What Should You Do When You or Your Company is Disliked in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 @ 06:04 AM

Coke-vs-Pepsi51.jpg

I know.  Everyone loves you. You are just so likable that it's inconceivable that you could be disliked.  As usual, I see things a bit differently and I'll prove that there is someone that not only dislikes you, but might even hate you.  For example, my company, Objective Management Group (OMG), is universally hated by an entire vertical!   I'll share that with you, but first I must ask you a question.  If you are in territory sales, is there a competitor salesperson gunning for you?  Have you taken business away from anyone?  Do they hate you?  Is there a competitor who is all smoke and mirrors, who can't deliver on what they promise, who still manages to win business at your expense?  Do you hate them?  Do you sell a product or service that can help a company do more with fewer employees?  Do those employees hate you?  It wasn't that long ago when Apple hated Microsoft and Microsoft hated Apple.  Allow me to provide a few examples and then I'll share how to deal with the hate.

One of OMG's products is our legendary, accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment.  Everyone from the CEO down through sales leadership and HR love this tool, but internal recruiters hate it and recruiting firms hate us!  Internal recruiters hate us because they have to work harder to find sales candidates who will be recommended.  It's their job, so they deal with us.  After all, only 7% of all salespeople are elite, and just an additional 16% who qualify as strong.  That means that 77% of the candidates they find suck, usually aren't recommended, and our assessment exposes that.  

For recruiting firms, the hate is even worse.  Their profit depends on a company quickly falling in love with a candidate and when one of their clients wants to use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment, it is not only more difficult, but it takes much longer for them to find the right candidate. That eats into their profit and they absolutely hate that!  One way that recruiting firms deal with this is when they attempt to discredit our assessment.  As you can imagine, that kind of hate isn't much fun because it puts clients right in the middle of that battle.

Over the years, the creative people in our entrepreneurial and innovative economy have been responsible for developing products (think internet-related) and services (think outsourcing) that eliminate jobs.  The employees who are most vulnerable to having their jobs eliminated absolutely hate the companies and their salespeople who provide those services.

Speaking of entrepreneurs, one of the best sites is EvanCarmichael.com and last week, Evan hosted a video interview with me when we talked about assessments, selling, presenting and differentiating.  It was a fun and fast-paced interview and you can see it here.

So what can you do when you there are groups of people who hate you?  Introduce the issue yourself.  You'll need to wait until you have uncovered their compelling reason to buy and then you can ask a question like this one, "An ideal solution is going to eliminate some jobs, and while that will save the company money, how will you deal with the pushback that you're going to get?" or, "A solution that will solve the problem we are talking about will cause this group over here to be quite upset.  How will you deal with the protests you are going to get from them?"

Here are some additional resources.

This article on how to ask questions so that customers buy and you don't have to sell was named one of the top 10 sales blog posts of the month.

This article that I wrote for the SellingPower blog explains how to sidestep price issues so that you can sell value!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, competition, Motivation, Apple, objective management group, selling power, microsoft

Top 10 Reasons Why Inbound Cannot Replace Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 15, 2014 @ 13:08 PM

INBOUND V SALESWell, it's really happened now.

I was following a discussion in the Hubspot VAR Group on LinkedIn, where the question posed to the group was whether or not the first sales hire should be a sales or a marketing person.

[Disclosure:  Hubspot is a client of both Kurlan and OMG; This blog is hosted on Hubspot's terrific blogging and lead-gen platform and I was one of their very first customers back in 2006.]  

Hubspot's VAR's are all marketing agencies specializing in inbound marketing.  There were some terrific comments, but one particular comment stopped me dead in my clicks and scrolls.  The comment was from a well-respected Hubspot executive who said, "Do not hire a salesperson."  It's a polarizing comment for a number of reasons:

  1. I'm speaking at their international INBOUND14 Conference next month (if you want to attend, you can use this discount code: GOINB14) and my topic is, "Interviewing for the Inbound Sales Role"!  Should I back out?  Do you think anyone will show up to hear me?
  2. This comment, as well as articles and comments like this, are the source of exactly the kind of confusion that I spoke about in this cover story for Top Sales World Magazine last week.
  3. And it's exactly the kind of confusion that I spoke about with Selling Power Publisher, Gerhard Gschwandtner, in the video below, recorded at last month's Sales 2.0 conference in Boston.

Once again, it's imperative for everyone to understand that there are many scenarios where salespeople cannot be replaced by inbound marketing!  If you or your company are involved in any of the following 10 scenarios, you absolutely must have salespeople:

  1. Complex Sale 
  2. Big Ticket Sale
  3. Long Sales Cycle
  4. You are the Underdog.
  5. You Have a New Technology.
  6. You are Not the Market Leader.
  7. You are Not the Low Price Leader.
  8. You are Not the Recognized Major Brand.
  9. It is Not an Existing Expense for Most Customers.
  10. Your Product or Service is Not an Easy-to-Sell, Affordable Subscription.

So, it should be quite obvious why an inbound marketer, following up on an inbound lead, cannot possibly run the sophisticated sales cycle that would be required to successfully sell and close a prospect or group of prospects in the 10 scenarios listed above.

How do you feel about this topic?  Please weigh in below, regardless of which side of the fence you are on.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, HubSpot, Gerhard Gschwandtner, jonathan farrington, Top Sales World, selling power

The Sales Epidemic That is Neutralizing Salespeople Everywhere

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jun 04, 2014 @ 08:06 AM

The Selling Power Blog published a new article of mine, The Top 10 Steps Salespeople Can Take to Improve.  The article includes a really terrific video on the importance of tonality.  I thought it would be helpful to expand on item #5, Persistence, because selling requires more persistence than ever before.

While persistence has always been important in sales, we are in uncharted territory.  Despite the abundance of tools to help you connect with people, the physical act of speaking with these connections is becoming exponentially more difficult.  It might surprise you to learn that depending on how high up in the company you are calling, it could take 10 to 15 attempts to reach your contact.

Just 3 years ago, when I wrote this article about the subject, it was 8 attempts and I thought that was high.  And to give you a sense as to just how little persistence there is out there, I wrote this article last year.  Most of the focus on persistence is related to contacting new prospects. 

What about the prospects who are far along in the sales process and suddenly go missing?  

epidemicThey don't take your calls, don't respond to your emails, and don't let you know what's going on.  You think that only happens to you?  Think again.  It's happening all over the place to all kinds of salespeople and companies. Is there suddenly an epidemic of rudeness?  An alignment of prospects willing to take a stand against salespeople that are getting too close?  

I'll tell you what it is.

The epidemic is the emphasis on demos and the affliction known as happy ears.  Salespeople succeed at getting prospects to watch, participate or take a demo.  (The salespeople believe) they're impressed with what they see.  When they go to follow-up...nothing.

They get nothing because they deserve nothing because they did nothing related to actual selling!  

They didn't learn whether or not there was a compelling reason for their prospects to buy anything, to move their business to these salespeople, and they didn't do much of any qualifying.  And then, when they can't get their prospects to return calls, they blame the prospects when the real problem was that the salespeople sucked, their sales process sucked, their sales management sucked and as you would expect, their results suck.  Watch this one-minute video for a quick exercise you can do.  The results might be jaw-dropping...

What can be done about this problem?

Stop giving demos.  Just say no.  If that's what your prospect wants, then that's your leverage.  Once you part with it (your demo), your leverage is gone.  So hold on to it, man!  Hold on until you know there is a compelling reason for them to buy from you and you have thoroughly qualified them.  You'll be giving far fewer demos, but closing a much greater percentage.  You've heard this before, "Less is More."  This is new math that won't cause a headache!

Image Copyright: ginasanders / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales tips, reaching prospects, presentations, demos, selling power

Are You Any Good at Evaluating Sales Talent?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 11, 2014 @ 17:02 PM

MLB Hall of FameWell, are you?

I'll bet you are.  You can probably spot an energetic, motivated, likable, memorable, polished, polite and attractive salesperson from a handshake away.  Aren't those the ones you like best?  Aren't those, especially when they have industry background, the ones you hire?  And don't they all perform just swell?  

No?  Why not?  After all, they met all of your criteria, didn't they?

In baseball, they call it the 5-tool player.  This is the kid who can run, field, throw, hit for average and hit for power.  These kids are the can't miss prospects.  They get drafted in the first round and become perennial All-Stars and Hall-of-Famers.  What's that?  They don't?  Why not?  They have all of the tools...

In the NFL, only 13 players in the Hall of Fame were selected with the first draft pick.  13!

In the NBA, only 8 players, selected with the first pick since 1991, are in the Hall of Fame.

In the MLB, only 5 players, selected in the entire first round (28 picks in the round each year) between 1965 and 1982, are in the Hall of Fame.  That's 5 of 476 first round picks!

There's talent, and then there's the ability to utilize one's talent and most sports talent evaluators are no better at this than most sales managers.

In sports, coaches, GM's and player personnel directors can evaluate skills, but it's more difficult for them to evaluate a player's makeup and how that will translate to performance at the highest levels.

In sales, managers can evaluate soft skills, like the ones I listed in the first paragraph, but not strategic and tactical skills, and not sales DNA, their sales makeup, and how that will translate to performance at their company and in a specific role.

For sales, there are quality tools that can be utilized to help with sales selection.  One such tool is Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment.  It's simply more predictive of sales success in any number of roles and environments than any other tool or assessment.

But the assessment is only as good as the pool of candidates, and that is influenced by the job posting and where that posting is placed.  Most postings are horrible and most are not placed using ideal strategies.

But even the posting is only as good as the role specification and I've never seen a sales manager or HR director get this correct on their own.

Getting selection right depends an awful lot on selection criteria and being able to identify it during a sales interview.  Interviewing salespeople is completely different from interviewing candidates for any other role in a company, so it's no wonder that so few HR professionals and sales managers excel at this.

So, you can evaluate talent.  You just can't predict whether that talent - their personality - will translate.  Use some world-class tools to help you get the job done effectively!

Do you need to transform your sales force?  My article on sales transformation appears on the Selling Power blog.  See it here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, sales candidates, sales assessments, objective management group, sales transformation, selling power

Missing on the "Secrets to Developing Successful Sales Managers"

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 21, 2013 @ 13:02 PM

An interesting article, Secrets to Developing Successful Sales Managers, by Xactly's CEO, Christopher Cabrera, was posted on Selling Power's 2/19/13 blog.  I suggest that you read it first, returning to this article for the analysis.

I thought that the first half of the article was spot on.

I thought that the second half was as bad as the first half was good.

Here's why:  He said to hire for characteristics and train for competencies.  That's okay, as long as we identify the correct characteristics and competencies, which he didn't.  And when we train for competencies, that should be fine-tuning, not wholesale development.  It's one thing if the sales manager doesn't have salespeople reporting to him/her yet, but if we expect the sales manager to inherit a group of veteran salespeople, that's not the ideal scenario for on-the-job training!

So, what are the correct competencies?  This article lists the top 10 sales management competencies.

Today, 50% of a sales manager's job (especially the front line manager to whom Chris refers) is coaching!!!  That doesn't appear on his list and it's the competency on which sales managers consistently score the lowest.  According to Objective Management Group's endless source of data, sales managers possess, on average, only 45% of the attributes of an effective sales coach.  And this will come as a surprise:  In which attributes are they most deficient?  Selling skills!  After all, how can we expect sales managers to coach salespeople to be any more effective than they are?

That brings us to the next problem.  Was that new sales manager really that effective as a salesperson or was this individual simply managing greater revenue than anyone else?  Were they existing accounts which were being managed or were new accounts being brought in?

Companies routinely mislabel salespeople as being top producers when the reality is that they're usually great account managers who've inherited the best accounts or territory.  It's often the less visible salespeople who are the best producers, bringing in new business, one deal at a time, but growing their revenue just the same.

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management coaching, Xactly, sales management competencies, objective management group, selling power

How Sales Has Changed in the Last Five Years and More

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 @ 10:04 AM

work together[1]Does everyone get to see your best work?  Probably not.

Your best work probably takes place when you are one-on-one with one of your salespeople, one-on-one with a client, or on the phone.  Chances are, your best work doesn't happen at the sales meeting, in front of your entire sales force, or in front of all of your customer's employees.

Just because most people don't see your best work, doesn't mean that what you are doing isn't important.  You may not get credit for the actual work, but as a result of your good work, a corresponding outcome occurs at a later date, and you'll get the credit you deserve then.

My most important work doesn't always get posted on my own blog.  Such is the case with this article I wrote for the Hubspot Blog on How Sales Has Changed in the Past 5 Years.  

Similarly, an article, in which I wrote about the Importance of Practicing Sales, was reworked for Gerhard Gschwandter's Selling Power Blog.

A third article, with a link to my latest white paper, was originally posted here last year and it has the results of my Trust Project.  It was published this week over at Robert Terson's SellingFearlessly.com Blog.  

Finally, if you want your best work to be even more impacting, and want to feel better about the work you are doing to attract, select, hire, on-board, retain, develop and coach great salespeople, attend my Sales Leadership Event next month in Boston.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, HubSpot, sales summit, sales leadership symposium, Gerhard, great sales management training, selling power

The Latest Fiction for the Sales Force - No More Hunters and Farmers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 10, 2009 @ 10:09 AM

Today I received an email from Selling Power promoting their latest webinar, The Hunter/Farmer Paradigm is Dead

In 2007 we had to deal with writers proclaiming that sales and the sales force were dead.  The reality of all of that talk was that the people writing about it weren't close enough to sales to know what they were talking about.  Companies with transactional sales don't need salespeople selling their transactional items, but they do need salespeople persuading companies to choose them in the first place.  Then the transactions can be placed via Internet or an inside sales group. That's about the only scenario where the "dead" proclamation even comes close to being accurate.  

Companies selling complex products, design engineered, custom, capital intensive, and higher priced than competition absolutely need salespeople to find opportunities, develop the need, provide value, qualify the opportunity, present the right solution and close the business.  Companies that are underdogs, those that sell professional services, and those with a story to tell absolutely need salespeople.

And today we have more attention grabbing headlines.  While it is Selling Power that is hosting this promotional webinar, it's actually a sales training company that is conducting it.  They go on to say that, "today's economy demands that you leverage all of your available sales talent by helping your sales reps both farm and hunt productively."

That's fine in theory.  It's optimal.  But the reality is that Objective Management Group has statistics from evaluating 450,000 salespeople and it's just not possible.  Here are the facts:

You want all of your salespeople to find new business but 24% of them will never be able to do that.  All of the training that they can provide won't change those people.  They'll have new words and will learn new skills but they still won't actually do it.

You want all of your salespeople to farm but some of them will never be able to do that either.  22% of them can't be trained.  And 45% of them will not close.  Again, they can train them until they're blue in the face but aside from the new words they'll learn, nothing will change for that group of salespeople.

So in a perfect world, where we can be anything we want to be, athletes aren't wired to be scientists, artists aren't wired to be software programmers, and ballet dancers aren't wired to be weight lifters.  Some salespeople aren't wired to prospect - they should be account managers - and some people aren't wired to close - they should be account managers too!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, closing, prospecting, Action Selling, Personality Tests, sales evaluations, sales tests, sales assessments, objective management group, selling power

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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 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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