting today.  It's about change.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, CEO, sales management training, VP Sales

Most Salespeople Are Wrong about the Concept of Being Willing to Walk

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 31, 2016 @ 10:10 AM

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At some point in most training programs we talk about being willing to walk away.  In addition to being part of a Kurlan led sales training program, the willingness to walk away is a major focus of any training program on negotiation as well.  But most people in sales don't really understand the concept of being willing to walk, how it plays out, and what to do when you get there.  I would love to share my thoughts on this below.

I have a couple of concepts that must be understood prior to a discussion on the willingness to walk.  First, you must abandon any hope of making the sale. Read this short, but important article about giving up hope.  Second, you must be taking a consultative approach.  Read this article about how consultative selling is different and why salespeople struggle with it.  With those two concepts as the foundation, we can discuss being willing to walk away.  

I remember coaching a salesperson who was number one at his company.  He had just finished providing the background on an opportunity that didn't go as planned and he was so proud that he had walked out on the CTO.  

The problem is that being willing to walk is not actually walking out!  It's when you are willing to walk out - but you don't.  

When you reach the point that you would want to walk out you simply begin asking the questions, challenging the thinking, and/or pushing back on your prospect - only now you have nothing to lose.  Of course, you should have been asking the good, tough, timely questions right along but you either weren't comfortable, didn't think you needed to, or thought you had asked enough questions.  So now you have a second chance.  What would you say, do or ask if there was nothing on the line, no business to lose, no prospect to become upset and no boss to question your effort?

Salespeople tend to use willingness to walk as an excuse to give up on a prospect or opportunity.  Being willing to walk is a mindset, not an actual departure!  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales effectiveness, willing to walk, sales confidence

What Sales Managers Do That Make Them So Ineffective

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 26, 2016 @ 14:07 PM

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Earlier this week I wrote an article on why so many sales managers are so bad.  In today's article, I'll share what makes them so ineffective.  The easiest way to explain this is to start with a baseball analogy.

Our son, who is now 14, is a very talented baseball player.  In addition to me, he has been coached in some capacity by approximately 15 other baseball coaches with varying degrees of effectiveness.  Some were very good, and some were very bad.  Not because they were bad people, but because they simply didn't know what they didn't know.  Here is an example of a bad coach from when our son was 12 years old.  The pitcher (not our son) was not throwing strikes and had walked 3 straight batters.  The coach yelled out, "throw strikes!"  Now if these were high school kids and the pitcher was trying to be too nibble, that instruction, or just, "Pound the zone" might work.  But 12 year-olds are still learning to pitch so asking for an outcome without providing instruction isn't very helpful.  Next the coach yelled, "Fix your mechanics!"  Again, if the pitcher knew which mechanics and/or how to fix them it might be helpful but of course, he didn't.  The next thing the coached yelled was, "Make an adjustment!"  I wasn't coaching this team so there wasn't anything that I could do, but I knew what should have happened.  If the coach actually knew which mechanics needed to be adjusted he would have called time out, walked to the mound, and had a chat.  He could have shared any one of the following examples of adjustments to pitching mechanics:

  • You're rushing - slow down your delivery
  • You're not pushing off the rubber - use your legs!
  • You're throwing across your body - turn your chest toward home plate before your arm comes around
  • You're not finishing your pitches - follow through
  • There is too much movement - pitch from the stretch 
  • You're releasing the ball too early, too late, too high, too low.
  • You're not extending your arm - throw down hill
  • You're over throwing - don't throw it as hard
  • You're holding the ball too tight - loosen your grip a bit
  • You're too anxious - breath!

And if the coach was oblivious to the mechanics, but still insisted on yelling out to his pitcher, he could have simply yelled out some encouragement! In lieu of instruction, at least encouragement will motivate, and not demotivate.  Now let's make the transition from baseball to sales management.

Sales Managers are usually guilty of the exact same thing.  We've all heard sales managers ask salespeople to:

  • Close more sales
  • Qualify them better
  • Make more appointments!
  • Ask better questions
  • Ask for more money
  • Go back and try again!
  • Get it closed before the end of the quarter
  • Give them an incentive!

How many sales managers know how to actually coach their salespeople?  How many of them can debrief in such a way that they can identify exactly where a sales conversation went south?  Identify which key question didn't get asked or followed up?  Role play how the conversation should have gone?  Role play how the next conversation should sound? Identify why a prospect was stuck on price when the goal was to sell value?  Determine why the prospect lacked urgency?  Figure out why the salesperson was unable to reach the decision maker?  Understand what in the salesperson's Sales DNA interfered with executing the sales process?  Learn which skill gap was responsible for the outcome?

Typically, most Sales Managers are not any better at providing coaching on the mechanics of selling than volunteer baseball coaches are at providing coaching on the mechanics of hitting or pitching.  We have a long way to go!

One of the challenges facing some companies is that many old school, veteran salespeople don't understand why they need to change their approach, change expectations or even participate in training and coaching.  With the world around them changing at breakneck speed, they appear to be blind to to it all.  Despite global competition, prospects who don't need a typical salesperson calling on them, and the need to sell value instead of price, these salespeople refuse to admit that anything has changed.  To make matters worse, their sales managers are often afraid to challenge them.  They are concerned that the salesperson's may quit if feathers are ruffled or worse, the sales manager will get terminated if a veteran salesperson complains to the C Suite.  It's an awful situation and it's made worse when weak, unqualified and ineffective sales managers are put into these roles.

We need a revolution!  I don't want to sound like Bernie but that is truly what is needed with the current state of sales management.  Will you be a leader, a follower or a resistor?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, Baseball

Top 5 Conditions For B2B Prospects to Buy Your Services

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Mar 15, 2016 @ 19:03 PM

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There are five specific events, points in time, and conditions when it is appropriate to ask for help.  Before I explain those, let me go to my favorite source for analogies - baseball - to show how this is true.  A quick Google search indicates that I have woven baseball into 435 of my articles - nearly one third of them, so why baseball again?  

When I wrote Baseline Selling in 2005 (as I write this article 10 years later, the book is still ranked #10 on Amazon.com in the sales category!), I identified 53 baseball terms, scenarios, and conditions that were analogous to selling.  And that was well before I began weaving in sales management scenarios!

So first a little baseball and then the sales analogy.  A fastball hit me square in the knee today.

When our son turned 11, he had become a pitcher and since I wasn't a pitcher when I was younger, I knew that I could not teach him the proper mechanics of pitching, so I got him a pitching coach.

I have been coaching him in baseball since he was old enough to stand and when he turned 12, he stopped listening to me.  "I know Dad!"  "Stop Dad!"  "Just pitch it to me, Dad!"  When he stopped listening to me, I got him a hitting coach that he would listen to so that he could continue to develop as a great hitter.

When he turned 13, I could no longer play catcher to his pitcher.  I have bifocals, making it extremely difficult to track a hard-thrown knuckle curve ball from 60 feet away in the dim spring light at the end of a long, hard work day. Today, when that fastball hit me square on my knee, I knew that I needed to find someone that he could pitch to so that he doesn't have to worry about killing me!

This spring, as he nears his 14th birthday, he has been invited to play on the high school varsity baseball team despite only being in the 8th grade.  This will present a whole new challenge for him and require even more repetitions, in even more areas of the sport.  I don't have enough time to work with him as often as he would like.  I got him some more help.

Top 5 Conditions:

  1. Exceeds my capabilities
  2. Not listening to me anymore
  3. Can't do it anymore
  4. Limited bandwidth
  5. And if I lacked having some to call, then Lack of Resources

If you sell an outsourced service, you can replace #2 with "not scalable."

But this message is primarily for the Presidents, CEO's, Sales Leaders and Sales Managers who don't recognize numbers 1-5 above.

There are so many companies whose revenues are not coming close to reaching their potential because their leaders fail to recognize the 4 scenarios above.  In addition, some sales leaders believe that if they have to get help from the outside, it makes them appear weak.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In my experience, when companies bring us in to help and revenues begin to soar, it makes the sales leaders look like the heroes!

Let's look at them again.

Exceeds my capabilities - You need to coach your salespeople up, but you can't coach them to be any better than you were.  The key is to recognize that while you may have been a good salesperson, you may not have been a great salesperson, and may not have had your success selling the way that salespeople must sell in modern times.  Modern selling requires a consultative approach where salespeople are the value.

Not listening to me anymore - It happens in sports where managers and coaches are fired because their players have stopped listening.  Salespeople stop listening too - they tune-out their sales leaders - when they have heard it all before.  It is very difficult to coach someone up when they aren't listening to what you are telling them.

Can't do it anymore - Sales leaders often reach a frustration level where it is no longer possible for them to provide the kind of coaching that their salespeople require.  They sense that it just isn't working, is wasting time, and they stop.

Limited bandwidth - Coaching should consume 50% of a sales leader's time.  At least 20 hours per week of good, quality, impactful coaching.  Yet most sales leaders don't have nearly that much time to coach.  This week, I spoke with a Sales VP who reads this blog and he has 12 direct reports with more on the way.  Even if he could spend 50% of his time coaching, how can he possibly provide thorough coaching to 12 people in 20 hours per week?

Sales teams must perform.  And increasing goals, plans, budgets, expectations and quotas place additional pressure on sales leaders to get the most from their teams.  Can we really expect sales leaders to accomplish that without help?

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales consulting, Baseball, outsourcing

What's Missing from the Report That Says Sales Training Doesn't Make Reps Better?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 06, 2016 @ 09:01 AM

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I could not believe my eyes when I read this report.  It was during the break between Christmas and New Years, so perhaps I wasn't as sharp as would be during a regular business day.  Maybe I missed something.  So I reread the report and the words amazed me even further.  The report claimed that salespeople don't improve their skills as a result of sales training.  Really?  Let's take a look.Here's the link to the article at KD Nuggets.

The goal of the report is to sell us on the power of talent analytics - being able to predict pre-hire whether the candidate will be a top performer - or not.  I'm all for that.  That's one of the things that Objective Management Group (OMG) does so well, so I am invested in a good report that supports our business.  But there are so many holes in this report that moths wouldn't be able to sustain themselves for more than a day.

The report is based on two studies; more specifically, the outcomes of training programs at two companies.  At one, the salespeople were actually underwriters - so they weren't really salespeople as much as they were the point of contact for agency salespeople.  Think customer service whose job is to find a way to say, "Maybe."  The second sold internet service to consumers.  So neither company sought or hired B2B salespeople.  After the author established who was studied, the report talks only about the underwriters.  So let's focus first on the underwriters and what the report doesn't tell us:

  • Did the underwriters have sales managers?  My guess is no.
  • Were the sales managers providing sales coaching? Ditto.
  • Who provided the training?  Was it an outside company or employees?
  • What were they trained on?  Was the content relevant to their roles?
  • How long were they trained and how frequently?
  • Was the trainer any good?  I would guess not.
  • Were the underwriters trainable and/or coachable?  
  • Did the trainers understand where Sales DNA would interfere with execution of skills?  I know they didn't.

The author states that the only thing you can do with underperformers, once they have been hired, is to devote resources to making them average.  Really?  If a company doesn't purposely hire an underperformer, don't they still have the option to terminate?

The second graph is quite dramatic at the 12-year point, when you learn that they only had 5 years worth of data and the last 7 years are "hypothetical" with assumed "linear growth."

I've been in the sales development business for more than 30 years and I can tell you this.  Training results differ from salesperson to salesperson, from company to company, from industry to industry, and from marketplace to marketplace. The single biggest variable on whether training will be successful is leadership commitment.  When a CEO, President or other senior authority is visibly driving the initiative, the results will be dramatically better than when that commitment is not visible to the salespeople being trained.  The second biggest variable is whether the participants are trainable and coachable.  The third is that sales managers must be trained and coached to do two things consistently and effectively prior to training the salespeople.  They must be able to coach the salespeople to the content; and they must be able to hold the salespeople accountable for applying what they learned. The capability of the trainer and the content itself come in at fourth and fifth.

We were not told how these variables impacted the training of the underwriters in the report.

Can training fail?  Of course.  Does it fail regularly?  Yes.  However, from personal experience, it is a rarity when properly designed and executed professional sales training fails.  The first step should be an OMG sales force evaluation which, in addition to answering 19 important business questions, shows who we are working with, whether or not they are trainable, and the specific nature of their skill and Sales DNA gaps. Then, when one of OMG's 150 partners provides the training - the right way - it is very rare for training to fail.

The reality is that the report we looked at was not really a study at all. I believe that it was a lame attempt to make a case for talent analytics.  And they are completely right.  When you get sales selection right, most of these issues simply go away.

For the fifth consecutive year, OMG was named the Top Sales Assessment Tool on the planet by TopSalesAwards.  Our predictive accuracy is legendary.  You can check it out here.  And be sure to read this short article on LinkedIn Pulse on the key Difference Between Sales Winners and Everyone Else.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales force evaluation, sales training, sales talent, sales assessments

Price Quotes and the Inability of Salespeople to Sell Value

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 @ 06:10 AM

Last week, I was training a sales force to sell value - an absolutely revolutionary concept - when the unthinkable happened, not once, but twice in the same training.  As incredible as it was to me, it clearly illustrates why it is so darn hard for companies to get their salespeople to sell value.

We had just spent an hour demonstrating a consultative approach to selling, a prerequisite for selling value.  We then spent another hour on the 4 keys to selling value.  We were in the middle of a role-play when Dick asked, "Why do I need to ask all those questions when all he wants is a price?  Isn't there a scenario where I can just quote him a price?"

Sure there is, Dick!  If you are prepared to be entirely obsolete - right now - then go ahead, skip the questions and the whole conversation, and quote your precious price.  Because we don't actually need you if all you're going to do is quote a price.  Your prospects and customers can get that online - and quicker than you can come up with an answer for them.  Today, prospects and customers have zero use for a salesperson whose value is limited to knowing prices and technical specifications.

It got even better after I was done with Dick.  Bob told me about Tom, a customer who can't buy from him because Tom has to buy from his brother-in-law.  Apparently, Bob's wife will kill him if he doesn't buy from Tom... Anyway, there was a scenario where Tom couldn't get what he needed from his brother-in-law, so he called Bob and asked, "How much?"

Of course, Bob wanted to quote a price, but I suggested that we role-play because there was probably another way to handle the call.  I played Bob's part in the role-play and wanted to take the call in a completely different direction.  Instead of quoting a price, I asked, "Tom, does your wife know you called me?" and "Why can't Tom deliver this for you?" and "You only want to make a one-time purchase?" and "Why should I do that?"

While Bob was thinking transactionally about the small order he might easily get, I was thinking about how we can leverage this turn of events and convert this into Bob doing a favor for Tom instead of Tom doing a favor for Bob.

The one thing that always gets in the way of selling value, is when salespeople want to quote prices!  Stop-quoting-prices!  There will be plenty of time - LATER - to let them know how much they will pay you when they decide to buy from you! 

Available Now and Coming Soon

I can't believe it, but it's already the 10th Anniversary of Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball - and still relevant 10 years later!  If you haven't read this best-seller, order it today or get it for your Kindle!

Free Download - 63 Powerful Tips for a Huge Increase in Sales - my new eBook

Sales Hack - Special Edition Featuring Dave Kurlan - 25 Sales Solutions to Drive Sales and Revenue - a new book by Chad Burmeister and Chris Beall

Fanatical Selling - The Ultimate Guide to Opening Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Email, Text and Cold Calling - A new book by Jeb Blount

Free Webinar by Handshake - October 21 at 1PM ET - Register for The Best Way to Coach Sales Reps 

Free Webinar by Objective Management Group - October 28 at 11 AM ET - Register for Benchmarking, EEOC Compliance and Predictive Sales Selection.  Speaking of Sales Selection, don't miss the popular article I published on LinkedIn Pulse - Why Most Big Companies Hire the Wrong Salespeople and How to Get it Right

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales training, selling value

Keys to Selecting a Sales Training Company

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 02, 2015 @ 08:07 AM

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Yesterday, I had a conversation with a Sales VP about the training he said he wanted (but didn't really) for his sales team. In most cases, unless the Sales VP initiates the call, bringing someone in from the outside really isn't high on the VP's priority list. When a CEO initiates the call, and then invites a Sales VP to join the conversation, Sales VPs are usually worried about:

  • How it will make them look? It will usually make them look good, but they usually worry that it will make them look bad!
  • What we can do that they haven't been able to do? They aren't supposed to be sales trainers. They are supposed to be leaders, so it's an inappropriate expectation.
  • What if we tell their salespeople things that are different from what they've been telling them? I'm sure we will suggest different things - that's the purpose of training. But that isn't a bad thing, it's a good thing - especially when the Sales VP embraces it.
  • What if they lose the respect of their salespeople? Really? For bringing top quality training into the company and helping them become more successful while increasing their earnings? Respect goes up, not down.
  • What if they lose the respect of their CEO? The respect is lost when they fight the initiative, discount the need, or suggest that they can do it themselves. Obviously, if they could do it themselves, the CEO wouldn't have initiated the conversation.

I can always tell when a Sales VP is worried about these things because they'll start asking all of the wrong questions. They'll want to know about agendas, content, slides, handouts, style, approach and timing. Instead they should be asking about results, solutions, and what they need to do to make it work!

It's all about the trainer and the trainer's ability to engage the team, keep them engaged and get them to change. The other stuff? It's just stuff and has no bearing on the effectiveness of a sales training program. I can produce the best slides, manuals, handouts and content, but if I suck at training, none of that will make up for it. And I can produce the worst materials on earth, but if my training gets the desired results, none of that will get in the way.

Of course, it's best to combine great materials with great training, but in the end, the only difference between good and bad results is the trainer. Read these articles and the three below for more on how to assure that your sales training initiative is successful:

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/after-the-sales-training 

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/solitaire-modern-sales-training-what-should-it-cover-and-include

http://www.omghub.com/salesdevelopmentblog/tabid/5809/bid/77627/Top-10-Sales-Training-Realities-Versus-What-You-Believed.aspx

Would you like to talk about turning your sales team into the most effective, consistent, winning sales team in your industry?  That's a conversation I'm always willing to have.  Just email me.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training

Closing Sales, Process, Hauntings, Training & More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

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Photo Credit: Psychic Library

Today I will explore the least-read articles I have ever written.  That's right.  The least read.  It's very fashionable - and a best practice - to continue promoting the most-read, most-liked, most-favorited, most-shared, most-tweeted and most-commented articles; but I don't think anyone has gathered up their worst work and said, "Look at this!"  It's actually not my worst writing.  It's all every bit as good, and in some cases, better than my best articles.  Sometimes crappy articles spread like wildfire and the good stuff comes out on a day when people aren't paying attention.  So here are the 10 best articles I ever wrote that hardly anyone noticed.

Closing Sales - The Fine Line Between Patience and Pressure  August 2007

The Impact of Sales Training  October 2006

Great Sales Opportunities That Don't Close March 2010

Salespeople - Can Their Work Ethic Be as Good as BB King's?  March 2007

How to be Memorable - Things to Do When You are Selling Yourself  August 2009

What Do Sales Managers Do with Their Time?  May 2007

My Sales Process, Strategies and Tactics in Your Voice  October 2010

But I'm a Sales Guy! The Story of Motivation and Compensation June 2007

Top 14 Requirements to Perform a Sales Force Makeover April 2009 

Hauntings and Salespeople  November 2006

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales motivation, Sales Tactics, Closing Sales, sales compensation, sales opportunities, bb king, how to be memorable, time management for sales managers, sales methodologies

After the Sales Training

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 09, 2015 @ 18:02 PM

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If you were listening to Top 40 Radio back in the 70's, then you may remember the hit song, After the Lovin', by the artist that all the girls and women loved, Englebert Humperdinck.  For those of you who were not yet born in 1976, Englebert had a string of hits - all love songs.  After the Lovin' was his biggest hit and while it may not be a perfect analogy for my article, it makes for a great blog title.

While much emphasis is placed on sales training itself, often times, the greatest benefit comes after a sales training session.  For example, let's take Russ, who sent in the following homework assignment.  Take a look at what he submitted and then review my response:

Dave,

Three things from today:

  1. Qualifying your prospect by uncovering pains. Many prospects won’t come right out and tell you that they aren’t hitting numbers or have weaknesses on their team. This means that you really have to create value. I will continue to work on uncovering and listening instead of jumping right in to talk about our products.
  2. Timeline. “How soon do you want this problem fixed?” I will use that when appropriate to short circuit the rest of the sales process. “I understand…what do you have to do to make that happen?”
  3. Find the money. It’s appropriate to talk about money. Ask them where they can get it from and don’t beat around the bush. I will do a better job of making sure that when rounding third base I know that my prospect is qualified and has the funds to close the deal.

These were 3 pretty good take-aways, but if you look more closely, you'll see that Russ, who is on a plan, uses words that compromise his effectiveness.  I wrote back and told him that words are everything and to review what I crossed out:

lesson-learned

He thanked me for the help and wrote that he would "Try to be stronger in his wording."

I responded again and told him, "Not just stronger in your wording, BE STRONGER!"

It's only after the sales training when we can determine whether the correct lessons were learned, internalized and ready to be applied on the phone and in the field.  Should we be surprised about Russ and how cautious and tentative he was being?  Not really.  His Objective Management Group (OMG) sales evaluation indicated several weaknesses and skill gaps, findings that were predictive of this behavior:

  • needs to think it over when making purchases (will allow prospects to do that)
  • low money tolerance (thinks $1,000 is a lot of money)
  • difficulty reaching decision makers (likely to talk with the wrong person)
  • too trusting (accepts what prospects say at face value)
  • accepts put-offs (doesn't push back)
  • presenting at inappropriate times (too early)
  • not asking questions (likely to present instead)

The goal of a sales training and coaching program is to address these issues and help a salesperson to overcome their weaknesses and fill their skill gap.  This was only the 4th session, so we are still in the early stages.  Being aware of the weaknesses and seeing them appear in a lessons learned email, allows us/you to connect the dots between the training, how he internalized the lessons, and how his weaknesses played a part. Then you can coach!

You can learn why your salespeople do what they do by having your sales force evaluated; or you can be more effective in sales candidate selection.

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales training, Sales Coaching, objective management group

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned 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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