What You Should Never Do on LinkedIn to Do Business with Your LinkedIn Network

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 16, 2018 @ 06:05 AM

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I don't know about you but for every benefit I get from LinkedIn, I get an equal amount of frustration.  Some people, like me, have criteria for who they will invite and whose invitation they will accept on LinkedIn. How many times has this happened to you?

Someone invites you to join their LinkedIn network or asks if they can join yours.  You accept.  And then it happens...

In the first example, I received this message a week after I accepted this individual's invitation:

Hello Dave,   I noticed we haven’t had a chance to talk yet having been connected now for over a week. I am following up to see if you have reviewed our [their product] that has changing the shape of businesses nationwide. If you want more info let’s schedule a time to get connected personally here: [their personal landing pageto gather more detailed information.   As always, if there is anybody you want me to connect you with in my network let me know and I will make it happen. I look forward to your response!

In the second example, I received this message from someone in a business similar  to mine who, as with the first example, sent this to me right after I accepted his invitation:

Hello Dave, I am reaching out because it looks like you are doing some exciting things that are really making a difference! I know the true value of an online network comes from creating meaningful connections through start-up conversations. I am passionate about helping organizations of all sizes to improve their sales performance. For over 25 years I have designed and implemented knowledge management and performance support systems for many companies including Hewlett Packard, ExxonMobil, Pepsi Co. and many others. Let’s chat. Please call me at [phone number] Ps. Here’s an article I thought you might find interesting. It explains more about the importance of Content Strategy in Sales Look forward to talking to you soon, [his name].

In the third example, the message was sent to me the same day I accepted his invite. While it was more tailored to me than most others, it was still wrong:

Hi Dave, I came across your profile recently on LinkedIn, and I got to know that you already are a published author. I’m the CEO of [company], one of the world leading “Done For You” Publishing company which provides all the services related to book publishing and marketing. You can find more about us at [their website[. Recently we have launched a Press Release Distribution service for authors which is worth $2,500 (FREE for you). If you avail this offer, then we will get your book featured in press releases to around 300+ media sites, including Top-Tier Newswire (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CW, etc.) which positions you as the go-to expert in your field. In exchange, we would just need your testimonial (video & written) which we can use to get paid clients. If you find that this is the right fit for you, then you can schedule a free 30 min strategy call with me today at [scheduling link]. I would love to spread your book with our PR service (for free). Thank you, [signature line].

Inviting someone to your LinkedIn network and immediately trying to pitch them is not cool and not how to effectively leverage LinkedIn.  There are plenty of LInkedIn experts out there and I'm not going to pretend to be one of them. The way to do business with people in your LinkedIn network is for them to notice your expertise on LinkedIn.  Engage in conversations.  Create and share content and ask specific people to comment.  Pitching your new connections will only cause them to remove you as a connection.

Topics: linkedin, prospecting, social selling, Dave Kurlan

Data Shows Most Salespeople are Dinosaurs When it Comes to Social Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 02, 2018 @ 15:04 PM

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Several recent LinkedIn posts have urged readers to pick up the phone instead of trying to find new opportunities by using social media.  I wrote a very popular article about using the phone 3 years ago called, The Next Can't Miss Game Changer for Sales.

I have data that shows that the very people who don't score well at hunting (reluctant, ineffective or both) also score poorly at Social Selling while those who score the highest for Hunting score higher for Social Selling too.  Check out this data from Objective Management Group's (OMG) evaluations of more than 1.7 million salespeople:

  • The weakest 10% of all salespeople own the lowest average scores for hunting, coming in at 17 (out of 100).  Their average score for Social Selling is just 3! 
  • The top 10% of all salespeople have an average score of 76 for hunting and 23 for Social Selling.  In other words, they are almost 450% better at Hunting and 766% better at Social Selling!  

Keep in mind that across all 1.7 million salespeople that Objective Management Group (OMG) has evaluated and assessed, the average score for Social Selling is only 10. Wasn't Social Selling supposed to be the big new thing?

Digging further into the data, we find that 63% of all salespeople with a weak score in the Hunter Competency also have a weak score in Social Selling. 

It appears from the data that hunters use all available means to hunt while non-hunters shy away from all available means. Clearly, there is still a percentage of salespeople doing what some experts warn against - hiding behind the screen and hoping that their mere presence will magically cause opportunities to appear in their pipelines, but they are in the minority. You can see all of OMG's data in all 21 Sales Core Competencies here. Check out some more surprising data.

One of the questions I answered In my 18-page White Paper, The Modern Science Behind Sales Force Excellence, was, Does Social Selling Impact Sales Effectiveness?

38% of the companies who use Social Selling reported that they had more opportunities in their pipelines as a result.  Of those companies with more opportunities we identified that:

  • They were much more likely to have more than 25 salespeople and between $25-$75 million in revenue
  • They were 30% more likely to have a significant increase in sales than the overall population in the study
  • 50% provided quarterly sales training compared with 22% for the overall respondent population.
  • Social Selling was utilized equally across all sales teams.  
  • 85% reached out directly to prospects using social selling channels compared with 59% overall
  • Salespeople who routinely maintained a full pipeline saw only a 1% increase in pipeline size.
  • Of those salespeople who typically had poor pipelines, only 20% saw improvement.

Of the companies that reported either no increase or a decrease in opportunities we learned that:

  • 67% had an informal approach to social selling
  • 75% were just beginning to implement social selling
  • 75% have their traditional sales team practicing social selling.
  • 75% focus more on LinkedIn group participation
  • Only 50% of their salespeople reach out directly to prospects

38% of the companies that use Social Selling are seeing results, and nearly 100% of those who have formalized Social Selling are seeing results.  Yet the average score in the Social Selling competency for all salespeople is just 10.  So what is going on?

If you visit LinkedIn you would think that everyone on the planet is on there.  While most have profiles, it doesn't mean that "they're on there."  The question is whether they are engaged on that platform and most salespeople are simply not engaged.

If you are reading this article, online, on my Blog, then you are probably more engaged on Linkedin than most salespeople.  But the same huge percentage of salespeople who are not engaged on LinkedIn are also not online consuming content like this.

It's time for all salespeople to adapt and leverage the great tools that are available instead of sticking their heads in the sand and pretending that selling hasn't changed in the past 10 years.

Image Copyright iStock Photo

Topics: social selling, phone prospecting, Dave Kurlan

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

Surprising New Data on Salespeople Busts the Myths about Relationship Selling and Social Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jun 16, 2016 @ 13:06 PM

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Image Copyright 123RF Stock Photo

 

If you are a regular reader, you might recall this great article on Selling to a CEO.  In that article, I also mentioned some of the expanded Sales Competencies that Objective Management Group (OMG) now measures.  Before April, Relationship Building and Mastery of Social Selling were findings in our evaluations, but now, they are full blown competencies with complete sets of attributes.

I had a theory about salespeople, but didn't have the data to prove it out.  I believed that social selling was a godsend to those in sales who were not great at relationship building - that by utilizing applications like LinkedIn and Twitter, they could reach out to new people, but with the benefit of hiding behind the glass screen. Do you think I was right?  Or wrong?

 Actually, I couldn't have been more wrong!

We took nearly 5,000 rows of data from the past 2 weeks and looked at those two competencies and compared the results.  In the 1st graph, you'll see that the overwhelming majority of salespeople are poor at both, or to put it in my vocabulary, they suck at both!  Just 5% were good at both, 11% excelled at social selling and 16% excelled at relationship building.  

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So I wondered if the data might be skewed based on demographics.  For instance, would the data show that salespeople with more than 10 years in sales are less effective at social selling and better at relationship building?  We filtered the data and removed everyone who had fewer than 10 years of sales experience, leaving us with around 1,850 veteran salespeople.  The graph looked nearly identical to the first graph but the veteran group at 33% was much better at relationship building, 11% - the same as the entire population - had mastered social selling and 8% achieved high scores in both.

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So I wondered what would happen if we looked at the people who were new to sales. This time, we filtered the data and removed everyone who had more than 5 years of sales experience, leaving us with around 2,000 newer salespeople.  This graph also looked quite similar, but there were a few small differences.  Just 2% of the newer salespeople were good at both competencies.  33% were good at relationship building, and surprisingly only 9% had mastered social selling - an even smaller percentage than the veteran group!

 

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 My theory?  Out the window.  Not even close!  Instead we made two even better discoveries from this exercise:  

  1. The majority of salespeople, who aren't very good at relationship building, will be equally poor at social selling.
  2. Although you and I are selling socially, most salespeople - 89% are not effective at social selling! 

Are you surprised by any of these discoveries?  What are your thoughts?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, twitter, Relationship Selling, linkedin, social selling, sales assessments

The Science of Sales Selection vs. the Marketing of Modern Selling

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 07:08 AM

Today I received this email from an OMG (Objective Management Group) Partner after he asked me to run an analysis on a company's top and bottom performers.

He wrote, "After all these years, this is still amazing to me. Thanks Dave, my conversation is Monday and we are getting next steps in place.  Appreciate the help."

So why is that such a big deal?

This is someone who has been an OMG Partner for nearly two decades, is one of OMG's most successful partners, and knows our accuracy and sales-specific findings inside and out.  And he was still surprised at just how accurate the analysis was.  Check out the detailed and revealing graphic below!

 

I started with more than 100 sales-specific findings and narrowed them down to the 18 findings and scores that clearly differentiated their tops from their bottoms.  A mistake made by behavioral scientists and sellers of personality and behavioral styles assessments is that they only look at top performers and identify common traits.   They fail to realize that the bottom performers have the same personality traits and behavioral styles as the top performers and none of those traits or styles are predictive of sales performance.

In this company, the bottom performers scored just as well as the top performers on some sales-specific findings.  To accurately identify salespeople that are totally perfect for a role, we must understand the differences between both groups, not the commonalities within one group.

The salespeople in the top 7 rows are their top performers and the salespeople in the bottom 9 rows are their bottom performers.  After I identified the findings, scores and cutoffs that we would use, I color-coded them so that you could clearly see the differences - a sea of green on top and a sea of red on the bottom.

Next, in the last column on the right, I calculated the percentage criteria that each salesperson met and set the cutoff to 67%.  

Using these criteria, 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.

What drives me crazy are the marketing people who are writing about sales despite their complete lack of understanding about B2B sales.  They spin their messages to get business executives to think that the only thing that matters today is social selling, email, inbound marketing, and content. They hope that if they make inbound marketing sound easy enough by providing their tools and applications then businesses will buy their services and hire them.  For instance, today I read that we no longer need sales process (untrue), a consultative approach to selling is dead (untrue), and all sales forces need to be completely restructured (generally untrue).  That's just today!  And in the past 2 months, I have read that salespeople are now obsolete (untrue), prospects have completed 57% of their buying process before they meet with salespeople (the number is inaccurate) and people are no longer buying value (untrue).

There is no science backing up these claims, just a group of inbound marketers and an inside sales industry trying to convince you that sales today is is only about inbound and inside.  It is true that low-price, low-cost, high-demand commodities that everyone wants - think B2C and subscriptions - are being sold almost exclusively via online marketing. But even some of those companies, like Hubspot, the King of Inbound, have large inside sales forces following a structured sales process and taking a consultative approach.

I've said this before, but it should be repeated.  If you are not the price leader, market leader, or brand leader;  if you have a new product, new technology, or a story to tell; if you have a long sales cycle, provide custom products, or have a design cycle; or if you are the underdog; you need salespeople, you need a custom, formal, structured, milestone-centric, customer-focused sales process, a consultative approach and skills that salespeople who came 10 years before you didn't have.  It's a fact.  And you can't let Inbound Marketers, Social Sellers or Inside Sales gurus tell you otherwise.  Don't get me wrong.  There is a place for inbound, social selling and inside sales in all of these companies.  They are complimentary pieces, not replacements.  After all, you wouldn't replace a Quarterback with a Kicker - the Kicker is an important complimentary piece to a football team.  

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales process, sales candidates, inside sales, inbound, sales hiring test, social selling, objective management group

Why I Was Kicked Out of a LinkedIn Sales Group

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jul 08, 2015 @ 11:07 AM

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[UPDATE: This article was named Best in Sales for July 8 at SalesProCentral]

Each day, I read several newsletters written by physicians who are also natural or homeopathic practicioners. They are proponents of natural health care, a nutritional diet, and supplements. They are vocal in their criticisms of the FDA, Big Pharma, and mainstream medicine. The most vocal of them are viewed as huge threats to the FDA and Big Pharma, because they have legitimate cures and protocols for most, if not all diseases, while Big Pharma needs us to take their drugs, which cure nothing, but cause other diseases that require even more of their drugs. They pay the FDA to approve these poisons that are making and keeping us sick.

Over the years, the most vocal natural medical doctors have been singled out, their offices have been raided and some have been arrested. In the past 2 weeks, 3 of them have been found dead. You may be wondering what this has to do with selling or LinkedIn...

Last week, I wrote an article on whether or not LinkedIn was a waste of time and as with the medical newsletters I read, my LinkedIn article resonated with a lot of people. But as with the medical mainstream, not everyone was happy with the article... In just the past week, I have already been blocked in one LinkedIn group and kicked out of another one! 

Each group on LinkedIn has rules.  Some have a lot of rules and are very strict, while others don't have many rules at all. Most of the sales-related groups on LinkedIn are owned and/or moderated by other sales consultants (self-perceived competitors?) with a lot of time on their hands. They can do what they want - it's their groups. But could their behavior be retaliatory for my article or could the article be an excuse to quiet a vocal sales thought leader? Critics will point to this article saying that I'm too impressed with my own importance, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

After my LinkedIn article appeared, one group owner began moderating my contributions and began blocking my helpful comments in discussion threads. After I posted a helpful comment to a discussion asking for sales book recommendations, another group owner responded to my comment and said I wasn't following the rules. When I responded to his comment, I was redirected to a screen that said I needed to be a member of the group in order to comment. I had been kicked out! I sent a LinkedIn inMail to the group owner and said:

I got your message on the book recommendation thread but was unable to reply to it because you kicked me out of the group!

Of course I know the rule about self-promotion... 

I participate in discussions without self-promotion.

This particular thread was asking for book recommendations - it didn't seem like a violation of the group's rule to respond to a book recommendation request by recommending a book that I believed would be helpful.

Anyway, kicking me out of the group seems like a very professional response to my recommendation.

Dave

The group owner responded with:

Learn to read rules Dave

It's really that simple

If my LinkedIn membership gets revoked next for speaking out, I won't have to wonder whether or not LinkedIn is a waste of time. And by the way, it isn't. If you spend much time participating in group discussions, LinkedIn may be a huge time suck and make you feel good about yourself, but adding to and nurturing your connections will pay off in the long-term.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, linkedin, social selling, sales groups on linkedin

Are We Wasting Our Time on LinkedIn?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 08:06 AM

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Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

It's the place to be. Join 50 groups. Ask questions. Answer questions. Connect. Like discussions. Contribute comments. Is it a means to an end or is it all a huge waste of time?

LinkedIn is a tool that I use more than some and less than others. As busy as I am, I'm unable to spend an hour on LinkedIn each day, but I do visit daily. I am engaged. And I always wonder if it's a complete waste of time. In this article, I'll share the highlights and lowlights from my informal LinkedIn effectiveness analysis and you may be very surprised with my conclusion.  [Click to Tweet]

How much of our business comes from LinkedIn? We should know this, right? The first answer is easy...NONE of our call-in business comes from LinkedIn and it shouldn't, right? But what percentage of the business coming from landing pages on my Blog, the Kurlan & Associates website or the Objective Management Group (OMG) website come from LinkedIn, either directly or indirectly?

Of the 115,000 plus visits tracked to my blog in the past 6 months, less than 1% of that traffic came from social media although most of that small amount was from LinkedIn. Did any of that turn into business? 21 forms on landing pages were completed, but the majority of those landing pages were blog subscriptions, not downloads, samples, videos, white papers, nor requests for more information. None of those 21 ever came close to entering the pipeline. There was no business as a result of visits from LinkedIn.  

In comparison, about a third of those 115,000 visits were the result of organic search and many visits were from referral sites where someone was visiting another website and clicked a link that brought them here. 1.2% of all visitors completed a form on a landing page and the sources that converted best were the referral sites, followed closely by email marketing and organic search. Some of these contacts become clients.

So where is LinkedIn in all of this? Nowhere, really. Except first degree connections. They'll sometimes reach out to me - sometimes to do business - and I'll sometimes reach out to them.

Let's look at LinkedIn in another way.  

One of the groups I belong to, Sales Management Executives, has 205,000 members. With a group that large, you would expect to see incredible engagement, right? This morning I looked through the current discussions and counted 9 new discussions from today, but because we are looking for engagement, I looked at the discussions that were started 3 days ago. Between them, there were 2 comments and 29 likes from 25 discussions posted to 205,000 people and 14 of those likes all belonged to a single discussion. My knee-jerk reaction is that this group is a complete waste of time as there appears to be only 50 or so people or .004% of the group engaged. Is this the norm?

I looked through a second group I belong to, ATD Sales Enablement Community.  This group is more of a niche so I expected better engagement from their 11,000 plus members.  In the past week there were a total of only 5 new discussions which, between them, collected 5 comments and 0 likes.  Historically, there have been a few good discussions in this group but it is the exception, not the norm.

Next I checked in on Executive Round Table and its 17,000 plus members. There were 40 new discussions posted in the past 3 days with 2 comments and 3 likes. Of those 40 discussions, 15 of them were SPAM - income opportunities, loans, investments, etc., and 8 of the 25 remaining conversations were redirects back to the poster's blog article or website. Yikes!

I'm not suggesting that there isn't any meaningful content, nor am I suggesting that I never find a discussion in which to participate. But they are few and far between. You would need to look very hard to find one worthy of your time.

I'm connected to more than 1,000 people on LinkedIn, but a quick trip to my LinkedIn home page, where updates from my connections are posted, suggests that on any given day, there are probably fewer than 25 people - or 2.5% - that are actively engaged.

Another way of looking at LinkedIn is to dissect the discussion topics in the groups. For this analysis, I visited a newer group, Sales & Marketing - Top Management (Worldwide), which has nearly 8,000 members. Of the 15 discussions posted in the past week, all 15 were started by experts (including me) - where the discussion was either a rhetorical question (not me) to which the expert already knew the answer, or a link to the poster's blog article (I did that) or website. The only people engaged are the experts who are looking for more business! Who would want to be part of a group like that?

Until today, I had always believed that if I wrote good blog articles like this one and then shared my content in the LinkedIn groups, that it was a good thing - people would benefit - and it would improve visibility. But today, with my critical eye, I concluded that content like this is not what belongs in these groups and additionally, taking the time to post there is a complete waste of time. I have proof. In the first 6 months of 2015, I have written 50 articles and shared each article with around 10 groups on LinkedIn. If only 3,000 of 115,000 visits can be tracked back to LinkedIn, that averages out to around 60 visits per article or 6 per group, per article. It would be more productive to get an extra hour of sleep each night!

Today I read an article - it was posted on LinkedIn - that said Twitter was the more powerful social medium for business. Really? There are about 25 other sales experts that regularly tweet updates to their followers when we all post new articles to our Blogs. Let's suppose that one quarter of my articles got tweeted by half of those experts to an average of 1,000 followers each (I don't know any of these actual numbers, so I'm trying to be very conservative.)  That would be 13 articles x 12 tweeters x 1,000 followers or tweets that reached 156,000 which resulted in 70 visits over 6 months.  Yup, Twitter will be really useful!

At OMG, we have a private LinkedIn group for the 150 global partners who recommend and use our sales force evaluations and candidate assessments with companies like yours. I wish I could say that this group is the exception and utilizes LinkedIn exceptionally well. Unfortunately, that isn't the case and engagement is no better than in any of the other groups I used as examples.

At the beginning of this article I said I would share my LinkedIn highlights and lowlights and all I have shared so far is lowlights. Are you ready for the highlights?

...

Impressive, huh?

To me, the phone is looking better and better every day. Read this article for more information on the next big game changer for sales.

I still think LinkedIn is important for making connections, visibility and getting found. But the additional time we spend on LinkedIn would be better spent on the phone, talking with prospective customers and clients.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, lead conversion, linkedin, social selling

30 Reasons Why 1 Million Sales Jobs Will be Obsolete

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

 

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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

Sales Compensation and Stupid Human Tricks

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 12, 2015 @ 07:02 AM

sales-compensation

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

OK, so we'll begin with something more along the lines of stupid pet tricks before we get to stupid human tricks.  There is a great TED talk about two monkeys that were unfairly compensated.  This is a must-see video!  With compensation - fair or unfair - in mind, I reviewed this year's 2015 Sales Compensation Survey Highlights by the Alexander Group and Sales Compensation Solutions.

The first finding that I noticed - we have seen this particular data point in nearly every white paper, report, survey, analysis, study and anecdotal story - is that only 50% of all reps made quota last year.  In surveys like this, a small number of large companies were involved and very often, when the companies are this large, the findings don't apply equally to your company and mine.  However, in this case, it's fair to say that this particular finding accurately represents the state of salespeople and quotas across the board.

The second finding that I noticed is that 60% of the companies will make mid-year adjustments to their quota.  In which direction do you suppose those quota adjustments will go?  The median quota was $2 Million USD.  Let's attempt to determine what the thinking was behind these quota adjustments:

Executive 1: "We will set the quota at $2M this year."
Executive 2, six months later: "Well, reps aren't hitting their quota.  Should we train our sales managers to become more effective at coaching their salespeople, train the salespeople better, evaluate the sales force to find out what's preventing them from being more successful, or all three?"
Executive 1: "Or we could simply lower their quota to show what great managers we are - they'll love us!"
Executive 2: "Yes!  That would be so much easier - we can complete that in an hour.  It could take months for those other 3 suggestions to kick-in!"

I have favorite blogs and newsletters too.  One of my favorites bloggers is Dr. William Campbell Douglass, a renegade MD who exposes the ties, lies and buys that take place between Big Pharma and our government.  I am borrowing a line from this article of his because the line describes what occurred in my imaginary, but very real discussion above.  Dr. Douglass said, "It’s like watching a lunatic argue with himself, and lose."

How else can you explain how quotas are set, missed and adjusted as often as the Boston Red Sox go from worst to first to worst and the New England Patriots go to the Super Bowl?  [Sorry - I had to get a sports analogy in there somehow.]

The Sales Compensation Survey also indicated that 64% of companies plan to increase base pay.  What should you do when your salespeople complain that their commissions aren't high enough?  That's right - they raise the base pay.  If you've been reading my blog since 2006 then you know how I feel about base pay versus commission.  It's not one size fits all and base pay is important to salespeople who are intrinsically motivated while commissions are important to salespeople who are extrinsically motivated.  If you have a plan that offers commissions, there is never, ever a reason to increase the base pay.  If commissioned salespeople want more money, all they have to do is sell more!  Even the CFO's of these companies should be able to figure that one out!  But the more likely scenario is that the same brilliant, large company Sales Leaders who were involved in the "set it, miss it, adjust it" quota goof, gave in to the demands of their large company entitlement-minded salespeople who would leave if they didn't get their raises.  I'm sorry, do they want their salespeople to fail?

The survey findings are good and important - the authors did a great job collecting and reporting on the information and I have nothing but praise for what they produced.  My issues are with the idiots who are running the companies that participated in the surveys!

In most cases, if these companies did a better job on selection - and that goes right to the Sales Leadership roles - all of their salespeople would hit and surpass quota, quota would go up each year, base pay would decrease, commissions would increase, and everybody would be thrilled.  Speaking of selection, there are a two upcoming events you might want to attend:

On February 19, I'll be presenting an online webinar hosted by TAB - The Alternative Board - on how to find, attract, assess, interview, select, hire and retain your next salesperson.  Register here.

On February 26, I will conduct a guided tour of the Magic in Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessments.  Register here.

The latest issue of Top Sales World's magazine is available here.  Be sure to check out my article on the best practices for onboarding new salespeople.

And from the "I can't believe it file", I was recently named to 3 more Top 100 lists:

Did you notice that each of these lists are related to Social Selling?  I'm flattered to be on their lists, but I don't consider myself an influencer in Social Selling as much as a participant and protagonist!  When I am influencing relative to social selling, it's usually that we need to spend more time on actual selling and less time pretending to be selling.  

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales compensation, sales commissions, social selling, Top Sales World

The Next 'Can't Miss' Game Changer for Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jan 09, 2015 @ 14:01 PM

game_changer

Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

Another game changer?  After so many in the last 5 years?  It's coming - no doubt about it.  I'll give you the background and tell you why this incredible tool will be the one to supercharge your sales.

Today, Social Selling (like blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter and others) is all the rage.  Experts are evangelizing these tools, touting their power to connect, and providing training on how to best use them.  And they're all correct about these tools.  Every seller should be using them, but therein lies the problem.

Soon, every seller will be using them!

Would you like to start blogging?  Good luck finding your audience from among the more than 2 million articles that were posted - not in the last 5 years, not last year, not last month, not this month to date - but more than 2 million posts today alone!  It's a very difficult time to start blogging.

Would you like to start sharing articles, asking questions, and commenting on LinkedIn or Twitter?  How will your tweets, comments and shares be noticed above the noise from all of the salespeople who have begun to do that?

Would you like to host webinars, or send a weekly or monthly newsletter?  How will you get people to read those when they are routinely barraged with hundreds of useless emails each day?

Would you like to have your own YouTube channel?  There are 4 billion YouTube views per day - that's a lot of people watching videos, but how can you possibly get their attention when there are millions of YouTube channels for them to watch?

Yes, friends, Social Selling certainly works - and can work well - for the people who already have well-established audiences and followings.  I'm fortunate enough to have an award-winning Blog with a nice loyal readership and get lots of organic traffic from Google searches.  A late start in any Social Selling channel may cause you to become very discouraged.

But there is hope!

I know of a tool that works better than everything I have mentioned so far.  While it doesn't have the power to reach as many people in as short a time as Social Selling, or as I prefer to call it, Personal Marketing, it is much more effective for targeting and reaching specific prospects.  Not only that, the communication is in real time, with no latency, lagging, or delayed response times.  Doesn't that bode well for having a real, rather than digital, conversation?

Even better, if you are an early, rather than late, adopter of this game-changing approach, you'll be one of the only salespeople using it, and unlike Personal Marketing, there won't be any noise!

Are you ready?

As has been the case for the better part of the past 30 years, I am way ahead of the curve on this.  Would you like to know about it?

I have become aware of a tool that allows you to reach any prospect, anywhere, at any time, without even knowing their email address, twitter handle, or public LinkedIn page!  There is no limit to the number of characters, length of message, or size of content.  Your prospect can respond to you as easily as you can reach out to them and the technology is readily available to anyone who wants to avail themselves of it.  And the best news?  It's covered by nearly all of your existing subscriptions and fees.  Doesn't that sound awesome?

It gets better.  Email, InMail and Twitter messages don't always convey how you wanted to sound and can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted.  Not so with this technology.  

Introducing the Tool of the Future

Today, I would like to be the first to introduce you to the sales tool of the future.  A Direct Line of Communication to any prospect in the world.

You may have seen this tool before, but you may have to use it in a way that is different from how it was intended.  Today, most people use these devices to send text messages, tweets, emails and upload photos and videos.  But if you poke around enough, you will find that manufacturers actually included a nicely hidden feature that allows you to punch in about 10 digits and you can actually speak - LIVE - to anyone - anywhere - on demand.  It is SO COOL!  And the device will remember those numbers so that you don't have to punch them all in again.  Amazing.

cell_phone

Copyright:  123RF Stock Photo

Free Demo!

And for a limited time, I can provide you with a demo of how this works.

Go to your device, find the application called PHONE, and tap the following 10 digits in the field provided:  800-221-6337.  Press the green button.  You will hear a sound to indicate that you have initiated an attempt to reach me.  There is a very good chance that a live person from Objective Management Group will answer your very first ping.  I'm going to provide you with a promo code that will give you direct access to me.  When they answer, say, "Dave Kurlan, please" and the live person will actually reroute your ping directly to me!  And if I'm speaking live with someone else at that moment, I have a digital clone that will answer and you can tell my clone exactly what you wanted to tell me, leave any kind of message you want, and I can actually listen to it later and return your ping.  It's truly amazing, friends, and will revolutionize the way selling takes place in the future.

I'll bet that you're thinking that this entire article is a joke - that I wrote it with tongue-in-cheek.  Wrong.  I am dead serious.  Do you know how many phone calls I received today?  One.  Nobody uses the phone anymore and that's what makes the phone such a perfect and obvious choice for building your pipeline and accelerating sales growth.  Web-based tools are awesome for marketing and generating interest, but most of us have to sell!  And trust me when I tell you this:

It is a lot easier and much more powerful to sell on the phone, via video conference and face-to-face than it is hiding behind your computer screen.

Please take advantage of my limited time offer to demo this new technology.  Try it for yourself!  Call me now - 800-221-6337 ext 212.  Remember the promo code: Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, sales tips, social selling, lead generation, game changer

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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 and this one for 2017. Read more about Dave.

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