Great Quotes for Success Found in the Least Likely Place

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 22, 2016 @ 06:11 AM

Our son was at his baseball practice last weekend and I saw these great messages on the white board.  I couldn't resist snapping some pictures. 

IMG_4211 (2).jpgQuotes3.jpgIMG_4212.jpg

I didn't expect to see these quotes - meant to inspire teenage boys - but I'm so glad that I did.  Let's explore the applications for these quotes as they apply to sales and selling:

"If you never stop you never have to start over."  Isn't that a great message for salespeople that need to make cold calls, get prospects engaged and convert them to meetings?

"Everyone wants to be a beast until it's time to do what beasts do."  Beasts practice and give second and third efforts when a play is over.  Most salespeople want to be great but give up way to soon and don't practice at all.

"All you can control is EFFORT and ATTITUDE.  Give 100% of both and you will see results."  Most salespeople fail because they won't do the things that they are least comfortable doing.  But if they give 100% effort with a good attitude they won't think about things like comfort.

"The harder you work the harder it is to surrender."  That's a quote about momentum and when the momentum is in your favor you won't want to stop.

We tend to take quotes like these for granted but if we bring them to life, by living the words, great things always happen.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Motivation, Baseball, salespeople, quotes for sales

30 Reasons Why 1 Million Sales Jobs Will be Obsolete

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 06:03 AM

 

obsolete

Image Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

On March 8, this article on the Hubspot Sales Blog reported that one million B2B sales jobs will be lost.  Are you, or any of your salespeople at risk?  The article talked about four archetypes of salespeople and the two types at greatest risk.  While I agree that there won't be a place for order takers, and those who sell consultatively will always have work, I see the shakeup a bit differently.  Here's why.

If you're reading this article, it means that you are at least somewhat active on social media and could be less at risk than others.  For example, there are certain signs that people who meet some or all of the following 10 conditions might not have a place in the new sales order by 2020:

  1. You're my age or older (I'm 59).
  2. You don't have a LinkedIn profile.
  3. You have fewer than 500 connections on LinkedIn.
  4. You don't visit LinkedIn each day to see what's happening with your connections.
  5. You don't actively participate in LinkedIn groups where your customers are most likely to find you.
  6. You don't read articles and comment to improve your visibility.
  7. You don't have your picture on your LinkedIn profile.
  8. You haven't integrated the myriad of powerful and effective tools that make selling easier and makes you more efficient.
  9. You call yourself "old-school".
  10. Your only use of LinkedIn occurs when someone sends an invitation to join their network.

While LinkedIn does not replace prospecting, it helps people find you and when they do, they may be presold on you based on what they read about you and by you.  The opposite can happen too...  If you aren't taking advantage of this great platform, you have lost tremendous ground to your colleagues and competitors.

I mentioned tools in #8 above.  My favorites include Reachable.com, toofr.com, Shufflrr.com, Membrain.com, Wunderlist.com, ScheduleOnce.com, Postwire.com, Wistia.com, AdobeConnect.com, ToutApp.comConnectAndSell.com, and many more.  Why are tools important?  They help you personally target, market, identify, get introduced, and connect.  Then they help you track and manage your sales cycle with each opportunity as well as your pipeline.  The days of managing opportunities and sales cycles with notebooks, clunky CRM, spreadsheets and email are long gone.  You might just be starting to use clunky CRM, spreadsheets and email for this, but you're too late.  The cheese moved again!

Then there are some actual sales criteria.  if you aren't proactively making sure that you have the following 10 issues mastered, then you, selling, and the year 2020 may not be long for each other:

  1. You are following a time-tested, proven, milestone-centric, formal, customized, sales process.
  2. You are selling consultatively - all the time.
  3. You have finally stopped positioning a demo as a milestone predictive of revenue.
  4. You have finally stopped doing demos before an opportunity is completely qualified.
  5. You are always working to improve your listening and questioning skills.
  6. You are rejection-proof.
  7. You have unconditional commitment to sales success.
  8. You are disciplined, consistent and resilient.
  9. You seek effective and helpful coaching from your sales leader and/or outside experts.
  10. You have stopped being a source of product knowledge and pricing; and have become a valued resource.

Without a doubt, selling is more difficult than at any time in our history.  It is also more complex and requires a completely different skill set than it once did.  As an example, salespeople who just 10 years ago were doing just fine, are now struggling to make ends meet as they deal with the fact that they can no longer do the following 10 things and expect it to have a positive impact:

  1. Bring donuts and coffee.
  2. Be a product encyclopedia.
  3. Quote pricing.
  4. Explain features and benefits.
  5. Show up and expect to get quality time.
  6. Expect people to buy because of their relationship alone.
  7. Expect people to buy because of their pricing alone.
  8. Expect people to buy because of their quality or service alone.
  9. Differentiate by talking about how they are different.
  10. Waste the time of people who are important.

This warning is bigger than salespeople.  This is about sales organizations and companies and industries too.  Back in the 1990's, companies were working on Lean, ISO, Just in Time, Just Enough, upgrading their operations, and working on every phase of their business except sales.  I see similar things occurring today with upgrades to technology, capabilities and capacity, while salespeople are all but abandoned.  If you have a sales organization and you haven't had it evaluated, right-sized, right-roled, upgraded and improved in order for you to still be relevant in 2020, you are falling further behind each day.  This is all happening faster than most people think, so there is no time like the present.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales performance, social selling, salespeople, sales tools

Top 10 Indicators That You Have a Trustworthy Sales Prospect

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 28, 2014 @ 09:04 AM

trustWhen we discuss trust, it's usually from the perspective of how to build trust, how to be more trustworthy and what to do when a prospect doesn't trust you.  These issues led to my White Paper on Trust, a study that had some very surprising and revealing results.  If you haven't seen it or downloaded it, you can get it here.

When one of my clients talked with me about trust last week, I was actually surprised about the context and direction he was taking it.

He believed that as early as his first phone call, he could determine when a prospect was going to buy and if they were being honest...but didn't think his salespeople could do the same thing.

We discussed that he has much more experience, better instincts, develops better relationships, asks better questions, and does a better job differentiating himself.  Those competencies and his experience do make a difference.

He asked if that could be taught to his lesser experienced salespeople and I said "no."  You not only can't teach instincts and experience, but if you tried, salespeople might use it as a justification for having happy ears, hearing more of what they want to hear without questioning it.

That said, there are some indicators that we can identify, to help salespeople have a better handle on whether the prospect is being honest and whether or not they will buy.  But these are not replacements for instinct. These indicators do not change the facts, they cannot move the opportunity to another stage of the pipeline or sales process, and they cannot alter the probability of closing.  They are simply indicators:

  1. The prospect says that, "Nobody ever asked me that question before" and proceeds to answer it;
  2. The prospect says, "Great question" and proceeds to answer it;
  3. There is a discussion about the competition, but it does not involve having the lowest price;
  4. The prospect thanks the salesperson for being so very helpful;
  5. The prospect shared the names of other decision makers, their roles and invited them to the next meeting or conversation;
  6. The prospect easily shared his/her compelling reasons to buy;
  7. The prospect answered all of your tough questions;
  8. The prospect shared something personal;
  9. The prospect took interest in the salesperson's personal life; and/or
  10. There was no game playing.
Yes, there can be more.
No, this particular list does not have any science or even a study behind it.  These are simply indicators that I have consciously and unconsciously used over the years.  They may or may not be transferrable.  They may or may not work for you. 
Of course, you may not agree with me.  This is an easy article to punch holes in, so if you are so inclined, this is the time to do it!
Remember, these do not replace instinct or facts - they are simply indicators to help determine whether or not you can believe your prospect and accurately predict that you'll get the business.

Image credit: tang90246 / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, trust, sales calls, trustworthy, salespeople

Trust in Selling is Becoming More Important Than Ever

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

trustI loved this short, but perfect post from Seth Godin's Blog last week.  It's about the importance of trust.  Please read it before proceeding.  It's also very consistent with the late Steven Covey's philosophy as related in his book, The Speed of Trust.

Trust is becoming more important than ever.  Companies are focusing more on integrity and values, and that's from both sides of the door.  They are looking for salespeople, vendors, suppliers, partners and trusted advisors who have strong integrity.  And they are also hiring the people (in this case, salespeople) who are deemed to be of a higher integrity.  Trustworthy is the operative word here.

There are certainly companies and people that don't measure up when it comes to the high integrity profile and that is what makes prospects so skeptical.  Bad experiences.  It only takes one shoplifter for a retailer to install a video surveillance system and/or detectors, lock their display cases, hide their merchandise and distrust all of its customers.  Just one bad apple is all it takes to ruin it for everyone.

Yesterday, we had an internal conversation about our website, collateral, videos, blog articles, white papers, emails and of course, phone calls and face-to-face visits.  The question of the day was, "Do potential clients trust us when they don't really know us that well?"  

We wondered aloud whether credibility and trust were really the same thing, related, or completely separate conclusions.  Personally, I believe they are separate.  I believe that someone could be credible as an expert, yet still not be completely trustworthy.  I also believe that we could meet someone who was completely worthy of our trust, but not be completely credible as an expert.  Separate issues.  The problem is that many companies lump these two issues together and assume that if they are credible, they have built trust.  Here's something for you to consider.  Let me know if you agree with my definitions.  I believe that credibility is an earned, time-tested, combination of experience, expertise and success in a specific field or subject matter.  I believe that trustworthiness is the ability to convey personal values and integrity through words, body language and actions.  Do you agree?

You can have all of the latest systems, processes, tools, and applications, along with the best products and services.  But if your prospects don't trust you, your intentions, your company, your promises or your eagerness, they won't buy from you.

I would like to remind you of a white paper on trust that I published a couple of years ago.  I conducted a study and we got some incredible, eye-popping data, that shows who trusts whom, by industry, and exactly when and why salespeople are distrusted.  It's a must-read.  You can download it right here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, trust, Seth Godin, integrity, steven covey, salespeople

Everyone Can Sell. Not Really. Top 10 Reasons Why Not

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 22, 2013 @ 09:05 AM

ToSellIsHumanDan Pink, Author of To Sell is Human, has been getting a lot of well-deserved exposure.  He wrote a terrific book and most who have read it, really like it.  I don't have a problem with his book because read in its entirety, it makes sense.  I do have an issue with the people who write about his book and take the concept, that everyone can sell, out of context.  The context is that everyone can sell their ideas.  Agreed.  But out of context, it is suggested that everyone can be a salesperson.  I strongly disagree.

Forget for a moment all of the data from Objective Management Group showing that 74% of all professional salespeople suck.  When we take the concept from selling an idea (at home, at church, in the neighborhood or internally to coworkers) to professional selling, 10 things change:

  1. There is money on the table and 53% of salespeople are uncomfortable having a conversation about money and another 33% think that just $500 is a lot of money.  The money conversation adds a level of pressure that does not exist when one simply has an idea to sell.
  2. There is commission at stake and that adds a level of pressure and emotion that causes many salespeople to let their opportunity get derailed.  The 47% of salespeople who desperately need to be liked, choose the tactic or strategy that preserves a friendship, rather than the one that gets the business, simply because they are afraid of doing anything to jeopardize their commission.
  3. There is a performance requirement at stake and just like in number 2 above, the pressure and emotion of performing, meeting quota and/or expectations, causes salespeople to approach opportunities with a "make sure you don't lose" mentality instead of "make sure you win."
  4. Recovering from rejection is an ongoing challenge for 72% of salespeople.  However, if they are simply selling an idea - one idea - and it gets rejected, they don't have to get back on the horse.
  5. Some salespeople have conditional commitment - they'll do what it takes as long as it's comfortable for them.  That isn't enough in sales - especially since 2008!  But if you're selling an idea, with nothing at stake, doing what's comfortable is acceptable.
  6. Pressure and Emotion are in 3 of my first 5 and 52% of salespeople become too emotional to remain objective.  More importantly, salespeople can't listen when they are emotional and if they can't listen, they can't ask questions and without questions they can't be effective.
  7. Alternatives may exist when selling an idea internally, but in professional sales there will be competition and its existence creates a variable that causes many salespeople to do a very poor job of differentiating themselves.  Internally, a better idea wins the day.  When selling professionally, the best solution, product or service may be overshadowed by a better price, more memorable salesperson, better quality or service, delivery issues, history with a company, size of a company, capabilities or a relationship.
  8. Speaking of relationships, internally you are a known entity - no relationships to establish, no trust to be built, no credibility to be earned, no expertise to be demonstrated, no question as to one's knowledge of the organization.  Selling professionally requires that all of those criteria be established.
  9. The internal sale will never require a cold-call to get the discussion rolling.  Today salespeople may need to make 10-20 attempts to get their cold-call answered or returned and then they must quickly break the ice, get the prospect engaged, and have a memorable 5-minute conversation to get a meeting scheduled.
  10. Dan Pink recommends hiring ambiverts.  Here are my reasons why that strategy may not be the answer when hiring salespeople.
What do you think?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, dan pink, ambiverts, objective management group, salespeople

Did President Obama Do More Damage to the Image of Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 07, 2012 @ 08:11 AM

liarI would like to discuss what happened toward the end of the presidential campaign (hooray for that being completed!), which may have been lost in the sea of mutual attack ads and name-calling.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama said that Mitt Romney was a bullshitter. That was a very rare, public choice of words for a sitting president, but on its own, I don't have an issue with it.  On another occasion, Obama's campaign manager called Romney a felon.  Were those name-calling instances part of a carefully planned campaign strategy?  New attack slogans?  Lies?  Truths?  Spin?  Comedy?  Does it really matter?  Will anyone even remember?

Last week, Obama's campaign called Romney a great salesman and added that what he was selling wasn't any good.  In other words, "Don't believe a word he says."  So, if we connect the dots what do we get?

          • Salesman = bullshitter
          • Salesman = liar
          • Salesman = felon

Perfect timing.  Just when there was hope that the profession of selling was getting its act together - taking itself more seriously, becoming more professional, embracing integrity, evaluations, metrics, training and coaching - an elected official, of all people, undoes it with three instances of name-calling.  We need to present our products and services in the best possible light and must do that without name-calling.  When we attack a competitor, it doesn't discredit them as much as it discredits us.  Was the President discredited as a result of the name calling?  Probably not.  By the 11th hour of the campaign, most people were so sick of the attacks from both candidates that they had stopped listening.  Your prospects may stop listening to you too if you slam your competitor!  There is a vast difference between comparing your strengths and a competitor's legitimate weaknesses, versus calling them names.  Here are ten references to competitors that I've heard salespeople use:  

            • morons,
            • incompetent,
            • lazy,
            • unreliable,
            • insensitive,
            • liars,
            • con artists,
            • jerks,
            • greedy  
            • rude.
Let's hope that nobody remembers what just happened and that slamming the competition doesn't become acceptable. 

Topics: sales presentations, salespeople, romney, name-calling, professional sales

Did Your Salespeople Choose to Be in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 05, 2011 @ 07:01 AM

Even if you reviewed as many resumes as I do each week you might not notice this:  Most sales candidates did not have a sales position as their first job after college.  Most started as something else and then, out of the blue, they were in sales, sales management, marketing, or business development.  I always get suspicious when somewhere back in time a candidate went from Purchasing to Sales Management and never sold along the way...

So what happened?  Did they think salespeople had a more exciting life/role and wish to become one?  Were they given ultimatums to accept commission sales positions as a way of keeping their jobs during a recession?  Did they lose a job in their chosen profession and then take a sales position out of desperation?

Of more interest is why, after the transition, they remained in sales...After all, only a small percentage (26%) of them are reasonably good at it. 

The small percentage of people who chose sales as a career (if I had a resume, it would show sales as the first position but it was less a matter of choosing and more a realization that I wasn't qualified to do anything else!) aren't any more successful than those who didn't.

Let's conduct an informal poll/exercise.  After reading this, ask your most effective and least effective salespeople if they chose sales as a career or simply ended up in a sales career.  Then report your findings by commenting below.  We would be very interested in your findings!

Your comments might read something like:

"Our most effective salesperson was forced into sales 10 years ago.  Our least effective salesperson started in sales 20 years ago because it was the only job he could get."

 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, sales recruiting, selling, sales candidates, sales career, sales effectiveness, salespeople

Top 10 Outcomes That Should Come from Sales Coaching

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 @ 06:12 AM


When you coach a salesperson, which words should you hear that would tell you the session was effective?

Not "Thanks" or "OK".

Think about how frequently you hear responses like:

  1. "I have some great action items"
  2. "Great take-aways"
  3. "You make it seem so easy"
  4. "How do you come up with that stuff?"
  5. "I can't believe how helpful that was!"
  6. "I wish I had this yesterday..."
  7. "Perfect - that's exactly what I needed."
  8. "Would you hold me accountable for that?"
  9. "How soon can we schedule our next session?"
  10. "Any chance we can go a little longer the next time?"



There are certain things must always occur in a sales coaching call to achieve outcomes like those mentioned above.  Here are just a few:

You'll have to role-play and you'll have to play the part of the salesperson.  Most sales managers just aren't up to this task...

You'll have to take it wider and deeper than your salespeople are capable of taking it - if you can't, your salespeople won't find value.

You'll have to explain what you're doing, why you're doing it, and how you're doing it if you want them to be able to replicate what you demonstrated.

You'll have to make sure they understand whether a gap in skills (OK) left them not knowing, or a weakness (not OK) prevented them from doing what the situation called for.

Bring your coaching game to the next level and both you and your salespeople will reap the benefits!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, selling, Sales Coaching, salespeople

Top 5 Interesting Sales Tips

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 @ 08:12 AM

My mother-in-law of nearly 20 years has strong opinions.  Whenever she is shown something, told about something, or experiences something, one of her possible reactions is, "That's interesting."

When your salespeople explain your technology, methods, positioning, value added, warranty, or product differentiation to their prospects, and the prospects respond with "Interesting!"...what do your salespeople do?

Depending on the context of the conversation, weather, personality and the frame of reference of their prospect, here are the top five things that "Interesting" could mean:

  1. This is the greatest thing since sliced bread!
  2. This is so much better than what I've seen elsewhere.
  3. This is interesting - I'd like to learn more to better understand it.
  4. These guys might be on to something.
  5. I hate this but I don't want to hurt their feelings.

It took me about 5 years before I understood my mother-in-law and her use of "Interesting."  Turns out she only used it when she was thinking #5!  But she isn't necessarily representative of anyone else.  There is truly no way of knowing which of the 5 things they mean when they say, "Interesting" and I''ll bet that I hear "Interesting" at least once per day from someone....

I'll share what I do when I hear that...

I ask, "Can you help me out?  You just said this concept was "Interesting".  I'm not exactly sure what you mean.  I know that when my mother-in-law says "interesting" she means she hates it...what do you mean?"

If you want to make sure that your salespeople don't fall victim to happy ears, make sure that they clarify the use of words that can have multiple meanings, words that are vague and can be easily interpreted the wrong way. 

On another subject, The Ceremony for this Thursday's (December 16, 2010) Top Sales Awards will take place from Noon ET - 3 PM ET.  if you would like to attend this online event, you can register here.  Awards will be presented for:

  • Top Sales Article
  • Top Sales Star
  • Top Sales Book
  • Top Sales Blog (My Blog is in 2nd place in the popular vote which is worth 9 pts. The judges in this category will award up to 10 points for their choices and a winner will be determined on Thursday)
  • Top Sales Resource
  • Top CRM Solution
  • Top Sales Tool
  • Top Sales 2.0 Solution
  • Top Social Media Site
  • Top Sales Personality
  • Hall of Fame

You will also here from a number of top sales experts around the world as we share our opinions on dozens of important topics that face companies in the coming months and years.

Topics: sales management, Sales Coaching, asking questions, salespeople, sales development

My Sales Process, Strategies and Tactics in Your Voice

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 18, 2010 @ 06:10 AM

Our son has this comedy routine by John Pinette down cold.  He heard it once and can now do it for anyone.

There is just one problem.  Our son is 8 and weighs all of 67 pounds so even though the routine is hysterical, it becomes very obvious, very quickly, that it isn't his own material and it isn't about him because it's not in his voice.  It's not credible.

When salespeople go through the sales training process (real sales development, not a seminar), there is a danger that they will extract tactics that worked very effectively in the context of the demonstration, but that might not be appropriate for the context in which the salesperson chooses to use it.  And just as often, when the salesperson applies the tactic it doesn't sound like them. 

It is extremely important for your salespeople to utilize the strategies and tactics in the context of the sales process that was introduced - AND IN THEIR OWN VOICE.  They can't ever stop sounding like themselves!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, sales strategies, Sales Tactics, salespeople

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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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