Have the Promises of Inbound Sales Come to Fruition?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Nov 14, 2016 @ 06:11 AM

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Last week, I spoke at Inbound, where 19,000 people attended this sold-out event in Boston.  Ironically, I spoke to a crowd that wanted to learn how to be more effective at engaging prospects by phone and converting those conversations to meetings.  Why is it ironic?  Well, the promise of the Inbound movement is that cold calling is dead. Salespeople will reap the benefits of inbound leads from prospects who had already expressed interest.  Has that happened?

There is no doubt that inbound has been a huge success.  Companies that effectively utilize the power of inbound generate a tremendous number of web submissions for their sales teams.  But whether we can call them leads is another story altogether.  Some of the contacts are interested and ready to buy.  More will be interested at a later date.  Most will never become customers, but were happy to take advantage of a free trial, sample or white paper.  Others subscribe to newsletters and Blogs but may never read a single issue or post.

At some point, a BDR, SDR or salesperson will attempt to contact the person whose name appears on the web form.  We know it may take 10-15 attempts before that person is reached.  But when they do answer their phone, what will happen?

The reality is that even though the caller knows something about the person being called, the contact knows nothing about the caller.  Do you know what that means?  After all the promises stating that cold-calling is dead, even the follow up calls to inbound leads are cold.  That's right, cold calling is alive and kicking, but it's less effective than ever before.

Back in the golden age of cold calling, a salesperson might spend two hours each day, make 40 dials, hope to speak with 10 decision makers and book 2-3 meetings.  And those were icy cold calls.  Today, a salesperson working the top of the funnel might spend the entire day trying to reach people who submitted a form from one of the company's landing pages.  They might make 100 dials, hoping to speak with 7 people, and book only 1-2 meetings per week!  Worse than icy, these calls are frozen solid.

Seth Godin first named what we now call inbound, permission marketing.  But most people who request a free download, white paper, sample or trial don't feel like they have given anyone permission to call.  They seem more annoyed over the calls from inept top of the funnel salespeople than prospects were in the old days when salespeople made traditional cold calls.  One reason is that most of the sellers in top of the funnel roles are millennials, many of whom are not well suited for the role.  If you want to see how poorly they fit, look at the science in this article.

None of this is bad, but it is confusing, misleading and ineffective.

Cold calling has not gone away but the approach has changed.  The problem today is that callers are still using outdated, ineffective scripts to follow up with people who requested anything except a call and are appropriately resistant.  None of the call approaches that I've heard deal with this obvious dynamic.

When we help clients make changes to their approach, teach them how to get the prospects attention, and show them how to get prospects engaged on the phone, everything changes.

But people are resistant to change and in this case, the people are often those leading sales teams.  And they have big egos.  It's simply time to set aside the egos, acknowledge that things are not working anywhere nearly as effectively as they should be, and make the necessary changes.

Some of it is simple excuse making - speaking of which, Will Barron of Salesman Red, completed a terrific interview with me and you can watch it right here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, Seth Godin, inbound, cold call

What is the Single Biggest Differentiator Between Top and Bottom Salespeople?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 03, 2016 @ 06:10 AM

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Thanks for continuing to read my Blog - I appreciate it.  There is one Blog that I never fail to read, and that's Seth Godin's Blog.  Seth doesn't write about sales - he pens a thought leadership Blog - but sometimes his articles are very applicable to sales and selling.  Recently, he posted two very short articles - each is less than 30 seconds to read and I believe they are both well worth your time.

The first is Fully Baked.  The second, on a related topic, is Skills vs. Talents

Over the years, I have seen first hand that one of the major differences between great and mediocre salespeople is that great salespeople want to improve - they made themselves great - and mediocre salespeople aren't willing to make the changes to become more effective.  Great salespeople strive for mastery while underachievers don't.  Back in the 1950's Albert Gray said something along the lines of, "Sales winners do the things they don't want to do and the others don't."

All professions have their small percentage of practitioners who aren't very good, but can you imagine the impact we would experience if attorneys, accountants or engineers underperformed to the same degree as nearly half of the sales population?

You can see evidence of that in this article where the data shows that the best salespeople have twice the level of commitment to achieving greater sales success than their underachieving counterparts.  You read that correctly - that's twice as committed!

All salespeople can develop the skills to achieve greater sales success, but only those who are committed enough to make changes can overcome Sales DNA that doesn't support the execution of those skills.  Even so, most salespeople fail to learn even the skills necessary for sales effectiveness in 2016.  And improving their Sales DNA?  Most salespeople have never even heard the phrase and aren't aware that their sales DNA needs to be improved.  We know you can't fix stupid, but how do you fix uninformed?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales DNA, sales excellence, sales commitment, Seth Godin

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

Sales Education - New Events, Articles and Books

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 28, 2012 @ 12:02 PM

Insightful SellingToday's article has a collection of links to help you, your sales managers and your salespeople become more effective.

A new book by Adon Rigg, Insightful Selling, launched today.  It's a nice collection of important reminders, tips and insights for all things sales.  There are a few things that I especially appreciated about his book and you might too.  There is a tremendous emphasis on using the Internet and especially LinkedIn.  For those who aren't up to speed on how to incorporate these tools into their day-to-day selling, this is invaluable.  Adon says that cold-calling is dead, and while it has become more challenging, I don't agree that it is quite dead yet.  See this important article for more on the truth about cold-calling.  The book provides some much needed assistance on how salespeople can more easily understand business finance!  In my opinion, this is a no compromise skill that salespeople must possess if they wish to sell more consultatively and become partners and trusted advisors.  Order the book today and receive dozens of free bonus gifts.

Seth Godin recently posted two articles that you should find helpful.  Read this one about misunderstandings and this one about how prospects check you out.

EcSell Institute is hosting it's spring Sales Coaching Summit on April 10-12 in Austin, TX.  This is a terrific event, I've spoken at it, and we like it so much that Objective Management Group is sponsoring it this year.  I'll be speaking on April 11 and my topic is "Sales Force Intelligence - The 5 Most Important Answers".  For more information and to register, click here.

If you can't make EcSell's Sales Coaching Summit in April, Kurlan & Associates is hosting its annual Sales Leadership Symposium on May 10-11 in Boston, MA.  If you are interested in attending or sending a team to this event, please contact me by email.

sales leadership event 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, EcSELL Institute, sales management training, sales leadership training, Seth Godin, bill eckstrom, adon rigg

How to Make it Easier for Your Salespeople to Sell

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 @ 00:11 AM

The article that addresses the title is a little further down but I would appreciate it if you would please first read the paragraphs before the article.

I want to thank you for reading my Blog.  Whether you've been here for all 850 plus articles or just joined us this month, I hope you find it useful and original.  When I first started posting articles back in 2006 my original goal was to organize my thoughts in order to write my next book - a Sales Management Bible.  Instead, I realized that while I no longer had time to write another book, I did have 10-15 minutes, early each morning, to share my thoughts and experiences, usually based on data and science.

This Blog has been honored with many awards during the past few years, and was nominated for four more this week.  Understanding the Sales Force is nominated for Top Sales & Marketing Blog of 2011.  Winners will be announced in the 2011 Top Sales & Marketing Awards ceremony on December 16.  One of my articles, Money Motivated Salespeople a Dying Breed, was nominated for Top Sales & Marketing Blog post.  

The third nomination places me in the company of these experts, legends and thought leaders:  Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, Neil Rackham, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Dave Stein, Jill Konrath, Mike SchultzDr. Tony Allasandra, and I were all nominated for Top Sales & Marketing Thought Leader of the Year.  You could do a lot worse than reading the material that this group cranks out!

Finally, Objective Management Group was nominated for Top Sales Assessment tool.

Jonathan Farrington hosts the 2011 Top Sales & Marketing Award Event along with Gerhard Gschwandtner on December 16. I'll provide registration information as soon as it's available but in the mean time, I wouldn't mind at all if you wanted to take a moment and vote (for me if you want to).  When you vote, you'll have to register first - sorry - and choose a category for your vote.  If you want to vote in the other two - or more - categories after you've voted, click HOME and then select another category.  You can vote as often as you wish but only once per day from the same computer. 

Here are some links to three must read articles you might have missed:

The Difference Between Sales Commitment and Desire 

How Watching a Movie Again Improves Sales Effectiveness 

Sales Process is to Religion as Sales Methodology is to Prayer 

Today's article has been more about me than you and since that's never the intent here, let's change gears.  

How to Make it Easier for Your Salespeople to Sell

If your company is an underdog (what you sell is more expensive than the competition, you have a new company, new technology or new product, you have a story to tell, you are not the industry or market leader, it's 6 or 7 figures, etc.), your salespeople have much more resistance to overcome than those who aren't underdogs.  There are several strategies that can be used to minimize the effect of the resistance your salespeople face.  You can:

  • Train your salespeople to lower the resistance;
  • Train them to overcome the resistance;
  • Do remarkable things that cause you or the company to be recognized, opening the door for your salespeople;
  • Spend millions on advertising so that you become better known;
  • Acquire the better known competitors;
  • Out perform the better known competitors;
  • Lower your prices (you can but I don't recommend it)
  • Get acquired by one of the better known competitors;
  • Have happy clients make introductions for you to highly targeted prospects;

Making the job easier for your salespeople is your number one responsibility after coaching and accountability but most sales managers don't give this challenge much thought.  How about you?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Seth Godin, Neil Rackham, Jeffrey Gitomer, Linda Richardson, Gerhard Gschwandtner, Guy Kawasaki, Mike Schultz, Dr. Tony Allasandra, jill konrath

Hierarchy of Sales Coaching - How to Change Behavior

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Sep 15, 2009 @ 05:09 AM

Seth Godin posted a great article on hierarchy of success.

Speaking of hierarchy, here is what I believe to be the hierarchy for changing sales behavior:

  1. Clear expectations - what needs to change and why?
  2. Timeline - (not 30/60 or 90 days) - you expect to start seeing these changes tomorrow.
  3. Measurables - what you'll be looking for and how you'll measure the change.
  4. Consequences - what will happen if you don't see the change you need.

Speaking of changing sales behavior, it's a huge part of sales coaching and today Keith Rosen launches a new book on the subject, called Coaching Salespeople into Champions.  Keith has a special promotion on the book too.

Order Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions over the next 72 hours and enjoy access to hundreds of dollars worth of additional bonus materials from dozens of the world's top sales and business thought leaders (including me). You can spend hundreds of dollars separately or you can invest about $20.00, order one copy of Keith's book today and spend not one penny more. Look at the resources you get here.

One thing that stood out in reading about Keith's book is that rather than fill this book with fabricated case studies and hypothetical scenarios, every story you read is based on actual events, genuine scenarios, and real people you can relate to who Keith has actually coached.

You'll discover how to facilitate a coaching conversation that fits your management style-the same system Keith uses to coach thousands of salespeople, business owners, and managers. You'll also find out what to say in any situation as well as the language and dialog that the world's greatest coaches use. There's also dozens of actual case studies spanning over 15 different industries and professions, templates, scripts, masterful coaching questions and an easy-to-follow coaching process regarding how to apply these techniques.

Click here to get more information and/or to order his book.

Speaking of coaching salespeople into champions, your last chance to see me in 2009 is November 3, when I keynote an Executive Luncheon that will also be streamed live worldwide.

If you are in the New England area and within an hour or two of Bentley University, and would like to attend the luncheon (Presidents, CEO's Directors, Sales VP's, HR Directors, Partners) you can click here for more information and/or to register.  

If you are not in New England and would like the event streamed to your desktop, click here for more information and/or to register.

Use Discount Code DK1103 and you won't have to pay!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 


Topics: Dave Kurlan, Keith Rosen, new book, Executive luncheon, November 3, Bentley, Seth Godin, Hierarchy of Sales Coaching

Seth Godin Reinforces the Proper Sales Process

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 05, 2009 @ 09:03 AM

Seth Godin posted this article last week.  Read it it's very short and a very good story.

He finished with, "Too often, we close the sale before we even open it.  Interact first, sell second"

When I help companies with their sales process it always leads to:

  • shorter sales cycles as a result of the process itself
  • higher average sales as a result of the value added to the process
  • higher margins due to selling at their price instead of selling on price
  • selling last instead of selling first.

It's the last point I want to talk about.  I use the Baseline Selling process with clients because (I wrote the book) it's the simplest, easiest to implement and apply, most memorable and  salespeople take to it the quickest.  There hasn't been a company to date where, once the salespeople reach 1st base (face to face or 1st phone meeting) that they aren't skipping over to third base and immediately running home (presenting the value proposition, the company story, a solution, etc.)  They skip all of the real estate between 1st and 3rd base where all the actual selling takes place!

You tell them Seth!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, Salesforce, closing, Seth Godin, sales presentations

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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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