Those Who Follow Sales Best Practices Don't Necessarily Become Top Performers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 @ 10:06 AM

best-worst.jpg

You'll regularly find me writing about the science - the data - that differentiates top sales performers from the bottom.  But today, I'll move into the world from which everyone else in this space operates - anecdotal evidence and opinions. 

I will cite two sources for this article:

  • The 130 sales consulting firms that partner with me at Objective Management Group (OMG) and provide our award-winning sales force evaluations and sales candidate assessments;
  • The tens of thousands of salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders that I have personally trained.

In both groups of people I have noticed a few things that are common to the tops and not so much the bottoms and I'm certain that if you paid attention, you would recognize some of the same patterns in your organization.

In my experience, The top salespeople in both groups typically attend scheduled training events, Conferences, Webinars, and coaching calls.  They also tend to stay on top of updates, communications, reviews, emails and notes.  While some bottom performers do these things too, it's clear that there is a correlation between the tops and the learning and development activities on which they choose to invest their time.

The question is, are they at the top because they focus, participate, attend and respond; or do they actively participate because they are at the top?  Which one is cause and which one is effect?

Each of the activities I mentioned are best practices of top performers.  It's almost impossible to be a top performer and not do those things, while it is quite easy to not do those things and be a bottom performer.  But that doesn't answer the question of cause and effect.  Let's take a closer look at the bottom performers that do all of those things but still fail to perform.  If they do all of the same things, what holds the bottom performers back?

I didn't begin writing this article with a plan to go here, but as always, it ends up here.  Assuming that an ineffective sales manager isn't to blame, it comes down to the following four things:

  • Lack of Desire for Greater Success in Sales
  • Lack of Commitment to Do What it Takes to Achieve Greater Success in Sales
  • Weak Sales DNA - Strengths Don't Support their Selling Skills
  • Poor Selling Skills - Never Developed or not up-to-date

 I just looked at a few thousand rows of data from the last two weeks.  While 91% of these salespeople had strong Desire, only 59% had the Commitment to do what it takes.  That's a difference maker!  Additionally, only 33% had Sales DNA of 70 or better and only 9% had Sales DNA of at least 82 which is required to support the Challenger Sale.   Worst of all, only 11% had at least 50% of the selling skills we measure.

So even when I try to write an anecdotal piece, I end up returning to the OMG's science behind selling.

Cause and effect?  Salespeople who do the right things don't necessarily become top performers but top performers necessarily do the right things.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, omg, the challenger sale, top producer, sales assessments, objective management group, top performing salespeople

Developing Top Performers - How to Turn Salespeople into A-Players

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 13, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

jazz bandWe recently saw the New Preservation Hall Jazz Band perform at the Newport Jazz Festival.  We had seen them before, once at the Festival and about 20 years ago in New Orleans when they weren't so "New".  That first time, I left their performance with mixed feelings.  On one hand, it was terrific that we had a chance to be in the presence of a musical institution and hear their traditional New Orleans Jazz.  On the other hand, it was stale, mediocre and failed to move me.

Last weekend, they were fresh, exciting, energized and musically superb!  They were relevant again, had made the transition to A-Players and now opened the Festival.

So what changed?  They got younger.  They finally cut the cord to their very old, slow, stoic band members and brought on some exciting, younger musicians.  New blood.  The band is now led by 41 year-old tuba player, Ben Jaffe.  They embraced technology.  Rather than a single microphone in front of a seated band, each musician had a small wireless microphone attached to his horn.  That technology has been around for years, but they had not embraced it.  Now it allowed for movement and move they did.  They were not only mobile, but the newest tuba player, Ronell Johnson, danced around the stage for their entire set in much the same way that Verdine White, the bass player from Earth, Wind and Fire, has done for the past 40 years.  Technology gave them mobility which gave them energy and made them exciting to watch and hear.

Turning salespeople into A-players requires the same approach.  (I'll be speaking on this topic today, August 13, and you can participate for free!)  You need to replace those who have not adapted to the changing times, shown the willingness to learn new methodologies, models and processes, or embraced the newest technology and gone mobile.  The new salespeople whom you hire must be exciting enough and strong enough to lead the way, infusing the sales force with new energy, becoming new role models and causing others to follow their lead or be left behind.

Training and coaching play a major part in the development of A-players, but you must have the right people in place or you will waste both time and money training and coaching salespeople who don't have the ability to become A-Players.  It's much easier to turn B's to A's then it is to turn C's into B's.  And if you already have some A's, it becomes more obvious to the B's that they need to step it up.

After nearly 30 years in the sales development business, I can say without a doubt that the biggest problem which I witness every day is when executives overrate their salespeople.  In most companies, the salespeople whom management considers to be A's are nothing more than C's who are hitting easy targets.  Their so-called A's appear to be A's only when compared to their under-achieving and non-performing colleagues, but in most cases, the executives have it all wrong.  The result is an inability to imagine how much better their sales force could perform and generate revenue as a result of an upgrade, good training and good coaching.

Take the road traveled by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and adapt to these changing times!

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, Dave Kurlan, sales management, Sales Coaching, preservation hall jazz band, developing a players, top performing salespeople

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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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