An Inside Look at Why 3 Good Salespeople Failed and 3 So-So Salespeople Succeeded

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jan 09, 2020 @ 06:01 AM

failure

You hired a great salesperson that didn't work out.  You hired a so-so salesperson that did work out.  You hired another great one that kicked ass, and another one that was so-so.  That's the story of hiring salespeople.  It's mostly hit or miss with an emphasis on miss.

In this article I'm going to share an actual example that illustrates why this happens so frequently.  I'll show you tangible differences between three salespeople who succeeded and three who failed in the same role at the same company.

Most of the time when we perform these analyses the differences are usually seen inside of the 21 Sales Core Competencies - the performers are strong in the necessary competencies and the failures are not.

So let's dig into some data, shall we?

One of the ways that Objective Management Group (OMG) customizes a role configuration to recommend the ideal salespeople for a particular role is to conduct a top/bottom analysis.  We attempt to identify 15-20 scores or findings that differentiate the top salespeople from the bottom salespeople.  In small companies we use three tops and three bottoms.  In mid-size companies we use five tops and bottoms and in large companies ten tops and bottoms.

We manually analyze and compare those top and bottom salespeople against 280 scores and findings to identify those which differentiate the tops from the bottoms.  As I mentioned, the differentiations are usually found in the 21 sales core competencies or the attributes within those competencies.

Yesterday, I completed one of these analyses and the salespeople who were failing appeared to be stronger salespeople than those who were succeeding.  That's not good!  But I've learned stay with it, not give up too soon, and remember that if I'm patient enough the differences will shine through.  That's how it happened with this team but many of the differences weren't in the 21 Sales Core Competencies.  They were simpler, more basic, and more behavioral.  Check out the screen shot below and I'll recap it in beneath the image where you can see a sea of green at the top and a sea of red at the bottom.

top-bottom-Jan-2020

There were nineteen findings identified that were differentiators.  Only half came from the 21 Sales Competencies, like:

  • Sales DNA  (average of 6 Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >76
  • Supportive Buy Cycle (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >56 
  • Comfortable Discussing Money (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of 100 
  • Handles Rejection  (one of the Sales DNA Competencies) Score of >60
  • Hunting (a pure selling competency) Score of >50 
  • Account Management (a selling competency) Score of >66
  • Prospects Consistently (an attribute of the Hunter competency)
  • Gains Trust Early (an attribute of the BuildsTrust competency - not one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies)
  • Makes Decisions (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)
  • Will Uphold Margins (an attribute of the Buy Cycle competency)

It was more unusual to see the following findings as differentiators.  These are more behavioral and are well outside the 21 Sales Competencies.  As you read through them you can clearly see why salespeople with decent selling skills would fail when these findings appear as weaknesses:

  • Time and Organizational Skills
  • Self-Starter
  • Works independently
  • Business Minded
  • Prior experience calling on SMB's
  • Prefer to be recognized for achievements
  • Previously sold into a very competitive marketplace
  • Figure it Out Factor >61 (a compilation of 10 findings that predict a quick ramp-up)
  • Compatibility with the Role's selling requirements - score of >67

If they can't get started, organized and work on their own, in a remote selling role, the chances of success are nearly zero, regardless of skills!

The minimum required scores for success change by role, company, industry, target customer, price points, competition, difficulty, complexity, sales cycle, resistance, and more.

The three salespeople from the company above that were failing didn't have bad selling skills.  Remember, I looked at 280 findings and their selling skills were good to excellent in many of the 280 findings.  But it's not if they can sell; it's if they will sell!  The Sales DNA scores, and the non-sales skill findings combine to show us that their tops WILL sell and their bottoms only CAN sell.

When a company has a way to measure can vs. will they can hire with confidence.  It's like having a crystal ball.

Every top/bottom analysis looks different and as a result, every role configuration for sales candidate assessments is different. The findings we incorporate are different and the minimum required scores are different. Success in one role, at one company, in one industry, with various levels of difficulty, complexity, calling into certain verticals or geographies, selling with certain price points against various levels of competition and various sales cycle lengths, all serve to uniquely change the requirements for success used in the role configuration.

A sales-specific, customizable, accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment like the one that OMG provides is the crystal ball for 29,000 companies and it's why OMG was just awarded the gold medal for Top Sales Assessment by Top Sales World for the 9th consecutive year.

You can see all 21 Sales Core Competencies here.

You can checkout OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments here.

Leave your comments on the LinkedIn thread for this discussion.

Image copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, hiring salespeople, top performers, OMG Assessment

21,000 People Agree That These are the Top 5 Traits of the Best Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 23, 2017 @ 20:02 PM

comparison-1.jpg
Image Copyright BeeBright

Readers are always referring me to articles that list top sales traits, that discuss what makes salespeople great, that name the most important selling skills, or that otherwise contradict the science-based findings and statistics that I share in my articles.

In that regard, today was very much the same when a reader referred me to this LinkedIn article that revealed the Top 5 Traits of the Best Salespeople.  As a matter of fact, I actually found the article refreshing.  First, the 5 traits were admittedly based on observation.  Second, the author asked readers to submit their own top 5.  And third, his five weren't that far off the track from what the science says.  Nice job Bill Golder!

I will list Bill's top 5 below, along with the actual scientific findings they are best aligned with, and provide some context for those findings.  The test as to whether Bill's five are legitimate Top Traits of the Best Salespeople is not whether or not they line up with any of our scientific findings on top Salespeople (we have evaluated salespeople); it's whether or not they actually differentiate top salespeople from bottom salespeople.  Let's take a look:

Bill's #1 is Naturally Curious. While there isn't a scientific corollary to that, there are some findings and competencies that we can hook it up with.  Natural Curiosity is a nice way of connecting some of the attributes that reside in OMG's Sales Core Competency Consultative Seller.  Asks lots of questions, Asks Great Questions, And Makes No Assumptions are three of the ten attributes of the Consultative Seller competency. On average, salespeople have 54% of the attributes of the Consultative Seller competency but the top 10% of all salespeople average 70%.  It's an extremely important competency and when you consider just how crucial it is, and then consider that the bottom half of all salespeople average only 44% of that competency, you'll immediately understand why so many salespeople suck!  

Top 10% of all salespeople - 70%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 44%
Meets the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #2 is Student and Teacher.  Again, there isn't a specific corollary to that but if you read the paragraph that accompanies #2, you'll see it's the ability to connect the dots and present an appropriate solution to pain points or, what I call compelling reasons to buy.  OMG calls this competency Presentation Approach.  Taking the same route as we did on #1, on average, salespeople have 65% of the attributes of the Presentation Approach competency but the top 10% of all salespeople average 78%.  It's an important competency because it determines whether salespeople are presenting the correct information to the correct people at the correct time in the process. The bottom half of all salespeople average only 58% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 78%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 58%
Meets the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #3 is Loses Fast.  This time there is a direct correlation to the Rejection Proof Competency.  Unlike Fear of Rejection, Rejection Proof measures a salesperson's ability to recover quickly.  Unlike the first two examples which are tactical, the Rejection Proof Competency is part of Sales DNA.  On average, salespeople have 82% of the attributes of the Rejection Proof competency but the top 10% of all salespeople average 94% and the bottom half of all salespeople average 73% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 94%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 73%
Fails to Meet the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #4 is Passionate which directly correlates to OMG's Desire for Sales Success.  This Sales Core Competency is in the Will to Sell (or Grit) category.  On average, salespeople score 82% on Desire, the top 10% of all salespeople score 88% and the bottom half of all salespeople average 77% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 88%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 77%
Fails to Meet the Criteria to differentiate.

Bill's #5 is Likeable.  OMG has a likeable finding - it's an attribute within the Relationship Builder Competency.  On average, salespeople score 52% on Relationship Building, the top 10% of all salespeople score 53% and the bottom half of all salespeople average 51% of that competency.

Top 10% of all salespeople - 53%  
Bottom half of all salespeople 51%
Fails to Meet the Criteria to differentiate.

As you can see, the bottom half of the sales population scores well and or within close proximity to the top 10% in three of the traits so those three fail to differentiate tops from bottoms.  But let's not discount how well Bill did at identifying 5 traits that still matter in professional sales!

So which findings best differentiate top salespeople from everyone else?  I wrote about them in an epic article - a Rebuttal (to a junk science article) on What Elite Salespeople Do Differently. 

Finally, many readers missed this article with two great sales lessons.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Great salespeople, sales expertise, personality traits of successful salespeople, top performers, OMG Assessment

How to Get Top Performance From Your Salespeople in December

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 05, 2011 @ 09:12 AM

top sales performerHeading into the last week of the month, quarter or year, would you prefer to be ahead of goal or behind?  And what about your salespeople - would you prefer for them to be ahead of goal or behind?  

Are you sure?  I didn't ask how you wanted them to finish...

As an example, let's look at yesterday's Patriots-Colts Football game where the Patriots had around a 28 point lead in the fourth quarter.  Two things happened.  The Patriots thought they had the game won and they relaxed - they took their foot off the gas - while the Colts, with nothing to lose and no resistance, mounted a huge comeback.  The Colts didn't quite make it all the way back but they turned a game that really was a blow out into what appeared to be (based on the score) a close, well-fought game.

Over the years, I have observed the following to be consistently true:

  • Salespeople who have hit their numbers with time to spare go into cruise control, take their foot off the gas, and prepare for the next period.  You love their numbers but I hate the let down.
  • Salespeople who have been behind, but close for most of the period, pull out the stops and usually manage to hit their numbers.
  • Salespeople who have been far behind give in to the inevitable, stop trying, and allow the period to die on the vine.
  • Sales Management is usually far too reactive - too late - to change any of this.
  • Contests and Incentives, when well conceived, can have a short-term  impact.  

So back to my question.  Would you rather have your salespeople ahead of their number or behind the number as the end draws near?
A case can be made for both answers so why don't you weigh in and explain why?

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Sales Coaching, top sales thought leader, sales incentives, sales contests, top sales assessment tool, under achieving, over achieving, top performers

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight 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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