Elements of an Effective Elevator Pitch

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 24, 2019 @ 17:09 PM

messaging

Why is your favorite sports team better than my favorite team?

Why do you like your political party instead of mine?

Why are you so loyal to the make of car you drive instead of the make of car that I drive?

I bet you can make a passionate pitch for all three, and probably have them come out better than an elevator pitch or your unique value proposition.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), we ask salespeople to record their elevator pitches and value propositions as part of our sales force evaluation.  Some are OK, most are not, and for most companies, there are tremendous inconsistencies between each salesperson's messages.

Elevator pitches and UVP's are usually so poorly constructed that it makes me wonder if anyone in sales leadership puts any time at all into formalizing these messages.

That said, I thought it might be helpful to discuss the elements of a good elevator pitch and/or value proposition.

I believe that a good pitch or proposition has seven elements:

  1. Personable - When a likable salesperson launches into a pitch or proposition and recites a scripted message, it sticks out like a sore thumb and they are no longer perceived as personable.  It's imperative that they deliver the right message, without sacrificing their likability.

  2. Message - Whether it's an elevator pitch or value proposition, the essence of each is the message itself. Is the actual message consistent with what an elevator pitch (what we do) or value proposition (how we uniquely provide value) are expected to communicate?  In my experience, most are not.

  3. Context - Context is important as it's the backdrop for the message.  If the type and location of an event represent the context for how to dress, then the question that was asked or the type of call or meeting represents the context for the pitch or proposition.  Context helps us frame the elevator pitch or value proposition.
                                                    
  4. Who - Often times salespeople fail to include the company, product or brand in the elevator pitch or value proposition when it's the company that should be front and center.  Explaining how what we do, or how we are different, impacts the prospect is equally important.

  5. Breadth - Salespeople should communicate the breadth of the offering or differentiation but too often, they ramble through their value proposition and elevator pitches, something that is never very effective.

  6. Succinct - As important as it is to show breadth, it is even more important to be succinct. Fewer words communicate a value proposition or elevator pitch much more effectively.

  7. Expertise - The company and salesperson have expertise and if not for their expertise, why buy from this company?  Since so many salespeople suck, many buyers are making their decisions based on price instead of value. Good messaging is required to communicate and demonstrate a company's expertise, an element that can help neutralize a price-driven buyer and provide prospects with information they can use to justify buying from a company that doesn't have the best price.

Now that you've reviewed the elements of effective elevator pitches and value propositions, what must you do to improve yours?

Comment on the LinkedIn thread for this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, selling value, Value Proposition, messaging, elevator pitch

Using the Most Powerful Sales Tool to Get What You Want

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 16, 2019 @ 06:09 AM

blacklist

My wife and I have been binge watching a TV series called Blacklist which rivals 24 for its drama and intensity.  James Spader stars as international bad-guy Ray Reddington.  He's on the top of the FBI's most-wanted list but works with the agency to help them track down bad-guys that are as bad as he is.  Somehow, he gets the FBI to help him get what he wants and he gets the bad guys to give him what he wants from them.  Everybody gets what they want because he is so good at using leverage.

Leverage is the most powerful tool in your sales tool box because with leverage comes urgency and after you have urgency your prospect will qualify so easily you won't believe it.  They'll ask, "What do you need from me?"

That brings me to a recent LinkedIn post by Andy Paul.  I've never disagreed with anything Andy wrote before but this one is just plain wrong.  He wrote that you should talk about money up front.  Read his post here

The problem with qualifying up front for money is that you haven't yet built a case.  It's like walking into a doctor's office and when you sit in her chair the first thing she says to you is, "You're going to need surgery and it will cost $25,000."  Talk about getting your resistance up!  On the other hand, if you told her that something hurts, and she does a complete examination, blood tests, and x-rays and then says, "You're dying but surgery will save your life and it will cost $50,000, you'll say, "When should I be here?"

Want proof?  The top 10% of all salespeople take a consultative approach, sell value and then qualify in that order.  Those who talk about money up front all fall into the bottom 10% of all salespeople.  They are the sucky ones!  You can check out the stats here.

Building a case is important because it allows you to develop the leverage you need.  You develop leverage by uncovering compelling reasons to buy, learning about personal impact, and monetizing what you uncovered.  It isn't easy and it isn't for rookies.  But if you try to qualify for money up front, without having built your case, you'll have:

  • a transactional conversation instead of a consultative one
  • a resistant prospect instead of a cooperative one
  • left money on the table because you weren't able to sell value
  • lose more than you win
  • not differentiated yourself from the competition
  • fallen victim to taking the easy path which leads to difficult-to-get results instead of the hard path which leads to easy-to-get results

Nothing will get you what you want faster than having leverage.  Make sure you never forget that!

Share your comment on the LInkedIn discussion for this article.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, omg, building value, selling value

Why are Half of All Sales Reps Still Missing Quota in a Booming US Economy?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 10, 2018 @ 05:12 AM

booming-economy

Around this time ten years ago, the US economy was famously tanking.  I remember it well as revenue at Objective Management Group dropped by more than 30%, almost overnight.  During 2008 and 2009 more than half of all US sales reps were missing quota and considering the circumstances, that didn't seem to shock anyone.  But during a slow crawl back to respectability between 2010 and 2016, and soaring revenue during 2017-2018, the percentage of reps making quota has not only remained flat, but the percentage hasn't even returned to pre 2008 rates.  This article attempts to explain why.

Here are 12 possible reasons that don't attribute everything to the completely useless 80/20 rule:

  1. Companies are setting unrealistic quotas, basing increases on nothing other than the belief that "Our revenue should be soaring too"
  2. The quotas are realistic for the territory but the reps aren't up to the challenge as only 5% are elite, 20% are strong and 25% are serviceable.  50% of all salespeople suck anyway!
  3. As the market for sales candidates has dried up, companies are lowering their standards and hiring crappy salespeople to keep territories staffed.
  4. The wealth of Inbound leads, most of them nothing more than contacts, have made salespeople incredibly lazy.  Only 24% of the bottom half have the Hunting competency as a strength.
  5. Only 14% of the bottom half of all salespeople have and/or follow a formal, structured Sales Process.  In other words, they wing it.
  6. The ever-increasing difficulty reaching decision makers has left salespeople with pitiful pipelines.
  7. Only 10% of the bottom half of salespeople are providing, demonstrating or selling value, resorting to price as they fail to differentiate
  8. Salespeople are still taking a transactional approach to selling instead of learning and embracing the more desirable consultative approach to differentiate themselves from the competition. Only 3% of this group has the Consultative Seller competency as a strength.
  9. Salespeople are mistaking "nice to have" for "must have".  When they only get their prospects to "nice" they fail to create urgency, making it difficult to get decision makers engaged or money approved, with opportunities stalling in the pipeline.  Only 20% of the bottom half of all salespeople have reaching decision makers as a strength, only 9% of that group has the  Qualifier Competency as a strength, and only 22% of this group has the CRM Savvy competency as a strength.
  10. Lack of Commitment - 53% of the bottom half of all salespeople lack the commitment necessary to do what it takes to achieve success. When it becomes difficult, they do what's easiest and most comfortable instead of what is required.
  11. Excuse Making - Even worse, 66% of the bottom half of all salespeople make excuses, rationalize their outcomes, preventing improvement.
  12. Sales DNA - In order to execute sales process, methodology, strategy and tactics, salespeople must have strong Sales DNA. The bottom half of all salespeople don't, as only 3% of them have Sales DNA that is strong enough to help them execute.

If the bottom 50% are this bad in all 21 Sales Core Competencies, then what are the bottom 50% good at?  They may have tremendous product knowledge, decent presentations skills and some great relationships, but they aren't very good at selling.  They are really order takers.  If they work for the best-known company, the low price leader, or the incumbent vendor, then it might be enough. But if they work for an underdog it's simply not enough to get the job done.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, reps making quota, selling value, differentiating yourself, order taker

Does Being a Strong Qualifier Correlate to Having a Strong Pipeline?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Aug 07, 2018 @ 09:08 AM

qualify

My latest data mining project reveals that the answer to this question is a partial correlation.  

Check out the two tables below and you'll see just what I mean.

All of the data in this article comes from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations and assessments of salespeople.  See the data yourself in all 21 Sales Core Competencies and find out how your team compares by industry, region and more.

The first table shows the percentage of salespeople that have the Qualifier competency as a strength.  Look at the difference between elite salespeople where 93% have it as a strength versus weak salespeople where only 9% have it as a strength.  Also notice that the all of the scores in the table correlate to Sales Percentile.  The correlation ends there.  Strong and elite salespeople who are strong at the Qualifier competency are also strong at the Value Selling competency and have strong pipelines.  However, the 9% of weak salespeople who are strong at qualifying do not have strong pipeline quality and are not strong at selling value.

correlation-qualifier-to-pipeline

The second table has the same three competencies but it's framed based on those with strong pipeline quality.  Once again we see a partial correlation between pipeline quality, qualifier and value selling.  Most elite and strong salespeople who have strong pipeline quality are also strong at qualifying and selling value.  However, most weak salespeople who have strong pipeline quality are not strong in the qualifier or value selling competencies.

correlation-pipeline-to-qualifier

My takeaway from this is that when weak salespeople have strong pipeline quality, it's not because of them, it's because of the circumstances they find themselves in.  They likely stumbled upon the good opportunities, prospects shared more information than normal, and the opportunity moved to a late stage.

Join the discussion of this article on LinkedIn.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales pipeline, qualifying, selling value

Predictions for 2018 - The Sales Triad Will Provide Record Sales Growth

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 @ 06:01 AM

prediction.jpg

The economy is doing well, unnecessary regulations have been rolled back, the stock market is soaring, unemployment is low, consumer confidence is up, manufacturing has returned, companies are investing in the American economy, businesses are confident about the future and tax cuts are about to make paychecks bigger for about 90% of all Americans.  What will consumers do with that extra money?  They'll spend it of course!  As a result of these positive developments, what should you expect to happen from a sales perspective in 2018?

Companies are spending money, so that's a good thing.  Executives whose past actions suggested that your product or service was nice to have, but not a must have, might want to buy it this year!  Companies that didn't have budgets during the past few years might have budgets this year.  Decision makers who didn't have enough in their budgets may have a surplus this year.  There will be plenty of money to go around.  Hallelujah!

Warning: Don't get too excited.  While companies will be buying and spending, it doesn't mean that your company will get the business.  More buying and spending means more competition and with the internet, companies need not be local in order to compete for and win that business.  

With the availability of money and additional competition, I can tell you this.  If you aren't the low price leader, the best-known company, or the safest decision that a buyer can make, you will have to do some real SELLING to get that business.  And not just selling, but thoughtfully, effectively, efficiently, and articulately selling value.  What?  You already sell value?  Really?  I'll bet you don't.  I'll bet the salespeople in your company talk about value and justify your pricing, but talking about value is not selling value.  Do you ever tell prospects that you will be competitively priced?  Then you're not selling value.  Do you ever discount your price?  Then you're not selling value.  Do you ever make exceptions to your pricing?  Then you're not selling value.

Selling value is extremely challenging for most companies because on it's own, it doesn't translate to a sale.  Selling value is an approach in a sales process with a consultative methodology that supports selling value.  You are undoubtedly familiar with the nuclear triad, and the combination of a consultative sales process, value selling approach and a consultative selling methodology is the selling equivalent.  It's the sales triad!

Companies that still take a transactional approach to selling may have very difficult year when it comes to acquiring new business and retaining existing business.  This will be the year that sales dinosaurs become extinct.  In 2015 I wrote that 1 million salespeople would become obsolete by 2020. Not only has the time come, it has come earlier than expected and it came for many more than 1 million salespeople.  This year, I predict that 3 million salespeople will either lose their jobs to the internet or to salespeople who can sell consultatively and sell value.

Whether it's professional sales training or sales coaching, your sales managers will play a major role in this transition.  Your sales managers can get a jump start on this by attending my annual public Sales Leadership Intensive on May 22-23 outside of Boston.  As of this writing (January 29) there are just 7 seats remaining so you'll need to act quickly.  Learn more at http://kurlanassociates.com/sales-leadership-event.  Register here

Image Copyright iStock Photos

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

7 Reasons Why Prospects Go Cold and How to Avoid it

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 05, 2018 @ 09:01 AM

deep-freeze.jpg

Outside of Boston, today is the day after the blizzard of 2018, it's a winter wonderland, and the deep freeze we have been experiencing is expected to get worse, with extended periods of sub-zero temperatures and wind chills approaching -30 degrees Fahrenheit.  What does that have to do with selling?  Plenty!

One of the biggest frustrations that salespeople and their sales leaders have is when good prospects go cold.  These include prospects that were projected to close soon yet, they aren't returning calls, emails, inmails or overnight deliveries.  Not only have the prospects gone cold; the salespeople have been frozen out.  But it's more like the weather than the two scenarios sharing common words.  

I finished reading Dan Brown's new book, Origins.  I think it's his best work since The DaVinci Code although I did correctly guess the ending...  Anyway, at one point they are reading the Roman Numerals XI + I and coming up with an answer of 12.  12 was not the answer required to decode the matter at hand.  Professor Langdon, the main character, changes his perspective.  He rotates the equation by 180 degrees, turning it upside down until the equation becomes I + IX.  The new answer is 10, exactly what they needed.

If you change your perspective about prospects going cold, you might discover that you caused them to go cold, rather than the myriad of other possibilities.  I'll explain.

The deep freeze didn't just suddenly arrive last week.  The weather has been working up to this since temperatures began to drop in mid November.  It's been getting cooler and cooler and then colder and colder until now.  There is a lead-up to the freeze and if we take a step back, it happens nearly every year around this time.

Your prospects don't suddenly go cold either.  There are signs. 

In half of the cases the salespeople had developed a case of happy ears earlier in the sales process and their belief that the prospects were interested or warm or even hot was entirely imagined.  Their prospects didn't go cold as much as they were already cold and couldn't find another way to tell the salesperson to go away!

In some instances, the prospects were actually hot but the salespeople complicated things and didn't get out of the way enough to allow their prospects buy.  The prospects became frustrated with their inept salespeople, bought from someone who could quickly help them, and didn't talk to the original salesperson again.

In many of the cases, the salespeople were moving more quickly than the prospects.  The salespeople were on their own timeline and the prospects didn't have the same urgency.  Feeling more pressure than they were comfortable with, the prospects decided not to talk with those salespeople anymore.

Many prospects go cold when they aren't the actual decision makers, they haven't engaged the decision makers, and have nothing to report.  These salespeople made two huge mistakes: 

  1. They achieved nice to have, but not must have.  If you aren't talking with the decision maker, nice to have will never be enough to empower a subordinate to ask the decision maker to participate or get the decision maker to approve the needed funds.
  2. They didn't start with the decision maker!  It's nearly impossible to sell up hill and while selling downhill isn't ideal, it doesn't cause your heart to beat as fast as trying to sell up hill.

The reality is that in most scenarios, salespeople caused their prospects to go cold.  When salespeople have been frozen out it's usually because they were talking with the wrong person, weren't moving at the correct speed, or didn't get their prospects to sense that they must have this product or service.

If you are wondering why salespeople find themselves in these scenarios so frequently you don't have to look any further than these 5 Sales Core Competencies:

  1. Sales Process - the freeze will nearly always happen when an effective sales process is not followed and presenting occurs too early.
  2. Doesn't Need to be Liked - when this competency appears as a weakness, salespeople won't ask the necessary questions to smoke this out.
  3. Consultative Seller - when the salesperson fails to take a consultative approach they will fail to uncover the compelling reasons to buy and fail to get past nice to have.
  4. Value Seller- when salespeple fail to sell value, it can be difficult for prospects to justify spending the money
  5. Qualifier - when salespeople aren't thoroughly qualifying, they will often find themselves selling to the wrong person

There are 21 Sales Core Competencies in total and while they all play some part in the freeze, these five take center stage.

If you are a sales leader, one thing you can do to address this issue is to hire stronger salespeople who won't find themselves in the deep freeze.  It begins with an accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment.

What can you improve upon to eliminate most instances of the deep freeze?  And equally important, if your prospect returns from the deep freeze, will you know why and will you do the right thing?  Read Part 2 here.

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales problems, selling value

Closing and Negotiating Challenges - Symptoms of Another Selling Problem

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 14:04 PM

report.jpg Image Copyright Shironosov

I recently learned that one of OMG's clients in Europe purchased two goldfish. In keeping with their tradition, the client named the two fish, Recommended and Not Recommended.  Surprisingly, recruiting salespeople was not one of the topics addressed in this year's 2017 Selling Challenges Study.  Meghan Steiner, from Richardson, was nice enough to send me an advanced copy of the results.  There were a number of interesting findings and to learn what was covered and see my insights from the report, continue reading.

Consider the findings below that I pulled from the much larger report.  Respondents said the following issues are challenges for their companies:

  • 24% said gaining higher prices 
  • 20% said closing win/win deals
  • 17% said maintaining profitability
  • 24% said competing against a low cost provider
  • 16% said creating a compelling case for change
  • 19% said customers who continue to reopen the negotiation
  • 15% said positioning a competing value proposition

The 7 findings I listed above came from two different chapters of the report.  Higher prices, win/win deals and profitability came from the chapter on Negotiation.  Positioning, reopening negotiations, competing against low cost providers and the case for change came from the chapter on closing.  

"When I combined the 7 challenges, together they suggest that the
problem these companies really have is an inablity to sell value!"

The findings from the report came from a survey where most of the 300+ respondents were from companies larger than $500 million, with sales quotas generally running more than $1 million each.

How do the findings compare with OMG's scientific data from the evaluation of 1,100,000 salespeople from 12,000 companies?  Let's compare!

The average score for the Selling Value competency is 56 which means that the salespeople in the 370,000 rows of data in this query have, on average, 56% of the attributes in the Selling Value competency.  You can see that the top 10% are significantly more effective and the bottom 10% are significantly worse!

value2.jpgAnother way of looking at this competency is to determine the percentage of salespeople who have selling value as a weakness.  

"68% of the salespeople we looked at had Selling Value as a weakness.  

Our data shows that selling value is a much greater issue than the survey suggests.  The likely reason for this is that respondents from large companies may not understand why they are having the issues listed by the bullets above.  They only recongize the symptoms.

The Selling Value Competency is 1 of the 7 Tactical Selling Competencies that OMG measures, and 1 of the 21 Sales Core Competencies measured in all.  You can see the attributes for this competency in the screen shot from a sales force evaluation below.

value-1.jpg

When companies continue to believe that their problems lie in negotiating and closing, they seek training on negotiating and closing!  When the real problem is selling value, you need to provide training on consultative selling, change your pricing strategy and provide training on selling value.

Here are four other things you should do:

1. See how your salespeople compare to others in your industry and to salespeople in general in any or all of the 21 Sales Core Competencies with OMG's complimentary stat finder tool.

2. Select only strong (16%) and elite (7%) salespeople with OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment.

3. Become more effective coaching your salespeople in all 21 Sales Core Competencies by attending my annual Sales Leadership Intensive where coaching for impact is the focus during the two day training.  There were only 6 seats left for the May 17-18 event outside of Boston.

4. Download the 2017 Sales Challenges Study from Richardson.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, close more sales, negotiating, objective management group, selling value, Richardson, OMG Assessment

Sales Podcasts and Video Interviews are Better Than Sales Articles

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 @ 06:01 AM

podcast.jpg

Regular readers know that I write a lot - 1,700 articles on sales and sales leadership over the past 12 years.  I'll be the first to admit that the articles are not all award-winners but readers find most of them helpful, entertaining, and good enough to keep coming back.  And a few dozen of them have won awards.

But are the articles better than say, a lively podcast on the same topic?  A television interview?  A radio interview?

There are pros and cons to both.  The advantage of the articles is that you know what you are getting because you can see it and you know how long it will take to read since the vast majority take only a few minutes.  Interviews and podcasts run much longer, most ranging from 30-60 minutes but the advantage is that you can really hear and/or see the message come to life so much more than with the written word. Why?  I'm a better speaker than writer!

Over the years there have been a number of interviews that I am proud of, that were well done and are worth listening to and watching.  A good interview is so dependent on the interviewer, the questions they ask, and their ability to go off script and let the conversation flow.  

It is finally time to devote an article series to podcasts and interviews.  Here are the top interviews with me from the last several years:

  • Barb Giamanco -  Video Interview - How to Improve Closing Ratios
  • Noah Goldman - The Enterprise Sales Podcast - on Closing, Patience, Slowing Down and Tom Brady
  • Aaron Ross - Predictable Revenue - Podcast
  • Barb Giamanco - Sales Hardtalk for Top Sales World - Podcast - Selling Value
  • Lori Richardson - Score More Sales - Audio Interview - The Future of Sales
  • Will Barron - Salesman Red - Video Interview Traits of a Great Salesperson (2016 Gold Medal Winner)
  • Michael Mason - Smart Sales Pro Audio Interview Sales DNA (one of my favorites)
  • Will Barron - Salesman Red - Video Interview Why Salespeople Struggle
  • Frank Visgatis - Sales Rehab Podcast Audio Interview Get Prospects to Buy From You More Often
  • Evan Carmichael - EvanCarmichael.com Video Interview The Pitch
  • Jim Lobaito - Biz Talk Radio Audio Interview Sales Selection
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV Video Interview A New Guide for Selling Value
  • Stu Heinecke - How to Get a Meeting with Anyone - Audio Interview
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview Build & Manage a Great Sales Force
  • Jason Kanigan - Audio Interview Magical Phone Prospecting Tactics 
  • Jonathan Farrington - Top Sales World - Audio Interview - Why Sales Managers are not More Effective
  • Evan Carmichael - Video Interview - Selling Value
  • Sales Mastery Summit - Video Interview - Sales Pipeline
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - Sales Leaders Need to Create Value (44,000 views)
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - What to do with Millennials
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - How to Create a Predictive Sales Model
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - How to Adapt to the Massive Changes in Selling
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV - Video Interview - Sales Coaching
  • Gerhardt Gschwandtner - Selling Power TV Video Interview - Selling Value
  • Will Barron - The Salesman Podcast - Video Interview - Is Excuse Making Holding you Back?
  • Kurt Mortenson - Maximize Your Influence Podcast - Audio Interview - Sales Process and More
  • Richard Smith - Refract TV - Video Interview - How to Achieve Great ROI from Sales Training
  • Jonathan Farrington - Top Sales World Roundtable - Audio - Why are Sales Managers So Weak?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Great salespeople, selling value, sales podcast

Sales 102 - The Pitch Deck, the Price Reduction and the Data

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 @ 09:09 AM

Pricing.jpg

Recently I met with a CEO whose salespeople were not closing enough business.  We had just evaluated their sales force and I had the answers as to why their sales were so underwhelming.  Before we could explain what was causing their problem, the CEO said something along the lines of, "We are going to create a new pitch deck and reduce our prices. That will solve the problem!"  

They weren't suggesting a small price change either.  It sounded like an 80% reduction and their reasoning overlapped with one of the contributing issues that we identified.  Their salespeople weren't reaching decision makers which raises more questions.  Why weren't they reaching decision makers and could anything be done about it?  Would lowering their prices solve the problem or did the issue go deeper than that?

It's not terribly unusual when salespeople are unable to reach decision makers but there are always several potential reasons as to why:

  • Tactical - they simply don't know how to get the decision makers engaged in the conversation
  • Conceptual - they don't think they need to
  • Sales DNA - their weaknesses won't allow them to ask to get the decision makers engaged
  • Commitment - they give up when the going becomes too difficult for them
  • Fear - they aren't comfortable speaking or meeting with that level of decision maker

What did the data from the sales force evaluation tell us?

In the case this company, the salespeople didn't believe they needed to reach the decision makers.  As it related to reaching decision makers, their Sales DNA was OK.  Commitment and Fear factors were OK too.  So if they didn't believe they needed to, isn't that lack of direction, inspection and accountability on the part of management?

The other big issue for this sales force was their Sales DNA as it related to money and decision making.  To the salespeople, the amount they were asking for was, "a lot" but the new reduced amount will probably be a lot too.  They also "understood" when their contact stalled to talk with a decision maker who would routinely not be interested in spending that much money.

The Solution

The appropriate solution would be for us to help their salespeople become more effective at getting the decision makers engaged in the conversation and at selling the value of their offering, while helping management coach to those outcomes.  

Lowering the Price

Their reasoning for lowering the price is that the contacts their salespeople are talking with would supposedly have the authority to spend the lesser fee without requiring approval from the decision makers.

Can that work?   

In my experience, if the salespeople don't reach decision makers it won't matter how much they are charging.  They'll continue to hear the same stalls, especially if they continue to begin their first meetings with the pitch deck!  The pitch deck is simply a crutch that turns a potential two-way conversation into a one-way presentation and that makes matters worse instead of better.  If they do convert more often with the lower price, they'll still have to close 5 times as many deals to bring in the same revenue.  So if they are closing 1 of 10 today, and they close 3X more deals but at 1/5 the fee, they will lag 65% behind their previously unacceptable run rate.

On the other hand, if they become effective reaching decision makers, their sales cycle will be significantly shorter, their win rate will improve by 3-5X and at the original fees, their revenue will increase by 3-5X as well.

Hermann Simon wrote the bible on pricing and questions related to how your product or service should be priced can be answered in his book, Confessions of the Pricing Man.

"The question to be answered is, should they do what's easiest and lower the fees, or do what's best for the company and fix the problem?"

It's an obvious choice unless you're the one who has to make the choice, with the future of the company depending on the decision.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Force, Sales DNA, pricing, selling value, OMG evaluation, pitch deck

4 Critical Changes to Go from Failure to Success in Sales Today

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 @ 13:07 PM

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Today I'm in Florida, preparing to speak at a company's national meeting.  Like many companies, they have not only realized that selling has changed dramatically, but that their salespeople may not have adapted, developed new skills, and changed the way they sell.  If you're a regular reader, active on LinkedIn or Social Media, then you have certainly read about the many ways that selling has changed.  But most senior executives haven't put two and two together yet.  They know that win rates are down and sales cycles are longer, they know it's more difficult than ever before, they see that their salespeople are struggling to meet quotas, but they don't realize the extent to which things have changed.  There are four critical requirements which, together are the difference between success and failure.

For the sake of argument, let's assume that we are talking about good salespeople, not bad ones.  There is an elite group of 7% - superstars - a larger group of an additional 16% that are fairly strong, and then the bottom 77% who suck.  We're going to talk about the changes that the top 23% need to make.  While the manner in which the bottom 77% approach selling can significantly change their results, there are issues other than those we will discuss here that limit their success.

1.  Value.  Since there is more competition than ever before and competition puts pressure on margins, it is more important than ever that salespeople have the ability to sell value.  Refer to this article for more on selling value today.  I just analyzed the data from nearly 8,000 OMG (Objective Management Group) sales candidate assessments from earlier this month.  I narrowed it down to 66% who have been in sales for 5 years or more and found that on average, these sales veterans possess only 62% of the attributes of a value seller.

2. Consultative Approach.  It is not possible to sell value unless it is integrated into a consultative approach to selling.  Refer to this article for more on a consultative approach, which helps you to tailor your solution and differentiate you and your company from the competition.  Today, salespeople possess, on average, only 48% of the attributes of Consultative Sellers.

3. Process.  If you can't sell value without a consultative approach, then the same can be said for the approach.  Value and a consultative approach will not work unless they are integrated into a formal, structured, staged, milestone-centric sales process.  Read this great article for more on sales process.  In surveys, most companies say they have a sales process in place. However, our sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments reveal that salespeople possess, on average, only 52% of the attributes required for following a Sales Process.

4. Social.  Cold calling isn't dead but it is on life support.  It takes between 10-15 attempts to reach a decision maker and the conversion rates are falling like a piano dropped from the roof of a skyscraper.  Salespeople must be able to leverage their social networks, get introduced, and reach out to prospects via LinkedIn, Twitter and email to supplement the calls that they make.  Salespeople possess, on average, only 38% of the attributes of a Social Seller.  This one is worse than that score.  More than 1/3 of this group scored below 25%!

What Can You Do?  If you want to dramatically change and improve results, there are three things you can do.

  1. Bite the bullet and have a customized, optimized modern, staged, milestone-centric sales process created for you ASAP!
  2. Get your sales force trained and coached on the new process, a consultative approach to selling value, and social selling.
  3. Hire the right salespeople - those who already possess these capabilities!  The best selection tool is OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment.  Check out the free trial!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, social selling, selling value

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About Dave

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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