Driving, Asking Questions, Inside Sales, and Sales Process with a Twist

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 08, 2015 @ 06:09 AM

Here's a quote from an article I wrote that appears now on the SellingPower Blog.  It's an analogy to help you understand why asking questions is so difficult for most salespeople.

"You’ve been driving a car since you were a teenager, but your cars have always had an automatic transmission and you’ve always driven on standard roads. Now we will ask you to drive a much larger car, drive it at faster speeds, on an obstacle course, with people in your way. Oh, and one more thing – for the first time, you’ll be driving a six-speed manual transmission. You might be afraid to take your foot off the clutch and put the car into first gear because, if you’re not careful, you might kill those people standing in front of your car!

"That’s how salespeople sometimes feel when they need to be liked and are expected to ask their prospects some really difficult questions. Salespeople think someone will be killed – and they worry that it might be them!"

Read more of the SellingPower article here.

And this is a quote from an article I wrote that appears on the Membrain Sales blog.

"We would have recommended 6 of their 7 top performers and only 1 of their 9 bottom performers. We would have been correct on 14 out of 16, or 88% which comes within a few percentage points of our usual predictive accuracy of 92%.  This is scientific sales selection. It's a necessary part of an overall scientific approach to sales and the sales force."

Read more of the Membrain article here.

This is a quote from an article on how to increase your sales by 20% by getting your sales process right, published right here on my Blog while most people were finishing up their summer vacation.

"There is a huge misunderstanding when it comes to sales process.  It's a lot like electrical work.  Everyone needs it, but they think that because they know how to change a light bulb they don't need to call an electrician.  Getting your sales process right is a lot more like needing electricity in the middle of a stone wall with no nearby source to tap into.  For you?  Impossible. For an electrician?  It's all in a day's work."

Read more of the article on sales process here.

This is a quote from another article on how to increase your sales by adding a twist to your sales approach.

"Regular readers know that I often champion the cause for a consultative approach to help differentiate and sell value in modern times.  But like I said at the outset, everything old is new again and this sales hack brings some presentation skills back to the early stage of the sales process."

Read more of the article on how to use this "everything old is new again" twist here.

This week's Top Sales Magazine features an article that I wrote 8 years ago!  It explains what integrated sales force development is and this morning, when I saw it in the magazine and reread it I felt that it was ahead of its time in 2007 and extremely applicable in 2015.  You can read that article here.

Finally, I'll be speaking on coaching salespeople at Inside Sales-Boston this Thursday, September 10.  If you're already planning to attend I'll see you there.  Otherwise, if you're in the Boston area, change your plans and catch the terrific lineup of speakers!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales force development, asking questions, inside sales, sales increase, selling power magazine, top sales magazine

Selling Power Hit and Then Miss the Mark on Sales

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 @ 09:11 AM

selling powerThis must be the week for big names laying big eggs.  The problem stems from the fact that people who are not experts on sales, selling, sales organizations and salespeople, are weighing in with opinions that are either based on unrelated science (general behavior versus sales behavior) or faulty analysis.  So yesterday it was the Harvard Business Review article and today it's a Selling Power article.

They pointed to three qualities that are highly predictive indicators of a top sales performer.  Let's see how their claims (using data from personality assessments) stack up against real sales science (using Objective Management Group's data from sales specific assessments).

They said the 3 highly predictive qualities are:

  1. Able to Connect - they actually measure empathy.  The problem is that there are TWO kinds of empathy.  Measuring empathy alone (personality test) is NOT predictive.  Being able to distinguish between good empathy (relating to the problems the salesperson can solve) and bad empathy (relating to their stalls, put-offs and objections) IS predictive.  But predictive of what?  In the end, it is only predictive of whether salespeople can identify problems representing sales opportunities, and whether they are likely to be vulnerable to every stall, put-off and objection that comes their way.  It's two data points, but not the entire story and therefore, not predictive of overall performance.  As a matter of fact, a related finding, and even more predictive of whether salespeople will accept stalls and put-offs, is how trusting they are of what prospects promise - whether they take prospects at their word or approach them with a degree of skepticism.  Those who are most trusting, don't even recognize the stalls and put-offs and as a result, don't even get to the point where they have the option to change a prospect's opinion.
  2. Driven to Persuade Others - This is my favorite.  Driven and persuasion are both social findings.  First we'll tackle Driven.  Everyone on your company's executive team is Driven, but they aren't all driven to succeed at selling.  You'll get false positives on Driven until it snows in the Caribbean.  Our version of that is sales specific and it's called Desire for Success in Sales.  And while it is one of the two most important findings in our assessment, it is not a measurement of effectiveness. While the absence of Desire would prevent a candidate from being recommended, the existence of Desire is not predictive of success, only a willingness to change (improve).  Persuasion, when measured in a social context, is a meaningless finding because in that context, there is a missing variable.  Money.  And money, or the need to get someone else to part with it, is a deal changer.  The Personality Test's use of Persuasion is  a finding out of context and additionally, it is not a measurement of a sales skill.

  3. Able to Deal with Rejection - They got this one right.  But it's only partially predictive of a single selling activity, and that is cold-calling.  But the Personality Test measures rejection in a social context, not in a sales context.  So is getting turned down for a date the same as having a prospect say, "not interested"?  Is having your idea rejected the same as getting hung up on?  The personality test measures the fear of rejection while we measure the impact of rejection - specifically, whether the salesperson will recover quickly enough to continue making their calls.  Our Rejection finding is a single data point out of three that predicts whether a salesperson will consistently prospect for new business.

Understand the difference between our highly predictive, sales specific assessment verus the personality and behavioral styles assessments.  Recogize that their marketing is complete with sales lingo to make you think it is an assessment for sales when the reality is that it has been modified (same assessment but names of the findings have been changed for sales) for sales. You should also recognize the limitations of what personality and behavioral styles assessments can actually measure when the context for their questions is social rather than business.  Findings taken from a social context are not predictive of sales success.  For more informatoin about the difference between personality assessments, behavioral styles assessments and our highly predictive, sales specific assessments, read these articles.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, hiring salespeople, caliper, selling power magazine, personality assessments, sales assessments

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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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