3 Steps You Must Take Today to Save Your Company From This Economic Downturn

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 12, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

3-steps

You know the stories of the Three Stooges, The Three Little Pigs, The Three Bears, and baseball fans have just heard about The Three Batter Minimum (how stupid!).  We're not going to discuss any of those threes today but we will talk about the three things companies must do, right now, in this quickly disintegrating economy, to drive revenue.

First, I'll share my Three Rants.

In the past couple of weeks, I recorded three, very powerful, very important and very relevant 2-minute video rants.

Rant #1 - Less is More So Don't Talk So Much

Rant #2 - What's Wrong with Value Propositions and Elevator Pitches

Rant #3 - Why You Can't Wait Another Day to Change the Way You Sell

With those three rants digested, let's discuss business  The economy is in trouble - not forever, but for now - and things will unravel in this order.

  • Large companies will enact spending freezes, stop issuing PO's and hold up payments on orders in progress
  • Those spending freezes will trickle down through the shipping industry, the suppliers that sell to large companies and those firms who sell to them
  • The consequences of bullets 1 and 2 will quickly hit consumers in the form of layoffs

Salespeople, who just yesterday were crushing their numbers, won't.  Those who were missing quotas will be unable to sell anything.  Transactional selling (why you should buy it from us/me instead of them) will stop working all together.  Consultative Selling (why you should buy this despite the lack of funding) is the only approach that will work at all.  

Here's the problem with that.  According to Objective Management Group (OMG) and their data from the evaluations and assessments of 1,958,990 salespeople, only 15% of all salespeople have Consultative Selling as a strength.  And that number is misleading because most of those 15% make up the top 5% of all salespeople.  60% of the top 5% have Consultative Selling as a strength but only 3% of the bottom half of all salespeople do.  And bad news, most of your salespeople are in the bottom 50%!

There are three things you must absolutely do, right now, today, to have any chance of getting out in front of what's coming.

1.  Have OMG evaluate your sales force.  While the findings and insights are incredible, the specific findings and insights that should be important today are:

  1. How to make the right decisions to right-size or down-size your sales organization.  Who is most well-suited to grow the business in each of your selling roles and who isn't?
  2. How big is the gap that your salespeople must overcome to become proficient at a sales process that supports both consultative and value based selling, who will be able to make the transition, how long will it take, and how much training and coaching will be required?
  3. How big is the gap that your sales managers must overcome to become proficient at sales coaching to support those salespeople?

There are dozens of other relevant, useful and important insights and findings but those are the three that you must have the answers for today.

2. Optimize your Sales Infrastructure. 

  1. Your sales process must be optimized to support this kind of selling
  2. The sales process must be milestone-centric and it must build upon itself. 
  3. Eliminate the dead wood on the sales force - less is more.  
  4. Replace them with great salespeople who will suddenly be available but make sure you use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment to select them.  Now is not the time to lose 8-12 months because you value gut instinct over science!
  5. Now is the time to dump the CRM tool your salespeople refuse to live in (bye-bye salesforce-dot-com) and replace it with one that integrates your optimized sales process and pipeline, has built-in playbooks and focuses on sales opportunities instead of data entry (hello Membrain.com.  
  6. Eliminate unnecessary layers of management and right-size the reporting structure.  Ideal=6-8 reps reporting to a sales manager and 3-5 sales managers reporting to a Regional sales manager.

3. Train, Train, Train, Drill, Drill, Drill, Coach, Coach, Coach

  1. Get the proper sales management training that will turn your sales managers into coaching machines
  2. Get the proper sales training that will turn your salespeople into consultative sellers
  3. Run daily drills so that they can practice on someone other than their prospects!

You really can get out in front of this and continue to drive revenue if your salespeople can effectively side-step the resistance, create urgency, properly differentiate, sell value instead of price, and not become discouraged over all of the rejection they will be facing in the coming months.

Or you can put your head in the sand, believe that what worked last month will work next month, and wait until your cash flow is upside down and by then it will be too late.

Your choice.

Comments?  Leave them on the LinkedIn discussion for this article.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, Salesforce, selling in the recession

Does Efficiency or DNA Help to Increase Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 @ 15:07 PM

efficiencyThe Salesforce Blog published a new article of mine today - Read How to Create Perfect Sales Conditions.  It's really an article about how to use tools and efficiency to increase your focus and sales.  Speaking of efficiency, Kyle Dougherty, from Prialto, sent me this very cool video today.  Talk about a tool that helps you to be efficient!

Some people have efficiency in their DNA.  Matt Heinz wrote this article for the Hubspot Inbound Sales Blog, asking whether great salespeople are born.  I usually like what Matt writes, but I take issue with this particular article because the science just isn't there for what he wrote.

Compare that article with this article on the same subject.  Or this article, or even this article.

Science has a lot to say about sales selection!  And there's plenty of science available for us to make sales selection more effective, more consistent and more efficient.  

whitepaper banner

And that returns us to where we began this article - efficiency.

Efficiency and effectiveness are choices.  Do things the same way as always and sometimes get it right; or do things in the best possible way and nearly always get it right.  As always, the choice is yours.

 

Image Copyright: feverpitched / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, Salesforce, Sales DNA, born to sell, sales assessments

Top 16 Problems with CRM

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 @ 05:10 AM

Yesterday, I wrote about solving the sales performance problem.  Today, I'll write about solving the CRM problem.  CRM is very problematic, not because there aren't choices, but more because companies make bad decisions.  Just a few of the problems with CRM are listed here:

        • Company has no CRM.
        • Company has archaic CRM.
        • Salespeople won't use the existing CRM.
        • CRM doesn't provide management with an accurate forecast.
        • Management doesn't hold salespeople accountable for using/maintaining CRM.
        • CRM requires too much information input.
        • CRM is too slow to respond.
        • CRM is focused on data and accounts rather than opportunities.
        • CRM is not consistent with sales process.
        • CRM is viewed as busy work rather than a tool.
        • CRM is too expensive.
        • CRM can't be accessed via mobile devices.
        • Company wants too much unnecessary information about opportunities.
        • CRM allows salespeople to place prospects in the wrong pipeline stage.
        • CRM is too difficult to customize.
OK, so that wasn't just a few, but you get the idea.  Yesterday, I spent 90 minutes on a conference call with a client (the president, IT guy and 2 sales leaders) and their CRM provider (salesperson, regional sales manager and technical specialist) as they attempted to customize the application, so that it would follow the sales process which I developed for them, and provide an accurate forecast.  That shouldn't be necessary.
Last week, I spent 90 minutes with another client (8 people from operations, sales, customer service and marketing) showing them how CRM could be the answer to their inaccurate forecasts and pipeline reports.  All had different ideas of how much the CRM application should be required to do versus how simple it could really be.
CRM doesn't have to be complicated, expensive, difficult to customize or slow.  It doesn't need to require much data, give salespeople too much leeway or provide inaccurate forecasts.  Simply put, CRM can be everything your company needs it to be and more.  You just have to make a few good decisions:
        • You must already have a customized, formal, structured and optimized sales process in place and, if you don't, have a sales consultant create that for you.
        • You must choose the right CRM application (fast, salesperson-friendly, opportunity-focused using your new or existing sales process; excellent pipeline and forecasting tools, easy to set up, customize and use, etc.) as opposed to choosing a CRM application simply because you recognize the name.
        • Salespeople must understand what's in it for them and why they should embrace it.
        • Hold salespeople accountable for providing real-time updates.
I've reviewed 15 CRM applications (Landslide, Sugar, Oracle, Sales Logix, Microsoft Dynamics, Membrain, Fortuit, FunnelSource, Podio, OppTuna, Pipedrive, PipelineDeals, Act, Goldmine and Zoho) which aren't named Salesforce.com and because clients have had some of these applications installed, they've had to use many of them.  My feeling is that clients need to cut their losses and switch to a productive application, rather than sticking with a failed initiative, just because the money has been invested.  The Boston Red Sox dumped approximately $140 million in contracts this summer so that they could start from scratch in building a winning roster.  You should do the same thing with CRM!
Some things that CRM should be are:
        • An extension of the sales conversation, 
        • Salespeople should live inside the application rather than on email,
        • Salespeople should love it for the visual references which it provides,
        • Management should love it for the pipeline and forecast,
        • The best coaching tool on the planet,
        • Reports should be easy to coax from it and
        • Customizable without extra costs or fees.
So, you now have my 3 lists of bullets.  But what about the explanations and details?  What about examples?  For that I invite you to attend a 45-Minute Webinar on: 
How to Solve the CRM Problem
November 13
10 AM ET
Henrik Öquist, of Membrain, and
We will present the details, explanations and examples to help you implement CRM in a simple way where everyone - salespeople and management - get exactly what they need from CRM.  Please join us! CRM doesn't have to be complicated, difficult or undesirable; CRM can be the single most exciting tool in the sales organization.  You simply have to make the right decisions!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales management, Sales Coaching, Salesforce, Sales Force, crm, membrain

Kindle - Lessons Applied to the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 22, 2010 @ 06:02 AM

Readers who have purchased the Kindle have totally embraced that device.  Some think it's the Kindle, not online sellers, that is the biggest threat to brick and mortar book stores.  Those of us who own a Kindle are reading more books, and reading them more easily and conveniently than before we had the device. So why have sales forces, especially in smaller companies, been so resistant to technologies that make it simpler and more convenient to record, share, track, manage, forecast and see, in real time, the who, what, when, where, and how of selling? There are many applications available and you've heard of those like ACT!, Goldmine, Salesforce.com and Microsoft CRM.  I've written on more than one occasion that I like Landslide.com the best.  If you want ease of use, salespeople who embrace rather than resist using it, little to no data entry (you can call it in) powerful out-of-the-box dashboards, and your choice of sales processes built-in, including Baseline Selling, Landslide is the only choice.

Speaking of the Kindle, many of you have been asking for me to do this so:

Dave Kurlan is now on the Kindle.

Receive my Understanding the Sales Force Blog on your Kindle.

You can receive my best-selling book, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball on your Kindle.

And you can help me out.  The Blogs are listed by Kindle popularity and since mine just went live, I assume it will show up last out of 1500 or so business Blogs currently available on the Kindle.  Please forward this article to your Kindle toting friends who might care or it may never be discovered on the Kindle device. And if you are like me, and you prefer to read your favorite Blogs on the Kindle at the same time you read your favorite newspaper on the Kindle, then why not subscribe to the Kindle edition?

(c) Copyright 2010 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, Landslide, kindle, ACT, Goldmine, salesforce.com, microsoft crm

Key Account Sales - More Than Just Important Accounts

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 02, 2009 @ 09:11 AM

Over the last several months I have engaged in several on line disagreements about the importance of asking questions early in the sales process.  More than one sales expert has claimed that asking questions violates trust.  More than one marketing expert has claimed that asking questions is offensive.  My position is that unless your salespeople are asking lots of good, tough, timely questions, they won't uncover their prospects' compelling reasons to buy and buy from you instead of your competition. In addition, you won't create the urgency you need to move the opportunity forward and prevent delays, put-offs and ambivalence.

My guest on last week's edition of Meet the Sales Experts was Sales Development Expert Hal Thorsvig.  We were talking about psychology, the art of asking questions and listening and he said that "when people are sharing their emotional reasons for buying they are into the highest level of rapport there is!"  He added that you should "ask questions with a true sense of wonderment and curiosity".

Hal also had some interesting thoughts on Key Account Sales where, according to Hal, there is much more to it than just identifying important accounts and assigning account managers to them.  He said you must have:

  • strategy to ward off competition
  • ability to deal with multiple buying influences
  • great control/understanding of the needs of each of those influences 
  • ability to maintain the account (maintain should be interpreted as retain)
  • ability to grow the account

Are you or your salespeople struggling with ways to justify pricing that is being attacked with unrealistically low prices from your competition?  Listen to the show for the great Uncle Charlie story that Hal told. Hal's story is bound to put an end to that problem!

Click here to listen to the show.  Click here to contact Hal.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, pricing, key account sales, hal thorsvig, price objections

3rd of the 10 Sales Competencies that are Key to Building a Sales Culture

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 13, 2009 @ 06:10 AM

I went out of order in my last post  and presented #6 from my list of 10 Sales Competencies That are Key to Building Sales Cultures.

In this post I present the real #2, The Enemy is Resistance.  I've written about this before too.

The gist of Resistance is this: Selling would be far more simply for many more of your salespeople if they would focus on recognizing the resistance rather than attempting to overcome the many forms it takes:

  • lack of interest
  • happy with who they're using
  • price
  • quality
  • features
  • benefits
  • claims
  • satisfaction
  • problems
  • reputation
  • service
  • questions
  • put-offs
  • timing
  • perceived need

Rather than dealing with these objections individually, if your salespeople could just recognize the earliest stages of resistance...

  • a certain look
  • a change in posture
  • a nod
  • "well..."
  • "maybe..."
  • "I'm not sure..."
  • "but..."
  • a shoulder shrug
  • a stated objection
  • a loaded question
  • etc.

...and deal with it right then and there - at the earliest stage - by simply:

  • agreeing ("Yeah, I would have reacted that way too" or "You're right" or "You didn't react too well to what I just said...")
  • acknowledging ("I understand")
  • questioning ("Out of curiosity, why do you feel that way?")
  • questioning ("Can you explain?")
  • questioning ("What if it (or I) could?")
  • etc.

Resistance itself is pretty easy to deal with because you can lower it very quickly.  But if your salespeople aren't able to recognize it early, or worse, they ignore it, then they'll have to deal with the objections.  When they deal with objections, as soon as they attempt to overcome them, by using:

  • reason
  • logic
  • facts
  • figures
  • features
  • benefits
  • selling points
  • explanations
  • validation
  • rationalizations
  • charts
  • graphs
  • testimonials
  • defending

...they will be seen as putting on the hard sell, resistance will go up, not down, and their position will worsen!

Make sure your salespeople become masters at overcoming resistance.  Speaking of which, I am presenting a Sales Master Class on the very subject on behalf of The Sales Experts on October 15.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, overcoming resistance

Customer Centric - 1st of the 10 Kurlan Sales Competencies for Building a Sales Culture

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Oct 06, 2009 @ 22:10 PM

The original article for this series was posted here.

 

#1 - IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!

Believe it or not, there are a lot of people in sales who mistakenly believe that the world revolves around them.  If my previous sentence said "show business" instead of "sales" it would make sense but this isn't show business.

Roles and titles make no difference on this one. I have developed and coached salespeople, managers, VP's, Presidents and CEO's alike whose biggest challenge was learning that it's not about them.  Some of the things they've had to learn are that prospects and customers (and employees) don't care about:

  • what they did over the weekend
  • their hobbies
  • their opinions
  • their likes and dislikes
  • their reasons to buy
  • why their company is so respected
  • why their product/services are so cool
  • why they do what they do
  • their excuses
  • their problems
  • their value proposition
  • their goals
  • their desired outcomes
  • their expectations
  • their process
  • their quota
  • their end of the month/quarter pressures
  • whatever it is you usually tell them
  • what they just bought
  • how much money they have
  • where they vacationed
  • them.

I've seen sales managers who put their own needs ahead of their salespeople, failing to develop, encourage and support them.

I've seen salespeople who just don't hear their prospects' positions, instead stating and standing by their own positions with more vigor and volume than their prospects. 

It's terribly shocking to those who make it all about them - that the only thing that truly matters is what their prospects and customers care about.  And they don't care about self-centered salespeople. 

So if prospects and customers don't want to hear about any of it, what's left?

Ask questions.  Lots of questions.  Good questions.  Tough questions.  Timely questions.

Use questions to develop a relationship, to build trust, to demonstrate expertise, to show you care and to show that you're listening.

It's all about them.  Next post? #2 on the list - The Enemy is Resistance.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force

Top 10 Sales Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 05, 2009 @ 11:10 AM

These aren't the 10 sales competencies you read about and listen to all the time. No way!  These 10 are hardly ever discussed, seldom, if ever written about, and the most difficult to learn.  Ready?

  1. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.
  2. THE ENEMY IS RESISTANCE.
  3. YOU CAN TALK - IT'S YOUR MIND THAT HAS TO SHUT UP.
  4. GET AND USE A SALES GPS.
  5. SLOW DOWN TO SPEED UP.
  6. PREVENT HAPPY EARS.
  7. PRESENT NO OPTIONS.
  8. IT'S ONLY A NUMBERS GAME IF YOU USE THE RIGHT NUMBERS.
  9. PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT.
  10. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN OBJECTION.

If your salespeople can learn the fine art of these 10, they will outsell everyone they come up against. Forward the link to this post to anyone you think will enjoy the 10 articles.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force

Why Some Lousy Salespeople Can't Get Any Better

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Sep 18, 2009 @ 08:09 AM

Chris Mott returned to Meet the Sales Experts this week and provided us with a show packed with good information.

We were discussing salespeople who don't improve, aren't motivated to do better and who resist training, development and coaching efforts of sales managers and outside experts.  Chris said that much of this behavior is due to negative personal experiences that these salespeople had when being sold to by other, basically, horrible salespeople. 

So I believe that as a result of this two things happen:

  1. They over compensate for those awful salespeople by simply presenting the facts, features and benefits as they see them.
  2. They avoid important strategies and tactics that are crucial to sales success, believing that  using them would make them like those terrible salespeople who either offended or hurt them.

These salespeople end up struggling in a big way and never understand why.

Chris also provided his revised view of the Economy.  He said we've been through massive changes and there are both money and plenty of opportunities out there.  He says there is a belief that once the economy gets better that everything will be good again but that is totally false.  Instead, he said it will require better skills, targeting, effort, and management - but not in the way people are used to doing it.  Chris said that this will be a burden for companies and their sales forces but that anything that forces us to be better is a good thing.

Listen to the show by clicking here.  Contact Chris by clicking here.

Speaking of doing better, I'll be keynoting a big Executive Luncheon at Bentley University on November 3, 2009.  My topic is After the Cutting - How Successful Companies are Selling Their Way Back.

If you're in New England, you can attend this event by clicking here for more information. 

Not local to the area? This event will be streamed live, direct to your desktop and you can get the live stream by clicking here for more information.

Attend live or via stream at no cost by using my Discount Code DK1103.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, Salesforce, Sales Force, chris mott, lousy salespeople, weak salespeople

Articles on Sales Training Impact

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 17, 2009 @ 11:09 AM

I've written a number of articles on the issue of maximizing and optimizing sales training, as well as some of the reasons why sales training won't work.  The following articles deal with this topic:

A Salesperson's Terrible Reaction to Good Sales Training

3 Reasons Why Sales Training Doesn't Work

Improve Your Sales Force Despite Veteran Salespeople

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

Why Accidental Sales Training Works More Effectively

Are Sales Leaders More Receptive to Training Than Salespeople?

Are Women in Sales Less Trainable?

What It Really Means When CRM Isn't a Sales Force Priority

Top 10 Sales Training Realities versus What You Believed

How Frequently Do Your Salespeople Practice Selling?

Secrets of Effective Sales Development

Top 25 Prerequisites for Successful Sales Training and Development 

A Toasted Bagel and 5 Minutes to Understand the Impact of Sales Training

The Impact of Sales Training

Teaching Sales in School is Like Learning to Play Golf on the Wii

Why Corporate Sales Training Often Fails to Achieve the Desired Result

Building a Sales Culture - 10 Rules for Success

Creating a Sales Culture

SPIN Selling and Miller-Heiman

Sales Force Development - Is it Training?

What It Takes to Make Your Sales Pipeline Accurate and Predictive 

The Key to Significantly Improve Sales Training Results

Consultative Selling, Commitment and Training Like Oil and Water

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

The Common Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden 

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

Glue - The Missing Element That Makes Every Sales Training Initiative Successful

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, sales force development, Salesforce, sales development

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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 medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight 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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